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Posted in Africa, Historical articles, History, Royalty, War on Friday, 14 June 2013
This edited article about Cetewayo originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 294 published on 2 September 1967.
On 28th August, 87 years ago, the famous Zulu warrior chief Cetewayo was captured by British soldiers following his army’s defeat at Ulundi on 4th July of the same year. He was brought as a prisoner to Britain, where his dignified bearing and romantic background appealed to so many people that the Government decided to let him go back to his territory in Natal.
Cetewayo was born around the year 1836. His father was King Panda, a man friendly to the British, who had taken over Natal as a colony three years after he had become the Zulu ruler. As Cetewayo grew up, this friendship with the British angered him. He could never forget he was the nephew of the war chief Chaka, a great but ruthless military leader who had organised the formidable Zulu system of fighting.
When he grew up Cetewayo rebelled against his father. Fearing that his younger brother Umbulazi would be made Panda’s heir, he killed him at a great battle on the banks of the Tugela River in December, 1856.
Following this victory the Zulus decided that Cetewayo would run the affairs of their nation, though Panda would still be king in name. Now that he had the power he wanted, and was assured that he would succeed Panda as king when he died, Cetewayo kept on good terms with the colony of Natal.
King Panda died in 1872 and in August, 1873, Cetewayo was proclaimed king. He made a pact with the British authorities that he would be a humane ruler and would keep the peace. But soon it was obvious that he was breaking the agreement. He was a cruel tyrant to his own people, and often raided his neighbours.
The authorities ordered Cetewayo to halt his bloodthirsty policies. When he refused, a British military force was sent against him in January, 1879, under Lord Chelmsford. It numbered 18,500. Cetewayo had 40,000 warriors.
The first major fighting was at Isandhlwana, where 10,000 Zulus defeated a British force, killing over half of them. Almost immediately 4,000 victorious Zulus attacked a British post known as Rorke’s Drift. It was a garrison of 80, with between 30 and 40 in hospital. During the battle the Zulus reached the trenches round the garrison six times, but each charge was hurled back at bayonet point. When the Zulus withdrew at dawn they left behind 350 dead. The British casualties numbered 17 dead and 10 wounded.
After the amazing defence of Rorke’s Drift, the Zulu army was defeated at Ulundi. Cetewayo’s territory was divided between 13 lesser Zulu chiefs, and he was brought to London. But on 29th January, 1883, he was back in Natal, being reinstated on part of his old land. Within a week Cetewayo’s enemies attacked him, and for a year he struggled against them until he was finally defeated and his kraal* destroyed. He fled for his life to British territory, where he was given asylum, but he died on 8th February, 1884, at Eshowe.
* An African village of huts enclosed by a fence.
Posted in Africa, Bible, Historical articles, History, Missionaries, Religion on Thursday, 13 June 2013
This edited article about missionaries originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 292 published on 19 August 1967.
It would be hard to imagine a bigger contrast than Guildford and the Gobi Desert. One is a serene country town in England, while the other is a wild desolation in Mongolia. It was from the first of these, where she spent her childhood, that Mildred Cable went out as a pioneer missionary, to spend 15 years travelling between the Gobi oases.
Before doing so she had spent 20 years as a missionary in China, in company with two close friends, Eva and Francesca French. The three were always fascinated by the travellers they met from beyond the Great Wall, some of whom had come all the way over the desert from Russia. There were no missionaries working in the oases which marked the desert route, the Christian message had never been heard in many a village on that way, and the Bible was an unknown book to its travellers. This was a stirring challenge to the three friends.
In 1923, they set out to cross the Gobi desert. Their transport, which they named the ‘Gobi Express’, was a simple cart, with a top speed of about four miles an hour. In it they carried all their possessions, including cooking utensils, bedding, food, medical supplies and books. They slept in the primitive ‘khans’, or wayside inns, sharing the discomforts and even the dangers before which men of the country hesitated.
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Posted in Adventure, Africa, Exploration, Famous news stories, Historical articles, History, Missionaries, News on Thursday, 13 June 2013
This edited article about Stanley and Livingstone originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 291 published on 12 August 1967.
