Gervas wrote quite a large number of articles on various topics, and most will be found in the Library under various subject headings. below are a few more, that are not easily categorised:-
- SOME REFLECTIONS ON THE 70th ANNIVERSARY OF THE FOUNDING OF NORTHERN RHODESIA
- THE NORTHERN RHODESIA JOURNAL - GERVAS CLAY'S SCRAP BOOK
- SOME DANGERS IN ACCEPTING AFRICAN TRADITIONS
- Visit of the Paramount Chief and Party to England for Talks with the Secretary of State - April 1961.
SOME REFLECTIONS ON THE 70th ANNIVERSARY OF THE FOUNDING OF NORTHERN RHODESIA
Some years ago I read in a paper an article which has remained in my mind ever since. It told the story of a journalist who was living and working in France. As he moved about his daily duties, he kept on hearing a name mentioned in connection with a time when everything was wonderful and all the people had lived a perfect life. At first he wondered if this was during the life of some early king such as Charlemagne, but the facts did not seem to fit in with any particular person. He wondered if the references were to some amalgamation of personalities from the past, but this did not also fit in. After a year or so he decided that he really must make an effort and find out who this person was who was remembered with such gratitude. Eventually he discovered that it was another name for the last English Administrator in Aquitaine, before that area of France was re-conquered and merged into the France of today.
When I first read this story, I could not help wondering if sometime in the future the same thing might happen in the then Northern Rhodesia, and whether the English would be remembered with gratitude for the work we have done when we were serving there.
I dream of a day far in the future when a visitor from these islands will go to the rural parts of that country and be told of someone remembered by his African name in whose time there was peace and plenty in the land. He will be told of officials remembered for their honesty, their integrity, and their courage, who lived far from their own kind, and worked for the advancement and progress of the Africans.
We shall not have been forgotten.
[Footnote: Just before the Thanksgiving Service we received from the current Director of the Museum, an African, a message that reads in part – "For his contribution to the preservation of Zambia's cultural heritage he will always be remembered." Gervas would have been so pleased.]
THE NORTHERN RHODESIA JOURNAL
GERVAS CLAY'S SCRAP BOOK
Gervas wrote occasionally for the NRJ, and was on the editorial committee. The entire collection of the NRJ is available on the InterNet in image form, but is also being (slowly) converted to searchable text format at www.spanglefish.com/northernrhodesiajournal
Gervas's contributions were:-
Clark, J. D. and Clay, G. C. R.
David Livingstone: a chronology, v, 261-267
Clay, G. C. R.,
Gervas Clay's Scrap Book
i, no 5, 42;
ii, no 1, 80-81;
no 2, 79-81;
no 3, 70-71;
no 4, 105-107.
no 6, 89-90; <----------------- [ See below ]
iii, 86-87, 458
Camels in Northern Rhodesia, v, 176-177
Discovery of the Victoria Falls. iv. 18-21
Gervas also contributed occasional snippets to fill space at the bottom of half-filled pages. Here is one such, from Volume 2 No. 3, page 25:-
TALES FROM THE OUTSTATIONS
During the war, in order to conserve stationery, many old files were broken up and letters typed on the back of old letters. Gilbert Howe, as Provincial Commissioner, Kasama, was having a written argument with Gervas Clay, then District Commissioner, Isoka, over some matter. Finally Gilbert Howe ended the matter by writing and telling Gervas Clay that he must do as he was told and not argue with the P.C. Gervas Clay acknowledged the letter on an old piece of paper on the back of which was a letter written many years before by Gilbert Howe arguing with his P.C.
Here is the arrowed contribution:-
THE NORTHERN RHODESIA JOURNAL
Volume II - No. 6 – 1954 - pages 89 & 90
GERVAS CLAY'S SCRAP BOOK
We give below some interesting extracts from A Thousand Miles in the Heart of Africa, by J. du Plessis:
“... Petauke, the residence of the Native Commissioner for the surrounding district, whom the natives style ‘Dongorosi’. What English name ‘Dongorosi’ was meant to represent was a problem which I could not solve. Eventually I decided that ‘Dongorosi’ stood for for ‘Douglas’, but my guess was fat from the truth, for at Petauke I learnt conclusively that ‘Dongorosi’ was Thornicroft. Such is the fate that befalls good English names when uttered by native lips."
“... the Native Commissioner here (Feira) is Mr. Shekleton ... I must not forget that my followers only know Feira by the name of the local Commissioner. For them the place is ` Sheketani ', which is their version of Shekleton."
“... One morning as we were nearing the Panyami River, we suddenly ran up against a string of nine camels. They were intended to inaugurate a postal service by camel to Fort Jameson, and were being taken north to Feira by a certain Colonel Flint. My men had never seen such animals before, and were filled with consternation. Taking care to have a bush or a tree between themselves and the objects of their dread, they watched me conversing with Colonel Flint, and wondered, no doubt, at my temerity."
EXTRACTS FROM DISTRICT NOTEBOOKS—NO. 6. THE ILA
In the Mumbwa District Notebook is a long discussion by the late J. Gibson Hall on the origin and history of the Ila. The conclusions arrived at were so inconclusive that another District Officer, Tom Chicken, put the following verse at the end of the long inquiry:
The Baila according to Hall,
Were never anybody at all.
He told Mungaila
He wasn't a Mwila,
But a Ghurka from farthest Nepal.
