The Kenya Police – A Living History
How it Started
I am Treasurer of The Kenya Police Association in Britain and an Author and Publisher.
The idea of a Living History came to me whilst receiving many telephone calls from my colleagues or wives and widows during a specific project that needed lots of contact with my Police colleagues, wives and widows.
One morning I chatted individually with three widows who all had interesting tales of their time in Kenya as Police wives. I listened with close attention and sympathy, realizing that they now had no one to talk to about their experiences in their normal day-to-day life. Who would understand now, the trials, tribulations and excitements of those days sixty or seventy years ago?
At the end of the third conversation, it came to me that they were reciting real and true history, so I sent an Email and letter around to all on our contact lists in Britain, Australia, New Zealand and USA, explaining my idea and asking for their stories to compile into a book. I made the strong point that I did not want a lot of blood-and-thunder Mau Mau stories. I asked for tales that would show how we lived, worked and did our duty throughout Kenya, not just among the Kikuyu.
At best I expected thirty or forty stories. In the event I received eighty, with not a dud among them. Police Officer and their wives, widows, sons and daughters sent me a series of fascinating tales that I found absolutely absorbing, although I had lived through similar experiences.
Using an artist – a close friend – I commissioned line drawings to accompany a number of the stories. He had never done such art before, but I gave him the stories I thought could take an illustration and he turned out a series of absolutely wonderful pictures that jump from the page and help make the book even more vibrant. I gave him no instructions on what to draw. I simply sent the stories and he chose the subject from what he read into the tale being told. He refused any payment and even tried to split the cost of lunch with me when I invited him and his wife out in gratitude for the lovely line drawings.
In each story I edited carefully, usually with the author in order to preserve each individual Voice. No words of mine are in any of the stories and I made an astonishing number of friends during the editing process in coaxing the editing from them. Many I edited by telephone, both in Britain and abroad. Others I edited by Email.
Being a proper history book, I published as a hardback for extra quality and longevity.
The First Living History went so well I have so far reprinted twice. In addition, it has been well received outside the niche of our worldwide Kenya Police Associations. The first volume seemed to capture the imagination of those who had not written and compelled them to write.
After publication, so many stories continued to flow in, I had to compile a second volume, codenamed LH2. The codenames are because, while preparing LH1 I never expected to compile a Second Living History and writing the words “The First Living History”, or “The Second Living History” is such a mouthful.
I published LH2 during early May. So many stories continued to come in during preparation of LH2, I planned a short rest, then, with the number of stories remaining from LH2 and more still coming in, I am about to get going with LH3. By all means don’t stop. Send more stories if you have them in your head. I imagine LH3 will be complete by May 2017.
Thanks to all those who sent such wonderful tales for the first two books You have as much credit for the success of these two volumes as me because, without your wonderful tales, I would have had nothing to produce and publish.
If you are abroad and decide to buy the books, go to Wordery.com and enter the ISBN numbers in the search box. For LH1 enter 9780957583856 and for LH2, 978095757363. This will bring the books up immediately.
Wordery is a first class British company and ship post-free throughout the world and even discount the book. If you are in Britain, buy from me, John Newton, 39 Taylors Ride, Leighton Buzzard, LU7 3JN.
All good wishes