Found In The Attic

As Chapter Ten of Remnants of Empire shows, when European people left NR/Z they packed an eclectic mixture of stuff; often the objects have an emotional value that is far greater than their apparent worth – they might even seem like junk to someone who did not know their provenance.  Some of the things originated in Zambia, whilst others came with settlers but they don’t just carry a potent reminder of times lived in the country, they also serve to ground us in our own past.
Programmes from dramatic societies found their way into many people’s packing. They took up very little space but evoke a wealth of memories. I’m starting with some from the Venus Theatre in Broken Hill/Kabwe that were sent to me by Noel Wright (my former English teacher, now living in Perth, Australia). I’d love to receive more from other places.



Romeo and Juliet had a large cast, but after all this time the advertisements for local businesses are just as interesting as the “real” content of the programme.


The theatre was called “The Venus” because the wartime garrison theatre had fallen into disrepair and rose up again due to the work of enthusiasts such as Lawrence Hall. (I wonder why it wasn’t called “The Phoenix”?) Here is the Venus now. A group is working hard to bring about another resurrection as an arts centre.




All of these things came away with me and have survived since the mid-sixties:


Below is a leaving present given to Rich Moskwa’s father.  A representation of Homo Rhodesiensis (we’re now supposed to call him “Homo heidelbergensis”) in silver from the Broken Hill/Kabwe mine



Photographs nearly always made it into the katundu, but as I say on page 214 of Remnants:
… we realise how few photographs were taken in those days of expensive film and processing and how they now seem to be of the wrong things – the Kariba Dam, the Victoria Falls (again), an elephant in the distance (partially obscured by a tree).


Robert Retamel posted pictures of Nkana in the early days on the Great North Road website. Could we build up an impression of other places in other decades too?


Everyone who ventured to the Luapula Province in the old days thinks of it as a special place, partly because the journey across the Congo Pedicle and then over Luapula River, using the pontoon at Chembe. These pictures belonging to JJ Niemandt date back to the 1950s

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I carried out research in (then) Fort Rosebery District in Chief Kalaba’s village in 1967, somehow I forgot to take pictures on the hair-raising journey there.

Today most people go to Mansa on a new road, built on piles across the Bangweulu Swamp, turning off the Great North Road after Serenje – it doesn’t seem so remote now.



Photographs from Robert Plain