Catalogue - Reprints (Africana General)

Rhodesia of Today
by E.F. Knight

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Books of Zimbabwe,
151 pp.; 24 illustrations; 1 map; new Foreword by M. C. Steele.
ISBN (Std)0 86920 123 9 (Dlx) 08692O 124 7

E F. KNIGHT, a noted Victorian military correspondent, was sent by The Times of London to cover the campaign which Cecil Rhodes's settlers were mounting against the Ndebele nation in south-western Rhodesia. In the event, the conquest of Matabeleland was swift and conclusive, and Bulawayo fell several weeks before his arrival in the January of 1894.

Knight remained in Rhodesia for the next seven months, touring the young country and reporting on its development and likely prospects. His articles were later edited and published in book form under the title of Rhodesia of Today.

The object of this slender volume about Rhodes's most ambitious colonial venture is clearly stated in the author's Preface. "On my return to the Cape Colony and England" Knight writes, "I met numbers of people who were anxious to learn from me all they could concerning the region I had left; among these were miners from California and Australia, traders, farmers, artisans, men of all degrees and conditions, who were being attracted to South Africa by the Matabeleland boom I (had) entered the country by way of Tati and Bulawayo, and, after having wandered some twelve hundred miles throughout its length and breadth, went out by Manica and Beira. I was thus enabled to gain a fair knowledge of this the first occupied and first to be developed portion of the vast territories which are within the sphere of the British South Africa Company's operations."

Knight's observations - on the Company's administration; on African labour and European immigration; on mining and land - tend to be somewhat superficial and partisan. Nevertheless, his account of the embryo colony provides a fascinating insight into the hopes and aspirations which inspired - and the delusions which beset - the first white Rhodesians. Dr Murray Steele, in his lucid Foreword to the reprint edition, places Knight's comments into perspective.

New material added to the original book includes several pages of excellent illustrations.

EDWARD FREDERICK KNIGHT, an Englishman, was born in 1852, took a degree at Cambridge, and thereafter pursued a distinguished career in journalism, principally as correspondent in various parts of the world for the Morning Post and The Times. He was also the author of some 20 books, most of them based on his despatches.

Described variously as 'a solid, well-balanced man' and 'adventurous in an unassuming way', he was the quintessence of Victorian intrepid- ness. During the 1870 Franco-Prussian war, he attached himself to a front-line French military unit; 1878 saw him plodding on foot around Aibania and Montenegro (20 years later he was back in the Balkans, for the war between Greece and Turkey). Representing the Morning Post, he toured the world in company with the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, and in the spring of 1891 left for the desolate and rebel-infested mountains of Kashmir, on this occasion as correspondent for The Times. He covered Kitchener's Soudan Expedition, the spanish-American war in Cuba, the French expedition against Madagascar, the Anglo-Boer war and the Russo-Japanese conflict of 1904. He was severely wounded in South Africa - in an engagement during which he misinterpreted what he took to be a Boer surrender signal - and subsequently had his right arm amputated. In 1894 he had visited the new territory of Rhodesia and his assessment of the country, presented in a series of articles written for The Times, later appeared in book form under the title of Rhodesia of Today.

After a lengthy retirement, Knight died in 1925.

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