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Christine Nicholls
Christine Nicholls, author and historian, has written several books on East African history including Red Strangers: The White Tribe of Kenya, a biography on missionary-explorer David...
'Thu, 17 Apr 2014'

Interestingly, I had an email about the subject of last month’s blog, about Captain Dugmore, which reads: ‘I have Captain Dugmore's home service helmet to the 64th Foot, which can be dated to 1878-1881. It has his name and regiment written in the interior and came with a named carrying tin.’

 

This month we turn from an eccentric administrator to a strange missionary.

 

What Happened to the Family of Stuart Watt, Eccentric Missionary at Machakos

 

In 1893 a strange procession arrived at Fort Smith, the Imperial British East Africa Company’s outpost...

Christine Nicholls
Christine Nicholls, author and historian, has written several books on East African history including Red Strangers: The White Tribe of Kenya, a biography on missionary-explorer David...
'Thu, 20 Mar 2014'

The Mad, Bad and Dangerous Captain Francis Dugmore

 

Francis Sandys Dugmore was born in Paddington, London, where he was baptised on 18 March 1839. He was the son of a barrister, William Dugmore, and his wife Mary Louisa. He was brought up in London and had three younger brothers and two younger sisters. He joined the army, serving in Canada in the Royal Canadian Rifle Regiment, and eventually reaching the rank of Captain in the 64th Regiment of Foot. He was prosperous enough to marry on 23 April 1867. His bride, the same age as himself, was a member of the aristocracy, the Hon. Emily Evelyn Brougham,...

Christine Nicholls
Christine Nicholls, author and historian, has written several books on East African history including Red Strangers: The White Tribe of Kenya, a biography on missionary-explorer David...
'Wed, 19 Feb 2014'

The Imperial British East Africa Company, which administered Zanzibar and part of East Africa, received enquiries in June 1894 from an organization calling itself the British Freeland Association of the International Freeland Association. It had devised a plan for a socialist settlement in the area of Mount Kenya. Initially a small expedition was to travel up the Tana River to the head of navigation and from there move to an area north of the mountain which was purportedly extremely fertile and virtually uninhabited. The plan was referred to the Foreign Office, whose internal memorandum expressed doubts, saying it...

Jon Arensen
Jon Arensen, PhD Oxford University, is professor of cultural anthropology at Houghton College in New York. He is the director of Houghton’s Tanzania Semester. Jon lives with his wife Barb in...
'Thu, 13 Feb 2014'

When a person thinks about animals living in South East Asia they automatically think “elephants”. This is truly the home of Asian elephants, but they are becoming increasingly rare in in the wild. On a recent visit to Cambodia, I learned that in the whole country there are now fewer than 300 wild elephants. There are another 85 elephants in captivity and historically these captive animals have been used to move logs in the forest. The indigenous Bunong people of Mondul Kiri have kept elephants for such work, but most of these elephants are now old and tired. They can no longer work and the Bunong owners don’t have the money to...

Shel Arensen
Shel Arensen, editor of Old Africa magazine, was born in an African country that's no longer on the map - Tanganyika Territory. He moved to Kenya in 1960 as a four-year-old with his...
'Wed, 22 Jan 2014'

Here's a review of one of Old Africa's most recent titles, Red Pelican.

Houghton College is pleased to announce a new book by professor emeritus Jon Arensen.  The book, “The Red Pelican:  Life on Africa’s Last Frontier,” is the third in an unofficial trilogy by Arensen about the South Sudan.  It follows the work and ministry of Dick Lyth, British military officer assigned to fight against the Italian army during World War II.  After the war, he was District Commissioner for the Sudanese government, living with the Murle people and learning their language and culture. 

Dr. Paul Shea, professor emeritus of...

Christine Nicholls
Christine Nicholls, author and historian, has written several books on East African history including Red Strangers: The White Tribe of Kenya, a biography on missionary-explorer David...
'Mon, 20 Jan 2014'

Here’s a note on Olive Grey  who I wrote about in my November blog. A relative in Australia has kindly given me the place and date of Olive’s death. She died in Poona, India, on 20 October 1920 and was buried there on the following day.

 

Purkiss’ Parrot

 

William J Purkiss, a former merchant marine officer, originally arrived in east Africa as an employee of the Imperial British East Africa Company in about March 1891 and was employed on building the narrow-gauge railway to Mazeras—the grandly named Central African Railway. The railway was soon abandoned...

Christine Nicholls
Christine Nicholls, author and historian, has written several books on East African history including Red Strangers: The White Tribe of Kenya, a biography on missionary-explorer David...
'Wed, 18 Dec 2013'

I wrote a blog about the fascinating Vladimir Vassil Verbi in the Old Africa blog page on 20 February 2013. Since then, much new information has come in about the missionary, mainly from his daughter Mary, and the story is so fascinating that it is worth telling here.

 

Verbi spent his early years in Shumla, Shumen, Bulgaria, where his father was a merchant. Originally Shumen was an Ottoman fortress linking areas with Istanbul. Vladimir was sent to a synagogue school for his education where he learnt Hebrew. When he was eleven Vladimir was taken to Istanbul by his father Vasil, whose brother had a textile...

Christine Nicholls
Christine Nicholls, author and historian, has written several books on East African history including Red Strangers: The White Tribe of Kenya, a biography on missionary-explorer David...
'Mon, 18 Nov 2013'

The Mystery of Olive Grey. Editor of Kenya’s First Newspaper

 

Olive Grey is a woman of mystery who led an unusual life, and it has been fascinating finding out about her. She was born Matilda Elizabeth Gainey in December 1855, in Tamworth, NSW, Australia, the daughter of Humphrey Sylvester Gainey and Mary Thorpe. She was baptised as a Roman Catholic in West Maitland, New South Wales. She married William Dickson in 1877 and had a daughter Violet May in 1884. She became a missionary in India, and some of her letters are in the Coral Missionary Magazine in 1878 (pages 28, 77 and 122). She...

Shel Arensen
Shel Arensen, editor of Old Africa magazine, was born in an African country that's no longer on the map - Tanganyika Territory. He moved to Kenya in 1960 as a four-year-old with his...
'Wed, 06 Nov 2013'

 

Book Review from the Madison Capital Times on Old Africa's new book by Bert Adams.

When Bert Adams packed up his family and left Madison for a two-year stay in the fledgling East African nation of Uganda in 1970, he took along a simple mantra.

“From the day we arrived, we said everything that happens to us is an adventure, it’s not a hardship,” said Adams, an emeritus professor of sociology at UW-Madison. “We used that phraseology over and over again.”

That mindset came in quite handy as the Adams family – Bert, his wife, Diane, and their two sons, John and Joel, then 10 and 7,...

Christine Nicholls
Christine Nicholls, author and historian, has written several books on East African history including Red Strangers: The White Tribe of Kenya, a biography on missionary-explorer David...
'Mon, 21 Oct 2013'

 

 

 

Herbert Kay Binks

 

Herbert Binks (1880-1971), mentioned in Old Africa Aug/Sept 2013, was a photographer and astronomer, and one of Kenya’s earliest English residents. The red-headed ‘Pop’ was a well known figure in Nairobi for over sixty years, and many of his photos of people and places still exist. Unfortunately the photo archive he gave to the Kenya Archives was ruined in a flood.

 

Binks wrote a memoir, African Rainbow (1959), which many of you will have read. Alas, it is not entirely accurate, having been dictated in old age when memories fade, but...

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