Thursday 31 October 2013

Duke of Connaught's Tour of Rhodesia - 1910

Duke of Connaught
Earlier the Duke had toured South Africa and thereafter the tour moved on to Rhodesia.

The arrival at Livingstone, a few miles north of the Falls, in time for lunch, was marked by the heartiness of the welcome from the three hundred white inhabitants holding this outpost of civilisation among black and still primitive tribes. In a stirring speech the Duke addressed them as pioneers of Empire, and encouraged them to persevere in their splendid work

In the course of the afternoon his Royal Highness walked and drove all over the town, and expressed surprise and admiration at the three years' growth. The party visited the hospital, where all three talked with the patients, and took a great interest in the excellent equipment The Duke recognised a sergeant of the local police as a man who served with him at Aldershot, and commended him for the brave conduct which caused his injuries. His Royal Highness also had a long chat with an old Dutchman who fought on the Boer side at Majuba. "I have come," said his Royal Highness, "on an errand of peace. We must forget our old quarrels."

Livingstone, November 18. This morning service was held on the verandah of Government House, the new Cathedral not being ready. This afternoon there was a launch trip with a tea-picnic on the river, and a sham hippopotamus fight.

Several canoe-loads of chocolate-coloured hunters, with their heads decorated with gaudy tufts of feathers, and wearing little else, showed intense eagerness in stalking and spearing the straw hippo, and there were barbaric songs of joy, accompanied by tom-toms, as they towed the corpse home. This greatly amused the Royal party.

Livingstone, November 14. Rain at night cooled the air for the parade of the fine body of native military police at nine o'clock this morning. The Duke congratulated the officers on the men's smartness and steadiness, and the evident enjoyment with which they drilled. The exercises proved an instructive contrast. The men had a very soldierly appearance in their neat uniforms, when compared with a number of natives composing the bodyguard of Lewanika, the Barotse chief. It is marvellous how a few months of British training transforms naked savages into excellent soldiers, who are neat in appearance, self-respecting, warmly attached to their officers, and proud of their regiment When the royal salute was given on the Duke's arrival, the National Anthem blared out, and the Royal Standard was broken at the flag-stafi; it was impossible not to feel a deep thrill of patriotic emotion at the great work Britain is doing here.

That it is being done, thanks to the Native Commissioners with the full co-operation of the native rulers, was emphasised this afternoon by the striking interview between the Duke of Connaught and King Lewanika, whose chieftain ship is acknowledged by a hundred and twenty thousand Barotses.

At four o'clock a procession of five hundred warriors escorted the old chief to Government House. The native drums and other instruments made a tremendous din, which increased when the Duke appeared on the verandah. There were yells and roars of welcome, and the whole body dropped on their knees in the road and clapped their hands, the Barotse form of salutation. Lewanika did not make obeisance. He was in a uni-form covered with gold lace, with a large curved sword and gold spurs,both of which he found very embarrassing. He was allowed to approach reverentially, and shake the Duke by the hand, but his son and Prime Minister knelt and clapped his hands, according to custom.

An interchange of complimentary speeches and presents followed, the latter including a blue monkey in a cage.

The chief departed amid clouds of dust and renewed uproar. He has killed many bullocks, and will hold a great feast to celebrate the honour done him.

He told me afterwards that he was deeply touched by the Dukes fatherly kindness, and would keep a vivid recollection of the courtesy of King George when he visited London.

The Royal party are immensely popular with everybody. In spite of the heat they visited the golf and rifle clubs this morning, and late in the afternoon gave a general invitation to the white people to a tea-party and the planting of a commemoration tree in the public gardens.

November 15. Just after dinner this evening (on the journey from Livingstone to Salisbury ind Bulawayo) a glare was seen in the sky, and voices singing in a stentorian volume were heard. In a few minutes the train stopped at Wankie's Colliery, a township in the midst of the limitless veld, with an output of 500 tons of coal per day.

A huge bonfire blazed on the hill close to the line, and the royal salute was fired. The white population (about seventy) crowded round the saloon of the Duke, who immediately appeared, and thanked them for coming. He asked about the health of the place, and chatted of the prospects of the mines and the country generally for ten minutes. Meanwhile five hundred native colliers continued to sing "God Save the King" unceasingly, and when the train pulled out they cheered in genuine British fashion.

