Season’s greetings from Nairobi

Christmas 1986 and the new 1987 were approaching and a group of friends (us included) hatched a novel greeting cards plan. Instead of buying the cards as we did every year, we would make our own. The design was straightforward: we would pose like a bunch of Kenya settlers.

After some discussion on the idea and some other options, we stuck with the original one and we only needed to wait for the cost of the project. Soon we had a couple of quotes from printers and it became clear that our homemade cards would actually be cheaper than buying cards as we used to do in those days. So we decided to go ahead.

To be credible, the project required careful preparation. We needed to look like settlers, not only with the proper clothing and accessories but also ourselves. For the latter the men grew special moustaches, beards and longish hair while the ladies appealed to ancient haircuts!

Initially the costumes were an issue until someone mentioned the Kenya National Theatre. So a delegation got the Director to agree and, after a long selection session we borrowed the necessary items for a few days.

The next issue to be resolved was the location for the shooting. Again, several options were contemplated such as house gardens, Nairobi National Park and the National Railways Museum. As Nairobi was linked to the railways and we all enjoyed steam engines, we decided that we would pose by an old steam engine for two of the cards and at a garden for the remaining one.

When all was ready we realised that we needed a photographer! We found a professional photographer that was happy to take several pictures at each of the chosen locations so that we could select the best pictures. He would also develop them with a sepia tint to give a vintage feeling and add further credibility to the end product.

A Saturday morning, we gathered at one of the friend’s house where we had breakfast and posed for one of the pictures. Afterwards, we all traveled to the Museum. Our appearance created some commotion as it was not usual to have a group of people dressed in old clothes to visit the place! However, once we explained the reason for our weird looks, we were sold tickets and given the go ahead for the pictures to be taken.

A couple of days later the photographer brought a few samples and we agreed on three of them after examining all the pictures taken and ordered the cards. Unfortunately, I only found one of them.

Christmas card circa 1986 copy 3

In the picture a young Bushsnob is seen with a rather abundant beard (second from the left) and his wife Mabel (third from the left) both seated.

We shared the cards and the bill among ourselves and sent them to friends and relatives without giving details about the picture. We expected some rude or funny comments about our looks but we were disappointed as we did not get any!

It was only months later, when we went on home leave and asked our families and friends about the cards, that it became clear that they had not realised that we were on them!

I recall having to use a magnifying glass to confirm to several of them that indeed we were in the pictures!

One comment

  1. I vividly remember the card and we did see you and Mabel, I am just defending our part of the family. Why would you be sending a Christmas card if you were not on the picture? It seems very odd otherwise. What a lovely project and how much fun would you have had just with the preparations!

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