Who said, “Doctor Livingstone, I presume”?
The answer is H. M. Stanley at Ujiji in November 1871.
In 1865, the great Scottish missionary and explorer, David Livingstone, returned to Africa at the request of the Royal Geographical Society to settle a dispute over the watershed in the region of Lakes Tanganyika and Nyasa.
The following year, some of his men returned to the coast with the news that he was dead, and the world mourned. But some were not convinced of Livingstone’s death and the government sent an expedition, which, though it did not find him, discovered proof he was alive. Letters from him confirmed this. However, there was no news after 1868, and once again it seemed probable that he was dead.
James Gordon Bennett Jr., son of the founder of the New York Herald, ordered H. M. Stanley, one of his most enterprising young reporters, to find Livingstone – dead or alive: it would be the scoop of the century!
On 21st March, 1871, Stanley, a young man of 29 who had never commanded an expedition, set off from Bagamoyo in what is now Tanganyika with two other white men and nearly 200 natives. By September, deaths and desertions had reduced the party to 53, with Stanley the only white man, and he had been continually stricken with fever.
After many adventures and hardships, the party at last heard news of a lone white man at Ujiji, on the borders of Lake Tanganyika, and on 3rd November the great meeting came. (Stanley thought it was the 10th, having lost track of the date when fever-ridden.)
Stanley was a brash, over-sensitive American who had been snubbed by many Englishmen, and this may have led him to ask his famous, over-polite question, especially as Livingstone was rumoured to be a difficult man. But the two got on famously, almost like father and son. They explored together and then Stanley travelled to England.
Though Stanley received a hero’s welcome, some resented his success, while others claimed that he had forged the letters Livingstone had given him and that he was an impostor. But more letters from Livingstone followed and Stanley’s detractors were silenced: he was the hero of two nations.
Posted in Africa, Historical articles, History, Medicine, Missionaries, Music on Tuesday, 11 June 2013
This edited article about Albert Schweitzer originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 288 published on 22 July 1967.
Two years ago, the death of a certain doctor in tropical Africa made world headlines. Tributes were paid to him in the newspapers of many nations, for he had become an international figure of the 20th century.
All this would have astonished Albert Schweitzer if it had been foretold in the years before the First World War, when he was a teacher of theology at the university of Strasbourg.
Born in the Alsatian town of Kaiserberg in 1875, Schweitzer owed something to both the French and German aspects of that small province, over which both countries claimed sovereignty, and over which they fought.
He was educated at Paris and Berlin, as well as at Strasbourg, showing early promise as an expert in the study of the Bible, as a gifted writer and lecturer, and as a brilliant musician. He published important books on biblical subjects and on the music of Bach, and gave organ recitals which put him in the front rank as a performer.
Yet he also found the time to study medicine and, on qualifying as a doctor in 1913, he gave up his university post in order to go out to a village called Lambarene, in French West Africa, and take up the work of a pioneer medical missionary.
Schweitzer’s work there had hardly started when war broke out between France and Germany. He was regarded as an enemy subject by the French authorities and spent much of the war years in an internment camp.
After his release, he returned for a time to Strasbourg, but in 1924 he was able to go back to the people of Lambarene, who so badly needed his help. The next 40 years of Schweitzer’s life were spent there, and from very simple beginnings he built up a hospital which became world-famous. Africans came to it from distant parts of the tropical forests, because his skill and care for the sick won the confidence of all who heard of him.
From time to time he visited Europe and America, where he lectured and gave organ recitals in order to raise funds for the support of his hospital and the extension of its buildings and equipment. Other doctors and nurses volunteered to work with him, and at last he saw the fulfilment of the dream which had drawn him away from the pleasant life of a European university to the hardships of pioneer Christian service in one of Africa’s most needy corners.
Schweitzer wrote several books on his African hospital, and the sale of these helped him to continue his work. He also continued to write important religious books, and kept up his musical studies. In 1954 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for his services to humanity. When he died in 1965 at the age of 90, he was well described in one newspaper as “The complete man, perhaps more than anyone in this present age.”
