Lost Lion of Empire

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9780002570039: Lost Lion of Empire

A biography of Ewart Grogan, "the founding father of Kenya", imperial adventurer, and "the baddest and boldest of a bold bad gang" of early settlers. He is renowned for having walked 6000 miles from Cape Town to Cairo to win the hand of his bride, after his father-in-law-to-be challenged him to do "something worthwhile". By the time he was 25 he had completed his trek, defying cannibals along the way, had been elected the youngest ever member of the Alpine Club for his ascents of the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc, been sent down from Cambridge for tethering a ravenous billy goat in his tutor's rooms after a prolonged session in the Red Lion public house; and had walked out of the Slade, preferring to enlist as a trooper in the Second Matabele War rather than spend his days surrounged by "long-haired lizards". When asked in later life what his secret was, he replied "to smoke heavily, drink and eat very little and not take anything too seriously'. Within a few years he became Kenya's largest landowner and foremost entrepreneur, founded the colony's timber industry, laid the foundations of the modern capital of Nairobi, and built the docks at Mombasa. Though dismissive of the Happy Valley set and though he loved his wife Gertrude, he managed to father at least two illegitimate daughters. He took up Parliamentary time for a week over his scandalous flogging of two Africans who had abused his sister-in-law, and, as "Kenya's Churchill" he was instrumental in averting a full-scale settler rebellion in the colony in the 1920s and in forcing the authorities to acknowledge the severity, and true causes, of the Mau Mau rebellion in the 1950s. For his audacity in two world wars, operating behind enemy lines in German East Africa, Grogan was awarded the DSO, the Order of Leopold and was mentioned three times in dispatches. He was a friend and confidant of Rhodes, Milner, Kitchener, Chamberlain, Smuts, Kenyatta and a host of others.

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From the Back Cover:

Ewart Grogan, 'the baddest and boldest of a bad bold gang' of settlers in Kenya, was one of the most brilliant and controversial figures of African colonial history.

When he proposed to a young heiress, Gertrude Coleman, he needed to prove himself a 'somebody' to her father in order to win her hand. He did so in inimitable style, announcing that he intended to accomplish the first south-to-north traverse of Africa. In 1900, after two years of illness and extreme hardship, he arrived triumphantly in Cairo.

He became an instant celebrity, and, on returning to England, at last married Gertrude. Now with a considerable fortune at his disposal, after a short bu succesful spell in South Africa he arrived in British East Africa. He quickly became a leader among the settlers, and embarked on a lifetime of grand projects, forced through despite government inertia, enormous natural obstacles and the looming threat of bankruptcy. Time after time he proved the doubters wrong, as he pulled off the seemingly impossible. Despite this frenetic activity, and despite his love for Gertrude, he still managed to find the time to run two separate families and father numerous children by various mothers.

The abrasive and glamorous Grogan, with Delamere, was one of the founding fathers of Kenya – Lost Lion of Empire is a brilliant and powerful account both of the life of an exceptional man and the birth of a country.

About the Author:

'Edward Paice was a History Scholar at Magdalene College, Cambridge and winner of the Leman Prize. After ten years working as an investment analyst in the City he spent the best part of four years in Kenya and newly-independent Eritrea, writing travel and natural history guides. He regularly lectures and contributes articles on a variety of African topics, is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and a member of the Royal Institute of International Affairs.

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