Leslie Edward Whitehouse – Jomo Kenyatta

Very few Suffolk folk are aware of Leslie Whitehouse (known as Wouse). Born in Coddenham, Suffolk, his father operated a windmill, and when that failed tried the coal business, later running a sweet shop in Ipswich. Wouse was a shy retiring youngster, the sixth and last child. He was five years younger than his nearest sister. He hated the municipal school in Ipswich.

His oldest brother Geoffrey was a Commander in the Royal Navy retiring in 1919 he was allocated a farm in western Kenya. He asked Wouse to help run a flax farm. It failed. Wouse found a job in a pharmacy. That took him to Maasiland, as the Maasai welcomed vaccination, realising its value in combating smallpox.

Wouse loved the life, and was fortunate to be offered a job as a schoolmaster at Narok. Immediately he came upon the social differences of Africa compared with Europe. Circumcision was an accepted rite of passage, taxation was not! He was an unusual Englishman in Kenya at that time. He’d no educational qualifications, had not been to public school nor in the armed services.He was a loner, he was different, but he loved Africa and its people.

Wouse spoke many languages well, and was accepted by local people. First he was a teacher at Kijabe. He was impressed by the young Maasai warriors, their fine physiques, and no reliance upon possessions. A spear, a blanket (once it would have been a lion skin) and cattle, animals they were convinced were put on this world for the Maasai so rustling was merely reclaiming their property.

Wouse was made a District Commissioner and sent to Lodwar to cover the area of the Turkana tribe, and he spent much of his time identifying the borders between Kenya, Uganda and Sudan. No easy task, requiring exceptional diplomatic skills when dealing with people who had no conception of borders, but understood tribal areas.

Turkana was remote so the colonial government found it a useful place to keep prisoners. There was little chance of escape. Wouse was then a senior district commissioner charged with building a prison, which he did at Lokitaung, remote outpost.

Peter Johnstone, a fatherless young Kenyan, deserted by his mother, was educated at a Presbyterian school in Kikuyu. He found it difficult to match the moral codes of Christianity, and was dissatisfied until he became secretary of the Kikuyu Central Association trying to preserve tribal customs. The Kikuyu were one of 27 different tribes in Kenya. Changing his name to Jomo Kenyatta his influence grew, and he was sent to London to represent the KCA. He loved London, spending 18 months in Europe before going to Moscow.

Jomo Kenyatta

Jomo Kenyatta in 1953

Life then became very political, and for an outline of those times I suggest you got to http://www.psywar.org/maumau.php who does a much better job than I can of painting the political picture.

Wouse had built a prison, and now Jomo Kenyatta was his prisoner. Kenyatta and his fellow defendants put their faith in a defence counsel, a Mr Pritt, who promised they would be released. That did not happen. Wouse was ordered to take care of Mzee: the name he used for Jomo Kenyatta, who was then 60 years of age. A martyr was not wanted.

Kenyatta’s fellow prisoners were antagonistic towards him. There were at least two attempts to kill him. He was constantly bullied, and only one prisoner, China, gave him any support.

Wouse was more interested in problems at the frontier with Sudan and Ethiopia. and Kenyatta fell ill, so bad he was flown to Nairobi for treatment. During 1954 Jomo Kenyatta began to receive visitors, all sorts of people made the journey to his remote prison, where he spent most of his time in solitary confinement, and worked as the camp’s cook. Only six prisoners were kept there at that time.

The care taken of Jomo Kenyatta did not endear him to his fellow inmates. It was reported that too much time was spent dealing with the complaints of the prisoners, although relationships with the District Officer were always cordial. One young prisoner, Karioki, a convicted murderer who had not been executed because of his age, attacked Kenyatta with a knife. It’s reported that, ‘Fortunately for Kenyatta his attackers trousers caught in a splinter on the table. Kenyatta had just enough warning to catch the man’s arm with the knife in it. He shouted to China. The others tried to hold China back but he threw them off and grabbed the knife’.

It was a clear attempt at murder, with the young attacker immune from execution having nothing much to lose. Kenyatta remained in his cell, very depressed, but also a Kikuyu tradition to talk very little about oneself.

