Alexander Nisbet’s photographs of “Solwezi: early 1960s”

Alex’s hobby was photography and he took these Solwezi pictures after he opened Solwezi Secondary School for the Northern Rhodesian Government (GRZ) in 1960.

Important Note: Many of these Nisbet photos of Solwezi precede those on the my personal page: “Solwezi Secondary: 1963-65.” To go back to that page, click this link: Solwezi Secondary School.

Alex’s old photos were scanned by his son, Alastair. Paul David Wilkin wrote the text beneath the photos. Alex and Marjorie Nisbet’s three children (Janette, Dileas and Alastair) have suggested some text. Many individuals in all these Nisbet photos from this by-gone era of the early 1950s to the mid-1960s are hard to identify as most people are either dead, or very elderly with few having access to the Internet.

The first row of photos below were taken outside the main school building, circa 1962-1964. School staff are in the photo on the left. The only staff members’ name that I remember are from the far left, me, Fergus Macpherson, after two Zambians is one woman and then Alex; on the far right Clive Inman and then Bob Hammond. I do not remember the name of the woman in the middle nor the five African staff members. Two photos of senior students are on the right.

Alexander (Alex) Nisbet was a hugely important figure in the history of education in Northern Rhodesia and later Zambia. As described in detail on the cover page, he and his wife, Marjorie, came from the U.K. to Chitokoloki Mission in Zambezi District in the 1950s to take over the Upper Primary School at the Plymouth Brethren (often referred to as CMML) mission that George Suckling had started many decades before. In 1960, he was asked to open the first secondary school in the NWP by the Northern Rhodesian Government. (After Independence, he would open a large government secondary school in Lusaka.) The following three Solwezi pictures (circa early 1960s) show him in his garden with his camera, preaching, and office.

Student photos outdoors: lining up at the Headmaster’s office, football pitch, and having fun in an informal pose outside the main school building.

Classrooms, teachers and students. As a trained scientist, Alex was very concerned about science education. The first row contains three pictures of the science laboratory with Mr. Nisbet and students in the left photo and then in the middle photo, Clive Inman, a temporary teacher from Australia, and students working by themselves on the right. I believe the student on the far right is Willie Sweta.

In this row of classroom scenes, Bob Hammond (American) is teaching math, the woodwork shop and on the right, Fergus Macpherson (Deputy Headmaster) checks a student’s tie.

Solwezi Secondary School (SSS) student life, circa 1962-64. There was no electricity, nor would there be for many years afterwards. The leftmost picture in the first row was taken in a dormitory (see the paraffin lamps in the background); the middle picture shows a student studying by paraffin lamp, which could have been taken either at SSS or at Chitokoloki (late 1950s); and in the rightmost picture, students enamored by the school’s new board games, probably Monopoly.

In this row, students are practicing a dance routine, drama on the improvised stage, and the school’s tiny clinic on the right.

SSS’s initial classrooms and offices on its large campus.

Northern Rhodesian Governor and his entourage visited the school and were met by Alex and a student honour guard. In the bottom row, one of the officers in the middle is Hugh Bayldon, who was the Provincial Commissioner for the NWP before Independence. (More help needed to identify other colonial officers and also school students.)

The above photos have focused on Solwezi students, staff, school life and NRG officals visiting. These will be of special interest to Zambians. The next few sets will be of greater interest to the Nisbet family and their friends. They focus on Alexander and Marjorie Nisbet at home with their their three young children: Janette, Dileas and Alastair in the same period: 1962-1965.

Tea time on the front lawn on a beautiful afternoon.

Weekend relaxation at the Solwezi River and nearby lake.

Off to school, probably Sakeji in Mwinilunga: Janette, Alastair and Dileas. Also on the right would have been a typical scene when traveling in the NWP: wide dirt road, small village and young man seeking a ride to town or school.

Alastair at home. Probably his father or a family friend killed the animal on the right.

Solwezi area. In town centre: English-speaking church and Mwaiseni Stores. On the right, a typical village scene near the school with school boy in front.

Addendum. Six interesting pictures (two rows below) by Alex Nisbet were overlooked when I was developing this page and on Chitokoloki. Bob Hammond was a popular young science and math teacher who arrived a year before I did. He was preaching in a Solwezi church (not sure of location) in the picture below. Next to him is a young student studying and in the upper right, the SSS driver is standing next to the school lorry. On the bottom is the main PO and Dileas learning to ride a horse. In the bottom right corner is a dead hyena taken at Chitokoloki; Dileas says that there were still quite a few in the 1950s.