Through Jade's Eyes

This blog is about the fictional character, Jade del Cameron (, and the historical time period in which she lives.

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I'm the author of the Jade del Cameron historical mystery series set in 1920's Africa. Lots of action, intrigue, mystery and a dash of romance. Follow me at *The audio link (view complete profile) is an interview by Baron Ron Herron (9/17/2009, Santa Barbara {CA} News-Press Radio, KZSB, AM 1290

Monday, December 18, 2006

Going on Safari - Part 3

When the old time explorers, like Burton, went on safari, they likely gathered a tribe full of men, gave them supplies to carry, fed them, and perhaps paid them something as their conscience decreed. By the 1920’s, there were distinct rules laid down by the Bureau of Native Affairs for governing safaris.

First of all, each native was required by law to carry a kapandi, a metal case worn around the neck containing their fingerprints, name, his tribe’s name, and a list of people the native had worked for as well as how he acquitted himself on his last job. Natives could not simply quit their jobs. Once they had contracted to work for someone, they had to finish the job or be either fined or imprisoned. If they could prove mistreatment, they might have a case, but since this became a matter of his word against an employer's, it wasn’t likely.

The non-native employer had to follow some rules as well. The employer could not make the porter carry any more than 60 pounds or travel more than 15 miles in one day. The employer provided each porter on safari with 2 pounds of “mealie meal” (a coarse corn meal) a day in addition to a canteen, a blanket, and his wages. Since one 60 pound load of mealie meal would feed one porter for about 6 weeks, there came a point where porters simply existed to carry their own food if the safari was too long. At that point, ox carts often went ahead with additional supplies to some rendezvous point.

Wages underwent some reductions in the early twenties. According to The South and East African Year Book and Guide for 1922, a porter should receive 10 florins per month, a florin being worth 2 shillings or 100 cents at that time after the rupee was abolished. Headmen made 20 to 40 florins per month, the more experienced men commanding the higher wage. Gunbearers, as well, were paid 30 florins per month and were not required to carry any other baggage. Martin Johnson translated this into dollars in Camera Trails in Africa, stating that he paid his gunbearers 25 dollars a month and sixteen dollars a month to the cook. In addition, the employer would want a tent boy for each person, some askaris as sentry guards, a good cook, and a cook’s mate. If the employer planned on hunting, extra porters would be needed to carry back trophies.


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