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Chapter XIX Armed Natives in the South African War Oh, where is he, the simple fool, Who says that wars are over? What bloody portent flashes there, Across the Straits of Dover? Nine hundred thousand slaves in arms May seek to bring us under But England lives and still will live, For we'll crush the despot yonder. Are we ready, Britons all, To answer foes with thunder? Arm, arm, arm! The Gallant Bakhatla Tribe When Bechuanaland was invaded by the Republican forces at the outbreak of the Boer War, the British Police Force in the Bechuanaland Protectorate, finding themselves hopelessly isolated in that far-away region, decided to evacuate Gaberones and effect a junction with Colonel Plumer's force which was then coming south from Rhodesia. The British Commissioner, before leaving Gaberones, advised the Native Chiefs of the Southern Protectorate to make the best terms possible with the invaders until the Transvaal Republic was conquered by the advancing British Army. Chief Lentsue of the Bakhatla, acting entirely on his own responsibility, sent his brother Segale with a message to the Dutch Commandant, reminding him that the war was a white man's war, and asking him at the same time not to traverse his territory with armed Boers; he also added that any invasion of his territory would be resisted with all the means at his disposal. Naturally, this message was treated with the contempt that a Boer would habitually treat any frankness on the part of a "Kafir", and the Boers, in utter disregard of this warning, invaded Bakhatla territory. Chief Lentsue was not in a position to attack the Boers at the beginning of the invasion. He had the men but hardly enough ammunition to last for a whole day, so he had to bide his time, scheming the while to secure an arsenal. The Dutch contempt for Lentsue's threats advanced by 100 per cent when they overran his outer villages on two occasions and he failed to offer any resistance, but they had not calculated that his Intelligence Department and War Office were hard at work in order that his threat to the Boers might not come to naught. Accordingly on a certain day a convoy of huge buck-wagons, each drawn by sixteen African bullocks, carrying ammunition to the Dutch troops in Bechuanaland, meandered its way slowly in the direction of the Marico River, escorted by a squadron of mounted Burghers. All of a sudden they were surprised and disconcerted by a fusillade of musketry, and the situation grew in gravity from the fact that whichever way the members of the convoy scampered, they appeared to be running from the frying-pan into the fire. The ruse was swift and successful, indeed so successful that the train of ammunition and provision wagons proceeded on its way to Lentsue's town, Mochudi, but under a different escort. What had happened was this: The sub-chief Segale, who has since been known as Lentsue's fighting general, had closely watched the movements of the Dutch and studied their plans, till he was able to anticipate the coming of this convoy and to waylay it. He captured enough ammunition in this and succeeding attacks to enable the Chief Lentsue to arm his men. Thus they repulsed two invasions of the Boers, followed the enemy into his territory, and came home with numbers of head of cattle, and Lentsue's territory was never again invaded by the Boers. This isolated action of the Bakhatla Chief and people in a remote corner of the Empire, on the boundaries of the late Boer Republic, had its moral and material value. The Boers, who virtually owned the whole of Bechuanaland to the south, except Mafeking town, found that it would pay them better to adopt a friendlier attitude towards the other Bechuana tribes. Thereby a Dutch Field Cornet pronounced all the Bechuana Chiefs as the original Afrikanders -- with the exception of Lentsue of the Bakhatla, and Montsioa of the Barolong in Mafeking. These two chiefs, the Field Cornet said, were traitors to their country as they had joined the foreign Rooineks against their black and white fellow Afrikander. But the armed Burghers ceased to help themselves to native property, and the Government's huge compensation bill at the end of the War became less formidable in consequence. Furthermore, the task of that unacknowledged hero -- the native dispatch runner -- became so appreciably easier that an almost regular bi-weekly communication was maintained between headquarters at the Cape and the siege garrison at Mafeking, for the native runners after crawling through the lines of the investing Boers, under cover of the night, could move through the peasant villages with much less danger of detection by Boer patrols. But it must be confessed that Chief Lentsue's defensive activities were wholly illegal, inasmuch as the Boers, although