Tales of Colonial Life in Northern Rhodesia
|Richard (Tim) Dening
lived and worked in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) as part of the Colonial Administration
from 1947 until independence in 1964. He was a District Commissioner in Mwinilunga,
Mumbwa and Samfya Districts, later joining Central
Government in Lusaka.
He was in charge of Districts which
could be about the size of Wales (which has an area of approximately 20,000 square
kilometres and is roughly equivalent to the size of the U.S. state of Massachusetts). The
Districts contained small widely distributed populations and Tim would cover hundreds of
miles visiting each village about twice a year (initially by bicycle!). He would hear
appeals from the local courts, sort out complaints and land disputes, ensure the payment
of tax to the local chiefly authorities, as well as a host of other tasks including
maintaining bridges and roads.
Tim was ably assisted by his wife Elisabeth (Betty) who remembers
life in the bush with something less than affection. However, their life in these isolated
outposts threw up many fascinating tales to recount, some of which are included below.
They are either written by Tim himself or reconstructed from stories told by Tim and
Betty. There are also some excerpts from a local newsletter and a series of images of
colonial life in the 1950s.
|Tim kept an extraordinary assortment of papers
from his days as a District Commissioner in Northern Rhodesia. These ranged from District
tour reports, to prison records and all the minutiae of day to day administration.
These papers have been donated to the Bodleian Library of
Commonwealth and African Studies at Rhodes House, in Oxford, England. Anybody wishing to
consult the papers should contact the library first for advice:
and African Studies at
Rhodes House, in Oxford, England. Anybody wishing to consult the papers d contact the
library for advice
If you have enjoyed reading
about Tim and Betty Dening's life in Northern Rhodesia, you may also enjoy visiting the
fascinating memorial website of one of his colleagues in Northern Rhodesia, Gervas Clay.
Gervas lived to the ripe old age
of 102. His website includes a wealth of personal papers relating to colonial life (with
more being added by the day!).
Website: Copyright © B.Corker
2008 Images: Copyright © EGL Dening 2008