National Boy Scout Uniform: Africa

Figure 1.--Here we have a group of Madagascan Boy Scouts picking prickly pears about 1960. The Scouts are barefoot as almost all Madagascan boys at the time. They are also picking the prickly pears with bare hands.

Scouting is probably the weakest in Africa of all the different geographic regions, although Asia was affected by the Communist regimes dominating much of the continent. Scouting was founded in African countries by the various colonial powers. With de-colonization, the popularity of Scoutung declined in most of the former colonies. A major factor is economics. Scouting from the beginning was a largely middle-class, urban movement. The middle class in most African countries is weak. And ihe corruption and socialist policies adopted in most of the newly independent countries caused the economies to decline, further weakening the middle class. Most African boys just can't aford to be Scouts. The strongest movement appears to be in South Africa where the movement played a positive role through the difficult Apartheid era. Most of the strongest Scout movements are in the former British colonies. Please have a look at available information on Scouting in the following geographical areas and the development of the various national uniforms in each different area.



We know very littke about Scouting in Benin beyond some basic facts. Hopefully our Benin Scoutwrs will provide some information about their activities. Scouting was founded in Benin (1932). Benin at the time was the French colony of Dahomney. This wa a European creation as frontiers cut across traditioal tribal boundaries. Benin achieved independence (1960). Benin Scouts joined the WOSM after independence (1964) Benin for a time becamne a Marxist republic which discouraged the Scouting movement. The movement had a xsmall menbership of about 6,500 Scouters (2010). There are two Scout and Guide movement in Benin. The Guides du Bénin are a member of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. Scoutisme Béninois is a member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement.



We know little about the early history of the Cameroon Scout movement. Kameroon was a German colony at the time the Scouting movement was founded in England. We do not know if Scouting or any other youth group was organized during the German colonial period. As far as we knoww it was not. As a result of World War I, German Kameroon was partitioned by the Brirish and French. We know that Scouting groups were founded in both the French and British Cameroon. Scouting was introduced in East Cameroon (1924) and West Cameroon (1937). As a result of the separate British and French sectors, the Scouting movemrnt at the time if indepenbdence was divided (1960-61). A few years after indeoendence, Cameroon Scouters decided to unify the Scouring movement. It is at this time that the National Federation of Scouting was establidhed (1959). The country today has a small Scouting movemnent with a both a Scouting and Guide association. The Scout association is Les Scouts du Cameroun/Boy Scouts of Cameroon. It became the 99th member of WOSM (1971). The Guide association is the Association des Guides du Cameroun. It is a member of WAGGGS. The Scouting levels are: Louveteaux (Cubs; ages 6 to 11), Eclaireurs (Scouts; ages 11 to 15), Scouts aînés (Senior Scouts; ages 15 to 19), and Routiers (Rover Scouts; ages 19 to 26). Camerron Scouts regularly participate in world jamborees and other international events. Cameroon has a Moinistetr of Youth who often has also been the Chief Scout. EL Ahmadou Ahidjo ws the Youth Minister abnd Chief Scout at the time Cameroon Scouts joined the WOISM. The Scouting movement receives a range of support from the Cameroon Government which includes money to attend jamborees ad and other Scouting events. [Ewumnue-Monono. pp. 66-67.]

Cape Verde

We have very limited information about Cape Verde Scouting. The country was A portuguese colony. And Scouting mat have funxtuined there during the colonial period, although we have fe details. A coup in Portugal resulted in a new government which granted independence to its former colonies. Cape Verde became independent ( 1975). The country has a very small Scoting movement. One report indicate tht there were about 700 couts (2004). We notice both Cunb and Scout levels, but have been unable to find much additional infiormation bout Cape Verde Scouting. The natinal Scouting association is the Associação dos Escuteiros de Cabo Verde (The Cape Verde Scooting Association--ADEDCV). The ADEDVC was founded in recent times (1990). It became a ember of the World Organization of the Scout Movement (2002). The ADEDCV is a member of the Comunidade do Escutismo Lusófono (Community of Lusophone Scouting). This is an association uniting the Scouting movement in Portugal and the Portuguese speaking former colonies. The largest Portuguese-speaking country is of course Brazil.