they had declared war against Lentsue's sovereign Lady, Queen Victoria, were not at war with him. It was defined, by an uncanny white man's mode of reasoning, that the war was a white man's business in which the blacks should take no part beyond merely suffering its effects. The Natives' retort to this declaration was in the words of a Sechuana proverb, viz., "You cannot sever the jawbones from the head and expect to keep those parts alive separately." It was this principle, we presume, that guided Lentsue's action. Still from the standpoint of white South Africa, the Chief's operations were a purely filibustering adventure; and while it seemed difficult to indict Lentsue on any definite charge, some of his men were arrested for having taken part in a cattle-raiding expedition in Transvaal in the course of which they shot and killed a German subject of the Transvaal Republic. These men were tried at Pretoria after peace was declared, and three of them were sentenced to death. All through the trial the Chief stood by his men, who pleaded justification. He accompanied them in the first instance to Pretoria, and afterwards paid for their defence at the trial, and it was evident that he took the verdict and sentence very much to heart. If the verdict strained the loyalty of the Bakhatla, it had the effect of satisfying the Boers across the Bechuana border, in the Western Transvaal, who had to live down the sad memory of a victory gained by a black chief over their white army and of their purposes thereby. From a Dutch point of view nothing could be more humiliating than that black men should have gained such a signal success over them, and they are constantly crying out for the repression of Lentsue and his "proud" Kafirs. The Boers' demand that the Union authorities should make the thraldom of the Natives more effective, forgetting that the armed forces of the Boers when left to themselves during the temporary British evacuation of Bechuanaland were unable to do it. Notwithstanding this fact, the newspapers, especially the Rand Sunday Press, seem always to have open spaces for rancorous appeals to colour prejudice, perhaps because such appeals, despite their inherent danger, suit the colonial taste. Preceding the introduction of the Natives' Land Act, the clamour of a section of the colonists and most of the Transvaal Boers for more restrictive measures towards the blacks was accompanied at one of its stages by alarming reports of "Native disaffection", "Bakhatla insolence", and similar inflammatory headlines. One Sunday morning it was actually announced in the Sunday Press of Johannesburg that the Bakhatla had actually opened fire on the Union Police and were the first to draw blood. Our own inquiries proved that the British Protectorate, in and around Lentsue's territory, where the Bakhatla dwell, was abnormally quiet. All that had happened was that two Dutch policemen had unlawfully crossed into Bechuanaland with firearms; that the Natives had disarmed them and taken them to their chief, who in turn handed them over to the British authorities at Gaberones, where they were tried and sentenced. It is not suggested that Sunday papers in giving publicity to disturbing reports lend their space to what they know to be untrue; but the fact remains that, right or wrong, their editorials seem ever ready to fan the glowing embers of colour prejudice into a blaze; and after arousing in this manner a most acute race feeling, the editors, upon discovering their mistake, if such it was, did not even trouble to tell their readers that they had unwittingly published exaggerated accounts -- since after a fair trial before the British tribunal at Gaberones, the offending Union Police were fined 50 Pounds. The fact is that while under the quasi-Republican laws of the Transvaal a native policeman dare not lay his "black hands" on a "lily-white" criminal, even if he caught him in the very act of breaking the law: in British Bechuanaland, "there shall be no difference in the eye of the law between a man with a white skin and a man with a black skin, and the one shall be as much entitled to the protection of the law as the other," and so in spite of scaremongers' ravings to the contrary, Chief Lentsue proved himself once more on the side of the law of his Empire. Go mokong-kong ko Tipereri, Go mokong-kong gole; Go mokong-kong ko Tipereri, Go mosetsana montle. Dumela, Pikadili, Sala, Lester-skuer, Tsela ea Kgalagadi, Tipereri, Pelo ea me e koo. "Tipperary" in Rolong. The Barolong and the War The Barolong and other native tribes near Mafeking were keenly interested in the negotiations that preceded the Boer War. The chiefs continually received information regarding the mobilization of the Boer forces across the border. This was conveyed to the Magistrate of Mafeking with requests