Alfred Aylward.

The Transvaal of to-day : war, witchcraft, sport, and spoils in South Africa online

. (page 1 of 30)
Online LibraryAlfred AylwardThe Transvaal of to-day : war, witchcraft, sport, and spoils in South Africa → online text (page 1 of 30)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


il



M

H



'Will




THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY

OF CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES



-W* &, FSflTON.



* ON.



THE TBANSYAAL OF TO-DAY



"Countries wear very different appearances to travellers of different
circumstances. A man who is whirled through Europe in a post-chaise,
and the pilgrim who walks the grand tour on'foot, will form very differ-
ent conclusions."— Goldsmith.



THE TRANSVAAL OF TO-DAY



WAR, WITCHCRAFT, SPORT, AXI) SPOILS
IN SOUTH AFRICA



ALFRED AYLWAKD

COMMANDANT, TRANSVAAL REPUBLIC ; CAPTAIN
(LATE) LYDENBERG VOLUNTEER CORPi



NEW EDITION"



WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AO SONS

EDINBURGH AND LONDON
MDCCCLXXXI



or

Ml



TO

THE ROYAL ENGINEERS

AS A TOKEN OF
HIS APPRECIATION OF THEIR SOUTH AFRICAN SERVICES,

THIS BOOK

IS RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED

PY

THE AUTHOR.



1160720



PREFACE TO FIEST EDITION.



The " South African Question " will probably, by the
time this work reaches the public, be a burning one,
and it is my design to make its study easier both for
rulers and people. The condition of South Africa is
interesting to others than the parliamentarians and
politicians of England. It is one that appeals to the
merchant, the intending emigrant, and the soldier, as
much as, or more than, it does to the professional
politician. It appeals strongly to the English tax-
payer ; and before July 1871), will appeal forcibly and
deeply to his pockets. A recent writer has asked, and
very fairly asked, Why must our artisans be taxed in
aid of populations who have no millions of paupers to
support ? He enters in his ' Greater Britain ' at length
into this question, which is essentially a ratepayer's
:one. I am prepared to give the answer — in fact, the
story that I tell answers it.

I have written solely in the interest of truth. I
have sought to epitomise — for the benefit of politicians,
sportsmen, travellers, and intending emigrants — the
experience of years. When the present troubles are
over, I shall endeavour to put further information —



Vlll PREFACE.

sound practical information — before intending settlers
and enterprising men desirous to invest capital in the
Transvaal.

The knowledge I have acquired of colonial men and
manners depends on ten years' intimate connection with
the press and people of South Africa. In this work I
represent no especial party. I am not writing either
to praise or to blame, but simply to state facts cal-
culated to bring the cause and the costs of the war now
being waged on the north-eastern border of the Trans-
vaal fully, fairly, and intelligently before the British
public.

If what I have written causes inquiry, awakes a
livelier interest in subject populations, and, however
indirectly, saves one human life, I shall rest satisfied
that I have performed a duty.

October 1878.



NOTE TO SECOND EDITION.

The first edition of ' The Transvaal of To-day ' having
been exhaiisted, the greatly increased public interest in the
subject and continued demand for the work, have led to the
issue of a new and cheaper edition. The Author has not
in any way altered the original text, and the reader will
thus be enabled to verify the correctness of his forecast of
the probable course of events in South Africa. "

March 1881.



CONTENTS.



CHAPTER I.

HISTORY OF THE BOERS.



PACE



Serfs or subjects ? — Pilgrim Fathers — Fighting for life — Glimpse of
freedom — Chaka — Policy of Earl Grey — Founding republics
— A convention — The Transvaal Treaty, .... 1



The " trek " — Unprofitable occupation — Material successes — A
race of peasants — Domestic habits — Mission work — The
"mountain of sorrow"— Heroic women — Hospitality — Paying
for his plunder — Our girls, ....... 13

CHAPTER III.

FIRST SECOCOEXI AVAR.

Sococoeni's people — Gold — The outbreak — Misunderstood piety —

Mistaken impressions — A Bushman's stratagem, . . .32

CHAPTER IV.

LYDENBERG VOLUNTEER CORPS.

The fort — Scenes in Kafirland — Recruiting under difficulties —
Our first fight— Foreign Enlistment Act — Kafir intelligence —
Battle of Mount Morone — A fatal fight— Fall of Von Schlieck-
mann — An anTient city — Skirmishing — AVindvogel — Life
amongst the L.V.C. — A night march — Kafir allies — Wild
dogs — Stratagems of Kafir war — "The Gunn of Gunn" — A
converted piper — Burnt alive, ...... 43



X CONTENTS.

