They All Just Left

The new house as it was in 1981, 19 years after Mum and Dad left the farm for the last time.

             Built in 1956. They continued to invest every penny in the farm despite the Mau-Mau emergency and the possibility that they would have to leave.


1953. Dad was on duty at the police station. Most able bodied white men had joined the Police Reserve and performed various police functions. Mum and our sisters were away and my brother and I were at boarding school.

Dad was pleased with the way that the workforce had operated in the previous few days. He thought, “at last they are listening to me.” As far as the dairy was concerned everything was left spick and span and the milking was finished early. So it was in a happy and optimistic mood that Dad left the police post and went directly to the dairy arriving about 530 am.

He was surprised at the apparent silence surrounding the place; by this time the place should have been a hive of activity, the dairy cows should have been being herded into the holding paddock, people should have been running about getting everything ready for the milking which usually started about 6 am. After a few minutes he went to the nearby Kikuyu village; it was completely deserted. There was nothing and nobody about; not a stick of furniture or bedding or any other possession had been left behind. They had all just gone; taking nothing that didn’t belong to them. He raced over to the other Kikuyu village nearer to where we lived; it was the same there.

As luck would have it Dad had recently invested in a milking machine, so he corralled members of the five Luo families employed on the farm, and managed the milking with them, even though the Luo are not comfortable around cattle. This lasted a few weeks when Dad went to Machakos to visit a Kamba chief he had had dealings with in the past. Within a couple of months all the recalcitrant Kikuyu had been replaced by thirty families of Wakamba.

The Kikuyu were the only tribe, involved in the Mau-Mau insurrection. Kenya is resident to some forty or more Kenyan tribes; the Kikuyu the largest, contributing about twenty-five percent of the population.

We were told afterwards that the Kikuyu on the farm had been instructed to kill us all. They just couldn’t do it I suppose- either from fear or respect- we never found out. They all disappeared into the vastnesses of the Kikuyu Reserve near Kiambu and Fort Hall. We never heard from any of them again. They had obviously planned their departure very well, knowing that Dad would be alone. The local Indian store owner had been engaged to provide transport.

(This episode included in the first book of my ‘Winds of Change’ trilogy: ‘No Happy Valley’. It is entirely true.)

Guy Hallowes