Tuesday 11 December 2012

The Story of Rhodesia Calls

SIXTEEN years ago, in the heady days of Federation, the Rhodesia and Nyasaland Tourist Board  (then under the chairmanship of Sir Athol Evans) formed a business alliance with Mr. Gerrard  Aberman, editor and publisher of Holiday and Travel (a thriving magazine dealing with travel all  over the world) whereby the magazine was renamed AFRICA CALLS from Rhodesia and  Nyasaland.

 It became the Tourist Board's official magazine, devoting itself mainly to the Rhodesias and  Nyasaland, with occasional articles on neighbouring African countries, even as far north as East Africa and Angola, all in the spirit of AFTOUR. (AFTOUR — the African Regional Tourist Conference — planned collective tourist action to sell Africa as a whole. Much of the initiative came from Rhodesia. Sir Athol Evans and Lt.-Col. John Lombard were the chairman and secretary respectively of the organisation.)

 In the years that followed, with Mr. Aberman as editor and publisher, and an editorial advisory committee from the Board, the magazine never ceased to be published every second month, despite the initial economic setbacks following the break-up of Federation and, a few years later, the imposition of sanctions, the latter severely curtailing revenue because of the  withdrawal of airline, shipping and oil company advertising.

 After the break-up of the Federation in 1963, the magazine was renamed AFRICA CALLS from Rhodesia, and in 1965 it was again renamed, this time plain Rhodesia Calls. It is under this  title that this No. 100 is still published and has become known throughout the world. It is today  one of the few national tourist magazines in the world produced by private enterprise.

 Under the original arrangements between the publisher and the Tourist Board, the full-colour features in the centre of the magazine are regularly reprinted as official Tourist Board  brochures and these have become, with Rhodesia Calls itself, the country's spearhead of printed tourist publicity all over the world.

 It is estimated that nearly 10 million such brochures have been derived from the pages of Rhodesia Calls, designed, written and processed, with one or two exceptions, by the magazine's own staff. These brochures have become standard promotional material and are frequently  repeated.

 Originally, the magazine was intended primarily for free distribution to  the Tourist

 Editor and Publisher

 Assistant Editor

Chief Photographer

Board. Its appeal, however, over the years has been such that for some time now more than half  of an increased circulation is sold, either through newsagents, or by annual subscription. Some are subscriptions direct from all parts of the world; others, are gift subscriptions sent by Rhodesians abroad. At the last count, Rhodesia Calls is read in 52 countries, in every continent.

The "Letters of Appreciation" that were first printed in issue No. 2 have continued to be a  feature of the magazine to this very day — a feature that has few parallels in magazine publishing.

Some of the memorable publishing milestones in the early years of the magazine have been:

Jan./ Feb. and March / April, 1966: A unique series of 60 full-colour pictures of the principal  species of wild animals to be found in Rhodesia, with descriptive notes, including weights and  heights. The series was the first of its kind ever published. Reprinted as a 12-page booklet.

Nov. / Dec.1966: A definitive, fully illustrated "Story of Rhodesia's Coins since 1891", by A. W.  Stander on the occasion of the first-ever issue of gold proof coins by Rhodesia.

July / Aug. and Nov. I Dec., 1967: Another unique series in full-colour, this time of 90 of the  principal birds of Rhodesia, with notes giving details of feeding-habits, distribution and   characteristics. Reprinted as a 16-page booklet.

March / Aprils 1968, and four later issues: A series of authoritative articles representing a valuable and absorbing bibliography entitled "Rhodesia in Books of the Past", by R. w". S.  Turner.

July /Aug., 1968: Whole issue of a bumper number of 100 pages devoted to Bulawayo's 75th  Anniversary. The stirring early days of Bulawayo, its subsequent history and development, its  growth into a great industrial centre and one of the country's main tourist stopovers — there  was much to tell.

July / Aug., 1970: Another bumper-number of 88 pages commemorating the 80th anniversary of the founding of Salisbury, including the most outstanding portfolio of colour pictures ever  published anywhere of Salisbury, specially taken for Rhodesia Calls.

Jan. / Feb. 1971: A portfolio of four reproductions of Thomas Baincs's paintings of the Victoria  Falls.

Sept./ Oct., 1971: A cover picture taken in Salisbury by Roy Creeth of the famous Rhodesian ballerina Merle Park, dancing in Swan Lake with Gary Burne, another Rhodesian. Miss Park considered it the best ever taken of her.

Acting Director or Tourism
Director of Tourism
Director of Tourism

The first tourist graph published by AFRICA CALLS from
Rhodesia & Nyasaland, showing the growing number
of visitors to the Federation.


Extracted and recompiled by Eddy Norris Rhodesia Calls November - December 1976 publication. Material made available by Dave Vermaak of Air Rhodesia

Thanks to Dave for sharing his memories with ORAFs.

Comments are always welcome, please mail them to Eddy Norris at orafs11@gmail.com  and they will be loaded to this article.

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