Mimi and Toutou arrive on the shores of Lake Tanganyika

The best source currently available for the journey of the Mimi and Toutou from Furungume to the Lake is the October 1922 National Geographic article written by Frank Magee. Spicer-Simpson himself submitted a series of notes and a lecture on the Expedition, but this has generally been agreed to be so filled with hyperbole and self aggrandizement that it probably offers little that is not covered better elsewhere. read more

The Battle of Lake Tanganyika, how the war on the lake was won…Part 2

Fungurume, lying some 100 miles further up the line from the Katanganese capital of Elizabethville (Lubumbashi), was the final railhead of the great Cape to Cairo rail project, a concept that had been the visionary quest of Cecil John Rhodes, master empire builder, and one of the greatest Sons of England.

Despite these august credentials, the end of the line, which Furungume truly was, was a miserable place. It happened also to be the epicenter of the regional copper read more

The Battle of Lake Tanganyika, how the war on the lake was won…Part 1

Admiral Sir Henry Jackson, in charge of Royal Naval operations against Germany’s overseas empire during the early part of WWI, sat in his Admiralty House office pondering with interest an appointment with an African hunter that had been pending for some time. Sir Henry had been informed that John Lee had arrived in London a day or two earlier and was  en-route to the Admiralty with an intriguing proposal to unlock the balance of naval power in Africa.

The read more

The Seige of Eland’s River and the Rhodesia Regiment

The last major action of the Anglo/Boer War involving the Rhodesia Regiment was in fact an all empire affair that included troops from Rhodesia and the various territories of Australia. This was the iconic Siege of Elands River that occurred between August 4 and August 16 of 1900.

The event probably lives on more fitfully in Australian military lore than African, since the structure and traditions of that institution remain alive and venerated, but is by no means forgotten read more

A summary of the East Africa Campaign of World War I

A German Schutztruppe Askari flag bearer

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African Imperial history has in recent years become something of a discredited subject. The basic reason for this, I suppose, is that the political and social landscape of Africa has been so radically altered by independence that very little tangible trace of the period remains. It is also true that all the many failings of indigenous African administration have tended to be blamed on colonialism, and continue to be blamed on read more

Paul Emil von Lettow Vorbeck, German Commander, African Hero

Commerative poster of Von Lettow Vorbeck

The East Africa Campaign of World War One threw up a number of great personalities. The Campaign is filled with military and civilian characters that contribute verve and colour to one of the most interesting campaigns of World War I. Not least of these were the two principal commanders, General Jan Christian Smuts and Colonel, later General Paul Emil von Lettow Vorbeck.

Von Lettow Vorbeck was precisely the same age as his campaign counterpart, both men being born in read more