CHAPTER V.

THE LYDENBERG VOLUNTEER CORPS AT THE COLD FIELDS.

Surface diggings— The shop-boy aristocracy— An outrage — Peace-
making — A gay and festive scene — "Sic transit," . . . 95

CHAPTER VI.

THE LYDENBERG VOLUNTEER CORPS AGAIN — 1877.

Keeping the wolf from the door — Prospecting parties — An ambush
defeated — Change of rule — Guilty or not guilty — Right or
wrong — Good-bye, ........ 103

CHAPTER VII.

TRANSVAAL RESOURCES.

Land-sharks — Professional mine-salters — Artistic swindling — The
reason why — Agriculture — A happy home — Princely profits
— What we can grow — Statistical — Stock-farming— Profit and
loss — A shameful gold-swindle — Our mines — Glacial action —
Sculptured stones, ........ 113

CHAPTER VIII.

WILD AND HOSTILE KAFIRS.

Boundary-lines — The Zulus of Zululand — Ecclesiastical opinion —

Polygamy — The Amaswazi — A white chief, .... 132

CHAPTER IX.

, SECOCOENI.

The present quarrel — Death of Jonathan — A critical position —
White witchcraft — Amenities of Kaiir war — An error of judg-
ment— Soldier's war-dance — A contrast, . . . .140

CHAPTER X.

OUR TAME KAFIRS.

Value of language —Slaves or servants — A bond of gratitude —

Teaching him manners — Mr Froude on serfdom, . . . 140



CONTENTS. XI

CHAPTER XI.

OUR SUPERSTITIONS.

The Little Tugela ghost — An exorcism in Irish — A spiritual victory
— The spirit of the storm — A midnight apparition — The demon-
dog — The snake at Spion Kop— Tutelary spirits, . . . 154

CHAPTER XII.

OUR SPORTS AND TRAVELS.

When not to hunt — Horse-sickness — "Salted" horses — How to
start properly — Whipping a lion — Bushcraft — A hunter killed
— Diminution in game — Came or wild beasts — South African
sportsmen — Snakes and swords — Wolves and dogs — How to
choose horses — Via Delagoa Bay — The mocking-bird — Stam-
peding, . . . . . . . . . .166

CHAPTER XIII.

BLUNDER I NO.

Misleading artu-les — A self-contradictory historian — The battle of
Boomplaatz — Our bitter beer — Slavery — Zulus and Basutos —
A startling fact, 198

CHAPTER XIY.

PLUNDERING.

Fronde and Sonthey — Diamond Fields revolt — Muzzle to muzzle

— A prophecy— The "house on fire," ..... 216

CHAPTER X V.

.STIRRING EVENTS — SIR THEOI'IIILUS AND HOW HE DID IT.

Rational paralysis — Foredoomed — Too late — The reaction — Our
first mistake — A sinister proposition— Arming the blacks —
Illegal armaments, ........ ^-2',

CHAPTER XVI.

DISTINGUISHED VISITORS.

Two pleasant gentlemen — A Landdrost's cottage — A South African
dinner-party — General Sir A. T. Cunynghame, K.C.B. — A
border banquet — Captain Canington, ..... lol



Xll CONTENTS.

CHAPTER XVII.

SECOND OR PRESENT AVAIL

A wily savage — An intelligent native— Mapoch and the sheriff —
Murder of Bell — The new police — The outbreak — Evacuation
of Fort Weeber — The fever of 1878 — Massacre at Massello-
room — Fort Mamalube, ....... 241

CHAPTER XVIII.

FIGHTS AND FAILURES.

Fatal affray at Magnet Heights — Mutiny of Zulu police — Advance

of her Majesty's troops, . ....... 255

CHAPTER XIX.

TO-DAY IN THE TRANSVAAL.

The people — The railway party — The annexation, . . . 262

CHAPTER XX.

THE KEY TO THE FUTUKE.

Delagoa Bay — How to pay for the railway, ..... 267
CHAPTER XXI.

O INCLUSION.

Justified or not ? — A court of appeal — Slaves to theories — Froude

on the Free States — Proconsuls — Conclusion, . . . 275

Appendix, 289



THE TEANSVAAL OF TO-DAY.



CHAPTER I.

HISTORY OF THE BOERS.

Serfs or subjects ? — Pilgrim Fathers — Fighting for life — Glimpse of freedom
— Chaka— Policy of Earl Grey — Founding Republics — A Convention —
The Transvaal Treaty.

