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

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

Olive Grey is a woman of mystery who led an unusual life, and it has been fascinating finding out about her. She was born Matilda Elizabeth Gainey in December 1855, in Tamworth, NSW, Australia, the daughter of Humphrey Sylvester Gainey and Mary Thorpe. She was baptised as a Roman Catholic in West Maitland, New South Wales. She married William Dickson in 1877 and had a daughter Violet May in 1884. She became a missionary in India, and some of her letters are in the Coral Missionary Magazine in 1878 (pages 28, 77 and 122). She returned to Australia and took over the care of one of her sister Honoria’s step-children (there were ten of them) He was Ernest William Griffin (born on 23 January 1875), and she took him back to India with her in 1879 or 1880. But her daughter Violet did not seem to accompany them. It is not clear whether her husband died or when she assumed the name Olive Grey. Did she marry someone called Grey? Ernest (who was calling himself Grey rather than Griffin at this stage) returned to Australia and got married in 1895 – to May Ellen Murray, in Sydney. But the marriage was not a success (it was eventually dissolved in 1902) and Ernest went to East Africa, to join Olive. He was there in 1899, whereas we know Olive was there in 1895, working as a ‘typewriter’. By 1897 she was with the missionary Stuart Watt in Machakos. Now there appears another man in her life – Charles Palmer, an Anglo-Indian. It is not known if Olive and Charles were married, but...
An American Family in Amin’s Uganda

An American Family in Amin’s Uganda

Book Review from the Madison Capital Times on Old Africa’s new book by Bert Adams. When Bert Adams packed up his family and left Madison for a two-year stay in the fledgling East African nation of Uganda in 1970, he took along a simple mantra. “From the day we arrived, we said everything that happens to us is an adventure, it’s not a hardship,” said Adams, an emeritus professor of sociology at UW-Madison. “We used that phraseology over and over again.” That mindset came in quite handy as the Adams family – Bert, his wife, Diane, and their two sons, John and Joel, then 10 and 7, respectively – arrived in Uganda several months before the coup led by General Idi Amin that led to his brutal eight-year reign in which an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 citizens were killed. Adams writes about those adventures in his new book “An American Family in Amin’s Uganda,” published by Old Africa Books. The book, however, is not the bloody details of the takeover by one of the world’s most heinous dictators. Rather, it is a memoir of one family’s experience, making friends and trying to live a normal life in an unfamiliar and relatively innocent land that would become something of a second home over the years. The stories of those early days in Uganda had been told frequently among friends and family. But Adams didn’t ever put them on paper until writing a couple of essays for a writers’ workshop he joined, along with a group of published poets and writers from the Madison area. “They said, ‘Those are really interesting....