for arms for purpose of defence. The Magistrate replied each time with confident assurances that the Boers would never cross the boundary into British territory. The Transvaal boundary is only ten or twelve miles from the magistracy. The assurances of the Magistrate made the Natives rather restive; the result was that a deputation of Barolong chiefs had a dramatic interview with the Magistrate, at which the writer acted as interpreter. The chiefs told the Magistrate that they feared he knew very little about war if he thought that belligerents would respect one another's boundaries. He replied in true South African style, that it was a white man's war, and that if the enemy came, Her Majesty's white troops would do all the fighting and protect the territories of the chiefs. We remember how the chief Montsioa and his counsellor Joshua Molema went round the Magistrate's chair and crouching behind him said: "Let us say, for the sake of argument, that your assurances are genuine, and that when the trouble begins we hide behind your back like this, and, rifle in hand, you do all the fighting because you are white; let us say, further, that some Dutchmen appear on the scene and they outnumber and shoot you: what would be our course of action then? Are we to run home, put on skirts and hoist the white flag?" Chief Motshegare pulled off his coat, undid his shirt front and baring his shoulder and showing an old bullet scar, received in the Boer-Barolong war prior to the British occupation of Bechuanaland, he said: "Until you can satisfy me that Her Majesty's white troops are impervious to bullets, I am going to defend my own wife and children. I have got my rifle at home and all I want is ammunition." The Magistrate duly communicated the proceedings to Capetown, but the reply from headquarters was so mild and reassuring that one could almost think that it referred to an impending Parliamentary election rather than to a bloody war. But the subsequent rapid developments of events showed that the Natives of Mafeking were in advance and that those at headquarters were far behind the times. In a short time after the interview of the chiefs with the Magistrate, the Boers, following the terms of their ultimatum, crossed the border between the Cape and Transvaal, cut the lines of communication north and south of Mafeking and, before any arms could reach this quarter, Mafeking (a little village on the banks of the Molopo) was surrounded, with Montsioastad, a town of 5,000 native inhabitants. The population of these places was largely increased by refugees, both white and black, from outside the town, and also from the Transvaal. At this time of the investment General Cronje sent verbal messages to the chief advising him not to mix himself and his people in a white man's quarrel. This view of General Cronje's was, at the beginning of the siege, in accord with local white sentiment. The European inhabitants of the besieged town had a repugnance to the idea of armed Natives shooting at a white enemy; but the businesslike method of General Cronje in effecting the investment had a sobering effect upon the whole of the beleaguered garrison; the Dutch 100-pounder Cruesot especially thundered some sense into them and completely altered their views. The Barolong youth had his baptism of fire on October 25, 1899, when General Cronje tried to storm the garrison by effecting an entry through the native village. He poured a deafening hail of nickel into the native village. The Natives who were concealed behind the outer walls of Montsioastad waited with their rifles in the loopholes, according to Captain Marsh's instructions, till the Boers were quite near to them, then returned the fire with satisfactory results. After this encounter the whites, for the first time, regretted that there were not any arms in the place with which to arm all the Natives. As this attack was unmistakably severe and a Red Cross wagon moved around the Boer lines in the afternoon, it was feared that the native casualties were heavy, and medical aid was offered by the white section of the garrison. But all were agreeably surprised to find that beyond slight damages to the housetops there were no casualties among the Barolongs. The following was the only injury: A shell burst in front of Chief Lekoko as he was engaged in repelling the Boer attack, but no fragments of it touched him. One piece of shell, however, struck a rock and a splinter of the rock grazed his temple. At best only a few rounds of ammunition could be handed out to those of the Barolongs who used their own rifles, and it is doubtful if so little ammunition was ever more economically used, and used to greater advantage. The investment of Mafeking was so effective that only certain Natives could crawl through the Boer lines at night. Throughout