18 : A NEW ARRIVAL AND GOODBYE TO PROVINCE ADMINISTRATION
We did not have long to wait for the arrival of our new baby. The initial 40-mile trip to Kendu Bay and back on February 2nd (1959), turned out to be a false alarm, but this disappointment soon gave way to joy when two days later, Elsie gave birth to a bonny boy. She was treated very well during her week’s stay at the hospital, and later returned home with the welcome addition to our family. We were all delighted with the new baby, and for Clyde, it must certainly have filled the vacuum left by Conrad’s death. The baby was christened John Andrew Hermenegildo (the last almost unpronounceable name being chosen after my father-in-law). We called him Andrew though. He was no problem at all, and continued to bring much joy into our home and hearts. As the months passed by, he began to look a real picture of health, and for his age, seemed a very big baby. He was always so contented and proved a great attraction among all our friends, and especially my in-laws. I am sure they would have loved us to leave Clyde and Andrew with them at Kitale so that, like most grandparents, they could spoil them.
While things were certainly looking brighter on the home front, several changes had now taken place at the office. Basil de Souza, who had replaced Ray Hawes as D.R.O, was due to go on vacation leave. Joe Aguiar, who I had first met at Marsabit, and who was now married, had meanwhile arrived at Kisii a few weeks before Andrew was born. Robert Ouko, the Revenue clerk had also left on a scholarship to Ethiopia, and a young Goan bachelor, a Mr. Zuzarte, had been posted as a numerical replacement. There were several new faces in the office generally; Paul Massey, the Office Superintendent, didn’t seem very happy at his job, and rather than lose him to the service, it was decided to move him to the Homa Bay/Lambwe Valley area where he seemed to settle in quite well. He would be assisting the DO/Western with some of his work in that part of the district. I should explain here that the administration of the whole district had been among the various District Officers — the DO 1 (firstly Mr. Holford-Walker and latterly Mr. Pat de Warrenne Waller) was more of a Deputy DC, followed by the DO/Kisii Highlands (Roy Spendlove), DO/Eastern (George Grimmett) and the DO/Western (John Lowdell). There were also two other District Officers — one stationed at Nyamira in the Kisii Highlands (Mike Phillips) and the other at Migori, not far from the Tanganyika border (Tom Powell). Also stationed at Kisii during my term there were David Evans — whose architectural skills showed in some of the buildings in and around the district, and Peter Wheeler, who made a name for himself some years later when, as Administrator of the island of Tristan da Cunha, he organized the evacuation of the islanders during a serious volcanic eruption which hit this small and isolated island. The DC (Mr. Skipper) had moved to Kisumu as Acting Provincial Commissioner, Nyanza Province and his place eventually taken by Pat de Warrenne Waller. It was Mr. Waller’s wish that I should be ‘officially’ appointed as Office Superintendent in place of Paul Massey, and he had already informed the P.C. and other Government officers at Kisii of this appointment. I now moved from my old office into the office formerly used by Paul Massey. For over a month, I ran both the district office in addition to carrying out my former duties as district clerk. I later succeeded in getting the DC to agree that the Revenue clerk, (Claro Menezes) be moved to act as district clerk, and even recommended that he be given an acting allowance, since he was on a grading below my own. This was agreed, but because of the overlapping of the salary scales of Paul Massey and myself, I never received any increase in salary for the additional responsibility I had now assumed. I was far from happy over this, so was the D.C, especially since it seemed quite inequitable that the additional I responsibility was not being compensated with some form of monetary reward. These, however, were some of the anomalies which existed in the civil service at the time and there was nothing we could do to change things. In my new post, I sat on the housing committee and the Liquor Licensing Court – this latter job involved close liaison between the police and health authorities. I also acted as Secretary of the Township Plots allocation committee, and dealt with, among other things, the registration of births, deaths and marriages in the district.
When the job of District Assistant was advertised by the Civil Service Commission, I promptly applied for it, since the D.C felt this was a mere formality as I was already acting in the post; regrettably, I was not successful despite, what was to me, a very worthwhile interview in Nairobi. A further interview for a similar job followed a few weeks later, and again I did not succeed. At this stage, I wrote in to the Civil Service Commission stating that I felt it was a waste of public funds in calling me for an interview in so short a time, and pointing out that I had felt truly disappointed especially since my immediate superiors, i.e. the Provincial and District Commissioners had both strongly recommended me for the post.
I was bitter about the whole affair, and though I had now served for some years in the Provincial Administration and I liked this particular branch of the civil service, I made up my mind that should any promotional post be advertised in the future, I would apply for it regardless of the department in which the vacancy arose.
Some months after I had been unsuccessful for the DA’s post (a job I was already doing), two adverts appeared in the Official Gazette – one for an Executive Officer with the Ministry of Agriculture, and three similar posts with the Ministry of Works. My colleague, Joe Aguiar, decided to apply for one of the three posts within the Ministry of Works, and I ended up applying for the only post in the Ministry of Agriculture.
I do not know why, but somehow I never fancied working for the MOW. Quite rightly, Joe Aguiar kept telling me that I should have applied for a post in that department since there was a better chance of success – there being three vacancies. I appreciated his point, but very much like Pontius Pilate, I said, “What I have done, I have done!” and left it at that. I fully realized that the odds were stacked heavily against me. Both the posts advertised were on the executive grade scale, which in real terms would not only mean a very substantial rise in salary, but also a change in all privileges, i.e. first class travel privileges instead of second, increased travelling/subsistence allowances, etc. In short, whoever succeeded in getting these posts would be very fortunate indeed. For days after I had sent in my application, colleagues at work would talk about my case especially in so far as the previous interviews were concerned. They felt sure that the D.C would do his best to keep me in the Administration.