Friday, March 24, 2023


The Wooden Badge Necklace, like Gilwell's Knot and Scarf, is NOT a badge of RANK or POSITION..
Zulu King , Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo (1868 – 18 October 1913) in his early 20`s wearing his legendary mystical necklace about 12 feet in length at Kwa-Zulu Natal

Powerful and then youthful Zulu King , Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo (1868 – 18 October 1913) in his early 20`s wearing his legendary mystical necklace about 12 feet in length at Kwa-Zulu Natal. Circa 1888. In 1888, when a British expedition was sent to Zululand, South Africa, it had to contend with Dinizulu, King of the Zulus - a clever, heavily built man, 6 ft., 7 ins. in height. On state occasions, Dinizulu wore a necklace about 12 feet in length. It consisted of 1,000 or more wood beads, made from a South African yellow wood and strung on a rawhide lace.
The necklace was a distinction conferred on royalty and outstanding warriors. During the hostilities that swept Natal and Zululand in those faraway days, the man who was to become the Founder of the Scout Movement - then Captain Robert Baden-Powell - gained possession of Dinizulu's Necklace.
Many years later, in 1919, when Baden-Powell instituted Wood Badge training for Scoutmasters he remembered Dinizulu's Necklace and taking two of the wooden beads and knotting them on a leather thong, he created the Wood Badge - to be worn around the neck and to be the only proficiency badge worn by Scoutmasters. The Wood Badge, with its replicas of the original Dinizulu beads, is now worn by thousands of men and women around the world.

South Africa: two African men; Dinizulu and Ndabuko (brother of Cetshwayo, the Zulu King). Albumen print.
Mystical necklace with Dinizulu and Ndabuko (brother of Cetshwayo, the Zulu King)

There are a number of sequels to the story of Dinizulu's Necklace. In 1963 a grandson of Dinizulu, Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi, visited Canada to attend the Anglican World Congress in Toronto and on a side trip to Ottawa was hosted by a member of the Ottawa District staff, DSM. Oliver Belsey. The following Christmas he sent Mr. Belsey a Christmas card depicting his late father doing a Zulu dance, a picture of himself in the full regalia of a Zulu Chieftain and two wooden beads (Wood Badge) taken from the military award of one of Dinizulu's warriors who passed away in 1962.

In 1965 at Kwakhethomthandayo, the Royal Kraal, near Nongoma in Zululand, Scouting history was made with the Investiture of Paramount Chief, Bhekuzulu Nyangayizwe, before 5,000 of his people. The Paramount Chief was invested as a Scout by a South African Headquarter's field commissioner.
To mark the 12th World Jamboree and the 60th Anniversary of Scouting, the Boy Scouts of South Africa decided to make four authentic replicas of Dinizulu's Necklace. After much research and months of hard work by European Rover Scouts in Natal, and Zulu Scouts from Natal troops, the four reproductions of the original were completed.

Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo succeeded Cetshwayo as king of the Zulu nation in 1884. At the time, Zululand was experiencing a process of national disintegration. After the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879, Sir Garnet Wolseley, British administrator of Natal, had imposed a different political arrangement on the Zulu people. He banished Cetshwayo and divided Zululand into thirteen separate territories, each under an appointed chief. uSuthu royalists opposed the appointed chiefs. They deeply resented that the royal household had been placed under the authority of Cetshwayo's greatest enemy, Chief Zibhebhu of the Mandlakazi. These events deeply divided the country, and many view it as the origins of the Zulu civil war.

Cetshwayo's brothers, who acted as councillors in the king's absence, complained about Zibhebhu's endeavours to increase his wealth and status and pleaded for Cetshwayo's return to Zululand. Civil war continued after Cetshwayo returned from exile in 1879 with Cetshwayo's supporters raiding the homesteads of their opponents. On 30 March and again on 21 July 1883, Zibhebhu mustered his regiments. They utterly defeated Cetshwayo, who fled into the Nkandla forest, and then to Eshowe. On 8 February 1884, Cetshwayo died suddenly, possibly of poisoning. Thereafter, Zibhebhu's supporters dominated the northern districts, attacking those they suspected of royalist sympathies.

The lawful successor, Dinuzulu, was only fifteen and so too young to assume political responsibilities. Moreover, his uncles feared for his life, so they took him to a safe place in the Transvaal. Early in 1884, they turned to a group of Boers on the Transvaal border to aid them in ensuring the succession and survival of the royal lineage. On 5 July 1884, the uSuthu, supported by a hundred mounted Boers, defeated Zibhebhu at Entshaneni in the Lebombo Mountains. In return for their assistance, the Boers received 800 farms, comprising 1,355,000 morgen (more than 4,000 square miles). However, Britain intervened, blocking the Boers from the sea and reducing their territory.

Dinuzulu appealed to the British for intervention but he was reluctant to resign himself to annexation. On 14 May 1887, the British annexed Zululand and the Zulu Reserve, extending the Native Law of Natal to the whole country. The Governor of Natal was to rule by proclamation; but it is clear that Dinuzulu regarded his status under the protectorate as unchanged. The Zulu people continued to look to the royal house for assistance, inspiration, and leadership. White magistrates made every effort to reduce the authority of the royal house but the uSuthu leaders were not submissive. Dinuzulu ignored the magistrates who summoned him and fined him for continuing to administer the affairs of the nation as if his authority was supreme.

