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Birth Date: 1907 Sittingbourne, Kent

Death Date: 26 Mar 2002 Mombasa Hospital

First Date: 1933

Last Date: 2002

Profession: Journalist. His column - Coast Causerie - the longest running feature of its kind

Area: Mtwapa, Mombasa

Married: 1. ? 2. Eva May b. 1907 3. 29 May 1943 Olivia Millicent Jane Montagu b. 24 Oct 1914 Nairobi, d. 1997 (dau of Monthermer Stanley Hume Montagu - related to Duke of Manchester)

Children: Peter Woolfenden Maitland (1939); John Robert (14.9.1935) (from 1st or 2nd marriage)

Author: 'Coast Causerie 1-4' (1944-46), 'Gedi - The Lost City' (1947), 'Ivory, Apes and Peacocks' (1948), 'Coast Causerie (New Series), 1-3' (1972,1973,1977), 'And So It Goes: The Best of Edward Rodwell' (1984)

Book Reference: Letter, Kinloch, Who's Who, Debrett, Red 22, Burke

School: Herne Bay

General Information:

'In 1921 he was indentured for 5 years to a jobbing printer and, having mastered his craft, was promoted to Manager of the firm in 1928. In this capacity, he gained some experience of writing, editing and publishing. After completing a course at the London School of Journalism, he applied for a post with the EA Standard group, which appointed him General Manager of the daily newspaper, the 'Mombasa Times'.
Rodwell  sailed for EA in January 1933. On arrival at Mombasa, he was appalled by the age and condition of the printing machinery, most of which dated from the launching of the 'African Standard' in 1902. He also found that the plant operatives were local recruits left when the 'EA Standard' moved to Nairobi in 1910, and that the editorial staff were inexperienced amateurs. The editor was a wartime flying-ace, and his two assistants a former Stock Exchange broker and a female employee in a Cadbury's chocolate factory. Staff remained a problem - 5 editors died, 3 from malaria - but the paper began to pay its way as the economy edged out of the depression.
As both the editor and his chief assistant were recalled to the colours from the reserve when war broke out, the military authorities arranged for Rodwell to continue manning the anti-aircraft defences at night as a reservist with the Kenya Defence Force, so that he could keep the paper going as managing editor. He was fortunate to engage as editor a legendary Mombasa journalist and author, H.G. Robertson ('Rab the Rhymer') who had edited the 'Coast Guardian' for 4 years in the 30's. Nevertheless, Rodwell had to devote a lot of his time to writing and, in particular, to providing entertaining copy as a relief from the censured war news.
While improving the fortunes of the paper during his early years in the colony, Rodwell became deeply involved in the business, shipping and social life of the port. He also succumbed to the appeal of the coast and became conscious of the wealth of historical sources around him. He explored the ruins and buildings on the islands and mainland, and recorded the African, Arabic, Portuguese, Persian and Chinese artifacts he found there. The reminiscences of informants, some of whom had known the great explorers or been victims of the slave trade, were recorded, as well as those who had taken part in more recent happenings such as the Giriama revolt of 1914-15.
He began to collect a library of Africana and studied the accounts of early explorers, the memoirs of pioneer officials and whatever else was available of EA topics. In November 1943, Rodwell decided to draw upon his personal interests, travels, investigations and historical researches to initiate, in the 'Mombasa Times', a Saturday column, entitled 'Coast Causerie'. Attributed to 'The Watchman', a pseudonym that survived until 1956, the column was well received. Its popularity encouraged the author to make a selection from the essays and publish them in paper-back form as 'Coast Causerie, 1 - 4 (1944-46). The total print run of 28,000 at a price of sh. 2/50 per volume, was quickly sold out, and the set is now an expensive rarity in the saleroom. This first essay in book publishing was followed by 'Gedi - The Lost City' (1947) and 'Ivory, Apes and Peacocks' (1948), both of which derived much of their content from the 'Causeries'.
Partly because of his literary work, Rodwell was asked by the Kenya Broadcasting Service, in the late 40's, to give a weekly wireless talk, which continued for over 20 years, earned him the title of 'The Alistair Cooke of EA', and introduced him to fresh correspondents with similar interests. ........…..
