25 – A house in Lavington Green

Lavington Green, Nairobi - kongwa2london.comThe house was set in the middle of an acre of land with the servant’s quarters at the back.

Across the road was a valley with fields of maize, bush land and at the far end a village, perfect for adventures. My friends and I would explore there, steal corn, make a hideout to watch the local wildlife and on one occasion I became stuck in some quicksand. Lucky for me, it wasn’t too deep and after some effort I was pulled to safety.

Okero and Ogano - kongwa2london.comWith my father’s job came an obligation to employ at least two servants. Ogano was our cook, a veteran of the King’s African Rifles who had seen action during the Second World War against the Italians in Abyssinia (now Ethiopia). He liked to be called Mzee (older man in Swahili), a sign of respect. Okero, he was younger and worked in the shamba (garden). They were from the Luo tribe (the same tribe as Barack Obama’s father) and their hometown was Kisumu, situated by the shores of Lake Victoria. Both men had four wives apiece, who along with their children would take turns to stay with them in Lavington.

Our cook had a sideline of making pombe (a local alcohol) and selling it. This came to the attention of the police and we were raided. The evidence was duly brought into the kitchen and shown to my mother. To the horror of the police, she stated that the bottles were ours and proceeded to pour the contents down the sink. The police no longer had any evidence for bootlegging and by the expression on their faces, they had missed out on a good booze-up.

From Kisumu. One of our servant’s wives had died and her body was placed in an unrefrigerated morgue (a hut with a corrugated roof). It turned out she was not dead, but in a coma and unfortunately awoke to find herself surrounded by steaming bodies, the shock made her a mute.

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