Monday, November 19, 2018

Incorporated in Southern Rhodesia

Who knows about a country called Southern Rhodesia? The name appears on two revenue stamps that were put on top of a share in the Rhodesia Tea Estates Limited.

It was Cecil Rhodes (1853–1902), founder of the De Beers diamond mining company, who gave his name to Rhodesia, an area equal to modern Zimbabwe and Zambia. Rhodes' British South Africa Company began exploitation of the Rhodesian territory in the 1890s with the help of paramilitary forces. In 1923 the southern part became the Colony of Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. The northern part became in the following year the Protectorate of Northern Rhodesia, Zambia today.

Southern Rhodesia revenue stamps with the colony's coat of arms (detail from the share below) 
The shield of Southern Rhodesia features a lion and two thistles, taken from the family arms of Cecil Rhodes who gave his name to Rhodesia. Click the image to enlarge it, the Rhodes' lion is located above the mining pick, somewhat hidden under the ink stamp. 

It was in 1924 that tea was first planted commercially in the country. At that time Arthur Ward and Grafton Philips decided to start a tea plantation in the Chipinge district of Zimbabwe's Eastern Highlands. Mrs Florence Philips had brought tea seeds from Assam. None of them had an idea how much rain fell in the area. Meteorological records were unexisting. 

The next year it became clear that the rainfall was much below the required 1270 mm per year. Ward and Phillips decided to experiment with irrigating their plantation with water from the Tanganda River which flowed through their estate. The experiment was successful and marked the beginning of Tanganda tea production. Ward and Phillips (Pty) Ltd was established in 1930 and cultivated 3.5 hectares of tea. The Meikles family, owners of the Meikles Hotel in Harare, also got involved with the business which expanded into the Rhodesia Tea Estates Limited.

The Rhodesia Tea Estates Limited with registered office in Umtali (Mutare), is known today as the Tanganda Tea Company, a subsidiary of Meikles Ltd

In 1953 Great Britain united Northern and Southern Rhodesia with Nyasaland into the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, much against the will of the people in the three territories. A few hundred thousands Europeans, mainly living in Southern Rhodesia and owning most of the land, ruled now over millions of Africans who wanted universal suffrage, land ownership and better wages. The federation lasted for 10 years. 

In 1964 Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland became independent under the names Zambia and Malawi. Southern Rhodesia unilaterally declared independence as the state of Rhodesia in 1965. Yet, its white minority still refused to bring in majority rule. Opposing nationalist groups started a guerilla war and were supported by foreign countries. The war lasted till the end of 1979. The next year, the country became the Republic of Zimbabwe in 1980 and was governed by a black African majority.

The Rhodesia Tea Estates share was issued only a few months before the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland fell apart at the end of 1963.  

The Tanganda Tea Company, formerly the Rhodesia Tea Estates Limited, established the Avontuur/Petronella tea estate in 1990. The last previous estate, Jersey and Zona, dated from 1944. The company's production has risen to about 10,000 tons of tea per year, about 50% of Zimbabwe's tea output. Major company brands include, Tanganda, Stella, Silver, Joko, Tanganda Special Blend, Tanganda Tips, Fresh Leaves, Tanganda Healthi Green, Nella Rooibos bags and Natra Fresh Rooibos. 


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