Posted in Africa, Historical articles, History, Missionaries, Religion on Tuesday, 11 June 2013
This edited article about missionaries originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 287 published on 15 July 1967.
As a young French cavalry officer, Charles de Foucauld spent most of his spare time in the pursuit of pleasure, by Clive Uptton
While the dashing young army officer was entertaining his friends in the cafes of Algiers, he could never have imagined that he would spend much of his life as a hermit in the desert which stretched away to the south.
But such was the strange transformation in the life of Charles de Foucauld. Born in 1858 at Strasbourg, he was brought up in the aristocratic circles to which his family belonged, and inherited the title of Viscount. Later, as a cavalry officer, he was not content with routine duties, and at the age of 24 resigned from the French army in order to carry out a dangerous expedition into Morocco. At that time this was a closed country to Christians, so the young explorer disguised himself as a Jewish Rabbi. Four years later he published an important book about his discoveries.
Even pioneer exploration did not satisfy the restless spirit of Charles de Foucauld. On his return he began to consider seriously the Christian faith, in which he had been brought up, but to which he had paid little heed. He visited the Holy Land, and in 1890 decided to become a monk in the strict Catholic order of Trappists. He lived at monasteries in France and Syria, working at the most menial tasks. In 1897 he left the Trappist Order and returned to France. There he was ordained as a priest, and went back to Algeria, where 15 years earlier he had spent a dissolute life as a young cavalry lieutenant. Now he lived alone in a native house on the edge of the Sahara, teaching, praying, and learning all he could of the customs of desert tribes.
In 1905 he set out for the heart of the desert, and settled in a little-known oasis village called Tanarrasset. Apart from the French army garrison, he was the only European. It was wild country, set in the grim Hoggar mountains, which rise up thousands of feet from the sands of the central Sahara. There, he was surrounded by the little-known tribes of the Tuaregs, an ancient race, unlike the Arabs among whom he had lived farther north.
Gradually he won their friendship and confidence. He not only learned to speak their language, but learned the strange characters in which they wrote it. In time he was able to produce a grammar and a dictionary of their speech, and to translate into it the first Christian teachings they had ever known.
De Foucauld made no converts to Christianity so far as we know, but he was greatly loved and respected by the Tuaregs, and the fact that they did not rebel against the French colonists at the outset of the first World War was ascribed to his influence. Because of this he was murdered in 1916 by agents of the fanatical Senussi tribe, who were revolting against the Europeans in Tripoli. He was buried in the heart of the Sahara, which he loved, and his memory is maintained by two French Missionary Societies which bear his name and carry on his work among the desert tribes.
Posted in Africa, Discoveries, Exploration, Historical articles, History on Thursday, 6 June 2013
This edited article about Sir Samuel Baker originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 282 published on 10 June 1967.
Samuel Baker discovers Lake Albert with his wife, Florence, at his side by Severino Baraldi
I led the way, grasping a stout bamboo. My wife tottered down the pass, supporting herself on my shoulder and stopping to rest every 20 paces. Weak with years of fever, but for the moment strengthened by success, I rushed into the lake and drank deeply. My wife, who had followed me so devotedly, stood by my side, a wreck on the shores of the great lake that we had so long striven to reach. No European foot had ever trod upon its sand, nor had the eyes of a white man ever scanned its vast expanse of water. We were the first . . .
With these words, Samuel White Baker described his feelings on discovering the great African lake which he named Lake Albert after Queen Victoria’s Consort. To reach it had taken years of dangerous travel in company with his young Hungarian wife, Florence.
Samuel Baker, born on 8th June, 1821, in London, grew up in wealthy surroundings. His particular interests were travelling and big game hunting. In 1861, he married Florence, who was 15 years younger than he was.
While he was in Cairo on his honeymoon it occurred to Baker that at last he had a chance to do some real exploring. He asked Florence if she would like to go with him to find the source of the Nile. Calmly, the fair-haired girl agreed.
They started from Khartoum with three boats and 96 servants and bearers, of which only one was to be with them when the journey was completed five years later.
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Posted in Africa, Bravery, Famous battles, Famous news stories, Heroes and Heroines, Historical articles, History, War on Wednesday, 29 May 2013
This edited article about the Boer War originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 271 published on 25 March 1967.
