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History of Scouting

Key dates In the Development of Scouting

1857: the birth of Robert Stephenson Smyth Powell (B.P)

1876: B-P passed brilliantly the army examination to become right away an officer without having to be trained at the Royal military College in Sandhurst.

1897: B-P promoted to command the 5th Dragon Guards.

1899: B-P returned to England from India bringing with him the manuscript of a little book, he had  Written, called “Aids to Scooting.” The book described the training he had given to his soldiers Scouts in India.

1899: B-P sent to South Africa with orders to raise two regiments of mounted cavalry, as trouble was  brewing between the British in South Africa and the Boers.

1899: With 9,000 men General Cronje of the Boers Army marched to Mafikeng (Meaning the place of  stones in Baralong language). The siege of Mafikeng begun with B.P having only 1000 men to face 9,000 Boers. But being the resourceful man he was, he managed to save the town after Some seven months, ending 218 days of siege. Knowing that he needed all his men who were not injured (400 out of his 1000 were killed in the siege) he accepted the idea of training the boys who were in Mafikeng as Scout cadets so that they could carry out routine jobs and use the men to defend the town militarily. The idea is said to have come from one Lord Cecil who was among B.P’s commanders. The Mafikeng cadets with their leaders Warner Goodyear, made a wonderful contribution to the origins of Scouting. This was the first time a boy was made a Scout, a special corps of the army.

1907: B-P returns to England.

1908: B-P started providing the concept of Scouting through his original book “Scouting for boys.” The attraction was immediate. Groups began to form all over the world. In the beginning, the movement grew almost faster than support could be provided.

1934: Scouting Introduced to Ethiopia

1939 -45: Scouting interrupted during the Italian invasion of Ethiopia

1950: re-established by a national charter

1974 - 1990: Scouting interrupted for the second time due to the Communist regime (Dergue)

1995: Scouting official re started

2002: ESA gets re admitted to WOSM

2013: ESA hosts the all Africa Scouts Day

The status of Scouting today

Since it’s beginning, Scouting has spread to over 261 countries and territories worldwide involving more than 30 million youths. This makes Scouting undoubtedly the largest and most popular youth organization in the world.

From the beginning, Scouting placed the holistic development of young persons at the core of its existence. Early Scouting programs revolved around.

  • Instilling positive values such as belief in God and good citizenship 
  • Personal hygiene and general health
  • Environmental protection.
  • Avoidance of risky behaviour (i.e. campaign against smoking, drug abuse etc).
  • Promotion of self-development
  • Positive social attitudes i.e. thinking about others.
  • Physical fitness and endurance

The fact that the number of scouts across the globe has continued to rise tremendously attests to this commitment. The 30 million Scouts found in the world continues to work closely with all development partners such as Girl Guides Associations, United Nations organizations e.g. UNFPA, UNDCP & UNICEF, UNAIDS among others.

At camps, expeditions, and in executing the Scout programme, the Scouts are expected to show high standards of achievement in traditional Scouting skills, discipline as well as emerging contemporary issues. The adults in Scouting, Scout Leaders and Rover Scouts are expected to guide the Scouts through the Scout programme. The goal is service, and participating in community development initiatives as well as activities that suit their interest. Details of programs and activities must always change with circumstances or need without eroding the essence of Scouting.

The ESA currently has over 68,000 members and continues to grow.