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  Authors and Book Reviews  

April 10 - 17, 2000

 

 Coastweek   Kenya


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Joss Erroll WAS NEVER
a traitor OR A fascist

PART SIX OF A SIX PART SPECIAL ARTICLE by ERROL TRZEBINSKI

Coastweek - - One, whose role had been to interrogate Broughton before his arrest, so as to establish how he might stand up under pressure, had been Trafford's own father.

This dual agenda had been highly secret and afterwards Trafford Snr., had once more been required to take the 'Official Secrets Act' so as to establish that he would never talk about the Erroll case to anyone.

Luckily for me, old men do not wish to go to their graves with blood on their consciences.

Another man, cover name, 'Edmund' wanted the record set straight because he deplored the fact that Erroll, had been wiped out in cold blood, simply because he had known too much for his own good and might have talked.

Obviously the unravelling of the Erroll murder has been far more tortuous than it is possible to relate in a few columns.

Coastweek - - Erroll and his
lover, Diana Broughton, on
the Kilifi Ferry during their
six week romance.
(PHOTO: COURTESY - ERROL TRZEBINSKI)

My strange route back to that turf in Karen where in the early hours of 24 January in 1941 when the female agent pulled the trigger, killing the 22 Earl of Erroll, with all the expertise of her profession, has convinced me that Erroll was dealt with by his own Government, because those in power feared his indiscretion.

In fact his knowledge could have brought about its resignation.

There was never any question of Joss Erroll being a traitor, fascist or otherwise.

He was a brilliant man with a photographic memory who simply knew too much for his own good. While it is generally accepted that 'all is fair in love and war' it does not make the knowledge any less shocking that within minutes of his death, a British agent transmitted the signal: "Ich hatte einen kamraden. 24 0255" beside Lord Erroll's hired Buick, which had come to an abrupt and unexplained halt.

This message was relayed by wireless from Nairobi to Pretoria, from Pretoria to Cairo, from Cairo to London, in confirmation to those who were awaiting the news that Scotland's Hereditary High Constable was dead.

I have now lived in Kenya for almost half a century myself, becoming bored and non-plussed by the way in which the 'Happy Valley' cliché has continued to evoke glamour and decadence in equal measure.

Like the grand-children and great-grand children of third generation settlers, my own three offspring are just as irritated by this 'cache' and justifiably.

Anyone who lives in post Colonial Africa, lives on the edge of uncertainty and never more so than since Independence.

But everyone I know who lives out here, loves Kenya and they work very hard.

Because we employ servants, have early morning tea brought to our bed-side, have our mosquito nets let down each night, in the hope of preventing ever threatening, malaria, because dirty laundry is whisked away, to be returned to pristine freshness, next day, I prefer to couch these benefits as luxury rather than decadence.

As for my own youth I do recall how at the age of sixteen, at the height of the Mau Mau Emergency in Kenya, being shocked myself at the ease with which Europeans appeared to lead their lives.

They seemed so carefree, and spontaneous with no household chores of any sort to deaden the soul.

In fact, the height of 'decadence' in my day, was to dance the night away at Torr's Hotel just as Erroll and his lover, Diana Broughton had done.

After a 4.00 am breakfast we also used drive out from Nairobi to watch the dawn rise over the Rift Valley with one's latest admirer.

If this was romantic it was also quite commonplace among the young.

And I cannot for the life of me sixty odd years on, find any sin in that youthful and relatively innocent activity.

(c) Errol Trzebinski 2000.

'The Life And Death Of Lord Erroll', the new book by Errol Trzebinski, is now on sale at bookshops in Mombasa and Nairobi. 

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