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Royal Commonwealth Society : Neue Langenberg [Tukuyu] Area Collection

Royal Commonwealth Society

<p style='text-align: justify;'>These glass negatives form part of a larger photograph collection which belonged to Major John Stuart Keir Wells, a Nyasaland planter who served with the King's African Rifles in the campaign against German East Africa during the First World War. The negative numbers match the corresponding prints in Y30469K. Wells may have taken many of the images himself. He took part in Brigadier Edward Northey's capture of Neue Langenberg (Tukuyu) in May 1916 and in July 1916 he was appointed its first Political Officer. Wells retired from his post in 1922 to become one of the district's first successful tea planters, and died in 1937. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The collection’s provenance is unclear. The photographs were taken between 1916 and 1918, documenting Well's first few years in Tukuyu. A number depict the officers and men of the KAR at Tukuyu, Wells's residence, dances, ritual events, and the people and landscape of the district. What happened to the negatives after Wells's death is unclear. They probably fell into the hands of someone at Tukuyu in the late 1940s, who incorporated a small number of prints dated 1949 into the collection. The collection was then found at Morogoro by the colonial civil servant Arthur Sutton, who was posted there during the 1950s. Prints were made from the negatives in the 1980s. In retirement, Sutton gave the collection to a former colleague, Leslie Alfred Simmons Brown, whose widow donated them to the RCS in 1994. Unfortunately no original captions survive. It is not known who wrote the vaguely descriptive captions upon the negative envelopes, but they possessed no first-hand knowledge of the people or scenes. By this time the original ordering of the collection had been lost and the photographs are clearly out of sequence. Where possible these tentative captions have been corrected, but specialist knowledge is required to identify many of the subjects and scenes.</p>

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