Not very tactful, was he?

I was amused by the obituary of the late Jack Barrah, who fought the Mau Mau insurgency in Kenya during the 1950’s and founded the Maasai Mara game reserve there in 1964.  He seemed to have an individualistic approach to combating terrorism (of which I can only approve) that took no account of political correctness, or the sensitivities of those not involved in the fighting.

On one occasion, having captured and interrogated a terrorist near Maguga, Barrah knew that there was a Mau Mau gang holed up in the rough of Muthaiga Golf Club preparing to attack the clubhouse. Without informing his superior officers, he drove to Muthaiga police station where he collected a couple of Bren gunners before flushing the gang out of the rough. Eight insurgents were killed, including General Mwangi Toto, commander of the Mau Mau in Nairobi.

This incident took place on a Saturday afternoon — much to the disapproval of the club secretary, who complained that there had been golfers on the course at the time of the battle. Barrah, feeling somewhat underappreciated by this reaction, replied: “Don’t worry — next time I’ll shout ‘Fore!’ before firing the first shot.”



  1. The golfers could have taken cover in one of the bunkers. However, it sounds as if Barrah is the one with "sand"! He sounds a bit like a fictional character I've read about in a couple of books. What was his name?

  2. And for some reason, in my mind at least, the club secretary's displeasure was more for the breech of golf etiquette, not replacing the divots from the Brens, and the gentlemen not being properly attired according to club rules.

    Maybe I've read too much Ruark but I don't see anyone batting an eye about Barrah shooting up a bunch of Mau Mau. Maybe one older gent enjoying his G&T saying something along the lines of, "chap was a bit rude though, didn't even ask if he could play through."


  3. I can't remember when it was, but I do remember the Mau Mau and the terror they created. Years ago.
    What has me so confused is why, after all these years, the insurgents in Mali and other South African countries are still doing the same old thing. Which means that the tribal mentality is alive and well and this is their way of life, and I don't have to worry about them any more, neither do the French.

  4. I had a friend who was going to Kenya for the first time. I told him he could read my copy of Something of Value. He said he would take it with him on the trip.

    I told him that would be a very bad idea.

    I see the city of Nairobi did not have a single working fire truck to respond to the airport fire.


  5. Glenn B,

    I fall in your population sample (for another month at least) and the only reason I know of Mau Mau is I stumbled across Robert Ruark by accident one day.

    Funny thing is…
    The Brits were tied up in Malaysia at the same time and I actually knew more about the Malayan Emergency.


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