When Lawrence suggested that we went to Kenya in 1976, it was hard for me after my experiences of being attacked during the Mau Mau. However, it was a totally different country by then as it was independent. I did stipulate though, that I didn’t want to live in a big house surrounded by lots of land, which we could have done, because I wouldn’t have felt safe.
It took us a while, but we found a lovely flat in Nairobi in Bishop’s Gardens. Des Hutchins, who was in charge of the Kenya project lived there, and eventually one became free. It was a maisonette on two floors and it was in an enclosed compound with a guard (‘askari’) on the gate. We had a really nice large veranda and a private swimming pool and the lift with an intercom, so that you could see who wanted to come up.
UNESCO was developing fifteen Institutes of Technology across the country, called “Harambee Projects” (Swahili for “Let’s all pull together”). Lawrence was involved in most of them because they required machinery. The Colleges included Food Technology, Teacher Training, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration, Tailoring, all spread throughout the country. It was a really good project and UNESCO modelled it in other countries.
Lawrence was officially a diplomat, and we had to do a lot of entertaining of the big wigs, which was tough going. They never brought their wives for one thing. The culture was different from Malaysia, where when we had parties and the wives and children all came along.
Lawrence was of course a keen mountaineer and we joined the Mountain Club of Kenya. He wasn’t away too much, but when he was, I felt safe in the compound with the other UNESCO families. Donna could walk to the Valley Secretarial College, which was only a mile away.
The Mountain Club had a great social life and we became very involved. Lawrence did a few ‘first climbs’ on Mount Kenya and some of the routes were named after him. On a number of occasions would go up the mountain just to clear up some of the rubbish from the mountain huts! Then there was the Hash House Harriers, which was also fantastic.