From 1877 there had been constant friction between the British and the Boers – colonists of Dutch descent – in South Africa. In 1880 the Boers declared South Africa to be a Republic again, and they obtained reluctant recognition in 1884. Then gold was discovered in the Transvaal. The most fantastic gold rush followed, and immigrants poured in, intent on making their fortunes.
The Boers refused to grant the newcomers civic rights and the immigrants became restless and discontented. Finally, in 1895, they rebelled. An official in the British controlled area of South Africa, Dr. Leander Jameson, led an unofficial raid into the Transvaal to support the uprising. But the raiders had only 600 men and the affair ended in a fiasco. The raiders were captured and handed unceremoniously back to the British. Dr. Jameson was imprisoned and the Prime Minister of the Cape, Cecil Rhodes, was forced to resign.
The Boers were afraid of another raid on a bigger scale, and the immigrants, backed by the British government, continued to demand civic rights. In October, 1899, the Boers took the initiative into their own hands and declared war. They attacked all along the frontier dividing their state from the British-held territories. In the beginning, the odds were all in their favour. They were able to place 35,000 men in the field, while the resident British troops had less than half that number.
In one week, they hurled back the defenders and encircled the three key towns of Kimberley, Mafeking and Ladysmith.
The commander of the British garrison in Mafeking was an English officer, Robert Baden-Powell. He had a force of a little over 1,000 troops. Encircling the town was a Boer force of 9,000 men, under the command of General Cronje.
There should have been little doubt about the result of the siege. Certainly, the people in England thought that it was a foregone conclusion. In spite of Queen Victoria’s brave words – “We are not interested in the possibilities of defeat. They do not exist” – a wave of despondency swept across the country.
But gradually the impetus of the Boer attack was checked and held. Mafeking was still surrounded – but Baden-Powell, working miracles of improvisation, continued to keep the attackers at bay.
The days grew into weeks and the obscure township became a symbol of national pride to Britons, who daily followed the sparse news reports of conditions in the area. Kimberley was relieved in February, 1900, but the relief forces for Mafeking were hurled back three times. At last, on 17th May, 1900, a force under General Mahon succeeded in breaking through the encircling army, relieving the town after a siege of nearly eight months. London went wild with rejoicing.
Writing over 50 years afterwards, Winston Churchill recorded with disapproval the ‘unseemly scenes’ which the city witnessed during a night and day of unrestrained celebration. The breaking of the news in London added a new word to the English language – ‘mafficking’, the extravagant rejoicing of a crowd.
Posted in Africa, Bible, Historical articles, History, Religion, Royalty, Saints on Friday, 24 May 2013
This edited article about Ethiopia originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 267 published on 25 February 1967.
Sacred celebrations during Easter in Ethiopia
The oldest surviving Christian kingdom in the world is not, as one might suppose, in Asia or Europe, but in Africa. The ancient Ethiopian Empire has officially been a Christian nation since the middle of the 4th century A.D., and still remains so.
Even today, Ethiopia is an isolated country, with rugged mountain ranges and deep valleys. Until the coming of helicopter transport, many places were cut off from neighbouring towns except by walking or pack-mule. Because of this difficulty of access, the Ethiopian people have been able to resist for centuries the influences and pressures of invading forces. Ideas, like people, have only been admitted if they were really wanted. Christianity became the national religion by the choice of an early Emperor.
The first people to speak of the Christian faith in this remote part of Africa were not missionaries, but prisoners! In those days the fierce Ethiopians sometimes came down to the Red Sea coast in search of slaves, and in one such raid they captured two men, Frumentius and Edesius. This was in about A.D. 340.
These two prisoners were natives of Tyre, on the Syrian coast. Their arrival in Ethiopia caused a sensation, and they were taken before the Emperor himself.
According to a historian of the times, Frumentius and Edesius preached the Christian faith so persuasively to the Emperor that he determined not only to become a Christian himself, but to make this new faith the official religion of his nation.
