KIKUYU DISTRICT by Paul Sullivan
Francis Hall's letters are among the earliest colonial record of daily life in British East Africa, now modern day Kenya. In 1892 Hall was posted to Fort Smith with orders to build 150 miles of road, to re-supply caravans between the coast and Uganda and to keep the peace between the Kikuyu and the Maasai. His was a hard life in difficult, dangerous conditions and every day was an adventure. He was gored by a rhino and mauled by a leopard, which he strangled with his rifle, and survived bush surgery and frequent bouts of malaria. While on leave in England he married Bee Russell, a colleague's sister, and they set up house together in Fort Smith. As the railway line approached, so the early European settlers started to arrive. But the railway was to change everything, and when Nairobi was established on their doorstep at the turn of the century, Fort Smith became redundant. The government first moved the Halls to Machakos and then back to Kikuyuland to establish a new fort at Mbirri. Six months later Francis Hall was dead from blackwater fever aged 40. Mbirri was renamed Fort Hall in his memory and today the town is called Muranga. Kikuyu District is a fascinating account of the life of an early colonial administrator and settler.