It’s clear that Mzee and Wouse had a close relationship. Neither man was very expressive, and Wouse goes to great lengths to not reveal the true nature of that friendship. He goes as far to say that ‘I am obliged to inhibit some part of our acquaintanceship’. They had a lot in common, both born at the end of the century, with unhappy childhoods, so that neither realised their full potential. Both felt they were outsiders, and both had sought escape in foreign lands. Neither gained any comfort from established religions. Kenyatta was a man of ideas, a born leader. Wouse was an implementer, experiencd in the art of the possible.

Wouse retired in 1958, Kenyatta said, just before his release, ‘We have been in university. We learned more about politics that we learned outside’. An indirect compliment to Wouse,

Wouse was then encouraged to take Kenyan citizenship and to represent Kenya on the Sudan/Kenya/Uganda boundary commission, and to become a judge. He worked hard. He had to because the British government used the excuse of his Kenyan citizenship to deprive him of enhanced pension rights. It was a dismal time for Wouse, forced to sell his home, to rent somewhere smaller, and to keep working until he was over 85. Fortunately the Kenyan President allowed him to receive his salary after retirement, so he was able to live in Kenya, but all dreams of returning to England were dashed.

Much is now said about British colonialism, some of it bad. However Leslie Edward Whitehouse did his best for Kenya, and as Suffolk people we can be proud of his achievements.

The information for this blog came from a book published in 1993 Jomo’s Jailor, Grand Warrior of Kenya. The author, Elizabeth Watkins, has added valuable information to an international library. It is regrettable that the book is now out of print. If the author can be traced I’d be pleased to consider republication.

NY4U: English ESL

NY4U book coverNY4U is a new approach to learning a language. Designed to help visitors to understand the language of the streets of New York it describes 250 idioms, everyday phrases and sayings, used by New Yorkers. Putting these into sentences that reinforce understanding. Answers to all the questions are provided.

Many students arrive in New York every year, and too many fail because they have not been taught these idioms. This ebook will help. Written by an experienced teacher of English who has worked with students in New York for many years we know this will become essential reading.

More titles will follow, each covering particular sectors of all our lives.

Students will need this ebook, but all visitors to New York will find it helps them to understand what New Yorkers are saying!

Buy NY4U for your Kindle

Our Health in Felixstowe


We are a seaside resort so it’s encouraging that we average over 4 hours of sunshine a day, a good result. At Landguard, close to the port it is even higher – not quite sure how that can happen.

The port brings pollution, and as the town is on the eastern side of the largest container port in the country, with prevailing winds coming from the west it was obvious that levels would be high. The roads suffer from so many diesel lorries, which bring NO2 Nitrogen Dioxide at high levels. More worrying Particulate Matter is twice the national average. All of our Eastern region has the highest herbicide and fungicide usage in the UK, with Felixstowe Ferry Golf Club showing significant usage. There’s no data about the winter use of chlorine, but in summer our water companies use more than most.

How does this affect our general health? Lung and breast cancers are just below average. Turning to prostrate cancer reveals a weakness in the data used – it simply says that there is no data because women don’t get prostrate cancer. That’s an overall weakness as all the data is for females – men are not considered. Is that because data about males is too disturbing? A question that should be asked. If you don’t believe me take a walk into any retirement home.

Skin cancers are just above average in Felixstowe, but Aldeburgh and Leiston have higher levels. Levels for bladder, leukaemia, liver and kidney disease, pulmonary cancers, stillbirths and other measures of health are very good. Words of warning about statistics: this is 2001 data – a lot may have changed. I know of 12 people in Felixstowe with brain tumours, well above the average – yet the maps do not reflect that.

It’s a useful service, and should be widely used. ‘They’ are warning us not to use this data to decide where to live. Old industrial areas, notably South Wales don’t look good, but that may have changed.

About the same time this Atlas was launched the NHS produced something similar. I can’t make it work – I’m sure you will do better.


Hopefully you will find this information useful.

What Democracy?: Part One

I’ve been considering a few problems, and want to mull them over with you. No immediate answers will arise but you never know when that spark of genius will appear.

