C o n t eC onn t etn t ss
William Sanger, Toro Tea Planter
Goolshen Jamal: MP’s Wife from Kisumu
Flamingo Feathers Launch Industry
The Last Colonial Regiment
I Tended the Wounded
An African Hunter Remembers – Part 8
Kinangop: A Settler’s Story Part 8: Raid on Fort Moyale
From circus performer to tea grower in Toro, Uganda, William Sanger’s autobiographical essay traces his life’s journey from England to Mombasa.
After independence, Amir Jamal became MP for Kisumu Town. His wife Goolshen gives her perspective on being an MP’s wife in the 1960s.
Entranced by flamingo feathers floating on the shore of Lake Nakuru, Helen Kellogg starts a cottage industry using the feathers to make flower corsages.
The Kenya Regiment played a big role in Kenya’s history. Old Africa reviews Ian Parker’s comprehensive history of the regiment.
In this excerpt from Ian Parker’s book on the Kenya Regiment, Captain Philip Crosskey relates his role in tending the wounded during the Emergency.
George Outram terrifies his new Wandorobo friends when he blows up some trees using dynamite!
Italy declares war and John Etherington takes part in a raid on the Italian Fort in Moyale.
Editorial Sauti Zenu - Your Letters Only in Africa Historic Photo Contest Historic Worship Sites History Mystery Contest Old Africa’s Photo Album Mwishowe - Lives That Ended in Africa
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Cover Photo: This photo, apparently taken by someone named Holmberg, shows a photographer allowing some Maasai women to look through his viewfinder. Photo courtesy Jonathan Block.
Rain and Trees
Men of the Trees for a future issue of Old Africa. I have another seven or eight mugumo trees to plant. Invest in the future and take advantage of this long rainy season to plant some trees yourself. Enjoy reading this issue of Old Africa, but don’t cringe too much when you read about George Outram blowing up trees with sticks of dynamite in 1902. -- Shel Arensen, Editor
I just came from planting five mugumo (wild fig) trees on the banks of the swollen Malewa River. It’s good to see the Malewa River rushing precious water into Lake Naivasha, but the river is carrying Above: Students from Rift Valley Academy tons of soil as it careens around plant a cedar tree in a place called Narianta, corners, carving away chunks which had thick forest cover as recently as 10 of earth. So I planted some years ago. Below: Only one narrow ridge of indigenous forest remains on the western wall trees, hoping they would help of the Rift Valley escarpment above Naivasha. grip the soil in the years ahead. Known as Olosho Rongai, its dark forest stands My action is barely more than in contrast to the cleared land behind it. The symbolic compared to the Eburru Forest can be seen on the horizon. great swaths of forest that have been chopped down in recent years. In March I hiked for several days through the Eburru Forest (quite healthy with indigenous trees) and then through the western wall of the Mau escarpment, which has experienced extensive clearing. Just ten years ago the forest on that escarpment was thick enough to hide bongo and giant forest hogs. Today the giant cedars have been knocked over and replaced by potatoes and maize. We did track a few giant forest hogs that have hidden themselves in the Eburru Forest. At the end of our hike we planted ten cedar trees and some wild olive trees on a church plot as we encouraged our friends in the area to replant what has been lost. magazine I recently read Wangari Maathai’s P.O. Box 65 Kijabe, Kenya 00220 memoir, Unbowed, and was impressed Email: firstname.lastname@example.org by her stand for good governance, www.oldafricamagazine.com backed up with her unflagging campaign Editor: Shel Arensen to plant more trees as part of her Green Design and Layout: Mike Adkins, Heather Adkins Belt Movement. Printers: Regal Press, Bunyala Rd., Nairobi, KENYA (254)20-534927 One of our readers, Oscar Mann, Distributors: PDS sent me a copy of a book called Africa Old Africa magazine is published bimonthly. It publishes stories and photos from East Africa’s past. Drums by Richard St Barbe Baker and in Subscriptions: Subscriptions are available. In Kenya the cost is it he describes how he and Chief Josiah Ksh. 2000/- for a one-year subscription (six issues) mailed to your postal Njonjo started a movement called Men of address. You can pay by cheque or postal money order made out in the Trees to replant trees. St Barbe feared favour of: Kifaru Educational and Editorial. Send your subscription order the cultivated land near Muguga would and payment to: Old Africa, Box 65 Kijabe 00220 Kenya. For outside of Kenya subscriptions see our advert in this magazine. soon become a desert unless people Advertising: To advertise in Old Africa, contact the editor at editorial@oldastarted planting trees. As I read on I found fricamagazine.com for a rate sheet or visit the website: www.oldafricamagazine. out Men of the Trees had been started in com. 1922! I began to do some more research Contributions: Old Africa magazine welcomes articles on East Africa’s past. on Men of the Trees and Andrew ChalSee our writer’s guidelines on the web at: www.oldafricamagazine.com or write to: Old Africa magazine, Box 65, Kijabe 00220 Email Address: editorial@oldafloner of Gilgil directed me to Hazel Close ricamagazine.com. After reading our guidelines and editing your work, send it to in Nairobi who had been the secretary us for review either by post or email. (To ensure return of your manuscript, send it for Men of the Trees. I met up with Hawith a self-addressed envelope and stamps to cover return postage) zel, who is also an Old Africa reader, in Copyright © 2010 by Kifaru Educational and Editorial May. She gave me several books on the All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without movement and has promised to dig up prior written permission of the publisher. more material and write an article about
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Sauti Zenu Your Voices
What you wrote in Issue 28 about Pete Pearson is correct. According to a small booklet in the National Library of Australia titled ‘Pete Pearson Elephant Hunter and Game Ranger’ dated 1934, Pete died after an operation for appendicitis in Kampala Hospital. Stan Bleazard, Claremont, Western Australia
I’ve just seen the Old Africa issue number 27 and the History Mystery Contest picture. Although the contest deadline is well past, here’s my answer. It is a photo of the monument to the memory of Peter Pearson, caused to be erected by the Prince of Wales (later Duke of Windsor), facing Lake Albert in Uganda. I recognised the picture from a similar one in Tony Sanchez-Ariño’s book, Ivory. He writes: “Pearson was born in Australia in 1877, and landed in Mombasa in 1904...He started hunting immediately, and by 1905, was operating in the Lado Enclave as an ivory poacher. During his first safari in Uganda, the Prince of Wales went on safari with Pearson and Captain Salmon. Afterwards he offered Pearson anything he wished, as he had been so pleased with the hunt. Pearson replied that the only thing he wished was a small memorial in a certain place, after he was dead. He used to sit on a rock on the Lake Albert
escarpment with an enormous area under the scan of his field glasses…The spot was known as “Pearson’s Place.” Pearson died in Uganda in 1929 of cancer, aged 52. Faithful to his word the Prince of Wales had a monument erected there after Pearson’s death. It stands there beside the Masindi to Butiaba road, facing Lake Albert, keeping Pearson’s spirit alive forever in the place he loved.” Neil Forgan
By chance I recently read Old Africa, October-November 2007. I was most interested the story on Lake Tanganyika during the WW1. The mention of the Liemba brought back many memories. I was once pressed into service as a crewmember. The Liemba was operated by the EAR&H serving the community living on the eastern shoreline with much needed supplies. In March 1962 the Railway Union called a general strike, which included the crew of the Liemba. The Management of EAR&H flew an emergency crew from Nairobi made up of a few ex-WW2 Royal Navel retirees and apprentices from the engineering departments. I was one of the apprentices. They paid an extra 20 shillings per day on top of our normal wages (in those days 500 shillings per month) and threw in two free beers each day. I did two trips during that wonderful month. I will never
forget the breathtaking sunsets over the Congo. I also visited the spot where Stanley met Livingstone. My days as a sailor came to an end when the union and management sorted out their problems. Does the Liemba still makes the trips up and down Lake Tanganyika? Peter Russell, Buckingham
I read with great interest the Nandi Bear article by Angus Hutton in Old Africa issue Number 25. At the start of 1967 I was learning to fly out of Wilson Airport and I was driving from Naivasha to Nairobi and back five times a week. During one of those return trips at night, I saw an animal completely unknown to me on the road. It was at about 8 pm on the old escarpment road near the turning to the Mayer’s Farm when I saw this extraordinary animal. I slowed down to have a good look, but it ran over the road and into the bushes. However, I did see that it had long hair, a short nose and was about the size of a spotted hyena. Having heard about the Nandi Bear, which I never really believed existed, I have now seen your photograph and am sure the animal I saw was a long haired brown hyena. I was brought up on a farm abundant with wildlife, and was training to become a professional hunter at the time. I did not tell many people about my sighting for fear of being laughed at for not knowing all my local animals. The few people I did tell, told me it must have been a leopard or spotted hyena. If the long haired brown hyena was seen in Nandi, and near
the Magadi railway, why not on the escarpment? I wonder if anyone else ever saw such an animal in other parts of the country? Barry Gaymer, Naivasha
I am researching an accident that happened at the Likoni Ferry on October 3, 1950, when a bus returning from the wedding of my father, Jimmy Verjee, and mother, Roshan Devji, plunged into the Indian Ocean killing 15 members of the Verjee family. I am trying to find any eye witnesses or anyone with memories or information of this terrible tragedy that befell my family. If you are able to help in anyway please email me at email@example.com Rasool Verjee
I recently had the interesting task of typing out my elderly Mothers’ hand written notes of her early Kenya life. There are not many still around who can recall how tough those days were - up to and including the second WW. During a conversation my Mother mentioned that without the Asian Duka Wallah, many a Kenya farmer certainly would not have survived. She says the debt her generation owes these c o u n t r y w i d e A s i a n shopkeepers is huge they granted ‘tick’ to cash strapped farmers throughout the depression and beyond. She would belatedly, but none the less very sincerely, like to publicly recognise the contribution these Asian traders made
to the success of many a Kenya farmer. She particularly recalls ‘Kasuku’ and ‘Michu Ini’ of Thomson’s Falls and apologises for not knowing their proper names. She remembers KV Unia of Ol Kalou as well. I am sure many recall Fati Alladalla whilst on August holidays in Mombasa. As far as Mother recalls, all debts were eventually squared away, although some took years. However these business dealings also had an amusing side - such as when Kasuku charged a confirmed bachelor Uncle for ‘one child’s Perambulator!’ Mother can still imagine Kasuku now as he clutched his brow and exclaimed in a strong Indian accent: “Beli sorry Sahib, beeg mestake!” Don Rooken-Smith, Florida, USA
The smiling man in the bow tie between President Kenyatta and Sarav Gautama in your 1963 cover picture from issue number 28 is the young Dr Julius Kiano, whose wife was Ernestine, a white American. I cannot remember his position at the time, but he was headed for fame. Errol Trzebinski, Lamu
Dr Julius Kiano between Sarav Gautama and President Kenyatta in 1963.
