Tuesday, December 31, 2013

This Day in History: 31 Dec, 1851: Frederick Selous, explorer, officer, hunter, and conservationist, is born.


Frederick Courtney Selous was one of the more interesting characters of Imperial Africa and one of the great white sons of Africa.

File:Frederick Courteney Selous portrait.jpg

Probably the most potent illustration of how Selous impacted the popular British consciousness at the time is the fact that he is the recognised prototype of Ryder Haggard’s popular character Allan Quartermaine of King Solomon’s Mines fame. This may not mean much to modern readers, but in fact Quartermaine was a potent a hero in his day as Rambo was in the 1980s and Indiana Jones was in the 1990s.

File:Thure de Thulstrup - H. Rider Haggard - Maiwa's Revenge - Fire, you scoundrels.jpg

Frederick Selous was also more than this. He defined the popular image of the Englishman abroad. This was not in the pattern of Cecil John Rhodes whose questionable capital adventures brought ignominy upon the Crown and the Foreign Office and shame on the legacy of colonial Britain. Others such as David Livingstone tended to create an aura of eccentricity and failure about the vast development projects proposed in the aftermath of his discoveries. Selous, on the other hand, was phlegmatic, educated, thoughtful and erudite. He was a champion of fair play in terms of the treatment of blacks by whites; a modest adventurer; a gentleman philosopher and the last of the great frontier individualists.

Simba Station, Uganda Railway, en route to the Kapiti Plains Theodore Roosevelt with F C Selous and Warrington Dawson

Born in December 1851 in the upscale London neighbourhood of Regents Park, Selous’ birthright was upper-middle class, his father being a City of London financier and at one time Chairman of the London Stock Exchange. As a consequence the family were wealthy and well connected in the capital rich and class conscious society of England, and indeed the United Kingdom as a whole.



Selous’ mother was perhaps more an influence on him as a child than his father. She was a published poet and a woman of highly developed cultural instructs, and it was from her that Selous acquired the beginnings of a lifelong love of poetry and literature, and indeed his own published works reveal a light literary hand and a great sensitivity in verse and prose. His three sisters and one brother were all successful in careers within the arts, sciences and business, although it was only Frederick himself who chose a career or such unique divergence, and one that would ultimately mark him as a star of his generation.



Africa beckoned early, and armed with a general interest in natural history and a fascination with lives of early explorers, he set off for the Cape at the age of 19 and began this his long career as a hunter and explorer. His journeys took him to many little known and unexplored regions of the continent where he hunted extensively, collected for various museums of scientific collection and generally acquired an in-depth knowledge of the sun-continent and a unique acquaintance with many local chiefs and monarchs.




A notable exception to this was in the case of the amaNdebele King Lobengula who nurtured a deep and enduring hatred of Selous. This came about as a consequence of his support and advocacy of the rights and authority of various maShona chiefs who were ostensibly at that time under amaNdebele suzerainty. Another reason, of course, was Selous association with Cecil John Rhodes, the English empire builder and capitalist who was ultimately responsible for the annexation of Matabeleland and the eventual dispossession of both the maShona and the amaNdebele.


It was this chapter of Selous life that is most interesting and controversial. In his book Sunshine and Storm in Rhodesia, Selous is quite trenchant in his determination to see the amaNdebele crushed and their last vestiges of resistance to white rule shown to be futile. This does not necessarily debunk the popular perception of Selous as being a liberal. A liberal in race relations he was (he fathered a half caste child by a amaNdebele concubine), he simply reflected a more rigid liberalism than would be normal in the modern day.


As military man Selous had little practical experience. His value during the Matabele Rebellion in Rhodesia in 1896 was largely his skill as a scout and his general fluency with native languages and behaviour. Later, during World War I, he was refuse service in the Rhodesian units, namely the 1st and 2nd Rhodesia Regiments, and ultimately sought a commission in the 25th Battalion the Royal Fusiliers in order that he could make a contribution.


His contribution to the East Africa Campaign in particular was signature since he was one of very few white in the Allied camp who knew the territory. Selous was then 64-years old. He contributed to a number of actions before he was killed by a sniper on the Rufigi River on January 4 1917.


The legacy of a man such as Selous is very difficult to define. His influence was felt during his life over a vast swathe of the continent. His moral legacy is more difficult to define, nut as a man of nature and a conservationist it is perhaps the vast Selous National Park where the most potent statement of his value has been made.





Selous was an imperialist at the core, and so believed passionately that the influence of the British Empire was benign. Where he would stand in the current debate on Africa it is hard to imagine, but one can only assume that his contribution would be wise, thoughtful and positive.


 Capt F C Selous DSO, (© Roy Branson)



This Day in History: Dec 31,1993: Brandon Teena and two others are shot to death by John Lotter and Tom Nissen after they discovered Teena was transgender.

  Teena Brandon,

Brandon Teena (December 12, 1972 – December 31, 1993) was an American trans man, a female to male transgender person, who was raped and murdered in Humboldt, Nebraska.[2][3][4] His life and death were the subject of the Academy Award-winning 1999 film Boys Don't Cry, which was based on the documentary film The Brandon Teena Story.