SOME DANGERS IN ACCEPTING AFRICAN TRADITIONS
by Gervas Clay
Once time there was a white man in South Africa who set out to visit many of the peoples in Southern and Central Africa and to preach to them a new kind of religion. For over 30 years he wandered about from tribe to tribe. Although he spoke one African language he did not speak it particularly well and was not always able to make himself understood by the Chiefs. As he spent part of his time trying to heal people with new-fangled remedies, he was obviously a magician and probably came down from Heaven with the rain.
One of the first tribes he visited was the Makololo under their famous war leader Sebitwane. Sebitwane himself belonged to the Basuto nation and had fought his way through what is now Bechuanaland as far as the Zambezi River where he settled down among the Barotse. Early on in his wanderings Sebitwane attacked a village where the visiting white can was staying. The latter was so indignant at the pillage that was going on that he rushed out with a sjambok in his hand and seeing a man crawling out of the one of the huts he brought down several blows on his back, which made the blood start and raised weals It turned out that this man was Sebitwane and he stood up, seized the white man by his hair and threw him down. However, when his people ran up and were about to stab him with spears, Sebitwane interposed and ordered them to let him go as he was a stranger and a white man. He then turned to the white can and said, "You have courage, you are a brave man. Never before has any one dared to strike me." They then exchanged presents and seven years later when they met on the Zambezi they laughed and joked together over this incident. "You are strong", said the white man, "to have taken me by the hair and thrown me down'. And Sobitwore showed him the scar on his back and said, “And you are a famous warrior to attack Sebitwane all alone, who has conquered so many tribes. Look at this mark: You are the only one who has ever beaten me.”
During this visit to Linyanti on the Chobe River near its junction with the Zambezi, Sebitwane borrowed the white man's horse and insisted on riding it against the white man's advice. The latter said, "You are full of human blood (i.e. a man who has shed blood) and you will die." This bewitched Sebitwane who had a fall and died of the consequences.
Some of the words of his preaching to the Makololo have also come down to us. "You people of the Makolololo", he said, "you great men and warriors, I tell you all you are not great men.You are bad and mean. You are not content with living in your own houses and hoeing your own gardons, but you go and attack weak people, and kill them. You see children hoeing the gardens of their mothers, and you take them prisoners. You see men hunting their own food, and herding their oxen, and you kill them. This is very bad. This is a great evil. The Evangelia has gone into all the world to teach men that to be great is to be good." It seems that the Evangelia was the name of a person. Later on, after this white man had passed through the country he sent some of his friends to Sebitwane’s son Sekeletu at Linyanti. Sekeletu and his people were terrified thinking that as Sebitwane had been killed by the white man's medicine, his friends might kill them. However, the friends consisting of two white families with a number of children soon sickened of malaria and began to die one after the other. As soon as they began to die the Makololo realised that their medicine was not as strong as that of their friend and began to extort from them most of their goods before they would allow the survivors to go back to the South. Not very long afterwards the original white man returned and spoke to them with great indignation, "You have killed and plundered the servants of God whom you invited to your country, and the Judgement of God will fall on you" This prophecy was speedily fulfilled for on the death of Sekeletu the Makololo began to quarrel among themselves and the Barotse returned from the north and massacred the Makololo to a man. The Bechuanas and Bamangwetos have often said since, "Where are now the powerful Makololo; has not God avenged the death of His servants?'…
Of the white man's successes in preaching to the Africans we are told that, "Previous to his last arrival amongst them, when told that he was coming, the first question they asked was, 'What is he coming to do? - to bring guns?' ‘No; the Book.' 'Well, then, he had better stay away; his God has killed us.' Sebitwane's doctors attribute the Chief's death to the white men coming amongst them, and whenever (the white man) preaches in the presence of or visits a chief, the doctors burn something as charm to protect them from his witchcraft. Being, as they find, a doctor, he has also the reputation of being a wizard. This makes him either feared or admired, and gives him a certain influence. They give him credit for being a good doctor, and say he has cured many, but killed some natives. They do not believe in natural deaths; when a man dies he has been killed. By all accounts the doctor's preaching is barely tolerated by the chief, who is at heart highly displeased at his doctrines concerning rain and polygamy. (The white man's) servant) Suyman, a man of colour, told us that when his master preached an eloquent sermon against polygamy, ending with a hymn, Sekeletu would collect all the young girls in the town, and make them wind up with dance.
"The people say that (the white man) has promised them all the good things of the earth, rain, corn, cattle, etc., if they would believe in God and refrain from polygamy, slavery and other malpractices; that they have waited a long time for these good things; and that they would wait another year to see if the Good Man he talked about helped them nicely. While they were relating these things, and conversation grew slack, the councilor Poonoani was observed sitting with a piece of newspaper upside down, mimicking the white man singing a hymn. The natives call psalm-singing Bokolella (to bellow like a bull), and observing that he had attracted our attention, he rolled over on his back, threw his feet into the air, and explained, bursting out into a loud laugh of ridicule, “Minari” (a corruption of the Dutch mynheer, generally applied to missionaries).
