Miscellany from Northern Rhodesia

The territory to the north of the Zambezi was acquired by Cecil Rhodes for the British South Africa Company (BSAC) in the 1890s through negotiations with various Chiefs.  The western portion, known as Barotseland, was actually taken under British protection at the specific request of its ruler, Lewanika.  Rhodes’ BSAC was instrumental in suppressing the slave trade which had existed for ages past in this part of the world. Rhodes also sought to include the Katanga territory as well but, in this respect and sadly for its people, he was unsuccessful.

(Elsewhere on this site reference is made to the fact that Rhodes’ interventions almost certainly saved many people from becoming subject to far less enlightened rulers.  The people of Katanga are a good example of this as, although little known today, they subsequently suffered greatly along with the rest of the Congo Free State which was owned personally by King Leopold II of the Belgians.  Even by the standards of the day, such was the violence and wanton brutality (it is alleged that millions lost their lives) that by 1908 diplomatic pressure  led to the Congo being taken over as a direct colony of Belgium so that the worst of the excesses might be curbed.  Despite this nearly all the senior local administrators retained their posts.  After a somewhat hasty grant of independence in 1960 absolute chaos and carnage descended.  Ironically in 1960 Katanga, under its leader Moise Tshombe, was the only area to retain a semblance of normality and he asked for Belgian assistance. However instead the United Nations (UN) sent in troops to overthrow him. Civil strife and war in various forms has continued in the Congo intermittently to this day.)

The BSAC territory north of the Zambezi was divided into North-Western and North-Eastern Rhodesia.  In 1911 these were brought together as Northern Rhodesia still under BSAC administration.  In 1924, the year after Southern Rhodesia was granted self-government, Northern Rhodesia was transferred to direct control by the British Colonial Office. Throughout the colonial period, up to independence as Zambia in 1964, the territory was well governed even though it did not benefit from the economic and welfare advantages which self-government bestowed on the people of Southern Rhodesia.


NW Rhodesia Civil Service, Kalomo,1903

North-Western Rhodesia Civil Service, Kalomo, 1903 taken from a private photograph and possibly the only such surviving.
Back row:  Messrs. Parsons, Mayne, Swanson, W.H. Rangeley (Magistrate) and Nell
Middle Row:  O’Keeffe, R.T. Coryndon (Administrator) and Worthington
Front Row:  Hughes, Norton, Dr. Middleton and D. Hawksley
(From an original kindly donated by a pioneer descendant who wishes to remain anonymous.)
Kalomo was the seat of government for North-Western Rhodesia
until the capital was moved to Livingstone in 1907.
North-Western and North-Eastern Rhodesia were combined in 1911 to form Northern Rhodesia later known as Zambia.


Haircut (2) at Government House, Kalomo,1904

Haircut at Government House, Kalomo, North-Western Rhodesia 1904
Hawksley cutting Mayne’s hair with Rangeley looking on.
You can tell it is Government House by the Union Flag flying above!


Haircut at Government House, Kalomo,1904

This time Dr. Middleton is making sure that Hawksley keeps up appearances!
It is believed that the original Administrator’s House still survives.


Livingstone Township in 1903

For those who may wish to get a flavour of life in Northern Rhodesia at this time,

Alasdair Sutter has transcribed some some interesting diaries; see below:

Diaries of Alexander Collie Anderson. (site currently down)


The Mogwai of Barotseland

The Mogwai, Lewanika's sister, 1902

Lewanika's sister text2

This photograph is of The Mogwai (or Mokwai) sister to the Litunga of Barotseland, Lewanika 1, taken in 1902.

The paramount chief or king (The Litunga) shared his authority and prerogatives with a queen (The Mokwai). The Mogwai was not the wife but the eldest sister of the ruling chief.    When he died her privileges would lapse.  In theory, these co-rulers were equal, neither could promulgate a national decree without the assent of the other, but each had a capital town, councillors and absolute authority in a province, the two having joint authority over all other provinces.
Although in poor condition, this photograph is included here because it is probably a very rare likeness and thus of possible historical importance to the Lozi, or Rotsi, people of Barotseland.


