James Stuart.

A history of the Zulu Rebellion, 1906 : and of Dinuzulu's arrest, trial, and expatriation online

. (page 46 of 52)
Online LibraryJames StuartA history of the Zulu Rebellion, 1906 : and of Dinuzulu's arrest, trial, and expatriation → online text (page 46 of 52)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

and recognized thoroughfares were closed by the fences
put up ; polygamy became more difficult because of the
hut tax, and there was prescription in respect of lobolo
claims ; the national Feast of the First-Fruits, as well as
other feasts and social gatherings, were either stopped, or
interfered with, not, however, without good reason ;
Chiefs' powers of criminal and civil jurisdiction were
circumscribed, as also the control exercised by heads of
famihes over their wives and children ; diviners were
prohibited from practising their calling ; restrictions were
imposed on hunting game, cutting wood, or making
gardens in forests ; and Natives were unable to enter
towns, except when clad in European dress.

Under {b) : Too many Chiefs were appointed, a number
of these not being entitled by hereditary rank or position
to the posts ; usurpation by some European landlords of
several of the functions of Chiefs, or otherwise imposing
restrictions on their authority ; making consent by all
girls to marriage obligatory ; permitting boys and girls
to break away from their parents or guardians, in order
to be converted or educated ; creating undue facihties
for women to obtain divorce, or break away from their
homes to lead immoral Hves, etc. ; exaction of excessive
rents by various European landlords ; excessive charges
by certain lawyers ; too many Native herbalists allowed
to practise, a large proportion being unqualified and
unscrupulous ; usury by certain Europeans, especially
lawyers, farmers, and other employers of labour.

Under (c) : In a Christian community, with children
being converted to Christianity and educated, parents
were obliged in various ways to adapt themselves more
and more to the changing conditions, even though them-
selves against being converted or educated on European
lines. Enhghtenment, religious and secular, accentuated
by Ethiopian propaganda, infused a spirit of equahty in
the people. This, in a polygamistic environment, was
destructive of marital and parental authority, besides


undermining the authority, privileges and prestige of
every Chief in the country. In the case of Dinuzulu, such
influences would have been particularly acute and rapid.

Besides the inconveniences involved, the spectacle of a
rapidly-disintegrating and decajdng tribaUsm was always
before the people, and, with this, the vanishing of
cherished national ideals, traditions, beUefs, folklore, etc.

Other permanent obligations were the having to pay
various taxes, rents, and other charges ; to carry passes ;
to register births and deaths ; the census-taking, 1904.

Under the same head, may be included other causes
which were but inevitable where two such races Hved
together in the same country : Interference by certain
Europeans with Native women and girls ; communication
of human and stock diseases formerly unknown, e.g.
leprosy, smaU-pox, bubonic plague, consumption, — lung-
sickness, rinderpest. East Coast Fever. ^

Among miscellaneous causes were : Laying off large
numbers of farms in Zululand for the occupation of
Europeans ; the inconsiderate manner in which the
poUce, especially Native pohce, behaved towards Natives ;
punishment and removal of Chiefs without proper trial ;
obhgation to work on roads and pubhc works (isibalo) ;
impoverishment of the people through the effects of
locusts, rinderpest. East Coast Fever, etc. ; introduction
of indentured Indians, thereby supplanting Native labour.
Of these, the laying o£E of farms in Zululand was far the
most important.

The aUenating of land in Zululand to Europeans has
always been regarded by the royal house as a serious
menace. Although hberal grants were made to mission
societies and to the Boers, it was never intended that
Europeans should obtain holdings in the heart of the
country, as they did shortly before the Rebellion, and
thereby break up the nation by subjecting individuals to
the payment of rent, as in Natal. It will, therefore, be

^ Blame for the introduction of such diseases is held by the Zulus to
attach to Europeans. But for their being in the country, Natives, they
say, would not have been so afflicted.


understood that the laying off of farms along the coast and
elsewhere for sugar planting, etc., would have been deeply
though silently resented by Dinuzulu as nominal head of
the people.