In 1956, Rodwell resigned from the 'Mombasa Times' to join the 'Kenya Weekly News', an internationally recognised political, agricultural and literary review, published at Nakuru, which continued to publish the 'Causeries'. Under the editor, Mervyn Hill, an outstanding journalist and historian, Rodwell acted as coastal and special correspondent and stand-in editor, and wrote several of the leading articles. .......
At Independence in 1963 he decided, together with his editor, to become a Kenya citizen, as both felt uneasy about criticizing or advising the Government  unless they threw in their lot with the country. .......... On the passing of the 'Kenya Weekly News' in 1969, the 'Coast Causerie' column was continued in the 'EA Standard', which still publishes it.
In 1983 Rodwell launched another historical feature, 'The Way it Was', for its sister publication, the 'Sunday Standard'. Three more volumes of essays, 'Coast Causerie (New Series), 1-3 (1972,1973,1977) were published in cloth and paper-back by Heinemann and, in 1948, another volume, 'And so It Goes: The Best of Edward Rodwell', was published in coffee-table format by Ian Parker of Nairobi. ......…
During the course of more than half a century prosecuting his researches and helping other students, Rodwell accumulated a large amount of meticulously documented and indexed records, including the sources of material in the 'Causeries' not otherwise available in print. Some of these records were acquired in 1970 by the Kenya National Archives, and it is hoped that the remainder will also be preserved in the country. Rodwell's writings reveal an understanding, liberal and puckish man who, supported by his wife, Olivia, has enjoyed life to the full, and a lively, well-stocked mind that has been enriched by informed and disinterested inquiry and reflection. - (From - University of Birmingham "African Research and Documentation" No. 38, 1985. by A.T. Matson)  
Kinloch - Editor of Mombasa Times and one of the outstanding characters of a region that was full of colourful personalities. Smoked Mutolere cheroots.
East African Standard - 28/3/2002 - Pioneer journalist Mr Edward Rodwell is dead. The 95-year-old humour columnist-cum-historian, died on Tuesday at 3pm at the Mombasa Hospital, where he was admitted on Monday. According to Mr Peter Rodwell, one of his two surviving sons, the elder Rodwell, a long-time contributor to the East African Standard, died of complications related to old age. Peter said that the late journalism guru's remains were cremated according to his wishes. A private memorial service will be held later. Rodwell's death is seen as the passing of an era in Kenya's journalism. Until last year, Rodwell penned what had become the longest running column in the world, "Coast Causerie" in the East African Standard. The column ran uninterrupted for about 60 years. It was one of the most humourous regulars in Kenyan journalism and focused on interesting events, most of which happened many years ago..
A number of articles were dedicated to his beloved wife Olivia, who died in 1997 aged 84 after they had been married for 58 years. Rodwell loved Mtwapa creek, where he lived and on which he based some of his articles. He started off writing for a school magazine in Herne Bay England when he was 12. After completing school he studied journalism at the London School of Journalism. In 1934, Rodwell set up Mombasa's first newspaper, Mombasa Times and was its general manager and editor. When he resigned, he joined the Kenya News Weekly, an internationally recognised political, agricultural and literacy review journal published in Nakuru until 1969. Rodwell has also published several books and journals. The veteran scribe had a short stint in the military during the colonial days in Kenya. He also went to the US where he studied American and Portuguese historical records at Harvard University.
Rodwell who originally came from Maidstone, Kent, in the United Kingdom, had retired and was doing small-scale farming at Mtwapa, on the outskirts of Mombasa. Failing eyesight made him quit active writing to concentrate on breeding high-quality goats as he spent his sunset days at his 15 acre Mtwapa Creek home and farm. He is survived by two sons, Peter and John, both residing at Mtwapa, 5 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren.
Gazette 20 Dec 2002 probate

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