Authors and Book Reviews  

October 27 - November 02, 2006


 Coastweek   Kenya

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Coastweek - - One Hundred Years Ago: Mombasa Law
Courts 1906 - one of many historic photographs from
'Muthaiga Volume One'.



'Muthaiga Volume One 1913 - 1963' By Stephen Mills
[P P275. Published SeptEMBER 2006.]

Reviewed by Errol Trzebinski

Coastweek - - This coffee table book, with its handsome dustcover of green and sepia monotones, will make the perfect family gift for many Christmases or other special occasions to come.

The array of photographs, maps and drawings assembled by Stephen Mills, provides a pictorial cornucopia of events in Kenya.

The unifying theme - ostensibly the history of Muthaiga Country Club - surpasses such limitations and offers far more.

Barely had the Club opened its doors in August 1914 when British East Africa was thrust into war with German East Africa.

The First World War saw the majority of Members volunteering for active service and to the consternation of their families and in their absence, for the next four years, came the demise of their farms.

Once peace was declared in 1919, Members of Muthaiga Country Club established the pattern of converging from far flung parts of the Colony on a quarterly basis.

Visits to the dentist, doctor, bank manager and replenishing supplies were shoehorned in during Nairobi Raceweek.

Personalities from all walks of life take their place in this cavalcade - from senior political figures, business and professional communities and the pioneers themselves.


Coastweek - - The 'Palace Hotel Mombasa' under construction in
1908 - one of many historic photographs from 'Muthaiga Vol. 1'.

Such ground-breakers braved the hazards of strange new diseases affecting crops and animals - heartbreaks which are familiar to pioneers the world over.

In Africa there was drought to contend with too.

They worked hard and played hard.

They needed some light relief.

As often as not, Muthaiga Country Club was where they and friends met up again, drowning their sorrows, starting new love affairs, making merry before returning to the grindstone again for another three months.

Those hoping for salacious gossip, will not find any here.

Stephen Mills has deliberately avoided embarrassing any living member of Muthaiga Country Club in keeping with Club tradition.

What his book offers is a wealth of fascinating historical back ground which can be relied upon to stimulate conversation among those who love Kenya.

At every turn of the page, the tempo of the journey from Colony to Kenya's Independence is captivating and embraces all races.

Many quotations in this book are attributed to Beryl Markham, the Atlantic flier and professional racehorse trainer.

Beryl's associations with Muthaiga Country Club go back to her love affair with Denys Finch Hatton (a founder member).

So it's a pity that a golden opportunity to set the record straight about her literary conundrum, West With the Night was missed.

For the record, it was Beryl's third husband, Raoul Schumacher, (he never set foot in Kenya, much less in Muthaiga Country Club), who wrote Beryl's memoir.

His powers of observation and skill as a ghost writer speak volumes.

But then his sources, Elspeth Huxley and Karen Blixen, both successful authors and illustrious Members in their day, provided the published information he needed.

Nowadays despite that the Club almost went bankrupt, before the First World War ended, it is arguably one of the most famous private members' establishments in the modern world.

The rest, as they say, is history.

The author is to be congratulated.

His book is available to anyone:

www.mcchistory.com to order

or directly from: enquiries@mcchistory.com

Stephen Mills, Chief Executive, CRB Africa, CRB Centre, Witu Road, Industrial Area, Nairobi 000100. Tel: +254-020 537106.




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