None the less, it is a commendable effort from someone who akin to a "Giver" in
the colonial and Kenyan context.
It is always very rewarding to hear him talk
about his experiences as clerk in Kenya’s Northern Frontier District (Kapenguria,
Lodwar, Lokitung, Isiolo, and Marsabit,) at a time when white and brown skins in
the area were often rarer than the elusively shy bongo (antelope) in the Kenyan
The NFD was inhabited by Somalis, Borana, Rendile, Gabbra and a few other
However, Somalia, to this day, maintains that the area was "stolen" by the
British colonialists, and a constant state of war (including several incidents
of genocide) has continued to ravage the area.
The NFD is semi desert, hot and sometimes drier than the Sahara but it is
rich in local folklore, music, anthropological history, the rugged beauty of
earth and people that as fierce as they are gentle, tormented and sometimes at
peace with themselves amid the fighting.
I met him for lunch in London (July 2015) for the first time and his mind and
memory are sharper than the point of a needle.
I knew his late brother Wilfred (we supped many a Tusker lager) in Kenya who
was quite a brilliant advertising man and his CV would include meetings with
some of the most important politicians of the day, including Kenya’s first
president, Jomo Kenyatta.
Come, join Mervyn’s safari as he takes you through the many roads that made
up his life: from early childhood, schooling in and life in India and Goa to
beginning a new life in Kenya.
He will take you sightseeing in some of the most splendid towns in northern
He will let you peep into his bachelor days, falling in love and marriage,
the tragedy of losing a child (and, much later, his brother Wilfred), life in
the White Highlands (reserved for white farmers) of Kenya, a rude awakening in
Zanzibar, farewelling Kenya with tears in the Maciel hearts, living in a 'manyatta'
(homestead) in Sutton UK.
The refreshing about Maciel is that he writes like he talks and he calls it
as he sees it.
He does not veer into risky or dangerous territory and sticks like superglue
to the stuff he knows.
I am sure, also, the Colonial Service Code of Ethics has ensured that he has
practises the utmost discretion because he does not divulge any juicy
indiscretions, gossip or secrets he must have come face to face with sometime in
his long career.
You will not get an expose on this safari.
What you do get is an honest story, with limits.
I make this point because his story is devoid of politics, rebellion or
Mervyn Maciel is indeed a very talented man and a raconteur who tells a good
story every time he writes or speaks.
Enjoy the safari. The book is available from: