Daily Archives: 26 February 2023

Political Winds in Kenya’s Elite, 1930s

From White Mischief: The Murder of Lord Erroll, by James Fox (Open Road Media, 2014), Kindle pp. 46-47:

Before long, out of boredom and an acute sense of his own abilities, the ruling instinct in Erroll began to assert itself and to bloom, encouraged by Lord Francis Scott, who recognised his natural talent for politics. The opportunities for power in that community were infinite: it was a tidy constituency and there was a marked absence of competition. The Premier Earl of Scotland was likely to be a figure of some weight, and he also expressed some forceful political sentiments. In 1934 he became a paid-up member of the British Union of Fascists. Nellie Grant, Elspeth Huxley’s mother, described Erroll’s exploits on Oswald Mosley’s behalf in her posthumously published book, Letters from Africa:

11th December 1934. Wednesday last was Joss Erroll’s meeting at the (Muthaiga) Club to explain British fascism. There were 198 people there, no less, and a very good-tempered meeting, as everybody cheered to the echo what anyone said. British fascism simply means super loyalty to the Crown, no dictatorship, complete religious and social freedom, an “insulated Empire” to trade with the dirty foreigner, higher wages and lower costs of living … All questions and answers cheered to the roof … Whenever Joss said British fascism stands for complete freedom, you could hear Mary Countess [Molly] at the other end of the room saying that within five years. Joss will be dictator of Kenya.

The following year Mussolini invaded Abyssinia, and Joss Erroll dropped his membership in the British Union of Fascists. Instead he was elected, aged thirty-four, to the Presidency of the Convention of Associations, the “settlers’ parliament”—a separate and unofficial rival to the Legislative Council. Eileen Scott, who described Erroll as “much improved,” was at the election.

To my surprise and delight, contrary to the expectations of most people. Joss Erroll was voted to the chair, largely outnumbering the Left Wing, and most of the executive are sound men too. It is a pity Joss hasn’t had a year’s more practice and experience; he has a brain like lightning, and it is difficult for him to listen patiently to this slow minded, if sound, community. However, it is a great step in the right direction, he is very able and a gentleman. Nearly everyone expected a Bolshie to be elected.

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