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
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
Loma Webb deserves a big thank you.