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Regarding Patrick Fox’s letter about the Wajir graves in Old Africa issue number 27, here is some background about Lt Dawson Smith supplied by an ex-KAR friend. Smith was killed at Dolo in a mutiny by his own men, Somalis of 3 Company, 5 KAR. Dolo is a few miles north of Mandera. At that time in 1920 the area was part of Jubaland, a province of Kenya. The British Government ceded Jubaland to the Italians soon after 1920 in recognition of the fact that Italy had not been awarded the Trusteeship of any of the former German colonies after the 1914-18 war. It then became part of Italian Somaliland, now Somalia. Peter Fullerton, Witney, UK
I was interested to see the picture of the ‘train wot fell’ in Nakuru recently printed in Old Africa issue number 28, AprilMay 2010. Richard Simpson, from Greytown, South Africa, who took the picture, must have been standing next to me because, as stringer at that time for Kenya’s Nation Series of newspapers, I took my picture for the Daily Nation and it appeared on the Nation’s front page next morning. But the date was September 3rd - 4th 1964! Oops! Not 1956. One can see the picture I took, in my book Where The Tarmac Ends published in 1989 on pages 86 and 87. I enjoy Old Africa very much - occasional bloops and all! My salaams. Margaret Hayes, British Columbia, Canada
William Sanger, Toro Tea Planter an Autobiographical Memoir by William Sanger, written in 1981, his 88th year, having been born in 1893
William Saqnger, Toro Tea Planter
The Sanger family had been yeomen farmers land while his brother George Sanger went to in Tisbury in Wiltshire for many centuries. In France. about 1795 two brothers, James Sanger and John My father was born in 1855. He married ReSanger, visited London. Because of Napoleon’s becca Pinder, the daughter of William Pinder, a rise to power in France, the British Lords of circus proprietor from Yorkshire at the time tourthe Admiralty determined to blockade French ing France. My father was 24 years old and my ports. They recruited sailors by press gang, mother 19 when they married. They had eleven impressing by force any likely young man into children, five girls and six boys between 1880 the navy. While my two ancestors walked across and 1899. I was the eighth, born on May 14, Westminster Bridge, a press gang chased them. 1893. My parents found it impossible to care for My great-grandfather, James Sanger, was hit on all their children as they tented around with the the head and woke up in a prison barge on the circus, so some of us had to be parked with paid River Thames. His brother John escaped and was foster parents before going to boarding school. given refuge in a chemist’s shop by the chem- I was looked after by a Mr and Mrs Beamish at ist’s daughter. John remained with the chemist Bournemouth from the age of four to the age of and eventually married the chemist’s daughter. six. I remember the visit to Bournemouth of the Their sons set up the firm of Sanger Brothers, huge Barnum and Bailey Circus. In 1900 after wholesale chemists. seeing the start out of My great-grandfather James Sanger’s Circus from their Sanger served in the navy for headquarters at Tottenham ten years and was wounded on I was taken to Heston HMS Victory at the battle of House School in HoundTrafalgar. My great-grandfather slow to become a boarder was given a small pension with there along with some of permission to travel. A travel my older brothers. The permit was unusual in those old Queen Victoria died at days in rural England. James’ the Isle of Wight and we relatives at Tisbury were unwatched the funeral train willing to welcome a rough pass near Southall. When Jack Tar so he took to the roads, I was eight years old I was begging his way with a picture attacked with a most pecuof HMS Victory at the battle of liar jazzy buzzing in the Trafalgar. At the Fair Grounds brain. All noise was mixed of England he acquired a caraup in a most horrible way van, got married and had two until I thought I was going sons John and George, John bemad. I had been taught to ing my grandfather and George pray to God and this I did my great uncle. These two with heart and soul asking young men built up Sanger’s for this frightful thing to Circus, which travelled through be taken away. And it was. England, Scotland and Wales. From that date until now Charles Dickens wrote about I have always believed in it and royalty visited. The two prayer. brothers became famous, marAt the age of eleven I ried wives, had children and When William Sanger was transferred to was transferred to King then went their separate ways. Tanga in 1917, he would have seen this clock Edward’s High School at My grandfather stayed in Eng- tower, built by the Germans in Tanga in 1901. Birmingham where I re-
William Saqnger, Toro Tea Planter
gret to say my academic education faltered. I was into bars on the excuse that the owner must be seventeen years old when I left school. My par- German and the whole place got roaring drunk. ents wanted to article me to a firm of Chartered A lot of damage was done in Kimberley and Accountants, but I refused. I joined the circus as the next day most of the large transit camp had a performer. I already had learnt the horizontal very bad headaches. After that an officer read bars at school and I was now taught somersaults out a telegram from General Smuts telling us we and bareback riding. From 1911 to 1914 I was were disbanded. My pal Blair and I and about with the circus, eight months out tenting and four 18 others from Cullinans Horse elected to join months at the farm near Horley, practising new the South African Mounted Rifles (SAMR) and acts. One of my acts was on the horizontal bars headed by train for Bloemfontein. The German West Africa campaign ended with a trampoline stretched between at which I had to somersault. But I always left the tram- before we got into action. I joined a contingent poline at a bound at the end of the act to make of SAMR going to German East Africa. We my bow by landing with stiffened knees on the embarked at Durban on the Ingoma. We reached ground. My father warned me against this, but I Mombasa in August 1916 after a nine-day trip. Mombasa had no jetty or pier, so a lighter took no notice. By 1914 I was beginning to get crippled. I was getting tired of circus life and took us ashore. We entrained for German East via when the war broke out in August 1914, I went to Voi where we changed into iron trucks and went a recruiting Medical Officer who turned me down through Taveta onto the line for Tanga. Late in as a recruit for the army. In London the flappers were presenting young men with the white feather for not joining up. I had forty pounds saved up so without saying a word to my parents I booked a second-class ticket and sailed for South Africa. I arrived at Cape Town and went to Johannesburg. I signed up for a Commando Regiment called Cullinans Horse. A narrow-gauge trolley on a sisal plantation near Tanga showing a manager and some of the They issued me farm labourers. The photo dates from about the 1920s and was submitted by Old Africa reader with boots, spurs, Shayne Perry. puttees, riding britches, tunic and slouch hat, knife, fork and the afternoon we arrived at Mombo. We slept at spoon and blanket. We went to a large transit the Railway Station and had our first experience camp in Kimberley and were given horses, of being bitten by the malaria mosquito. The saddles, bridles, rifle and ammunition and told following morning we heard there had been an to prepare for a trek through the Kuruman desert argument between the South African Command to Keetmanshoe in German West Africa. Just and the Imperial British Command about what as orders came for us to move off, a German to do with us. Finally they decided to send us submarine sank the Lusitania. The huge camp to Lushoto. They showed us the mountains of went mad, searching for anyone who had a Ger- the Western Usambara and told us “you have to man name to beat him up. The recruits broke walk up.” A guide led us up the proper monkey
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path. We each had a rifle and 250 rounds of ammunition and were worn out by the time we had arrived at the 5000 feet hill station. At Lushoto we patrolled the surrounding countryside and looked after the German women who had stayed behind while their husbands were fighting at the front. By now my knees had ceased aching and the only reminder of the damage done in the circus was my inability to squat. This was particularly awkward out in the bush where there was no toilet seat. At Lushoto I got the job of giving military training to the local Africans. I had learned Kiswahili quickly. Later I was brought into Headquarters Office. There was one typewriter and I soon learned to type all the official letters. We had some excitement in 1917 when a German named De Haas broke back from Naumann’s column and started harassment around Mt Kilimanjaro. I was given a Douglas motorcycle but it soon got stuck in the black mountain mud. However, the Germans were rounded up and sent to some prisoner of war camp, while their native soldiers were handed over to me to take to Nairobi. My African soldiers and I escorted the prisoners to Nairobi without trouble. In Nairobi I handed over the German African askaris to a barracks and received a receipt for them. I believe they were put into training and recruited to fight on the British side. It was Easter 1917 and I stayed in Nairobi while I got measured for a well-cut uniform. Soon after reporting back to Lushoto, our office was transferred to Tanga, where we stayed until the end of the war. The epidemic known as Spanish Flu was sweeping over the world killing people in large numbers. In 1918 our original thirty strong contingent was made into the Tanganyika Police and Prisons and I was promoted to the rank of Inspector. In 1919 our office was again transferred to Dar es Salaam and I was sent with another European assistant to the district station of Kondoa Irangi. In August 1919 I was promoted to the commissioned rank of Assistant District Officer in the Tanganyika Administration and stationed at Dodoma under the Provincial Commissioner Percy Sillitoe. (During the second world war Sir Percy Sillitoe became head of MI5). The plague of Spanish Flu had not yet abated, and a frightful famine added to the misery. There had been two years of very little rain in the Dodoma Central Province. The contending
armies had eaten everything available and there was simply no food for the African population to eat. People dropped down dead in the street, while women held out their babies for any one to take them while they died. We had no motor transport in those days and food brought up from Dar es Salaam by train could only get a certain distance from the rail by head porterage before the porters had eaten the lot. My ability to speak Swahili enabled me to organise food distribution and in 1919 I passed the higher Swahili written examination. By 1920 I was sent out to take over a district station on my own. In addition to my administrative duties I was also a Subordinate Judge. They sent me on leave to England where I attended an administration course at the Imperial Institute, London. I had no difficulty passing out in all the subjects. I was well on the way to becoming one in the higher ranks of the Colonial Service. Apart from becoming a barrister, if all went well, I had been accepted as a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society while going through the surveying course. While in England, I went home and greeted my family. Page 9 of the original typed manuscript that Roland Minor found in the burned out house in Lamu was missing, so we’re not sure what transpired between William Sanger’s administrative course and his appearance in a hospital in Tanganyika. …in hospital in the next bed to me was a man with bandaged eyes. He had picked up tick fever while shooting elephants on the Portuguese border. I recovered slowly and was discharged from hospital. But the Agricultural Department could not employ me any more. I bought myself a thousand acre property at Mlola in the Lushoto district. After building a house, I went down with a terrific dose of malaria. They carried me to the railway line and I went to hospital in Tanga. On my cotton-auctioning safari I had observed the sisal plantations and determined to get into the industry. I bicycled from Pangani to Tanga in the rain to interview Captain Lead the managing director of Bird and Co, which had several sisal estates. He gave me the job of assistant manager of the Kange plantation near Tanga. I had to be up before sunrise counting the labourers and apportioning their jobs. After about six months at Kange, Captain Lead called me in to headquarters office in Tanga and explained they were so short of labour they couldn’t fill their contracts. He said their labour recruiter, Major Bradstock,
William Saqnger, Toro Tea Planter
had disappeared. He wanted me to drive down to the southern end of Tanganyika to look for Major Bradstock and find out why he was not sending labour. I cheerfully agreed. They gave me a Ford lorry, which I drove up to Korogwe. From there I crossed the Masai steppe and arrived at Kondoa Irangi. I immediately went down with a dose of malaria. The District Officer, Mr Bagshaw, looked after me until I was better. I set off again heading south for Dodoma on the Central Railway Line. From Dodoma I carried on south to the Kisigo River. There were no bridges in those days except on the railway line. The rains were on and I could not cross the Kisigo River, so I turned back to Dodoma. I wired Tanga and asked permission to travel to Tabora to look for labour. They agreed, but Tabora was full of labour recruiters. At the hotel I met a Belgian who told me I could find labourers at Kigoma on Lake Tanganyika. I went to Kigoma and within a week I had found one hundred men. I took them down to Soga on the railway line and marched them to Bagamoyo. This entailed many days of marching. At Bagamoyo we rested. Then I chose one man to be the headman. I gave him money to buy rations for the men on the way, pointed north and explained how many days it would take to get to Pangani. I gave him a letter to Mr Wilkins the manager of one of Bird and Co’s sisal estates there, hopped onto a dhow and sailed to Dar es Salaam where I booked a passage on the small steamer Dumra (later sunk by the Japanese in the second war) and arrived back to Tanga where I reported to headquarters. The labourers had arrived at the Pangani Estate safely and headquarters had received word by telegram. The managing director fell on my neck and asked whether I would take on the job of labour recruiter permanently. I said yes but stipulated that my recruiting camp would be at Kigoma. I went back to Kigoma and built a camp. I engaged labour recruiters from Burundi down to Rhodesia. I engaged the steamer Liemba to cart them from the south. Bird and Co in Tanga seemed to be delighted, until Captain Lead, Mr Wilkins and a Mr Walker acquired a sisal estate of their own at Masinde, north of Mombo on the railway line. They sent up a wagonload of bulbils, the sisal seedlings from which nurseries are established. Plenty of bulbils fell from the sisal poles and rotted in the ground, so they didn’t have a lot of value. But
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somebody in the company reported the men for taking the bulbils. Bird and Co’s London office asked Captain Lead, Mr Wilkins and Mr Walker to resign and stipulated that all employees of Bird and Co should not own local property. If they did, they must resign also. Mr Sanders visited me at Kigoma and noted my big recruiting organisation. I told him I already had local property at Manyoni and two properties near Kigoma named Buhanga of 1000 acres and a new sisal plantation at Machazo, which I was planting up. He reported this to Tanga. I told them they could break their contract with me if they wished, but I would still recruit for them as a private person. They agreed to this compromise. I immediately sent for my brother Arthur to partner with me in an extended recruiting business as well as doing clearing and forwarding for the Belgian Congo and the Belgian mandated territories of Ruanda and Burundi. Arthur joined me in Kigoma. I bought a house next to Mavricos and Mascoudis near the Bank du Congo Belge. We did quite well until the world wide financial crisis, when all industry came to a halt and there was no need to recruit labour. We kept our clearing and forwarding business going and money exchange negotiations kept our business going for a time. I decided eventually to go to Bukoba in 1932 where there was a good coffee crop every year. I found a house to live in and a godown to store the coffee I had bought. But somehow I had no success. I was getting ready to pack up when one day the bank manager told me about the Kingdom of Toro in Uganda where land was going very cheap. I went, I saw and it conquered me. It was such a beautiful place, the Africans were so friendly and I fell in love with it. Here was the kind of place I had dreamed about. I thought my wanderings were over. I bought 500 acres and when a rich man said he would build a tea factory if the planters would plant tea, I started to plant nursery beds and open up my land for planting tea in a year and a half’s time. I arrived in Toro in January 1933 and built myself a house. I was forty years of age. While I waited for the tea factory to be completed, I met an American missionary. He had left his mission in the Congo and entered Toro. He said his wife in California had refused to join him in the Congo and the rule of his mission was that a man was not allowed to be there without his wife. We planters often had discussions with him on the subject of Christianity. My mind went issue No.29
back to my administrator’s course in the UK. We studied Mohameddan Law and had a book, which had Mohameddan Law tabulated in sections on the various subjects in the Koran such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, theft, gifts, etc. I thought Christianity should have something like this so Christians would know their duty without having to consult the local priest every time they had a problem. I set about writing such a book, taking the Ten Commandments as separate headings of law. Under each heading I wrote the instructions of Jesus Christ applicable to that heading, followed by my comments. When I came to Commandment number 8, Thou shalt not steal, I stated stealing was taking property or money without the permission of the owner. I argued if there are no democratic elections, it is difficult not to call taxation theft. The British-run government in Uganda imposed taxation on the indigenous population without representation or elections. The government banned my book and confiscated the edition. I was not punished. An 1899 map of East Africa showing some of the places where Williams Sanger lived and travelled. Kigoma was a town on the edge of Lake Tanganyika, Bukoba was in Tanganyika on the west side of Lake Victoria and Toro was in Uganda at the foot of the Ruwenzori Mountains between Lake Edward and Lake Albert.
