The New York Times, May 3, 1896, p.25:|
GLIMPSES OF BULAWAYO.AN AMERICAN'S EXPERIENCE OF LIFE IN MATABELELAND.
Pleasures and Perils of Six Days' Trip
from the Railroad Terminus--Houses Only One Story High
Because Wood is Had Only from England or America--Very Many
Improvements, Even to Electric Light--Beautiful Farms Abound.
BULAWAYO, March 5 -- Bulawayo, in Matabeleland, two and a half years ago had no existence. It is in King Lobengula's old territory, and is now under the control of the Chartered Company. It is 600 miles from the railroad terminus, Mafeking. About five months ago a party of six men made the journey in six days from Mafeking to Bulawayo, the usual time allotted, traveling night and day, allowing only three hours rest in every twenty-four hours. The stage coach used was of American make, the Concord, drawn by ten mules, met by a relay of ten mules every twelve miles.
The journey for half the way was through beautiful forests and valleys, natural parks, where wild flowers grew and bloomed in abundance. Many were at once recognized as being akin to those at home, but hundreds of others were new to the observer and nameless.
The roads for the last part of the journey were very bad, swampy and heavy, and twice the stage upset. When they reached one of the many kraals, or settlements--a krall numbering anywhere from 5,000 to 18,000 natives, ruled over by an Induna, or chief--the driver wanted the party to get out, he to push on with the mail and send back for them, but a Yankee in the party objected (he was afterward dubbed "The General," because of the way he rose to the situation,) and succeeded in tying up the harness securely, and, by piling the greater part of the mail inside the coach, lightened the load on top, thus making the coach less top-heavy. He then climbed up, and perching himself on top of the mail bags, invited the others to do the same, which they gladly did, and so the party entered Bulawayo.
A room at the Charter Hotel, with the best of everything, cost at the end of one month the surprising sum of £53 10s. Other quarters were at once sought, a room in Wanderer's Chambers, with table d'hôe meals at the same hotel, brought expenses down to £13 per month--about $65. This is the cheapest good board to be had in the town.
Every unusual sight arrests the traveler's attention, and every custom that we are used to at home seems surprising in this far-away land. At 6:30 o'clock every morning a Kafir boy about ten years old, clad in a small leathern apron, knocks at the door and brings you in a cup of coffee, a necessary precaution in this country, for foreigners, against malaria. A great deal of quinine and whiskey is taken for the same purpose.
Following the first little Kafir boy is a second one, who looks as though he might be a twin brother, who takes away your shoes and returns them to you blackened. The chambers have every modern convenience, and a man can make his toilet as thoroughly and as carefully as at home.
The town boasts many buildings. Besides the Charter Hotel and Wanderer's Chambers, there are a Stock Exchange, having seventy-five members; the Wilson Memorial Hospital, having a physician and six trained nurses, all Englishwomen; a Catholic and a Methodist Church, the Standard Bank, Mining Commissioner's offices, the Maxim Hotel, Market House, Lloyds Chambers, Glass's Chambers, and a newspaper building, in which The Bulawayo Chronicle is published twice a week, consisting of six large sheets. Very often only one side of the last page is printed, but it is there, ready for use.
The town also has a tennis club, a golf club, a jockey club, and a vocal club, a quartet, and a leader who is a fine musician, and last, but not least, a bicycle club, consisting of thirteen members, all owning their own bicycles...
All the houses in the town are one story high; this is because of the scarcity of properly seasoned native timber. All the wood so far used has been brought from England and America. A company is now being formed to develop the timber resources of the country. The trees are abundant but dwarfish in size, and the wood is very hard--harder than mahogany; more like teakwood. There is plenty of it, and also of stone, which eventually will be used with wood for all building purposes.
Ancient ruins near the town show indications of a wonderful knowledge of masonry. Some of these walls are like mosaics, one stone so carefully and neatly fitted into another, and regularly constructed tunnels or passageways through them.
There is now en route an electric plant destined to light the town and mines and for street-car service, and to supply power to be used in every way in which electricity can be used. It has also an ice plant--ice sells here for 6 cents per pound--about to be started as soon as all the machinery arrives, and a cold-storage company, two soda water fountains, and all that goes toward making ice cream.
The water used is all well water, but foreigners cannot drink it; it produces malaria, and that means fever, and fever means death. Heretofore mineral waters have been used entirely for drinking purposes, imported and sold for an enormous price, but now this new company will manufacture all that the demand calls for.
All the machinery for these various enterprises, as well as the skilled labor to operate them, was ordered from America by one high in authority there, who never forgot, although in that far-away land, to be loyal to his country and his friends. After leaving the railroad at Mafeking, (pronounced Mar-fe-king,) all machinery and supplies are hauled by ox wagons the distance of 600 miles, at a cost of $100 per ton, and it takes from four to six weeks to make the journey. All the wood and cases used in packing anything that has gone from America to Bulawayo has, by request, been put together carefully with rivets and screws, so that the wood could be used again for building purposes.
There are beautiful farms all about. Irrigation has to be resorted to, but with that an abundance of fruit and vegetables could be raised. The land is very fertile, but farming is slow work, and every man who has come here expects to get rich in a hurry. That is what they have all come for, and rather than cultivate the soil, every article of canned goods known to the trade is imported. One grazing farm visited, after a delightful ride of twelve miles on horseback, consists of 32,000 acres; it is owned and managed by a wealthy Englishman.
The climate is delightful to a New-Yorker, for while the days are very hot, there is no humidity, and the nights are always cool enough for a blanket. The so-called "rainy season" so far has been just exactly like our April weather.
