A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzabar

A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzibar... Now what is between? For the world wide classical era philatelist and stamp collector, a country specific philatelic survey is offered by the blog author, Jim Jackson, with two albums: Big Blue, aka Scott International Part 1 (checklists available), and Deep Blue, aka William Steiner's Stamp Album Web PDF pages. In addition, "Bud" offers commentary and a look at his completely filled Big Blue. Interested? So into the Blues...

Thursday, May 28, 2015


1931 Scott 42 50c gray lilac "Cape Buffalo"
Quick History
When German East Africa was occupied, and then dismantled after WW I, the lands were acquired by Belgium ( Ruanda-Urundi), Portugal ( Kionga triangle), with the largest share going to Great Britain (Tanganyika).

Ruanda-Urundi (dark green) and the Belgian Congo ( light green) 1935
Troops from the Belgian Congo had occupied this territory in 1916 during the East African Campaign. The military occupation lasted until 1924, when the territory was mandated to Belgium by the League of Nations.

Stamps were introduced in 1924 by overprinting those of the Belgium Congo. (Belgium occupation stamps of 1916-1922 are listed under German East Africa.)

The capital was Usumbura, and the population was 3,700,000 in 1940.

Rwanda and Burundi
Ruanda-Urundi (Also known as Belgium East Africa) remained a Belgium mandate to 1945. It was administered as part of the Belgium Congo, but with separate financial funds. Coffee was the main exploitative economy.

It became a United Nations Trust Territory (administered by Belgium) between 1946-1962. Finally, the territory became the independent countries of Rwanda and Burundi. 

1924 Scott 6 5c orange yellow "Unbangi Woman"
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized 1840-1940  catalogue has, for Ruanda-Urundi 1924-1938, 71 major number descriptions. Of those, 58 are CV <$1-$1+, or 82%. Clearly, a Ruanda-Urundi collection is inexpensive for the WW classical collector.

Of interest, the current Scott catalogue for Ruand-Urundi begins with number 6 - what happened to "Scott 1-5"? It turns out those numbers were for 1922 Belgium occupation stamps of German East Africa, and they were moved into the Belgium occupation stamp section of German East Africa in the current catalogue. The 40s editions Scott catalogue had the stamps listed under "Belgium East Africa" as Scott 1-5.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
100 Centimes = 1 Franc
1924 20c olive green "Ubangi Man"
Stamps of the Belgium Congo 1923-26 were overprinted as shown between 1924-26 for Ruanda- Urundi. The eighteen stamp issue has 12 subjects which consists of native portraits and activities. The original Belgium Congo stamps were engraved by the American Bank Note Company of New York, and are lovely indeed.

1926 Scott 10 20c green "Weaving"
The CV for the 1924-26 issue is <$1 for 15 stamps.

1929 Scott 27 15c olive brown "Babuende Woman"
The 1927-29 eight stamp issue used the same designs from the Belgium Congo 1923-27 issue, but overprinted in a wider format, as shown. CV is <$1-$1+.

1938 Scott 37 5c deep lilac rose "Porter"
The signature issue ( for me) is the 1931-38 eighteen stamp production featuring native peoples and scenes. These stamps were engraved in Paris.

1931 Scott 38 10c gray "Mountain Scene"
I suspect this is a revenue cancellation.

1931 Scott 39 15c pale red "Warrior"
The CV is <$1 for all but one stamp.

1931 Scott 41 40c green "Cattle Herders"
The issue has sixteen portraits or scenes, all exquisitely engraved.

1931 Scott 44 75c gray black "Bahutu Greeting"
Names on stamps for native peoples is not always clear, but the general language spoken is part of the Bantu group.

Bantu dialects
There are about 650 Bantu dialect languages. The larger language groups include the Luba (13.5 million), the Zulu (10 million), and the Kikuyu (6 million). The lingua franca today for 140 million people is Swahili.

1931 Scott 45 1fr rose red "Barundi Women"
The Burundi area was an indigenous kingdom for 200 years prior to the arrival of the German colonists. It was inhabited by the Twa, Hutu, and Tutsi peoples. During the Belgium hegemony of Ruanda-Urundi, the Tutsi were favored over the Hutu, which contributed to later political turmoil.

1931 Scott 46 1.25fr red brown "Bahutu Mother"
The Belgians did little to directly educate the indigenous peoples, relying on the Catholic (subsidised) and Protestant (unsubsidised) missionaries.

1831 Scott 53 10fr brown violet "Watusi Warriors"
The Tutsi or "Watusi" warriors were quite impressive to the Europeans. Glenn Kittler, who wrote popular books about Africa, opines....

" For the most colorful and exciting dancing, you must go to Ruanda-Urundi... east of the Congo. Here the ruling tribe is the Watusi, the tallest people in the world. It has been said that these giants are born six feet tall, and when you walk among them you can believe it. Men towering seven or eight feet are a common sight. Women gain height by having their heads bound into conical shape in infancy, then training their thick hair to grow straight up to add a few inches. Beholding these lean, dignified, soft-spoken giants is quite overwhelming--and they know it. "

1924 Scott J3 15c violet
Belgian Congo Overprinted
Postage Due stamps, seven in the issue, were produced between 1924-27. They consisted of overprinted Belgian Congo stamps. CV is <$1.

Deep Blue
1931-38 Issue in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has seven pages for the stamps of Ruanda-Urundi, and all the  major Scott numbers have a space.

1931 Scott 40 25c brown violet "Kraal"
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on one page, has 31 spaces for the stamps of Ruanda-Urundi. Coverage is 44%. The page is found before the Russia pages. 

Of interest, the 1940s editions coverage- which is the same- is under "Belgium East Africa", and is located between Bechuanaland Protectorate and Belgium.

There are no "expensive stamps": In fact, the highest CV is $1.25 !

Because of the inexpensive nature of Ruanda-Urundi stamps, BB could have added more spaces. I count 26 stamps with CV <$1-$1+ that are not in BB.








Postage Due

A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold): None

1924 Scott J2 10c deep rose
Out of the Blue
The 1931-38 native peoples and scenes engraved issue is, for me, one of the better issues among all of the WW colonial era output.

Note: Maps appear to be in the public domain.

Comments appreciated!


  1. Re, the TAXES-cancellation on 1931 stamp. Similar ones were used in Belgian Congo to convert definitives into postage due's. But that occrred before the actual postage due stamps appeared in 1920s. So not sure what's happening with your item, genuine vs fake, your guess is as good as mine.


  2. Keijo- lots more intrigue than I expected. Thanks for the information.