Lockdown Siege 2.0

A Scouting@Home activity for all Sections

Most people know that Robert Baden-Powell, or B-P, was the founder of Scouts NSW. Most people also know he was the Hero of Mafeking (now Mahikeng) during the Second Boer War that took place between 1899 and 1902 when he was a serving British Army officer. But what do you know about the Siege of Mafeking itself?

The Boers, farmers descended from the original European (mainly Dutch) settlers in southern Africa, were at war with the British. Colonel Baden-Powell and a handful of officers had been sent to the Cape Colony (now part of the Republic of South Africa) to secretly enlist two regiments of local soldiers. They had no artillery apart from an old cannon they rebuilt, and were outnumbered when the Boers laid siege. Mafeking was strategically located, but miles from anywhere, and B-P had to rely on cunning and clever ruses to hold out for 217 days while surrounded before British troops arrived to relieve the town.

One area where B-P needed to improvise was in supplying banknotes. He authorised an issue of emergency paper money from January to March 1900 in various denominations – one, two and three shilling notes (10c, 20c and 30c) were printed on ruled notebook or railway stationery, while ten shilling ($1) and one pound ($2) notes were printed on better quality paper. The ten shilling and one pound note (alongside) were designed by B-P himself.

The siege ended in May 1900. 217 days is a long time to be holed up!


Your creative weekly challenge

Your task is to design a $100 banknote for the Great Australian Lockdown. You can use whatever materials you like, and if you submit your artwork for judging by the Gamarada Scout Fellowship it will go on display at Granville HQ – the base for our 25 Scout Fellowships. The winning designs in each section (Joeys/Cubs/Scouts/Venturers/Rovers/Leaders) will feature in an upcoming NSW Fellowship Focus newsletter. Make sure your artwork is at least A4 in size, with your name and Scout Unit on the front and your telephone number on the back. Don’t delay – the competition closes when Scouts advises that you can restart normal face-to-face meetings back in the hall!


If you choose to enter the Gamarada Scouting@Home Competition, post your entry to Denise Davies at PO Box 179 Thornleigh NSW 2120.

Judging will take place in the month after the end of Lockdown. Any questions? Ring 0414 810 708.


Top Secret Trivia

Part of the reason why B-P was so popular on his return home, despite the siege being of little real military significance, was that British spirits had been flagging. By coincidence, both the British Prime Minister’s son and Winston Churchill’s aunt were besieged in Mafeking along with B-P, and they helped promote his good news story. He almost achieved cult status!

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