Sir Reginald Laurence Antrobus Sir Charles Prestwood Lucas.

A historical geography of the British colonies, Volume 4 online

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On the west it begins many miles south of the Orange River,
and extends into Portuguese territory. In the centre it
includes Griqualand West, Bechuanaland, and the Bechuana-
land Protectorate ; and east of these countries it embraces
much of the Orange Free State and the Transvaal. It
stretches across the continent, in short, from the Atlantic
to the line of mountain ranges which look down upon the
eastern coast. Desert it is called, and in parts desert it is,


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but it has earned the name rather from scarcity than from Ch. VL
absence of water. Rain falls but seldom, it falls in thunder ^*
showers which sink into the sandy soil, and in most places
no water runs off in rivers to the sea. Springs and fountains
are few and far between, though wells are found by boring ;
and, owing to the high level of the ground, evaporation is
rapid. The country is undulating and open, mostly bare
of trees, but after rains tall grasses shoot up and cover the
ground. The land becomes more fertile towards the moun-
tains on the east, and here lasting rivers give certainty of
life. Taking Capetown and Table Bay as the historic
starting-point for the interior, the line of life and the line of
European colonisation has run north-east.

Deserts are the homes of wandering beasts and wandering The tribes
men, the refuge of outcasts from more favoured lands. In ^^i^^^ri,
old days the Kalahari, taken in its widest sense, was in the
main inhabited only by nomad bands of Bushmen and a
few Korannas of Hottentot origin. In later times immigrants
of other races found their way into its eastern districts.
The many tribes which are included in the Bechuana
division of the Bantu race came down from the north, while
on the south the frontier Boers of the Cape Colony sent
their cattle over the border in times of drought for better

On the northern boundary of the colony, in the region of The
the Orange River, was a number of half-breeds, the result ^''fZ*'^'
of Dutch and Hottentot intermixture, but more Hottentot
than Dutch, and supplemented by many blacks of pure
Hottentot race. They were known at first as the Bastards,
but subsequendy took the better sounding name of Griquas K
In their wanderings they came into contact with the mission-
aries, and under missionary guidance, at the beginning of
the present centiu-y, they established themselves north of the

^ See above, p. 99, note.


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Part I. Orange River, their principal settlement, at first called
"~**~ Klaarwater and afterwards Griquatown, lying a little to the
north-east of the intersection of the 29th degree of south
latitude with the 23rd degree of east longitude, and thirty
miles north-west from where the combined waters of the
Harts, the Vaal, and the Modder flow into the Orange River.
Their chief was a man named Barend Barends, and they
were joined by a band from Namaqualand under the leader-
ship of a family of the name of Kok. Griquatown became one
of the most prosperous missionary centres in South Africa ;
but many of the Griquas in the surrounding territory were
merely ruflfianly banditti, some of whom, under the name of
Bergenaars or mountaineers, became notorious for their
outrages, especially on the Bechuana tribes to the north.
About the year 1820 party feuds broke out among the
Griquas. Barends and his followers moved north of Griqua-
town to a place named Daniel's Kuil; the Koks and their
followers went a little way to the east, and established
themselves at Campbell; while the Griquas who remained

Andries behind chose for their leader Andries Waterboer, a Hottentot
' who had been bom in the Cape Colony and brought up at
one of the stations of the London Mission. Waterboer
proved himself a firm and capable ruler, and in December,
1834, Sir Benjamin D'Urban entered into a formal treaty
with him, by which he engaged to keep the country clear
of marauders, on condition of receiving an annual subsidy
of £100, an annual grant to the mission school at Griqua-
town of £50, to be devoted especially to teaching English
to the Griqua children, and a supply of guns and ammunition.
At the same time he consented to recognise the chief
missionary at Griquatown in the capacity of confidential
agent of the Governor. Waterboer's territory, according
to Sir Benjamin D'Urban's report to the Secretary of State,
then extended ' over a surface on both banks of the Orange
River, nearly from the 28th to the 30th degree of south



