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your window into East Africa’s past.

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Old Africa books

Old Africa books are well-told stories in the same tradition as the shorter pieces

our readers have come to enjoy from the pages of Old Africa magazine.

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Old Africa magazine seeks to tell the story of East Africa’s past through well-written stories and vintage photographs. Founded in October 2005, the first issue featured a story about the Royal Navy’s ill-fated attempt to launch a naval presence on Lake Rudolph (now Lake Turkana) and an account of the Kedong Massacre. Since then the magazine has published stories and photos from Kenya’s diverse ethnic groups – African, Asian and European – to preserve East Africa’s history. 

Firebrand Editor of the Kenya Press: Harold George Robertson (‘Rab the Rhymer’)

Firebrand Editor of the Kenya Press: Harold George Robertson (‘Rab the Rhymer’)   From the age of ten in the 1950s I was an avid daily reader of the Mombasa Times and loved its crossword. So I was very interested to come across some details of one of its former Editors, Harold George Robertson, or ‘Rab the Rhymer’. He was a Scotsman, born on 3 January 1884, probably in West Kilbride, Ayrshire, the son of William and Martha Robertson. He went to Kenya on 9 August 1912, describing himself on the ship’s manifest as an artist. With him went his wife Mrs M. Robertson, eight years older than himself, and three sons – aged six, four and an infant. His elder brother James G. Robertson followed him three months later and as a contractor was responsible (with Gow and Davidson) for the building of the New Stanley Hotel in 1913. Harold Robertson thrust himself immediately into journalism in Nairobi, joining the staff of the East African Standard and the Leader. This did not satisfy him and he began the East African Tatler and Free Lance, published by the Leader. The Tatler, a satirical magazine without advertisements and containing articles, short stories, poems and cartoons, all of them composed mainly by Robertson, did not continue after the outbreak of World War 1 in August 1914. Harold joined the armed forces, serving in the East Africa Pioneer Company, East Africa Supply Corps and East African Ordnance Department, earning the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. Yet his journalistic instincts remained with him during the war and he contributed poems to...

Wavell 100 Year Memorial Tour

Join Guerrillas of Tsavo author, James G Willson on Saturday 9th & Sunday 10th January 2016 when he will lead a tour Commemorating the centenary of the January 1916 Mkongani Battle, Kwale, where Major Arthur Wavell MC and 15 of his loyal Arab Rifles lost their lives. In thanks giving for protecting Mombasa from this invasion by the German Schutztruppe, the grateful town’s people erected, in memory to the Arab Rifles, the obelisk standing beside Fort Jesus. This tour will walk the battle site; visit Wavell’s stockade; pay respects at the memorials to the fallen. There will also be an evening multimedia presentation on the life and times of Wavell. All this will take place while enjoying the beauty and wildlife of the Shimba Hills National Reserve. Over-night at Shimba Hills Lodge and/or KWS Sable Self Catering Bandas. For further information and bookings contact james@guerrillasoftsavo.com Signed copies of Guerrillas of Tsavo will be available....

Escape from Singapore

Escape from Singapore Our December-January edition of Old Africa magazine has a story by Barbara Dods. She tells about growing up in Nairobi while her father, Arthur James Scott Hutton was the architect overseeing the building of Kenya’s Government House (which later became State House) and the Law Courts in the late 1920s and into the 1930s. After finishing those jobs, Arthur Hutton took a job in Singapore. He was there when the Japanese attacked in World War 2 and his family was in Australia. He had a narrow escape when the Japanese overwhelmed Singapore. For weeks Barbara Dods and her mother and sisters didn’t know what had happened to their father. Barbara has a copy of the letter her Father wrote to her Mother describing his escape from Singapore. We had planned to use it as a sidebar article to accompany Barbara’s memories of growing up in Nairobi. But we ran out of space. So here’s the letter. And if it piques your interest, be sure to get a copy of Old Africa issue 62 where you can read Barbara’s story about her Nairobi childhood.   Written by Arthur James Scott Hutton at the Taj Mahal Hotel, Bombay, 11th March 1942. Margaret My Darling, I have not dared to tell you of my whereabouts before this but I am hoping that mail from Bombay will reach you in Perth. You will have received my Bombay cable informing you that I was free, safe and well and you may have had official notification from Ceylon of my safety before my cable. I felt your anxiety on my behalf from...