The Governor allowed Zibhebhu to return to his old lands because he hoped that this would throw the balance of power into the hands of the Natal Government. Zibhebhu immediately drove the uSuthu supporters in his territory to flight. With this Dinuzulu openly rebelled.

In June 1888, he led an attack on the Mandlakazi and defeated them at Nongoma. Pursued by British troops, he escaped to the Transvaal where he evaded capture for three months. In 1889, a court — the impartiality of which was in doubt — found Dinuzulu and his two uncles, Ndabuko and Shingana, guilty of high treason and exiled them to the island of St Helena. In 1897, Zululand was formally incorporated into Natal and in the next few years, much of it was opened to white settlement. Dinuzulu was released and installed as 'Government Induna' in 1898.

During 1906, Dinuzulu became implicated in the rebellion of a minor chief, Bambatha, who refused to pay the poll tax introduced by the Natal Government. The Zulus, who continued to regard Dinuzulu as king, turned to him for support, as did the Natal Government, expecting him as ‘Government Induna' to deal severely with the disturbances. When Dinuzulu did not, he was arrested in 1909, and accused of harbouring rebels. In spite of the famous defence by former Cape premier, W P Schreiner, Dinuzulu was sentenced to four years imprisonment.

Seven years of internecine strife sapped the Zulu nation of its strength and self-sufficiency and European encroachment on every side deprived them of much of their land. By 1894, Zululand had become one of the main sources of labour supply on the Witwatersrand.

General Louis Botha believed that Dinuzulu did not have a fair trial. When he became Prime Minister of South Africa in 1910, one of the first things he did was to order Dinuzulu's release. He granted him a farm near Middelburg, Transvaal, to which the King of the Zulus retired. He died in 1913. Dinuzulu's son, Mshiyeni, succeeded to the paramountcy and although the white authorities viewed this as an honorific title, nonetheless, the House of Shaka remained deeply revered as paramount in Natal and Zululand.

History of the Wood badge

Since September 1919 adult volunteers in the Scouts have been awarded the Wood Badge on the completion of their leader training. The basic badge is made up of two wooden beads worn at the end of a leather lace. This iconic symbol of Scouting has become shrouded in myths and its origins and development confused. Having completed extensive research using the Scouts (UK) heritage collection we have pieced together the story.

The Components of the Wood Badge

The Wood Badge’s design took inspiration from a necklace brought back from Africa by Scouting’s Founder, Robert Baden-Powell. In 1888 Baden-Powell was serving with the British Army in Africa. During this period Baden-Powell visited an abandoned camp where Chief Dinizulu, a local chief had been based. In 1925 Baden-Powell recalled what he found.

’In the hut, which had been put up for Dinizulu to live in, I found among other things his necklace of wooden beads. I had in my possession a photograph of him taken a few months beforehand in which he was shown wearing this necklace round his neck and one shoulder.

 Chief Dinizulu; Dinizulu; Zulu; South Africa; Robert Baden-Powell;

Assuming the necklace was the same one as in the photo Baden-Powell took the necklace as a souvenir of the campaign and always referred to it as Dinizulu’s necklace. Baden-Powell admired Dinizulu describing him as “full of resources, energy and pluck,” characteristics which he would later call upon Scouts to develop.

The necklace was not the only souvenir of his military career which would come to be important to Scouting. In 1900 Baden-Powell was the British Army Commander during the Siege of Mafeking (2nd Boer War, South Africa). During the siege he had a conversation with an elderly African gentleman. He presented Baden-Powell with a leather lace which he wore around his neck saying his mother had given it to him for luck and now he would pass that gift on to Baden-Powell.

The Need for Scout Leader Training

Following the First World War there was a great need to establish a leader training programme for UK Scouting. At least 5,000 older Scouts and adult volunteers had been killed during the conflict but youth section membership had grown by over 46,000. This created a need to train and develop new leaders, ensuring the future of the Movement.

The ideal opportunity arose when in November 1918 benefactor, William de Bois Maclaren, generously offered to buy a camping area for inner city London Scouts who lacked access to suitable grounds. Gilwell Park, on the edge of Epping Forest, was found and purchased. The site was big enough to offer camping facilities for Scouts as well as hosting a training centre for leaders.

The Wood Badge course wasn’t the first ever training course for leaders. Events had been held prior to the First World War and local areas had set up their own arrangements. In early 1919 East London Commissioner Percy Bantock Nevill arranged a correspondence course for leaders covering theoretical and administrative topics. He was in the process of organising a camp to cover more practical skills when he found out about the purchase of Gilwell Park. He rearranged the camp to take advantage of this new facility and held the practical training course on the 18-19 May 1919. This was the very first training offer at Gilwell Park.

