1921-22 – “AFRICAN GUIDEBOOKS -PART 2 – CUSTOMS, WEIGHTS, AND MEASURES ”
For the past several weeks, we have been investigating the various guidebooks to South and East Africa. In particular we are focusing on information found inside of The South and East African Yearbook & Guide with Atlas and diagrams published annually for the Union-Castle Mail Steamship Company, Ltd.
Page 603 discusses the customs duties for East Africa. This was vital information for anyone entering the colony with the intent of forming a business, importing or exporting goods. Any luggage, which included bicycles, cameras, USED sewing machines, and binoculars, was duty-free. Also free of customs duties were tools for raising farm animals and crops, industrial machinery, and commercial motor vehicles. Everything else required payment to bring into the new colony. The import duty on any "spirits (50% of proof)” was 15 florins per gallon. This was increased or decreased in proportion to the amount of alcohol above or below 50% proof. Beer and wine did not come under this category. They were included along with "tobacco, playing cards, pianos, and silk." The list, which required a 30% fee, read like the necessary ingredients to form a saloon. Cement, petroleum, petrol, and paints came in at 10% duty. If it wasn't on any of these lists, it cost 20% to bring in. Export duties were 30% on Ivory, 10% on hides and skins, 5% on rubber, 10% on fine timber, and 4% on anything else not included on the list.
As would be expected in English colony, English weights and measures were employed. However since many items were sold to or purchased from the Kukuyu or Wakamba tribes, "native weights and measures" were in common use. For example one "maui" was the equivalent of about 3 pounds. A "frasla" equaled 36 pounds and a "gizla” was 360 pounds. If one were buying or selling fabric such as the simple white cotton imported from the United States, known as "Americani” you might sell it by the "doti" which was about four yards, or 1/8 of the entire roll.
Next week: More from the African manuals: Railway Regulations
NOTE: These blogs are meant to give some insight into the life and times of my fictional character, Jade del Cameron. Jade’s mystery adventures take place in post WWI Africa. To date they are: Mark of the Lion, Stalking Ivory, and The Serpent’s Daughter, and The Leopard’s Prey, all available in trade paperback. TREASURE OF THE GOLDEN CHEETAH is available in hardcover. An excerpt and information on pre-ordering signed copies is available at the website: www.suzannearruda.com. Follow short updates on http://twitter.com/SuzanneArruda