The tea factory finally started in 1938. During the five years since my arrival in 1933 I had planted over 100 acres of tea. They were happy years. My fellow planters nearby were all as hard up as I was, for to plant up and keep clean a plantation with no income is very expensive. My brother and I were still partners and his business at Kigoma started to improve when Hitler showed his teeth and threatened another world war. Arthur came up to see me in Toro in 1935. He wanted to get married and wanted to break our partnership. I agreed to give him all my assets in Tanganyika and Arthur agreed to give me half the money he had at Kigoma, since I didn’t yet have any income from the tea. We went to Kampala and made the agreement in front of Mr Carter of Barclay’s Bank. He went back to Kigoma owning quite a lot of property and a thriving business. I was quite happy at Toro against the Mountains of the Moon and I married an African wife. There is not much more to report. From
the time the factory started to take our tea I did quite well and the future looked rosy. But politics interfered and Toro as a Kingdom lost its King. Britain wanted Uganda to have a democracy and a parliament. The people elected Milton Obote as prime minister and the kings had to step down. Local government deteriorated in favour of a government 200 miles away. Idi Amin, a military man, staged a coup and threw out the prime minister who had become president. In two years time they kicked out all the European farmers of Toro, taking the estates without compensation and seizing what money they had in the bank. I had been luckier than my fellow planters. I had sold my first plantation at Kijura in 1960 and I had sold my second plantation, where I had planted 150 acres in 1967. So all I lost was the money in the bank, but by harassing the government and saying I wanted to give this money to my family, who all ranked as Africans, the new military dictatorship returned the money saying they had made a mistake. In November 1972 I left the beautiful Mountains of the Moon district. I went to England but I was not happy there. I bought myself two flats, stayed only six months and left for Kenya and entered the Hotel Splendid in Mombasa where I still live. My family, three sons and one daughter, are now all grown up and have families of their own. The tea plantations, which I had planted, became a forest of useless trees, thirty feet high. In 1979 the Uganda military government went too far by trying to extend its boundaries at the expense of Tanzania. The Tanzania army attacked and defeated Idi Amin. As I write an election has taken place and Obote, the President who was kicked out in 1971, is back in the saddle again. My family has land, which can produce food. The tea industry looks somewhat uncertain. Tea lying fallow is not destroyed, but it cannot bring in revenue until the factories start up again and until the bushes are pruned down to a pluckable height. It is now 1981 and I shall have completed 88 years of age this year. I cannot return to Toro. I have tried it twice and find I am unable to shuffle over the rough roads and paths. My right hip, knee and ankle joints don’t work any more. I don’t know whether this is damage from my circus days or not. X-ray photographs show collapsing bones in my vertebrae. The pain is not unbearable but the leg gives some trouble. However, I am lucky to be in Mombasa where surgeons are available.
Finding the Sanger manuscript by Roland Minor
William Saqnger, Toro Tea Planter
Early one morning in February 2006 in Lamu I was called to an old stone house with a makuti roof occupied by a close friend, Diana King, which had caught fire during the night. No trace of Diana could be found at the time though her badly charred and dismembered body was found a few hours later when the embers had cooled enough to allow a full search of the ruins of the house. I felt obliged to call her family in Britain to tell them of the tragedy and ask about funeral arrangements. This required me to try and find her address book for the necessary phone numbers. Fortunately the ground floor of the house was less damaged and I soon found the address book and a small plastic-covered package in a drawer of a table on the verandah. The package contained three items: a type-written memoir written by William Sanger, formerly a tea planter in the Kingdom of Toro in Uganda; a carbon copy of the last Will and Testament of Charles Whitton dated October 28, 1950; and a letter from Leonard Scard, dated August 9, 1993, addressed to the First Secretary of the British High Commission in Nairobi describing a serious riot in Lamu in which a number of buildings were burnt down three days previous to his letter. In about 1910 Whitton had managed coconut and rubber plantations on ninety square miles of land at Witu on the mainland for the Denhardt brothers who had obtained the land on a concession from the Sultan of Swahililand. Over time Whitton acquired the largest coconut plantation on Lamu island and was an expert on processing copra, hence his nickname Coconut Charlie. As Justice of the Peace in Lamu he earned the epithet ëMayor of Lamu.í He died in about 1954. Leonard Scard had also been a tea planter in Toro and, like William Sanger, had been expelled from Uganda during Idi Amin’s time. After seven years working for the Save the Children Fund in Torit in Southern Sudan he settled in Lamu, a town he had first known during the Second World War when he had been assigned the job of digging trenches around it to thwart a possible Italian assault from the neighbouring colony of Italian Somaliland. During his time in Lamu, Scard became the honorary Consular Correspondent for the British High Commission for which he was awarded an MBE in the last year of his life. It is not clear how these papers got into Diana’s possession. She had assisted a subseRoland Minor discovered the Sanger manuscript in Lamu quent consular after an old stone house with a makuti roof burned down in 2006. correspondent and I presume had come by Scard’s papers as a consequence. Scard spoke of Whitton several times and possibly knew him when he had been in Lamu in the early stages of the war. Scard obviously would have known Sanger in Toro and probably saw him regularly on his frequent visits to Mombasa. I typed up William Sanger’s manuscript in its entirety and sent it to Old Africa, who edited it. I also found that Dr Frederick Sanger, one of William’s chemist cousins, was awarded a Nobel Prize for chemistry twice during his lifetime. Now 92, he is an Emeritus Fellow of Kings College, Cambridge. I wrote to the provost of the college to ascertain if Dr Sanger or other members of his family would like a copy of Williamís memoir.
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Goolshen Jamal: 1963
MP’s wife from Kisumu
Goolshen Jamal stood baker and a mechanic driving big maroon Lincoln to drive to outside the Kisumu a lorry. The Studebaker had no the ceremony. Goolshen had an older sister Town Hall as the votes were problems on the nine-day road being counted after Kenya’s trip from Pretoria to Nairobi, who was married in Nairobi and first open election with a com- not even a puncture. The Lin- in 1948 they made another holimon roll. Fanuel Walter Odede, coln, however, had every kind day in Kenya from South Africa. one of the candidate’s for MP of trouble a car could have. In those days South Africa was Kisumu town came out and saw Whenever car broke down, the not an easy place for Indians her. “Mrs Amir. Congratula- lorry mechanic helped fix the to go on holiday. You couldn’t tions! Amir has won!” When car. The road those days had travel into another province Goolshen married Amir Jamal tarmac only in strips, one for without a permit and many nine years earlier, she had no each tyre. Goolshen remembers restaurants and hotels were idea her husband would become passing through towns with off limits for non-whites. In Kisumu town’s first Member of strange names like Kapirim- South Africa Goolshen “played Parliament (MP) in independent poshi. Despite the car problems, white” twice. Once she went to the Lincoln made a big hit in a whites-only drive-in restaurant Kenya. Goolshen was born in Pre- Nairobi. Goolshen’s father even with a Chinese friend (Chinese toria, South Africa in 1933. loaned it to the Aga Khan to use. had “social rights” in apartheid Her father, Rajabali Velshi, Then when everyone went to South Africa). Another time had studied as a young boy Dar for the Diamond Jubilee, Goolshen and some friends went under Mahatma Gandhi at the Goolshen’s family drove down to a cinema and bought tickets Tolstoy Farm School near Jo- as well. The Aga Khan used the as if they were white. “I was scared out of my wits,” hannesburg. Her farther Goolshen remembers. owned the ABC Bakery She could hardly watch and Goolshen’s family or enjoy the film. had enough money for East Africa was much a good life and a good more open. So in 1948 education. Goolshen atGoolshen came to Kenya tended Indian schools on a propeller aeroplane. because in those days It stopped overnight in South Africa had separate Ndola and then flew on schools for Indians, for to Nairobi. Flying was coloureds, for Africans such a novelty in those and for whites. Indian days that on Goolshen’s education had more pracreturn to South Africa, tical classes, while white her teacher asked her schools offered more to give a report to the academic subjects. whole class. In 1946 Goolshen’s After high school, family drove to East AfGoolshen went to Witrica to attend the old watersrand University, Aga Khan’s Diamond where she studied physJubilee in Dar es Salaam. ics, chemistry and apHer father had bought a The Velshi family in Pretoria with the old Aga Khan in fancy American Lincoln 1945. Standing left to right: Rehmtula and Gulbanso. plied mathematics for with power windows, just Sitting left to right: Jenabai (Goolshen’s mother) The two years. At end of 1953 like cars have today. They Aga Khan Mowlana Sultan Mohamed Shah (MSMS) Goolshen went to Kenya on another holiday. She travelled in convoy with and Rajabali (Goolshen’s father). In front left to right: Murad and Goolshen. had an uncle in Kenya an uncle driving a Stude-
who had opened White Rose Drycleaners and she also visited a cousin Shireen in Kisumu, who was the matron of the Aga Khan Maternity Hospital. “That’s where I met Amir Jamal,” Goolshen recalls. “My cousin Shireen was Amir’s family’s friend and used to eat at the Jamal’s house and we met there.” Amir and Goolshen fell in love and Amir proposed to her before the week ended. Goolshen returned to Nairobi and then went on to Mombasa and stayed with Amir’s brother while they made wedding preparations.
in-law didn’t attend,” Goolshen says, “because in those days the Ismaili community only allowed ten people to attend a wedding ceremony – five from each family – and my fatherin-law would have made one too many.” Even though Kenya didn’t have the same racial separation laws as South Africa, there were still many places that excluded Asians and Africans. Goolshen had a hard time finding a hairdresser to do her hair for the wedding. A Greek hairdresser at the New Stanley Hotel agreed to style Goolshen’s hair, but she had
Above: Goolshen met Amir Jamal in Kisumu in 1953. Below: Amir and Goolshen were married in Nairobi in 1954. From left to right: Gulshan Kassam Kanji, Amir, Goolshen, Gulbanoo Verjee.
