Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Familyrelatives ring new changes with the release of Telephone Directories from Africa and the Caribbean


Discovering Nuggets of Gold

Are telephone directories just about numbers or are they a window into the past?  If we take a closer look they reveal so much that is interesting from a historical aspect.

Familyrelatives is delighted to add some truly unique records to our expanding collection and existing 850 million records. We have added over 200,000 records in a number of directories which are from our Rest of the World Collection providing some fascinating insights.

Among the famous names Lord Delamere one of the leaders of the white settler community and a certain Colonel Grogan – famous for walking from Cape to Cairo between 1898 and 1900, Lord Egerton of Njoro Kenya whose estates and name adorn the prestigious agricultural college.

Kenya made headlines during the Mau Mau campaign and was about to achieve independence. Two African politicians were at the forefront of the campaign for independence Tom Mboya a rising young man cruelly assassinated in a Nairobi Street and Jomo Kenyatta who went on to become Kenya’s first president.  A further search among the burgeoning Indian and Ismaili community reveals Eboo Pirbhai already knighted by the Queen and H.R.H. The Aga Khan whose foundations and community stretched from India to Africa.

Equally in the European community were Sir Wilfred Havelock a key minister in the pre-independence colonial government and Michael Blundell who was considered to be leader of the white settlers.

So a telephone directory reflects the society it serves from Government House with the Queen’s representative at the head of the colonial administration to citizens of all races. With the railways playing a key role in the development of East Africa East African Railways and Harbours features prominently.  East African Airways together with Telecommunications, the currency Board etc. remind us of a bold attempt to achieve a federation which with the independence of Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika (now Tanzania and Zanzibar) soon succumbed to national pressure and were dissolved.  These directories were a final glimpse at passing history.

These directories are particularly interesting as they record numerous individuals, families and businesses of those who had settled and followed their daily lives under the flag.

Following independence, there was no great exodus however many expatriates chose to leave in the years following.  In Uganda for example Idi Amin forcibly removed the Indian community who formed the middle class and owned many businesses.  Southern Rhodesia was one of three colonies which formed the Central African Federation together with Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia. With the break up of the Federation and a unilateral Declaration of Independence the directory of Southern Rhodesia in 1958 preceded the change to majority rule and shows the European population at its peak before Robert Mugabe began his policy of taking over white owned farms.  In 1980 Rhodesia became the independent Republic of Zimbabwe.

East Africa

These are the lands of fame and fable – from Ernest Hemmingway’s “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” to Rider Haggard’s “King Solomon’s Mines.  Are there many who have not seen at least one movie such as Out of Africa, Born Free, Mogambo, The African Queen, White Mischief or the Maneaters of Tsavo?

Society names and Big Game hunting are all in the telephone directory.  White Hunters such as Kerr and Downey – the Muthaiga Club, Mount Kenya Safari Club or the famed Norfolk Hotel from where many safaris began and not least of all – Treetops Hotel faces towards Mount Kenya where Queen Elizabeth II learned of her accession following the death of King George VI.

As a collection these erstwhile colonial directories provide an eclectic mix of settlers, administration, justice, police and military together with businesses and in eastern Africa the importance of the railways (East African Railways and Harbours) which opened the three east African territories to trade, commerce and settlement.
Barbados – this directory is distinct from the others for this lovely island had gained its independence 3 years earlier but not much had changed in the way of its citizens who had deep roots in the country from way back.  Besides it was an island thriving on its tourist industry as could be seen by its many hotels and guest houses.

Records now available online with Annual Subscription



The collection is only a part of more than 850 million historic records available online to all members and visitors by way of an annual subscription for just £25 or €30 / US$40 at www.familyrelatives.com



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