Michael Gove

Michael Gove: Education Minster (for now)

Perhaps that’s a good place to start – with education. I’d suggest we have got it partly wrong. Our children are fantastic, brighter than we ever were, and teachers do sterling work. I once trained as a teacher, and even taught for half a term. I was dreadful, and so was the curriculum I was forced to teach. Together we skated through subjects. At times we may have caught a glimmer of imagination, a slight gleam in the eyes of the respectfully obedient young faces that looked up at me. I taught them nothing.

The best classes I ever took were with the fifth-form leavers. These were the drop-outs, the guys who’d had enough, who had not been motivated. They faced a tough future. Jobs were scarce, especially for an unqualified kid, some of whom had already determined they would survive on State benefits and anything else they could lay their hands on. For some that meant a life of crime. I recalled my time as a police sergeant working around Kings Cross in London. The young criminals I met there had been the brightest minds. They were not prepared to face a life of drudgery and poor wages. They had a dream. They lacked the pathways to help them move forward.

Education should be about making the pupil think. Problem solving is vital. Too much of our education depends upon memory retention and conformity. Children are taught to accept. They are not expected to look outside the box, or to radically question.

My simple solution is to ensure that kids can communicate. They must be able to read, write; and that means keyboard and computer skills as well as how to hold a pen – too few know how to do the latter. Once they can read, write, and understand mathematical calculations they should be tested. At that stage they may be 12-13 years of age. If they matriculate – and the danger here is that extra subject ‘requirements’ will be added if administrators are allowed to interfere – then the child can leave school.

Leave school: understanding that this is just the start of their way through life. Leave school with the statutory promise that they can access at least five years of full-time education at any time in their lives. That’s equivalent to leaving school at eighteen, as planned by the government as I write.

What they do then needs to be considered. Not by rote. Not by anyone but themselves. Hopefully most will have learned how to seek advice, and even to listen occasionally. Some may wish to remain at school, choosing which subjects to study. Others will want apprenticeships to acquire practical skills. There can be several approaches to assist. We now have tools and techniques available that allow us to move away from the 19th Century approach to education that we have at present.

Khan-Academy-LogoOne example of new teaching methods can be found at the Khan Academy which says it is an organization on a mission. A not-for-profit with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education for anyone anywhere.

All of the site resources are available to anyone. It doesn’t matter if you are a student, teacher, a parent teaching children at home, adult returning to the classroom after 20 years, or a friendly alien just trying to get a leg up in earthly biology. Khan Academy’s materials and resources are available to you completely free of charge.

There are now thousands of videos in which the site’s founder, Salman Khan, chattily discusses principles of mathematics, science, and economics, with a touch of social science.

The principle works, and with open-source software available anything is possible. Software, such as Moodle, a learning platform and Drupal, a content management system and WordPress, designed as a blogging platform, and the more flexible web site software, Joomla much can help anyone to structure facilities that can teach.

Open Source

The concept of a ‘qualified teacher’ means little more than an individual who has been processed through an induction system and has shown they are willing to conform. Not a good example to potential innovators.

Social networking sites may be attractive but real progress comes with open-source. Its roots lie within the frustrations felt by users of proprietary software, which worked but not always the way that was wanted, and could disappear overnight or start demanding real money once the user’s site was properly established.

That disquiet led to the creation of new operating systems, many springing from Debian, which hosts over 37,000 free software packages, including Libre Office, which compares very well with any commercial software, Firefox a free browser, Evolution and many other programs designed to work on Linux systems, of which Ubuntu is one of the most popular. Linux family

These open-source platforms demonstrate a new world. Yes, they need financing, but very little compared with commercial companies who are constantly threatened by shareholder demands, who always demand more profit, more quickly. Open source users just want to help make the best software that they can use. It’s a principle that demonstrates a new world order is possible.

Open source licenses grant licensees the right to copy, modify and redistribute source code (or content) usually at no cost. The important element is that users are treated like co-developers and have access to the source code of the software. Users are encouraged to submit additions to the software, code fixes for the software, bug reports, documentation and ideas. This allows the software to develop. Linus’s law states, “Given enough eyeballs all bugs are shallow.”

I’ll stop there for today – just to reiterate the general principles.

