Kenyan school chums meet by 'unbelievable chance' at Suffolk village fete

Nigel Cairne, left, with Colin Knight, right, who met at the Copdock village fete

Nigel Cairne, left, with Colin Knight, right, who met at the Copdock village fete - Credit: Neil Didsbury

Two men who went to school together in Kenya were in for a shock when they bumped into each other at a Suffolk village fete.

Colin Knight, who was raised in Nairobi while his father worked for beer company Tusker Lager, wasn't expecting to hear any Swahili when visiting the Copdock village fete on Sunday, July 18.

Colin and Nigel at Kilimani Primary School in Nairobi in the 1950s

Colin and Nigel at Kilimani Primary School in Nairobi in the 1950s - Credit: Colin Knight

But to his surprise, his T-shirt featuring a Kenyan flag quickly caught the attention of fellow fete-goer Nigel Cairne, who greeted him with the Swahili greeting "jambo".

A conversation quickly sparked, before the pair discovered they were in fact in the same school class at both primary and secondary school in the country's capital, Nairobi.

Mr Knight, 71, said: "I was talking to a guy with a vintage car, and next thing you know someone says hello to me in Swahili and we get talking.


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"He told me that he also went to school in Nairobi and that we were the same age, then we realised we went to the same school together.

"I couldn't remember him, but when I showed him a class photo from school, we were only three away from each other. A girl I know from our class knows him well."

The pair both went to the same primary and high school in Nairobi, Kenya

The pair both went to the same primary and high school in Nairobi, Kenya - Credit: Neil Didsbury

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Mr Knight added he couldn't believe the chances of bumping into his former clasmate, having never expected to meet anyone else aside from fellow pupils who had joined a Facebook group.

Mr Knight moved to Suffolk in 1965, while Mr Cairne moved here around 30 years ago.

He said: "I am 71 now and I never thought about the odds of meeting people from there – they were nothing, I suppose. It is not like being from Felixstowe and bumping into a school friend in Stowmarket.

"But it was incredible. We've ended up agreeing to meet up again and will keep in touch for a good chin wag."

The pair both enjoyed a Tusker Lager when they met up

The pair both enjoyed a Tusker Lager when they met up - Credit: Neil Didsbury

Mr Knight said highlights of his life in Kenya included being chased by elephants when going out for a walk, family holidays in Mombasa and safari tours.

"It was an incredible place to grow up," he said. "We really did take it all for granted because we were so young.

"I always have considered myself as Kenyan and still know how to speak Swahili."

Colin Knight, who was wearing his Kenyan flag T-shirt when he bumped into Nigel

Colin Knight, who was wearing his Kenyan flag T-shirt when he bumped into Nigel - Credit: Neil Didsbury

Mr Cairne added: "Meeting Colin is much better than winning the lottery!"


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