Looking out of the window in the early morning, the sojourner is initiated into the milk delivery service of the town--a Kafir boy, about twelve years old, is leading a donkey. Over the donkey is thrown a canvas arrangement made to hold eight bottles of milk on each side, and, very often, a little donkey trots along beside the mother donkey.
The white men in the town go around in their shirtsleeves all day long, and try to look wild and reckless.
The natives only experience with water for bathing purposes is when they swim a river to get out of the way of crocodiles. The Limpopo looks like a sweet and peaceful little stream, while, in point of fact, in crossing it every man in the boat divests himself of nearly every article of clothing before he embarks, that he may be in readiness to swim if attacked by these animals.
A Kafir gentleman considers himself in full dress when he has on a white man's shirt and a pair of suspenders dangling over that, and a silk hat, and nothing will induce him to cover his legs! In this, perhaps, we may see a sign of the savage and nomadic nature, since to cover the legs would really seem to be an impediment to running or hunting. They are all natural sportsmen, and admire, above every other accomplishment possessed by the white man, that of shooting...
Gold mining is destined to make or break the future of this country. Gold is found very near the surface, and in large quantities. One mine visited shows 3,000 tons to the surface, and assays made at every three yards while working the reefs show 25 pennyweights to the ton, or $25 to the ton. Many more as promising have been opened up.
Labor is very cheap. A Kafir will work for a few cents a day, but skilled labor, where required, commands almost its own figure. A head miner gets $5,000 a year, and a manager gets $25,000. The cost of bringing machinery for the operation of mining is enormous. But where there is an abundance of gold man will sumount all obstacles.
It costs $2,000 to build a cottage here that would cost $600 in America. There are now in point of construction about twenty, to be used by men employed at the electric works already mentioned. There are some beautifully furnished homes just out of town, for the Englishman believes in spending his money to procure for himself all the comforts of life, and he considers a large amount spent here on a house better spent than the same amount spent in the same way at home, because it procures for him here more comfort and ease and beauty, where all around him are the evidences of a new country and a savage people.
The English companies employing men for responsible positions pay them very large salaries, but they require them, in return, to spend freely. The savage mind, like that of his civilized brother, is duly impressed with the show of wealth, and a mining engineer must keep his retinue of servants and have his valet, although he may be eight months of the twelve at the mines, where, of course, the services of a valet are superfluous...
All the merchants of this country are Jews--naturally. Drinking and card playing, and music, and an occasional dance, are the only dissipations of the evenings and nights. Only one European mail a week is received, and only two a week go out, and it is a sight pathetic in its suggestiveness to watch the faces of these young men, some hardly out of their teens, when a mail comes in and is distributed. The letter is six weeks old, if it has come from New-York, and a great deal can have happened since it was written. But a cable message would have overtaken the letter, so the reader reasons, and he seizes eagerly his share, and goes a little apart from his fellows to read what those he loves at home have written to him. For there are none who come here who have not, in coming, "broken home ties."
The withdrawal at one time of all those in authority, Cecil Rhodes, Dr. Jameson, Sir John Willoughby, John Hays Hammond, and others, has been unfortunate and injudicious...
The Federal Reserve Bank's estimated consumer price index shows that $1 in 1896 was equivalent to $24.71 in 2008. And, according to the UK retail price index, £1 in 1896 was equivalent to about £79.55 in 2006.
The New York Times, July 18, 1920 p.109:|
LIFE IN RHODESIAGreat Future Predicted When it Has Proper Transportation.
Suggestions by archaeologists that Rhodesia may be the land of Ophir, mentioned in the Bible as a source of Solomon's riches, lends added interest to a region already attracting attention for its present-day resources, according to a recent communication from R. D. Parsons to the National Geographic Society, describing some phases of Rhodesian life, as follows:
see also: Zambia News - Mozambique - Namibia - South Africa|
All of Zimbabwe
is one time zone at GMT+2,
with no Daylight Savings time.
Republic of Zimbabwe: The UK annexed Southern Rhodesia from the South Africa Company in 1923. A 1961 constitution was formulated that favored whites in power. In 1965 the government unilaterally declared its independence, but the UK did not recognize the act and demanded more complete voting rights for the black African majority in the country (then called Rhodesia). UN sanctions and a guerrilla uprising finally led to free elections in 1979 and independence (as Zimbabwe) in 1980.
Robert MUGABE, the nation's first prime minister, has been the country's only ruler (as president since 1987) and has dominated the country's political system since independence. His chaotic land redistribution campaign begun in 2000 caused an exodus of white farmers, crippled the economy, and ushered in widespread shortages of basic commodities.
Ignoring international condemnation, MUGABE rigged the 2002 presidential election to ensure his reelection. The ruling ZANU-PF party used fraud and intimidation to win a two-thirds majority in the March 2005 parliamentary election, allowing it to amend the constitution at will and recreate the Senate, which had been abolished in the late 1980s. In April 2005, Harare embarked on Operation Restore Order, ostensibly an urban rationalization program, which resulted in the destruction of the homes or businesses of 700,000 mostly poor supporters of the opposition, according to UN estimates. President Mugabe in June 2007 instituted price controls on all basic commodities causing panic buying and leaving store shelves empty for months.
In October 2007, Constitutional Amendment 18 came into effect allowing for harmonized presidential and parliamentary elections, shortening the length of the presidential term to five years, and moving up the date for parliamentary elections. General elections are expected in March 2008.
CIA World Factbook: Zimbabwe
Area of Zimbabwe:
390,580 sq km
slightly larger than Montana
Population of Zimbabwe:
July 2007 estimate
Languages of Zimbabwe:
English official, Shona, Sindebele
numerous but minor tribal dialects
(name changed from Salisbury in 1982)
Google sat photo of Harare
Zimbabwe Reference Articles and Links
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