 File:Boys Don't Cry movie.jpg

Teena's violent death, along with the murder of Matthew Shepard, led to increased lobbying for hate crime laws in the United States.[5]
 File:Matthew Shepard.jpg




 Teena was born Teena Renae Brandon in Lincoln, Nebraska, the younger of two children to Patrick and JoAnn Brandon. His father died in a car accident eight months before he was born, and he was raised by his mother.[6] JoAnn named her second child after their German shepherd dog, Tina Marie.[6] Teena and his older sister Tammy lived with their maternal grandmother in Lincoln, before they were reclaimed by their mother when Teena was three years old and Tammy was six years old.


The family resided in the Pine Acre Mobile Home Park in northeast Lincoln, and JoAnn worked as a clerk in a women's retail store in Lincoln to support the family. As young children, Teena and Tammy were sexually abused by their uncle for several years,[6][7] and Teena and his mother JoAnn sought counselling for this in 1991.[8]


JoAnn remarried once from 1975 to 1980, with the marriage having failed due to her husband's alcoholism.[6] Teena's family described him as being a tomboy since early childhood; Teena began identifying as male during adolescence and dated a female student during this period. His mother rejected his male identity and continued referring to him as her daughter. On several occasions Teena claimed to be intersex though this assertion was later disproved.[9]



Teena and his sister attended St. Mary's Elementary School and Pius X High School in Lincoln, where Teena was remembered as being socially awkward.[6] During his sophomore year, Teena rejected Christianity after he protested to a priest at Pius X regarding Christian views on abstinence and homosexuality.[6] He also began rebelling at school by violating the school dress-code policy to dress more masculine. During the first semester of his senior year, a U.S. Army recruiter visited the high school, encouraging students to enlist in the armed forces. Teena enlisted in the United States Army shortly after his eighteenth birthday, and hoped to serve a tour of duty in Operation Desert Shield. However, he failed the written entrance exam by listing his sex as male.[6]

 Brandon Teena


In December 1990, Teena went to Holiday Skate Park with his friends, binding his breasts to pass as a boy. The 18-year-old Teena went on a date with a 13-year old girl. He also met the girl's 14-year-old friend, Heather,[6] and began cross-dressing regularly in an attempt to attract teenage women. In the months nearing his high school graduation, Teena became unusually outgoing and was remembered by classmates as a "class clown".[6] Teena also began skipping school and receiving failing grades, and was expelled from Pius X High School in June 1991, three days before high school graduation.[6]



In the summer of 1991, Teena began his first major relationship, with Heather. Shortly after, Teena was first employed as a gas station attendant in an attempt to purchase a trailer home for himself and his girlfriend. His mother, however, did not approve of the relationship, and convinced her daughter to follow Teena in order to know if the relationship was platonic or sexual.[6]

In January 1992 Teena underwent a psychiatric evaluation, which concluded that Teena was suffering from a severe "sexual identity crisis".[6] He was later taken to the Lancaster County Crisis Center to ensure that he was not suicidal. Teena later confessed to his mother that he had been raped by a male relative as a young child. He was released from the center three days later and began attending therapy sessions with his mother four times per week, which ended two weeks later.[6]

 Lana Tisdel


In 1993, after some legal trouble, Teena moved to the Falls City region of Richardson County, Nebraska, where he identified solely as a man. He became friends with several local residents. After moving into the home of Lisa Lambert, Teena began dating her friend, 19-year-old Lana Tisdel, and began associating with ex-convicts John L. Lotter (born May 31, 1971) and Marvin Thomas "Tom" Nissen (born October 22, 1971).

File:Falls City, Nebraska Stone from 15th.JPG


On December 19, 1993, Teena was arrested for forging checks; Tisdel paid his bail. Because Teena was in the female section of the jail, Tisdel learned that he was transgender. When Tisdel later questioned Teena about his gender, he told her he was a hermaphrodite pursuing a sex change operation, and they continued dating.[9] In a lawsuit regarding the film adaptation Boys Don't Cry, this was disputed by Tisdel.[10][11]


Teena's arrest was posted in the local paper under his birth name and his acquaintances subsequently learned that he was anatomically female.

Sexual assault and murder

 Tragic: Brandon Teena was raped and assaulted before being murdered after Nissen and Lotter discovered he was anatomically female

During a Christmas Eve party, Nissen and Lotter grabbed Teena and forced him to remove his pants, proving to Tisdel that Teena was anatomically female. Tisdel said nothing and looked only when they forced her to. Lotter and Nissen later assaulted Teena, and forced him into a car. They drove to an area by a meat-packing plant in Richardson County, where they assaulted and raped him. They then returned to Nissen's home where the two men ordered Teena to take a shower. Teena escaped from Nissen's bathroom by climbing out the window, and went to Tisdel's house. He was convinced by Tisdel to file a police report, though Nissen and Lotter had warned Teena not to tell the police about the rape or they would "silence him permanently". Teena also went to the emergency room where a standard rape kit was assembled, and later lost. Sheriff Charles B. Laux questioned Teena about the rape; reportedly, he seemed especially interested in Teena's transsexuality, to the point that Teena found his questions rude and unnecessary, and refused to answer. Nissen and Lotter learned of the report, and they began to search for Teena. They did not find him, and three days later the police questioned them. The sheriff declined to have them arrested due to lack of evidence.