In addition to the foregoing, the semi-educated class of
Natives, known as Kolwas, had complaints, but as the
people affected were comparatively few, there is no
necessity for specifying them, except to point out that the
charging of rents on mission reserves, and difficulties in
obtaining (a) the franchise, (b) exemption in respect of
certain children, (c) firearms, and (d) European liquor,
were regarded by some as indications of being distrusted
or unreasonably discriminated against.

As the root-cause of the Rebelhon was, briefl}^, the
attempt made to impose the European character and
civilization on the Native races, the various causes above
given were of a merety subsidiary or contributory nature.
Hence it is unfair to charge Natal governments with failing
to circumvent what, in the nature of the circumstances,
was largely unavoidable, just as many similar causes now
and for long existing in other parts of South Africa are
more or less unavoidable.

When, however, through the operation of the foregoing
causes, the people felt disposed to take up arms, other
things were required before they would act, among these,
what may be called the inciting cause. This, of course, was
the poll tax. This is what tended to bring about combina-
tion. It gave the Natives heart, or uhudoda (manliness)
as they called it. It was precisely what they needed, in
their loose, disintegrated state. And so, curiously enough,
the poll tax played exactly the same part among them that
a similar tax did in the Wat Tyler Rebellion in England in
1381, and as the ' greased cartridges ' did in the Indian
Mutiny of 1857. It is a mistake to speak of the poll tax
as having caused the Rebellion ; it was merely a contribu-
tory cause, and not among the most important of those
that have been cited.

The principal motive of the Rebellion would appear to
be the one indicated on pp. 506, 507. But there was also


a general desire by the people for a form of government
more in harmony with their national and individual
aspirations. Reference should also be made to Ethiopian
propaganda, especially the political cry " Africa for the
Africans," the text of many an address shortly before the
Insurrection. It was perpetually put forward, no doubt,
in order to furnish people with a motive for opposing or
counteracting European domination and alleged oppres-
sion. The cry was heard, not only in Natal, but through-
out South Africa. Natives were told that the Europeans
had forfeited the right to rule, and that it and the country
had accordingly reverted once more to the Black House.
There were yet other inducements, viz. : the Baqulusi
having succeeded in massacring the commando at
Holkrantz, thereby lowering the prestige of the Europeans
in the eyes of Natives ; the lessons of the Boer War, such
as the guerilla tactics that were practised ; and the con-
tempt by Natives for Europeans, owing to the familiar
manner in which many had been treated by British troops.
There is no doubt that these motives also powerfully
influenced the people.

Among the occasions may be mentioned : Withdrawal
of Imperial troops from Natal ; inabihty of the Germans
to suppress the rising in Damaraland (West Africa) ;
sense of superiority felt by Natives through being much
more numerous than the colonists ; palpable growth of
Dinuzulu's influence ; general decay of the authority of
Chiefs, kraal-owners,^ etc. ; increase of hooliganism and
lawlessness ; belief that such fastnesses as Nkandhla were
impregnable ; behef that they (Natives) were impervious
to bullets ; behef, engendered by the widely-spread pig-
fowl-killing order, that the time had arrived when the
white race must be driven out or exterminated.

^ This decay arose out of refusal on the part of many to conform to
ancient tribal observances, habits and customs ; of their detaching
themselves from tribes to live under European landlords, etc. ; of
women refusing to render obedience to husbands, or breaking away
to lead immoral lives ; of the failure of boys to return to their homes,
and so forth. The following has reference to European authority :
detachment from European ecclesiastical control, even of long duration,
to set up independent churches.


(iii) Replies to Criticisms.

The way in which the campaign was conducted was
sharply criticized by persons in England and elsewhere,
chiefly from two points of view, viz. the disparity in
losses sustained, and the rigour with which the rebels were
dealt with. Now, it is one of the principal objects of a
commander to prevent unnecessary loss to his side, and
no part of his plans to make sacrifices merely because
heavy punishment is being meted out to the enemy. The
greater the injury inflicted, with the least loss to himself,
is one of the highest marks of generalship, particularly
where his opponent vastly exceeds him in numbers. As,
in every military school, one finds it approved to strike
effective blows at the enemy's moral, under what circum-
stances can this be better done than when he is driven to
finding himself out-generalled at every point, and losing
more men than his adversary ? What, more than cheaply-
achieved successes, is better calculated to depress the
exuberant spirits of barbarous rebels and sooner bring
about their surrender ? Justifiable or unjustifiable, re-
bellion should, in the interests of the community, be
stamped out and stamped out thoroughly.

