Our Man in Nairobi

Smith Hempstone's  narrative of his diplomatic "arm wrestling" with a recalcitrant Moi regime between 1989 and 1993 is lucid, witty and comprehensive.

Issue: Spring 1998

Smith Hempstone, Rogue Ambassador: An African Memoir (Sewanee, TN: University of the South Press, 1997).

For years, Kenya's image in the West was that of spectacular natural beauty, game parks overfilled with wildlife, and safaris out of its handsome capital city, Nairobi. Close to a million tourists from Europe and the United States journeyed there each year, and Hollywood glamorized it in fact and fiction. Between 1963, when it became independent of Britain, and 1978, when the current president, Daniel arap Moi, took over, the economy grew at a regional record rate of 8 percent. The government had a reputation of sound fiscal management, a pro-Western foreign policy, and a marked political openness--though the latter had begun to buckle under intolerance and corruption by August 1978 when the founding president, Jomo Kenyatta, died.

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