My old friend Smith Hempstone, the swashbuckling and adventurous writer and blunt-talking diplomat, died the other day at age 77 in Washington. America has lost a true patriot.
I became friendly with Smith in Africa about 15 years ago when he was the US ambassador to Kenya and I was ambassador to the Seychelle Islands, 1000 miles out from Mombassa in the Indian Ocean.
I had lunch with Smith a few times at Nairobi’s legendary Muthaiga Club where we would kill a couple of bottles of South African wine gabbing at a table near a stuffed moth-eaten lion in a glass case. Smith had a short, white beard and a face like red shoe leather. He was witty and hard-drinking and, in his safari vest and khaki trousers, seemed like a character from Kenya’s past; more a white hunter chum of Denys Hatton Finch than a swallow-tailed diplomat.