Catalogue - Reprints (Africana General)

The Passing of the Black Kings
by Hugh Marshall Hole

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Books of Zimbabwe,
321 pp.; 9 illustrations; 2 maps; new Foreword by R. S. Robens.
ISBN (Std) 086920 167 0 (Dlx) 086920 168 9


ORIGINALLY published in 1932 this work, now reprinted in facsimile, studies the impact of white civilisation upon the African tribes of south central Africa over the previous century. In particular it examines Bechuanaland (Botswana), Rhodesia and Barotseland (now part of Zambia), and more specifically the characters of their respective reigning chiefs: Khama, Mzilikazi and Lobengula, and Lewanika.

The author, Hugh Marshall Hole, for many years (1891-1928) a highly placed official in the British South Africa Company administration in Rhodesia, supplements his personal knowledge and experience with evidence gleaned from the extensive writings of the numerous early missionaries, hunters and travellers. Although he has come to be regarded as a propagandist for the Company, his book is refreshingly free from hypocrisy and cant and he makes no pretence of the fact that the Black Kings had lost their freedom and power, often in ways that did not bear close scrutiny. He believed too that the Administration was bound, in common honesty, to regard the welfare of the African people as a trust.

In his concluding chapter he discusses 'the fundamental differences between the temperaments of two great divisions of the human race' and emphasises that they are of 'paramount gravity, for upon the mutual relations between whites and blacks depends the whole political and commercial future of a large part of the African continent'. Although Hole did not live long enough to see the wheel of his story complete its full circle, his observation on the future is as valid now as it was in his time.

A contemporary Foreword contributed by Professor R. S. Roberts of the University of Rhodesia adds a new dimension to the reprint.


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