Red Pelican Reviewed

Red Pelican Reviewed

Here’s a review of one of Old Africa’s most recent titles, Red Pelican. Houghton College is pleased to announce a new book by professor emeritus Jon Arensen.  The book, “The Red Pelican:  Life on Africa’s Last Frontier,” is the third in an unofficial trilogy by Arensen about the South Sudan.  It follows the work and ministry of Dick Lyth, British military officer assigned to fight against the Italian army during World War II.  After the war, he was District Commissioner for the Sudanese government, living with the Murle people and learning their language and culture.  Dr. Paul Shea, professor emeritus of missions at Houghton College writes, “[I] just read the book for a second time… It is loaded with significant information and some exciting drama. Arensen’s trilogy has opened windows on one of the least known parts of Africa. A naturalist would relish the references to wildlife. A geographer would go back to her maps and check out the landscape. A missiologist would compare notes with some of Africa’s past greats. Adventurers and romantics can find little nuggets of delight.”  “I was able to work with Dick’s family and use his private journals to really understand what challenges he faced on a day-to-day basis, along with various victories, great and small,” explained Arensen.  Arensen has spent much of his career working in the same Sudanese region, and credits Lyth with opening the doors of communication with the Murle people.  Though classified as history, the book reads more like a novel than a historical account. J. Brady Anderson, Former U.S. ambassador to Tanzania and administrator of the U.S. Agency for...
Purkiss’s Parrot

Purkiss’s Parrot

Here’s a note on Olive Grey  who I wrote about in my November blog. A relative in Australia has kindly given me the place and date of Olive’s death. She died in Poona, India, on 20 October 1920 and was buried there on the following day. Purkiss’ Parrot William J Purkiss, a former merchant marine officer, originally arrived in east Africa as an employee of the Imperial British East Africa Company in about March 1891 and was employed on building the narrow-gauge railway to Mazeras—the grandly named Central African Railway. The railway was soon abandoned and some time the following year Purkiss was sent to Fort Smith in Kikuyu as Assistant Superintendent. Following the death of the Superintendent, Robert Nelson, in December 1892, Purkiss became Acting Superintendent. (The photo that opens this blog is probably taken at Fort Smith. Purkiss in in the middle of the second row.) Before he died Nelson, who had been with the H.M. Stanley expedition to ‘rescue’ Emin Pasha, had managed to infuriate the neighbouring Kikuyu with his aggressive attitude and indiscriminate raiding of their villages for food and cattle. When Sir Gerald Portal passed through the area on his way to Uganda in February 1893 on his Special Mission, he found the residents of the fort living in a virtual state of siege. Anyone venturing more than fifty yards from the perimeter without an armed escort was very likely to be attacked and killed. Purkiss managed to wound and capture an assailant, the Kikuyu leader Waiyaki, who died on his way to exile at the coast and was buried at Kibwezi. As there was...