NAIROBI NEWS: 1920 “ISSUES CONCERNING THE WAR MEMORIAL”
On March 6, 1920, a letter to the editor of the Leader of British East Africa lambasted the public for its stinginess. The writer, a Mr. John Delvin, called it a “striking insight into the meaness of the community.” He listed a few names of those who had “given decently” and said that they can say (here he paraphrased Shakespeare’s Hamlet): “Let the galled jade, wince my withers are untorn.”
Mr. Delvin particularly decries the “lordly firms, forever advertising the cheapness (sic) of their wares, and the excellence of their own virtues and altruism yet have given a paltry Rs 150 (rupees) towards the memory of the 6000 whites and 150,000 black fellow subjects, who perished in the war in East Africa.” He claims that the sale of 2 or 3 kettles would pay that amount. The author goes on to point out the shame that British East Africa has the “stigma of being the only appendage of the Empire where it was necessary to enforce conscription” and now is the only portion of the Empire with no decent memorial. He points to South Africa where, by passing the hat round, some companies gave 25,000 pounds sterling for a memorial and many of the donators were Dutch who had fought against the British 20 years ago.
Delvin argues “I am no negrophilist – the converse,” but that there needs to be a recognition and appreciation of the services of those 150,000 natives who died.
Whether or not Mr. Delvin’s letter carried any weight is uncertain. On June 6, 1920, an advertisement appeared for a Fancy Dress Ball with prizes and dancing where all proceeds without any deduction would go to the War Memorial. On June 12, 1920, the War Memorial Committee thanked the thirty couples who participated in the dance and announced that, as a result, another 310 rupees was added to the coffers. Sounds much like the value of 4 or 6 kettles.
Images taken from The Leader of British East Africa
NEXT WEEK: A pattern for a 1920 Ladies Bathing Costume.
NOTE: These blogs are meant to give some insight into the life and times of my fictional character, Jade del Cameron. Jade’s mystery adventures take place in post WWI Africa. To date they are: Mark of the Lion, Stalking Ivory, and The Serpent’s Daughter, all available in trade paperback.. The fourth book The Leopard’s Prey, IS available in hardcover. For more information, visit the website: www.suzannearruda.com and follow short updates on http://twitter.com/SuzanneArruda