There are many stories of the extraordinary things that this white man was able to do. He was fine and tall and the best hunter ever known. *Are you hungry?" he would ask the first-comer. "Yes". 'What would you like - a buffalo quarter?' The white man would shoulder his gun, and instantly knock down a buffalo grazing at an incredible distance, give up the meat to him who had asked it, and pass on. Did he travel by canoe? "If you are hungry,” he would say to his paddlers, "well, tell me when we pass a village." He would then buy pots of curded milk, beer, etc; his people ate their fill and the rest was left for those who had sold it. Did he want a fat ox? When it was brought he would ask, What do you think, my friends, is that what we want?' "Yes, ngaka (doctor)" He took his gun and despatched it. "Now, what do you want for the beast?" The bargain ended and the price paid, he would take the piece he chose, and leave the rest, with the akin, to the proprietor.
He was particularly friendly to old men. He would call them and talk to them, asking all sorts of questions, and send them away with presents. If he saw cattle-herds or girls at work, he gathered them round him, and sent them away always with presents. Thus he opened a way for himself, even among the tribes that seemed most hostile. Sometimes on seeing him they would rush on him with threats that terrified his companions. He kept silence, let the thunder roll by, and once it had ceased, he talked, chatted, distributed packets of beads and bits of stuff; and the people, full of enthusiasm, would go home and bring out bread, curds, beer; and the white man want on. The old people that travelled with him used to say that he was not a man like any other but a God.
Here are some of the wonderful things he used to do. He took wings and flew down to the bottom of the chasm of the Victoria Falls; he could raise the dead and make spirits to appear; he brought up the nations of the earth, and made them pass through a little hole before their eyes; he showed his relatives and the spirits of his forefathers walking across the shadow of the sun; he could light gunpowder on a man's hand by means of a little glass; he had a dish of water into which he looked and read instructions as to the road before him. It was commonly said in Nyasaland that thin white man disappeared into Lake Nyasa whence he had come and on one occasion two small boys of about 10 years old hid themselves in the reeds to see if this was true. They found that he did not do this but he petrified them by taking something in his hand, dipping it into the water and rubbing his head until the brains came out.
He could also be fierce and determined to get his way. Not long before he died he arrived at the village of a small chief near Lake Bangweolo and asked for canoes to cross the Lake. The chief refused. The white man took out his revolver and fired a shot past the chief's right ear, reiterating his demand for canoes. The white can then fired past the chief's left ear. When the chief still refused he pointed at the middle of his forehead; 'Now do you still refuse', he said. Telling the story many years later, the chief used to say that he decided it was wiser to let the white man have the canoes.
+ + +
You will no doubt have guessed that these stories were told about the great missionary explorer Dr. David Livingstone. They were, all of them recorded in the first 50 years after his death by other Europeans who took down what the Africans remembered about him. We have, of course, two books written by David Livingstone himself and one edited by Waller after his death, from his own last journals. We are, therefore, in a position to compare what he himself records that he did, with oral tradition collected afterwards from those who had seen him. No attempt les been made to collect modern traditions about Livingstone because they would not be of any particular value, since every African schoolboy today learns something about the great man's life and any oral traditions collected world be coloured by written evidence in schoolboy textbooks.
It must be remembered that although some of the people Livingstone visited had heard of a white race before, almost none of them had ever seen a white man. Very many tribes had never even heard of one.
It is interesting to note that Livingstone vas regarded as a God and was thought to have come from Heaven with the rain. He was thought to be a God because he was more than a man. This means that he had an exceptional character and used many techniques unknown previously in this part of Africa. In very many tribal histories the royal family of the tribe is said to be descended from the Gods and it seems quite possible that, at least in the majority of cases, this is because a highly enlightened African from a tribe with well-developed institutions has been driven out or had to flee to a tribe in a much more primitive state. In such cases also, such a man becomes regarded as a God and we have an example of the mental processes involved in the case of David Livingstone.
The first part of this paper has set out David Livingstone's history as recorded by oral tradition. We are able to compare this oral tradition directly with the written records of David Livingstone himself and his contemporaries. We began with a story concerning Sebitwane and an assault upon him by Livingstone. This story was never recorded by Livingstone himself and we are left without any certain knowledge as to whether it is true or false. We then have some of the wordse he used when preaching and having regard to the exceptional memories that many Africans have, it seem likely that this is a reasonable record of the sort of sermon that Livingstone did in fact preach. It should perhaps be noted that the Evangelia are the Gospels.
The story concerning the councilor Poonoani taking off the great man and mimicking his singing hymns and praying are recorded by a contemporary of Livingstone, Chapman, who was not in fact himself a missionary, and would therefore not have been shocked as missionaries would have been by this poking fun at Livingstone's missionary activities. It seems highly likely that Sekeletu did in fact barely tolerate Livingstone preaching concerning polygamy and rain, but as his father Sebitwane had died on Livingstone's previous visit it is very probable that Sekeletu regarded Livingstone as a high-powered witchdocter, and was too frightened to try and stop his activities.
The story of his shooting and the way in which he provided foot for his party is of interest. Although a few muzzle-loading guns had already come into the country, Livingstone’s heavy rifles with their long range and stopping power would have been something new to the experience of the African, and this power and this accuracy would also have been duly exaggerated. The fact that without walking far he could in those days slaughter a number of confiding animals and give their meat to his own people and to local villagers would make his generosity noteworthy and stories of his prowess would be handed down accordingly.
The story of his particular friendship to older men is explained because it was from them that he would be noting, not only the physical features of the more distant parts of the country but also the tribal histories which he so often recorded.
