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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...
'Fri, 25 Jul 2014'

The Red Pelican by Jon Arensen was recently reviewed in mini-SITREP, the newsletter of the Kenya Regiment. Eric Calonius wrote the review. Here it is.

I just finished The Red Pelican-and what a great read it is! There’s not a memoir in my recent memory that I enjoyed more. I couldn’t wait to pick it up and plunge into the next chapter.

What fascinated me most about the book is that it’s a glimpse into the final, glorious years of the British Colonial Empire. In this case, we have a dashing 21-year-old Oxford graduate, heading down a hippopotamus choked river aboard a creaky, wood-burning steamboat to the most...

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, 23 Jun 2014'

A.S. Rogers, Controversial British Official

Alexander Stuart Rogers was a less than satisfactory official used by the British during their early days in East Africa. He had been born in Peshawar, India (now Pakistan), on 13 November 1862, to a family which originated in Bath. When he grew up he joined the Punjabi Native Police, and it was with 200 of his policemen that he was lent to the Imperial British East Africa Company to join troops in Mombasa, in August 1890. The Company was having trouble in Witu, recently ceded to Britain by the Germans, despite the protests of the local inhabitants, so Rogers and 150 men...

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, 19 May 2014'

A very interesting book has just been published, telling the story of the coming of Goans to East Africa. Many of you will remember Goan clerks, but how did the group obtain a monopoly of such positions, and what else did they do? The answers lie in A Railway Runs Through: Goans of British East Africa, 1865-1980, by Selma Carvalho. Matador, 2014, £10. Available from:

 email: books@troubador.co.uk

 

This month we discover the fate of the missionary Stuart Watt, whom I discussed last month.

The Fate of Missionary Watt and his Children...

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...

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