While many writers have devoted much space to descrip-
tions of Kafir life and character, none have even attempted
to deal with the state and position of the Boers, in such a
way as to lead intelligent readers to form anything like a
fairly accurate mind-picture of them as a people. This it is
my pleasing duty to endeavour to do ; and bringing, as I
can, ten years' actual experience of Boerdom to the task, I
hope to be able to set before the public a correct view of
them in all their relations — social, political, and religious.

The Boers were subjects of Holland, and were essentially
the Cape Colonists, when, by treaty and conquest, England
got, in the beginning of this century, a footing in South
Africa. As my object is not to write a history of past
events, but to explain the facts of the present hour, I shall
not encumber these pages with tedious descriptions of the
marches, fights, and sufferings of those poor people during
the last fifty years, but shall, as nearly as possible, confine
myself to an examination of the reasons they put forward to
justify them in their exodus from British territory. In 1833,
a large number of farmers found themselves, without any

A



2 HISTORY OF THE BOERS.

desire on their part to become British subjects, in the posi-
tion of " accidents of territory " ceded to the British by the
Dutch. The sovereignty over the land on which they
dwelt was undoubtedly vested in the European Government
of Hollaud ; but it is an important question whether a ces-
sion of territorial sovereignty can really be held to include
the transfer of people as serfs from one Government to an-
other. A serf is undoubtedly a person attached, and owing
certain servitudes, to the soil on which he is born. I know
of no law, human or divine, by which the right of the Dutch
inhabitants to remove from the soil transferred in sovereignty
to England can be denied. Therefore if any one of those
" subjects by cession " desired to remove himself, with his
belongings, to the Dutch East Indies, there could be no
objection to his doing so ; nor, because he fell under British
dominion by the cession of the Cape territory, could he have
been prevented from returning to other Dutch territory and
to his Dutch allegiance. I hold that he had only become a
British subject in relation to his occupation of British terri-
tory, and that it was perfectly open to him to cease to be a
subject by quitting that territory. It is certain that if the
emigrant Boers had passed on in their flight from British
rule to lands subject to the authority of other states, they
would have again become foreign subjects, and could no
longer have been compelled to own an allegiance to Eng-
land. But the lands to which the Boers retired did not
happen to belong to any recognised or constituted authority.
They fled from what they, rightly or wrongly, considered to
be misrule, into the " desolate places of the earth," where no
man was master. Mr Oliphant, the Cape Attorney-General
(in 1834), in speaking of the Voortrekkers (advanced pio-
neers), says, in answer to a question put to him by Sir
Benjamin Durban, then governor of the Cape Colony : —

"The class of persons under consideration evidently mean to seek
their fortunes in another land, and to consider themselves no longer
British subjects so far as the colony of the Cape of Good Hope is con-
cerned. Would it therefore be prudent or just, even if it were possible,
to prevent persons discontented with their position to try to Letter
themselves in whatever part of the world they pleased ? The same sort
of removal takes place every day from Great Britain to the United States.
Is there any effectual means of arresting persons determined to run away



SEKFS OR SUBJECTS ? 3

from an enforced allegiance short of .shooting them as they passed the
boundary line ? I apprehend not — and if so, the remedy is 'worse than
the disease. Government, therefore, must ever remain without the
power of preventing this evil, if evil it be."

The Boers did not want to be British subjects. They
found what even Englishmen to-day are complaining of
as an inconvenience, if not an evil threatening their very
existence. They said they were badly protected as against
the aborigines of the country — a set of thieving savages,
whose conduct on the frontier in 1878 seems to differ very
little from what they were guilty of in 1834. The Boers
knew that the territory then actually under British rule in
South Africa was limited ; and gathering together their
flocks and herds, they proceeded to march out of it into
" fresh fields and pastures new." It must never be said
that any hatred of civilised government, as such, led to this
step. This would be a base calumny on the character of
a body of men whose motives were as pure as those that
actuated the " Pilgrim Fathers " — Englishmen who left
England for conscience' sake.

