Hut Tax Tokens issued by the British South Africa Company
(1903 to 1916)

The hut tax patrol was administered at this time by Mr J H Hemans across an area extending 4,000 miles in the Sebungwe District (Mashonalan dand Matabeleland: now Zimbabwe). Hemans, the Native Commissioner, walked along primitive tracks looking for inhabitants who were levied with the tax.

Image right: Face of the 1916 hut tax token issued in the "M" or Darwin district in the Balson Holdings Family Trust (providence Evan Atkins, see below)

The Commissioner would arrive at a village with his tax registers, enter new names and, in discussions with the chief, decide claims for exemption put forward by those who had reached old age or who had become infirm. Then the cash was collected and stored in bags which were sealed and packed in metal ammunition boxes.

On a long patrol, which could last for up to three months, the Commissioner would be accompanied by as many as fifty carriers (each with his load which was, by custom, limited to sixty three pounds); six or seven messengers, who in spite of the title were really minor African officials; his personal servants and several dogs.

A day's routine o patrol followed a set pattern. The overnight camp would be woken at 5am and, while the bearers and messengers organised themselves for the day's trek, the Commissioner would drink his morning coffee and nibble a rusk or two. It was usually cold in the mornings and the Commissioner at the head of his column, in which each man had his appointed place, would set a brisk pace until everyone had warmed up.

After a ten mile journey, by about 9.30am, the first halt was called by some stream and here the commissioner would have his bath and breakfast, the day's rations would be issued and the expedition would rest and resume the march in mid-afternoon.

The night camp was pitched well before the dusk. The carriers dumped their loads and automatically went about their camp making tasks. Some cleared the grass and bush, others went to fetch firewood and water, others prepared the cooking places and helped the personal servants to erect the Commissioner's tents.

Image right: Reverse of the 1916 hut tax token

Others would light fires around the camp area as a protection against prowling beasts. The carriers were allotted their own night quarters and their duties were finished for the day. Meanwhile, the Commissioner's personal servants would have been busy and his dinner would be punctually an ceremoniously served at seven. At nine o'clock, the Commissioner would blow long blasts on  whistle, while the Sergeant of the messengers marched around bawling out "Toulani Umsindo!" the signal for all the fireside laughter and yarn-spinning to cease and for absolute silence to reign.

When camp was pitched near a village, the headman or chief would present himself to offer greetings and a number of "gifts" such as sheep, fowls, fresh eggs, milk and grain. Before departure, after the administrative business in the village was done, the Commissioner himself would be expected to make gifts. His "gifts" were made in cash, and were to the value of the provisions provided by the villagers earlier. This fiction of "gifts" was always firmly but politely applied - noting that this was not a business transaction.

B.S.A Co (British South Africa Company) Hut Tax Token (Female) 1912-1913

This particular Token has the letter O stamped from the 'Odzi' district. Research indicates that these district tokens are extremely rare in any form. (Reverse blank)

It is the smaller female hut tax token and was the only one of its kind in the collection of a prominent Rhodie collector.

Acquired  by the Balson Holdings Family Trust in May 2008 ex Evan Atkins* collection.

*Evan Atkins is a former Rhodesian/Zimbabwean now living in the U.K. He has been collecting Rhodesiana for over thirty years. He also inherited his father's collection (Rhodesian army) and grandfather's pieces - the origin of these hut tax pieces.

The extremely rare South West African hut tax pass issued by the German Colonial Authorities in the Balson Holdings Family Trust collection

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