December 3, 2012

Selected Poetry of Zafar

Muntakhib Kulliyat-I Zafar is a collection of poetry by the last Mughal emperor and last ruler of the Timurid Dynasty, Muhammad Bahadur Shah II (1775–1862), generally known as Bahadar Shah Zafar. The son of Akbar Shah II, the ruler of a declining empire, Zafar was a prolific writer and a great Urdu poet. He was influenced by Sauda, Meer, and Insha, eminent Urdu poets of the 18th–early 19th centuries. Zafar was also a noted patron of contemporary poets, including Ghalib, Dagh, Shah Naseer, Momin, and Zauq. He came to the throne in 1837, but his control did not reach far beyond Delhi’s Red Fort. After the Uprising of 1857 (also known as the Sepoy Rebellion), the British exiled him to Rangoon, where he lived out his days. Much of his poetry laments loss and suffering and the mental pain of imprisonment. He wrote geets, poems with a melodious haunting rhythm, but most of his prodigious output was in the lilting form of ghazals. Much of his work was lost in the chaos of 1857, but his surviving ghazals were gathered into a collection in which the eloquence, Sufi mysticism, and fluent style that characterize his work are evident. In this edition, potentially unfamiliar Urdu language is explained in Farsi and Arabic terms.

Survey of India: Specimens of Map Drawing

The Survey of India was established in 1767 to assist the British East India Company in carrying out survey work and to map territory for the purposes of administration, taxation, and defense. By the end of the 19th century, the survey had succeeded in mapping most of British India. This volume, published in 1904 under the direction of Lieutenant Colonel F.B. Longe, Surveyor-General of India, was intended as a guide to the styles of drawing employed in the Survey of India. The “Note for Guidance” on the opening page states that “lines must be sharp and clean, and the ink used must be perfectly black.” Meticulous care was needed in drawing maps that would be reproduced by photozincography, a process involving the use of zinc plates developed in Britain in the 1850s for the national Ordnance Survey, but which was little used in Britain after the 1880s. Officers were warned that “lines or names which are gray or in any way faint or broken, entail much labour in touching up on the plates,” and that “before submitting any map for publication it should be examined under a magnifying glass.” The work contains 44 specimens, for the most part taken from existing departmental maps produced by the Survey of India.

Who is the Murderer?

Panchkori Dey (also seen as Babu Panch Kori Dey, 1873–1945) was a Bengali writer of detective fiction, best known for two of his characters: Arindam Bosu, a dhoti-wearing detective working in India and Europe, and Jumelia, a cunning and wicked criminal. Dey was influenced by 19th-century European writers of criminal romances, such as Wilkie Collins and Emile Gaboriau. Hatyakari Ke? (Who is the murderer?) was first published in Bengali in about 1903; the edition presented here is a later Urdu translation. The plot revolves around a father who arranges his daughter’s marriage to a characterless boy out of greed, in defiance of the wishes of his family and friends. The social evil of arranged marriages, particularly the suffering of the girls involved, is a theme of the novel.

The Story of the Life of Mackay of Uganda Told for Boys

The Story of the Life of Mackay of Uganda Told for Boys is a biography of Alexander Murdoch Mackay (1849–90), a pioneering Scottish missionary to Uganda. Written by Mackay’s sister, Alexina Mackay Harrison, and published in London in 1892, the book was intended to inspire boys to follow Mackay’s example and devote their lives to service in Africa. It begins with a brief account of the early European explorers of Africa: Mungo Park, who in 1796 ventured up the River Niger; James Bruce, who in 1770 traced the Blue Nile to its source; and other explorers, including Speke, Grant, Stanley, and Livingstone. An account of Mackay’s early life in Scotland follows, reporting the influence on him of a deeply religious and highly literate family, and his early commitment to preaching the Christian gospel. It recounts Mackay’s studies in engineering at the University of Berlin, his learning German, and the close ties he developed with German church and missionary circles. In 1876, Mackay answered a call of the Church Missionary Society to serve in Uganda. He arrived in Africa in November 1878, where he spent nearly 14 years, never once returning to his native Scotland. The book describes Mackay’s friendship with King Mutesa I of Buganda (reigned, 1856–84) and his difficulties under Mutesa’s successor, King Mwanga, who fiercely persecuted the early Ugandan church. The concluding chapter recounts the work of Alfred R. Tucker, Anglican bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa in 1890–99 and first bishop of Uganda in 1899–1911, and of six early Ugandan Christians who continued Mackay’s work after his death: Sembera Mackay, Henry Wright Duta, Mika Sematimba, Paulo Bakunga, Zachariah Kizito, and Yohann Mwira.

Growls from Uganda

Growls from Uganda is a book of reflections on various aspects of modern life written by an unidentified Englishman living in Uganda in the early part of the 20th century. The author’s pseudonym, Critolaos, is taken from a relatively obscure ancient Greek philosopher who was a member of the school of Skeptics. The first chapter, entitled “Civilisation from a Distance,” describes the experience of the author living in a Baganda grass hut, built to his own specification and fashion. Successive chapters deal with what the author sees, from his detached perspective as a recluse in Africa, as the evils of modern European and American civilization: advertising, commercialism, excessive desire for money, a flawed educational system, and accidents involving motor cars. The concluding chapter recounts the author’s earlier life as a gold prospector in British Columbia, Canada, with reflections on the possibilities of “striking it rich” and the injustices that often befall prospectors. Little is known about the true identity of the author, why he went to Uganda, or how long he remained, although one scholar states that his real name was H.B. Cater, the author of a 1905 book on unemployment published under the same pseudonym.

Tucker of Uganda: Artist and Apostle, 1849-1914

Tucker of Uganda: Artist and Apostle, 1849-1914 is a biography of Alfred R. Tucker, the first bishop of Uganda. The book traces Tucker’s early life in England, his training and success as an artist, his studies at Oxford, his work as an Anglican clergyman, and his call to go to Africa as a missionary. Consecrated bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa by the Archbishop of Canterbury on April 25, 1890, Tucker left for Africa the same day. He made a survey trip of the Uganda Protectorate in late 1890–early 1891, where he found the country in parlous condition, wracked by conflict between Christian missionaries and Arab traders, rivalries between Protestants and Roman Catholics, and difficult economic conditions. Over the next seven years, Tucker made two long visits to Uganda from his base in Mombasa, Kenya. He was instrumental in building up the Anglican Church, but he also witnessed devastating famine and outbreaks of fever. In 1897, Tucker became the first bishop of the newly formed Uganda diocese. In 1899, he transferred to Mengo, near present-day Kampala, where he served until 1911. As bishop, he worked to build an autonomous Ugandan church with its own leaders, and he established schools and emphasized the importance of education. He served his final years as canon of Durham Cathedral in northern England, where he died in 1914.