The losses of European troops in various Native wars
in South Africa, particularly in recent times, have almost
always been greater than those sustained by Natal in
1906, relatively to the personnel engaged.^ When it is
considered that the casualties sustained by the enemy
totalled only about 2,300 in a four-month's campaign, with
upwards of 9,000 European troops and some 6,000 Native
loyalists engaged, it will be seen that the losses were
proportionately less severe than in other South African
Native wars.

The disparity in losses was accounted for primarily by
the insurgents being in an unorganized condition. It is
inevitable that, where hordes of more or less disorganized
barbarians attack properly-trained troops, armed with

1 For statement, showing casualties among European troops during
the RebelHon, see Appendix I.


modern weapons, mortality among the former will be far
greater than among the latter. One thing, however, is
quite clear. Had the O.C. Troops not dealt with the situa-
tion in a prompt and resolute manner, but afforded oppor-
tunities to the rebels to augment their forces, the pro-
portion of casualties would have been even more striking
than it was.

Most of the Criticism in question came as usual from a
few noisy people in England, who quite forgot the absurdly
few casualties that were sustained by the Imperial troops
in the Zulu War, as compared with the number of Zulus
who were killed ; nor did they remember that Pretorius,
at the famous battle of Blood River, had three men
wounded (including himself), as against 3,000 Zulus
killed. It is one of the ironies of life that persons wholly
ignorant, or almost wholly ignorant, of local conditions,
succeeded in getting many to attend to and beheve
their clamour. Such incidents as the cold-blooded attack
on the PoHce at Mpanza were glozed over or forgotten by
these zealots, whose chief glory consisted in traducing the
motives and actions of their own kin to the best of their
abihty. Everything the savages did was right, everything
that those of their own race did was wrong, wrong, not
because of any inherent defect, but wrong just because
they are white and not black. All murders, mutilations of
corpses, looting, incendiarism and terrorization of loyaHsts
were condoned. It occurred not to these ' judges ' to
study the facts. If the rebels did anything that wore
the appearance of wrong-doing, the act was justified by
asserting (wholly regardless of the facts) that the act was
but a consequence of the commission of some greater
wrong. No act was isolated and considered on its own
merits. If Bambata waylaid 150 Police along a difficult
road, firing a broadside into a twenty-men advanced guard
at a distance of five yards, in the dark, before outbreak of
hostility of any kind, the act was justified by the fact
that the ringleader had been deposed from his chieftain-
ship by the Government, and because he was but protest-
ing against the imposition of a poll tax of £1 per head. If


the reasons why Bambata was deposed, or the circum-
stances under which the poll tax was levied, had been
advanced, other excuses would have been found, and
attempts made to justify at every point, with an ardour
bom of such as had not actually hved in the country
and had nothing to lose.

The unbridled resentment and pubHc defiance exhibited
at Mapumulo, Umzinto, Nkandhla, Pietermaritzburg and
Durban magistracies — at each of which places the Natives
vastly outnumbered the civil authorities then present ;
the audacity of the murders of Hunt and Armstrong ; and
the still cooler attack at Mpanza, — with isolated, cold-
blooded murders, such as Stainbank, Veal, Walters,
Powell and Sangreid, accompanied by horrible mutilation
(where this was possible), — were all these exhibitions of
barbarity to have no effect whatever on the troops, most
of whom had been born and bred in the country, and
knew the place of the Native in the community ?

Natal was being governed in accordance with Native
law. Such condition naturally conferred on the higher
race a position of privilege and ascendancy, whilst main-
taining the Natives in a social system inherited from a
far-off past. This eminence had, in the course of two
generations, become settled or habitual. The Natives
recognized it and had accommodated themselves thereto.
When, therefore, the foregoing incidents occurred, they
were rightly regarded as serious. This is one of the
reasons why the shooting down of the rebels was occa-
sionally as severe as it was, though not on nearly so
large a scale as has been supposed.