It is when we come to the list of wonderful things he used to do that we realise how dangerous blind acceptance of oral tradition may be. If we had not Livingstone's own account of his doings and if we had no knowledge of the techniques he used it would indeed be difficult to interpret the stories which were passed down among the tribes of Central Africa. When it is recorded that he took wings and flew down to the bottom of the chasm of the Victoria Falls, the incident is based in the fact that he let down a weighted line with a piece of paper attached in order to see the end of the line better. That he brought up the nations of the earth and made them pass through a little hole before their eyes and that he showed his relatives and the spirits of his forefathers walking across the shadow of the sun, are stories based on the use of the magic lantern, while the dish of water into which he looked and read instructions as to the road referred to his use of the compass. Lastly his use of soap for washing his hair is recorded as his having dipped something into water and rubbed it on his head until the brains came out. The last story recorded, about the demand for canoes to cross Lake Bangweolo, has also not been recorded by Livingstone, but it was not the sort of story he would wish to record and it does seem quite likely that it actually took place.
To revert to the wonderful things he need to do, it is, of course, common-place to say that these matters were the record made by simple people in homely terms of things beyond their comprehension. Throughout African tribal histories one comes across such records of 'wonderful things'. In the case of Livingstone it is easy to know to what reference is made by referring to his own written records and because the techniques he used are today common-place. But when one is faced with tribal oral traditions describing wonderful things one is constantly left with the impression that what we should record as the natural is being explained in terms of the super natural and that many of the extra¬ordinary stories told have probably a perfectly common sense and natural explanation behind them but one that that we should almost certainly never be able to guess. It is, therefore, imperative that such apparently super natural events should be recorded but that it can no longer be considered as proving the intervention of the super natural but only assuring that something exceptional occurred which almost certainly has a natural explanation.
There are, of course, many apparent dangers in accepting written accounts of historical matters but the present day tendencies to reject anything that has ever been written as being almost certainly biased, and accepting oral traditions as gospel truth presents grave dangers for the historian. It is hoped that the first part of this paper has demonstrated some of the dangers in recording the life of the great missionary explorer as it would have gone down to history if reliance had been placed solely on oral African tradition.
Visit of the Paramount Chief and Party to England
for Talks with the Secretary of State
We left Mongu by Dakota on the 4th April, and the Paramount Chief, Ngambela, Mwana Mulena Sii-Sii and myself stayed at Government House while the rest of the party stayed at Longacres. For the last night the Paramount Chief, the Ngambela and Mwana Mulena Sii-Sii went to Highlands House. Time was spent in arranging for Travellers' Cheques etc., and there were no official talks or discussions. When I asked the Paramount Chief how much money he had in cash as he would only be permitted to take £10 out of the Federation in cash, he said that he had got more than this sum. I then asked him directly how much more he had got, he confessed that he did not know exactly, but thought it was about £1,000. At a later stage the Private Secretary might have been seen, I understand, crawling about the Paramount Chief's bedroom sorting vast quantities of very dirty 10/- notes which were spread all over the floor. Eventually the money was banked to the tune of £1,030 and Travellers' Cheques for £500 were made out in the names of the Paramount Chief and Sii-Sii. The Paramount Chief obviously did not like having half his money in the name of his son, but this was the only way to make it available in England owing to the finance control restrictions.
We left Lusaka on Friday evening and found that Kaunda was to be on the same plane to Salisbury as he was proceeding to America. There was a con-siderable party of Africans to see him off and they were singing songs etc. Once we were in the plane the Paramount Chief asked me to sit beside him as, by custom, none of his people could sit along side him, and it was therefore my fate, throughout the air travel to and fro, to sit on the inside while the Paramount Chief looked out of the window. As soon as we had sat down in the aeroplane Kaunda arrived and asked the Ngambela, who was sitting on the opposite side of the gangway, if he might speak to the Paramount Chief. He then went down on his knees in the plane and clapped his hands to the Paramount Chief while I sat between the two protagonists.
On arrival at Salisbury we were met by Owen, the Minister for Home Affairs in the Federal Government; Kenny, a Northern Rhodesian Labour Officer: and Commander Michell, Controller of the Governor General's Household, and we were taken to a private V.I.P. lounge where drinks and snacks were laid on for us. There were a considerable contingent of pressmen present but they appeared not to have got any change out of the Barotse.
We then entered the Comet and the Paramount Chief and myself sat in the front seats in the first class with the Ngambela and Sii-Sii in the left-hand front seats. The rest of the party were in the middle of the tourist accommodation and were all sitting together. The Paramount Chief, after a little nervousness when we first left Mongu, had been very much enjoying his flight, asking a continuous stream of questions and picking up landmarks on the ground.
We reached Nairobi at about 11 p.m. and were met by the Federal Govern-ment's Commissioner to East Africa, and a representative of the Chief Secretary (who was I believe a retired Provincial Commissioner). Again we were given V.I.P. treatment with refreshments laid on.
On arrival at Khartoum of course there was no one to meet us, and we went into the public lounge. One of the other passengers came up to me and explained that he was a journalist on the staff of the "Bulawayo Chronicle" going home to England on leave, not on duty. He said he had noticed that Kaunda was travelling with the Barotse delegation and asked me what the significance of this was. I told him that it had absolutely no significance whatever.
