Sammy Sadness

Usually my summer newsletters are full of sunshine and the abundance of warmth, and glowing colours. 

But I can’t pretend to be joyful at the moment.  I am sorry to be the harbinger of sad news, but I know that some of you won’t have seen my social media posts.

Last Sunday, 8th August, our deeply loved Master Tailor Sammy, tragically lost his life.  It all started with malaria about 2 weeks before.  This then spiralled into a bad spell of sickness whereupon he was taken to a hospital in Malindi. There he was treated for pneumonia and put onto a ventilator for oxygen.  His strength rallied, and that that was the last time I spoke him.  The following day he had to have dialysis for his kidneys (he’d had type 2 diabetes for the last 5 years which was being treated).  And he slipped peacefully away at 10pm. 

It's all happened so very quickly and we are all in total shock. Sammy was THE reason and the WHY for Bushbells. It all started with my mother and me all those years ago wanting to find him more work to boost his income, after he’d been widowed with 3 young children to support.

There would have been no Bushbells without Sammy. And our success is entirely due to him. The two schools we've built from profits earned from our sales are all thanks to him and the beautiful clothes he made, together with his ‘girls’ – Lilian, Rahema and Ruth – who complete Team Bushbells.

It's Sammy's name you see on every single label. He was a tailor like no other. He cut without patterns and could copy anything you asked him to make. Nothing was too much trouble, and he was adored by all who knew him. His quiet and gentle manner combined with his winning smile and committed 'can' do attitude was unique. He was one of the best friends I've ever had.

Please forgive us as we lie low and come to terms with this huge loss and gap in our lives.  We feel our 'Bushbells' heart has been ripped out. Spare a thought for Sammy’s three children.  We’ve set up a ‘GoFundMe’ page to give his children an immediate buffer of financial support, as they have no parents now.  The link for this is:

Sammy was buried yesterday. Over 2,000 people attended his final farewell – such was his standing in the community and he was deeply loved by all who knew him.

I said to Katana his son, that tears are the price we pay for loving someone. Sammy is now unfettered by human chains and will be flying high on the backs of rainbows and sunbeams, colourful kikoy stitches and golden threads, and the treasured memories we all have of him, will be in our hearts forever. No one can ever take these away from us. Treasure your Bushbells’ pieces you have and think of him when you wear them – he’d love that.  And he’d love to see the colour he’s brought into so many people’s lives. 

For the remaining month of August – we’ll be donating 15% of any orders you make, to his children.  Please just write SAMMY in notes and we’ll know to put it to one side. 

On behalf of his family, and Team Bushbells, we say Asante Sana, and thank you for your continued support.  Stay well – life is so very fragile.  As Sammy used to say everytime we spoke, ‘OK my friend, Keep On Keeping On…..’

“Good night, sweet Prince. May hosts of angels sing you to sleep”

Godspeed darling Sammy. Rest in peace.


  • Dear Jax That makes me so so sad. I am so sorry for your loss, and for Sammy’s cherished children and his community. What a beautiful person Sammy was – your love shines through so strongly, it brought me to tears. Luckily the spirit of someone as supremely special never leaves – he lives on through his children, his treasured friends, the energy and intention of Bushbells and all the people who loved him and who were inspired by him. Sending you all huge amounts of love, and all my sympathies xxx

    Julia Hardy
  • Your piece about Sammy has brought tears to my eyes. I’m thrilled to have such a marvellous organisation, looking at your clothes reminds me of a happy time in Lamu. I shall certainly return as a customer and send best wishes to you all.

    Diana O'Brien

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