Guns and Reeds: Africanizing British Big Game Hunting

  • Angela Thompsell
Part of the Britain and the World book series (BAW)


In September of 1878, F. C. Selous met up with three of his friends in the eastern part of present-day Zimbabwe. All four men were in pursuit of ivory, and the three other hunters, Albert Cross, Matthew Clarkson and George Wood, told Selous that when they first arrived in the area, they ‘found it expedient to pay … [the presiding chief] a visit, to obtain his gracious permission to go and “kill the elephants nicely”’. According to Selous, this chief’s name was ‘Situngweesa’ and he was ‘considered a very powerful “Umlimo” or god’ by the Ndebele, who dominated the region.1 This was not entirely correct, but scholars have identified the man as Pasipamire, who lived at Chitungwiza and was the recognized medium for an important spirit named Chaminuka, who is generally regarded as a royal ancestor of the Shona.2 As such, Pasipamire was a man of influence amongst both the Shona and the Ndebele, and until the hunters requested his permission

their boys would only hunt in a listless, half-hearted sort of way, constantly saying, ‘What is the use of your hunting elephants in Situngweesa’s country without first getting his permission to do so?’ But when, by the help of presents, the old fellow’s good word was obtained, and [George] Wood’s head Kafir had been given a long … enchanted reed … they at once seemed changed beings and hunted with the greatest alacrity.3


Game Hunting Imperial Agent Blood Brotherhood Indirect Rule Imperial Rule 
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Copyright information

© Angela Thompsell 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Angela Thompsell
    • 1
  1. 1.The College at BrockportSUNYUSA

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