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The Journal of the Rhodesia Study Circle - Issue No. 74

The squared circle postmarks of Northern Rhodesia,
Part 4

RSCJ v. 21, no. 2 (74), p.23–5; 

I now come to the last group of four Bomas which are still in existence today. For that very reason they are difficult to write about for there is much less written about them than about the Bomas which have disappeared. The four in this group are Feira, Kasama,  Lundazi and Mpika.

11) Feira. The name comes from the Portuguese for a fair and is generally pronounced Faira (Fair-a).  It stands at the junction of the Luangwa and Zambesi rivers,  and across the Luangwa is the Portuguese town of Zumbo. There was a Portuguese settlement in this area according to some commentators as early as 1540. Certainly there was a settlement nearby by 1720,  and thereafter the Portuguese occupied Zumbo and Feira  (which were sometimes referred to by each other’s names) off and on until 1864 when they finally abandoned Feira. Both Feira and Zumbo were in ruins when David Livingstone visited them in 1856.  The first British Native Commissioner was appointed in 1901.  In 1904 my staff list records two Native Commissioners there and this shews the importance of the place at that time.  One was C.C. Shackleton and the other was J.L.Reid. By 190? the well-known character 'Rope-Sole' Jones was Native Commissioner and other Residents were George Watkins an ex-steward of the Union Castle Company, Mrs Bozzola wife of the Manager of Deuss and Co's store, Gruno the local agent of the Native Labour Bureau and the representative of the African Lakes Corporation. By 1917 there was an Assistant Magistrate, and Assistant Native Commissioner, a Medical Officer, the Superintendent of the Rhodesia Native Labour Bureau,   the Manager of the African Lakes, two inn-keepers - B.Joule ex-B.S.A. Police Sgt.Major and George Watkins. Before the First War, Feira was an important staging post on the cattle route from Tanganyika to Mashonaland,  and there must have been many visitors.  By 1925 it was a one-man station and in the early thirties it was closed until after the last war. It was then again reopened and so far as I know has not been closed again.

My own view is that although Nodder considered the Feira squared circle post mark was Very Rare, it is the commonest of all these postmarks,  and that I would personally expect. 12)  Kasama.    Was originally opened in 1901 as a sub-station of Fife..It later became the Capital of the Wemba Province and later still of the Northern Province.  It was abandoned at the end of the first war,  and the German Commander surrendered at the Chambezi crossing between Kasama and Mpika,  his surrender being formally made later at Abercorn.

The squared circle postmark, probably the next most common to that of Feira, was separated by Nodder from the rest because of  'small dots between'. My own three copies only have one dot each - that on the left as you face the stamp.  Is this significant or just chance? In 1904 there were two Native Commissioners at Kasama, P.C.Cookson and E.A.A.Jones. Kasama has always been important since the early days and has never been closed since the Germans left.

13)  Lundazi.  Was opened in 1908,in place of Nawalia which was closed in 1907-  Lundazi was therefore the last office to be given the squared circle postmark by several years. There is no record of it in my staff list for 1904. It almost certainly began its existence as a one-man station and its postmark is therefore likely to be very rare. The Boma continues to exist today.

14)  Mpika.    Opened in 1903,  on an adjacent site,   it had some importance in the early days as a staging post to other offices, and again in the thirties when it was on the old Imperial Airways route to Europe.   (I myself flow from there to England in 1935)- The story of its Native Commissioner Melland, a philatelist, is well known. Perhaps because he was one, the postmark is onlv Rare according to Nodder – one assumes that Melland took good care that stamps on his letters to England were not destroyed. He is mentioned in the 1904 staff list as Native Commissioner without an assistant. He was stationed at Mpika for eleven years and then at Kasempa for eleven years before becoming a Provincial Commissioner - a most unusual career. Mpika still remains open and I have heard that there is now a large encampment of Chinese there working on the new railway to East Africa.

Owing to a dispute over the spelling of the name postmarks exist reading Mpiga and Mpj  a. Both are very rare.

 

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