the seven months of the siege only one white man managed, under the guidance of two Natives, to pass into the village. All the dispatches which came into and out of Mafeking were carried by Barolong runners. Before the Boers moved their stock into the far interior of the Transvaal, the Barolongs continually went out and raided Boer cattle and brought them into the besieged garrison. Often the raiders had to fight their way back, but sometimes as they returned with the cattle in the night the Dutch sentries preferred to leave them alone. The result was that General Snyman, who commanded the besiegers after General Cronje went south, issued a general order authorizing the shooting dead of "any one coming in or out of Mafeking", armed or unarmed. At his village called Modimola, ten miles outside the beleaguered garrison, there lived Chief Saane, uncle of the Mafeking chief. Being apparently harmless he was not for some months molested by the Boers. Later, however, they rightly suspected him of supplying the garrison with information. They then took him and his followers to Rietfontein, where they placed him under surveillance, but Chief Saane proved even more useful in captivity than in liberty. He used the seemingly inoffensive young men of Rietfontein, to glean all first-hand information from the Boers, who still had command of the lines of communication. Then he sent the news in verbal messages to his nephew, the paramount chief in the siege, who in turn communicated it to Her Majesty's officers in command. By means of this self-constituted intelligence bureau the garrison learnt of the surrender of Cronje -- a happy consummation of the battle of Paardeberg -- shortly after the good news reached their besiegers; and when official confirmation came from the Cape, more than a week later, Chief Saane's messengers were there again with fresh news of the surrender of Bloemfontein. This news, as might be well supposed, was glad tidings to the besieged people. They were in fact the truths that King Solomon thus sets forth: "As cold water is to the weary soul, so is good news from a far country," for, in those days, before the invention of aeroplanes and Marconigrams, no country in this wide world was further than a besieged garrison. Among the first civilian bodies raised in Mafeking for purposes of garrison defence was the "Cape Boy Contingent", a company of mixed classes in varying degrees of complexions. Sergt.-Major Taylor, a coloured bricklayer, who led the contingent and directed the crack snipers of that company, was killed during the fourth month of the siege, by a fragment of a huge shell in the outer trenches. His funeral was attended by General Baden-Powell and other staff officers, and was probably the only funeral of a coloured person in the South African war that was accorded such distinguished military attendance. The language of the Cape coloured or mixed people is the same as that of the Boers, viz., the Cape Dutch. At times during the siege our advance lines and those of the Boers used to be less than 100 yards apart, and when the wily snipers of both sides saw nothing to snipe at, they used to exchange pleasantries at the expense of one another, from the safety of their entrenchments. Sometimes these wordy compliments made the opponents decidedly "chummy", to borrow a trench phrase. In that mood, they would now and again wax derisive or become amusing, bespeaking the fates of one another or the eventual outcome of the war. Whoever got the worst of the argument used to cut off communication with an unpleasant remark; but when it was mutually amusing, both sides enjoyed an advantage and each joined heartily in the resulting merriment. On more than one occasion a convivial Dutchman momentarily forgot the martial aspect of the mutual hilarity and complied with an equally convivial coloured man's exclamation to "kyk hier, jong" (look here, old fellow), and directly he "kyked" the snipers did to him that which from the enemy's point of view would amount to "devil's work". The reader of these reminiscences will perhaps permit us to pay a tribute to the Dutch Burghers who, under General Snyman, besieged Mafeking. Whatever we may say against them, in other ways, this much must be said in their favour, namely, that they left us entirely alone on Sundays. Such an opportunity gave the Mafeking people a chance to get about, to have a thorough wash-up, and to keep the Sabbath holy. Snipers put down their rifles on Sunday mornings, declared a day's peace among the contending forces between the opposing trenches, and pointed out to one another landmarks beyond which the opposing sentries might not cross, since to wander past these beacons would mean a sudden resumption of hostilities. But as the landmarks were religiously respected there seldom was any