Around 1:00am on December 31, 1993, Nissen and Lotter drove to Lambert’s house and broke in. They found Lambert in bed and demanded to know where Teena was. Lambert refused to tell them. Nissen searched and found Teena under the bed. The men asked Lambert if there was anyone else in the house, and she replied that Phillip DeVine, who at the time was dating Tisdel's sister,[9] was staying with her. They then shot and killed DeVine, Lambert and Teena in front of Lambert's toddler.[12] Nissen would later testify in court that he noticed that Teena was twitching, and asked Lotter for a knife, with which Nissen stabbed him, to ensure that he was dead.[13][14] Nissen and Lotter then left, later being arrested and charged with murder.[12]


Brandon Teena is buried in Lincoln Memorial Cemetery in Lincoln, Nebraska, his headstone inscribed with his birth name and the epitaph daughter, sister, & friend.[1]


Nissen accused Lotter of committing the murders. In exchange for a reduced sentence, Nissen admitted to being an accessory to the rape and murder. Nissen testified against Lotter and was sentenced to life in prison. Lotter proceeded to deny the veracity of Nissen’s testimony, and his testimony was discredited. The jury found Lotter guilty of murder and he received the death penalty. Lotter and Nissen both appealed their convictions, and their cases have gone to review. In September 2007, Nissen recanted his testimony against Lotter. He claimed that he was the only one to shoot Teena and that Lotter had not committed the murders.[15] In 2009, Lotter's appeal, using Nissen's new testimony to assert a claim of innocence, was rejected by the Nebraska Supreme Court, which held that since—even under Nissen's revised testimony—both Lotter and Nissen were involved in the murder, the specific identity of the shooter was legally irrelevant.[16]

 JOHN LOTTER Marvin Nissen

 In August 2011, a three-judge panel of the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected John Lotter's appeal in a split decision.[14] In October 2011, the Eighth Circuit rejected Lotter's request for a rehearing by the panel or the full Eighth Circuit en banc.[17] Lotter next petitioned the Supreme Court of the United States for a review of his case. The Supreme Court declined to review Lotter's case, denying his petition for writ of certiorari on March 19, 2012, and a further petition for rehearing on April 23, 2012,[18][19] leaving his conviction to stand.

Cultural and legal legacy

Because Teena had neither commenced hormone replacement therapy nor had sex reassignment surgery, he has sometimes been identified as a lesbian by media reporters.[20] However, some reported that Teena had stated that he planned to have sex reassignment surgery.[21]


JoAnn Brandon sued Richardson County and Sheriff Laux for failing to prevent Teena's death, as well as being an indirect cause. She won the case, and was awarded $80,000. District court judge Orville Coady reduced the amount by 85 percent based on the responsibility of Nissen and Lotter, and by one percent for Brandon's alleged contributory negligence. This led to a remaining judgment of responsibility against Richardson County and Laux of $17,360.97.[22] In 2001, the Nebraska Supreme Court reversed the reductions of the earlier award reinstating the full $80,000 award for "mental suffering", plus $6,223.20 for funeral costs. In October 2001, the same judge awarded the plaintiff an additional $12,000: $5,000 for wrongful death, and $7,000 for the intentional infliction of emotional distress.[22][23] Laux was also criticized after the murder for his attitude – at one point Laux referred to Teena as "it".[24]


In 1999, Teena became the subject of a biopic entitled Boys Don't Cry, directed by Kimberly Peirce and starring Hilary Swank as Teena and Chloë Sevigny as Tisdel. For their performances, Swank won and Sevigny was nominated for an Academy Award. Tisdel sued the producers of the film for unauthorized use of her name and likeness before the film's release. She claimed the film depicted her as "lazy, white trash, and a skanky snake". Tisdel also claimed that the film falsely portrayed that she continued the relationship with Teena after she discovered Teena was not anatomically male. She eventually settled her lawsuit against the movie's distributor for an undisclosed sum.[10][11]


JoAnn Brandon publicly objected to the media referring to her child as "he" and "Brandon". Following Hilary Swank's Oscar acceptance speech, JoAnn Brandon took offense at Swank for thanking "Brandon Teena" - the name Teena Brandon adopted - and for referring to him as a man. "That set me off," said JoAnn Brandon. "She should not stand up there and thank my child. I get tired of people taking credit for what they don't know."[25]

File:I'm With Stupid 7.jpg

The British duo Pet Shop Boys released a song called "Girls Don't Cry" (a bonus track on U.K. issue of I'm with Stupid) about Teena in 2006.


Teena's violent death, along with the murder of Matthew Shepard, led to increased lobbying for hate crime laws in the United States.[5]

 File:Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.jpg

Taken from and references available on: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brandon_Teena [31.12.2013]