Goolshen came back to Nairobi in early 1954 and the couple married in Nairobi in April 1954. Goolshen was 21 and Amir 22 when they married. After the wedding they drove to Kisumu, getting stuck in the mud on the way. Goolshen’s mother came to the wedding from South Africa, but her father couldn’t come. The wedding took place at the Khoja mosque in Nairobi. “My father-
to come to the salon after regular business hours. Goolshen had a white bridal gown with a tiara and a veil. “The community leaders made me take the veil off the tiara,” Goolshen says. To Goolshen with her more modern
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upbringing in South Africa the veil signified her purity, but the community leaders felt the symbol was too Christian. “They let me wear the tiara. After the wedding we had a big reception with many guests. Because this broke the ten-guest rule, Amir and I had to stand before the Ismaili leaders and make a formal apology for having a reception with more than ten people attending.” Life In Kisumu was very difficult at first for Goolshen, who had been raised in an upper middle-class South African home where they cooked on an electric cooker. “It seemed Kisumu was a generation behind what I was used to. I had to cook on an old wood stove. I’d never seen one before and this one was hot and smoky and made my eyes sting. I developed allergies from all the smoke.” Goolshen spent a lot of time cooking over that wood stove. “My fatherin-law Hasham Jamal was the first Asian resident of Kisumu, arriving there in 1901, before the railway arrived. The family house stood near the railway station, so many people stopped by our house for a meal. The pier where people caught the lake steamers was across the road from our house. So food always had to be ready for drop-in guests. My motherin-law and I did most of the cooking and we made all our food there at home. We made chevro. Travellers came by in a continuous stream and they
were always welcomed and fed.” Goolshen faced many adjustments. “In South Africa I received £5 a week from father as a clothing allowance. At nights
allowed to listen to music in our home in Kisumu. Outings for women were limited. The men went out, but we had to be at home to feed them when they came back. Going to the mosque was the big social occasion. We also liked going to the cinema.” Goolshen’s first son was born in 1955. “We named him Rehmetullah after my father-in-law wrote to the old Aga Khan, who gave that name for my son. In October 1957 I went to see the new Aga Khan soon after my second child, a daughter, had been born. The new Aga Khan asked if my baby was a boy or a girl. I told him she was a girl and the Aga Khan told me to name her Yasmin after his sister. When my third child, a son, was born, my parents-in-law went to the old Aga Khan’s funeral in Aswan, Egypt. This was 1959. They intended to ask
Above: An instruction card encourages people to vote for Amir Jamal, KANU’s candidate for MP of Kisumu town.Right: Amir Jamal visits Achieng Oneko, a Luo politician tried and detained with Jomo Kenyatta during the colonial period. Oneko was later detained by the KANU-led government together with Oginga Odinga.
we would often drive in our car and go window-shopping. We’d point out things we liked and father would tell us to go buy them the next day. Kisumu was a totally different life and I had to work hard. In South Africa I had been brought up playing the piano. We had no piano in Kisumu. I had been taught to love classical music. I was not
the new Aga Khan for a name for my third son, but the mood at the funeral was too sombre, so they did not ask. Around that time King Feisal of Iraq was assassinated by Saddam Hussein and the king’s whole family was murdered. I named my son Feisal after Iraq’s king.” As Kenya approached independence, Goolshen’s husband
Amir took a great interest in politics. Ibrahim Nathoo came to Kisumu to campaign. He was a member of LegCo and the Minister of the Public Works Department (PWD). Amir helped him with his campaign. Amir was also the president of the Muslim League in Kisumu. When Ibrahim left Kenya, he proposed Amir’s older brother Ramzan to take his seat, but Ramzan declined. Amir took the opportunity and acted as the member of LegCo until 1961 when he won the seat in a by-election unopposed. Amir attended the Lancaster House conference in 1962. Then in 1963 in Kenya’s first open election with a common roll, Amir stood as the KANU candidate for Kisumu town. Oginga Odinga had chosen Amir as the KANU candidate. He ran against three others: Fanuel Walter Odede (Tom Mboya’s father-in-law, an Independent candidate); Jared Akatsa for KADU and Francis Edward Ogai. Amir won the election by a big majority At that time Amir and Goolshen lived upstairs over their shop. Everyone celebrated below around the house. “It was a very exciting time,” Goolshen says. Once in Parliament, Amir went to Nairobi from Tuesday to Friday and came back to Kisumu from Saturday to Monday. Constituents would arrive at the house from early in the morning to see Amir and ask favours. “Can you pay hospital bills? Can you pay school fees?” Amir’s salary as an MP at the time was 833/- per month.
“It wasn’t enough to pay our children’s school fees,” laughs Goolshen. The government paid mileage for his travel back and forth to Nairobi, but Amir drove his own car, a Fiat since the Jamal family were the Fiat agents in Kisumu. He was one of the few MPs who did not have a personal driver. At first Amir stayed at the United Kenya Club in Nairobi while attending Parliament, but the room had no phone, just a common phone in the hall. So he moved and stayed at the Agip Motel in Westlands (later called the Jacaranda Hotel, now the Landmark). Later Amir acquired a flat on Tom Mboya Street near the Ambassadeur Hotel. In her role as wife of the Kisumu Town MP, Goolshen met many of Kenya’s leaders including Tom Mboya, Bruce McKenzie, the Agriculture minister, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Argwings Kodhek and former Presidents Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel arap Moi, who came to their house once. Odinga, who had backed Amir for his seat in Parliament, fell out with President Kenyatta over various political issues. Odinga resigned from KANU in 1966 and formed the Kenya People’s Union (KPU). Most Luo politicians followed Odinga, but Amir and Argwings Kodhek remained in KANU. Amir fought for a decent airport at Kisumu with little success. There was little infrastructure developed in Nyanza in those days, partly because of the Kenyatta-Odinga fallout. When the Aga Khan visited Kisumu in 1966, he stayed at the home of Tazdin R Kassimlakha. Amir as MP was invited. The Aga Khan and Amir became
close and they later corresponded. Amir also met the Aga Khan at State House in Nairobi and always took Goolshen along. Goolshen remembers a visit to her home by Vice-President Daniel arap Moi along with Argwings Kodhek. In January 1969 Amir went to the US as part of Kenya’s delegation to
is now called Argwings Kodhek road. In 1969 many people wanted Amir to run again for Parliament, but he chose not to. Amir gave up politics to focus on the family business, Kenya Produce Agency Ltd dealing in hides and skins and commodities like ghee.
Above: Goolshen enjoys a light-hearted moment with (from left) Daniel arap Moi, Argwings Kodhek (with his back to the camera), and Tom Mboya. Right: Goolshen putting a garland on the current Aga Khan on his visit to Kenya about 1985.
attend President Richard Nixon’s inauguration. After his US tour, Amir travelled to the UK. During this trip he received two disturbing phone calls. The first told him about the first riot at Nairobi University since independence. Later he heard the shocking news that his friend Argwings Kodhek had been killed in a traffic accident in Nairobi. The road where the accident took place
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Goolshen remembers a British ghee inspector who didn’t know anything about clarified butter. The inspector was supJune-July 2010
posed to stab a stick in various debes of ghee and pull it out and taste it and determine its quality. “We had to inspect the ghee ourselves,” Goolshen remembers, “and give him the information to put in his report.” They sold their skins and hides to Europe through various brokers. “Because of the leather business, we always went to a yearly leather show in Paris.” Goolshen says. When Amir announced his retirement from politics, Grace Onyango, then Mayor of Kisumu, said, “If you’re not going to stand, I would like to.” She was elected MP for Kisumu town following Amir. Life in Kisumu carried on as normal for Goolshen as her husband attended Parliament and made his trips abroad. Goolshen’s children grew up and went off to boarding school: Rehmetullah at Duke of York;
Yasmin at Kenya High; and Feisal at Kenton College in 1968. Goolshen has been heavily involved in various charities, especially the Rotary Club. At first in Kisumu Goolshen helped start an unofficial “Ann’s Club” (named for wives of
Above: Goolshen displays her Rotary Club necklace with emblems for all the positions she has held in the organisation. Left: Goolshen and Amir when he was president of the Aga Khan Provincial Council from 1984 to 1987. Amir received the honorary title of Rai from the Aga Khan. When a man receives this title, he is presented with this special cloth, which is made into a ceremonial gown. This is sewn and embroidered with gold thread in Mumbai. Whenever there is a big occasion in the Ismaili community, this gown is worn.
the Rotarian founders). Later Goolshen and Peggy Sutterfield from Maseno joined up to form an ‘Inner Wheel.’ Goolshen was
the International Services Organizer, and a charter member of the group in 1969. She has been the chair twice in Kisumu and twice in Nairobi and has held virtually every post in the group at one time or other. Goolshen is still a member. Goolshen also served as a lady member for the Aga Khan council in Kisumu. When the Aga Khan visited Kisumu in 1971 she received the job of Aide de Camp to Begum Salima. Goolshen worried that the Aga Khan’s wife Begum Salima would ask a lot of questions, so she studied up on information about the lake, ships and industries. “The driver of the car couldn’t believe I knew so much about Kisumu,” she remembers with a smile. The Aga Khan’s daughter and son came as well and visited the Jamal’s new house. Goolshen and Amir kept their home in Kisumu until 1991 when they moved to Nairobi. Amir passed away in 2006. Goolshen remembers with fondness the lifelong friends she made in Kisumu. One of her friends was Alfred Ng’ang’a, a disadvantaged Kikuyu boy living in Kisumu. Goolshen helped him with school fees to finish his studies. Alfred now has a PhD and is teaching at a university in the USA. “There’s more to do in Nairobi,” Goolshen says, “but in Kisumu you were a part of community life.” Surrounded by family in Nairobi, Goolshen reflects a quiet happiness as she recalls her life in Kisumu as the wife of Amir Jamal, Kisumu town’s first MP.
Flamingo Feathers Launch Industry
by Helen Kellogg
1967 Flamingo Feathers Launch Industry
The Nakuru mayor’s message read: “Please supply one flamingo feather corsage to be presented to Mrs Jomo Kenyatta on Friday.” I flushed with pleasure and read on: “The box must remain open so that all the other guests may see the presentation, but, if you wish you may cover it with cellophane to keep out the dust.” Excitement ran high among our African artisans that morning as we chose the most beautiful flamingo feather corsage for Mama Ngina Kenyatta on behalf of the citizens of Nakuru. Many people are intrigued about how I, as a missionary in Kenya with World Gospel Mission, came to create a successful industry in Nakuru making flowers from flamingo feathers. It all started in about 1963 when my husband and I visited Lake Nakuru for the first time. I had seen the clouds of pink flamingos from a distance as we drove back and forth to Kericho, but I wasn’t prepared for the spectacular sight that morning as we drove across the sand dunes toward the water. As far as we could see the birds were massed in one great swath of delicate pink. Standing by the edge of the lake my eyes dropped down to view thousands of flamingo feathers floating in the murky water. Discarded in the moulting and preening of the birds, the wind had gently blown them to the shore where they would soon decay and add to the spongy mass being trampled in the mud. I visualised myself wearing a gorgeous flamingo feather hat and persuaded my husband to help me gather some feathers. Back home I washed and dried my treasures. Failing to find a hat frame, I remembered a dried feather corsage I had bought in America. I improvised a centre to work around and made my
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first flamingo feather flower. One creation led to another and gradually we were in production to supply the requests from delighted friends and acquaintances. In July 1966 our mission opened Bethany Bookshop in Nakuru to sell Christian books and my husband David became the manager. We bought a dealer’s licence from the Kenya Game Department and sold our flamingo flowers to help subsidise the operational costs of the bookshop. I hired my first African artisan, a
Left: Helen Kellogg shows how she designs a flamingo feather flower.Below: An aster made from flamingo feathers.
woman who desperately needed employment. Within a few months we had a wholesale outlet and later a dealership with a leading curio shop in Nairobi. issue No.29
We expanded our bookstore and sold our flamingo feather creations as fast as we could make them. We needed more employees and had a heart to help disabled people. We contacted the Salvation Army, which had a school for crippled children near Nairobi, asking them to recommend reliable graduates to us. We first interviewed Zakayo Mwangi and hired him on the spot. He came to Nakuru and we initiated him into the mysteries of making flowers from discarded flamingo feathers. Others followed, including Jotham Kabasa, with both legs com-
Above: An intricate peony centerpiece. Right: The Pride of Nakuru, a display case of flamingo flowers. Below: The flamingo flower project provided employment for many, including the disabled.
pletely paralysed and one hand crippled. I remember when a well-meaning alms-giver offered to give Jotham some money. “No thank you,” Jotham said, nonchalantly. I added, “He’s not a beggar. He is employed with us.”