We left Khartoum about mid-night and an hour and a half later, when we were all either asleep or dozing, the lights in the plane were all switched on and the Captain of the aircraft announced that he had feathered one of the engines as there was some trouble with it, and was turning round and returning to Khartoum immediately. The "No Smoking" notice was then put up and kept up until we got to Khartoum. Having got back there we spent two hours waiting on the ground after which we were able to proceed.
We duly arrived safely at Rome and again had an hour's wait. Ten minutes before the plane was due to leave the Paramount Chief demanded to be taken down to the ground and departed for the lavatory. Just as he disappeared out of sight the call went out for all passengers to go to the aeroplane. Despite much shouting and running to and fro, nothing would induce the Paramount Chief to come up until he had done what he had gone down for. Meanwhile excited Italian officials ran to and fro demanding that I should lead my party on to the plane. However, the Malozi, with their traditional courtesy, resolutely refused to move until their Paramount Chief was ready to lead them back to the aeroplane. After some twenty minutes the Paramount Chief re-appeared, and moving with the utmost slowness and dignity proceeded down the ramp, egged on by Italian officials, and eventually boarded the plane to the great amusement of its crew and passengers.
We were by this time, of course, running four hours behind schedule. We had magnificent views of the snow-covered mountains of the Alps but then entered cloud and saw nothing of the French countryside, of the Channel, or of the English countryside after crossing the coast. We eventually came out of cloud at a very low level just before landing at London Airport and this, I think, frightened the whole party. It was a very cloudy, rather cold day when the plane touched down.
I had found it convenient, in boarding and landing from the aeroplane, to lead the way, and this seemed to give the Paramount Chief and his party more confidence. However, on getting to the top of the very high gangway at London Airport I found a large and distinguished gathering waiting for us at the bottom. All other passengers had been told that they must wait until the Paramount Chief had got off. I therefore waved the Paramount Chief forward and he descended the gangway with his customary dignity to be met at the bottom by Messrs. Watson and Neale of the Colonial Office, by Mr. Robinson, the new High Commissioner of the Federation, by Mr. Murray, the new Commissioner for Northern Rhodesia, and Mr. Adams. Television cameras were in evidence but we were not much bothered by the Press apart from much taking of photographs. I learnt later that our arrival appeared on Television that night at 11 p.m. We were then taken into the V.I.P. lounge and given drinks -- that is, the Paramount Chief, the Ngambela, Sii-Sii and myself. I had all the air tickets, but someone took them away and we had no trouble of any sort. I kept the air tickets together because it was necessary to explain that the names on some of the air tickets were not the same as those on some of the passports. A number of the Indunas had given their original names on their passports, whereas their tickets were made out in the name of Induna "X". We were then driven to the Shaftesbury Hotel (we had been told that it was the Green Park Hotel, but this was a mistake as we went to the Shaftesbury Hotel for the first week and to the Green Park Hotel only for the last three nights.)
The Shaftesbury Hotel is in Monmouth Street, not far from Leicester Square. On arrival it was found that the party were in rooms on five floors of this hotel. The rooms were exceedingly small, and the Paramount Chief took one look at his and refused to enter it. Adams was able to sort this out and got him into a double room which he was prepared to accept, although even this was exceedingly small. We were also, by more juggling, able to get the Private Secretary, Kuongo, fairly close to the Paramount Chief's room. Arrangements had been made for us to go to the London Planetarium at 5.30 p.m., but this was cancelled by mutual consent as we were all tired and did not wish to turn out again that evening.
SUNDAY April the 9th
Next morning the whole party went to Matins at Westminster Abbey. It was comparatively easy to get taxis at short notice, but by law taxis can only carry four passengers. Although nearly all drivers were prepared to take five, every now and then one proved difficult and would only take four as a result of which we had to have a fourth taxi. On this occasion one taxi arrived at the Abbey door before we did, and when the paramount Chief got out the five members already there prepared to go down on their knees and clap their hands to him, but the Paramount Chief at once said they need not do this which set a useful precedent. We entered the Abbey and found seats rather far back as there was a very large congregation. Although there were loudspeakers the acoustics were so bad that I found it impossible to hear either the lesson or the sermon, which was preached by Dr. Ward, the late Bishop of London. Mr. and Mrs. Adams came to the service with us. When we left we were directed out through the Cloisters and we found that it was raining. Adams quickly found one taxi and I got the Paramount Chief, the Ngambela and one or two older Indunas into it and turned back to take the other members of the party through the Abbey to show them Livingstone's grave etc.. I had gone about 100 yards when I was recalled by an urgent message that the Paramount Chief refused to leave without me, so I had to go back and accompany him to the hotel. This also set a precedent as I found that
the Paramount Chief was most reluctant to go anywhere unless he had either Adams or myself with him. I should mention that when we went in taxis the Paramount Chief always insisted that I should sit next to him and that only Sii-Sii could sit on the other side of him, so that I invariably had to sit in the middle on all motor journeys.
In the afternoon we set off for Hampton Court where my Mother-in-law, Lady Baden-Powell, has a "grace and favour" apartment and had invited us all to tea. She had six other guests to entertain us and the party went extremely well. Kuonga, as a Scouter, was in his element shaking hands all round with the left hand.
That evening Induna Muyunbana came down for dinner in the dining room of the hotel in full Barotse costume wearing a sitziba, a coat with a scarf swathed across it, and the red beret worn by the Paramount Chief's paddlers. This caused something of a sensation in the hotel, and I am sure most of the diners thought he was the Paramount Chief.
