Great Britain. War Office. General Staff.

The Native tribes of the Transvaal online

. (page 1 of 13)
Online LibraryGreat Britain. War Office. General StaffThe Native tribes of the Transvaal → online text (page 1 of 13)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


5




THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY

OF CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES



THE NATIVE TRIBES



OF THE



TRANSVAAL.



PREPARED FOR THE GENERAL STAFF,
WAR OFFICE.



1905



LONDON :

PRINTED FOR HIS MAJESTY'S STATIONERY OFFICE,
BY HARRISON AND SONS, ST. MARTIN'S LANE,

PRINTERS IN ORDINARY TO HIS MAJESTY.



(Wt. w. 3331 350 10 I 05— H & S 7269)



P^o5
742



G7/V5



PREFACE.



This Report has been compiled under the
orders of the General Officer Commanding-in-
Chief, South Africa, by Bt.-Major R. H. Massie,
D.A.O.M.G., from the latest information avail-
able. It is particularly requested that any errors
or omissions may be pointed out to the Director
of Military Operations, War Office.

CHAS. E. CALLWELL,

/or Major-General^
Director of Military Operations.

War Office,

^th October, 1905.



(7269)



81S7JS2



CONTENTS.



CHAPTER
I.



II.
III.
IV.

V.

VI.

VII.

VIII.



IX.
X.
XI.



General outline

(A) Earliest known distribution

(B) Modern History — Redistribution

(C) Present population ...
The tribes of the Western Division.
The tribes of the Central Division
The tribes of the N.W. Division
The tribes of the Northern Division
The tribes of the Eastern Districts
The tribes of the S. E. Districts
Administration

(A) Organisation of the Native Affairs

(B) System of Land Tenure

(C) System of Taxation . . .
Native Wars ...
Bantu Ethics and Sociology...
Native languages — Orthography



Department



PAGE

5
5
8

12

15

32

39
44
73
91
94
94
96

99
100
119
134



I.

II.

III.

Index



APPENDICES.

Notes on some native strongholds

Native Missions

List of Authorities consulted



139
144
149

150



Map showing native locations and the positions of the kraals of some of the
principal chiefs.



CHAPTER I.

GENERAL OUTLINE.

(A.) Earliest Known Distribution of South African

Natives.

There are many proofs of the antiquity of man in South
Africa, though it has not yet been determined whether it has
been the home of human beings as long as Europe. It is
surmised that the Bushmen were the earHest inhabitants.
These were a yellow-skinned race, pigmies in stature, and very
low down in the scale of civilisation. Next came the
Hottentots, another yellow people, but of medium size, and
vastly superior in every way to the Bushmen. Whence they
came is unknown, but it is thought they are the offspring of
some male intruders* of a light brown or yellow race, who took
to themselves women of Bushman blood.

Then, at a period not exactly known, but believed to be
some hundreds of years before the commencement of the
Christian era, a gradual pressure of the Bantu tribes of Central
Africa, into the southern part of the Continent, began to
take place. Though these tribes crossed the Zambesi so long
ago, it is certain that they did not extend South of the
Limpopo, until a much later date. The traditions of all the
tribes south of that river, none of which can be more than a
few centuries old, point to a distant Northern origin, and in
some instances, particulars are given which prove the tradi-
tions to be in that respect correct.

It is, however, tolerably certain that they had advanced as
far south as Mashonaland, at a comparatively remote period,
for as far as can be mferred from the scant indications afforded
by the archaeological remains and terminology associated with
the Zimbabwe ruins, the inhabitants of that portion of the

* A theory has been advanced thai the Hottentots are descended from
the soldiers of an Kgyptian army who penetrated far south of the Equator
in prehistoric times, and never returned to Egypt ; these are supposed to
have taken to wife Bushmen women.



6 THE NATIVE TRIBES OF THE TRANSVAAL.

country were not Bushmen or Hottentots, but Bantu,
when those monuments were built by the civiHsed peoples —
Sabaeans and others — who came there in quest of gold. The
very word Zimbabwe is pure Bantu, meaning a Royal
residence.

Towards the close of the fifteenth century of our era, when
Europeans first had communication with natives of South
Africa, the belt of land comprising the lowest and the second
terrace along the Western Coast from about Walfisch Bay
southward to the Cape of Good Hope, and thence eastward to
the Bashee River, was occupied, though thinly, by Hottentot
tribes. The same people were to be found along the lower
courses of the Vaal and Modder Rivers, and along the banks
of the Orange, from tlie junction of the Vaal to the sea. They
were not known eitner on the eastern side of the continent
or elsewhere in the interior.

