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8 Feb 2014

Britons in Africa

Africa United was a great movie.  I seem to remember getting pressurised to watch it while somewhere really unexpected like the University of London students' union or a socialist demonstration, or possibly strolling through Mayfair.  We need to be united in our search for records in Africa.

Britons in Africa is now online.  It is a showcase database, enabling people to be surprised at finding one of their folks on the great unexplored continent.  The Stirling Castle, Dublin Castle, Walmer Castle and a dozen other Union-Castle ships could get you to a new life in as little as 23 days.

However, until recently, those 23 days could see your descendants in England closing the door completely on your life, as no genealogical information was obtainable from South Africa, which became a Republic (after Afrikaaner-dominated voting) in 1961.

Now, on FamilySearch, Natal marriage records are online (to 1955) and Zimbabwe deaths, in a somewhat crude index up to the last days of Ian Smith.  It looks like the card indexes were hurled out on the table and rapidly photographed before possible destruction by the incoming government.  Who knows.  It's great to have them.

These new databases that allow us to follow our relatives around the world, should be applauded.

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