On our return to the hotel Sii-Sii came to me and said that the Paramount Chief wished me to go and see him as he wanted a drink. I suggested that he should get his father a drink but he said no, his father wanted to see me. When I went up I found that the hotel was only licensed to have a bar downstairs and were not allowed by law to serve drinks in the bedrooms. I was able to get a porter to go out and get a bottle of Sherry and sent that up for the Paramount Chief, and this solved the problem for the rest of the visit, during which the Paramount Chief never had any meals at the hotel out of his own room, and never had a drink at the bar.
MONDAY. April the 10th:
Adams came round in the morning and paid each member of the party his allowance for five nights at £7 a night, and I am sure several of them had never owned £35 in cash before in their lives. They very quickly found that they could get cheaper meals outside the hotel and were determined not to pay 12/6d for lunch and 14/6d for dinner. All of them, I think, paid their Bills in advance and then went off happily to spend the balance on warm clothes, coats, bowler hats and presents for their wives and children.
At 2.45 p.m. I went to the Colonial Office for talks with Watson, and Eldridge joined us there. Later Mr. Thomas, the Minister, arrived having come almost straight from the plane.
At 6.15 that night we went to the Victoria Palace to see "The Crazy Gang". What the Africans made of it I have no idea, but almost the first scene was a fireman in his tunic but no trousers, in a large double bed with an attractive girl. A series of telephone calls kept on coming in about fires, and eventually one to which he replied, that it was nothing to do with him, but a matter for the Police. At that moment a Policeman clambered out from under the bed also with no trousers on. I was thankful that I did not have to explain what this was all about: Most of them were also completely mystified by the activities of the beautifully trained Tiller Girls. Next morning I was told that the party was divided between those who thought they had seen some sort of puppet show and those who were confident that they had been looking at real people, however peculiar. They had obviously, all of them, immensely enjoyed the show however puzzling they had found it.
I have omitted to record that on Sunday Muyumbana had a headache and was obviously under the weather. He said to me, "If there were only an aeroplane going back to Barotseland I would go on it." When I said, "Oh, don't you like my country?" he replied, "No, there is far too much witchcraft here; when I go into a house it goes up in the air." (He was referring to the hotel lift). It was interesting to note that all members of the party invariably referred to their rooms as "my house." I also noticed that many of them were calling the waiter "Sir", and that they never said either "please" or "thank you" when being waited on.
TUESDAY, April 11th:
I think it was on this day that when I came down at 7.30 a.m. for breakfast I found the whole party, with the exception of the Paramount Chief, sitting in the lounge. The Ngambela came over to me with a very worried face and said that a terrible thing had happened. He told me that a very important gentleman from a very important newspaper called "The Times" had asked for an interview. The Ngambela had said that they had a very tight programme and the reporter had replied that if the Ngambela fixed a time he would be there. The Ngambela and replied (on the telephone) that he would see him next morning between 6 and 7 a.m. and had then rung off. He explained to me that they had been waiting for this important gentleman to arrive and that he had never turned up and what were they to do. I told him that they could laugh and forget it, and that it was most unlikely that they would see him again. In fact he never turned up or got in touch with us again.
At 11.30 that morning I went to the Colonial Office for more "talks" before the official talks started.
At 2.30 that afternoon we went to Clarence House for tea with Her Majesty the Queen Mother. The party consisted of the Paramount Chief, the Ngambela, Sii-Sii and myself. I had previously received a message from Adams that the Queen Mother would be very glad if I went too, but only if the Paramount Chief and party did not wish to go alone. However, the Paramount Chief was always most anxious to have someone to go with him. When we arrived at the door we were greeted by Lord "X" and Lady "Y" and Martin Gilliat. Lady "Y", the lady-in-waiting, gave a delightful curtsy to the Paramount Chief. We were then taken into the drawing room where we were joined by the Queen Mother. She was her usual gracious self and remarked that she and her staff were still talking of their wonderful visit to Barotseland, and she asked us all individually to take messages from her back to Mongu. We then had tea. The Queen Mother sat in one corner of the room with the Paramount Chief; Sii-Sii sat in another with the lady-in-waiting; the Ngambela sat in a third with Martin Gilliat and I sat in the fourth with the other equerry. In due course Sii-Sii was taken up to the Queen Mother's table and then I was taken up too in his place. The Ngambela was not so taken up and I think cumulatively resented the fact that everywhere precedence was given to Sii-Sii which, by their custom, was entirely incorrect.
On leaving Clarence House we, all of us, signed the book.
That evening we went to a Cocktail Party given by Her Majesty's Government at No. 1, Carlton Gardens, at which the hosts were the Colonial Secretary and Mrs. Macleod. At this party there were a number of distinguished guests, many of whom wished to be introduced to the Barotse delegation. I took round Sir Hilton Paynton, the Permanent Under-Secretary of State, and then the Duke of Devonshire. When I introduced Induna Mukwakwa he asked me three times, to my considerable embarrassment, who it was. Lord Boyd of Merton was also among the guests and had a long chat to the Paramount Chief,
WEDNESDAY, April 12th:
At 11 a.m. the "Talks" started with the Secretary of State. At 12.20 a car arrived from Buckingham Palace with one of the Queen's Equerries to collect the Paramount Chief. To everyone's surprise the driver of it was a woman. The Paramount Chief had been told that he should go either in robes or in a morning coat. Be had, therefore, attended the "Talks" in a morning coat and went off to Buckingham Palace with the Equerry and no one else. He was duly "dubbed" by the Queen and had half an hour's private conversation with her with no one else in the room. He was then brought back to the hotel in the same car.
