African Scouting (20th c.)
The Scout's and King's African Rifles Uniforms [Photographs]
The top photograph shows members of a South African scout troop specifically for blind adolescents and young men c.1950. The bottom photograph is of non-commissioned officers from the King's African Rifles in the mid-1950s. Note that both groups wear similar clothing consisting of khaki shirt and shorts, knee-length socks, clasp belts, and wide brimmed hats. The similarities are not accidental. Baden Powell based the scout uniform on the uniform of the South African Constabulary, a paramilitary police organization he founded after the Anglo-South African War. British colonial military and police forces throughout the world wore similar khaki clothing.
Although scouting had its own specific badges and insignia, the African civilian population understandably had a difficult time distinguishing Boy Scouts from soldiers and policemen. This allowed scouts and men and boys dressed as scouts to pose as policemen and other representatives of the colonial state. Scout leaders and government officials were understandably concerned and upset by this misappropriation of the scout uniform.
[Top photo] Corbett (Thomas Godfrey Polson), Baron Rowallen Collection. National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh. [Bottom photograph] K13995. Imperial War Museum, London. Annotated by Tim Parsons.
How to Cite This Source
"African Scouting (20th c.)," in Children and Youth in History, Item #95, http://chnm.gmu.edu/cyh/teaching-modules/95 (accessed March 25, 2017).
- Primary Sources
- "The Scouts' War Dance": Sir Robert Baden Powell's adaptation of a Zulu chant, c1910s [Chant]
- Organization of British Imperial Scouting [Table]
- An Appeal for African Scouts: Canon William Palmer to Imperial Scout Headquarters, May 5, 1923 [Letter]
- "A New Development in the Scout Movement in South Africa" [Article]
- Pathfinder Warrant [Official Document]
- The Scout's and King's African Rifles Uniforms [Photographs]
- Legal Protection for Scout Uniform, 1935: Tanganyika Government Ordinance [Official Document]
- A Rover Scout "Journey" [Memoir/Article]
- "The Interrelation of Colour" [Official Document]
- Mau Mau Fighters in Scout Uniforms, c. 1963 [Photograph]
- "Scouting – Helping to Prepare Leaders of Tomorrow" [Article]