Jotham’s face glowed quietly as he sat quietly in his wheelchair making flamingo feather flowers, proudly taking his place among other ‘bread winners.’ As we perfected our sorting techniques, we identified and isolated over 90 different types, colours and sizes of feathers, from which we made 20 different flower designs. One day we received a shock when the game scouts from Lake Nakuru forbade us from collecting flamingo feathers. The Lake had now been officially gazetted as a National Park and it was now illegal to remove any animal articles from the park, including the castoff feathers we coveted. With trepidation we approached the Director of the National Parks of Kenya and laid out our story. He was sympathetic to our proposals. The flowers would advertise the park and our regular remittance would help pay for the wildlife conservation programme. He presented our request to his Board of Trustees and within two weeks we received special permission to gather feathers along the lakeshore. By 1972 what started as a home industry had grown to employ 12 employees. The flamingo feather creations, now dubbed ‘The Pride of Nakuru’ by various newspaper and magazine write-ups, were being sold through Zimmerman’s in Nairobi. Being ‘light as a feather’ the flamingo flowers were airmailed worldwide. I had no idea the far-reaching results that would follow after I first picked up a beached flamingo feather from Lake Nakuru’s muddy shore back in 1963.
Only We’re on the Kinangop
The Rev Wilfred and Stella Walton, sent from England to start a church in Ol Kalou, had travelled to the Kinangop for a church meeting. That evening Stella and her two little boys, Stephen and Peter, were saying prayers before their bedtime. After Stephen ended his prayer with an Amen, he went on to say: “By the way God, we are on the Kinangop!” Heather Rooken-Smith, South Africa
Only in Africa...
In the mid-1960s I was the district veterinary officer in Lango, a district in central Uganda bounded on the west by the Nile and on the east by Karamoja district. The district headquarters was the town of Lira on the main road from Mbale to Gulu in the northern district of Acholi. Milk in Lira was sold on an informal basis with milk producers pedalling around the houses of regular customers on their bicycles with milk in a churn fixed to their carriers and ladling out whatever amount was required which prudent consumers would then boil. What was not sold was unloaded on the Lira Dairy Cooperative, a small block-built structure with a galvanized iron roof, in the town centre for sale there. There was, however, a downside to this latter arrangement as the cooperative charged a cess, which found little favour with
in the producers. This was no surprise for previously when I had been working in the Kabaka’s government in Buganda I had found that dairy farmers much preferred marketing their own milk, even though it took up three to four hours of their time each day, in preference to selling it to a dairy. The Cold War was at its hottest in the mid-1960s and the two major powers were competing for alliances with the newly independent African countries. In a fit of unthinking charity the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) donated a milk-cooling machine to the Lira Dairy Cooperative and in due course a beautiful stainless steel cooler was delivered to the cooperative’s premises. The back wall of the dairy was knocked down so it could be installed and it was duly set up and the wall rebuilt. But it didn’t work because, being American, it operated at 110 volts and the local supply sometimes approximated 240 volts. The back wall was knocked down again and the cooler sent away for alterations before being returned and the wall bricked up yet again. Meanwhile the Town Council, under pressure from central authorities, passed a by-law prohibiting the informal sale of milk in the township. This did not go down well with the producers who got a lower price for their milk. It also did not go down well with
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Africa. the district medical officer who realised bulking up the milk supplies in the cooler in the absence of a pasteurizing unit meant any contaminant (tuberculosis and salmonellosis were his main concerns) would now be distributed to all milk consumers in the town and not just to a section of consumers. But the final irony was that the cooler was turned off every night to allow the milk to sour before the morning because the Langi preferred their milk that way — a preference many African people show and may well be related to the high rate of lactose intolerance in some African populations. Roland Minor, Lamu
Uganda Adventures I had a small grey monkey…which was very tame and used to sit on the crossbar of my bicycle and accompany me wherever I went. I always remember the first time I went to my brother Robert’s camp at Kaliro in Uganda. The monkey suddenly leapt on my head, cursing furiously. I wondered what on earth had upset him and then saw a half-grown leopard tied up to a tree. Robert came out and said that George had brought it over as the meat question was difficult where he was and Robert would be able to get meat easily for it. We patted the leopard and rubbed its head but we could not quieten the monkey, so I took him round to the back of the banda June-July 2010
where he got another unpleasant shock, for sitting chained to a branch of a tree was a very large grey eagle. The leopard was quite tame, except when he was being fed, but nothing would ever induce the monkey to go near it. With the eagle it was quite different and the monkey soon got over his first shock and then the tables were turned and the eagle saw far too much of the monkey. The little devil would spend hours near the bird and whenever he got the opportunity he would dash in and try to grab some feathers out of its tail. The eagle, though quick, was never quite quick enough, and the monkey always managed to dodge its claws, which was lucky for the monkey for I doubt if we would have been able to get it out of the eagle’s clutches before it was seriously injured, if not ripped to bits… Robert…told me that this was a very rare species of eagle. He later gave the eagle to the Governor, Sir Frederick Jackson…I have no idea what kind of eagle this was, and I have never seen one since, not even illustrated in books. That night Robert told me that his cook had gone sick and he had sent out word that he wanted another. Early one morning a boy turned up with a letter of recommendation saying what a very fine cook he was, So Robert took him on. George was staying there at the time and as they had not had breakfast, Robert gave the new cook some Quaker oats, buck liver, bacon and tea and told him to get on with it and bring it in when all was ready. He and George were talking outside and, after a while, Robert feeling hungry looked inside the
banda and seeing only a teapot on the table called the cook and asked why he was so long with breakfast. The boy looked surprised and said that he had brought it long ago. Robert told him not to be a fool and to hurry and bring the rest of the food. Did the cook expect that they would only have tea for breakfast? But the boy insisted he had brought everything to the table An awful thought struck Robert and he silently went across to the table and lifted the lid of the teapot…There in the teapot was a revolting sight – porridge, liver, tea and bacon all mixed together… While at Kagwarra, Robert’s leopard came to a sticky end. He had tied it up to the gateway of the rest house compound and one evening when he was away, according to the boys, a troop of baboons came towards the compound. The leopard, seeing them, crouched behind the hedge and when a young baboon came within reach, sprang at it and caught it. The infuriated baboons, hearing the yells of their young, turned on the leopard and literally tore it to pieces. Hugh Foster in the book Uganda Adventures published by his son Francis Foster
Kuja Hapa Hoppy Marshall, the Hangman in Kenya in the 1940s, had made several attempts at the Standard Swahili Exam. At his final exam he confidently answered the preliminary questions correctly. Then the examiner said to him, “Tell me to come to you.” “Kuja hapa,” Hoppy replied happily. “Now tell me to go over there to that corner of the room,” the examiner instructed. Hoppy thought for a mo-
ment, then strode over to the place indicated and said, “Kuja hapa.” I believe he passed the exam! Nancy Fairclough, formerly of Kilifi and Kabete
I remember the night we three children had been put to bed in one bedroom at our Anchorage farm in Ol Kalou. Aunty Vi was taking care of us. All the grown-ups were also in bed and asleep. Suddenly Bruce, aged about four, woke up screaming blue murder. In dashed Aunty Vi and my mother. They had a lit a hurricane lamp and by its light we saw Bruce covered in safari ants. Some of them were really viciously dug in, and it took some time to pick each one of them off and out of his hair. My mother remembered the night her cat and three kittens were completely demolished by safari ants. She was a young girl with her parents travelling around the Guaso Nyiro and living in a covered wagon, and the cat and kittens were in a box on the ground. She told me it was a horrifying experience to find her beloved pets simply ‘gone’ in the morning. Heather Rooken-Smith in her unpublished book Nugu’s Notes
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ie v e R k Bo o
The History of the Kenya Regiment (T F) by Ian Parker (Librario Publishing, 370 pages plus 35 pages of appendices) Ian Parker, in this deeply researched and fascinating book, has written what must be the definitive history of the Kenya Regiment and this army unit is fortunate indeed to have had within its ranks an historian of such calibre. Parker describes the Kenya Regiment’s beginnings in 1937 right through to its disbandment in 1963 - a period which includes the Second World War and the Mau Mau rebellion. Roughly the first third of the book is taken up with historical background to the colony of Kenya and the eventual need for the formation of the Kenya Regiment. This followed the unpopular disbandment of the Kenya Defence Force in 1936. Recruitment got under way, swelled by the prospect of impending war. By 1939 substantial numbers of well-trained officers were ready for mobilisation, mostly seconded to the King’s African Rifles (KAR). They fought, successfully, against the Italians in Abyssinia, the Vichy French in Madagascar and then drove the Japanese out of Burma. This is what the Army Commander, General Sir William Slim, said of the KAR: “I had been told that it was impossible to operate in the Monsoon...However, I was sure that really good troops would be able to move and fight in the appalling conditions...I asked you to do it and you did it. Let me tell you that there are very few divisions in the world that could have done what you did. Every
The Last Colonial Regiment man who was in the 11th east African Division can be very proud of the 14th Army’s victory and I want personally to say ‘Thank you’ for your contribution to our success.” The second part of the book, containing four chapters, provides a detailed account of the evolution of the Mau Mau uprising, its strategy and how both the British and Kenyan Governments responded to it. This might seem irrelevant to a history of the Regiment, but, in fact, it is very important when seen in context of the subsequent deployment of the Regiment against the Mau Mau movement. The section also deals with the hold oathing had, particularly amongst the Kikuyu, and how rapidly widespread it became. The abject fear of breaking an oath kept initiates strongly bonded, but when some did eventually rebel and found nothing untoward happened to them, then more and more turned against the movement. The terror began in 1952, but by 1954, as Ian Parker says, “Mau Mau success had peaked and was waning. As feared, the Kikuyu, as a whole, gradually turned against them with rising hostility proportionate to the terror that the Mau Mau had inspired. Once it was apparent that oaths could be broken, the movement’s hold on the people dissolved.” The third section of the book, more than half of its length, examines the second phase of the Kenya Regiment’s history - its reformation as a Territorial Force (TF) in 1950 and then its deployment as a fully operational military force in the field from 1952 to 1956 and finally
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its reversion to TF status. This section shows the strategies used to counter the Mau Mau insurgency. There is personal memoir and anecdote, much recorded since the Regiment closed down over forty years ago. These memories are essential to the history of the period, as so little was recorded at the time. Ian Parker says this may challenge mental recall but may put recollections in a wider and perhaps calmer perspective. Early recruitment entailed six-month training in Southern Rhodesia, but as the emergency escalated the training took place in Nakuru. Courses were reduced to ten weeks and they doubled the intake. Although a whites-only unit at inception, from the outset of WWII the Kenya Regiment was weakly multiracial and by 1955 in terms of manpower in the field, half its soldiers were African ‘Trackers’. Proof of this - the Kenya Regiment Tracker Roll - was disgracefully destroyed when the Regiment disbanded in 1963: burned deliberately, the given reason being that the Kenyatta Government would persecute all who had aided the colonial power during the Mau Mau years. After 1960 when the Regiment became unequivocally multiracial, several Africans it trained went on to high rank in independent Kenya’s armed services. The secondment of Kenya Regiment men to the KAR and British Army makes interesting reading. Regiment members much preferred attachment to the KAR as it frequently progressed to leading a platoon and then on to a commission, while attach-
ment to a British unit seemed to limit initiative and prospects, the units being too regulation bound. Further chapters describe, with many hair-raising personal accounts, of forest patrolling, of how intelligence was gained and of how the Mau Mau gangs were infiltrated. Ian Parker is not afraid to confront the controversies surrounding the military conduct of the Emergency. Was the undoubted brutality any different than in any other war? Or did its racial character make it seem more violent? Parker relates the story
The cover of Ian Parker’s book on the Kenya Regiment.
