Kilifi Branch

To emulate "Alice in Wonderland," let us begin at the beginning. Once upon a time a diminutive lady, none other than Mrs. Doe Graham, came to see me and said that she was wondering if it would be a good idea to start a Branch of the EAWL in Kilifi and District, as she felt that many ex-members of up-country branches were now living in the district. So that is how it all began, and our first meeting was chaired by Mrs. T Nicholson (who sadly died at the end of 1982) on 6th March 1973, together with Malindi members. Eventually the branch became unwieldy, and Malndi started their own branch in 1979. We then had some misgivings about the continuation of Kilifi branch, but we need not have worried; the Watamu ladies joined our branch and have remained loyal and active members ever since, rarely missing one of our monthly meetings. Up until 2007 at least, when Watamu formed its own branch.

 

Mrs. Nina Mitchell (Malindi) became Chairman in March 1975 until January 1977, when Mrs. Betty Fulton took over until the end of 1980. Betty was a tower of strength during her time in Kilifi and then Doe Graham took over as Branch Chairman until July 1986 when she left Kenya to live in Scotland. Doe was followed by Mrs. Margaret Haworth (Watamu) as Chairman. To all these excellent hard-working chairmen we owe a deep debt of gratitude.

 

To emulate "Alice in Wonderland," let us begin at the beginning. Once upon a time a diminutive lady, none other than Mrs. Doe Graham, came to see me and said that she was wondering if it would be a good idea to start a Branch of the EAWL in Kilifi and District, as she felt that many ex-members of up-country branches were now living in the district. So that is how it all began, and our first meeting was chaired by Mrs. T Nicholson (who sadly died at the end of 1982) on 6th March 1973, together with Malindi members. Eventually the branch became unwieldy, and Malndi started their own branch in 1979. We then had some misgivings about the continuation of Kilifi branch, but we need not have worried; the Watamu ladies joined our branch and have remained loyal and active members ever since, rarely missing one of our monthly meetings. Up until 2007 at least, when Watamu formed its own branch.

 

Mrs. Nina Mitchell (Malindi) became Chairman in March 1975 until January 1977, when Mrs. Betty Fulton took over until the end of 1980. Betty was a tower of strength during her time in Kilifi and then Doe Graham took over as Branch Chairman until July 1986 when she left Kenya to live in Scotland. Doe was followed by Mrs. Margaret Haworth (Watamu) as Chairman. To all these excellent hard-working chairmen we owe a deep debt of gratitude.

 

Although the branch did not have any money to start with, it was not exactly a case of" nothing in my hand to bring" as most of our original members (and subsequent members for that matter) brought with them a wealth of experience from their past branches, many of them having held office in various capabilities. Tea (as much as you like) was the princely sum of one shilling.

 

I think Kilifi's success story has been due to the continuity of officers, interesting meetings at which we have many good speakers, the availability of several homes in which to hold our meetings, a sound financial footing and cooperation from members in all our undertakings. Kilifi District Branch is, in fact, a happy band of 'pilgrims' from a very scattered community. It is difficult to write about the history of Kilifi, without mentioning the geography thereof. Distances were vast. Our branch stretched from Mtwapa, via Vipingo, to Watamu; a distance of approximately sixty miles, to say nothing of the Kilifi ferry.

 

Mrs. Joey Davies was an active member of the Branch in its early years and then went to live in England. She was Editor of "Women in Kenya" and a member of the Editorial & Publications Committee and always spoke up clearly and sensibly at Council, often bringing argument to agreement with great charm and tact.

 

Kilifi has entered the Home crafts Exhibition every year, and sent branch councillors to the Annual General Meeting and Councils in Nairobi, also supporting several local charities whilst contributing money to needy causes further a field. Our two main charities were the Family Life Training Centre at Kilifi, a model of which was exhibited in HQ and else where in 1986, the beautiful backdrop having been designed and painted by Mrs. Mary Nicholas (the very same Mary who painted the magnificent dust cover for 'Memories of Kenya'); the Kibarani School for Deaf Children at Kilifi, where there have been many problems, such as shortage of accommodation for teachers, lack of finance for buildings, furniture etc. With help from various benefactors, the branch has been able to improve things.

Kilifi Branch has always supported League projects, and took a great interest in Sunset Lodge, Mombasa, for elderly residents, until it closed down. We must thank the stalwart lady who liaised between the Lodge and our branch, Mrs. Gladys Wright. Members have also helped with finance for Ngowe House, Malindi. We feel that those in need should be helped to help themselves, so after much effort we got a disabled lady, member of the branch, installed a kiosk in Kilifi market where she was able to sell articles and earn some money for herself.

 

In 1981 Kilifi hosted Council, which was a great success.

 

In 1983 not only did Kilifi win the Barnard Cup, the Steyn Cup, and the Maisie Jones Trophy at the Home crafts Exhibition, but also walked off with the Grigg Cup for the most points overall; (and again in 1987) quite an achievement, considering everything had to be taken the 350 miles to Nairobi.

 

Among our more unusual meetings, in 1985 Mrs. Donnelly's son-in-law, who was an opera singer, came to sing to us, and one of our most interesting meetings was a 'simultaneous' slideshow, when two friends from Mombasa used two projectors to show us the old and new Mombasa. Sadly so many of the beautiful old buildings in the old town are rapidly falling into decay. We have also had needlework, patchwork and painting lessons. 1985 ended with a Christmas celebration in a beautiful balustrade house overlooking the creek. Everything was just perfect until it came to teatime, only to find that everyone had left it to everyone else to bring the edibles!

What a fiasco!