Through Jade's Eyes

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

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Location: www.suzannearruda.com, United States

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 www.twitter.com/SuzanneArruda *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, April 19, 2010

1921-22 – “AFRICAN GUIDEBOOKS -PART 1- CLOTHING AND CURRENCY ”

Note: my blog is once again being typed using a voice recognition program while my right wrist rests snugly in a cast.

For the past two weeks, we have been investigating the various guidebooks to South and East Africa. These guidebooks and manuals were published by the various East African newspapers as well as by shipping lines and government agencies. Newcomers to the colony as well as those who had lived in the colony for a while, such as Jade del Cameron, made use of these manuals and guidebooks extensively. For the next couple of weeks we will take a look at some of the information available inside them. In particular we will be focusing on The South and East African Yearbook & Guide with Atlas and diagrams published annually for the Union-Castle Mail Steamship Company, Ltd.

Page 601 discusses the appropriate clothing for various African countries and colonies. The Kenya colony had an altitude that went from sea level at Mombasa to up to 4000 to 5000 feet. The manual recommended "white drill or linen suits are generally worn and a sun helmet is a necessity.” This clothing could be made to order in Zanzibar or Mombasa more cheaply than in England. "Of an evening it is advisable to wear a pair of soft leather boots to come halfway up the calf and thus to protect the ankles against mosquitoes. In the Highlands the same clothing as that worn in Europe during the warmer months is quite suitable.” A separate section entitled "Safari" gave advice for clothing to be worn on “expeditions into the interior.” In a footnote the manual suggests "in all parts of Africa those taking long journeys by train should wear old clothes or at least something which will not suffer too much from dust and which can be cleaned."

The following page in the manual discusses the currency used in the Kenya colony. Prior to 1922 all of the currency was based on the Indian rupee. This was changing and the 1922 guidebook stated “Indian coinage is now being withdrawn. The sovereign used to be legal tender for 15 rupees at which rate the rupee was worth 1s. 4d. At the beginning of 1920 the rupee had risen to about 2s. d. and government stepped in with a view to amend the resulting difficulties which were threatening the development of the colony. An ordnance (sp.) passed in February fixed the exchange for the English pound note at 8 1/2 rupees (about 2 s. 4d.) Subsequent fluctuations created new difficulties, but eventually a fixed rate of exchange at 2s. to the rupee was imposed. The rupee has now merged into the florin and the half rupee into the shilling, the florin being divided into 100 cents. Annas and pice are no longer current.”

Next week: More from the African manuals: Customs, Weights and Measures


NOTE: These blogs are meant to give some insight into the life and times of my fictional character, Jade del Cameron. Jade’s mystery adventures take place in post WWI Africa. To date they are: Mark of the Lion, Stalking Ivory, and The Serpent’s Daughter, and The Leopard’s Prey, all available in trade paperback. TREASURE OF THE GOLDEN CHEETAH is available in hardcover. An excerpt and information on pre-ordering signed copies is available at the website: www.suzannearruda.com. Follow short updates on http://twitter.com/SuzanneArruda

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