of an officer who, in the wake of a massacre by the Mau Mau, stops his own men from meting out ‘justice’ to the subsequently captured rebels. The officer lost so much respect from his men that he asked for a transfer. Grudging respect may be shown by army personnel to those on the ‘other side.’ Some in the Kenya Regiment acknowledged the tactical expertise of Generals such as China and Kago, the former being captured and then helping the security
forces, while the latter was killed in action. After 1956 the Kenya Regiment became the Territorial Regiment. Its aim was: In the event of any unrest to prevent the breakdown of law and order, to maintain services essential to the community and, when necessary, to safeguard life and property. Regular training continued and annual camps were held. In 1959 questions were being asked as to why there were two military services - the King’s African Rifles and the Kenya Regiment – and why, except for the trackers, the Kenya Regiment was reserved exclusively for one racial group? Much debate followed, but it was not until July 1961 that Africans and Asians were admitted for training. Despite predominantly African recruitment over the next two years, the Kenya Government issued a statement on March 25, 1963, that the Kenya Regiment would be suspended from July 1. Ian Parker gives a moving account of the Kenya Regiment’s last march past on May 12, 1963. Thus came to an end ‘The Last Colonial Regiment.’ The book’s appendices include a list of many Mau Mau gang leaders, their rank and their fate, a trove of historical information not found in other books on the period. There is also a long roll of the Kenya Regiment, a list of some 6300 members. Also included is a partial roll of the trackers who served between 1952 and 1956. Since the Kenya Tracker Regiment roll of about 1500 men was destroyed, as mentioned above, this partial reconstruction of about half the names of these men provides a valuable
historical record. The book abounds with abbreviations but an extensive glossary at the book’s beginning, to which the reader will frequently refer, explains their meaning. Ian Parker, in his last chapter “In Retrospect,” mentions that it has become fashionable over the last forty years or so to “denigrate all things Imperial and claim that Mau Mau was only vanquished by unbridled brutality.” This is gently refuted with facts and figures to back up his assertions. It is interesting to note that in Ngugi Wa Thiong’o’s recent book Dreams in a Time of War he writes that what made the Mau Mau episode so painful to him was not the numbers interned or killed, but the fact that the community split with many men enthusiastically hunting down former schoolmates, colleagues and brothers who had joined the insurgents. “How do I make sense of these contradictions which…I had seen as one between anti-colonial and the colonial, good and evil? What is now emerging around me is murky.” Ian Parker’s excellent book probes some of those murky issues. We can only hope that Parker’s accurate recording of the history of the Emergency period from perspective of the Kenya Regiment will encourage a similar telling of stories from those they fought against. Perhaps the book will prompt more old soldiers, former enemies from both sides, to look back after the passage of time and remember without heat the battles they fought that shaped the path to Kenya’s independence from Britain. Reviewed by Peter Nicklin The book is availabe from Safari Kit Bookshop at Fairview Hotel and Bookstop at Yaya Centre. Price: Ksh 3500/
I Tended the Wounded by Captain Philip Crosskey
An excerpt from Ian Parker’s book: The Last Colonial Regiment
there were seven or eight less severely wounded whom I insisted were now under my care, otherwise the same fate would have been meted out to them. An old lorry was brought and the wounded Mau Mau were loaded onto the back; later in the Native Civil hospital I gave the anaesthetics and Dick Cremer cobbled them up. I believe they all survived. It taught me first hand the brutality of war – especially a guerrilla war! The next day I visited Nanyuki hospital and assisted at an operation on one of the Buffs who had received a gunshot wound to his belly. A great many of the casualties were due to gunshot wounds from our own side – a very understandable statistic considering the nature of the operation in deep forest or jungle and everyone very much on edge… On June 24, there was a large combined operation mounted against the gangs. I was up at 2.30 am and on duty for the night; things started to happen at 6.30 am at Rwathia. General Erskine, ‘who looked a tough sort of nut,’ to quote my diary, observed the operation which later claimed 51 terrorists killed. This gave rise to hopes that the Mau Mau would soon be a spent fighting force… Different companies were visited on different days; a case of severe chicken pox in C Company had to be transported 50 miles to Nyeri, a very uncomfortable drive for the invalid as heavy rains had
I Tended the Wounded
Marrian’s Farm had only recently been set up as Tactical Headquarters, but when I arrived the general appearance was rather chaotic; the rains had turned the black cotton soil into a sea of mud and even the deep trench latrines would have sailed away if canvas had been hoisted. However, I was very hospitably received and for a short time shared a tent with Ham O’Hara where we listed to the broadcast of the Coronation Day proceedings on a rather crackly radio. The medical set up was centred on the MI tent staffed by two RAMC medical orderlies, the brothers Field, who were not intellectually brilliant but stayed with me during my tour of duty. They organized the sick parades, looked after the medical equipment and the stock of medicines, vaccines, etc; they were also able to carry out First Aid treatments especially when I had to go out visiting the different companies. There was another medical orderly RAMC who accompanied me in the Land Rover in which we carried basic medical equipment needed on safari. My first real excitement was to be called on May 8, at 4.30 am to Othaya. It was raining, dark and cold but my driver and I in the Land Rover, prominently marked with a large Red Cross, arrived there by 7.15 am. Lamu: There had been a big Kenya’s MAGICAL Island attack on the Police post by a large gang of Mau Mau, but they had been repulsed by By Oscar Mann the brave action of Largely filmed alongside the ‘Enchanted’ book and the sergeant with a machine gun. A Kikuyu Home Guard Buy the DVd from post in the area had Marula Studios, Marula Lane, Karen been wiped out by In Lamu - Bustani Café, Peponi Hotel the same gang and (Profits of Lamu sales go to to local charities) no mercy had been OR shown. After attendOscar Mann mobile: +254 722 511 056 ing some minor email@example.com ries in the post I went outside the perimKenya 1300 Kshs (1400 with post) eter wire; there were Europe/UK $US 20, USA/Australia - $US 22 many Mau Mau dead sent by registered post and dying. However,
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bringing it to life.
made the roads almost impassable and we travelled mostly in the ditch. One evening later in the week a casualty was brought in with a gunshot wound of the right thigh, which had fractured his femur. It took nearly five hours to reach hospital at 2.15 am pumping morphine into the patient at intervals to alleviate the pain; we could only travel at 5-10 mph and we felt every bump in the road as we drove through the mist and rain in the dark. I’m glad to say he was very cheery when I saw him a day or two later when he was evacuated to Nairobi by Anson ’plane… My service with the Kenya Regiment seemed to consist of endless travel on foot or by Land Rover, repeated setting up and striking camps, visiting
companies in all sorts of areas and invariably being received with cheerful hospitality, parties in the mess and various hostelries up and down the country, interspersed with medical work and the ‘on call’ role of the regimental medical officer. But I could not have wished for a better set of officers presided over by that wonderfully memorable personality, Lieutenant Colonel Guy Campbell. Captain Philip Crosskey from the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) served the Kenya Regiment in 1953 as the Regimental Medical Officer during the early part of the Emergency. The following excerpts come from his personal memoir, “APersonalAccount of Service with the Kenya Regiment 1953-1954,” kept in the Kenya Regiment Archives and quoted in Ian Parker’s book, The Last Colonial Regiment, pp 235-237.
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An African Hunter Remembers Part 8 A Surprise for the Wandorobo by Mulga (George Henry Outram)
An African Hunter Remembers Part 8
While working for the Anglo-German border commission in about 1902, George Outram fishes on the Mara River while his camp is mistakenly raided by the King’s African Rifles (KAR). The story continues…
On my return to the escarpment camp I pitched the tent with one of my sheets run up as a flag of truce for fear the KAR were still in the vicinity. I wrote a report for the Colonel on my trip to the plains. Then we started to clear away the timber to unmask the beacon due west and also to the south. The western line was for our party, while the line to the south was for the German survey party on the plains in German East Africa. While my crew cut away the timber, I hunted north for game. One day I met three Wandorobo digging a beehive out of the earth. African wild bees are not particular where they make their hives, sometimes in fallen timber at the roots, in hollow trees and in holes in the earth. When they saw me, they made a move to run, but as I stood still they stopped. Salim spoke to them, so they came back and shook hands. I told Salim that if they wanted meat to come along and I would try and get them some. I got them two zebra and one topi and next morning they presented themselves in camp with a request for more meat and said they were very hungry in their village in the forest. Taking my rifle I went out and got three zebra, and then set out with one of them to see how the Wandorobo camped. Through the forest about four miles away I found about twenty huts dotted about near a beautiful little stream. On going around the camp I was astonished at the number of rhino horns at the hut doors – at least one hundred – giving an example of the deadliness of the poisoned arrow, for this is the weapon they rely upon for killing game. The native spear actually is a useless weapon except at close quarters as it is too heavy to throw for any distance. The Wandorobo huts are very small compared with the huts one sees in other villages. The word ‘Wandorobo’ means a hunter or wanderer. I told Salim to pass on the word that if they wanted beads or wire to come over to our camp.
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A procession turned up one morning just in time to witness a novel piece of tree shifting. With so many large trees to cut down, it would be weeks before the beacon could be seen, so I decided to try other means besides the axe. We had plenty of dynamite, so I got an auger and bored a number of holes in some of the large trees, some to the depth of two full sticks of dynamite. I plugged the holes full then put the caps into the dynamite with pieces of white paper to make a target. The Colonel and I would amuse ourselves with some target practice as we attempted to set off the dynamite and blow up the trees. The Wandorobo men, women and children stood watching us. We used old rifles captured in the Boer War and bearing the EAR Brand, so our shooting was a bit erratic. When we registered our first bull’s eye there was a huge roar and the ripping of trees. The Wandorobo flew back to their home in the forest and I am positive not one bow and arrow was taken back to the village, as they threw everything away in their wild flight, even their skin cloaks. Some of them had seen the effect of a rifle on buck when out hunting with me, but this must have looked in their eyes like I had handed out a dose of lightning. We collected all the Wandorobo goods and awaited their return to retrieve them. Next afternoon they actually plucked up the courage and came near us and were overjoyed to get their bows and arrows and other belongings back. They stole up to the shattered trees, shaking their heads as if to say, “We cannot understand it.” A week later I headed out again at 3 pm with three Wandorobo. We camped at the bottom of the escarpment for the night at a little water hole the Wandorobo had told me about. Around that waterhole we saw enough lion spoor to satisfy anyone wanting lion, but none were fresh. Daylight found me on the move again in the same direction I had taken ten days previously. From the top of the escarpment the country looked absolutely flat, but one soon found there was a huge fall in the country towards the river timber and the little flat-topped hills densely covered with a growth of jungle. Game was plentiful and issue No.29
can only be described as a very overcrowded unfenced zoo. Herds of topi, kongoni, wildebeest, graceful impala and beautiful gazelle all stood staring as we passed along. We heard the shrill whistle of the waterbuck. The Bohor reedbuck, like the zebra, stood gazing at us. Next came the beat of hooves like a squadron of mournful men and there, on the plain, was a sight I will ever remember. Galloping at top speed, then wheeling and opening out to let us through, we saw game numbering in the thousands. They stood snorting and stamping and now and again one more venturesome than the rest would walk to within 25 yards of us, then with a wild snort galloped away like mad. About four miles from the river two rhino trotted along quietly. I took the double barrel 500 and moved quickly after them. Although they appeared to be going at the rate of a dogtrot, they were actually moving much quicker than I was. One of the Wandorobo ran to the front. I kept him in sight as best I could and after about a mile of fast going, I found him waiting for me in some open thorn bush country. The two rhino walked slowly across my front about one hundred yards away when both stopped dead and with heads up and ears pricked, stood listening. Thinking they had heard us, I stopped and heard the faint sound of song as our porters marched along. I thought the rhino would bolt so I fired for the shoulder. At the sound of the report the other rhino galloped away whilst the wounded one ran round in a small circle. I put another cartridge in and shot at the wounded rhino as he started off in the direction of his mate, hitting him in his hindquarters. The three Wandorobo ran after him and waved frantically for me to hurry. As I reached them, the rhino fell on his knees and I pumped two more shots into him to finish him off. I thought he was quite the ugliest animal I had seen. His front horn was quite a good one – twenty-eight-and-a-quarter inches long. We called a halt and sent for the safari to come over and get what meat they wanted. We cut off his horns and two front feet as trophies and marched on to the river, which I reached at about 4 pm feeling tired after the eighteen-to-twenty mile march, but very pleased I had gotten such a good rhino. The three Wandorobo couldn’t resist the temptation of about two tons of meat on the veldt – so they stayed behind. I selected a spot to camp just outside the river timber and pitched camp for the night. That night I listened to the howl of the hyena, the bark of the leopard and the grunt of the lions together with
the splashing of hippo as they floundered ashore on the other side of the river. The chattering of the monkeys and the shrill call of the tree hyrax put sleep out of the question. The loud report of an askari’s rifle brought me rushing to the campfire. He said he had fired at a lion. The lions grunted till almost daylight and with the advent of dawn all noises ceased and the birds, like ourselves, welcomed the daylight. All day we worked hard on our new boma, our camp for the next month or six weeks until those behind us reached our camp on the Mara River. This wonderful river and carries a very large volume of water draining the plains for a considerable distance and the big range of mountains north of Sotik country. Judging by the high water mark some ten feet up on the trees around my camp, I knew in rainy season our present camp would be a good place to be out of. I sent back to the base camp to ask the Colonel to send a collapsible boat. We would make our main camp on the other side of the river where the bank was 20 feet higher than on our side. Knock off time saw the riverbank lined with porters busily fishing. They made fishing lines from the wild fibre that grew on the riverbanks brought a plentiful supply of fish to camp at night. Selecting several of the largest fish, I had them packed in clean, wet grass in a box ready to go at daylight with the boys who were going to Sarungu Camp for the boat. All this fishing reminded me of another fishing story. Before starting out on this expedition, I fitted myself out with a few lines and hooks. I tied my line onto a long thin stick, which acted as a fishing rod. After fishing, I left it standing against my tent to dry. Some hours when I went for my rod and line to fish again, they had disappeared. I called my tent boy Sabori and asked him where my rod and line were. He did not know, nor did anyone in camp. I sent Sabori to get another stick similar to the one that had been stolen. I unpacked my box and dug out another line and hook and awaited Sabori’s return. Twenty minutes passed and Sabori had not returned. I called his name loudly, but got no reply. I told my gun-bearer, Salim, to cut me a stick, which he did, returning within ten minutes with the stick stripped of bark. Salim and I went fishing and forgot about the boy who had not returned. Half an hour passed and I sent Salim to my tent to get my pipe and matches and to tell Sabori to get some tobacco from my box. Salim came with the pipe and told me that Sabori was not in camp.