occasion to desecrate the Sabbath by the clash of arms. We had thus a whole day's recreation, when the trenchmen used to visit their families in the women's camp and make all-round preparations for another week's bombardment. The "Cape Boys" fought with distinction and maintained their reputation right up to the end of the siege. Visitors to Mafeking may now see near the obelisk in front of the pretty town hall of the famous siege town, a five-pounder gun "captured by the Cape Police during the siege". This gun was seized by the coloured Sergeant Bell and two other subalterns of the "Cape Boys" contingent; their contingent was then under the command of Lieutenant Currey of the Cape Police. Besides the brave coloured men who fell during the defence of Mafeking, one painful effect of the siege, in connexion with this contingent, was that of Mr. Swartz, who was blinded by an exploding Boer shell and has never been able to regain his eyesight. Ukude, ukude Tipperary, 'Kude mpela ku hamba, Ukude, ukude Tipperary, Nentombi 'nhle ng' asiyo. Hlala kahle, Piccadilly Nawe Leicester Square Ikude lendlhela yase Tipperary Kona 'po nhliziyo yami. "Tipperary" in Zulu. Two other small companies who filled their posts without reproach were the Fingo contingent and the Black Watch, so-called, presumably, from the jet-black colour of the members. The "Black Watch" included Mozambique and Zambesi boys, Shangaans and others from among the blackest races of South Africa. The greatest disaster sustained by this company was when a party of thirty-three of them dashed into the Boer lines on an ill-starred attempt to loot cattle from the enemy's herds. After their night's dash out of the garrison they got to a hiding place for the day, but they were followed there and were surrounded by a Boer commando, which peppered them with a maxim and a big gun. They fought up to the last cartridge, but were helplessly outnumbered and outranged by the Boers, who killed them to a man. Cattle-raiding was a dangerous business in which the crafty Barolong, who belonged to the country, alone were well versed. A subtle warrior among the Barolong, named Mathakgong, was a regular expert in this business. He led the occasional Barolong dashes into the Boer lines in search of beef and he invariably managed to rush his loot into Mafeking. He did this throughout the seven months' siege with the loss of only two men. The only misadventure of this intrepid looter was when he attempted to rush in an unusually large drove of cattle which Colonel Plumer had been buying and collecting at his Sefikile camp about forty miles north of Mafeking for the besieged garrison. Dutchmen tell us that for days they had learnt that Colonel Plumer was arranging to send cattle into Mafeking. They even knew the exact number -- 100 head -- and so they sent scouts to the north every day to watch the roads and warn the besiegers of the event. Hence, although they had left Mafeking unobserved, when Mathakgong's party approached Mafeking on the return trip with the cattle, a strong Dutch force was waylaying him and waiting to give him and Colonel Plumer's cattle a hot reception. They opened a rattling fusillade upon the cattle drivers, which could be heard from Mafeking. Over half of the cattle were killed in the ensuing fight, and the remainder, like the fat carcases of the dead bullocks, fell into the hands of the Boers. The drivers escaped with only two wounded out of the party of twelve. They said that they owed their escape almost entirely to the carcases of dead cattle, which they used as ramparts. When Mathakgong heard subsequently how the Boers had planned to annihilate him and his small party, he became very indignant at what he called "the clumsy European method of always revealing their intentions to the enemy." Away out in Basutoland, "the Switzerland of South Africa", the Paramount Chief Lerothodi offered to send an army on Bloemfontein while the "Free" Staters were engaged in the British Colonies of Natal and the Cape, which they had invaded. Lord Milner strongly forbade him from taking that step, and it was all that Sir Godfrey Lagden, the British Resident in Basutoland, could do to restrain the Basuto warriors from swooping down upon the Orange "Free" State. On one occasion, however, the Basuto mountaineers were quickly mobilized. Word reached Maseru that General De Wet, whose guerrilla career was then at the height of its fame, was seriously harassed by Imperial troops in the "Free" State, and that it was feared he would escape through Basuto territory. In such a case it was ruled that the Basuto would be justified in opening fire upon the trespassing commandoes, but not until the Boers actually set foot upon Basuto territory. Therefore the Basutos, in anticipation of this violation of their territory, under the leadership