Saturday, 28 January 2012

People of all nations...

Years ago I bought a stack of pictorial magazines in a series called "People of all Nations" (published 1922) from a second-hand shop in Coventry. They are typical of their time: romantic, risque, patronising and quaint. Occasionally there are really surprising photos, such as one of a man in Portugal wearing a raincoat apparently made out of sheaves of grass layered over one another, or of someone walking along barefoot carrying their shoes on their head, to keep them clean. From country to country one sees the traditional costumes worn and gets a sense of a slower life. Cars are mercifully rare.

On getting them out again today I noticed a section on the Rhodesias. We are told that game in Southern Rhodesia is already rare, but is plentiful up north. There is the old nonsense about the Arab kingdoms that built the stone houses whose ruins can be seen in Zimbabwe. And there is lots of colonial superiority about the indigence of the natives and their lack of ambition, as well as admiration for qualities such as honesty and intelligence.

Here is a map including some of the old place names of that time, including Elizabethville (Congo's Lubumbashi), Fort Jameson (Chipata), Abercorn (Mbala) and so on.

There was a photo of Livingstone town I hadn't remembered, which I feel I must share. The town is described as being North Rhodesia's embryo capital, replacing Fort Jameson (Chipata) as the administrative headquarters. Besides the government buildings it provides a hospital and a hotel -- the hotel is on the left in the photo below. The other buildings are apparently houses, although the one on the right looks like a store to me. I can't make out the name on the top.

Amongst the other photos (courtesy of the British South Africa Company, whose territory this was at the time) is this one of people outside the boma at Fort Jameson.


There is also this one of people getting ready to set off for the Matopos from Bulawayo in their jalopies outside the Grand Hotel.