The Duke's ready response to, and frank pleasure in such demonstrations of loyalty is doing a great deal to rivet the ties of Imperial sentiment.

By emphasising the common allegiance of all Britons to the throne and flag, he brings home to these pioneers of civilisation the pride and responsibility attaching to British citizenship, and makes better citizens of them. The spirit in which the Duke regarded his mission is illustrated by his re- quest that as many officials as possible should be invited to lunch and dinner at the Government House, Livingstone, instead of merely a few heads of the Administration, as arranged before arrival This course adds considerably to the fatigue of an unusually toilsome tour, but the Duke never permits himself to appear tired, and leaves everywhere the impression that he is keenly interested in everything affecting the country and the Empire, and glad to meet all helping on the development of the Imperial idea.

Salisbury, November 17. Salisbury has spared neither trouble nor money to mark its delight at the first visit of any member of the Royal Family to the capital of Southern Rhodesia. A new Government House has been built for the occasion, the builders working day and might for weeks past, the finishing touches being put on only yesterday, just in time.

In the pleasant gardens surrounding the house a reception was held this afternoon, when the Duke and Duchess filled large numbers of loyal hearts with joy by shaking hands with all the guests.

The other events of the day were of the usual character, and included the presentation of addresses and a Volunteer review; but all went off with remarkable spirit

Salisbury is going ahead at a great pace, and is anxious to profit by the opportunity of showing what an energetic and advanced community it is. The local paper, in an article of welcome, says:" We believe Rhodesia is destined to become one of the most important parts of King George's dominions."

This is the general feeling of Rhodesians. Their optimism is like that of the Canadians, and doubtless equally well grounded. It is only twenty years since Rhodes's pioneer column camped here. There was nothing then but bush. The progress in the short time that has elapsed is marvellous. Mining experts report most favourably on the gold deposits, agriculture is steadily advancing, and Salisbury itself is a triumph of the British genius for colonisation. Heading citizens assure me that the Royal visit will have an excellent effect.

Salisbury, November 19. To-day's doings began early with a meet of the Salisbury hounds at five o'clock. There was a good field sharp to time in the exquisite freshness of a Rhodesia morning. The hounds, of genuine English breed, were in the pink of condition. Several of the Duke's suite were out but the Royalties, in view of the heavy day, were obliged
to forego the sport.

The most interesting event of the morning was a visit to the Government tobacco factory. This bids fair to be a great Rhodesian industry. The present year's crop is calculated at half a million pounds. The industry has now passed the expoimental stage, and is certain to increase rapidly.

The Duke saw how the leaves were unpacked, steamed, graded, tied up into bundles, and pressed into bales, and asked a number of questions about the methods of cultivation and treatment, also about the possibilities of the market in England. He expressed great pleasure at the favourable reception of Rhodesian pipe and cigarette tobaccos in the Mother Country, and at the prospect of a large consumption in a few years' time.

In the afternoon the Royal party drove out in motors to see the fine view over the rolling park like landscape stretching away to the mountain ranges, and later the party spent an hour at a gymkhana on the polo ground. Although the Duchess and Princess were tired they would not disappoint the people, and their thoughtfulness was recognised and appreciated.

They had a great ovation when they drove away. After dinner they motored the mile and a half from Government House to the Town Hall between living lamp-posts: natives carrying torches lined each side of the road. The effect of the flickering light on the statuesque figures and black faces of the torch bearers was very striking. Afterwards all joined and marched past, the procession dancing and waving torches and chanting weird war songs.

Bulawayo, November 21. A picturesque feature of the Duke of Connaught's arrival here this morning was a large array of natives lining the road from the station. As the party passed they raised loud cries of wild welcome and threw themselves in the dust, writhing and beating their hands together — At their own particular method of salutation to the "great white chief."

Later there was a procession of Matabele warriors, whose heads were decorated with huge pink ostrich feathers. They were naked except for their leopard skins. All shufiled along with rhythmic jumps and contortions, shaking their assegais and chanting a deep-throated, monotonous song.

The first thing which the Duke saw when he arrived at the charming Government House, which is reached by a three-mile drive, most of the way along a beautiful avenue of fir-trees, was the tree under which Lobengula, the Matabele chief, sat when he pronounced his bloodthirsty decrees. It is almost incredible that so much has been done towards civilisation in twenty years.

