Bunty Moore c1947

Felicia’s Family History In Kenya (Chapter One) Written by Jane Collie

I (being Jane Collie, Felicia’s mother) first travelled to Kenya in 1973, which was 50 years ago. I was 18 years old, which was slightly older than I thought I was, but maybe that’s good news, because being in Kenya on one’s own with very few family and limited contacts – could have got me into lots of trouble! But I was one of the lucky ones and my life was almost charmed, straight from the beginning. My mother (Bunty Moore) had never really enlightened me to her life in Kenya, but Uncle Gus occasionally filled-me in on their adventures back in 1946. Oh what magical times they must have had. I have subsequently found her letters and picture albums, allowing me to piece it all together. The similarity of not just two, but three generations, treading on the African Continent, all at different times, is amazing as my daughter, Felicia, now is married and lives in Kenya living a wonderful life with her husband outfitting riding safaris for the last thirteen years. I also have had my own personal resurgence to Kenya since 2010. Although much has changed landscape-wise, I feel so at home and blessed to have come back.
It’s always ironic that when you have the opportunity to reminisce your parents-past, that those opportunities are left too late – for all you have to rely-on, are a few raggedly photo albums and faded airmail letters. From these old gems, I have pieced together some wonderful stories of Bunty’s young life in Africa starting in 1946 and spanning through to 1956. I am unable to recall her ever talking in depth as to why she first came to Kenya, except to say maybe she was lured there by the infamous Uncle Gus, namely her cousin, who was sent to Kenya by his parents as the prodigal black sheep of the family – never to return! Reading between the lines, I think Uncle Gus used mother as his ‘Bank of Kenya’, having ascertained that she had been left a considerable sum of money by her Grandmother. In all her correspondence, there was a lot of financial talk as to how much Uncle Gus had borrowed, and to how many amazing trips he had persuaded my mother to accompany him on, as long as she paid! Always with a promise …..
One trip that stands out, was their safari to the Belgian Congo in an MG midget. Here are a few clips of a letter sent to her mother (Rowena Moore);
“We came back from the Indian Ocean and spent a night in Nairobi, before then heading off for three weeks – that ought to be a wonderful trip. It’s quite a business, as one can only take £20 each and have to have various visas etc and we have to do about 200 miles a day and there aren’t many towns. We travel via Kampala in Uganda and all the way up (if you have a map you can see the route) and one day we hope to cross Lake Tanganika by steam – takes all day! The volcano near Lake Kivu (Goma) was erupting, but I gather it has just stopped now, rather a pity, as I would have liked to have seen it!”
I return back to my time in Kenya as an eighteen year old – I had always been in a hurry to grow up, not so now …..
My self confidence did stand me in good stead though, as the infamous Uncle Gus was to be my chaperone whilst in Kenya. This sadly did not transpire immediately, as he had forgotten or rather glossed-over the fact that on my arrival he was moving out of the matrimonial home in leafy Karen to take up residence with his secretary of twenty years in Westlands! Leaving me to a total stranger, his estranged wife, promising me the use of the company cars in recompense to his total absence for the first six months. My surrogate aunt was a formidable lady on first acquaintance, and it was with trepidation that I arrived at their house to be met by the words, so “you’r the niece,” as she exhaled a large cloud of smoke from an extremely long cigarette holder. All my fears were soon allayed as Wendy was the most hospitable hostess and I believe I was a welcome distraction to her breakup.
My first adventure, was taking up the offer made to me whilst in the UK, by a dashing young man at a drinks party in London. I mentioned offhandedly to Wendy, that the said young man had given me his number in Kenya as he was going to join his good friend and go on a two-week safari exploring the Masai Mara Game Reserve, Serengeti National Park, Lake Manyara. Ngorongoro Crater and back to stay on Baringo Island Camp in The Great Rift Valley. This at the time, meant very little to me, but to my aunt, it was all systems-go – a trip not to be passed over.