Parson notes at 69 that Scouting in British colonial Africa conferred status, offered social mobility (even physical mobility, in the form of free rail passes) and signalled trustworthiness (and hence preferential access to employment and scholarships). That provided an incentive for identity subversion.
The only way of knowing if an African was a Scout was by the uniform (which often consisted of nothing more than a Scout badge pinned to a school shirt) and thus any African wearing a uniform could claim the privileges of the movement. The uniform could also be put to larcenous purposes because many rural communities assumed that anyone in uniform had the authority of a government servant. As a result, colonial officials had considerable problems with rogue Scouts or impostors who acquired a uniform by unapproved means. Most territories gave their Scout associations sole legal claim to their uniforms and badges, and the Ugandan government passed a specific ordinance barring Scouts from posing as government agents. ... Even registered Scouts often skirted regulations by buying rank and proficiency badges instead of earning them.He goes on to note control mechanisms such as registration schemes and blacklists (at 186) before commenting at 187 that
sometimes there were pragmatic reasons to impersonate a Scout. Boys desperate to find work masqueraded as Scouts to impress potential employers. These pseudo-Scouts usually claimed membership in another territorial Scout association on the assumption that it would be harder for local authorities to check their credentials ... Christopher Mutingi was arrested for collecting money from Nairobi shopkeepers to supposedly fund a Scout hike from Dar es Salaam to Kampala. Mutingi explained to the authorities that he wore the uniform because "people [were] kinder to him". An ex-Scout named Joseph Orawo became notorious in Uganda for using a forged Scout membership card to collect money in Kampala. The Ugandan police arrested him several times for illegally using ornate Scout uniforms, complete with epaulettes to add credibility to his activities. Adults also posed as Scoutmasters. One particularly brazen impostor claimed to be a touring area commissioner from Zanzibar and managed to charge a large tea party at the Queen's Hotel in Nairobi to the Zanzibar Scout Association.Identification on the basis of uniform meant that "Scout belts were a particular problem" (p189).
there was a steady flow of Scout belts into the hands of imposters in all three East African territories. The situation became so bad in central Kenya in the mid-1950s that the police detained every African wearing a Scout belt until he could produce proof that he was an authentic Scout or Scoutmaster ... The crackdown was so draconian that Kenyan Scout officials had to issue African Scouts special membership cards to prevent the police from confiscating their uniforms. ... the belts had such a high resale value that legitimate Scouts often sold them to raise money for living expenses and school fees.In 1960s South Africa
Some troops had only a few Scout badges, which their members shared by taking turns attaching them to their everyday clothes with safety pins. The [SA Scouting Association] subsidized badges to the point where they sold for just one cent, but many Scouts still could not afford them. ... the Scout establishment tried to make the African Scout uniform more affordable by making it simpler, but many Scouts objected on the grounds that the new styles were too different from the European uniform (p232)
... Africans had a great deal of difficulty earning badges and advancing to senior Scout ranks. The Scout authorities caught some boys forging badge certificates to overcome this problem. Yet African Scouts objected to the [Association's] attempts to draft an easier 'Native' Scout curriculum because they wanted to use the movement to demonstrate that they were as able and resourceful as European boys (p233).