The Northern Rhodesia Legislative Council 1940

This photograph of the Northern Rhodesia Legislative Council shows the young Roy Welensky, later Prime Minister of The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland from 1957-1963.
Back Row: Mr. G.E. Thornton, M.B.E. (Commissioner of Income Tax);  Sir Leopold Moore,  Mr. H.F. Wright (Clerk to the Council)), Mr. C.J. Lewin, M.C. (Director of Agriculture); Major H.K. McKee, M.C.;  Capt.  R.E. Campbell.
Middle Row: Mr. R. Welensky, Mr. T.F. Sandford, C.M.G. M.B.E. (Secretary for Native Affairs);  Mr. T.S. Page,  Mr. K.R. Tucker, C.B.E. (Financial Secretary); Capt. A.A. Smith, O.B.E.;  Mr. J.F.C. Haslam, M.C. (Director of Medical Services); Mr. H.F. Cartmel Robinson, O.B.E. (Provincial Commissioner).
Front Row: Mr. H.W. Wilson (Attorney General),  Mr. W.M. Logan, C.M.G., O.B.E. (Chief Secretary);  His Excellency the Governor, Sir John Maybin, K.C.M.G.;  Lt.-Col. S. Gore-Browne, D.S.O.; and Lt.-Col. A. Stephenson, C.M.G., C.B.E., D.S.O., M.C.


Entandrophragma delevoyii – also known as the Brown Mahogany or Mofu

On the main road between Ndola and Kitwe stands a striking tree which to the Bemba people is the Mofu, to the botanist Entandrophragma delevoyii, to the trader, Brown Mahogany.
It is certainly the king of Northern Rhodesia’s woodlands, for the species produces the tallest indigenous trees in the country.  A plaque on the tree quotes the poem of an unknown author. The plaque was erected in the early 1950s by Mr. C.E. Duff, one time Chief Conservator of Forests.
The poem is reprinted below.



You who pass by

  And would raise your hand against me,

  Hearken ere you harm me

     I am your fire on the cold winter nights,

     The friendly shade screening you from the summer sun

     My fruits quench your thirst on your journey.

  I am your beam that holds your house

  The board of your table

  The bed on which you lie

     The timber that builds your boat

     I am the handle of your hoe

     The door of your house

     The wood of your cradle

     The shell of your coffin

     You who pass by

  Hearken to my prayer

  – Harm me not.

(First published in 1962)


In 1895 Cecil Rhodes sent the supreme scout, Frederick Russell Burnham, to reconnoitre the newly acquired BSAC territory to the north of the Zambezi.  It was Burnham who discovered the presence of extensive copper deposits.

Copper remains by far the most important industry in Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia.

The views below show examples of two of the mines as they were in the 1950s.

A view of the Mufulira Copper Mine from the Boise shaft headgear with the Selkirk headgear in the foreground.


The Storke Shaft Headframes at the Roan Antelope Copper Mine, Luanshya, Northern Rhodesia.


For more information on Northern Rhodesia in the 1950s and 60s use the link below:

The Great North Road.


Site of David Livingstone’s Death – and his heart.

Livingstone Memorial Chief Chitambo's

This monument to David Livingstone, erected in 1902, marks the spot at Chief Chitambo’s kraal on the southern outskirts of the Bangweulu Swamps where he died on 1st May 1873 at his bedside whilst in the act of prayer.  Dr. Livingstone’s faithful followers led by Chuma and Susi, the first of whom he had rescued from slavery, buried his heart where he died under the big mvula tree before transporting his body over 1000 miles to the coast so that it might be returned for burial in Westminster Abbey, London.  The monument now bears a smaller bronze cross and chain railings following a frenzied, but uncharacteristic, attack in the 1950s by a native from the copperbelt.  Another plaque was added in 1973 reading:

“After 100 years David Livingstone’s spirit and the love of God so animated his friends of all races that they gathered here in thanksgiving on 1st May 1973 led by Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, President of Zambia”