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  • Steve Hayes
    In response to a recent query on the South Africa list about someone recorded in the 1911 UK census as having been born in Rhodesia in the 1880s, I
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 20, 2009
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      In response to a recent query on the South Africa list about someone recorded
      in the 1911 UK census as having been born in "Rhodesia" in the 1880s, I
      reccomended E.C. Tabler's book "Pioneers of Rhodesia"

      Here is more information about it:

      Tabler, Edward C. 1966. Pioneers of Rhodesia. Cape Town: Struik.
      Biographies of adult male foreigners who
      visited Zimbabwe before the establishment of
      company rule in the 1890s. Includes
      biographical information of Frederick Green,
      Reuben Beningfield and others.

      Since it was published before 1970 there is no ISBN, but a Google search for
      "Tabler Rhodesia" should find information about second-hand copies etc,

      The name "Rhodesia" for what is now Zimbabwe only ceme into general use in
      the 1890s, after Rhodes's pioneer column entered the territory, but in the
      1911 UK censuses it would not be surprising that people who had been born
      there even before that would refer to it as "Rhodeis, isince that was what it
      was called in the UK in 1911.

      Before 1890 what is now called Zimbabwe was known to outsiders as
      Matabeleland and Mashonaland. Matabeleland, in the south west, was ruled by
      the Ndebele King Lobnengula, whose father Mzilikazi (alias Moselikatse) had
      invaded and conquered it in the 1840s after being driven out of the Transvaal
      by a combined force of Voortrekkers, Grikquas and others.

      Before 1840 the country was inhabited by people known to outsiders as Shona
      or Mashona, who spoke related languages and dialects that have since been
      standardised in written form.

      Foreigners who visited the area before 1890 were mostly huinters and traders.
      There were a few Christian missionaries at the court of Lobengula. Lobengula
      was not interested in their religious message, but found them useful as
      diplomatic agents and sources of firearms. Some missionaries (like David
      Livingstone) opassed through on their way to other places. These missionaries
      were mostly from the London Missionary Society, originally
      interdenominational, but later largely Congregational. Its successor is the
      Council for World Mission, whose web site is:


      so if you have missionary ancestors, ask about their archives.

      The hunters and traders mostly sold European manufactured goods to the local
      people -- knives, axes, firearms, cooking utensils, clothing and blankets and
      sometimes alcoholic liquor etc in exchange for ivory, cattle and the like.
      They also hunted elephants on their own account.

      It was their reports of gold mines that excited the interest of Cecil Rhodes
      and his mining magnate friends. The hunters and traders generally knew little
      of mining, however, and did not realise that the mines they saw were largely
      worked out. They had supported the prosperity of the Mwene Mutapa state a few
      centuries earlier, and the exhaustion of the gold mines probably contributed
      to its decline.

      The hunters and traders lived a wandering life, like gipsies, travelling from
      place to place in ox wagons, and occasionally going to towns in what is now
      South Africa to sell their ivory and replenish their stocks of imported
      goods. The more literate and literary among them contributed articles papers
      to geographical societies and journals (it was mostly these that Tabler used
      as sources), for example the "Cape Monthly Magazine". If they were married,
      their children were home schooled, and were sometimes baptised en masse on
      visits to towns in South Africa, or to mission stations such as those at the
      court of Lobengula. If the children got sick, or suffered accidents, there
      were only home remedies. There was no "Rescue 911" on call. Some survived
      childhood accidents and illnesses (falling off wagons, snakebite, being gored
      by oxen, being burnt in fires etc) and others did not.

      They came from a variety of backgrounds. Some were shady characters, on the
      run from the law in their own countries. Some were in search of adventure or
      outdoor life. A few came from wealthy families and had independent means.
      They were the "sportsmen" -- those who enjoyed shooting wild animals, not so
      much to make a living, but because they regarded it as entertainment. And
      most probably fell into it as a way of making a living and carried on doing
      it because they managed to survive that way.

      So children listed in a UK census in 1911 as having been born in "Rhodesia"
      in the 1880s were most probably born to parents who lived that kind of life.

      One of the better-known of the "sportsman" variety with independent means and
      wealthy families is Frederick Selous - see:


      Tabler's book also, however, documents those of humbler origins, about whom
      less is known.

      Keep well,

      Steve Hayes
      Web: http://hayesfam.bravehost.com/famhist1.htm
      E-mail: shayes@...
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