The Bantu at that time occupied the choicest parts of the
country, north of a straight line from ^Valfisch Bay to Port
Natal, and extended south of that line into the territory, now
known as Basutoland, and also along the eastern coast as far as
the Bashee River. They were not to be found in the remain-
ing portion of South Africa.

Bushmen roamed over the entire country south of the
Zambesi from sea to sea, and were the only inhabitants of the
rugged mountains and arid plains between the Hottentot and
Bantu borders. As they could hold their own fairly well
against the Hottentots, they were more numerous along the
west and south coasts than along the eastern, where the Bantus
had better means of exterminating them.

The Bushmen are however now practically extinct ; the pure
Hottentots are very few in numbers, and found only in
Namaqualand, and along the lower reaches of the Orange
River, and the above-mentioned " Bantu " tribes form the vast
majority of the natives of South Africa of to-day. The term
" Bantu " is a native word meaning " people." It has of late
years come to be applied to all the peoples south of the
Zambesi, who are neither Bushmen nor Hottentots, but speak
various forms of a now extinct language, and are therefore
assumed to belong to one racial group. As they never had a
common ethnical name, they were all conventionally comprised
under the general designation of Bantu, by which is therefore
to be understood "peoples of Bantu stock and speech."

The Bantus are not full-blood negroes like those of Upper



THE NATIVE TRIBES OF THE TRANSVAAL. /

Guinea and Soudan, but a Negroid people, that is, a mixture
of two or more elements, of which the substratum is the Negro,
and the later infusions mainly Hamitic (Galla) and, to a less
degree, Semit'ic (Arab). The mixtures took place at different
times and in varying proportions, the result being that the
Bantus themselves show nearly all shades of physical and
mental characters, intermediate between the pure negro, or
Ethiop, and the much higher Hamitic or Semitic (Caucasian)
types of mankind.

Tribes occupying for many generations such a large extent
of country as Africa, south of the Zambesi, naturally developed
differences, which would alone be sufficient to account for the
dissimilarities now existing between the various tribes, but an
influx of Asiatics also took place on the east coast at some
remote period ; these mixed with the people of that part, and to
them may be traced some of the sharper distinctions which are
now observable.

It will be sufficient here to classify the Bantu tribes in three
main groups, though it should be remembered that there are
many trifling differences between the various branches of each
of these.

In the first group are placed the tribes along the eastern
coast, south of the Sabi River, and those which in recent times
have made their way from that part into the highlands of the
interior. The best known of these are the Amaxosa
Abatembu, Amampondo, Amabaca, Amazulu, Matabele,
Amaswazi, Amatonga, and the Magwamba or Matshangana.
This group can be termed the " Coast Tribes," though some
members of it are now far from the sea. It is also known as
the " Zulu-Xosa " or more commonly " Zulu-Kaffir " group.
The Amatonga, the Amafingo in Cape Colony, the Mashona
and Makalanga in Rhodesia, and several other smaller tribes
now resident in the Transvaal, though belonging to this group,
are considered to be vastly inferior both to the Amaxosa,
Amazulu, etc., and to the tribes of the Bechuana-Basuto family
described below. They may be regarded as representing the
first wave of Bantu migration to the south of the Zambesi,
where they were afterwards reduced, dispersed and enslaved by
the superior Bechuana, Basuto and Zulu-Xosa tribes in later
times. In fact, their customs vary so greatly, and they have
so little racial or social coherence, that it is only their common
or similar speech which enables them to be reckoned as
Bantus at all.



8 THE NATIVE TRIBES OF THE TRANSVAAL.

The second group includes the tribes that a century ago
occupied the great interior plain, and came down to the ocean
between the Zambesi and Sabi Rivers. It includes the
Bechuana tribes, i.e., Baralong, Baharutsi, Bangkwaketsi,
Bakwena, Bamangwato, all sections of the Makalanga, and the
whole of the Basuto, north and south. This group can be
termed the " Interior Tribes."

The third comprises all the Bantu living between the
Kalahari and the Atlantic Ocean, i.e., the Ovampos,
Hereros, etc., but these need not be described here, as they
are not in British territory.

The individuals who compose the first and second groups
vary in colour from deep bronze to black. Some have
features of the lowest Negro type, while others have prominent
and in rare instances, even aquiline noses, good foreheads, and
comparatively thin lips. These extremes sometmies occur in
the same family, especially on the east coast, and are no doubt
due to a strain of Asiatic blood.

From the foregoing it will have been gathered that at the
commencement of the historic period of South Africa, i.e.,
about 400 years ago, the native tribes were distributed
somewhat as follows, over what is now British South Africa : —

East and south-east coast. — (Country up to the foot of the
Drakensberg) : Coast tribes classed as Zulu-Kaffirs above.

