Some time ago several senior members of the Administration of Northern
Rhodesia, including the late Sir Glyn Jones, decided that something should be written
to eounter the denigration of the Colonial Serviee by the media in general and the BBC
in particular, though it must be said that it is now possible to detect slightly more
favourable comment than there used to be.
The result was the Northern Rhodesia Record, which traces the sixty odd years of
development of that colony from nothing to the viable and prosperous state that
became Zambia in 1964.
To ensure that the book gives a comprehensive cover of the work of government,
offieers from several major departments have contributed ehapters in addition to the
major contribution from members of the Provincial Administration, which did after
all constitute the framework on which the civil service of the territory was built. The
departments covered are Education, Agriculture, Forestry, Medical and Game &
The Reeord starts with an aecount of the territory as the first administrators found
it, little changed from the days of Livingstone. At the turn of the century the slave trade
was still active, the last trader being recorded as shot in 1907, the population sickly and
sparse and up-to-date forms of communieation non-existent. The representatives of
government, then the British South Africa Company, were few but by 1924 after only a
quarter of a century they could hand over to the Colonial Office the elementary basis
on which future administrators could build a modern state. At that time in a country of
nearly 300,000 square miles the population, though increased, was still less than a
The Record goes on to tell of the life and work of government in rural areas, the
picture being one of concern by tbe administrators for the people under their control.
The doctrine of indirect rule is well presented to show that as far as possible the
administration in the rural areas worked through the traditional African hierarchy,
something particularly apparent when it came to dealing with Barotseland which was
virtually a state within a state.
At the end of the book there is a well-researched history of the Northern Rhodesia
Police by Col. T. M. Wright, himself an ex-police officer. In some ways the book,
being a collection of contributions, lacks cohesion and suffers a little from unnecessary
repetition. That apart, it gives a fair and interesting picture of the work of the Colonial
Service in Northern Rhodesia and presents the case that the objective of the Service
was the welfare of the territory in order to bring it up to the point where it could be
taken over by the descendants of the tribes living there before the European arrived on
the scene. H owever, it cannot be emphasised too strongly that without the colonial era
there would have been precious few descendants and certainly no viable state to
become the Republic of Zambia and this too can be gleaned from the record.
The final chapter ‘Conclusions’ sets out in a masterly fashion all that the Record is
trying to convey and leaves one with much on which to ponder.