The Scout Association of Zimbabwe

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This article is about the youth movement. For the defunct Rhodesian military units, see Selous Scouts or Grey Scouts.
The Scout Association of Zimbabwe
Scout Association of Zimbabwe.svg
Chief ScoutMorris Moses
AffiliationWorld Organization of the Scout Movement
 Scouting portal

The Scout Association of Zimbabwe is a member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement. Scouting in Zimbabwe shares history with Malaŵi and Zambia, with which it was linked for decades.

Birthplace of Scouting[edit]

Baden-Powell's sketch of Chief of Scouts Burnham, Matobo Hills, 1896.

It was in the Matabeleland region in Zimbabwe that, during the Second Matabele War, Robert Baden-Powell, who later became the founder of Scouting, and Frederick Russell Burnham, the American born Chief of Scouts for the British Army, first met and began their lifelong friendship.[2] Baden-Powell had only recently arrived in Matabeleland as Chief of Staff to Gen. Carrington when he started scouting with Burnham. This would become a formative experience for Baden-Powell not only because he had the time of his life commanding reconnaissance missions into enemy territory in Matobo Hills, but because many of his later Boy Scout ideas took hold here.[3] Burnham had been a scout practically his entire life in the United States when he went to Africa in 1893 to scout for Cecil Rhodes on the Cape-to-Cairo Railway. As Chief of Scouts under Major Allan Wilson, Burnham became known in Africa as he-who-sees-in-the-dark and he gained fame in the First Matabele War when he survived the British equivalent of Custer's Last Stand, the Shangani Patrol.[4]

In mid-June 1896, during their joint scouting patrols in the Matopos Hills, Burnham began teaching Baden-Powell woodcraft, inspiring him and giving him the plan for both the program and the code of honor of Scouting for Boys.[5][6] Practiced by frontiersmen of the American Old West and indigenous peoples of the Americas, woodcraft was generally unknown to the British, but well known to the American scout Burnham.[2] These skills eventually formed the basis of what is now called scoutcraft, the fundamentals of Scouting. Both men recognised that wars in Africa were changing markedly and the British Army needed to adapt; so during their joint scouting missions, Baden-Powell and Burnham discussed the concept of a broad training programme in woodcraft for young men, rich in exploration, tracking, fieldcraft, and self-reliance.[7] In Africa, no scout embodied these traits more than Burnham.[8][9] It was also during this time in the Matobo Hills that Baden-Powell first started to wear his signature campaign hat like the one worn by Burnham.[10] Later, Baden-Powell wrote a number of books on Scouting, and even started to train and make use of adolescent boys, most famously during the Siege of Mafeking, during the Second Boer War.[6][11]

Scouting in Rhodesia[edit]

The Rhodesian Scout emblem featured a Shona shield, a symbol in use since Rhodesia was a colonial branch of British Scouting.
Lord Baden-Powell meets Scouts of Rhodesia at the 5th World Scout Jamboree in 1937

Scouting in the former Southern Rhodesia and Rhodesia and Nyasaland started in 1909 when the first Boy Scout troop was registered. Scouting grew quickly and in 1924 Rhodesia and Nyasaland sent a large contingent to the second World Scout Jamboree in Ermelunden, Denmark. The great popularity of the Boy Scout movement in Rhodesia was due to its outdoor program such as hiking, camping, cooking and pioneering, which was unusual in the protectorate. Additionally, the training and progressive badge system was targeted towards helping others, leading to responsible citizenship.

Gordon Park, a Scout campground and training area, was visited by Lord Baden-Powell in 1936.

Boy Scouts Association of Rhodesia.png

Because of the prevailing circumstances earlier in the 20th century, a separate movement was established for black Africans called "Pathfinders". By the 1950s the time was considered to merge both movements into one Scout Association, as was done with the South African Scout Association. Rhodesia hosted the Central African Jamboree in 1959 at Ruwa.

The British contingent to the 14th World Scout Jamboree, led by Robert Baden-Powell, 3rd Baron Baden-Powell, included Scouts from Branches in Bermuda, Hong Kong and Rhodesia.

During this period, the highest earned Scout rank bore a sable antelope, the heraldic supporter of the coat of arms of Rhodesia. This motif still seems to be in use today.

Scout photo used as a book cover taken during the brief time the nation was known as Zimbabwe Rhodesia
Boy Scouts Association of Zimbabwe Rhodesia.png

Scouting in Zimbabwe Rhodesia[edit]

In the 10 months the nation's name changed to Zimbabwe Rhodesia, from June 1, 1979 to April 18, 1980, a photo was taken of a group of Scouts from around the world. This photo, which features a Scout wearing a uniform emblazoned with a large Zimbabwe Rhodesia badge over the right pocket, was used for the cover of 250 Million Scouts by World Chief Scout Executive Dr. László Nagy in 1985.

Scouting in Zimbabwe[edit]

Boy Scouts Association of Zimbabwe 1981-2008.png

In 1983, Charles A. Martin was awarded the Bronze Wolf, the only distinction of the World Organization of the Scout Movement, awarded by the World Scout Committee for exceptional services to world Scouting.

In 2009, Scouts celebrated 100 years of Scouting in Zimbabwe. Hundreds of Scouts camped at Gordon Park as part of these celebrations.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Triennal review: Census as at 1 December 2010" (PDF). World Organization of the Scout Movement. Archived from the original (PDF) on 31 August 2012. Retrieved 2011-01-13.
  2. ^ a b Burnham, Frederick Russell (1926). Scouting on Two Continents. Doubleday, Page & company. pp. 2, Chapters 3 & 4. OCLC 407686.
  3. ^ Proctor, Tammy M. (July 2000). "A Separate Path: Scouting and Guiding in Interwar South Africa". Comparative Studies in Society and History. 42 (3). ISSN 0010-4175.
  4. ^ West, James E.; Peter O. Lamb (1932). He-who-sees-in-the-dark; the boys' story of Frederick Burnham, the American scout. Robert Baden-Powell. Brewer, Warren and Putnam.
  5. ^ DeGroot, E.B. (July 1944). "Veteran Scout". Boys' Life. Boy Scouts of America: 6–7. Retrieved 2010-07-16.
  6. ^ a b Baden-Powell, Robert (1908). Scouting for Boys: A Handbook for Instruction in Good Citizenship. London: H. Cox. xxiv. ISBN 0-486-45719-2.
  7. ^ van Wyk, Peter (2003). Burnham: King of Scouts. Trafford Publishing. ISBN 1-4122-0028-8.
  8. ^ Prichard, Hesketh Vernon Hesketh (2004). Sniping in France, 1914-18 : with notes on the scientific training of scouts, observers, and snipers. Solihull, West Midlands, England: Helion. ISBN 1-874622-47-7.
  9. ^ Lott, Jack (1981). "Chapter 8. The Making of a Hero: Burnham in the Tonto Basin". In Boddington, Craig. America -- The Men and Their Guns That Made Her Great. Petersen Publishing Co. p. 90. ISBN 0-8227-3022-7.
  10. ^ Jeal, Tim (1989). Baden-Powell. London: Hutchinson. ISBN 0-09-170670-X.
  11. ^ Forster, Reverend Dr. Michael. "The Origins of the Scouting Movement" (DOC). Netpages. Retrieved 2007-10-02.
  12. ^ "Zimbabwe Scouts celebrate their centenary in a park that B.P. once visited". Archived from the original on September 27, 2013. Retrieved 2009-08-26.

External links[edit]