The i7iland plateaux, comprising what is now the Transvaal,
Orange River Colony, Eastern Bechuanaland, Rhodesia,
Transkei territory and Basutoland : Bechuana-Basuto tribes.

The remainder of the present Cape Colony and Western
Bechuanaland, Hottentots and Bushmen.

Bushmen were also scattered all over the country in small
groups, mostly in barren inaccessible tracts, but were more
numerous in the west than in the east.

The later redistribution of these tribes and the causes which
led to it, will now be briefly described.



(B.) Modern History — Redistribution of the
Transvaal Bantu.

Not much is known of the course of native history during
the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, though
traditions exist among the people of various internecine wars,
by which no doubt all the tribes of the interior were consider-
ably scattered and weakened, and were therefore less able to



THE NATIVE TRIBES OF THE TRANSVAAL. 9

resist the incursions of the "Mantatis" and of the Zulus which
commenced early in the nineteenth century, and of the Boer
" Voortrekkers," who, after driving out the Zulus, began to
annex and settle in the Transvaal in 1837.

The "Mantatis" took their name from Ma Ntatisi the
chieftainess of the Basuto tribe, said to be the original
Batlokwa, which till about 182 1 dwelt in or near the present
district of Harrismith, O.R.C. At this time Chaka, the
famous Zulu chief, was engaged in exterminating all the
tribes in his proximity, and one of the latter, to escape from
his power, crossed to the west of the Drakensberg, and there fell
upon the Batlokwa tribe of Mantatisi. The Batlokwa being
severely defeated, fled bodily northwards, taking with them
many people of kindred Basuto tribes then living in the
northern part of the Orange River Colony. Mantatisi was
thus soon at the head of an immense horde of Basuto, and
with these attacked the Bechuana tribes, who inhabited the
country immediately north of the Vaal River, and created
great havoc among them. She pursued a career of conquest
till about 1824, when her people received a check from the
combined opposition of various tribes. The Mantatis then
broke up into two parties, one of which under a chief named
Sebetwane, travelled north-west and conquered Barotseland
where they became known as the Makololo, and the other under
Mantatisi herself returned to the Basutoland border.

The invasion of the Mantatis was the first great disintegrating
force experienced by the Bechuana inhabitants of the
Transvaal.

The next visitation to be suffered by these unfortunate tribes
was that of the Zulus.

These people have always been the most formidable enemies
of the other sections of the Bantu race, and so powerful did
they become under the military despotism of Chaka in the
first three decades of the nineteenth century, that at the time
of the death of Chaka in 1828 the Zulu empire comprised the
whole of Zululand Natal and parts of Basutoland, together
with most of the land between the Caledon and the Limpopo
Rivers, that is the present Transvaal and the Orange River
Colony.

From 1828 to 1840 the Zulus were ruled by Dingaan, who
maintained the same military organisation with little abatement
until his final defeat in 1838. It was during this period that
the " Great Trek " of Boers from the Cape Colony took place,



10 THE NATIVE TRIBES OF THE TRANSVAAL.

which caused a general dislocation of the Bantu populations
between the Orange and the Limpopo and laid the foundations
of the supremacy of the white men over the native races
throughout the continental plateau.

After crossing the Orange, the pioneer trekkers had ramified
into two columns, one continuing the northern route to and
beyond the Vaal, while the other under Piet Retief passed
eastward over the Drakensberg into Natal. Both of these
columns came into collision with the Zulu forces, and thus
began the struggle with the tribes, which was continued down
to the year 1879, when Ketchwayo, last of Chaka's successors,
and Sekukuni, the powerful chief of the Bapedi in the
Transvaal, were finally overthrown by the British, and the
Northern Boer state thus saved from utter ruin.

Piet Retief's party in 1837 met with a great disaster at the
hands of Dingaan's Zulus, over 700 of his people, including
many women and children, being then treacherously massacred.
But although this disaster had been preceded by several other
reverses, Dingaan Avas defeated before the close of the same
year with great slaughter on a northern branch of the Tugela,
which was named the Blood River in memory of the event.
From this blow, by which 3,000 of his best men had fallen,
Dingaan never recovered, and after another crushing defeat,
in which the Boers were joined by his rebellious brother Mpande
(Panda) he fled northwards and was assassinated by one of
his own captains in 1840.

Piet Retief then set up the first Republic of " Natalia " at
Pietermaritzburg, where his party of Boers remained until
the British annexation of Natal in 1842-1843.

