Ghanzi in 1952 “in years gone by” – caught on film!

This 9-minute silent film, taken in front of the Ghanzi government offices (the low white buildings with pillars), was taken by the visiting brother of Ernest Midgley. He was District Commissioner at Ghanzi circa 1950-1957. There are many unidentified people, most likely the farming community in the area. If you were there around that time, could you help? 

The blonde boy is Alan Midgley, (aged 10) son of Ernest and Mrs Olga Midgley. Bushmen were frequent visitors to Ghanzi. They perform a ritual dance for an audience. Bushmen loved to smoke! You will see a borehole machine, finding Artesian water. The water reservoir that Alan is running around was our swimming pool. Ernest Midgley, wearing a scarf and warm yellow jacket, shows that it was in winter time. He demonstrates that he is not a skilled camel rider!    

Camels were important means of travel for the patrolling police; much more practical than any vehicle that needed roads, petrol, water etc. The camels died as a result of eating barbed wire and were sadly, not replaced.

Alan plays with his dog, Sheppy  and visits a cave, filled with bats. Alan is seen with a bow and arrow and an airgun that he used for shooting birds. Donkey carts were often the mode of travel for some farmers. Monkeys will not have come from Ghanzi.  


Fay’s father, Ernest Midgley (1906-1992) was Administration Officer (and District Commissioner) in Bechuanaland Protectorate from 1927-1962. He and his wife Olga, were stationed in Tsane, Kanye, Tsabong, Lobatsi (1943), Francistown, (1947-1950) Ghanzi 1950-1957; Mahalapye 1957- 1958; Machaneng, Tuli Block.  


He then retired to Gaborone for 2 years before moving to retire to Nottingham Road, Natal, South Africa. Fay and her older brother Alan went to boarding school in the Cape and Eastern Cape. During their time in Ghanzi, their unaccompanied journeys to school twice a year took six days each. 

Fay now lives with her husband in Portsmouth England and is actively recounting her many vivid memories of the by-gone days of Bechuanaland.  

Article and video courtesy of Fay Pearson

4 months ago

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