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latitude, and from 22^° to 25° east longitude/ His influence Ch. VI.
had, so the Governor wrote, a still wider extent, and thus *'
the Colonial Government secured a useful ally against the
freebooters who raided the Boers' flocks and herds. This
treaty, one of the first formal documents of the kind between
the English in South Africa and a native chieftain, was
warmly approved by the Secretary of State, as embodying
the pacific views of the Imperial Government ; and its con-
clusion, it should be noted, was due to missionary influence ^.
Meanwhile the other two bands of Griquas had moved
further off". Barends and his company led a career of
plundering until 1831, when many of them were cut off"
by the Matabele. The survivors were transplanted by
Wesleyan missionaries to the western bank of the Caledon,
within what are now the limits of the Orange Free State,
and on the borders of Basutoland. There they held together
till about the year 1846, but shortly afterwards dispersed
and disappeared. The other and stronger party, who were The JCoks.
led by the Koks, had more of a history. One of two
brothers, Adam Kok, wandered off to the east, and in 1826,
established himself with his following at the mission station
of Philippolis •, in the southern district of the present Orange
Free State. His son, also named Adam Kok, became the
recognised leader of the eastern group of Griquas, as Water-
boer was of the western: and in 1835, the two chiefs made
a treaty, defining a boundary between their respective lands
or rather, to use a modem term, their respective Spheres
of Influence. Thus it was that Waterboer's territory came
in time to bear the name of Griqualand West, as distin-
guished from Adam Kok's land, the land of the Eastern
Griquas. Both chiefs were recognised by the British
Government, but a different fate befel the one and the other.

* Papers relative to Cape of Good Hope, pt. ii. 1835, ?• 'I4*
' Called after Dr. Philip, the eminent head of the London Mission in
South Africa, on whose invitation Adam Kok came to the place.


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Part I.

land West.

land East,

of the




2. The

3. The Be-

Waterboer's territory and people remained independent,
until, in 187 1, after the discovery of the diamond fields,
Griqualand West, was, at the request of the Griquas them-
selves, annexed to the British Crown. Adam Kok's land,
on the other hand, became merged in the Orange Free State,
and in 1862 its old owners were removed by the Governor
of the Cape far away beyond the Drakensberg mountains
to an empty ceded district, whose name of No-man's land
was thenceforward exchanged for that of Griqualand East

Behind the border country, where these Griqua half-
breeds roamed and dwelt, were many tribes of the widely
extended Bantu race^ In South Africa the Bantus have
been classed in three main divisions. There are the Kaffirs
of the coast region, the mountain tribes of Basutoland, and
the Bechuana tribes of the central plateau, the Basutos and
Bechuanas being more nearly allied to each other than to
the coast KaflSrs. This last section included and includes
various clans or groups of clans, the Kosas, to whom the
preceding chapter was devoted, the Fingos, the Tembus,
the Pondos, the Zulus, the Tongas, the Swazis, and other
tribes whose names are now almost forgotten* The present
inhabitants of Basutoland, the mountaineers of South Africa,
comprise the remains of several more or less distinct tribes,
whom it is unnecessary to specify by name. Of the
Bechuanas the southernmost tribe was the Batlapin, Bantus
but with some intermixture of Hottentot blood, and north
of the Batlapin were the Baralong, the Bangwaketse, the
Bakwena and others, the best known Bechuana chief at the
present day being Khama, whose people bear the name of
Bamangwato. The fertile well-watered lands of the coast
region nourished the finest and strongest natives, physically
and morally superior to their kinsmen of the interior, though

* For a masterly account of the Bantu tribes of South Africa refer-
ence should be made to the thirty-fourth chapter of Mr. Theal's


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more aggressive and less easy to tame. The mountains of Ch. VI.
Basutoland gave strength and security to the tribes who *•
took refuge there from the open country ; at the same time
the valleys are rich, the soil brings forth abundantly ; it is a
land suited to be the home of a more or less settled
population of native agriculturists. On the central plains,
on the other hand, the Bechuanas followed a purely pastoral
life, wandering, unwarlike, the prey of stronger men.