Meantime the northern pioneer column had already ad-
vanced (1835-1836) in large numbers to the region beyond
the Vaal, hence called the Transvaal, most of which had been
overrun by Zulu predatory hordes, by whom the former in-
habitants had nearly all been exterminated or scattered. By
far the most important of the Zulu conquerors was Umzilikau
(usually known as Moselikatse). This redoubtable chief was
one of Chaka's most renowned warriors, who having given
some offence to the King, left Zululand at the head of a strong
impi, and marching in a north-westerly direction across the
O.R.C. and Transvaal, conquering all the tribes he met with,
and ravaging their country as he went, finally set up for himself
in the Marico District on the Bechuanaland frontier.

It was here that Moselikatse was interviewed by Dr. Andrew



THE NATIVE TRIBES OF THE TRANSVAAL. II

Smith, leader of the first EngHsh scientific expedition to
South Central Africa in 1835. Concerning this expedition the
Rev. J. S. Moffat writes: — "The Matabili then occupied the
country now forming mainly the Marico and Rustenburg
Districts in the Transvaal. The expedition remained some
weeks in the dominions of Umzilikazi, and met with every
facility, and Dr. Smith persuaded the Chief to send messengers
to Capetown. They were treated with great consideration and
returned to their master with presents and with an impression
of the character of the English people which has never been
entirely effaced. It was, however, a severe trial to the faith
of the Chief and of his people that the emigrant Boers were
permitted by the Government to leave the Colony, and to
encroach upon his territory and that of the other chiefs, who,.
like him, had always sought to be on friendly terms with the
English."

Here Moselikatse was attacked and utterly routed by the
pioneer trekkers under Maritz and Potgieter in 1837, and being
now also threatened by his hereditary foe Dingaan, he with-
drew beyond the Limpopo, and founded the late Matabele
Kingdom* about the year 1839 or 1840, leaving the Transvaal
in the hands of the trekkers.

The Boers were thus left masters of the situation, and
proceeded to annex the whole territory formerly ruled by the
Matabele, but as they were too few to hold the whole country,
the original Bechuana-Basuto tribes who had been driven west
and north by the Zulu invaders, now rapidly returned to occupy
their former homes, and so it happens that the majority of
the Transvaal Natives still belong to the Bechuana-Basuto
family.

When, therefore, the Transvaal first entered on its career as
a civilised state, its native inhabitants were chiefly of the
Bechuana-Basuto family, but the Coast Tribes were also
represented by fragments of Magwamba and other eastern
tribes in the north, while a proportion of Zulus still remained,
who had migrated from Zululand either during or before the
days of Chaka.

The Boers waged various small wars (hereafter described)
with different native tribes up to the British annexation in
1900, and it was their practice, after having defeated a tribe,
to break it up as far as possible, by "apprenticing" a number

* The late Lobengula was Moselikatse's son and successor.



12



THE NATIVE TRIBES OF THE TRANSVAAL.



of its members to burghers all over the country. Certain
tribes also were settled by the Boer Government in defined
locations, but during the late war some of these took the
opportunity of moving to more favourable localities, and their
places of residence are in some cases not settled even now,
though the work of locating them is being actively pushed on
by the present Administration. By these various disturbing
agencies the tribes have become so much scattered, that it is
scarcely possible to describe any one tribe as a whole, portions
of several tribes being found in almost every district. In
order therefore to arrive at a just estimate of the native
inhabitants of this colony at the present time, it will be
necessary to examine in some detail the tribes and sections of
tribes now found in the various Administrative Districts as at
present organised.



(C.) The Present Native Population of the
Transvaal.

According to the returns of the census of 1904, the total
resident native population of the Transvaal is 811,753 men
women and children. These are distributed as shown below in
the various administrative divisions and Districts :



Division.



Western



District.



fRustenburg...

I Zeerust

I Pilansberg ...

-J Lichtenburg
Potchefstroom
Wolmaransstad

.and Christiana



Native Population.



Men.



5.946

4,715
4,209
2,461
5,837

abtl.SOO
24,668



Women.



6,953
6,070

4,849
2,328
6,221

2,000



28,421



Children.



io,7S3

11,552

8,050

5,006

12,629

3,015



51,095



Total.



23,652
22,337
17,108

9,795
24,687

6,515
104,094



THE NATIVE TRIBES OF THE TRANSVAAL.



Division.


District.


Native Population.




Men.


Women.


Children.


Total.


