When I hear, infrequently these days, Sir Edward Elgar’s magnificent anthem to the British Empire, Land of Hope and Glory, with its proud words: ‘Wider still and wider shall thy bounds be set’, I think of a Northern Rhodesia District Messenger, resplendent in uniform of red and blue, hauling down the Union Jack at sunset from the flagpole on the lawns of the Boma at Mwinilunga, lawns set high on a bluff, looking confidently across the wide plateau above the West Lunga River. For Mwinilunga was the very ultimate edge of the Empire in Africa, where the claims of the Portuguese in Angola to the west and of the Belgians in the Congo to the north had conceded to those of Great Britain when its Empire was still young, vibrant and expanding. I reflect also on the even greater improbability that I should have come to be there and be a part of all that in its last gently declining years. It has been said that the British Empire was ‘acquired in a fit of absence of mind’, largely unsought, certainly without clear plan. Appropriate, therefore, that I should come to be a tiny part of it in a very similar way.