White Tribe

While I was looking at all the Bantu tribes in Zambia at the end of the 1800s, I realised that there was also a ‘white’ tribe which featured and altered the history of Zambia.  I decided it needed at least a bit of a story to bring the bits together to make a whole.

I am going to look at the white people who influenced our region up to 1900.  This is just one year after the British South African Company gained the charter from the British government to run the two regions of North Eastern and North Western Rhodesia. 

These people were missionaries, emissaries, colonial officials, traders, hunters and explorers.  I will see what I can find out. 

Before that, though, it is important to understand a bit about society in Britain at the time.

Colonial Officers

The Victorian Age was infinitely different from the British society which we have today.  During this time, men were the masters, and Britain was run by an elite of men. 

There was a distinct hierarchy of society – upper, middle and lower class.  Of the middle classes there were but few.  The upper classes were few as well but they ran and owned everything.  Of course, the lower classes were in the majority but they had no say – they could not vote and few of them owned their own house or land.  Women, don’t think about them, because they had nothing.  Through the whole society, women were child-bearers and home-keepers.  They had no right or privileges, they did not even have rights over their children.

Yes, at that time, Britain had a queen, but she played very little part in the decisions which directed the fortunes or misfortunes of her government.  She merely signed, when asked. 

The men plumped themselves up by giving themselves medals and titles.  They became dukes and earls and sirs by decree or by inheritance.  When a man of substance died his inheritance was bestowed on the eldest son.  If there was not an eldest son, then it would go to a nephew – certainly the nearest male heir available.  Women could not inherit.  A woman just had to get married and find a man to support her – this, of course, with the approval of the male head of her household. 

The elite society of men, as I said, owned most of the land and wealth of Britain and ran the affairs of the country.  So it was when the ‘Scramble for Africa’ came about, these were the men who decided where the country’s interests lay. 

Having said that, for some reason, the men of British society had a paternalistic attitude towards their fellow men and women.  In Britain, most of this elite felt that it was their role in life to run the affairs of the country but were also mindful of the fact that they only did so in the interests of the people who worked under them.  I don’t know why but I find the other colonising countries of Portugal, France, Holland and Germany did not foster the same care for their fellow human beings as did the British.  The British men, of this elitist group, tended to treat the Africans they met with respect and acceptance; they did not judge so readily as other nationals.  I generalise, of course; they were not always so exemplary. 

When exploring the country in the early days, the men walked alongside their African guides and porters.  They did not expect to be carried everywhere, as did other European nationals. 


As I have said above, the eldest son inherited his father’s estate. Other male children would go into the army, navy or take up religion. Some of the missionaries who came to our region were these kinds of men. But there were others, like David Livingstone. David Livingstone’s family were poor and the only way for him to ‘get ahead’ was to educate himself. And this he did and was accepted as a missionary.

Traders and Hunters

Traders and hunters came from all walks of life. Some were good and some were bad and even very bad.