HBU has been able to find virtually no information on Egyptian Scouting. Antonis Benakis, son of a rich Greek cotton merchant and philanthropest Emmanuel Benakis, was the founder of both the Greek boy scouts in Egypt, but also of the Egyptian scouts. We are not sure just when they were founded, but believe it was about 1912. Some Scouting activity has been reported earlier including groups affiliated with the short-lived World Order of Scouting. This group was the earliest World Scouting organisation. The Egyptian Scouts were presumably also influenced by British Scouts as Britain had a strong presence in Egypt until the 1950s because of the Suez Canal. We do not know to what extent Egyptian Scouting was integrated. There was a Jewish group in 1920. Egypt is the most populace country in the Middle East and probably has the largest Scout movement in the area. As in most of the Middle East, the Scout movement in Egypt appears to be relatively small. Most of the participants were presumabbly middle class boys from somewhat westernized families in the larger cities, especially Alexandria and Cairo. We do know that Egyptian Scouts have attended many World Jamborees. Egyptian Scouts are also strong supporters of Pan-Arab-Jamborees. The 6th Pan-Arab Jamboree was held in Alexandria Egypt duting 1964. The Egyptian Government has issued postage stamps commemorating the Scouts. Egypt in 1997 issued a 75p airmail stamp to commemorate the 85th Anniversary of Arab Scouting. Given the radicalization of politics in the Middle East during recent years, however, the Scout movement may have suffered. I doubt if Arab militants are favorably disposed to a uniformed group that they probably view as Western-inspired if not organized. We have not, however, been able to find any definitive information on the movement in Egypt. Hopefully, Egyptian readers will update HBU on the status of the country's Scout movement. We have little information on Egyptian Scout uniforms at this time. We have noted that for many years the Scout cap was a fez. Presumably it was red, but we are not positive about this.


Scouts were active in Ethiopia in the 1920s and 30s. We are not sure when the Scouting movement was founded there. We note Scouts assisting in the resistance to the the Italian Fascists in 1935. The Italians banned Scouting as they had done in Italy itself. Scouting was also banned by the Communists in the 1970s.


Gabon has a small Scouting movenmebnt. Scouting began in the country during the French colonial era. At first it was for the French boys living in France as part of the coloniual administration. The movenment was noit formallfounded until later (1936). This was a little later than in many other African countries, just before World War II. The founding was a little complicated because France kept reorgaising its African colonies. Gabon at the time Scouting was founded was part of French Equatorial Africa. The Fédération Gabonaise du Scoutisme (Gabonese National Scouting Association--FGDS) is the umbrella Scout group in Gabon. The FGDS became a member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement (1971). It is now coeducational and has about 4,000 members (2008).[ There are several different Scout associations that make up the FGDS. They include: the Scouts et Guides Catholiques du Gabon (Catholic Scouts and Guides of Gabon), Eclaireuses-Eclaireurs du Gabon (Scouts and Guides of Gabon) and Eclaireurs et Eclaireuses Unionistes du Gabon (Protestant Scouts and Guides of Gabon). Gabonese Scouts are n is involved in various public service efforts, motly in cooperation with sports and cultural organizations. One of the most important efforts is forestation as well as other ptroijects to improve public areas. The different levels are: Cub Scouts (age 7 to 11), Scouts (ages 12 to 15 years), and Rover Scouts (ages 16 to 20 years).




Malagasy Scouting was officially founded durung the French colonia era (1921). They were not recognized by the World Bureau until independence (1960). It is a rathercvsmall national movemrnt. There were about 9,000 Scouts (1998), but we have no recenbt nembership estimates. The umbrella Scouting organization is Firaisan'ny Skotisma eto Madagasikara (Scout Federation of Madagascar). There are three Scout Associations: 1) Kiadin'I Madagasikara (Scouts of Madagascar), 2) Tily Eto Madagasikara (Unionist Scouts of Madagascar), and 3) Antilini'I Madagasikara (Catholic Scout Association of Madagascar). The three Associations are all community orientated. They is also a Girl Scout association, the Skotisma Zazavavy eto Madagasikara (Fédération du Scoutisme Féminin de Madagascar). One source reported a memnbershipo of nearly 25,000 (2003). That is somewhat unusual because usually more boys prticipate in Scouting than girls in Africa. We are not sure aout the availsble nembership estimates. There are several Scoiuting development centers in the country. An important effort taken in by Malagasy Scouts is rural education, primarily literacy. They help with instruction in adult literacy classes. Public hygiene is amother effort promoted by Scouts in Madagascar. The Scouts have also helped during natural disasters and with relief projects. The boys' program levels are: Cub Scouts (7 to 11 years), Scouts (12 to 15 years), and Rovers (16 to 20 years).


