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     Golden Jubilee 1895-1945

    Page 4

    Manicaland

    In the area of Manicaland can be traced one of the "Unknown Warriors " of early Jewish life. For if, as Thomas Carlyle says, " biography is the most universally pleasant and universally profitable of all readings," then we may note with interest that-there lived one of these
    "unknown warriors," a certain Corporal Maurice Henry, who came up with the 1890 Column as a member of the British South Africa Company's Police after he had already been engaged with the Warren Expedition in the Bechuanaland Border Police. We first hear of Maurice
    Henry in Old Umtali (Manicaland) in 1892, when he started the first mineral water works and then expanded this business venture by creating the first auctioneering enterprise. Latent journalistic abilities subsequently led him to found the " Umtali Advertiser," one of the oldest newspapers in Rhodesia. This publication saw the light of day on the 13th December, 1893, and is still in circulation under its original name. Maurice Henry's capabilities were certainly varied : on the 24th May, 1895, he produced and took a principal part in the first opera that this country had ever seen. The play was "Trial by Jury," and it represented a conspicuous
                 (click to enlarge)
    contribution to the offical celebrations on the occasion of the Queen's Birthday, The playbill is still intact and is meticulously preserved in the Government Archives. On the same playbill is to be found the name of another co-religionist, a certain A. L. Lazarus, who was one of the
    founders and promoters of the Umtali Tramways, Ltd., the first and only tramway system in the country, constructed in 1898 and discontinued in 1920. He was nicknamed "Mafuta" (from a tendency to accumulate adipose tissue) and was famous for his unbounded hospitality. His home was known far and wide as the haven of all travellers and hunters. On the subject of those early hunters we find rather a humorous anecdote (as yet unpublished) of a well-known tr
    ader and hunter named Ikey Sonnenberg. He lived in the Victoria district in the early 'nineties
    when roaming lions paid nightly visits to the inhabitants. Driven to desperation by these unwelcome visitors, a band of hardy farmers decided to exterminate them and at about five o'clock one Sunday morning they called on Sonnenberg to accompany them. "'No thank you," he replied, "I ain't lost no lions!"

    A noteworthy episode is recorded in a letter from the Rev. Douglas Pelly, the first Anglican priest in Umtali, to his mother in London dated the 20th February, 1893, wherein he writes:

    ". . . you will be delighted to hear that yesterday's evening service was better attended than ever.  There were twenty-seven people in church, which is considerably more than half the population. After church, a beautiful lamp was donated to the church by a Jew !"

     

     


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