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Name: WEST, Peter

Death Date: 15.7.1895 Kabras, killed by Nandi

First Date: 1893

Last Date: 1895

Profession: An employee of 'Trader Dick'

Area: Mumias

Book Reference: Hobley, Moyse, Matson, North, Curtis, Web, Ansorge

General Information:

Hobley - 'Trader Dick' arranged for an employee of his named Peter West to visit the Nandi country and trade for ivory. About ten days later a few survivors of West's party, including an old cook of mine named Paul, staggered into Mumias with gaping spear wounds and reported that the Nandi had attacked their camp at night, spearing the wretched West in his tent, also killing most of the porters and looting all his goods.
Moyse - 1895 - A Scots trader named West pitched camp one evening beside a running stream within the escarpment forest, making no attempt to protect it with a boma, and carelessly stowing all the rifles together inside his own tent. The Nandi crept upon the encampment unseen, murdered West, killed 23 of his porters, and looted the trade goods. Capt. Cunningham withdrew troops from Bunyoro for a punitive expedition.  
Matson - Gilkison was sent to Mumias in Sept. 1894 to reassert the Company's taxation and trading rights in Kavirondo. Was rebuffed by Spire. After Gilkison's discomfited return to Fort Smith in November and Muxworthy's death from blackwater in Kabras in the same month, no traders were reported in E. Uganda until the arrival of Peter West at Mumias on 20 March 1895. West was in partnership with Andrew Dick who was establishing a chain of stores and transport posts from the coast to Lake Victoria. West's past history was typical of that of many other pioneer traders. A very poor account was given of his conduct in SA, where it was said he was 'always drunk and was expelled from the Cape Mounted Rifles for gun running.'
In July 1893 he was cutting 'boriti' poles for export at Chuyu, in the coastal district of Shimoni, and 2 years later D.J. Wilson reported that 'Shimoni is almost deserted owing, I hear, to Mr West's extraordinary conduct.' After joining Dick, West established a store at Nzoi in Ukambani without reference to Ainsworth or Mombasa, an act which Ainsworth regarded as 'part of Dick's general policy of antagonism to the Company's authority.' From Nzoi West took a caravan of contract goods to  Mumias where he did local transport work for Hobley.
Curtis - p. 79 - Entry in Eldama Ravine 'Diary of Camps' - 30th July 1895 - Mr West murdered by Wanandi
Web - 'Warriors in Heart of Darkness' by Dennis Bishop - …..West arrived at Mumias on March 20, 1895. He was a continual drunk and had been accused of being a gun-runner. He entered into a trading partnership with the choleric Dick who had already established a chain of stores and transport posts from the coast to Lake Victoria. These two men set about to independently establish domination and a trade monopoly with the Nandi. The two began this escapade on June 23, 1895 by organizing two caravans. The expeditions began poorly when 3 rifles were stolen from Dick by the Kikelewa and one of West's men was murdered. Dick drew first blood when 2 Nandi warriors surrendered and he had them whipped.. Later Dick had the warriors bound and drowned. A Nandi reconnaisance party was later fired upon by Dick and dispersed after losing one warrior. While Dick was busy antagonizing the Nandi, West had pitched his camp two hours from the nearest Nandi houses. West's total arms included 15 guns, 2 privately owned rifles, and a revolver. West unsuccessfully attempted to negotiate for the ivory that he sought upon his first contact with the Nandi. Although warned of the Nandi, West persisted in his attempts to negotiate by treating the Nandi delegates well. West's efforts were repaid at 2 o'clock on the morning of July 16th, when the camp was rushed by Nandi warriors and all but 8 of the expedition were killed without a shot being fired. West's last words were reported as, "Give me my gun." West's unprotected camp of 50 individuals, 25 head of cattle and 46 sheep and goats had occupied the unprotected camp in safety for 20 days. ……
Ansorge - …. The sad tragedy which befell Mr West, an English trader, at the hands of the Wanandi. The last time I saw Mr West alive was at Mumia's. He was then on the point of going to the Nandi country to buy ivory in exchange for cows. I asked him whether he was not afraid to venture with such a small number of men, barely 20 porters, among a race not yet brought under subjection and reported to be hostile. He replied that it might be dangerous for any other white man to try, but not for him, as he had already once visited the country, and although it was only at a frontier village, that he had made blood-brotherhood with a chief. The porters he selected were picked men, some of the best of the porters with whom I had, only a short while previously, arrived from the coast. Little did I reckon, when we shook hands and said good-bye, that it was the last I should see of him, and that he was another about to meet with a violent death. He was very proud of his little garden at Mumia's. More than once he had generously supplied my table with a dish of green vegetables, and his last words to me were that he had left instructions with his gardener to supply me out of his garden until he returned. He told me that he hoped to be back in a fortnight. The next news we heard was brought by a few survivors of his caravan, covered with ghastly wounds which I had to treat. According to them, West was received with apparent friendship by his so-called blood-brother. He then sent off some of his men to the surrounding villages to purchase various tusks of ivory said to be for sale. West felt so secure, that he tied up all his rifles inside his tent. Without any provocation on his part, and simply prompted by lust of blood and plunder, the treacherous natives one night fell upon him and his caravan, and massacred all but a very few. Poor West! He was down with illness at the time, and they thrust their spears through the tent and speared him where he lay on his bed. The black woman who had been West's faithful and intelligent helpmate for many a long year was speared by his side.
The savages carried off everything, but the naked bodies of the slaughtered were left to be devoured by hyaenas. A curious sequel to this story I heard many months afterwards. It was on my return journey to the coast. I was asked, by one of the officials I met, to take along with me to the coast a man who professed to have belonged to the late Mr West's caravan and who said he had only now succeeded in making his escape from the hands of the Wanandi. When I saw the man, I at once recognised him as "Bom-bom," one of my Wanyamwezi porters who had accompanied West's ill-starred caravan. The man, of course, knew me too, and was delighted to see me again. He accompanied me to the coast, and, as he was in rags, for the sake of auld-lang-syne I rigged him out in a new cotton cloth.
North - Shimoni July 1893 cutting wood for export; Mumia's 20/3/1895; d. 15/7/1895, killed by Nandi near Kabras; "always drunk and was expelled from the Cape Mounted Rifles for gun running"

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