The British Empire Library

Chintali: Life and Times of Sir Thomas Page CBE, KB

by Lorna E. Webb

Courtesy of OSPA

Review by Roland Hill (Northern Rhodesia & Zambia 1949-1975, Fort Jameson District 1952-1955)
It is always a pleasure when one hears of preserved correspondence written by pioneers in Central Africa from the years proceeding the 1st World War. Loma Webb has chronicled her father's life simply and in sufficient detail, incorporating at the same time her own recollections. His life was a very hard one and he was lucky not to have died of malaria as did many of his contemporaries in Nyasaland in the late 90s of the last century.

His working life in Africa stretched from 1899 with bugle calls to summon the workers for church assembly at the Mission Station at Cholo in Southern Nyasaland, to his calling the House to order as Speaker in the Northern Rhodesia Legislative Council nearly fifty years later; and the between times when he had been a pioneer farmer and transporter, then a politician and a civil servant.

A delightful map (even though a little faded from the printing) illustrates the vast distances covered, from Chindi (near the mouth of the Zambezi), Salisbury and Broken Hill to reach Cholo and Fort Jameson on the NE Rhodesia/Nyasaland border. This he accomplished by water, foot and bicycle with rather more of the 'footing'. This is well recorded, as for instance when he walked from Fort Jameson to Salisbury in Southern Rhodesia to marry his bride who had recently arrived out from the UK and then to walk her back again to Fort Jameson. Half of the book deals with life on the farms he worked and how the Pages adapted to the whims of market forces, how they travelled and how they coped with the 1st World War and inter war years. The book concludes with details of his political life as representative in the Legislative Council for the North Eastern Constituency, his civil service role during the 2nd World War and finally for the eight years he served as Speaker.

The author has taken great trouble to give a brief historical background to both Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland as well as to the political development of Northern Rhodesia (with a few minor errors of no real consequence) which the reader will find most helpful.

Little has been recorded before which explains so well how pioneers in the Fort Jameson district coped with their daily lives and it is for this reason that this book makes such a good read. Sir Roy Welensky wrote of Tom Page in the foreword to the book, some twenty years ago "that he must have been a man of iron determination and incredible courage!"

Loma Webb deserves a big thank you.

British Empire Book
Lorna E. Webb
Newton Publishers


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