Bulawayo, November 21. The weather, which has so far been unusually fine for this time of the year, has broken, but fortunately held up until after the visit to that marvellously beautiful spot in the Matopo Hills where Rhodes was laid to

Brilliant sunshine prevailed in the early morning, when the Royal party inspected several of the schools. They were greatly struck by the large airy buildings and the strong, healthy appearance of the children, the best testimony to the climate. The Chartered Company have made large school grants, and are determined that the education here will be the best obtainable. The carpenter's shop was specially commended by the Duke, who was also keenly interested in the chemical laboratory. When the time came to leave the Boys' School the Duke had to be hunted for, and was found watching an experiment being made by two small boys.

A little before noon seven motors set off under a cool, grey sky for the Matopos, twenty-five miles distant The road passes the dam or reservoir made to irrigate the Rhodes Farms. Nothing but water is needed to raise splendid crops here. It was most instructive and encouraging to come across acres and acres of rich cultivated soil amidst the bush.

After lunch at the hotel close to the dam, we drove on through the fine park, dedicated by Rhodes to the use of the people, until we reached the foot of the great granite kopje, named World's View. Here rickshaws awaited the ladies, but the Duke, with the other men climbed the steep, rocky path to the tomb. At the sight of the slab covering the grave, guarded by a ring of immense boulders, the Duke took off his hat, and the example was followed by all. The Duke stood for some minutes in silent meditation, and then turned away to enjoy the magnificent prospect. The whole party was deeply affected by the weird beauty and the solemn associations of the spot.

The Royal Party of the Connaughts arriving at the triumphal arch in Broadway, November 17th 1910.
 Photo. National Archives of Rhodesia
 Broadway was later renamed to Kingsway.

    Duke and Duchess of Connaught arriving at the Drill Hall Salisbury
Duchess of Connaught, Arthur, Duke of Connaught, and Princess Patricia.
 Photo - National Archives of Rhodesia
The Duke as a Freemason
Additional photographs of the tour have been made available by Rob Burrett. Thanks Rob

Planting a tree at Livingstone
Lady Wallace is seen with the late Duchess of Connaught and Sir Lawrence Aubrey Wallace, who has resigned the Administratorship, is in the light suit

Barotse Indunas approach Duke of Connaught, Livingstone
Duke of Connaught being shown traditional crafts, Barotse Centre, Livingston
Shaking hands with the late King Lewanika
Tour then returned to South Africa

Extracted and recompiled by Eddy Norris from the digitised book South Africa To-Day with an Account of Modern Rhodesia By H. Hamilton Fyfe London - Eveleigh Nash 1911

ORAFs records its thanks to the History Channel, the author, photographer/s and publishers.

Bob Manser (RhAF) and Nick Baalbergen (INTAF)  made several photographs available and I have added them to the article as the original had none. Thanks Bob and Nick for their support.



Caption To Photograph
Surrounded by early Rhodesian Freemasons in their regalia, the Duke of Connaught, the Most Worshipful Grand Master of the Order of Freemasons in England, laid the foundation stone of the new English Church of St, John the Baptist, Bulawayo, in November, 1910. Plans for the building were drawn up by Mr. F. Masey and when completed, but without the tower and furniture, the cost was $7 500. The old church stood on St. Gabriel's site and is known today as St. Gabriel's Chapel. This picture is one of a collection from a photograph album found in Norfolk, England, last year (1976 newspaper cutting).

Rob Burrett Writes-

 The way it is worded is unclear it seems to suggest to readers that this is built on the site of Saint Gabriel's. That chapel is in fact still there and several blocks away. This Church of St John, later upgraded to cathedral, is several blocks away and the Freemasons, lead by the Duke, had a ceremonial walk from one consecrated site to another before laying the stone.

 Saint Gabriel's Chapel is not well known and the original core section is hidden behind other buildings. The Chapel as it is now is used infrequently. It is a small and peaceful spot, musty with damp and with many dedications to the early Sisters who ran Saint Gabriel's Home. AMDG.


Thanks to Bob and Liz Manser for sharing their memories and special thanks to Rob Burrett for the additional information

Suggested Viewing
"HRH The Duke of Connaught leaving Portsmouth on SS Balmoral Castle For His South Africa Tour Oct 11th 1910".
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