An African Hunter Remembers
Salem thought Sabori had fallen in the river. We lost no time in turning out 20 men to search the riverbank. I went with them and with the name “Sabori, Sabori” ringing through the trees, we searched everywhere, but still got no answer. My old cook, Marbruken, said, “Let’s see if the mamba (crocodile) has caught him.” A careful search showed no sign of a struggle on the riverbank. We went back to camp but found no sign of him. Suddenly a blood-curdling scream broke out behind our camp. We all ran in that direction and saw Sabori rushing back to camp. I grabbed my rifle and ran out to meet him. Sabori dropped at my feet in a dead faint. The boy’s face, legs and arms were covered in blood and his kanzu was torn to shreds. I threw some water on him and watched his drawn face, almost as white as my own, twitching. As he recovered, I asked him what had happened and he gasped one word: “Nyoka!” meaning snake. I ripped off what little clothes he had left on his body and washed him all over, but the deep bleeding thorn scratches left little chance of seeing any puncture in the skin, if he had been bitten. Sabori fainted again and I called for brandy, which I forced between his clenched teeth. Soon he sat up and we learned what had happened. He had gone to get the stick for me down by the riverbank. He found one and as he returned through the long grass, he heard a loud hissing noise. He turned to see a huge snake with its head at least three feet above his own. He ran away into thick thorn bush country with the snake hissing at his heels. On and on he ran through the thorn and scrub, his skin ripped from head to toe. Seeing the camp, he screamed for help and fell exhausted at my feet. It is difficult to say whether he snake did hunt him as he described. We never saw the snake Sabori said chased him. But the Sergeant Major had a nasty experi-
ence when he arrived at our Mara River camp four or five days later with 300 porters and the boat. He and I went out to shoot meat for the boys and the Sergeant took his shotgun in case we found guinea fowl. While watching the men cutting up a buck, he walked about 40 yards away to some inviting shade. He saw what he thought was a huge cartwheel lying in the grass; he had a second look and realised it was a big snake. He threw a stick at it, thinking it was dead. To his surprise, a huge snake rose, swaying and hissing. His gun bearer ran up and the Sergeant grabbed his shotgun and emptied both barrels into the snake’s head. He dead snake measured over 24 feet in length and three feet in girth. Sabori was delighted at the death of the python, but he told me if he lived to get home, he would never go on safari again. So far he has kept his word. Nine years later I went to have dinner with the manager of the Grand Hotel in Mombasa and found Sabori working there as Head Table Steward. He repeated he would never again go on safari! To be continued…
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Historic Photo Contest
We have chosen a photo from Jonathan Block’s collection of historic photos as the winner of this month’s historic photo contest. Jonathan will receive a voucher for a free 16X20 photo enlargement from Colour Spectrum. The photo, taken by a man named Roy, shows a trader measuring the length of Amerikani cloth on someone’s arm. In earlier times, the cloth was measured from the third finger to the elbow. Each length of cloth of that length commanded the price of one sheep or goat. Enter Old Africa’s Historic Photo Contest!
Enter your best historic photo of East Africa in our photo contest for a chance to win a free 16X20 enlargement of the image of your choice from Spectrum Colour Lab in Nairobi. (Overseas winners will receive an alternate prize of a one-year free subscription to Old Africa.) This photo contest is sponsored by
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Entry Rules: There are three ways to enter. 1. Bring your photo by hand to Spectrum Colour Lab at ABC Place in Nairobi. 2. Scan and send your photo as an email attachment to email@example.com. Scans should be jpeg format at 300 dpi resolution only. 3. Mail your photo to Old Africa, Box 65, Kijabe-00220, Kenya. If sending by mail, have a professional copy made and send the copy to Old Africa. Include as many details as possible: Name of the photographer; subject; year the photograph was taken; where the photograph was taken. The winning photograph will be featured in the August-September 2010 issue of Old Africa. Contest Deadline: Contest entries must reach Spectrum Colour Lab or Old Africa by June 30, 2010, to be considered for judging.
Kinangop: A Settler’s Story Part 8 Raid on Fort Moyale by John W Etherington
Kinangop: A Settler’s Story part 8
John Westall Etherington, born in England on August 25, 1901, came to Kenya as a young man in 1920. He fell in love with Kenya and went on to marry and have three children as he developed three farms. At independence he reluctantly sold his land and moved to New Zealand. John Etherington died in New Zealand on November 13, 1991. His son Dan edited his father’s memoirs. Old Africa is condensing and serialising the story. John first came to the Kinangop area to work in a sawmill. Later he bought his own farm by Karati Falls, which he sold, buying other land on the Kinangop. In 1930 John married Féy Nightingale. Together they weathered the Great Depression and started a family. With a world war looming, John joined the Reconnaissance Regiment and prepared for war in the Northern Frontier District (NFD). The story continues… June 10, 1940 Bulstrade and Carter, out for an evening stroll, were captured by ‘Banda’ inside British territory. We left for Ajao the next morning at 5.30 am. We had real purpose in our patrols now. Four of our planes flew over at 11 am returning from a raid on Italian Moyale. At dawn on June 12 we left for Moyale, convoying a platoon from the King’s African Rifles (KAR). We arrived at 11 am without incident. We passed Korondil, a superb massif full of baboons. At the fort in Moyale we heard there had been some
interchange of fire between the two Moyales and our planes had bombed Italian positions the day before. We started to leave the fort at 2.30 pm but our three recce cars and three KAR transports were delayed by a closed gate they said was open. Suddenly air raid sirens sounded in the fort. Three Caproni bombers appeared from the north, flying at about 3000 feet. A few seconds later they dropped their eggs. We opened up with every available weapon. We were completely exposed. I felt scared and angry – the swine were trying to kill me! Bombs fell in the fort and all around. The planes passed over and turned to the east. We hastily cut the wire and cleared out. On June 14 we convoyed another platoon to Moyale, where we experienced a similar air raid that afternoon. We loosed off a lot of ammo from Brens and rifles, apparently to no effect. A small chip from a bomb cut my cheek slightly. That evening we headed out on a risky mission. We slipped out of the north gate of the fort – two NCOs, four troopers, a sapper sergeant and three men plus an African guide. He led us down a circuitous route to the wells serving Italian Moyale. They sappers mined the wells while we mounted guard. When the fuses were lit, we proceeded ahead while the sappers returned to the fort. We tramped for miles through thorn bush and low scrub. About midnight, scratched and weary,
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we emerged from the bush where some buildings were silhouetted against the moonlit sky. We heard someone talking on a radio. We had to wait one-and-a-half hours for the moon to set before we could attack. At last zero hour arrived. George Llewelyn of Nanyuki, our sergeant, and I crawled forward. We encountered a low trip wire, which could be avoided. I crawled back along the wet, dewy track and called the others. We slowly advanced until we seemed to be under the walls of the Italian fort, which was situated on a fairly steep rise. George stood up and heaved his bomb. It landed on the corrugated iron and for an awful moment we thought it would roll back on top of us. Then it rattled over and fell into the compound. It was set to explode in seven seconds. How long a period! The bomb went off with a loud explosion. A man stood up, clearly visible against the sky, and George got a point blank shot at him. A second later the Italians let off a fusillade of shots. We returned fire. When the firing slackened, we lobbed hand grenades into the fort. The firing that ensued went over our heads. But then they threw a grenade, which exploded unpleasantly close. This struck us as not playing the game at all, so we fired a few parting shots before returning to camp by an incredibly tortuous route. We arrived at sunrise, very weary. Italian planes passed over but failed to see us…To be continued
Historic Worship Sites Part 16 St Walstan’s, Rongai
St Walstan’s, Rongai, is aptly named, serving farming communiby Juliet Barnes ties in the area. Fittingly, a farmer oversaw its building in the 1950s. I have a lingering memory from the 1980s of a On the right hand side of the cross-shaped nave is a little church at the end of a mauve lane, carpeted by window depicting St Andrew, dedicated to Arthur purple pixie-hat blossoms dropping from the avenue of Dudgeon (died 1959) late owner of Gogar Farm and jacaranda trees. Twenty years later I contacted Ham- Hamish Grant’s grandfather. Arthur’s wife Jean and ish Grant, Rongai farmer, knowing his family were daughter Emily are buried in the graveyard outside. connected with the church. He was busy re-roofing A worn carpet covers the flagstones to the altar St Walstan’s and welcomed my visit. where two large candlesticks commemorate Jean St Walstan’s was hard to spot amongst the jumble Dudgeon and Helen Arbuthnot. Two stone crosses of newer buildings. The church had some newer are indented in the walls on each side of the arms of touches: a vestry with a tin roof, a new church hall and, the nave. A painting by late Njoro artist Mary Bruce of course, the recently tiled roof. It couldn’t compete depicts Christ the Shepherd with the local touch of a with that old, mossy, shingle roof, but grey tiles were few wild African animals! Old wooden pews and roof better than gaudy tin sheets. buttresses contrast with a modern clock, strip lighting The church tower has and two chairs to coma Saxon-like square stance memorate Mr Mambo, and narrow windows. Just who died in a car crash inside the unusually shaped in 1984. entrance is a piece of flint Outside are old and taken from an old buttress of new graves, colourfully St Walstan’s Church in Bawsurrounded by petrea, burgh, Norfolk, the namesake frangipani, poinsettia of the church in Rongai. An and Christ-thorn. Frank English translation of Saint and Annie Burgess are Walstan’s life (originally in buried here. Latin on a wooden triptych Later at Gogar farmover his shrine in Bawburgh) house Hamish Grant describes a Saint I’d never and his sister Fiona heard of before. Blackwood explained The son of a prince, Walthis had originally been stan shrugged off grandeur part of Equator farms, and travelled, taking work owned by Delamere. as a farm labourer. One Dudgeon purchased farmer, delighted with his Gogar in about 1916 work, wished to make him his and Fiona remembered heir, but Walstan only asked cycling to the church for a cow in calf. The cow when her uncle Mauproduced twins. rice Anderson built it Walstan died in a field around 1954. Apparpraying for sick cattle. Some ently two workmen said a spring bubbled up exlaying the final stones St Walstan’s at Rongai actly where he died. The twin on the tower of St Walcalves took his body to Bawburgh, allegedly passing stan’s were struck by lightning and thrown to the through a solid wall! Thus the church in Norfolk was ground. Although many stones hurtled down, none fell built to honour Walstan, who became patron saint of on them and they broke no bones. Another miracle, agriculture. Old paintings of Walstan show him with perhaps, from the protector of cattle and patron saint a crown or sceptre, holding a scythe and accompanied of agriculture. by the two calves.