It is not easy to take true stock of the Bantu race, as it The
came gradually into full view before European eyes less than ^^^i^^^
a hundred years ago. How did these natives compare with with the
the natives of other lands ? Were they more or less ^^'^^^y
organised ? Had they greater or smaller capabilities ? On indiam.
what level did they stand? By what standard should they
be tried ? Any comparison is diflScult, for it must probably
be a comparison, not merely of one native race with another,
but of one native race in one century with another native
race in another. Africa, as a whole, has been many years
and many generations behind other parts of the world,
and the events which have taken place in South Africa
in our own days find their true counterpart in other
continents in the history of limes long past. If we look
back to the story of North America in the seventeenth
and eighteenth centuries, there is a record of Indian tribes
who had already taken distinct form and shape, each of
whom had their own country and hunting grounds, each
of whom had their tribal organisation, their hereditary
friends, and their hereditary fo^s. In one instance at least
there was a trace of some higher political instinct, for the
^\Q nations of the Iroquois were banded together in a
confederacy of no small strength. These North American
Indians were savages, but they had a sense of patriotism,
of ownership of the soil : they held together to some extent
in peace and war; their homes among the Canadian back-
woods and behind the New England States were not the


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Part I.


of South
were in
the main

of the

tribal bond
among the

temporary shelters of wanderers, but the abiding places of the
children of the land. It was their lan^ and the land of their
fathers, given them by the Almighty ; they knew it, and they
clung to their heritage with the grim fierce determination of
fighting men, who had rights to be respected and homes
to keep. One place was not to them as good as another.
They might be exterminated, but they could not be cast out.

Turning from North America to South Africa, we find
at a much later period a picture of more primitive life.
In the earlier years of the present century — to some extent
it is still the same — the South African peoples were in a
fluid state ; the land with its inhabitants was in the melting-
pot of history. White men and black alike were constantly
in motion, locations were being changed, tribes were passing
in and out of existence. Where the Kosas met the colonists,
pressure on either side tended to produce solidity, and the
Kosa chiefs asserted their tide to the soil with some
distinctness of utterance and some clearness of perception.
Yet their clans were shifted with little difficulty by the
Government from one district to another, Fingos were
transplanted with equal ease, Griquas were moved in the
same manner. No feature, in fact, in South African history
is more striking than the comparative facility with which,
under British direction, the border tribes were sorted out
and rearranged. In like manner, where the white man's
presence was not yet felt, one tribe displaced another in
quick succession. The Kaffirs went up and down through
South Africa, and none could claim possession of any one
district or territory by immemorial right.

And not only were the peoples not attached to the soil,
but the tribal bond, the tie which held one family to another,
was weak and easily dissolved. The smaller clans became
incorporated in the stronger, and the remnants of broken
tribes united in new combinations. Thus it was that the
strong man, as opposed to the hereditary chieftain, played


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SO prominent a part in the native history of South Africa. Ch. VI.
Before the beginning of the present century the Zulus were r**T,
a small and insignificant tribe, owing a kind of feudal zulm,
allegiance to a stronger people. A younger son of their
chief, with no claim to succeed to his father's position,
quarrelled with his father and took refuge with the head
of the clan to whom the Zulus were subordinate. This
paramount chief, Dingiswayo, developed a military organisa-
tion among his people ; the refugee, Chaka, rose to be one CAaka.
of his generals ; he was, on a vacancy, installed as chief of
the Zulus; and, when Dingiswayo died, the soldiers chose
him for their leader. Thus a member of a subordinate clan,
who could not rightly claim the headship of that clan, was
eventually elected to be paramount chief of the dominant
people. Chaka went on as he had begun. He created
a strong and rigidly disciplined army, and under his sway
a union of various clans, drilled and organised, attained
something like the proportions of a nation. 5uch was the
origin of the Zulu power. It was formed not so much by
a hereditary chieftain as by a successful wa,rrior. Its basis
was not the tie of kinsmanship so much as the bond of
military discipline. Its units were not clans but regiments.
The Zulu warriors were perhaps more nearly allied to the
Turkish Janissaries than to the clansmen who two hundred
years ago formed the following of a Highland chief.