of Councillor Philip Modise, made a record turn-out in one night, in a mountainous country, without telegraphic communication, and where all the orders were conveyed by word of mouth by men mounted on the sure-footed Basuto ponies; so that at daybreak as the Boers at the frontier near Wepener awoke, they found the Basuto border to be one mass of black humanity. The Basutos made strong appeals to Maseru for permission to cross the border and rush the Boers, and again they were forbidden. At length General De Wet, amid a rain of British shells, withdrew his commando and carried his operations elsewhere. General De Wet, in his book on the South African War, admits that he was once hopelessly cornered and that then his only safe way of escape lay through the territory of the Basuto. He next proceeds to give his reason for not violating Basuto territory: it is that the Basutos showed no hostility towards the Boers, and that he had no wish to provoke them. No mention is made that armed Basutos barred his way, but if General De Wet's restraint were voluntary it would be the first instance in history that a Boer general had shown any regard concerning the rights or feelings of the Natives. General Botha has on several occasions mentioned the loyal assistance rendered to the Transvaal Burghers by the Natives of the Transvaal. We may also mention the case of Chief Mokgothu, of the Western Transvaal, who with his headmen was detained at Mafeking after the siege. In fact that chief died in the Mafeking prison where he was interned with the Republican political prisoners for participating in the war on the side of the Republic. On another occasion General Botha (obviously referring to Natives other than those around Mafeking) unwittingly paid a tribute to the valour of British Natives during the South African war. Speaking in the Nieuwe Kerk, at Middelburg, Holland, the General said: -- == The Kaffirs turned against us and we not only had to fight against the English but against the Natives as well . . . when the attacks of the Kaffirs increased, our cause became dark and black. . . . All these facts taken collectively compelled us to discuss terms of peace.* -- * "De Boerengeneraals in Zeeland", p. 29. -- == The southern defences of Montsioastad were maintained by the Barolong, under their own chief Lekoko, in their own way and with their own rations and rifles. These were only supplemented by supplies of ammunition, of which there was not too much in the garrison. And the only instructions which Major Godley and Captain Marsh gave the defenders was to "sit tight and don't shoot until the enemy is quite close." The rest of the native population in the besieged town was under the fatherly care of Mr. C. G. H. Bell, the civil magistrate. And the harmonious relation between white and black as a prevailing characteristic of the population of the garrison throughout the siege was largely due to the tactful management of Major Lord Edward Cecil, D.S.O., Colonel Baden-Powell's chief of Staff. At the end of the siege, Lord Roberts sent General Sir Chas. Parsons to thank the Barolong for the creditable manner in which they defended their homes throughout the siege. The veteran soldier evidently thought that he had not done enough in the matter, so later on he sent Major the Hon. Hanbury Tracey from Pretoria with a framed address to the Barolong chiefs, written in gilt letters. Colonel C. B. Vyvyan, who was escorted to Montsioastad by a squadron of the 4th Bedfordshire Regiment, headed by their band playing patriotic airs, presented the address in the presence of a large gathering of Barolongs and European visitors. The ceremony was described by the `Mafeking Mail' as follows: -- == Within the square, seated on chairs and stools, were the Barolong men, whilst the women, attired in their brightest dresses, took up positions wherever they could get a view of the proceedings. On the arrival of the Base Commandant (Lieut.-Colonel Vyvyan) and the Resident Magistrate (Mr. C. G. H. Bell), a Union Jack was hoisted to the accompaniment of a general cheer. A large number of civilians and several military officers witnessed the ceremony, among them being the Mayor (Mr. A. H. Friend), Mr. W. H. Surmon (Acting Commissioner), Lieut.