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The Journal of the Rhodesia Study Circle - Issue No. 79

1972, Postmarks of Sumbu:
    v. 22, no 3 (79), p.48

According to Nodder, Sumbu was "Opened 1893/4; date of closing unknown.  Was an office near Tanganyika and taken over by the B.S.A.Company in 1895".

In the Northern Rhodesia Journal Vol. 6 (Zambia) page 304, there is the following account of Sumbu.  "This small harbour on the west coast of Lake Tanganyika is now connected by a motor road with Mporokoso 160 miles away to the south-west.  It was opened as a Boma in 1895 to stop the slave traffic.  Dhows would use Sumbu harbour to collect slaves to take across the lake to Tanganyika and so to the East Coast.  Its first official, Captain Charles Livingston, died in 1896, eighteen months after being posted there and is buried at Sumbu.  Another official, C.Stevens also died there, in 1903 and is also buried there.  It would appear that Sumbu was closed in 1904 and the area became the responsibility of the Native Commissioner at Mporokoso.  By 1906 it came under Abercorn and Marshall visited the place.  In 1907 sleeping sickness was discovered there.  In June, 1908 an official, A.C.R. Miller, was posted to Sumbu to make arrangements for the evacuation of villages from the lake shore.  This was completed by September and Miller moved his sleeping sickness headquarters to Katwe.  In 1914 Sumbu was occupied by Belgian troops and their trenches can still be seen there.  They were shelled by German gunboats."

Dann, in his Cancellations of the Rhodesias and Nyasaland, does not list Sumbu under British Central Africa (pages 53-55) but he does mention Sumbu among the offices using B.S.A.Co's stamps overprinted "B.C.A." until 1895 (see Appendix 1 page 73).  He gives a representation of the D.C. postmark of Sumbu on page 65 and the date given is -4 Jan 00.

Nodder lists Sumbu in his "Pre-Federation Posts of Northern Rhodesia under Type 5, and quotes the date of Dann's copy as 4 Jan 00.

I have recently acquired a copy (on a 1/2d small arms) which is dated 26 Jul 01.  However it appears to belong to Nodder's Type 5(a) as it has small stars similar to those for Abercorn and Kalunguisi.  Nodder calls them small crosses, but they are in fact small 5-pointed stars).

Will anyone who has a Sumbu postmark please look at it and see if it belongs to Type 5 or 5(a).  As Sumbu was open for some 9 years there seems no reason why it should not have had both postmarks, but did it?  Both Nodder and Dann call it very rare and I would be most interested to hear from those who are lucky enough to have this postmark.

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