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Northern Rhodesia (Zambia pre-independence)

Last modified: 2001-12-29 by jarig bakker
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Northern Rhodesia 1910

Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) had its own coat of arms. It was separated in 1910 from the rest of Rhodesia. I don't know when the arms were adopted. Anyway, the scant visual evidence I have suggests that Northern Rhodesia, like Southern Rhodesia, just used its shield on the blue ensign, despite being a 'pure' colony without the self governing status of S. Rhodesia.
Stuart Notholt, 11 February 1996

Stuart asks when the coat of arms of Northern Rhodesia was adopted. I don't know if it is definitive, but the Oct. 1917 National Geographic depicts the badge of RHODESIA as a blue field, with a golden lion grasping an elphant's tusk in it's right paw and the letters B.S.A.C (for Cecil Rhodes' British South African Company)
William Grimes-Wyatt, 11 February 1996

Before 1924 the arms of the British South Africa Company (BSAC) were also used as the arms of Northern Rhodesia.
Bruce Berry, 1998-02-09

The flag badge described for Northern Rhodesia under the year 1910 is simply the crest of the British South Africa Company.  Northern Rhodesia was separated administratively from Southern Rhodesia in 1910, but both territories remained under control of the BSA Company. Only in 1924, when the BSA Company ceased to be the political power, did Northern Rhodesia formally become a British protectorate (and Southern Rhodesia a Crown Colony). The BSA Co continued to function in land
development, and was only wound up some years later. The BSA Co not only controlled the countries now called Zimbabwe and Zambia, but also had substantial power over Bechuanaland Protectorate, controlling it through the police there. The British Government was at one stage quite anxious to hand Bechuanaland over to the BSA Co, but later had second thoughts following the Jameson Raid. However, the BSA Police undertook the capture of the Caprivi Strip from Germany in 1915 and occupied
the strip until 1918, if not later. Despite this empire-building, the BSA Co abdicated part of its responsibility in the late 19th century, handing over the administration of North-Eastern Rhodesia (the northern part of present-day Zambia) to the British Central Africa Protectorate. The result was some interesting confusion in postage stamp issues! Getting back to the BSA Police: this force retained its name right through to Zimbabwean independence, when major changes were forced through. Despite being a police force, it had the status of being the premier regiment and the senior service in Rhodesia, always taking pride of place in any parade.
Mike Oettle, 21 Dec 2001


Northern Rhodesia 1924

The image of North Rhodesia is the one with the badge adopted 1939. But I believe that previousely, between 1924 and 1939 was used another badge or shield. This is correct?
Jaume Ollé, 26 June 1998

It appears then that there were no formal arms between 1924 and 1939 although the new arms were in use from 1927.
Bruce Berry, 29 June 1998

The Colonial Office wrote to the Government of Northern Rhodesia in 1938 about the flag of the colony and were told that the badge, granted in 1928, had never been used on any flag as the government operated no launches and there was no opportunity for the Governor to embark in a vessel.  The sole use of the badge was as part of the design of the Public Seal. Presumably the badge was used on a flag after 1943 when Governors were directed to use their defaced Union Jack on land instead of the Union Jack. Public Record Office CO 323/1575/16.
David Prothero, 26 Jan 2001


Northern Rhodesia 1939

[Northern Rhodesia 1939 flag] by Bruce Berry

A locally-formed committee consulted the deputy leader of the Mint, the Governor Sir Herbert Stanley, an heraldic artist at the Royal Navy base in Simonstown (near Cape Town) and the result was a design which was adopted in 1927.
The design signifies a fish eagle of the Zambezi and most other rivers of Northern Rhodesia and water rushing over the rock of the Victoria Falls. The heraldic description is: Sable six palets wavy Argent on a Chief Azure an eagle reguardant wings expanded Or holding in the talons a Fish of the second. The Government of the Colony accepted that this design be used as a shield on the Public Seal of the Territory in 1927.
It received the approval of the King in 1930 and was formally granted to Northern Rhodesia by Royal Warrant on 16 August 1939.

As far as I my memory serves me the Northern Rhodesia flag was a Fish Eagle (Nkwazi) with a fish in its claws depicted flying over the Victoria falls. When independence came I believe it was decided to take away the fish as it was felt that it portrayed the grasp of colonialism on the masses.
Steve Stephenson , 23 November 1999

The comment on the fish held in the claws of the fish eagle in the arms of Northern Rhodesia seems to me to be an inspired example of radicalist political hogwash. That's a reflection on the African nationalist politicians who produced the garbage, not on the vexillologist who quoted it! I recall hearing at the time that people were complaining about the "dead fish". What both comments betray is an abysmal ignorance regarding the symbolism involved. The African fish eagle is very similar to the American bald eagle - not only do they belong to the same genus, but they are almost identically colored. The only significant difference between them, and one which is easily portrayed in heraldic art, is the fish eagle's habit of catching fish. The allegedly dead fish is in fact freshly caught - so freshly caught that carefuly observation of any video portraying this act of predation will
reveal that the fish is wriggling as it is carried away. The net result of Zambia's removal of the fish when it converted the
eagle in the chief (of the protectorate's arms) to a crest (in the arms of the republic) is that there is no longer any distinguishing mark to identify this bird as an African fish eagle, and it might as well be a symbol of the USA. So much for African independence!
Mike Oettle, 21 Dec 2001


Northern Rhodesia 1953

These Arms were found in the fly of a Blue Ensign which was used as the flag of the colony until Northern Rhodesia joined with neighbouring Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland to form the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland on 7 September 1953.
The Governor of Northern Rhodesia flew a British Union Flag charged in the centre, on a white roundel, with the Arms of the colony within a green garland of laurel.
Illustrations of the Arms and flags used in Northern Rhodesia can be found in SAVA Journal 3/94: The Union Jack over Central and Southern Africa, 1795 - 1994, by FG Brownell.
Bruce Berry, 9 February 1998 




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