Rhodesian Study Circle
McNeil’s Giraffe: The African Sketches of a Scottish Postmaster
Memoir 32, McNeil’s Giraffe: The African Sketches of a Scottish Postmaster (ISBN 978-1-908365-09-5) is the quintessential North-Eastern Rhodesia back-story shedding light on the Edwardians of the Tanganyika Plateau. Postcards, photographs – and Jim McNeil’s irrepressible creativity – reveal the many commercial hopes, and the administrative and domestic challenges of the era.
This account gives a new voice to the second-wave pioneers of NER and BCA who followed the terrestrial telegraph line, developed the missions, took the lake steamers and relied on the postal system for their well-being and sustenance.
Mporokoso’s native commissioner and poet, Cullen Gouldsbury, says in his 1908 book ‘An African Year’, that the “especial charm of Plateauland … is the drive, deeply implanted in the human breast, to be, as it were, a Triton among the minnows. Man who in London or Glasgow would be chained to a wholly uninteresting office-stool, unnoticed and unknown, rises here in his own small sphere, to the dignity of a plenipotentiary.” This man surely was Jim McNeil, postmaster and telegraphist of Abercorn.
“I found it an enthralling read … absolutely fascinating and accessible … an astonishing bit of sustained research; no stone unturned …rooted in diary entries and personal letters and illustrates the lives of some remarkable people … a really great run of rare photographs.” Richard Rathbone, Emeritus Professor, Department of History, Religions & Philosophies, SOAS.
- Memoir: 32
- Title: McNeil’s Giraffe: The African Sketches of a Scottish Postmaster
- Author: Anita McCullough
- PDF – N/A
- Print Copy (Members Only) – £20+P&H
- Print Copy (Non-Members) – £26+P&H
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