When, and so often as, those people secured new homes
for themselves, and established laws and government for
their own guidance, they have found that their allegiance
has pursued them, and consequently they have been over-
taken, shot down, and annexed repeatedly — all their efforts
for their own emancipation from a rule which they never
sought, being defeated by brute force. It is now not denied
by impartial historians, that when the Boers entered Natal
that land was no man's land. Nor can it be asserted that
their irruption into the Transvaal destroyed any settled
government, or effected any injustice. It is, on the other
hand, admitted that their inarch towards the Orange River,
and beyond it, was the means of breaking the power of
Moselekatze, a warrior chief whom they found engaged in
a course of rapine and destruction almost without parallel.
This man with his army had burned and devastated an
enormous tract of country, and until he met with the Boers,
had succeeded, not in subjugating, but in almost entirely
annihilating, the various tribes and disorganised bodies
" under the name of Barolongs, Basutos, Mantatees, Kor-



4 HISTORY OF THE BOERS.

annas, Bergenaars, and Bushmen," whom his advance had
found occupying the game-covered flats and hills outside and
north of the British line. This . great murderer himself
commenced hostilities by attacking a small weak party of
the fugitives from the Cape Colony. The main body of
the emigrants succeeded, however, in 1838, in resisting
successfully a raid made by the " Amandabele " upon one
of their camps ; but having lost in the encounter much
cattle, their only means of subsistence, they sent forth a
party to follow up the raiders and recover the booty. This
little body succeeded so well in its mission, that Moselek-
atze, who had never before been checked in his career of
bloodshed and extermination, fled hastily to the northwards.
By this means, by breaking the power of this formidable
warrior, the emigrant farmers became fairly possessed of
vast territories which they had delivered from his murder-
ous sway.

Subsequently another — a very large — portion of tbem
penetrated into Natal, which was certainly not then British
territory. At the period when the Boers succeeded, after
wonderful labours and difficulties, in opening up pathways
for themselves through the great Drakensberg down to the
sea, there were not, on the millions of acres that lay below
them, any population worthy of mention. A great con-
queror had swept over the country before them, reducing
its inhabitants to less than 3000 in number, who dwelt in
holes, without cattle or means of subsistence, — an unarmed,
feeble, and disorganised fragment of the former resident
tribe. This had been done by Chaka, who is well de-
scribed in the excellent though prejudiced work on
" South Africa " published last year by John Noble, clerk
of the House of Assembly of the Cape Colony, in the
following words : —

"He was a cruel, savage being, who steadily pursued one object, —
to destroy all other native governments, and exterminate such of their
subjects as did not choose to come under his rule. The fame of his
troops spread far and wide ; tribe after tribe was invaded, routed,
and put to death by them, either by firing their huts or by the spear,
and in a few years Chaka had paramount sway over nearly all South-
Eastern Africa, from the Limpopo to Kaffraria, including the territories
now known as Natal, Basuto Land, a large portion of the Orange Free



CHAKA. 5

State, and the Transvaal. It is estimated that not less than one million
human beings were destroyed during the reign of this native Attila, be-
tween 1S12 and 1828. His death was, as might be expected, a violent
one."

Now it can hardly be said that to occupy a country
which had no inhabitants and no government, and to
snatch it from the power of such a wretch as Chaka, was
an act which should properly arouse the anger of any
civilised Government. The Boers were weak, and they
say that therefore they were found to be in the wrong by
the powerful Government from under whose sway they had
thought to deliver themselves.

To Chaka succeeded Dingaan, also a Zulu, and of course,
like other Zulus, a treacherous and murderous ruffian.
Dingaan and the emigrants at first seemed to have been
on friendly terms. Dingaan resembled modern monarchs in
one noticeable particular : he was greatly in the habit of
allocating to the use of friends and confederates, and giving
away to applicants, what never belonged to him, and that to
which he had no right. About the period of his accession
to the sovereignty of the Zulus, a few white men lived at
" The Bay," where Durban now stands. These were the
means of introducing missionaries amongst the Zulus, and
one of them obtained from the chief a recognition of the
independence of the small white settlement on the sea. The
chief also about the same time gave to the emigrant Boers
permission to occupy the country, the desolation of which
by Chaka I have just pictured. This is Natal, as distin-
guished from Port Natal, the small coast settlement referred
to. But Dingaan's profession of friendship was hollow and
insincere. His savage nature incited him to an act of wanton
and unnecessary bloodshed. He attacked and killed, with
circumstances of great barbarity, a large party of the farmers
under Piet Ketief, who were visiting at his chief town, and
engaged in the peaceful enjoyment of his hospitality. Then,
flushed with his easy triumph, and stimulated by the hope
of plunder, he endeavoured to cut off all the Europeans, with-
out respect of persons, in Natal and on the coast, and in-
vaded a country to which he had no claim, and to whose
occupation by strangers he had consented. The coast



G IIISTOKY OF THE BOERS.

English and the Boer countrymen both offered to this scheme
a vigorous resistance, — even the Boer women and children
performing prodigies of valour and shedding blood that
would have consecrated their freedom in the eyes of equit-
able men of any race. In the joint campaign, however, they
were terribly unsuccessful, the British settlers not tmly
quitting the country entirely, but even taking ship from the
coast.

