She was far too good-looking, so she was sent packing."She was much disliked by other people's wives," Anne adds, "but when we saw her in town we would scoop her up and feed her."So there are many Africas," Markham wrote in West with the Night.
Not yet 17, and shell-shocked from the impending sale of her father's farm, she would have been bewildered about the future and her new husband—and poised to make some of her notorious mistakes. He was also the unofficial emperor of the white settlers and is still considered the most influential landowner in Kenya's history.But after spending more than a year plumbing her voice and psyche, I was weary of innuendo and began to think it was high time I left my desk and stacks of sources to search her out on her own turf.Was Markham's Kenya still findable, I wanted to know, and was it possible to grasp firsthand the power her distinct world exerted on her consciousness and on the map of her life? Hooking in with Micato, a highly regarded safari company with roots in Kenya, I let them know what I was after and why, and then launched myself at Nairobi.The book kick-started my girl crush on Markham and inspired me to novelize her life— but I soon learned there were many, many closer-cutting stories she didn't touch on in her book, stories she guarded like a sphinx.Her talent was for secrecy, rather than discretion, and the practice of arch silence in the face of the gossip that arced behind her every move like a neon contrail.Tourism—so essential to the country's well-being—is in free fall, but it's not altogether obvious to me that traveling to Africa today takes any more nerve than it ever has.