Both prisoners were released, but Frumentius promised to return after he had visited Egypt and consulted its famous bishop, Athanasius. He went to Egypt and was himself made a bishop by Athanasius, who sent him back to Ethiopia. In this way, a link was forged between the Coptic (Egyptian) and Ethiopian Churches which has survived.
Partly because it was such a remote country there arose many Ethiopian customs which are peculiar to the church of that land. It observes feasts and fasts unlike those of Western churches, and keeps even the best-known ones like Christmas and Easter on different days from those kept by others.
In the former capital of Ethiopia, Axum, and in other towns, there are fine churches, some centuries old. There are also well-preserved copies of the Bible, and other religious books, dating from the thirteenth century. These are written in an ancient language called ‘Ghe’ez’, which today is known only to the priests.
Ethiopian Christians hold the founders of their church in the highest honour, and have given them the titles of Saint Frumentius and Saint Edesius.
Posted in Adventure, Africa, Historical articles, Sea, Ships, Trade, Travel on Friday, 24 May 2013
This edited article about seafaring originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 265 published on 11 February 1967.
Zanzibar from the sea
The origins of Asian seafaring in the Indian Ocean are lost in pre-history. A Greek named Hippalus wandered there round about the dawn of the Christian era and reported the existence of the winds called monsoons.
He noted that in the northern area of the Indian Ocean, ideally placed to assist sailing-ship navigation in the heart of the rich spice trade, the ocean winds blew one way half the year and directly the other way for the other half. There was a NE wind to blow ships to India, and a SW wind to blow them back again.
So he began the myth that Asian sailing was of this primitive fair-wind kind. What he did not report was that the SW season was rough and stormy, quite unfit for primitive vessels, with sewn-together hulls and sails of mats. And he must have been a landlubber, for he failed to notice that the Asian ships of those days could go to windward (i.e., sail against the wind) almost ‘into the wind’s eye’, like modern yachts. These ships sailed both ways with the NE wind – with it behind them down to Africa, with it on the beam to India, close-hauled and punching into it on both ways back to the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, and all South Arabia.
I found that out for myself – some 1,900 years later.
In the meantime, another Greek had wandered into the Indian Ocean and produced a sort of Seaman’s Directory of the tropic zone of that interesting sea. This has come down to us as the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, which is still in print, though the first edition came out in the first century AD.
The anonymous writer of this work deals mainly with information sufficient to identify the trading marts and ports where the Semitic mariners and merchants of ancient times found good profits.
I carried a copy of this work, liberally annotated, when I shipped with the Persian Gulf Arabs from the port of Kuwait at the end of 1938, bound on a trading voyage wherever they went in the Indian Ocean.
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Posted in Africa, Historical articles, History, Invasions, Oddities, Politics on Monday, 20 May 2013
This edited article about Jacques LeBaudy originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 260 published on 7 January 1967.
Berbers on horseback around the time LeBaudy established his empire
From the age of six, Jacques LeBaudy knew exactly what he wanted. He put it into words when his father asked him what he would like for Christmas.
“A throne!” replied the little boy. And to have an empire of his very own was an obsession which remained with him for the rest of his life.
Jacques’s father became a millionaire in the sugar business, and at the age of 24, Jacques inherited his vast fortune. Now that he was one of the richest men in France, he secretly planned to achieve his childhood ambition.
He boarded his yacht Fransquita with 200 men whom he had secretly hired in Paris. Most of them were ex-soldiers, but there was also a sprinkling of men from the underworld. The senior man was an ex-American bank-robber.
As well as being overloaded with passengers, the luxury yacht had a strange cargo; it included 16 cannon, a printing press, a guillotine – and a throne.
The voyage ended at the West African coast. As land came in sight, LeBaudy assembled his men.
“We have come to set up the Saharan Empire of LeBaudy,” he announced.
He went on to explain how he had employed geographical experts to find him a part of the world which did not belong to an existing Power. These experts had discovered that there was a huge ‘no-man’s-land’ in the Sahara, stretching 150 miles from Cape Juby to Cape Bojador. Inland it covered hundreds of square miles, being situated between the frontiers of Morocco and the Spanish colony of Rio de Oro. This vast piece of desert was to be the new ‘Empire’.
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