Sunday, April 20, 2008

Letter Four: Ngata 29/11/1926

We go forward many months now, to November. There do not seem to be any letters surviving from the intervening five months. Christmas is coming and he sounds a little wistful for the Christmas displays in the shops, carols and the pantomime in Leeds . Interestingly he refers to coal rationing, and bemoans the lack of shops in Njoro and the ubiquitous Patrick is there of course. He mentions going to visit the Woodmores at Keringet now rather than at Molo. I don't think he ever got there.

With this letter I am showing a picture of his "house" and a store. He liked living in this little round house preferring it to the brick built one he would move into later at Kisinget. The houses were built of anything available, wood corrugated iron, grass reeds mud and petrol cans.
In the book "Red Strangers" by C S Nicholls there is a description of a farmer's hut.

" My house is made of mud with holes of various sizes and shapes to represent doors and windows. The floor is nothing more than Mother Earth... everything is continually covered with sand, mud or white ants and consequently any degree of comfort is impossible.... It is remarkable how much the office owes to petrol boxes and tins... The insects at night are most trying and appear in large numbers, in the form of moths and beetles of all descriptions, that it is almost impossible to read or write, and quite futile to consider any supper but bread and cheese. Scorpions, tarantulas and snakes are also numerous.. "

"My Hut, Njoro"

" The inside of my hut. Njoro "


House constructed with tubs.

Letter 4
Lord Egerton of Tatton’s Estates
N’gata Farm
29/11/ 26

My Darling Joyce

Just a line from Daddy to wish you a merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year. I am sorry I have not been able to come Home for the Goose and Plum Pudding but never mind, you and Patrick must eat my share between you.
We will have another special Pudding made when I do arrive. Mummy tells me you are all allowed a small ration of coal every week in Leeds nowadays so it is lucky for you and Mums that ours is only a little House, if they were great big rooms like Temple-Newsham has in it, whatever would you do.
I hear that already you have had Snowstorms, and Dad can hardly remember what Snow looks like it is so long since he saw any. It is hotter and brighter here, with Sunshine at Christmas, than it is in Leeds in July but Dad would much rather live with you and Mums in Leeds than all by himself at Njoro.
I cannot send you a Christmas Present, love, nor a card because we have no rows of nice shops here like you have, to choose them in. There is only one store at Njoro and they keep chiefly foodstuffs. A leg of Mutton or a box of Quaker Oats would be a strange Christmas Gift wouldn’t it.?
I expect you and Mums will have had a grand tour round all the Fairylands and Santa Claus’ shops full of beautiful Toys, and then there will be the Pantomime to see and Carols to sing at Church so even if the weather is cold and dull in old England it is much the best country to spend Christmas in. Daddy is going to visit Mr Woodmore at Keringet for a few days and hear the little children sing “Good King Wenceslaus” and “The First Noel”. They sing in English and do so quite well.

Much Love and Many Kisses from Daddy

I will write a longer letter next time