-Colonel Newbury (Field Paymaster), Major the Hon. Hanbury Tracey (the officer who brought the address from Pretoria), and Major Panzera. Mr. Bell, addressing the assembled Natives, said: To-day is an historical one in the history of the Barolongs as represented by Montsioa's people. I am sure it must be most satisfactory to you all who have so bravely assisted in the defence of Mafeking to have this honour conferred upon you, which is unprecedented in the annals of the history of the native tribes in this country. The Field-Marshal commanding Her Majesty's troops in South Africa has expressed in the address which is about to be presented to you his thanks for the services you rendered during the siege -- an honour which I am sure you will appreciate at its full value, and which I can assure you is fully recognized by the Europeans who took part with you in the defence of the town. On many occasions bravery was displayed by both Europeans and Natives. We have fought and risked our lives together; we have undergone privations; we have eaten horses and various other animals of a like character; we have seen our friends fall, shattered by shells; and we have endured hardships and trials which very few men endure more than once in a lifetime. We have fought together for one common object. We have attained that object, and it is now impossible for us to do otherwise than experience a feeling of fellowship which is accentuated by the proceedings of to-day. You Barolongs at the commencement of the siege declared your determination to be loyal to the Queen, and when we had a meeting here shortly before war broke out you were assured by General Baden-Powell that if you did remain loyal your services would not be forgotten, and the Field-Marshal has endeavoured to-day to convince you of the truth of that statement. There are certain names mentioned on the address; but I cannot help, while talking to you now, mentioning the names of other persons who were of great assistance to us during the siege. It was altogether impossible to include the names of everybody on the address, and some of you may think that your names are not there because you have been overlooked, but that is not so. I will just mention the names of a few which, had there been room, might have appeared. First, there is Saane, who remained outside and assisted our dispatch runners, and who when he heard news sent it to us. It is only those who suffered from news hunger at the time can understand the pleasure we experienced at the assistance continually rendered to us by Saane. Then there is Badirile, who so bravely commanded his young men on the western outposts, and who on many occasions went through determined encounters with the enemy. Then again there is Joshua Molema, Motshegare and Mathakgong, all of whom did good service. Then there was Dinku, who on the day Eloff came in and when the enemy was behind him, stuck to his little fort, and who during the attack was wounded by a shell, which has since caused his death. His memory will not fade away amongst you Barolongs, as he was well known as a brave man. Colonel Vyvyan then stepped forward and said: Chief Wessels and men of the Barolong nation, -- Lord Roberts, Commander-in-Chief of the British Army in South Africa, has sent a special officer from Pretoria to bring you his greeting and to deliver to you a mark of his approval and the approval which he expresses on behalf of the Queen. Gathered here to-day are subjects of the Queen from various parts of her wide dominions -- men who have come overseas from England, from Australia, from Canada, and from India -- and they are here this afternoon to meet her native subjects of the Barolong tribe; whilst we, the officers and soldiers of the Queen who fought in Mafeking, wish to show what we think of our friends and neighbours down here in the stadt. You have done your duty well. You will remember that some time ago an officer was sent by Lieut.-General Baden-Powell to thank you for your services, and now the greatest General of all has sent you a special mark of his esteem in the form of this letter, which I shall read to you: V [ Crest of Queen Victoria ] R. "The Chief Wessels, Lekoko, and the Barolong of Mafeking. "I, Frederick Sleigh Baron Roberts, K.P., G.C.S.I., G.C.I.E., V.C., of Kandahar and Waterford, hereby testify my approbation of the loyalty to H.M. Queen Victoria, and the good behaviour of the Barolongs under the leadership of Wessels, Lekoko, and the headmen Silas Molema and Paul Montsioa, throughout the long and trying investment of Mafeking by the Boers, from October 13, 1899, to May 17, 1900, and I desire to congratulate these leaders and their people on the successful issue of their courageous defence of their homes and property against the invasion of the enemy. "(Signed) Roberts, Field-Marshal. "Pretoria, July 1, 1900." Addressing Chief Wessels, and at the same time handing him the letter, the Colonel concluded: I give you this on behalf of Lord Roberts and the Queen. You are to accept it on behalf of your nation. You are to keep it and show it to your children and tell them why it was given to you and that they are to be proud of it. The Colonel held out his hand, which Wessels gripped very cordially. The band played the National Anthem, and the Barolongs joined in one of their native cheers. Wessels then rose, and taking off his