East and Central Africa Medal, with bar for 1898, issued to Pvt. Mir Arab, 1899Image["East & Central Africa Medal, 1899"]
Obverse, a bust of Queen Victoria with crown, veil and sceptreImage["East & Central Africa Medal, 1899"]
Reverse, Britannia at left with a trident standing facing right and gesturing to sky before a British lion
East & Central Africa Medal, 1899
British rule in East Africa was partly achieved via the British East Africa Company, which acquired possessions in Uganda that the Government took over in 1895, and partly through an agreement with Germany in 1890 which had assigned a German protectorate in what is now Kenya to the Company. Subsequent British attempts to provide a modern transport and revenue infrastructure, at the expense of traditional local custom (or indeed just at the expense of locals) resulted in varying degrees of unrest, and for campaigns against such difficulties Queen Victoria approved this medal in 1899.
The bar 1898 refers to a campaign during that year against Somali rebels which was carried out in the Ogaden region, which was finally annexed to Ethiopia in 1948 and has been disputed between that country and what is now Somalia ever since. In 1898 however the area was mostly part of British Somaliland, the rest having been ceded to Ethiopia in 1897.
This medal was awarded to Private Mir Arab of the 27th Bombay Light Infantry, part of the Indian Contingent in Africa. Lester Watson purchased the medal from the London dealers Spink at some point before 1928.