Bridging the Zambesi: A Colonial Folly by Landeg White

By Landeg White

In January 1935, a railway bridge 2.3 miles lengthy was once opened around the Zambesi delta in Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique). fifty one years later, it was once blown up by means of anti-government forces scuffling with with RENAMO. This ebook, that's in response to Portuguese and British information, brings jointly politics, international relations, economics, labour historical past and expertise to teach how this significant engineering feat used to be a catastrophe of colonial making plans. at the present time, the reduce Zambesi bridge is by means of a long way the grandest of the ruins of colonial firm littering the tremendous river valley.

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ImmediateIy, he cashed in his acquisition. The figure who stepped forward was Sir Alexander Henderson (afterwards Lord Faringdon), who had already invested in railway schemes in Argentina and Brazil. Henderson was in his early 40s, a millionaire speculator and MP for Staffordshire. In 1902, he bought out Scharrer's interests in land, trading and transport to form the British Central Africa Company (BCAC) with the same board of directors as the SHR and the right to construct the railway from Chiromo to Blantyre.

As we shall see, they are precisely the qualities he saw hirnself as bringing to the problems of dealing with Portuguese sensibilities in southern Africa. He came on the scene when the rules of money-making in southern Africa were changing. The 'crazy' deals described by d'Erlanger with such amused nostalgia were obsolete long before he called them so in 1938. They belonged to the 1890s, that overblown period of top hats and the can-can when markets were awash with money and speculation ran riot.

12 These are names which will recur throughout this story. The gauge chosen was 2 feet, no more than a light railway, yet the construction was a running sore of disasters. George Pauling's practice was to tender for a complete railway at a relatively low figure and then make his profits by literally The Open Span 35 cutting corners, making deviations from the surveyed route calculated to shorten the li ne without increasing the gradients, something his 'eye for the country' permitted hirn to do.

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