During a visit to Happy Valley (Wanjohi) in Nyandarua County, I overheard Solomon Gitau, the main character in Juliet Barnes’ Ghosts of Happy Valley, say that Al Capone, one of the most notorious American gangsters of the twentieth century, used to live there.
Guy Hallowes, who lives in Australia, says he met Stanley “Davo” Davidson in Happy Valley. Davo served as Al Capone’s bodyguard. Davos used to entertain them as children with his gun tricks, according to Hallowes.
After Uhuru, Davo left for South Africa. He died in 1996, at the age of 91, after marrying his second and third wives.
Dr. Anne Spoerry, the founder of the flying doctors service, also lived in the neighborhood. She joined the Ol Kalou District Council on January 1, 1960, after being appointed by the Minister of Local Government and Town Planning, according to the Kenya Gazette.
She happened to live in the same neighborhood as Davo, in Nyandarua’s Happy Valley (Wanjohi).
Nyandarua County has never capitalized on its extraordinary history, which I believe is worth more than potatoes and milk put together.
Many tourists would like to see the historical homes and sites where Davo and Spoerry once lived.
I have repeatedly argued that the best way to exact vengeance on colonialism is to profit from it.
However, such sites must be creatively packaged, and a narrative built around them, similar to the one built around Egyptian pyramids.
Nyandarua County is not only known for hosting some hair-raising men and women. It has produced some outstanding individuals. It has given Australia two former Kenyan envoys.
Luke William’s who is now Australian Ambassador here in Kenya, is one of them. His dad lived here in Happy Valley.
This county is dotted with Maasai names, such as Ol Joro Orok, Kinangop, Shamata, and Kipipiri, among others.
The names are pronounced differently by the residents of this county, which can be amusing at times. Ol Joro Orok, pronounced njororoko, is a good example. Kipipiri is pronounced “Kibîbîri,” which obscures its Maa origin.
Nyandarua, a county endowed with incredible natural beauty, is a deeply religious one. Religious leaders are always speaking out on important national issues. The prevalence of religion is also supported by the number of churches.
I’ve heard that without the support of the church, it’s impossible to rise to power there.
For that reason, the county may not want to be associated with Davo, Spoerry, or Happy Valley, which were notorious for adultery and drug use in the 1920s.
Lord Errol lived there. Happy Valley’s “golden age” came to an end with his death in 1941.
All of this raises an important question. What drew such individuals to Kenya?
Is it possible that other such characters are still hiding in Kenya today? Where are they hiding now that Happy Valley has new owners?