EDITOR • WRITER • HISTORIAN
• BROADCASTER • FARMER •
- - Prolific
Coast author and columnist Edward Rodwell, 95, has died at the Mombasa
In 1993 Rodwell wrote
himself into the history books when 'Guinness Book Of Records' were
asked to recognise his feat of completing a continuous fifty years'
publication of his weekly 'Coast Causerie' newspaper column.
A front page article the
in Coastweek reported:
answer to P.G. Wodehouse, James Herriot and Samuel Peppys, has been
celebrating a remarkable achievement with his long running column.
Started in November
1943, it first appeared in the Mombasa Times, was continued in
the Nakuru Kenya Weekly News and currently appears every
Thursday in the Nairobi Standard newspaper.
During that fortnight
there had been full-page feature articles in the national newspapers,
television interviews, congratulatory telegrams from around the world,
and, a full dress party hosted for him and his wife Olivia, at the
Mombasa Club by the Standard newspapers.
- - EDWARD RODWELL, aged 68, when he was running Mombasa's only
company - highlighting activities in Kilindini Port for the then East
African Railways and Harbours Corporation and also helping promote the tourism industry.
from Edward Rodwell's
"AND SO IT GOES"
published 1984 by
Ian Parker and Westland
Among the guests who
attended the function were the Mombasa District Commissioner, Mr. Ali
Korane, Ms. Zarina Patel, who is a grand-daughter of the late
Jeevanjee (founder of the Mombasa Times, which later became The
Standard), the Nation Newspapers' Group Managing Editor,
Mr. Wangethi Mwangi, Mombasa businessman Sheikh Abdallah Zubedi, and
Robert and Ursula Brenneisen of Bamburi Portland Cement Company.
Rodwell, was for many
years editor of the former Mombasa Times newspaper and two of
his most forceful and well received campaigns were to preserve Fort
Jesus as a national monument and to further research of the
fascinating history of the Kenya Coast.
constructed writing is often marked by rare good humour, well-prepared
anecdotes of a rural nature and caustic comments on the fulsome folly
of bumbling bureaucracy in all its most frantic and frustrating forms.
"No story is ever
complete and I like to trade in on this fact" he recalled while
writing an introduction to one of his works a few years ago.
"There are writers
who just give the bare bones of an incident and eschew any reference
to colour, but I think the quaint, the sad and the merry circumstances
of an occasion provide an important insight to the characters of the
In another piece he
wrote at some length:
"Despite the fact
that for many years I have worked as a journalist and dealt with the
hard facts of life both as an Editor of a daily newspaper and later as
a roving correspondent, my personal interest, hobby if you like, has
been the off-beat story of strange occasions and the people involved.
"Thus came about
the column which far want of a better name was called Coast
"The feature was
born during the early years of the last war when news comprised little
more than a daily repetition of events that bore little comfort.
"At first I wrote about history, birds and beasts, languages,
ancient monuments, the excavation of coastal cities, almost forgotten
Swahili legends and songs and people and their attractions.
- - Edward Rodwell, prolific Coast author, who has
died in Mombasa aged 95.
TAUCHNITZ from Edward Rodwell's
"AND SO IT GOES" published 1984 by
Ian Parker and Westland Sundries,
the beginning the column was no more than a journalistic gimmick,
tailored to counteract the grimness of contemporary events.
as time passed Coast Causerie became more than a gimmick. "People
were really interested in the subjects I wrote about.
public interest soon demanded that Fort Jesus was preserved as a
national monument; an archeologist, Mr. James Kirkman, was engaged to
work on the ancient monuments of the Coast.
"I cite these two
instances, but there were many more.
wrote 'Gedi the Lost City' in 1948 and followed this with
and Peacocks' in 1949.
"Fortunately, perhaps, both books are out
of print, as are the first four volumes of Coast Causerie, sales of
which reached 28,000 copies.
"I say 'fortunately' because so
little was known of our past. At least the book on Gedi provided a
stepping stone to the experts who followed.
"l am not an
historian but I study ancient and modem history with the object of
finding occasions that provide a story worth telling, events that
often show a light background to what has been a dark history in our
part of the African continent"
Among his numerous other
achievements and designations Edward Rodwell was a former proprietor
of the Rodwell Press, a director of Nyali Estate Limited, a Chairman
of the Mombasa Club, and a founder member of the Mombasa and Coast
In the 'fifties he was a popular radio
broadcaster for KBS and was often described as the 'Alistair Cooke of
At one time he contributed generously to formation of
the short-lived 'Mombasa Press Club' and together with the late Tony
Pape was responsible for the revival of the Mombasa National
He also ran a profitable public relations company,
helped establish the former 'Kikambala Residents Association' and
succesfully introduced Swiss Togenburg goats to his small holding out
at Mtwapa Creek on the Kenya North Coast.
He even dabbled in open
speed boat racing and was the first and only 'Commodore' of the
Mombasa Motor Boat Regatta during the days of Sunday racing around and
underneath the old Nyali Bridge.
In the Jamhuri Day Honour's List of
1994 Edward Rodwell was created a warrior of the 'Order of the Burning
Spear' by President Moi in recognition of his services to journalism.
A colleague recalled this week:
"Roddy will be remembered for his
marvellous writing, his great enthusiasm for life, his courage, his
generosity, his warm sense of humour and his passion for the curious
He is survived by his sons John and Peter
Rodwell and several grown up grand children.