white helmet, replied on behalf of his tribe. == Replying to the address and speeches Chief Wessels Montsioa asked the officers to convey to Lord Roberts the gratitude of the Barolong for the relief of Mafeking, adding: "I have gone to extremes into which my forefathers scarcely ever went in defending their homes. I have eaten horseflesh, donkey and mule flesh, and had the relief column not come when it did, I was going to eat dog flesh, if by that means I would have been enabled to hold up a gun and keep the enemy out of doors, until Lord Roberts sent relief." Mr. Chamberlain, who visited Mafeking two years later, inspected the old siege position and addressed the largest meetings we had ever seen in Mafeking. He said to the thousands of assembled Barolongs: "You ask in your addresses that the conditions secured to you, when you were transferred from the Imperial Government to the Colonial Government should remain as they are. I do not think that Sir Gordon Sprigg or any one who may succeed him will alter them in any respect, and should any one attempt to alter these conditions, you will have your appeal to His Majesty's Government." This was said in the presence of Sir Gordon Sprigg, the Cape Premier of the day, Mr. Thomas L. Graham, the Cape Attorney-General (now Judge of the Supreme Court at Grahamstown), and Sir Walter F. Hely-Hutchinson, Governor of the Cape Colony. But what must be the feelings of these people, and what must be the effect of these assurances upon them now that it is decreed that their sons and daughters can no longer settle in the Union except as serfs; that they no longer have any claim to the country for which they bled, and that when they appeal to the Imperial authorities for redress of these grievances, they are told that there is no appeal? A promise of a farm was made to the Fingo and Kafir contingent, but that promise still remains unfulfilled. When His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught visited Mafeking in 1906, he was touched by the grateful references which Chief Lekoko made to the benign rule of His Royal Highness's late illustrious mother. And he assured the assembled Natives, in the name of His late Majesty King Edward VII, that the death of their beloved Queen would "not alter their status in any manner whatsoever as His Majesty took the same deep interest in the welfare of the native population as the late Queen did." In view of this statement by His Royal Highness, Chief Lekoko congratulated his people on having had the honour of receiving "assurances of Imperial protection, not from an Imperial official, but from the lips of His Majesty's own brother, and in the King's English," the Barolong felt that they were reclining on a veritable rock of ages. Since the inauguration and meeting of the first Union Parliament, laws have been enacted which threaten to annul all this. As far as the Barolongs are concerned, the Colonial Government is not the only aggressor. In the early 'nineties a British Boundary Commission awarded the territory of Mokgomana to a northern tribe. The award caused great dissatisfaction amongst the Barolong; accordingly they sent a deputation to the High Commissioner about the award. It was only after they announced their unalterable intention to assert their claim to that territory by means of the sword, that the Imperial authorities, in the name of the Queen, re-considered the former decision, and that Sir Hamilton Goold Adams restored that land to the Barolong, under date March 11, 1896. But the Colonial Office, completely ignoring Sir Hamilton Goold Adams's signature on behalf of the Queen, and without referring the matter to the native inhabitants in any way, lately confiscated that territory and declared it the property of the Crown. In consequence of this high-handed proceeding there is much bad blood among the Barolong. It might be said in support of this act of the Colonial Office that strangers will not be settled in the territory, but Sir Garnet Wolseley once declared that "as long as the sun shines in the heavens, Zululand shall remain the property of the Zulus." The sun is still shining in the heavens, and right up to the time of the outbreak of the European War in 1914, the Union Government were very busy cutting up Zululand and parcelling it out to white settlers under the Land Settlement Act of the Union (for white men only), parcels of land to survey which black taxpayers are forced to pay, but which under the Natives' Land Act no black man can buy; and what is true in regard to Zululand, British Kaffraria, East Griqualand and other native territories, is equally so in regard to Bechuanaland.
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This work (Sol Plaatje, Native Life in South Africa) is out of copyright, but see the Project Gutenberg legal notice.