This film is part of Free
The Landing of Savage South Africa at Southampton
Members of a South African performance troupe arrive for an Earl's Court date
This is one of two surviving films documenting the 1899 visit of the Savage South Africa performance troupe, due to perform at Earl's Court's Empress Theatre as part of the Greater Britain Exhibition. The show was marshalled by Frank Fillis, and included warriors from the Zulu and Swazi tribes, Boer families and mounted policeman as well as elephants, lions and tigers.
This exotic Empire spectacle caused quite a stir and no little controversy, much of it essentially racist (concerns about the visitors' risk to British morality, in particular women). Others challenged the ethics of the enterprise, among them the Times, which queried "the action of the organizers in bringing over a large number of natives to be stared at and to take their chance of being demoralized in such strange and unedifying surroundings". The show arrived in Britain in April 1899; some six months later Britain would be at war, for the second time, with the South African Boers.