Jomo Kenyatta: further connections to Sussex

I have always regretted not being able to find any photos of Jomo Kenyatta during his wartime years in Sussex – apart from the one allegedly showing him destroying a wasps’ nest and a blurry image of him waving from the balcony of his wartime home at Heath Common near Storrington, that was about all. Many years ago, I was told by a cousin that he had once seen photos of Jomo when he was employed as an agricultural worker at Linfield’s nurseries in Thakeham; he had been shown them by Miss Mabel Willmer, who had occasionally worked with Jomo during the war, and secretively kept them in an old biscuit tin, only to be brought out on special occasions. Unfortunately, after she died, they were never found and she probably destroyed them. Apparently, she really admired Jomo’s flamboyant signet ring which he promised he would give her one day!

Over the years I have made various requests in the media for any surviving photos of Jomo during his time in Sussex, but the effort has always failed to come up with anything. One of the objectives for writing my article about Jomo Kenyatta and his connections with West Sussex was to put the story in the public domain. Therefore, out of the blue, I was very excited when I received a ‘comment’ to our website from Karen Heald who had stumbled across my article on Kenyatta; she said ‘I have lots of photographs of him in Sussex before and during the war including the full sequence of the wasp nest incident taken by my grandfather’. Of course, I immediately got in touch and she was able to send me a cache of some 30 images, many of which are reproduced in this article, thanks to her kindness and her desire to make them available to a much wider audience.  

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