At 4 p.m. we went to the Houses of Parliament by arrangement made the night before and one of the M.P.s (F. Bennett) received us there. The intention was that the Paramount Chief, Ngambela and two Indunas should have tea and talks with about fifteen Conservative members of Parliament. I had suggested to the Paramount Chief that he should pick two of his most intelligent indunas, such as Kalonga, Katema, Leashimba or Mukande, and that this might be a suitable opportunity to leave Sii-Sii behind as he was in on so many of the important social occasions. However, disregarding my advice Sii-Sii was duly brought along together with the Leashimba. After tea Mr. Bennett made an amusing little address, saying how grateful they were to the Paramount Chief for coming along and how anxious they were to appreciate and support his position. I looked at the Ngambela to reply, and he stood up and said, "As there is no interpreter here the Resident Commissioner will reply for us." This was done.
We were then taken up to the Strangers' Gallery and listened to a debate for some time. Fortunately the debate was one which was of general interest as it concerned the question of whether men between the ages of 18 and 21 should be hanged for murder. One of the Labour members made a very long speech and eventually I felt it was time to go because of the difficulty we might have in getting a taxi during the rush hour. As we reached the central lobby the division bells rung and members started running in all directions. The Paramount Chief was hardly restrained from running back to see what had happened.
That evening we went to dinner at the Savoy Hotel - a farewell party given by the Rhodesia and Nyasaland Club to the retiring High Commissioner Sir Gilbert Rennie. There must have been between 200 and 300 people present. I have omitted to record that Rhodesia House had rung up Northern Rhodesia House and asked that Godwin Lewanika should be booked in at our hotel. This was much resented by the Ngambela, who repeated many times that he was not an official member of the party and could not take part in the "Talks".
On the present occasion, as a Federal Member of Parliament, he of course was included in the party. The Paramount Chief and Sii-Sii sat at the top table. Sir Gilbert made a first-rate speech and told some very amusing stories. Immediately we rose from dinner I was informed that the Paramount Chief wished to go home. As there were many people there who wished to see him and whom I wished to see I did not take him home for some time.
THURSDAY, April 13th;
In the morning the whole party went to the Houses of Parliament
at 11.30 where we were received by Dr. Bennet, who was the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State. Two other Members of Parliament, including Sir Lionel Heald, had promised to come and take all the members around the Houses of Parliament. Dr. Bennet took five of the party, including the Paramount Chief and the Ngambela, and I waited
with the other nine in the main lobby for twenty minutes before the other Member of Parliament arrived. Sir Lionel Heald never arrived. We were then taken around the House of Lords and House of Commons and had everything explained to us. We were told that the House of Commons had been completely destroyed by a bomb during the war and re-built and that most of the fittings had been given by dominions and colonies. One of the Lozi members immediately asked if anything had been given by Northern Rhodesia and this, our guide was unable to answer. However, I had been taken round in the past and was able to point cut that the two copper brackets on which the Mace rests were presented by Northern Rhodesia.
We were taken out on the balcony where our photographs were taken.
At 12.30 in the afternoon, the whole delegation went to the Colonial Office where Mr. Thomas, the minister, had promised to give them certain explanations. When I tried to hurry Mulonda into the waiting taxi he said why had they got to go and that it was most inconvenient, to which I replied that the matter had been cleared with the Paramount Chief and I was not prepared to discuss its convenience with Mulonda. Shortly after 4 p.m. "Talks" with the Colonial Secretary continued.
After returning to the hotel and having dinner, we went to the finals of the London Amateur Boxing Association Championships at the Royal Albert Hall. The Barotse thoroughly enjoyed the boxing for the first three quarters of an hour, after which they got bored and the Paramount Chief said he wished to retire. I told him he could not because his delegation was scattered all over the hall and he was very shortly laughing again at what he regarded as the antics of the boxers. However, I eventually took him away an hour before the end and the rest of the party joined us outside. One or two of the Lozi had enjoyed themselves, but the great majority did not like what they had seen and kept on asking what was the point of it. I understand that next morning Induna Katema gave an excellent exhibition of what he had seen to Adams. In the hotel the doors into the lounge were made of glass, and poor old Katema walked into them three times. The last time he raised a very large bump on his forehead and he announced that when he got back to Bulozi he would tell his friends that he had been hurt in the Boxing Championships.
FRIDAY, April 14th:
There were "talks" at the Colonial Office in the morning and afternoon and at 1 p.m. Mr. Thomas, the Minister, went to lunch with the B.S.A. Company Directors together with the Paramount Chief and Ngambela. They were presented with beautiful copper ashtrays with the B.S.A. Co. crest in the middle of it. That evening at 5.30 we went to a Cocktail Party given by the Commissioner for Northern Rhodesia at which I found many old friends.
SATURDAY, April 15th:
As the Colonial Office only work the five day week there were no talks on this day and the party had to move from the Shaftesbury Hotel to the Green Park Hotel, which is in Half Moon Street off Piccadilly. I took the Ngambela to record a broadcast at Bush House. We had to do this twice as in the first one the Ngambela spoke much too fast. After the strain of the talks of the previous day the Ngambela had a severe neuralgia headache and did not enjoy his morning.