There remains another and, perhaps, the chief explana-
tion. The spectacle of a subject, lower and uncivilized
race rising against its conquerors and lawful masters, with
whom it had lived at peace for many years, could not fail
to evoke the best energies of the latter to maintain its
prestige, though to have to do this in the face of the odds
possibly becoming one to ten, demanded the greatest
energy, and a drawing on all available resources. It was
not a time for half -measures. Rebelhon had broken out.


Rebellion by subjects, so long in a state of subjection,
was expected to be capable of rapidly infecting the
entire mass, unless sternly repressed. The possibility
of universal massacres of women and children arose before
the calmest minds. Such wanton butchery had taken
place in the Matabele Rebellion in 1896, the Matabeles
being, as is well known, off-shoots of the Zulus. It was a
fire that had started, and in a country covered with long,
dry grass. If allowed to spread, it would soon have given
rise to winds that would have swept it still further along
in every direction. Once out of control of their Chiefs, as
many were known to have got, others would have followed
the example. The best way of pandering to such condi-
tion was to have dealt leniently, patiently and mercifully
with every transgressor. But, with the elemental forces
of human fury let loose, Dinuzulu, as rebel or as loyaHst,
would have been unable to control or to check them ;
he was largely a figurehead. Nor, as has already been
pointed out, were the ordinary Chiefs able to control. It,
therefore, behoved the Government to deal with the
situation promptly, and with the same severity that any
\vise man would be expected to use towards a fire threaten-
ing to destroy his house and all his belongings. That is
why the ablest soldiers were employed. That is why
McKenzie was placed in supreme command, and that is
why he, almost in spite of himself, became the exponent
of a drastic policy — the poKcy of necessity. The Govern-
ment was manifestly under every obligation to protect
the people, not less Native loyaHsts than members of its
own and other European and Asiatic races. After all,
there is such a law as that of self-preservation. That is
what mainly warranted these undoubtedly severe, but
unavoidable measures. And yet the troops were exceed-
ingly well-disposed to the Zulu race as a whole. Satis-
factory relations exist to-day between the Natives and the
colonists, and will long continue to exist, unless petty,
misguided pohcies be brought into practice.

The severity of the punishment during actual hostili-
ties, or rather until such moment as it appeared certain


the Rebellion had been " got under," received the fullest
approval of every loyaHst Native.^ Nor was their com-
mendation other than sincere. It was spontaneously and
repeatedly, though, of course, cautiously expressed. There
were, indeed, isolated actions which did not meet with
such or anybody else's approval. The commission of
irregularities in the circumstances depicted, under a
general Hcence to stamp out rebeUion at the earHest
moment — a rebeUion started by the Natives themselves
— was only to be expected, just as they occur and are
rightly condemned in every war.

It may be pointed out here that, on leaving Zululand,
after witnessing the operations for several weeks, Major-
General Stephenson expressed his satisfaction with the
way in which they had been conducted, and also testified
to " the gallantry displayed by the men, and to the readi-
ness with which they fought their way through the scrub."

Since the Rebellion came to an end. Natal has made
special endeavours to remove all reasonable and remedi-
able complaints. Her efforts to improve the relations
between the two races, especially by appointing a sympa-
thetic Council for Native Affairs, as well as Native
Commissioners, have met with success, so that restoration
of mutual confidence and good feehng on a satisfactory
basis is rapidly becoming an accompHshed fact.^

The arrest of Dinuzulu and his subsequent removal to
the Transvaal have completely put an end to the unrest
that existed both before and after the disturbances.
Zululand and Natal are in a more peaceful state now than
they have been at any time since Dinuzulu came back
from St. Helena.

It is generally allowed that, after a man has been tried
and punished, he is entitled to enjoy once more all the
rights of citizenship, but the circumstances connected
with Dinuzulu being what they are, we cannot but

1 One of these, a Chief, expressed the view that the youths who had
rebelled would not fight again, " no, not till their grandchildren are

2 In 1912, however, the Union Government abolished both the Coun-
cil and three of the four Native Commissioners.


consider the haste with which he was appointed one of
the Presidents of the newly-formed South African Native
Congress as somewhat unseemly and unwise.

(iv) Remarks concerning Native policy.