The next generations need support and encouragement. They can learn at their own pace, and indeed it is best that they do so. Assuming that thirty kids from diverse backgrounds can all progress at an even rate is madness enough, without assuming that they can be tested (if that’s needed at all) at the same time.

Cooperation produces results. Division of labour led to the Industrial Revolution. Today we have the opportunity to work together, with the most important new attribute: we can all benefit from that cooperation.

It’s a digital age – let’s use it for the common good.

Felixstowe Dream

Felixstowe beach

Beach as it once was

It’s been a good weekend. Admittedly it was not bikini weather, but that’s OK as I gave up wearing mine years ago. Sun, and a touch of rain to keep the allotment happy. It went well.

It’s good to see so many people along the promenade all able to look at the back of the beach huts that have now been put back into their obstructive positions. The Council says it owns the piece of the beach were those huts are placed – I’d like to see that proved.

Walking along the front I started to dream about the Felixstowe we could have. The seafront is a good place to start. Suddenly all those Norwegian rocks disappeared to be replaced by wooden groynes, so much more sympathetic to our soft Suffolk coastline, and they lasted well over 100 years. Lack of maintenance over recent years saw to their downfall, and a woman, allegedly from Croydon (that’s close to the sea!) was brought in with sackloads of rocks to solve the problem. They didn’t do too well last winter, making us spend more cash to repair the damage. I was once offered the job of surveyor for this coastline -those rocks will not do the job for much more than ten years, let alone 100.

Rumour, and I do relish rumour, suggests that the Bloor Homes buildings at Cell Block South are starting to show signs of settlement. That’s only to be expected. I’m still waiting for the report on that contract.

The market on the site of the Cavendish Hotel is looking grim. The land needs better exploitation, and so does the Town.

From Arwela Road south to the Nature Reserve at Landguard I have, in the past, suggested we knock it all down and build a seaside version of Alton Towers – or something. The present arcades are very 1950s. At that time I loved buying doughnuts and spending my pennies in the machines, which never seemed quite so greedy as the cash-gobblers of today.

Times have changed. The best fish and chips are now to be found at The Regal. Gone are waitresses with trays of cakes. Cordys made fishy or turned into the blue Alex. They both work, and other places in the town should follow their example.

There’s a different attitude once you head east past the pier. The gardens and our poor dear Spa Pavilion have been ravaged by council ineptitude. Is it true that the contractors of the Gardens scheme sued the Council and won? Who is paying those costs and damages – why do I bother to ask?

I always feel sorry for disabled people. With a little foresight and cooperation the new promenade around Cranmer House could easily have been extended those extra yards to meet up with the Dip promenade. That would allow wheelchairs use of the longest prom in the land – or at least encourage more town visitors.

Visitors may be needed if Premiere Inns are to buy the Ordnance Hotel. What pleasure that place gave us all when Tim Yeo’s family ran the place. Jazz on Sundays – aah memories. That tradition has moved to the Fludyers on Sunday evenings, proving very popular, although I miss the traditional jazz – was it Tom Collins who played there – I can’t recall.



Hitler 1933 The film ‘Downfall’ directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, written by Bernd Eichinger was shown on BBC TV this weekend.

It was a telling reminder of the pain and futility of war. That last great war cost 50 million people their lives, and destroyed the hopes and ambitions of millions more. Today the German people are admired, and accepted throughout the world. If anyone is to be disliked it remains the Russians, which is very strange as they lost 20 million of their citizens resisting Hitler’s National Socialists.

The West (whoever they really are) are slowly recreating an enemy. Vladimir Putin is helping build that myth. The warmongers want to march over Europe once again. They should be resisted.

In many ways the Cold War, through which I have lived much of my life, was helpful. It kept the killers posturing. Ironically Germany and Japan, the two defeated enemies, were not allowed to join in these new war games. As a result they rebuilt their countries, concentrated upon building infrastructures and industries and did very well as a result.

The United Kingdom (once known as Great Britain and Northern Ireland) didn’t do as well. We held on to the USA’s skirts as we repaid our War Loans, it took 40 years to give the USA back the money they had lent us to fight the Nazi threat. That repayment took away much of our potential. As did the tripartite arrangement that had GB give up its Commonwealth as the price for not being taken over by either Stalin’s Russia or Roosevelt’s USA.