The idea from Scout Headquarters was to create a training syllabus for leaders to ensure a standard, quality and consistency for training. . A date was set for a pilot course to be held at Gilwell Park from the 8 – 19 September 1919. In August 1919 Baden-Powell contacted Percy Everett, who was developing the course alongside Camp Chief Francis Gidney, seeking his opinion on how to acknowledge the achievement of leaders who had completed their training.

We can only assume the beads referred to in this note are the ones from the necklace Baden-Powell had collected in South Africa over 40 years previously.

The training course was organised to give the participants a sense of what it was like to be a member of a Scout Troop. They took on the role of Scouts, they were formed into patrols and rotated the role of Patrol Leader and Seconder. Francis Gidney took on the role of Scoutmaster.

Wood badge; Gilwell100; Gilwell Park;
The pilot Wood Badge course participants with Francis Gidney and Robert Baden-Powell
They also attended specialist lectures on topics as varied as Industrial Welfare, the Education Act and Rover Scouting. The course ended with a visit to Headquarters on Buckingham Palace Road in London and a lunch meeting with Baden-Powell.

The Rev. Charles Hines attended the pilot course. He later recalled how he received his wood badge created by Baden-Powell using one of the beads from “Dinizulu’s necklace”.

The first wood badge presented to Rev. Charles Hines following the pilot training course

Wood Badge Memories

Upon completion of the Wood Badge course (both practical and application phases), the Wood Badge participant is awarded a set of beads to wear with his or her Scout uniform. When not being worn, they should be stored in some safe place. (see picture at right)

The participants in a Wood Badge course are divided into dens (for Cub Scout Trainer Wood Badge) or into patrols (for Boy Scout Leader Wood Badge) with appropriate names: Beaver, Bobwhite (never "quail"), Eagle, Fox, Owl, Bear, Buffalo, Antelope and a few others which are less frequently used in the U.S.

Courses which are not full typically have dens (or patrols) of up to 8 members with the number of dens (patrols) reduced accordingly. My Antelope Den consisted of 7 members. (There were 7 other 8-member dens.) My (Boy Scout Leader WB) Beaver Patrol was one of five 6-member patrols.  According to tradition, the beads which Baden-Powell awarded to the first WB course participants were taken from a necklace which had been Dinizulu's badge of office and was captured by B-P during an African campaign. Here are some pictures of a replica of that necklace.  

No photo description available.


The Wooden Badge Double Beaded Necklace is recognition to every Scouter who has duly passed the Wooden Badge Training Scheme courses.Wearing the double beaded necklace indicates that the wearer is duly trained to work with boys in their respective Unit. Your wearer can wear it at all times, provided they are properly uniformed, with the I.M. scarf or with the scarf of their duty in Scouting.

The Wooden Badge Necklace with three bead, is the recognition to every Scouter who has duly passed the Trainer courses within the Wooden Badge Training Scheme. Wearing the three-bead necklace indicates that the wearer is duly trained to train other Scouters. Your wearer can use it, provided they are properly uniformed, only when they are participating in their role as Trainer and with the I.M. scarf or with the Train event scarf in which they are participating as Trainer.


The Four Beaded Wooden Badge Necklace is the recognition to every Scouter who has duly approved the Trainer Trainers and Course Management courses within the Wooden Badge Training Scheme. Wearing the four-bead necklace indicates that the wearer is duly trained to run Courses within the Wooden Badge Training Scheme. Your wearer can use it, provided they are properly uniformed, only when they are participating in their role as Trainer and with the I.M. scarf or with the Train event scarf in which they are participating as Trainer. Should the bearer occupies the position of National Training Commissioner or Regional Commissioner of Training, full-time, they may use it provided they are properly uniformed and under all circumstances.

The Five Beaded Wooden Badge Necklace was used for two or three decades, during the early years of the I.M. Scheme, when other countries began to establish the Wooden Badge Training Scheme, and the person in charge in each country he was appointed as Gilwell Deputy Field Chief, representing Gilwell Park in his own country, and could wear five beads on his I.M. necklace, one of which was allegedly from the original beads on DiniZulu’s necklace. Most five-bead necklaces were granted during the 1920s and 1930s; but, there are no precise records of who and in which countries they were granted.

If there is specific information that William - Greenbar Bill - Hillcourt, was awarded a five-bead Wooden Badge necklace, being National Director of Training of the B.S.A., in the United States of America, where he worked from 1927 to 1992.

This one-of-a-kind necklace is directly tied to Gilwell Park. B. -P. , the Founder, wore that six-bead necklace, took off of it and bestowed it to Sir Percy Everett, who stood with him in Brownsea Island experimental camp, and then was Field Chief at Gilwell Park, and Deputy Chief Scout of England.
In 1949, Sir Percy Everett delivered that necklace to Gilwell Park to be used as the official badge of the Field Chief, then John Thurman. Since then, it has been carried by all Gilwell Park Field Chiefs, to this day..

(OBSERVATION: Regarding the necklaces of 2, 3 and 4 beads, their use and wearing will depend on the protocol established in each country. What we present here corresponds to experiences lived and observed for many years in our country in particular)

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