Thursday, June 18, 2009

Nanyuki Sports Club, Kenya


Nanyuki Sports Club

The other day an email came in that I might easily have consigned to the trash heap as the sender’s name (Maggie) meant nothing to me. The subject line was the kicker. It simply said Nanyuki Sports Club. This was the social centre of European life for the best part of forty years before Kenyan independence in 1963. My mother managed the club during WWII when the men were away at war and twenty-five years later my new wife and I held our wedding reception there.

There is another link and this is where my email correspondent came in. She was searching, from her computer in Plymouth, England for information about a painting of the club made by her partner’s late brother. Somehow she navigated her way to my web site and the Amazon site about my first book Wrestling With Rhinos: The Adventures of a Glasgow Vet in Kenya.

She ended up there because one of the illustrations in the book shows a painting done by one Ronald Snoaden, about whom I knew nothing, that was done in 1944 and shows a view from one of the lawns around the main club building. Snoaden gave it to my mother at some point. The painting now sits on the wall of our home in Saskatoon, Canada.

The club remains the social centre of the business and professional people of Nanyuki, but these days has a real rainbow mix of races and people as members. We have retained our overseas membership and stayed there in March of this year. We not only stayed there, but also were assigned the very cottage (banda in KiSwahili), where Jo changed out of her wedding dress into beautiful cream-coloured Benares silk sari that she had chosen as a going-way dress. The champagne was also stored there before the event, but by the time Jo changed it was almost all gone!

A small part of the banda is visible at the very edge of Snoaden’s painting. What is less obvious is that Snoaden was standing with his back to one of Kenya’s most spectacular views, that of Mount Kenya. Here is a wide-angle shot of the mountain taken from just outside the clubhouse in front of the children’s playground.


Anonymous said...

Hey Jerry I remember having met you in Nanyuki. You know H - Patel Criket ?
I am his son.

Jerry Haigh said...

Hi there Bindesh,
We had heard that one member of the family is in Australia, and yes, we do indeed remember H & your mother, with whom we shared many dinners when we lived on Lunatic Lane. I played quite a bit of cricket with H. We were in Nanyuki in March & stopped in to see your brother Beemal at the shop and then went down to the house for tea.

Julie Gill said...

Hi Jerry,
I've been asked by the current Chairman of Nanyuki Sports Club to put together a history of the Club but I am missing a lot of info as there are no records for 1926-1930 and 1946-1962. Anything you could let me have would be brilliant. Photos, old newsletters or memories. I would be very grateful for whatever you can let me have. Thanks.