|Destination - May 2010 issue|
Well, I was shocked when I read the article announced on the front page as Strolling through History in Soysambu and entitled On the Shores of Elementaita inside the magazine (pages 12 to 16). The article left me perplexed and insulted.
Why am I vomiting over this particular article? Because it is focusing too much on Tom Cholmondeley, and I feel the time is just not ripe for that. As you may know, Tom Cholmondeley is a Kenyan farmer of British ancestry. He is the great-grandson of the famous Lord Delamere, one of the first and most influential British settlers in Kenya. While Kenya's political elite families are now the largest property holders in the country – partly through corrupt deals – land ownership by white families remains a source of discontent among many of the landless poor.
In April 2005, Tom Cholmondeley shot Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) game ranger Samson ole Sisina on his ranch under the claim of self-defence. The murder case against Cholmondeley was dropped before going to trial. In May 2006, he was taken into custody and held at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison for shooting stonemason Robert Njoya Mbugua on his Soysambu estate. Cholmondeley's murder trial began on 25 September 2006. His trial gripped Kenya, it was one of the most sensational trials in Kenya's post-independence history. On 7 May 2009, he was acquitted of murder, but found guilty of manslaughter. He was sentenced to serve 8 months in prison and was released on 23 October 2009.
Now, let's be clear, I have nothing against Tom Cholmondeley, and I don't want to get into any discussion about whether he was guilty or not. He's a nice chap, and I actually love the work he has been doing on his Soysambu Conservancy and I agree with most of his ideas. I only have a problem with the author of the article, Brennen Matthews, who is also the Managing Editor of Destination. The way he writes about the place and mentions Tom about ten times without interviewing or quoting others is quite insulting to me. I hope the families of the victims never need the article. I am not related to any of the victims, but I still felt very bad about it. Here are some quotes:
"...a very special place that is blessed to be home to not merely a wide variety of wonderful wildlife and awesome scenery but fascinating history as well."Then tell us about the fascinating history of this special place, dude!
"...envision how this small slice of Africa must have looked 100 years earlier when first visited by Lord Delamere."Me, I would like to envision how it must have looked even before his first visit!
"...I was fascinated by the history that blankets this land known as Soysambu, history that belongs not merely to this land or the family who own it but history that belongs to Kenya as a whole."The author then starts to describe this so-called history starting with the arrival of Lord Delamere, just like there was no history to this land before that... Sickening really. 'History that belongs to Kenya as a whole'? I don't feel part of that history for sure.
"History hangs from the walls in the form of pictures and paintings, books and old keep sakes, perfectly designed to jog the memory back to yesteryears."
"Chatting over a cup of tea, Tom's zeal for the local people and the 48,000 acres under his care is immediately evident."Tom's zeal for the local people? Well, the article mentions potentially interesting people such as Mama Jane, a local business lady who started with a single small shop and now operates four. And another entrepreneur who began with a single table and now operates a thriving nyama choma joint. Well, the author should have gone out and interviewed them as well! I am sure Mama Jane also has a last name, and the entrepreneur also has a name... These people also have families, and these families also form part of the history of Kenya!
|Sarah, the |
officer at Soysambu Conservancy
Let me end this post with some good news as well. Serena Hotels is currently establishing the new Lake Elementaita Serena Camp, which will be located along the shores of Lake Elementaita within the Soysambu Conservancy. The new camp will comprise 25 luxury tents, a dining and lounge area, spa and swimming pool enjoying magnificent views of the lake. The Lake Elementaita Serena Camp is scheduled for opening on 15th December 2010. Maybe a nice place to spend a few nights during the end-of-year holidays then, to discover a more balanced view of our common history. Any takers?