The first issue of Old Africa, published in Kenya, came out in October 2005. Its
editorial began: "Our goal at Old Africa magazine is to transport readers to an
earlier era by publishing stories, personal memories, and vintage photographs from East
Africa’s past." The Editor, Shel Arensen, is keen to encourage all races to participate
and the stories are edited with a delicate touch.
The Masai land question and the Mau Mau are among the controversial subjects
covered. A Mau Mau leader tells her story and a member of the Kikuyu Guard recounts
a friendly fire incident, while Stanley Ngotho’s account ofthe Lari Massacre is
heartbreaking. "Chief Luka Mbugua Kahangara summoned his wives. 'I fear I will be
murdered, ’ he announced in his characteristic stammer.” His wife, Gacheri, survived
the attack badly wounded but her baby slipped from her arms and died instantly.
Photographs also contribute to the way we were. The Nyeri Agricultural Show in the
1930’s shows a crowd of interested, relaxed and prosperous African farmers, while there
is a touching photo of an African and two Europeans panning for gold in Kakamega in
the 1930’s - a hopeless cause I fear - and railway workers squatting by the line at Voi
with their loosely wound turbans c.1898.
In 1912 Alif Din, the "Pioneering Postman" took the train to Kibigori. From there he
struggled through driving rain to Nandi where he and his African companions shared a
tent with the D.C. He then waded through floodwaters neck deep, was swept downstream
and finally tottered triumphantly in to Eldora River to deliver the mail.
Later in 1932 in broiling Turkanaland the new DO, Noel Kennaway, was advised by
his Turkana companions to divest himself of his starched khaki to avoid the chafing of
delicate parts of his anatomy. "Returning to base he told his District Commissioner,
Roland Baker-Beall, how he had solved his chafing problem. Baker-Beall responded
gravely. "Well, I am not at all sure what you did was in order. I mean, we can’t have
His Majesty’s officers walking around the district naked under nothing more than a
helmet. Even if it doesn’t affront the natives, what about the missionaries, eh? What
about the missionaries?"