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One Hundred Years On

Letter written by Baden-Powell in 1933 on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the occupation of Matabeleland.



I suppose there is no more damnable country in the world for Scouting in than the Matopos.

But without scouting little could be done in the way of coming to grips with the enemy there.

The men of the Rhodesian forces rose to the occasion when, in 1896, the Matabele took to their fastnesses there.

With extraordinary pluck and endurance those Rhodesians succeeded in finally putting an end to their resistance in spite of the appalling difficulties of the terrain.

Their action taught me a lesson which has borne fruit since then, not only throughout our Empire but in foreign lands as well. The spirit that makes a scout is the spirit that makes a man of the best type. The selfless devotion to duty, the exercise of keen-eyed observation and clever deduction, the patience and plunk and initiative involved in playing the game for their side and not for themselves exhibited by those Rhodesians showed me the qualities which ought to be encouraged in our boys as an essential part of their education.

The three R's are all very well but they don’t make MEN. In these days of modern inventions, which tend to mollycoddle our lads, such training is more than ever necessary.

Boys long for adventure. Frontiersmen are their heroes. So it needed no great imagination to visualise that, give them the name of Boy Scouts, and teach them Sooutcraft and backwoodsmanship. You would have their enthusiastic response and you could mould them, body, mind and spirit, onto the desired model.

Thus it has come about that the spirit of the Pioneers of Rhodesia is not confined merely to their successors in the country, but has spread itself across the world in ever-growing force among the oncoming generations of all nations.

Baden-Powell of Gilwell

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Acknowledgements:-Dave Anderson
Colin Anderson