The farmers in Natal, left in the hand of God and to their
own resources, rallied around one Pretorius, invaded Zulu-
land itself, and nearly entirely destroyed Dingaan's power
in two expeditions ; in the latter of which they were assisted
by Panda, a revolted brother of the great Zulu warrior with
whom they were contending. Then, and not till then, when
they had conquered a peace, and purchased security at a
vast outlay of blood — just when one would have thought
they had sufficiently demonstrated their self-reliance —
British protection sought them out. They were again in-
formed that they were guilty of unwarrantable conduct, and
once more found themselves called upon to give ready
obedience to the rule of the English governors of the Cape
Colony.

Once more, however, for a short period the poor persecuted
people were destined to be free. The commander of the
English forces in Natal, Captain Jervis, withdrew his troops
from the country in 1840, saying —

" It now only remains for me to wish yon, one and all, as a com-
munity, every happiness, sincerely hoping that, aware of your strength,
peace may be the object of your counsels ; justice, prudence, and modera-
tion be the law of your actions ; that your proceedings may be actuated
by motives worthy of j'ou as men and Christians ; that hereafter your
arrival may be hailed as a benefit, having enlightened ignorance, dis-
pelled superstition, and caused crime, bloodshed, and oppression to
cease ; and that you may cultivate those beautiful regions in quiet and
prosperity, ever regardful of the rights of the inhabitants whose country
you have adopted, and whose home you have made your own."

The Boers, although sadly reduced in numbers both in
Natal and in the country west of the Drakensberg, now
considering themselves free from further interference, pro-
ceeded, for the first time, to form ''republics." On doing
so, their territory was again invaded, by Captain Smith in



FOUNDING REPUBLICS. 7

1842, with a flying column sent forward for that purpose by
Governor Napier. The Boers attacked and cooped Smith up
on the coast, but not until he had first assumed the aggres-
sive. When the weak fight against the strong, the result is
not hard to foresee. More British troops arrived ; the Boers
were, of course, defeated ; and Natal became again, and
probably for ever, British territory. But, wonderful to
relate, a number of the Boers were still dissatisfied, and
again abandoned their lands in order to be free from all
obligations of allegiance to England ; and they went back
still further from the Power they dreaded, reuniting them-
selves to their brethren in the vast plains of what are
now known as the Free State and the Transvaal. These
countries had, as I have said before, been desolated by
Moselekatze, and were, so far as regarded human inhabitants,
a desert. Mr Noble, an historian anything but favourable
to the Dutch, says —

"They found no difficulty in taking possession of the territory, for
the greater part of it was lying waste, the haunt of wild game and beasts
of prey. The dreaded chief Moselekatze had abandoned it, having tied
north into the region between the Limpopo and the Zambesi rivers,
where his tribe, the Matabele, under his successor Lobengulo, now dwell.
Those remaining were 'weak and broken' people, ruined by Moselekatze.
They welcomed the emigrants as their deliverers from that tyrant's cruel
sway, acknowledging them as the governors of the country, and allow-
ing them to appropriate whatever ground they required. As the emi-
grants found their strength increased by the accessions they received
from Natal and the colonial boundary, they asserted more authority, —
establishing their own form of government, under commandants, land-
drosts, and field-cornets, and dictating to the natives encompassing them
the laws which should prevail. These laws were similar in character to
the regulations which applied, under the old Dutch government, to the
coloured class in servitude within the colony — namely, that they should,
when required, give their services to the farmers for a reasonable sum ;
that they should be restricted from wandering about the country ; and
that no guns or ammunition were permitted to be in their possession or
bartered to them. Potgieter and his followers, in declaring their new
government — the ' Maatschappij ' — claimed absolute independence ; and
when a proclamation issued by Governor Napier reached them, stating
that the emigrant farmers were not released from their allegiance to the
Crown, and that all offences committed by British subjects up to the 25°
of south latitude were punishable in the courts of the colony, they re-
solved to abandon Potchefstrom, and moved further northwards, forming
new settlements at Zoutpansberg, Ohrigstad, and finally at Lydenberg,
whence they contemplated opening communication with the Portuguese
port of Delagoa Bay. In these remote wilds, now forming the Transvaal,



8 HISTORY OF THE BOERS.

they were left to work out their own destiny, without any interference
or control."

Even here they were again called on to give allegiance



Online LibraryAlfred AylwardThe Transvaal of to-day : war, witchcraft, sport, and spoils in South Africa → online text (page 1 of 30)