Kitchener’s Garden

lossy-page1-466px-Kitchener_poster_by_Alfred_Leete.tif_300dpi-2webIn the years before this famous recruiting poster image was thrust on the public at the start of the First World War, Lord Kitchener had been – among many other things – Commander in Chief in India from 1902-1909. Lord Frederic Hamilton, who seems to have known everybody who was anybody, recalls a conversation at the official residence.

I was once talking to Lord Kitchener at his official house in Fort William, Calcutta, when he asked me to come and have a look at the garden. He informed me that he was giving a garden-party to fifteen hundred guests in three days’ time, and wondered whether the space was sufficient for it. I told him that I was certain that it was not, and that I doubted whether half of that number could get in. “Very well,” said Lord Kitchener, “I shall have the whole of the Fort ditch turned into a garden tomorrow.” Next day he had eight hundred coolies at work. They levelled the rough sand, marked out with pegs walks of pounded bricks, which they flattened, sowed the sand with mustard and cress and watered it abundantly to conterfeit lawns, and finally brought cartloads of growing flowers, shrubs and palms, which they “plunged” in the mustard-and-cress lawns, and in thirty-six hours there was a garden apparently established for years. It is true that the mustard-and-cress lawns did not bear close inspection, but, on the other hand, you could eat them, which you cannot do with ours. Lord Kitchener was fond of saying that he had never been intended for a soldier, but for an architect and house-decorator. Certainly the additions made to his official house, which were all carried out from his own designs, were very effective and in excellent taste.

In a country like India, where so much takes place out of doors, wonderful effects can be produced, as Lord Kitchener said, with some rupees, some native boys, and a good many yards of insulated wire. The boys are sent climbing up the trees; they drop long pieces of twine to which the electric wires are attached; they haul them up, and proceed to wire the trees and to fix coloured bulbs up to their very tops. Night comes; a switch is pressed, and every tree in the garden is a blaze of ruby, saphire, or emerald, with the most admirable result.
‘Here, There and Everywhere’, Lord Frederic Hamilton, Hodder and Stoughton, London.

Calcutta

Calcutta (now Kolkata), India, at the time of British rule.

 

The King of Uganda

The photograph below has been cropped from a postcard published by J. Valentine in 1913 and shows a small party of tourists on the battlements of Edinburgh Castle. A caption on the original card says “Figure in White is King of Uganda.” The amount of P.R. “spin” that might be incorporated in the syndicated report that follows is open to conjecture.

King of Uganda

Daudi C[h]wa, the young King of Uganda, who has never before left his home, arrived recently in England, accompanied by his English tutor, Mr. J. C. R. Sturrock, of Oxford. The visit is unofficial and undertaken for educational purposes. It is possible that a tour will be made through the manufacturing districts. The young king also intends to visit France and Germany.

Daudi – which means David – is seventeen years of age. Next year he will, according to present arrangements, attain his majority and take up the reins of rulership. Meanwhile the Prime Minister – Sir Apolo Kag[g]wa, the only negro knight – acts on his behalf in the Native Council, according to an agreement drawn up when a British protectorate was declared over Uganda in 1894.

King Daudi is quiet and unassuming. Of fine physique, and over six feet in height, he is extremely fond of British sports. He has adopted European habits and customs, but is a non-smoker and a teetotaller. He speaks and writes English well, and has read English books of adventure with great relish. He plays an excellent game of golf, and has a motorcycle, which he often uses, as there are excellent roads in his kingdom. He is also an enthusiastic photographer.

He has been brought up in the Anglican faith, and regularly attends the mission service at Mengo, on one of the seven hills that comprise Kampala, where he lives. His palace is on one of the hills. The King is entitled to a salute of nine guns on ceremonial occasions, the only time when he puts away his European clothes for his state costume. The national dress of Uganda is of “bark cloth” (obtained from the bark of a fig tree) wrapped loosely round the body, but many of the chiefs and people now wear European clothes. He is a great favorite among Europeans, and is very popular in his own kingdom.

Though King David shows great partiality to many kinds of English foods, he has not forsaken the staple food of Uganda – the banana, of which fruit there are twenty different varieties in his country. The natives bake the banana and then make it into a stew. The variety used for cooking is not suitable for eating when raw. He has his own private band of thirty drums, which are kept in tune by specially appointed drummers, who play at sundown each evening.

The question of the King’s marriage has not been forgotten. It is probable that he will chose a wife from among his own people, or a Princess from one of the other Uganda kingdoms of Unyoro or Toro, though inter-marriage between tribes is not customary.

David’s father, Mwanga, was a clever but despotic King, and ended his days in exile in the Seychelles Islands, whither he was banished after the Mohammedan rebellion in Uganda in 1898. The Waganda trace back their kings in a direct line for about 1000 years.
‘Hawera & Normanby Star’ (N.Z.). 30 August 1913.

Daudi Chwa was knighted by King George V on this visit and, before his coronation the following year, married the first of multiple wives (despite his alleged Anglican faith) who bore him 14 children. Caught between the British Colonial administration and a Prime Minister who didn’t want to relinquish control, he was never allowed to be more than a figurehead, to his eternal frustration. In his later years the teetotaller found a taste for alcohol and withdrew from public life. He died of heartfailure on 22nd November 1939.
Source – Dictionary of African Biography, Vol. 1. Oxford University Press.