Christine Nicholls’ Blog, 16 January 2012
Who remembers the Colviles farming in the Rift Valley? Lady Zelie Colvile, wife of General Sir Henry Colvile, former Commissioner of Uganda, built a home near Gilgil railway station in 1910. Her son Gilbert also bought land bordering Lake Naivasha. When trains stopped at Gilgil to refuel at night, passengers tended to make their way to Lady Zelie’s house for drinks. In self-defence she built a hotel next to the station yard and ran it for many years, until her death in 1931. Her son Gilbert became a highly successful stock farmer, and many years later married Diana Delves Broughton after Diana was ostracised by Kenyan society over the Lord Erroll murder. Diana later married Lord Delamere. Small, wiry and wizened, Gilbert Colvile adopted Maasai ways. The Maasai called him ‘Nyasore’ (the thin man) and respected him for his love of cattle. I wonder what has happened to his grave at Ndabibi, located beside those of his infant son and Tom Delamere?
Zelie was an intrepid woman. Once an angry bullock confronted her. 'I tried the experiment of opening and shutting my umbrella to try to frighten him away; seeing which, one of my men ... snatched it out of my hand and rushed at the animal, opening it straight into his eyes, with the desired effect of sending him flying, while the rest took to their heels and ran for dear life with me on their shoulders.’