Kerosene or Hippo Fat

Kerosene or Hippo Fat

The following blog is taken from my latest book titled “The Red Pelican”. It is the third book of my Sudan trilogy and follows “Drinking the Wind and “Chasing the Rain”. All of these books can purchased at Amazon.com Dick Lyth and his soldiers fought several tough battles against the Italians in the rugged hills of the southern Sudan. They then retreated to a pool on the Kibbish River to rest up and heal from their wounds. Dick himself had a bullet wound in his thigh and needed time to gain back his strength. The camp near the pool may have been idyllic during the day, but it was miserable at night. Everyone was plagued by the profusion of mosquitoes. One morning Dick woke up with a severe headache. By noon he had a high fever and was sweating profusely. He had caught a serious case of the dreaded malaria. He alternated between shivering with cold and burning up with fever. The soldiers were quite concerned. They knew well the dangers of malaria and there was a real possibility Dick could die in the night. Musa, the master sergeant, and Kuju, the orderly, came to talk to Dick. He was lying in a pool of sweat in a fever-induced stupor. Kuju shook him by the shoulder and finally got his attention by shouting, “You are very sick! We want to pray for you so God will make you well!” Dick just groaned, but Kuju persevered. “The Bible tells us what to do when a person is sick. The Christians should gather together, anoint the sick person with oil and pray for him.” Both Kuju...
Mayence Bent and The New Stanley Hotel – Part 2

Mayence Bent and The New Stanley Hotel – Part 2

Last month we saw how Mayence Bent started the Stanley Hotel in Nairobi on Victoria Street (now Tom Mboya Street). She abandoned her so-called ‘husband’, William Bent (actually her step-brother) and took up with Frederick Francis Tate, fifteen years her junior (he was born in Wolverhampton on 30 June 1883). He arrived in East Africa in 1904 and worked for the Uganda Railway, becoming pier master at Kisumu. He then moved to Nairobi, where he was a part-time barman at the Grand Hotel and a piano-player at the Railway Institute, Nairobi (his family was musical – indeed his sister was the famous soprano Dame Maggie Teyte, who changed the spelling of her name). Fred was the son of Jacob James Tate, a wine and spirits merchant in Wolverhampton (and later hotel proprietor near Euston station, London), and his wife Maria Doughty. Fred was six years older than Maggie. His brothers Jacob and Sydney later joined him in East Africa. Fred and Mayence went to Zanzibar to get married, probably to avoid speculation about there being no divorce from William. The announcement in Nairobi’s newspaper The Leader on 20 November 1909 reads ‘The marriage of Miss Mayence Woodbury with Mr Fred Tate was celebrated on the 9th inst. at the Catholic Cathedral at Zanzibar.’ May’s partnership with D E Cooper was dissolved in 1909 (he moved to Sotik and became a JP there, dying in 1929), and Fred became the manager of the Stanley. The hotel had thirty bedrooms and an annexe, but Fred and May wanted to expand. After all, they had a Bechstein piano and a Thurston billiard table to...