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A Most Surprising Man

The Life of Victor Marra Newland

Mary Anne Fitzgerald

A Most Surprising Man
Victor Marra Newland OBE MC DCM - hunter, soldier and entrepreneur - was descended from Australian pioneers. In 1838 his English grandfather the Rev'd Ridgway Newland landed in the new colony of South Australia. His father Simpson Newland opened up the New South Wales outback with sheep stations on the Darling and Paroo rivers. At the dawn of the 20th century, with Australia's unknown frontiers already claimed, Marra looked to Africa to make his fortune. In 1904 he started British East Africa's first safari company in partnership with another Australian, Leslie Tarlton. Along the way he fought in the Boer War and later in the East Africa campaign in World War One.

Marra settled in Nairobi when it was a railway staging post where drunks who staggered home in the dark were liable to be eaten by a lion. There were no rules, no safety nets and tantalising possibilities. Newland, Tarlton and Co. acted as land, stock and auctioneering agents as well as outfitting and guiding visiting sportsmen. British aristocrats, European royalty and American moguls set out on foot and horseback into the wilds in pursuit of big game trophies. The American president Teddy Roosevelt was accompanied by an entourage of 200 porters, gunbearers, camp staff and grooms.

Marra's tales of shipwrecks, charging rhino, hunting elephant for their ivory and the settlers' increasingly frustrated attempts to stake land claims make for fascinating and well-paced tales. This book vividly sketches a portrait of a country in the making and the man who embraced and was transformed by his adopted land.

Mary Anne Fitzgerald has covered eastern and West Africa for the Financial Times, International Herald Tribune, the Economist, and the Sunday Times of London. She is the author of 11 books on Africa, including the bestselling Nomad: One woman's journey into the heart of Africa. Most recently she was the lead writer for Ethiopia: The living churches of an ancient kingdom. As a co-founder of SAIDIA, a sustainable development organisation serving 50,000 in northern Kenya, she teaches women to become politicians and renovates schools. While heading the Africa office of a Washington-based human rights organisation she brought the existence of slaves in Libya and child soldiers in Ethiopia to the attention of the US Senate and the UN. Her advocacy has changed policy toward famine alleviation in Ethiopia and the resettlement in the US of South Sudan's 'Lost Boys' and unaccompanied children. She lives with her family in Nairobi.
Format Jacketed hardback
Size 234 x 156 mm
ISBN 9781743057544
Extent 288 pages
Price: AU$45.00 including GST
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