The chieftain of one of the small tribes which ^^^^ Rise of the
absorbed in this Zulu empire had a son named Umsilikasi j^^^^
or Moselekatse. He became one of Chaka's favourite kaise.
generals, but eventually incurred his wrath, and, with the
division of the army under his command, he crossed the
mountains into the territory now included within the borders
of the South African Republic, where, about the year 181 7,
he established a new military dominion on the Zulu pattern.
This was the beginning of the Matabele, like the Zulus, from
whom they parted, not a single tribe but a collection of


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Part I, regiments. Raiding and depopulating wherever they went,

•• they were in 1837 driven by the emigrant farmers far away

to the north, and for half a century, under Moselekatse and

his son Lobengula, were the strongest native power between

the Limpopo and Zambesi.

Rise of the Chaka and Moselekatse, with all their courage and

^^^^^^- ability, were ruffianly savages of the worst type; but a

better account can be given of a third strong man who rose

Moshesk, to eminence among the natives of South Africa, Moshesh,
the Basuto leader. He too owed little or nothing to family
or hereditary prestige, but by strength of body and force
of character achieved greatness. Among the shattered
remnants of various tribes, he collected a number of personal
followers, and established himself in the mountain fastness
of Thaba Bosigo on the eastern side of the Caledon River.
There he maintained himself against all comers, the
mountaineers gathered round him, and refugees from the
plains placed themselves under his protection. His rule,
as compared with Zulu or Matabele tyranny, was mild and
merciful. In his land the ministers of the Paris Evangelical
Society were warmly welcomed. On its borders Wesleyan
missionaries placed wandering clans, for a time in com-
parative security and peace. He lived to hold his own
with the white men in peace and in arms, and Basutoland at
the present day, well organised and administered as a British
colony, owes its existence to the native warrior and states-
man who from various discordant elements created a people.
Such were the Bantus when Europeans first came among
them, unformed politically and socially, little inspired by
love of country or love of race, living in groups which could
not be called communities. Yet for this very reason there
was and is hope for them in the future. Because they were
so plastic, they could be more easily moulded than tribes
and races which had been stereotyped in higher bat imperfect
forms. From what they heard or saw <^ white men, it


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would seem that the Zulus conceived their military system. Ch. VI.
When conquered they did not pine away or die out, they ••
exchanged masters, and learnt the arts of peace as readily
as in old times the science of war. There is natural strength
in the KaflSr race, a strength which does not exhaust itself
in sullen isolation, capable of development on new lines
and under new rules, a strength which means vitality and
promise of progress. They were fortunate in that, at an
early stage in their own history, they came under the rule
or influence of Europeans, they were no less fortunate in
that the Europeans who overpowered them were not the
Europeans of two hundred years ago. Much has been done,
no doubt, even in our own days, which might have been left
undone, and much has been done which might have been
better done; but after all the white men, under whose control
the native races of South Africa have passed and are passing,
have reached a higher level of humanity than their fore-

* The interior of Africa, at no great distance from this The Zulu
settlement, appears to be in a state of great commotion, '^9^^^^-
and for some years past various powerful tribes have been
pressing to the southward, driving the weaker ones before
them, from whom many fugitives, under different appella-
tions, have obtained refuge in the colony'.' So wrote the
acting Governor of the Cape, General Bourke, to the Secretary
of State in October, 1827. ,

The native history of South Africa fills but a small and
obscure place in the history of the world, but it may be
doubted whether at any time or in any place could be found
a record of such wholesale extermination as was wrought,
directly or indirectly, by Chaka and his Zulu warriors in
the first thirty years of the present century. Tribe after
tribe was overpowered and massacred. Those who fled

* Papers relative to Cape of Good Hope, pt. ii. 1835, p. a a.


