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The Forgotten Pioneer: A true family story set in East Africa Kindle Edition
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I thought her chapter about the Mau Mau was exceptional, particularly movingly and bravely told. Although she holds nothing back, she tells the story with great understanding from all sides.
I wish she had written more on the Happy Valley crowd and her parents obvious involvement with it, but she leaves the reader wandering if she knew more that she admits to about who the murderer of Lord Erroll really was!
This is obviously a first book about the author's family, and is an easy read, but nevertheless a very good one! I agree with the last reviwer that it would make an excellent film!
Taking real dangers in their stride, from wild animals to lawless Mau Mau rebels, this family lived through an era that could easily be forgotten. There was the constant threat of malaria or the dreaded black water fever, with only the most basic medical care. It is recalled as a happy time, however, with amazing extremes of wealth and poverty.
The Forgotten Pioneer is a very readable book and shines a light on a period of history which is often overlooked. Thanks to Anthea Ramsay at least the men and women who helped to make Kenya what it is today will no longer be forgotten.
From family archives and diaries the author brings to life the exploits of her grandfather who, in 1899 left his comfortable upper-class existence in London to embark on a new life in a country where a white face was a novelty.
Plenty has been written about Kenya’s ‘Great White Hunters’ and the scandalous socialites of Happy Valley, but we hear very little about the pioneers who laid the cornerstones of the country’s commercial life. ‘The Forgotten Pioneer’ follows George Ramsay’s journey over more than 50 years, from a primitive tent to an elegant home in Nairobi’s most prestigious district. It gives a wonderful look into the lives of British settlers during Kenya’s era as a British colony, when tradition must be adhered to, and the servants wore white gloves to hand around cucumber sandwiches from bone china plates, and tea was poured from a silver teapot. People dressed for dinner, meals were served promptly and consisted of at least five courses. If the family servants found this behaviour strange they gave no sign, but performed their duties impeccably and inscrutably. They are remembered with affection by the author, as valued members of the household.
While much of the settlers’ existence was enviably comfortable, there was a great deal of danger, too, both from wild animals who ate people, to freedom fighters during the Mau Mau struggle for Kenya’s independence. The author and her schoolgirl classmates stood ready with pepper pots to defend themselves in the event of attack.
The book is enhanced with a collection of family photographs, including game hunting scenes that I skipped - while we abhor it now, in that era shooting wildlife was accepted as the norm. Only one small glitch: there is a photograph of a man who is identified as both James Gailey and David Roberts.
Really one of the very best books I have read about life in Kenya, and I highly recommend it to anybody who enjoys reading biographies or who has had the great good fortune to live in that beautiful country.
At the risk of sounding repetitious, I feel also that it would provide the basis for a film script.
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