October 1956. Arrived in Nairobi same day as Princess Margaret. She was on an official visit. I was three quarters way through hitch-hiking around the world on a challenge set by the Duke of Edinburgh and recorded in my book, published in 1962, titled Royal Challenge Accepted. That was my first experience of both Kenya and the Continent.
My whole career from 1957 until the late 1990s was with the UK Government’s Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC). Happily, I was back in Kenya was in 1974 when CDC seconded me for one year to the Kenya Ministry of Finance (Hon Mwai Kibaki) to help establish the Government’s new Industrial Development Bank.
Six years later I returned to Nairobi as CDC’s Regional Director for East Africa until late 1983. In that role I was CDC’s representative on the Boards of many significant Kenyan organisations including KDTA, Bamburi Cement, Mumias Sugar, Housing Finance Company of Kenya, DFCK, Kenya Safari Lodges, Panafric Hotel, Kisumu Cotton Mills etc many of which organisations are in existence today albeit under different names.
After retiring from CDC in the 1990s I became Chair of AMREF UK and then served on the main AMREF/Flying Doctors Board in Nairobi. I remain a Trustee of the Amref Trust fund in UK and have was much involved in the work of Amref Uganda. My connection with Kenya, and sub-Saharan Africa, has for the last 20 years been stimulated in my role as a vice chair of the Royal African Society and as a Trustee of the African Fellowship Trust in association with the Royal Agricultural University at Cirencester.
I have made many very close friends in East Africa, helping with their education and providing hospitality in the UK. Two Kenyans I regard as my honorary sons and I am uncle (kijana mzee) to many more. Some of my happiest moments were sharing Xmas and New Year holidays with my extended Kenyan family in Mombasa and the South Coast.
My long membership of the Kenya Society and the Eastern Africa Association has ensured that I remain in touch with the latest economic, political and social developments in the Country. My hope is that the Society will both remain a natural home for those of us who have had the good fortune to have been associated with Kenya and importantly an increasingly relevant organisation for the large number of Kenyan diaspora.