We Went to Cecil Rhodes Funeral

	On 8th April 1902 was the day on which the mortal remains of 
Cecil Rhodes reached Bulawayo for burial in the Matopos. His illness in
Cape Town seemed to Rhodes to be almost a family affair. He seemed
to belong to Rhodesia, & therefore to us in a special way. We were glad
he  was to be buried in the Matopos.
	The work on the grave - chiselling out in the solid rock was
started without delay, and also the clearing & cutting of the road from
Bulawayo - it was a very rough track and it was necessary to make it 
ready for the traffic. There were no motors and very few "made" roads
in those days.
	The coffin was {I think}   lined with lead was very heavy & the
problem arose of getting it up on to the hill. A gun carriage was decided 
upon. Then came the  rehearsal of drawing the gun carriage which was
weighted up the great {slippery} granite hill. But alas!  The mules could
not find foot hold on  the slippery rock. Elaborate hauling devices were 
suggested when some old  pioneer came to the rescue & suggested oxen.
This solved the problem. With  their split hooves they easily drew the gun
carriage to the summit of the hill. 
	 All the arrangements were expiditiously [sic] fixed up and
worked very smoothly.
	The first part funeral service was held in the Drill Hall on 9th. [?] 
Men, women & children from all over Rhodesia attending. A large
gathering of  natives collected outside the hall.
 [The following....]  My family hurried home from the service as there 
was  much to attend to. Travelling was slow in those days & it meant
spending a night  in the veldt as a cordon was thrown  [....was crossed out. NF]
across the road somewhere near Mr Chennels [?] house is & this side of
the  Dam Hotel. I must explain that  Cecil Rhodes coffin had been taken
after the service to  his farm where the Agric. School now is & rested the
night in the summer house.
	We started off in our tent waggon from the Suburbs with bedding
& food for two days. A carriage & mules we took along also. In it we were to
travel from the cordon next day in the funeral procession. As I remarked 
before there were no motors in those days, and the 29 miles meant a five 
hour journey, then the service another five hours back again.It couldn't be 
done so we were thankful we had the waggon.
	We arrived at the camping place in the evening & found hundreds 
of camp fires burning. The smell of chops and coffee in the air made us all 
hungry. Soon we had our own fire going and everything ship shape in no
time. Then we had our dinner in the open by the light of the fire. Many friends 
joining us. Someone remarked "Wouldn't the old man (as many called 
Rhodes) have liked this [deleted..] funeral way / part / of going to
[..ends deleted] his  funeral real pioneering "bit". No one felt sad 
but at the most solemn.
	Early next morning I was up to get bread[?] & see the waggon 
being packed for the return journey. We were going on in the carriage or 
"spider" & had to take our lunch with us. 
	Soon everything was ready, breakfast over & the mules inspanned. 
My two [ ]sons, husband, self & a friend or two [pp3] 
	So we joined the throng for the cordon had been lifted. The gun 
carriage with its sacred burden well on the way. What a {{ medley }} hurly burly
of a  procession it was, carts, spiders, horsemen & women bicycles, even a 
man on a donkey!  What dust was churned up. How glad I was when came to 
a rough & stony bit  & I could breathe again. Then a change[?] an[?] 
	At last we arrived at the foot of the hill where a great crowd was 
gathered & a stately procession formed. I well remember the thin ribbon of 
people winding up that historic rock. The Bishop in his robes & the clergy 
added dignity & solemnity to the occasion. On the right were massed the 
Matabele warriors with {{their}} skins  around their loins & rough wild cat caps,
their assegais & {{sticks}} kerries. It was a grand & noble sight suited to the 
great man to whom we were paying our last respects. When the Matabele 
(Zulu) "Bayete" rang out, throaty yet clear & strong I felt thrills coursing down 
my spine.
	This is the picture in my mind. Grandeur & Dignity & Solemnity. 
Ah! that  there had been someone to paint it.
	Soon I was in the ribbon of people climbing along & I was 
conscious of the  great heat & my two weary little boys. We at last were 
gathered round the grave.In the shade of one of the boulders I listened to
the hymns. The first hymn sung were

1. "Oh God our help in ages past"
2. "Days & moments quickly flying"
3. Day of Wrath Oh day of mourning "
4. Now the labourers task is o'er"

	How gloriously the hymns rang out over the tops of the hills & 
seemed to fade away far into the distance. {{And leave we now thy serv}} 
The closing words were so appropriate "And leave we now {{our}} Day 
of wrath Oh day of mourning thy servant sleeping".


This account is almost certainly written by Annie Fletcher who came to Bulawayo
shortlybefore the Rebellion. The children mentioned would be Kenneth and Hugh. 
In that case Annie must have left Ben, a small baby then, in Bulawayo. (?). 

The recollection was probably written some time after the event. The draft with its
corrections suggests it was intended as a formal composition, and not written as a
letter. These crossings out etc. have been included in this typescript more or less
as they stand.
The original is in the possession of Elsa ("Winkie") Schmolke, daughter of Kenneth, 
eldest of the children mentioned above.

The baby Ben, who was probably left in Bulawayo and missed the funeral, nevertheless
later visited Rhodes' grave under happier circumstances. It was was said in the family
that he received his knighthood for having carried the sandals of Princess Elizabeth
and Princess Margaret who walked barefoot up the slope to the gravesite when the
Royal Family visited in 1947. 
This should have set a precedent and example for all such places where the uncloven
hooves of tourists are gouging out tracks in rock.

Last modified 17 October 2019

Copyright © Elsa Schmolke 2009, 2019.



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