I’ve been doing some work on the African Queens recently – specifically the film, book and serialisation featuring Rose and Allnut. All these are attributed to CS Forester, but for anyone who has encountered more than the film, you’d know there are differences – at least in the endings. However, there are also two different settings to the story – the most well-known being that of Lake Tanganyika and MV Liemba which still sails the waters. Less well-known is that the serialisation featured a different setting – that of the Rufigi Delta and the German cruiser SMS Konigsberg. More detail on the variations can be found in my recent article for The Historian (November 2014). Of all the accounts, I think my favourite has to be the British Book version. The African Queen also features on BBC iWonder (a great honour to be part of its development, and incidentally that on Togo – thank you BBC).
But these are not the only African Queens I’ve been encountering recently. Working on a medical project, I happened upon the Queen Mother visiting Kenya in 1924 before she became Queen and then another encounter with a monarch before she became Queen, namely the current Queen when she was visiting Kenya in 1952. These encounters were courtesty of CS Nicholls’ book Red Strangers. A review of the book will be coming in January.
Talking of reviews, those of you who follow my ramblings will have come across my review of David Mannall’s Battle of the Lomba in which he names a significant lady “Queen V”. And for those of you who are aware of things South African, Mudjaji, the Rain Queen should be a familiar name. How does she come to feature here? Well, I’m taking a bit of a break from WW1 in Africa over the coming festive season to work on the history of the Presbyterian Church in South Africa where the link is my grandfather-in-law who was a missionary in her region back in the 1920s. It just shows how linked life is, the Presbyterian Church in Boksburg was built during WW1 with the foundation stone laid by Colonel Dalrymple of the Transvaal Scottish and is where my father-in-law served for a number of years. The rose window in the church and the 3 others on the opposite wall are in memory of those who lost their lives in the First World War and three brothers respectively. Linking back to Queens, the Presbyterian congregation in Boksburg started a few year’s before the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War when Queen Victoria was still on the throne.
Another famous Queen to feature in Africa is the one mentioned in She by Rider Hagard, which reminds me of the Queen of Sheba who was said to have travelled as far as the Great Ruins of Zimbabwe. Four other African Queens who ruled before the 20th century are mentioned briefly on AnswersAfrica.
Finally, a blog on African Queens just has to feature Queen, the group previously staring Freddie Mercury who was born on Zanzibar. More than that, Queen played South Africa during the years of Apartheid: well it depends on whose version of history you’re reading. According to the South African government of the day, Bophutatswana where Sun City was based, was not technically part of the Republic. And that seems as good a point as any on which to end this short blog on African Queens.