Tag: Africa Imperial History

Siege of Elands River: 4 – 16 August 1900

Map: Siege of Eland’s River Staging Post 4-14 August 1900 Map: Battle of Eland’s River 4 August 1900 With the capitulation of Johannesburg and Pretoria by early June 1900, the Commander-in-Chief of British Forces in South Africa, Lord Frederick Roberts VC, divided the Western Transvaal operational theatre into districts, with the sole objective of mopping up pockets of Boer resistance. … Read more →

Operation Quartz: Zimbabwe/Rhodesia on the brink

Ceasefire and Elections The closing chapter of Rhodesian history was decided in Lancaster House, London, between 10 September-15 December 1979. There, in what has been described by some as the Funeral Parlour of the British Empire, the principal protagonists in the unfolding drama of the Zimbabwe/Rhodesia Bush War brought the curtain down on this, the last substantive act in the… Read more →

Robert Bell Smart the Royal Engineers Signals Unit

I was recently contacted by Eleanor Smart regarding a collection of photographs belonging to her and concerning her father who served in East Africa during WWI. What follows is her own description of the circumstances of Robert Bell Smart, and a selection of his photographs. Robert Bell Smart.  Born in Glasgow July 1890. Died in Paisley Sept. 1962  My father… Read more →

ZAPU in the Zimbabwe Liberation Struggle

As the armed wing of ZAPU withdrew to ponder lessons learned, the detained leadership within Rhodesia settled into what seemed likely to be a sustained period of restriction. For Joshua Nkomo the prospect was particularly dreary. Somewhere between the claims of his apologists of untainted zealotry, and his protagonists insistence on his innate corruptibility, lies the truth of what motivated… Read more →

Rourkes Drift and Isandlwana: Key sites of the Anglo Zulu War of 1879

Deep in the signature countryside of Zululand – undulating grassland punctuated by rubble crowned kopjies and shallow river valleys – lie two key sites in the mythology of the black/white struggle for Southern Africa. The Anglo/Zulu War in many respects was the beginning of the end of black independent monarchy in Southern Africa. It came about as a consequence of… Read more →

THE OPERATIONS ON LAKE TANGANYIKA IN 1915

By COMMANDER G . B. SPICER-SIMSON,. S.O., R.N. Wednesday, 28th March, 1934, at 3 p.m. ADMIRAL SIR WILLIAM GOODENOUGH,. C.B., M.V.O., in the Chair. The Chairman, in introducing the Lecturer, said that Commander Spicer-Simson had had a very varied and adventurous career. He saw service in China; he was on the Boundaries Commission in North Borneo; he made a triangulated… Read more →

Ian Henderson and the Hunt for Dedan Kimathi

During the course of 1956 an extraordinary drama played out in the forests of the Kenyan Aberdare Range, as two men, Dedan Kimathi, a Kikuyu Mau Mau forest leader, feared in equal measure by friends and enemies alike, and Ian Henderson, a local Special Branch member and guerrilla hunter extraordinaire, enacted a deadly game of cat-and-mouse that marked the final… Read more →

I Can Never Say Enough About the Men

I had noticed in my general browsing of the web that a new book associated with the East Africa Campaign of World War I had been published, strongly titled I Can never Say Enough About the Men. It did not drift into my orbit, however, and I found no opportunity to read it until I was contacted by Andrew Kerr,… Read more →

The Shangani Patrol

As Rhodesian Administrator Leander Starr Jameson rode into the smoking ruins of Bulawayo in the aftermath of the first phase of the Matabele War he somewhat naively expected to find Lobengula waiting to surrender formally. This would have crowned an impressive advance with a clean victory and wrapped up the war in favour of the BSA Company with a minimum… Read more →

A brief history of Rhodesia

The colony of Rhodesia was born on 13 September 1890 with the arrival in the vicinity of present day Harare, then Fort Salisbury, of some 500 hand-picked volunteers who made up the British South Africa Company Pioneer Column. This represented the culmination of several years of political manoeuvre and capital adventure in the great game known at the time as… Read more →

The amaNdebele and modern African imperial history

The educated rather than the raw native very often becomes a nuisance to his white neighbours…Report of the Land Commission The end of the First World War did indeed usher in a change in British imperial policy. A general revaluation of the moral certainties of old coincided with the emergence of a class of educated natives worldwide who were the… Read more →

The aftermath of the Matabele Rebellion

Matabeleland should be treated as a portion of Mashonaland lately occupied by the Matabele – Leander Starr Jameson The trust placed in Cecil John Rhodes by the amaNdebele leaders was the trust of desperation, and it was by no means absolute, and bearing mind that Rhodes was a proven master of negotiation the terms of peace were as mixed as… Read more →

Selous Scouts: Rhodesian Counter-Insurgency Specialists

The Africa@War series is being launched this year as a joint venture between 30 Degrees South publishing of SA and the Helion Group of the UK. It covers African warfare in the post WWII period, which, as we all know, is a very rich period in this particular field. The first book to be released in the series is Prof.… Read more →

The Matabele Rebellion

How can the white men punish them? Where are the white police? There are none left in the country.[i] The uprising was mooted to begin on the evening of the full moon of March 28 1896, no hint whatsoever of which reached the ears of white settlers and administrators in the territory. Even long time residents of Matabeleland such as… Read more →

The death of Mzilikazi and the arrival of the white man

The Matabele Mission died in due course of depletion and internal discord, proving only that no man or woman in Matabeleland would dare to commit to anything that competed with the stern residue of Mzilikazi’s rule. However the political importance of the mission was that it introduced the younger generations of Moffat and Khumalo to one another, meaning that when… Read more →

Mzilikazi, the Zulu, the Griquas and the Boer

As Robert Moffat’s wagons slipped over the southern horizon and disappeared Mzilikazi turned back towards enKungwini to face arguably the greatest series of challenges to the long term survival of the amaNdebele that he had confronted thus far. The first of these was the long awaited settling of scores with the Zulu that came soon afterwards as Mzilikazi had always… Read more →

The fight at el Wak, Northern Province, Kenya 23rd August 1926

The background In the summer of 1926 No.4 Company of the 3rd King’s African Rifles (3 KAR) was stationed at Wajir and Mandera in Kenya’s Northern Frontier Province.  The company commander sent out regular patrols to monitor security activities along the border with Italian territory.  Jubaland had been ceded over from Kenya to Italy on 29th June 1925, purportedly as… Read more →

A parting of the ways

The day for Africa is yet to come. Possibly the freedmen may be an agency in elevating their fatherland. David Livingstone. John Chilembwe’s impending visit to the United States generated enormous interest among his friends, family and congregation. Booth had so emphasised the redeeming potential of black America that expectations were very high. Why Joseph Booth went to the personal… Read more →

The Action Around OK Pass, Somaliland Protectorate, 1st to 3rd March 1919

During the Great War internal security still had to be maintained throughout the vast British Empire.  One continuous problem facing the British was the ongoing insurgency in the Somaliland Protectorate inspired by the Dervish leader Sayyid Muhammad Abdullah Hassan, the so-called ‘Mad Mullah’.  This insurgency had been running sporadically since 1901 and adjacent Italian territory had often been used for… Read more →