Morocco was a French Protectorate at the time that Baden-Powell founded the Scouting movement. French Scoutrs helped to bring the Scouting mivemrnt to Morocco. The traditiojal Scout and Guide movement in Morocco is overseen by served by the Fédération Nationale du Scoutisme Marocain which is a member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) Morocco has a Guiding organization which apparently is working toward membership in the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. There are apperently some problems associated with membership as a result of Islamic culture and attitudes toward women. As a result, there are several independent Scout associations which the Moroccans call 'non-aligned' associations. These include the Association Scouts Arabe Sociale, Association Scouts du Maroc, Mouvement du Scoutisme marocain, Organisation du Scout Populaire, Organisation du Scoutisme marocain musulman, Organisation Scout Atlas, Organisation Scout National, Organisation Scoutisme Mohamedia Marocaine, Organisation Scouts sans frontières, and Scoutisme Unifié au Maroc. Some of these associations are quite small. We have virtually no information about them. In particular we do not know why they are not interested in joining the WOSM and how closely the ideals of the groups conform to the ideals of the internationl Scouting movement. A key tennant is world friendship and Scouting brotherhood, the belief that Scouting is an international brotherhood which transcends nationlity, race, and religion. Here a problem is Islam. And the problem is not just Muslim attituudes toward women. Koranic verses instruct Muslims not to associate closely with non-Muslims. Koranic verses rather than promoting Muslims to love their neighbors, explicitly warns them to be wary and not associate with non-Muslims. The Koran instructs Muslims, "Let not the believers take disbelievers for their friends in preference to believers. Whoso doeth that hath no connection with Allah unless (it be) that ye but guard yourselves against them, taking (as it were) security. Allah biddeth you beware (only) of Himself. Unto Allah is the journeying. [Qur’an 3:28] There are also international Scouting units in Morocco. The most important is the Boy Scouts of America, served by the Transatlantic Council in Rabat.


Nigeria is the most populace country in Africa, Scouting was founded in Nigeria durihg the British colonial period. The Scouting movement proved most successful in the Chrstian south. We believe that Nigeria has the largest Scouting movenent in Africa, but we have not yet found much information about Nigerian Scouting. There is a Scout camp at Edo which is supported by the Living Faith Church. An important annual event is the African Scout Day celebration. In addition to the Boy Scouts there is a Girl Guide movement. Hopefully Nigeria Scouters will provide us some information about Scouting in their country.



Somalia's Scouting history is a little complicated because the modern country of Somalia is composed if Italianian and British colonies. There was a small Scouting movemnnt in British Somaliland, located in the north. Italian Fascists =, however, banned Scouting abnd organized their own ntional movemnent--the Balilla .

South Africa

South Africa played an important role in the formative period of Scoting. Not only the lore of British Scouting, but the uniform was heavily influenced by South Africa. It was in South Africa that Lord Baden Powell became known to the British public and British boys. Some of the Scouting legends come from South Africa. British Cubs, and as a result Cubs in most countries, drew from Africa for their lore. The Scout movement movement was probably the most integrated insitution in the country during the Apartheid era, especially English Scout units.


Zambia has both a Guide and Scout association. The Girl Guides Association of Zambia is a member of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. The Zambia Scouts Association is a member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement. Scouting and Guiding are the principal youth organizatiions in Zambia. Both were established during the British colonial period. Scouting was founded with the registration of the first Boy Scout company (1909). This was only 2 years after Scouting was founded in Britain. It proved popular with the boy. A troup was sent to the seciond World Scout Jamboree in Denmark (1924). The first Scouts were British boys in Zambia. A separate organization ws established for African boys which ws called Pathfinders. the two groups were unified (mid-20th century). Activities include pioneering, camping, hiking, and cooking. Zambia Scouts are active in a range of public service programs, especially in rural areas. Zambian Scouts are playing an important role in the HIV/AIDS prevention drive that is underway in Zambia and other countries in southern Africa. They are working on awareness and education about prevention. The Scouts are targeting their oiwn youth community, the individuals most endangered.


Scouting began in Bulawayo in the 1930s and is still active there. Zimbabwe was known at the time as Soputhern Rhodesia and was a British colony. We do not yet have information on the rest of Zimbabwe. Most of the early Scouting photographs that we have found show mostly white boys. We are unsure to what extent the movement was integrated. This suggests that Scouting was mostly a movement involving white boys. It may also mean that white Scouts have preserved their mementos better and are more sctive in the internet. Hopefully readers can provide more information here.


Ewumnue-Monono, Churchill. Youth and Nation-Building in Cameroon: A Study of ational Youth Day Messages and Leadership Discourse (1949-2009).


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Created: February 9, 2001
Last updated: 8:29 PM 8/1/2012