E-mail from Bernard Cronyn.
Yes I thought it was Robert McConnell but knew you would confirm! My folks
their neighbour (Astrid Thoresen) a friend of mine (Rickie Bluett-Winch) and
myself (I must have been around 17/18) set off in my father's beat-up old
Peugeot 203 pickup with a small plywood dinghy on the roof to Lake Rudolph
as it was known then.
When we arrived at Lodwar we where told that we could not proceed as they would not issue a permit for a vehicle that was not a 4 x 4. I am not sure how my father got around this but he did and a few hours later we where on our way without mishap other than the odd puncture, to Ferguson's Gulf. On arrival at the lake shore, we were told by the local watu that the "Bwana" would come for us. Within a short while a friendly, welcoming man with a shock of blond hair arrived with a bunch of Turks in a boat. Rickie and I had a sail for the dinghy (no motor!) so we loaded up the boats with people, kit and a dog and off we went across the bay to the camp with Bob.
We where accommodated in a comfortable banda (Bob insisted we stay there rather than in the tents we had brought) and over the next 2-3 weeks had the pleasure of the company of this truly remarkable man. He was exceptionally kind and lent us a small outboard motor for the dinghy and instructed us not only on the fishing but on the wildlife, how to avoid getting on the wrong side of a hippo or croc and the protocols on dealing with the utterly charming local Turkana. My Dad, Rickie and I spent many hours sailing up and down the gulf doing some fishing, bathing close to some of the biggest crocs I have ever seen and just watching the unbelievable abundance and variety of birdlife.
Bob took us out as well in the big boats and on one memorable evening we caught 350 lbs of perch in 45 minutes. We had had Turkana work for us in Eldoret on the farm and I already had a great respect for these tough people. I could immediately understand why "Makono" loved the Turkana and they him. Even today two of my most precious possessions are a Turkana wrist knife and stool given me by the Turkana friend I made on that trip. These folk had next to nothing but where some of the kindest, generous and most honest people I have ever encountered. I gave my friend a knife and my best fishing kit but it cannot compare with his hand-crafted personal gifts. I knew nothing of Bob before we met him and never heard of him again until I read your piece on him but those two weeks and the man himself were forever etched on my life.