Now that there has been time for sober reflection, the
one great fact that seems to emerge, after reviewing the
situation in its many aspects, is the inadequacy of organic
connection between the Europeans and the Natives. As it
is, the needs of the people as a nation are apparently in-
sufficiently expressed. The half -educated Natives, especi-
ally if they be those who have, or appear to have, turned
their backs on the modes of life of their parents and
ancestors, are the ones who succeed most in catching the
eye of the European pubhc. The masses, to whom in fact
they belong, remain in the meantime practically inarticu-
late; they are, as Milton might have called them, but 'bhnd
mouths.' Their wants and necessities, from their own
peculiar points of view, are given expression to by no one.
No one seems to have courage enough to champion their
cause and to defend a system of hfe which, if evolution
means anything whatever, must be of intrinsic value, from
the mere fact that it exists after the countless generations
the people have Hved in the land. And yet the Natives,
even the uncivilized masses, are, in the fullest sense of the
words, British subjects, and, as such, entitled to at least
the elementary rights of such subjects. Surely, among
these rights (as with all European governments) is the
abihty to Hve in accordance with a system sanctioned
probably by thousands of years of continuous usage, —
the great, natural system of Africa.

Under the form of administration established for the
Natives, numerous Magistrates have been appointed in
various locaKties, whilst at least twice as many police
stations have also been set up. The Police, however, were
unwisely detached from the Magistrates ; the unwisdom
lay in the fact that the action was taken much too soon.
This, in the main, with head offices in Pietermaritzburg,


is the machinery for bringing the Chiefs and ordinary
Native pubUc into touch with the Government. Aided
in subsidiary ways by Missionaries, teachers and other
agencies, this is what has aimed at establishing a healthy
organic connection between the one race and the other.
Was it, is it, sufficient ? So long as the great majority of
Natives live under the tribal system, many of whose
peculiar laws and customs have been embodied in a Code,
given the force of law by Parliament, it does not seem that
the Hnk between the two people is as strong and effective
as it ought to be. If the tribal system is to succeed, it
should be given a chance. That chance, it would appear,
should be to revive and encourage such unobjectionable
and salutary forms of control as were customary under
the old system. For

*' Nature is made better by no mean
But Nature makes that mean."

It is absurd to suppose that Magistrates and Police,
Missionaries or educationists, the whole varying in their
methods as their idiosjrncrasies, can so dovetail into a
more or less normal system of Native life as to supply such
influences, necessary under the system, which Chiefs,
assisted by councils and with extensive judicial and
administrative functions, were formerly able to afford.
In the first place, they have not the time to give that
close, expert attention to purely Native matters, social
and domestic, which Chiefs and their councils were able
to do. In the second, supposing them to have the requisite
knowledge, which it is safe to say is very far indeed from
being the case, they have not the inclination. Their
inclinations are in the direction of their own racial affairs,
and rightly so. Thus, the Natives experience a need, a
need which no Magistrates, Policemen, Missionaries or
teachers are able to supply, even though further assisted
by the Secretary for Native Affairs, Native High Court, or
Supreme Chief. In consequence of an insufficiently inti-
mate supervision of a thousand and one questions of
interior economy, social and domestic, grievances of all


descriptions arise and exist for months and years before
they are removed. Such state of affairs is by no means
peculiar to Natal, one finds it prevailing throughout
South Africa, and apparently wherever else in the world
a white race presides over the destinies of a coloured one.

The lesson here, then, not only for Natal but the Union
of South Africa, seems to be just this. If the tribal system
is to exist, and there are a thousand reasons why it should,
it should be permitted to nourish and comfort the people
more than it does. It should be recognized as a good, —
to be maintained and reinforced, although in time doomed
to be supplanted by something else, — not as an evil to be
suppressed by European, i.e. alien agency, at the earliest
possible date.

If the proposal above referred to be gone into, it would,
we believe, be found to involve Europeans and Natives
living, to a great extent, in separate and clearly-defined
areas (always allowing for reasonable exceptions), each
with substantially their own organization and controlling

Online LibraryJames StuartA history of the Zulu Rebellion, 1906 : and of Dinuzulu's arrest, trial, and expatriation → online text (page 46 of 52)