The British Empire Library

The Early Postcards Of Zanzibar

by P C Evans

Courtesy of OSPA

Patricia Maddocks (Nigeria 1947-59, Zanzibar 1960-63)
I really feel that I have arrived - or is it that I have been hoist by my own petard? David Le Breton asked me to write a review of this book of postcards of Zanzibar, because I am now an author myself (would you believe?) and because in my autobiography I said that my four years in Zanzibar had been the most interesting of my life.

This magnificent great red softback book of Zanzibar scenes is a sequel to one about Uganda, also by P C Evans and contributed to by The East Africa Study Circle, and I understand that Mr Evans hopes to produce one on Kenya quite soon. This one is a remarkable collection of postcards from as early as 1897, showing familiar street and waterside scenes and activities which had hardly changed by the time of the Revolution in 1964 certainly.

Not being a dentologist (postcard collector), I found it impossible to discover the system by which the book is compiled and indexed and had I not been reviewing it I should not have bothered to try. Having abandoned the problem of identifying the pictures, and stopped wondering why so many blank reverses of the cards have been reproduced, I was able simply to enjoy this collection in my own way; recognising some of the places, noting interesting items no longer in existence such as The Electric Tower, The Bububu Railway in action, and the various ways of drawing water which used to be operated. One card addressed to Miss Steere was perhaps to the sister of Bishop Steere who built the Anglican Cathedral. Little mysteries like the card labelled "Seven Arabs", depicting possibly 4 Arabs and an African, had me twisting and turning the page to see where the other two could possibly be hidden. And what was a vast boat tank FOR?

Altogether this is a beautiful collection of pictures, providing a historical record of value, and giving promise that one day those listed will also be gathered between scarlet covers to evoke memories of a well-loved country.

British Empire Book
P C Evans
East Africa Study Circle
0 9515865 5 6


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