Central ...


f Pretoria

1 Krugersdorp

-{ Boksburg

Hamanskraal
L Heidelberg


18,719*

1,680

630

6,268

5,884*


7,933
1,260

548
8,331
3,701


20,397
3,290
1,649

13,275
7,215


47,049
6,23ot

2,827t

27,874
16,800






33,181


21,773 45,826


ioo,78ot


North- ^
Western /


r Warm baths...
< Nylstroom ...
P. P. Rust


2,322
2,451
6,616


4,501

3,659

14,235


6,230

4,967

16,157


13,053
11,007
37,008




1 11,389 22,395


27,354


61,138


Northern . . .


r Pietersburg

j Spelonken ...
-{ Haenertsburg
1 Shivasa
IBlauwberg


15,134
29,434
13.893
17,981

5,300


22,491
33,430
18,067
24,748
6,741


33,594
41,778
24,790
27,024
7,210


71,219
104,642
56,750
69,753
19,251






81,742


105,477


134,396


321,6155:


Eastern


r Sekukuniland

Sabi

-{ Barberton ...
1 Pokwani
IMiddelburg


9,550
7,331
7,067*
5,416

2,999


16,441
7,242
6.336
5,837
3,163


23,316
16,026

8,383
10,346

7,907


49,307
30,599
21,786

21,593
14,069






32,363


39,013


65,978


137,354


South- \
Eastern /


' Wakk erst room
Pietretief ..

- Standerton

1 Ermelo
I Carolina


3,470
5,000

6,405*

3,186

2,800


4,549
7,542
3,859
3,127
2,203


11,446

15,900

5,286

7,859
4,140


19,465
28,442

15,550
14,172

9,143






20,861


21,280


44,631


86,772


Grand Total


202,704


236,359


366,175


811,753



* Preponderance of men due to numbers from other districts, working in
towns, etc.

t Natives in the labour districts not included.

+ Not including about 12,000 men away at work in the labour areas.



14 THE NATIVK TRIBES OF THE TRANSVAAL.



Natives Temporarily Employed in "Labour Districts."

The principal " Labour Districts " are : Johannesburg and
the Witwatersrand generally, Heidelberg, Klerksdorp, Vereeni-
ging, Pretoria and Middelburg.

The number of natives employed at these centres on the
30th June, 1904, was 133,283 as against 116,913 in June, 1903.

Of this number* 29,6x5 were Transvaal natives. Of the
remainder, considerably over 50 per cent, were from Portuguese
territory ; Cape Colony, Natal and Zululand provided another
30 per cent. ; and the rest belonged to Basutoland, the Orange
River Colony, Bechuanaland, Rhodesia, Swaziland, British
Central Africa or Damaraland.



Classification.

The detailed history and classification by tribes of the
resident native population will now be proceeded with. For
the sake of convenience the tribes will be grouped according
to the administrative "Divisions" in which they are respectively
found. (Details of these Divisions are given on pp. 94-5.)



* It is not quite clear whether any of these have been included in the
foregoing census figures for the various districts. In the case of the
northern division, it is however stated that 12,000 were away in other
districts at work, when the census was taken.



CHAPTER II.

THE TRIBES OF THE WESTERN DIVISION.

The total number of natives in these districts was found by the

as



Census


of April of I


504 to be


104


,094,


distributed


follows :


Rustenburg
Pilansberg
Marico ...
Lichtenburg
Potchefstroom


.. 23,652
.. 17,108
■• 22,337

•• 9>795
.. 24,687










Wolmaransstad
Total...


• • 6,515


len,


wom(






.. 104,094 n


m and child



The vast majority of these people are of pure Bechuana
descent and speak the Bechuana language, and the small
percentage who are classed here as Basuto, differ so slightly
from the Bechuana as to be indistinguishable from the latter.

As stated in the foregoing chapter, all Bechuana and Basuto
probably spring from common ancestors, who formed one
section of the original Bantu migration, but as a distinction
between the two nations is drawn by the natives themselves,
an attempt has been made here to classify the various tribes
accordingly.

Historical Sketch of Tribes.

T/ie Baralong.

Though this family is not now very numerously represented
in the Transvaal, it appears to be the most ancient of the
Bechuana race, and from it are believed to be descended, not
only all the Bechuana tribes now found in the colony, but also
the various branches of the Baharutsi (Barotsi) nation, from
whom in turn spring the Bakhatla, the Bapedi (Sekukuni's) and



i6



THE NATIVE TRIBES OF THE TRANSVAAL.



several other important tribes. The history of the tribes is
therefore worthy of being given at some length.

The descent of the various tribes hereafter mentioned from the
Baralong is shown in the following diagram : —


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Online LibraryGreat Britain. War Office. General StaffThe Native tribes of the Transvaal → online text (page 1 of 13)