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PartL before the invaders hurled themselves on other peoples.
•• The fertile, thickly peopled districts of Natal were desolated,
and the hand of the destroyer was felt, from the country
of the Kosas on the south, to the wild territory on the north
where the Swazis could not be subdued. Even over the
Drakensberg mountains the Zulus followed their prey, and
where they stopped their kinsmen the Matabele took up
the tale of slaughter. Not far short of a million human
beings are supposed to have been blotted out, partly in
the mere lust of bloodshed, pardy in the instinct of self-

An irruption of flying tribes over the north-eastern
boundary of the colony, and news that Chaka was preparing
to invade the Kosas, gave to the Colonial Government some
indication of what had been taking place, though the horrible
thoroughness of this savage revolution was only fully
appreciated in after times. That it should be so appreciated
is of no small importance to those who would read aright
South African history. We are told much of European
aggressiveness, but hear little of European protection. We
have highly drawn pictures of white men taking the black
men's lives and lands in greed of gain and lust of conquest.
Yet beyond the reach of Dutch or English influence and
control, natives butchered one another in hundreds of
thousands, and the land was left bare without inhabitants.

As far back as the year 1689 the Dutch Company went
through the form of buying from the natives the shores of
the Bay of Natal ^. They never utilised their purchase even
to the extent of forming a station there, as for a few years
one was formed at Delagoa Bay*, and nothing is heard of
Natal in connexion with European colonisation until the
year 1823. In that year a scheme for establishing trade
with the natives in south-eastern Africa was started at

settlers in

^ See above, p. 64.

* See above, p. 83.


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Capetown, and a brig was sent to Natal. The first voyage Ch. VI.
was unsuccessful, principally owing to difficulties in landing ; *•
but in the following year another voyage was undertaken,
with better results. The leaders of the enterprise had from
the first been two men of the name of Farewell and King,
both at one time officers in the Royal Navy ^, and among
other names which occur in the narrative are those of
Fynn, Ogle, and a man called John Cane. They made Chdka's
friends with Chaka, and from that chief Farewell obtained ^^^^^ ^
in August, 1824, a grant of the port of Natal with the Farewell.
surrounding country for 100 miles inland, and a coast-line
of ten miles to the south and twenty-five miles to the north.
This territory the owner proclaimed to be a British pos-
session. Subsequently, Fynn obtained another grant from
the Zulu king of the southern portion of the present colony
of Natal as far as the Umzimkulu River, The districts
which were nominally ceded were, owing to the Zulu wars,
almost depopulated, but gradually native fugitives gathered
round the white men, who became in some sort leaders of
clans under the paramount rule of Chaka. The position
of the adventurers was dangerous to the last degree. They
depended on Chaka's personal friendship, they traded with
him alone, they had on occasions to act as emissaries from
him to the Governor of the Cape, and appearing with his
armies they incurred the displeasure of the Imperial
Government. Chaka was assassinated in 1828, and %mq,' Chaka sue-
ceeded by his half-brother Dingaan, more treacherous and ^^ingaan^
hardly if at all less bloodthirsty. Twice the Europeans
fled for their lives, but twice returned, and in 1834 Dingaan

^ In 1828 Lieut. Farewell was regarded as still on leave from the
Royal Navy, for the Secretary of State wrote that in view of * English-
men having been seen lighting in the ranks of the Zoolas against the
Kaffirs* ... a letter was to be sent to him *for the purpose of
intimating to him that if he should be fonnd to have given his conn*
tenance to Chaka in this chief's projects against the Kaffirs, his leave
of absence will be recalled.' Papers relative to Cape of Good Hope,
pt ii. 1835, P- 33-

VOL. IV. . O


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Part I. withdrew his warriors from the coast district to give
** encouragement and confidence to the white traders. Two
years before it had been contemplated to place a responsible
officer of the British Government at Natal, and in -June 1834,
the Governor of the Cape, Sir Benjamin D'Urban, forwarded
to Downing Street a petition from a large number of Cape
merchants praying 'for the formation of a government
establishment at Port Natal, with an adequate military force
for the protection of the trade with that placed' The
answer was a polite refusal on the grounds of expense.
From the correspondence on the subject it appears that
an impression had gained ground that the government of

Online LibrarySir Reginald Laurence Antrobus Sir Charles Prestwood LucasA historical geography of the British colonies, Volume 4 → online text (page 17 of 46)