Since the dark years of World War Two there have been too many new conflicts. None have solved very much. The people have still died, been torn apart, lost everything.

There is an opportunity to stop all this. Rich countries are all in debt. Too often they see conflicts as the best way to encourage production, and so consumption, or at the very least to take our minds off the real problems. Margaret Thatcher was turned into a hero by the Falklands conflict. Without that we’d have been much more conscious of the mishandled economy and have rejected her earlier.

The Internet offers some hope. We don’t have to accept the decisions made by a posturing elite. We could ask why we need huge standing armies. Why do we need to get involved in foreign conflicts? There was a time when I planned to drive to India – fat chance that I can do that now.

Let’s think about Peace. It’s Spring here. Time to look at the flowers.

Sunday in the woods

Little People's homeThe Spring is glorious. Young life emerging, birds chatter, insects buzz and leaves uncurl; a fantastic symphony that delights and inspires. Yesterday our Poetrees Group met at The Grove, Felixstowe. It’s the only green space we have in Felixstowe and needs to be cherished. There’s a small mature wood, planted about 1800 to which has been added a new 4-hectare mix of native trees, planted as the Millennium Wood in 1999 (ish), now renamed Abbey Grove. Not sure why that name was chosen, I’ll continue t call it the Millennium Wood.
The Poetree Group is a FB collection of local folk. We stroll through the woods, listening and looking, then stopping to read a piece of poetry. In The Grove it is essential to pay your respects to the Little People who live in the wood. They went against the trend. Big People (that’s us) moved from Ireland to England but little people emigrated from Suffolk to Ireland, and indeed the rest of the world. The Grove is their ancestral home.
It’s so good to be with people who share your love, and with the sun shining it made for a glorious afternoon.
Eventually I made it home and decided to watch the Masters golf tournament on my iPad. Don’t ask me why. I don’t understand golf. Hitting a small defenceless white ball makes no sense to me. The golf course at Augusta Georgia is as spotless as a furniture showroom, and about as soulless. Nature is only allowed if it conforms, precisely, to requirements. Every part looks like an over-the-top woman leaving her hairdressers. Unsuitably coiffured, unable to breath unless her sagging stomach muscles burst forth. It is not natural. I prefer my nature, and my women, to look dishevelled, as if they are enjoying life.
The golfers are under tension. Not only do they have to coax the little white ball into a hole they must keep their sponsors happy. Why they don’t carry adverts on their backsides defeats me, there’s a lot of wasted promotional space.
After four days of stress one of the golfers is declared the winner, and is given a green jersey. They must be able to get one made for themselves instead of going to all that trouble. I jest. They make incredible amounts of money. I’m left wondering why. They contort their bodies, so many suffer from bad backs, and what good is served from hitting a little ball with a stick? I can understand most sporting activities, but golf leaves me cold. Go for a walk instead.
In bed watching the end of the tournament, muttering quietly, my indifference was helped by BT, my broadband supplier. Late evenings at weekends has BT sharing my bandwidth with anyone else that wants it. Every few minutes the connection will drop off. I’m forced to reconnect. It happens so frequently that I may be forced to change supplier.
After all the British Open starts in Liverpool soon.

East of England Co-operation

East of England Co-op logoThe warning signals have been plain to see for at least a decade but have been ignored. Co-operation remains important but it requires management changes if it is to adapt to the present world.

Unfortunately the sharks have been circling, people who have no understanding of the mutual model but believe the only motivation for any commercial enterprise is shareholder profit. They must be resisted. What’s now required is not far short of a peasants revolt. Co-op members need to stand together and push aside corporate greed.

In the east of England we had a thriving mutual. It had a range of business interests which served the local community. In addition there were a considerable number of clubs and activities, all of which held the local community together and gave great pleasure, training and support. That has gradually been eroded. Co-op Jujnirs perform

I was once part of the Suffolk Forum; a small group of Members who were supposed to represent the larger Membership. The truth was we were powerless. Our recommendations had to be forwarded to another committee, and then to go to yet another set of decision makers – very often these were the paid management team. So the governed were, in effect, managing themselves.