The Shrine of Boru Noku by Cynthia Salvadori
ment chief, an Important Personage. He thought it admirable we should want to visit the shrine of Boru Noku, and commandeered an elderly man, Jarso, to show us the way. We drove for several more kilometres, first westward along the traces of the then disused track to Forole, then cutting off to wind our way through the dry thorn scrub. It was very hot, very dry. There was no sign of the long rains that should have started several weeks earlier; people were fearing a drought. We passed the remains of an ephemeral village where I had attended an enchanting Borana children’s ceremony the previous time. Now almost everyone had moved, abandoning their little patches of withered maize and taking their livestock to
Historic Worship Sites Part 16
Somewhere out on Uran Diida, the Plains of Uran, was a shrine, a place of pilgrimage, where people went to pray. I heard about it when I first spent time at Sololo, a large village 80 kilometres west of Moyale, just under the Ethiopian escarpment, attending a major Borana ceremony nearby. The town began as a border police post, then a Roman Catholic mission was founded there in the 1960s and since many years Sololo has been known for its excellent small mission hospital; now I was living there with Dr Enrica while translating Fr Paul Tablino’s charming book on the Gabra. Ironically, although working on a book on the Gabra, I was living in an area that was almost totally Borana. The Borana of the relatively lush valleys at the base of the escarpment had given up being semi-nomads and settled down to living in permanent villages of thatched round mud and wattle houses, and farming as well as raising their precious white cattle. The Gabra and their camels were over in the arid lava-stone deserts to the west. Now I had time, I asked about Boru Noku. Everyone I talked to knew of him, famed as an ebiftu, a soothsayer, a seer. What was particularly intriguing was that Boru Noku At the shrine of Boru Noku; Left to right: Jarso, Abdulahi Dadacha, Cynthia was not a Borana but a Gabra. A Salvadori, Helen Gourlay. One can see how terribly desiccated the surrounding dense thornscrub is, why everyone was praying for rain. Borana friend who had started a (Photographed by Sarah Bainbridge.) local NGO was as interested as I was in seeing the shrine so one day (it happened where they had heard there was still grazing. to be the day before Easter), Abdulahi Dadacha Only one old woman was home; we greeted each and I, together with Sarah Bainbridge and Helen other like long lost friends. Aside from her, we Gourlay (the two Scots VSOs teaching at the sec- did not see a single solitary person, not even a ondary school), set off in my Suzuki. At Abdu- child herding goats. Our guide kept saying we were getting close. lahi’s direction, we stopped first at Sololo’s little market, a clutter of shanty shelters, to buy the The thorn scrub was getting closer. Eventually the thorns became too risky for Suzuki’s tyres so requisite offerings; tobacco and coffee beans. We followed the easy sandy track to the vil- I parked her and we continued on foot, walking lage of Uran, some 20 kilometres away, even single file behind Jarso. After less than half a kilometre, Jarso told closer under the escarpment than Sololo. It was a very small conglomeration of thatched round us to stop, to remove our shoes and to pluck houses and we easily tracked down the govern- each a handful of (dry) grass. Barefoot, grass in
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hand, we proceeded along the well-worn narrow sandy footpath. Very soon we saw something white ahead. I was imagining a Moroccan-style ‘marabout,’ a whitewashed stone tomb of a saint. It turned out to be a large thorn bush draped all over with white cloths. The thorn bush had grown right from the grave; the heaped stones were around its base. As they were considerably sunken, and the thorn bush large, the grave must have been several decades old. The stones were covered with other offerings; mostly packets of coffee beans and tobacco, but also cash. Some of the offerings were weathered relics, others were obviously recent. The cloths covering the thorn bush were themselves offerings. Jarso said that every now and then some relative of Boru Noku comes to collect the cash. Abdulahi’s English was fluent and dealt with more complicated concepts. “Boru Noku was what is called an ebiftu, a very holy man. The term ebiftu comes from the verb ebissa, to bless, to pray; the blessing, the prayer is called eba. The prayers are directed to the Almighty, whom the Oromo-speakers such as the Borana and Gabra, and the Somalis too, call Waaqa, or Waq. (The astonishing deep wells of El Wak on the Kenya-Somalia border are ‘the Wells of the Almighty.’) An ebiftu always tells the truth and he stands for justice; he never lies, he never steals. “The power of being an ebiftu is a gift, one which is passed from parent to child. (There are both male and female ebiftu.) But not all the children of an ebiftu will become ebiftu themselves. It starts in the womb. A dark tongue and gums is a sure sign of being an ebiftu.” (Later, in Marsabit, I met a great-grand-daughter of Boru Noku; although still young and not famous for much of anything yet, Binders s he had the dark tongue and was duly made from venerated.) all natural East African “Although materials Boru Noku died many decades ago, he is still greatly revered, and his We still have the grave has beOld Africa Binders! come a shrine, Get yours for 2300/email us at: so powerful firstname.lastname@example.org that it affects
the whole area. This area, which is called Qaramso, is an area for fora, where people graze their livestock far from their homes. Qaramso is known as a special area, where people can leave their animals to graze unguarded and nothing will happen to them. A man can go out to his animals and say, pointing, ‘Go there, go over there, go and find those trees there, and then come back home,’ and the animals will do all that by themselves. “People swear by his name up; they say, ‘Ee, Boru Noku nadid,’ meaning ‘Boru Noku protects,’ i.e. does not allow bad things to happen. Conversely, misfortune befalls those who do not respect him. Once there was a man who was out in fora here at Qaramso with his animals. This man was mocking Boru Noku. All the animals he was looking after were killed by hyenas. From that time on, nobody has spoken disrespectfully of Boru Noku again. “When enemies come, you flee towards Boru Noku’s grave, for it is believed that there they will not see you. In time of war, people go to the grave for no enemy will attack there. People go to Boru Noku for help if they have had something, be it a cloth or a cow, stolen. His power is effective at long distances; even if a wrongdoer flees to Europe, when a person prays to Boru Noku to help, that man will feel himself forced to return what he has stolen, or he will suffer. Women, and even men, wanting children pray at the grave, and so do school leavers wanting jobs. Everybody prays at the grave for rain. “Many people go to worship at Boru Noku’s grave. He is venerated not only by fellow Gabra but also by everyone, not only by Borana but also Somalis. Whosoever takes gifts to his grave will be heard by God.” We added our offerings of grass, coffee and tobacco, and then sat silently for a while, each of us praying. It was very, very quiet, sitting there in the midst of the dry thorn scrub. Even the murmuring doves, the chattering sparrows and the iridescent blue starlings were quiet. Only a goaway bird commented on our presence. Maybe my companions also prayed for more personal things, but one thing for sure, we all certainly prayed for rain. The next day was Easter Sunday. Dr Enrica told me the priest at the mission also prayed for rain. Just before he finished the service, the rain started. His God and our Boru Noku both got a great deal of credit.
History Mystery Contest Win a Ksh 3000/- gift certificate from Text Book Centre by identifying our mystery object! One of our readers from Mombasa helped to clear out a neighbour’s house recently and they came across the object pictured here. Its base measures 9 x 7 centimetres and the height is 3.2 centimetres. It is made of brass and brushes. The middle section is 2.5 centimetres wide with brushes coming in from the side. The owner had never seen it before. It obviously had belonged to her husband (he died recently in his nineties) or his first wife. What is the object and what was its purpose? Have you ever used a similar object or do you have a story relating to an object like our mystery device? If so, include your story with your entry. Contest Deadline: For this prize we have to receive your entry by June 30, 2010. Send your answer to this History Mystery contest along with any story you may have to: History Mystery Contest, Old Africa Magazine,
Box 65, Kijabe, Kenya 00220. Or email your answer to: editorial@oldafricamagazine. com. Editors will choose the winning entry. The answer to our mystery contest will be announced in our next issue along with the name of the winner and his or her story about our mystery location. Be sure to include your P.O. Box and telephone contacts so we can inform the winner and tell him or her where to collect the prize. Family members of Old Africa staff members are ineligible to enter this contest.
Our History Mystery Contest is sponsored by Text Book Centre.
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History Mystery Contest Winner No Winner! None of our readers sent in the correct answer to our History Mystery
Contest from our April-May 2010 magazine. The building pictured in the contest is located in Shimoni on Kenyaâ€™s south coast, across the road from the slave cave that gives Shimoni its name. The Imperial British East Africa Company (IBEAC) built the house in 1885 as its first senior staff residence. Later it was used as the District Commissionerâ€™s residence until the
district headquarters were moved to Kwale. The Shimoni Primary School used the building until the 1980s. Now the old coral stone house is being restored. Top: Senior staff quarters for the IBEAC, built in 1885. Middle left: The IBEAC house overlooks the Shimoni channel. Middle right: The old house is being restored. Bottom: A sign gives a brief history of the house.
Old Africa photo 1. Theodore Roosevelt, former president of the United States (right) came on a hunting safari to East Africa in 1909. Here he is at Simba Station on the Uganda Railway line with Warrington Dawson (centre) and F C Selous (LEFT) a famous big game hunter. 2. This photo was found in Jill Scroggie’s home after she died. Margaret Brooks, who submitted the photo, doesn’t know much about the background of 1 this photo. She wonders if any Old Africa readers know where or when it was taken and who the ladies in the photo are. If you have information about this photo, email it to: Editorial@oldafricamagazine.com.
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3. The Veterinary Section in the Kavirondo area in the early 1930s. The African members are not identified. Seated in the front row wearing the obligatory pith helmets of the day are (left to right): Stock Inspector (SI) Paxton (maybe), SI Alex Lambie, Veterinary Officer TB McClure, SI Warwick Guy and SI George Murray. Photo submitted by Barbara Watson-Jones. 4. Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip waving to the crowd just outside the Avenue Hotel in Nairobi as they headed out for a night at Treetops in 1952. While at Treetops, Princess Elizabeth received word that her father had passed away and when she left, she was Queen of England. Photo sub-
mitted by Barbara Wat s o n Jones
Battle of Tanga
m w i s h o w e
By all accounts, the battle for the strategic port of Tanga on the north coast of German East Africa (now Tanzania) in November 1914 was a disaster for the British. Though the invading British forces had a vast numerical advantage, a series of blunders allowed General von Lettow-Vorbeck and his German troops to hold Tanga. The official tally of British casualties was 817 men dead, wounded or missing, while the Germans suffered 125 casualties. After sailing back to Mombasa, British forces under Brigadier-General Michael Tighe began marching down the coast and on Christmas Day 1914 they captured the
a cairn and a wall with names of the British forces (many from Indian units) who died in the Battle of Tanga and in the subsequent fighting in the area. At a separate location at the end of the old pioneer cemetery in Tanga a large concrete slab covers the graves of the Germans who died during the same battles, with the names inscribed on square black crosses.
Top right: The cairn remembering the British who died in the Battle of Tanga. Middle right: 270 unknown officers and soldiers were buried on this spot. Middle left: 36 soldiers of the Jhind Infantry died in a battle at Jasin. Top left: Ahmad Din, a bugler, is remembered on the wall. Bottom right: A large concrete slab covers the graves of the German soldiers who died in the fighting around Tanga. Bottom left: Ernst Ackermann, one of the Germans killed during the battle at Jasin.
German fort at Jasin, just inside the German East border. To protect Tanga from this new threat, von Lettow-Vorbeck attacked the fort at Jasin on January 18, 1915, and captured the nearby sisal factory. During the fighting the elite German 13th Field Company (Feldkompanie) lost its three senior officers in just ten minutes. Around noon two companies of the Jhind Infantry were ordered with other regiments to attack the sisal factory and cross the Suba River to reinforce Colonel Singhâ€™s garrison in the besieged fort. Of the 120 men from the Jhind Infantry who crossed the Suba River, 36 were killed and 21 injured. The battle at Jasin ended as a stalemate, but the Germans felt they had thwarted any imminent advance on Tanga. A quiet yard in Tanga surrounds
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selects Fairview Hotel as the place to stay in Nairobi
Most of the international chain hotels in Nairobi manage to be both shoddy and extortionate. Independent and family-fun, the Fairview is half the price of the competition (with rooms from $120) and several times as good… The gardens, the pool and the breakfasts are huge, the wi-fi is fast and free and the staff among the friendliest and most efficient in Africa. All this, plus a classy brasserie and wine bar and some of the best sushi in the city. Time Magazine, 22nd March 2010. Pg 55
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