The Malindi Branch had its first meeting on 5th March 1979, and Mrs. Nina Mitchell was elected the first Branch Chairman. A League member of long-standing and great experience, she had been Chairman of Kilifi Branch until recently, when it was decided that Malindi should have a branch of its own. There were twenty old members of the League in the new Malindi branch, and three new members joined. A bunch of very formidable women, so husbands mutter as they slip by a meeting eyes averted and nip in to the bar for a fortifying quick one. Despite this rather undeserved description, husbands and others of the same gender have plucked up enough courage to talk to the formidable women on subjects of considerable interest: for instance, the well-known White Hunter, Bill Ryan, and Hugh Mitchell husband of Malindi's past Chairman, both talked until sundown –Bill on his exciting travels in the wild and Hugh, that old soldier, on his adventures amongst the troops and others, in those nostalgic bygone days in Kenya.
Then Mr. Blunt, an authority on natural medicines and cures, from plants and trees, described poultices for sores, ulcers and such things made from pawpaw saved from breakfast, and if that didn't work, then boil a cabbage for an arthritic knee. The cook, bringing in the steaming cabbage on the vegetable dish couldn't be blamed for thinking it was another of memsahib's mad ideas to tie cabbage on her legs. Others have spoken of salt pans out by Ngomeni where the rockets used to soar skywards with that satisfying roar from their platform in Formosa Bay; tried to explain the reasons for building a longer jetty; how the water scheme from the Sabaki has supplied so much more of this precious fluid to Mombasa. And then everyone made a point of attending to hear Lallie Didham talk of donning her wet-suit and leaping into the ocean beyond the reef to confront sea-monsters so nonchalantly, "rather her than me" as one member said.
Other educative and fascinating talks have been given by a member's daughter on the customs and living habits of the Giriama, by another member on how to make a patchwork quilt; a wonderful afternoon being told about flower arrangements with breathtaking examples; how to make samosas and curry, and how to put on a sari. There have been visitors too, such as Enid Dawson whirling down from Naivasha for an illuminating lecture on silver, old and new, explaining how to read all those hieroglyphics on the bowls, mugs and cups that had been hurriedly dug out of cupboards and unwrapped from newspaper to keep out the tarnish.
All this, and travelogues too – to Alaska, America, Peru, the Argentine and many places in Europe; illustrated with photos and slides.
The hierarchy of the League spare time to visit Malindi and give fascinating glimpses of the excitements in the Nairobi Branches, describing their charitable endeavours in supplying needed x-ray units for hospitals, organising a cancer ward for children, a new water tank for Weal House and many other causes. Queen Bees of many Women's Societies, not forgetting an enthralling talk on Jill Simpson's indescribable works immunising children in outlying parts of Kenya.
Indian Dance Night 1987
But it mustn't be thought that meetings are all fun, with tea parties, coffee mornings and rummage sales. There are endless minutes of previous meetings and treasurer's reports. The latter causing the usual protests that too much money is sent to HQ - until the remembrance of that hospital equipment and all the other endless calls on EAWL HQ resources. Malindi helps her own clinics, hospitals and children needing care and old folk without means and Little Sisters of the Poor and those who can't speak for themselves, and, other things that members think up at the first meeting of the year.
"Oh dear" says someone later on, "I don't think I'll go to the next meeting. You know what time of the year it is, and Barbara is sure to insist we all knit bed-socks and make tea cozies and bedspreads, and I can't even sew on a button, let alone knit a bed sock", But Barbara, with her enthusiasm and energy cajoles, pleads, demands and gets a earful of bed-socks, tea cozies and many other beautifully made and sewn articles.
"And now" she says, "I must pop up to Nairobi and see if we have enough tables. Anyone going up next Wednesday?"
Rather a long silence – then someone says "I'm going into Mombasa on Tuesday if that's any help"!
Meetings are held every month, not always peaceful, with many extraneous noises to contend with. Despite this meetings are held and decisions made and carried out.
One of the League’s current projects in Malindi - a kindergarten school