Several disastrous decisions were taken. The all-encompassing supply of goods and services that the Co-op once provided have been slowly dismantled. General stores and department stores have gone. In the eastern area of England that substantial part of the business was sold to a commercial company who stripped the assets and were then liquidated. It was a cynical exploitation, and very poor management decision. The sale was secretly and poorly managed, leaving the Co-op cruelly exposed.

The Rule Book was used by poor quality managers to prevent real discussion or innovation. This is a complex area, well beyond this paper, but I’ll give two examples. There is an age restriction imposed upon those wishing to stand as Board Members. It’s discriminatory, and probably illegal, and it prevents many people who are retired, yet have considerable experience, from serving.

Samson, CEOThere were mergers, and that dreadful idea that growth brings success was paramount. Then the CEO left suddenly. It’s tempting to add that he did so under a cloud, but despite attempts to find out why no explanation has ever been provided.

In recent years the Suffolk Forum and many of the clubs and activities once supported by the Co-op have been disbanded. They have left a huge hole in the structure. It’s clear that commercial management cannot, and will not, understand mutuality. Profit is their only concern.

I’ve a Co-operative Bank account, and once had a Britannia Building Society account. I had the latter because it was a mutual society. That has now been stolen, and is in the hands of hedge funds (that’s another name for asset strippers). It’s not far away from a criminal act. However we now have no means of public expression. Local newsletters, forums and discussion groups have all gone. The Co-operative web sites rarely have an email eddress that Members can use, and Board Members seem as bemused as the rest of us.

A decade ago I could expect a Dividend payment close to 3% of my purchases. It was a great incentive, and much better than any clubcard offered by supermarkets. That has been reduced, and now I’m given vouchers to spend at the Co-op, not money. That’s OK, and understandable, but they offer very poor value. Importantly I no longer feel part of my local Co-op.

This must be stopped. I welcome the recent resignations of people who have no understanding of mutual concepts. However those that remain need to look very carefully at our future. The sharks are still circling ready to gnaw away at the efforts of over a century of dedicated workers and volunteers who built a wonderful organisation.

There are good examples; Waitrose and John Lewis Partnership, and others, show what can be done. The credit unions could (should) be given greater freedom, pulling them out of the serfdom mentality so they provide wider services to more people. We need a mutual bank.

Let’s make changes. Let’s stick together and ensure the Co-operative movement remains the stalwart provider that it has always been. It needs to change but to even consider that it should become just another PLC that can be traded by disinterested, but greedy, investors would be a tragedy equal to the privatisation of our national assets.


It’s Time for an early morning chat – about breakfast. For me boiled eggs work very well. I found this sound file – made last August, so it’s time for you to listen. OK, I know, I wrote about a breakfast recently – this time I’m talking, and in any case I’m allowed to be obsessed with food – I’m on a diet!

Eric Barton – A Village Boy

A Village Boy book coverSocial history is important. Our world is ever-changing, and many like me rue the loss of a time which we loved.

Nayland is a small (Google map) village on the borders of Essex and Suffolk in East Anglia, England. For many it is known as part of Constable Country after the English Romantic painter (1776-1837).

Eric Barton was born in this sleepy village in 1923 and his memoir chronicles life in the village for the next forty years. It’s an autobiography, and you do get to know the man, but also village life. There are a number of interesting pictures and plenty of stories. The meandering river once flooded regularly until a weir was built after WWII. Such communities were largely self-supporting with small local businesses thriving. As a result there was a busy social life. I love the throwaway snippets of information, each of which would make an interesting tale. Eric mentions theft from the allotments, the village kids stealing from the sweet shop – soon stopped by the village policeman telling off the culprits in front of the whole school, the butchers prosecuted for racketeering during the war.

Not that this was a hot-bed of crime. The village worked together, cattle strolled down the main street during that day. The Fire Brigade was manned by local volunteers, just one example of self-sufficiency.

The Second World War had an enormous impact on the village, and on Eric, who joined the Royal Navy, serving in the Mediterranean until captured by an Italian warship. Eric’s war experiences take up a good part of his story, adding to the history of that terrible time.

This book is still available and can be purchased from Braiswick