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I saw this image being sold on ebay, and bootlegged it so it can be seen here. There were a few Africans in the continental Imperial Army prior to 1914-1918. "Sambo" (ok...it's not a politically correct name these days, but that was the name he was called), served in one of the Garde units (Curassier if I recall correctly), and I've heard of two others. Lettow-Vorbeck on his return to Germany after the war, had an African as part of his entourage/bodyguard.

Anyone know anything about this fellow?

Les

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Very, very nice photo. Field artillery???

According to Daniel Murphy in another thread, Elo Sambo, who was originally from Kamerun, was a kettledrummer in the mounted band of the Leib Garde Hussars. There's a photo of him in the thread located at http://gmic.co.uk/index.php?showtopic=4649

Edited by Mike Dwyer
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Yup-- That's Field Artillery Regiment 20 on the private on the left's strap. The rather elderly Gefreiter appears to be wearing a M1916 two ribbon bar, making this a wartime recruit type depot unit, "wearing out" the pre-war blue tunics, all spiffed up in full dress just like peacetime.

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Hello everyone:

I too saw this photograph on Ebay. I recently read a few very interesting articles posted on the internet regarding American black men who had escaped slavery during the Revolutionary War and were recruited by Kurhessen regiments as drummers. Apparently it was a status symbol for a regiment to have a black drummer as their skills were highly prized. According to the article, Prussian regiments of the time also followed this tradition. It is interesting to see that this tradition stayed around for awhile.

Thanks,

Schie?platzmeister

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Elo Sambo was kettle drummer in the Leib-Garde-Husaren from 1907 to 1919, when the regiment was dissolved.

It is interesting to note that he replaced another African (named Arara) at this highly honourable position.

The drums were awarded to the Leib-Garde-Husaren by Whilelm II through an AKO on 19 june 1888, i.e. straight upon accession.

Another interestign tidbit : the kettle drummer's horse was white (Elo Sambo's last one was called Otto).

It is not due to chance as you obtained a color combination :

- BLACK drummer

- WHITE steed

- RED Hussar Dolman

That's your imperial flag !

One may also surmize that having an African parading in such a highly ceremonious position flattered Kaiser Wilhelm's Imperialistic ego. And did he crave for Grandeur and did he like flattery !

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Here is a view of the band of the Leib-Garde-Husaren ; the postcard was shipped 1903, so the kettle drummer must be Arara :

IPB Image

And a very interesting photo taken in Kamerun by Rudolf Oldenburg (c. 1905-1907) : "King Njoya and his guard in Hussar uniform with the German sword"

IPB Image

Ibrahim?Njoya ruled the Bamum from about 1886 to 1930 ?; he is supposed to have been a very shrewed man and was quoted thus :

"Njoya said: 'All kings who resisted the white men were defeated. . . . Bamum, you see, if I had foolishly accepted your decision to resist them, they would have destroyed us all.'"

I read a story that some ruler from Kamerun was presented a painted portrait of the Kronprinz (Kaiser ?) in Hussar uniform fo some celebration. That may be when the inspiration for this Guard came from ?

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Hello everyone:

I too saw this photograph on Ebay. I recently read a few very interesting articles posted on the internet regarding American black men who had escaped slavery during the Revolutionary War and were recruited by Kurhessen regiments as drummers. Apparently it was a status symbol for a regiment to have a black drummer as their skills were highly prized. According to the article, Prussian regiments of the time also followed this tradition. It is interesting to see that this tradition stayed around for awhile.

Thanks,

Schie?platzmeister

As mentioned on the other thread (by me :blush: ) the British began, about 1780 or so, to use "Turkish music" in their regimental bands: big drums and "Jingling Johnies". The band was a privately paid for regimental showpiece, not the fifes and drums the King provided.

Anyway, one status symbol was to have a black in harem pants and turban to play the cool new instruments, Turks being few on the ground in 19th century Europe. The blacks in the Br service were sometimes slaves but usually freemen, hired as musicians (ie: civilian employees of the reg't).

The custom seems to have died out in the mid 1800's but it's interesting that it persisted in Germany. Closer to home, I recall my surprise the first time I saw two kilted Chinese members of the 48th Highlanders of Canada, a local militia regiment. Strange old world. :P

Peter

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