Growing up in Kenya - John Crosher

Nearly all my schooling from age 6 to 19 was spent in Kenya, which in those colonial days, and looking back, was a wonderful time. My primary boarding school was near Thomson's Falls (now called Nyahururu and is a tourist attraction) which is in the Laikipia district, close to the edge of the Great Rift Valley. It was partially surrounded by tropical forest, so at break time we went into it and saw colobus monkeys swinging through the trees, and other wildlife. To get there from Nairobi where my home was, it was a 50-mile journey by train, which not only went down one side of the rift valley, but up again further along to get up to the Laikipia district. While travelling along the floor of the valley, it was teaming with wildlife - herds of gazelles, giraffes, zebras, wildebeest, were all common place, which one could spot from the train. The only singing we did was hymns at Sunday service held in the headmaster's large living room.

My secondary boarding school was called Duke of York, on the outskirts of Nairobi, an all-boys school, modelled on English public schools, complete with houses and prefects. The teaching standard was pretty good as all the staff were graduates from UK or elsewhere. In those days both schools were all white. We had an orchestra and choir and I started off as a treble, going through all the voices and ending up as a bass, and the choir prefect. During my time there a chapel was built, so I sang in both the daily and two Sunday services. The school each year put on plays and occasionally Gilbert and Sullivan operas. As a treble I played a bridesmaid in Trial by Jury, and in my last year the captain in HMS Pinafore. The school name was changed to Lenana shortly after independence in 1963 and changed to all races mixed. I still support the school financially and attend old boys reunions, which are held in UK and in Australia.

I have revisited both schools over the years, and unfortunately nearly all the forest around my primary school has disappeared, turned into arable land. The secondary school has grown somewhat and is thriving. I am glad to see they have kept the maroon uniform jackets and the school motto ‘Nihil praeter optimum’ - Nothing but the best.