Saturday, 24 January 2015

KITTY AND THE PRINCE by Ben Shephard

This is the story of one of Lobengula’s sons, who ended up married to a white woman and working in factory in Manchester. It’s an interesting story. In the 1890s, an impresario hired Prince Lobengula to be in a show he was taking to London called Savage South Africa, which included live presentation of major events from the Anglo Boer war (including trains and real horses) and a deeply problematic presentation of the South Africans themselves ‘exhibited’ in their kraal.

The show was hugely successful and a young woman named Kitty fell in love with the young Lobengula. They were married in the face of much opposition, and much wonder that she could love a dusky savage, etc. Check out his picture above, and you certainly won't wonder. This man is gorgeous. Run through in your mind the other Victorian men you know - all beards and glaring - and you will not be surprised: Shaw, Dickens, Darwin . . . especially Darwin. Horrifying evidence below.

On a side point, one interesting fact I learned was that the Mormons are an important resource for historical investigation. Apparently they aim to convert as many people as possible to Mormonism, including the dead. Thus they need to know the names of the dead:
It is estimated that the Mormon Archives contain the particulars of about a sixth of the people who have had names of their own since human first developed language a hundred thousand years ago – some ten billion people, nearly all born after 1500. . . . .Their enormous database of births, baptisms and deaths is now stored on microfilm under Granite Mountain, near Salt Lake City, Utah, in a vault which can withstand the Flood predicted for the Last Days, to say nothing of thermonuclear war

The marriage ended somewhat messily, with odd accusations of finger biting, but it's certainly an interesting episode in early international travel by Africans.

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