Mr. and Mrs. Adams had taken the Paramount Chief out shopping. Earlier in the week the Paramount Chief had been to Holland and Holland where he had bought a shotgun, a rifle, some ammunition and many accessories to the tune of some £300. He had also been to Austin Read where he had ordered four suits to be made for himself. It may have been on this day that there was nearly an unpleasant incident. For at, I think, Austin Read, the party were moving down from floor to floor and asking for the goods they had bought above to be brought down to them on the next floor. When they reached the ground floor one of the shop assistants arrived with some parcels from a higher floor and announced that he had brought these down for the "wogs". Immediately umbrage was taken, but the assistant hastily explained (whether with truth or not is not known) that the expression "wogs" was always used in the shop for those who were Waiting On the Ground Floor.
At 1.30 p.m. we started off in a hired car to visit Sir Charles and Lady Ponsonby near Woodstock outside Oxford. The party consisted of the Paramount Chief, Sii-Sii, Kalonga, Katema and the Leashimba. After a week in London we were too thankful to get out into the countryside and, in fact, many of the Africans had been taking a dim view of England on the grounds that it was just one town. It was a lovely English spring day and the countryside could not have looked more beautiful. Several of the party commented at intervals how beautiful it looked. We reached the Ponsonby's lovely early Georgian country house opposite the gates of Blenheim Palace at about 4 p.m., and the Barotse were immediately taken by Sir Charles to see his cattle and pigs. There were a number of guests for tea including Julian Evetts, who had been a District Officer at Mongu 25 years ago. After tea the Paramount Chief at once said that he wished to go home, but before doing so we were taken round the house which I think gave them much pleasure, and I am sure that this visit to an Englishman's home made a deep impression.
SUNDAY, April 16th:
A char-a-banc was put at the disposal of the party and they went off with Messrs. Eldridge and Adams to Brighton and the Southern Counties.
They were particularly anxious to see the sea and several of them tasted it. For the party as a whole, there is no doubt that this day was the highlight of the whole visit. As it was my birthday I did not accompany them, but went off by myself to visit some of my friends and relations.
MONDAY, April 17th:
There were talks in the morning and the final short session in the afternoon at the Colonial Office.
I took the Paramount Chief and Ngambela to lunch with Mr. Brownrigg of the Angle-American Corporation at their office at 40 Holborn Viaduct
Godwin Lewanika was also there. The head of the table was taken by Mr.Phillip Oppenheimer, a first cousin to Henry Oppenheimer, and head of the diamond side of the business. We had a particularly excellent lunch on the 9th floor and were able to look out over a large part of London from this viewpoint.
At 6 p.m. the High Commissioner gave a Cocktail Party for us at Rhodesia House and again we met many old friends. The Paramount Chief, Ngambela, Sii-Sii, Godwin and myself went in dinner jackets. We went straight on to the Dorchester Hotel to a dinner party given by the High Commissioner. There were twenty-five guests (all men) and the High Commissioner made a long speech welcoming the Paramount Chief and his party to which I replied on behalf of the Paramount Chief.
Once more the Paramount Chief wished to retire immediately after dinner, but I was able to keep him at the party for another three quarters of an hour or so.
TUESDAY April 18th:
A lot more shopping was done by everyone throughout the morning and afternoon, and we left for the airport at 5 p.m. We had an uneventful journey back, being met at Nairobi as on the outward journey, and at Salisbury where there was a party of Barotse people to greet the Paramount Chief. An R.R.A.F. plane was waiting to take us to Mongu, but after refreshments and dealing with Immigration and Customs the Paramount Chief retired to change his clothes. I had thought that he had gone to put on a thin suit, having left London in a thick one. However, he reappeared in a morning coat with a soft hat and brown shoes. This was the only sartorial solecism committed during the visit, so far as I am aware. We reached Mongu at 1 p.m. and were greeted by an enormous crowd at the airport.
Induna Muyunbana had been coughing a good deal and was found to have bronchitis, but the rest of the party were in good order. During the whole visit the Paramount Chief had been in remarkably good form, and the respect and honour with which he was treated set him up in his own estimation. Induna Muyumbana was obviously quite out of his depth, suffered from a headache most of the time and cannot have enjoyed his visit. He was quite obviously too old for this expedition. The only other member who was at all unwell was Induna Mukwakwa, who spent one day in bed with fever, but then made a good recovery. I think he also found the visit rather a strain at his age. Induna Katema, relieved of the responsibility of interpreting, looked younger every day. During the talks, to my mind, the outstanding speaker was Suu, and I think he made a very good impression on both sides. Sii-Sii was a thorough nuisance, doing little to help those who were new to England, and being perpetually late. Late on in the visit he did not turn up with the rest of the party and I deliberately left him behind. He duly arrived at the destination and had the impertinence to ask me to pay his taxi fare which I refused to do, pointing out that it was a social occasion and that if he had been present he would only have had to pay 1/-, but as he had to have a taxi by himself it had cost him 4/6d.
During the whole visit the Barotse behaved with the utmost dignity and decorum, and there was only one occasion when a small protest was made by the Manager of the Shaftesbury hotel. Induna Muyumbana left the shower on and this was only discovered when water started dripping through the ceiling. This had been pointed out to him by the staff, but the next night he did it again. The Barotse said that the shower was out of order.
28th April, 1961.