British South Africa Company's Medal (Matabeleland 1893), awarded to Trooper M. E. Burns, 1896
Obverse, a bust of Queen Victoria in veils
Reverse, a lion with a spear in his chest leaping over African native wargear, with brush behind
British South Africa Company's Medal, 1896
The British South Africa Company was established by Cecil Rhodes in an attempt to match the successes of the British East India Company from the base of the British Cape Colony (now South Africa) into the briefly-Portuguese territories to the north, an area soon known as Rhodesia. The Company, given a royal charter in 1889, recruited its own forces and from 1890 onwards significant engagements resulted in the award of this medal to those troops.
One of their opponents was Lobengula Kumalo, King of the Matabele, a Zulu people who had established a separate nation in the early nineteenth century. This nation became one of the BSAC's target territories and fear of the imminent colonisation led to attacks on Company territories in Bechuanaland (in the Cape Colony, now South Africa) in 1893. The attacks were met with Maxim guns and slaughter by the far better-equipped Company troops, although this did not prevent the Matabele from rising again in 1896.
This medal, which was awarded to Trooper M. E. Burns of the Bechuanaland Border Police, shows his participation in the 1893 campaign in the legend around the upper reverse field. Lester Watson purchased the medal at some point before 1928.