Saturday, June 07, 2008

Fascinating Inventors No. 3 - Lord Baden Powell

Fascinating Inventors No. 3 – Lord Baden Powell, Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell (1857 – 1941)

Baden-Powell invented the boy-scout movement but before that he was a grown-up tracker- scout in the Boer War in South Africa. He learnt how to follow men and animals without being seen which is quite something. People there were always giving him nicknames – maybe because his own name was a bit of a mouthful. He was known by the Zulus as "M'hlala Panzi"-‘The man who lies down to shoot’. This does not mean that he was a bit lazy or his gun was too big for him; no, apparently it means, the man who takes careful aim and thinks before he acts. Another nickname was, "Impeesa"- ‘Wolf who never sleeps’ which is impressive but, "Kantankye"- ‘He of the big hat’ is not quite so good.

In 1899, Baden-Powell and his men were cut off by enemies, in a small town called Mafeking. He won the siege through daring determination, using dummies and pretend bombs and biscuit tin searchlights. After that he became the youngest Major-General in the British army. When he arrived home he found he had a lot of fans. They had read his book, ‘Aid to Scouting’ and they wanted to be just like him. So he set up the Boy Scouts. He knew that boys liked making gangs and whittling sticks with penknives, and he knew that they did not like being marched about and given orders so he invented a movement for doing woodwork in gangs and mucking about with fires and tents – and no marching. He made up lots of laws for the scouting movement, like always smiling and whistling and being friendly to animals but the main things were to ‘do good’ and ‘be prepared’.


Anonymous said...

i have the great honour of having met two grandsons of baden powell - they're local boys. never thought of baden powell as an inventor!

Wilf said...

You must be very important. I think Baden-Powell is an inventor because I do not think boy scouts were hanging around waiting to be discovered.