African Kingdoms Conquest And Survival The Destruction Of The Zulu Kingdom –

The Battle of Rorke's Drift

The Battle of Rorke’s Drift is depicted in this painting in the Library of Parliament. The day after the battle at Isandlwana, against the wishes of Cetshwayo, a Zulu reserve that had not fought at Isandlwana and was led by Prince Dabulamanzi, attacked a hastily erected fort at Rorke’s Drift. Some 500 Zulu were killed in the engagement. Rorke’s Drift presented Britain with ‘much needed propaganda to counter the Zulu success at Isandlwana’.

Sir Bartle Frere was appointed high commissioner to South Africa in 1879 to realise the policy of confederation. Shepstone provided him with the arguments and motivation he required. The Zulu, Shepstone averred, had revived their military power under Cetshwayo. The kingdom was a threat to peace and prosperity in South Africa. Moreover, Cetshwayo’s leaders had personally insulted him. On 11 December 1878, under the flimsy pretext of a few minor border incursions into Natal by Cetshwayo’s followers, the Zulu were given an impossible ultimatum that they should disarm and Cetshwayo should forsake his sovereignty.

The inevitable invasion of Zululand began after the ultimatum had expired in January 1879. Instead of fragmenting the Zulu as Shepstone predicted, this made the Zulu rally to their king’s cause. Under the overall command of Lord Chelmsford, the Imperial forces – many of them colonials or members of the Natal Native Contingent – converged on Cetshwayo’s royal capital at oNdini. Chelmsford’s column split in two; one force, in a state of total unpreparedness, was repulsed by the Zulu at Isandlwana on 22 January (see The battle of Isandlwana).

A day later, a depot at Rorke’s Drift was attacked against the orders of Cetshwayo, who favoured a defensive strategy. The Zulu force suffered 500 casualties in this fruitless engagement. Chelmsford hurried back to Natal. The might of the British army had suffered a severe repulse and any thoughts of a quick British victory put to rest, but the Zulu themselves suffered terrible casualties, and worse was to follow.

After the defeat at Isandlwana British pride had to be restored, and reinforcements were sent for. Chelmsford’s army advanced again into Zululand, inflicting heavy defeats on the Zulu at Gingindlovu and Khambula in April. The Zulu were now on the back foot. In July Chelmsford moved in on oNdini, and in a final onslaught known as the battle of Ulundi, secured an overwhelming military success. More than 1 000 Zulu were killed, and Cetshwayo was forced to flee for safety. He was captured in the Ngome forest in August and exiled to the Cape. The Zulu were instructed to return to their homesteads and resume productive activities. The British were at pains to explain that the war was against the Zulu royal house.

The war itself had not destroyed the kingdom, but subsequent events served to divide the Zulu and undermine their economic and social cohesion. Taking a leaf out of Shepstone’s ‘native policy’, Sir Garnet Wolseley, the new British commander in Natal, divided the kingdom into thirteen territories under appointed chiefs. They were meant to represent the chiefly lineages of pre-Shakan times, a shaky argument, especially as one of them was John Dunn, who had joined the British when hostilities began. Others had either been outrightly opposed to Cetshwayo or had shown little loyalty to him during the war. Their allegiance was to those who had appointed them, and Britain effectively began to administer indirect rule over Zululand. Melmoth Osborn, who enthusiastically supported Shepstone’s views, was appointed as British Resident in Zululand.

Wolseley's settlement chiefdoms

The thirteen chiefdoms of Wolseley’s settlement. When he became the new British commander in Natal, Sir Garnet Wolseley set about dividing the area into the thirteen terroritories shown here under chiefs appointed by himself. It was said that they represented the chiefl y lineages of pre-Shakan times, an unconvincing claim, especially since the white trader and gun dealer John Dunn was one of them. Britain effectively began to administer indirect rule over Zululand, giving rise to growing civil strife and unrest.

Unsurprisingly Zululand suffered civil strife as a result of this arrangement. Those who continued to espouse the old Zulu order were known as the uSuthu, and were led by Ndabuko kaMpande, Cetshwayo’s brother. They were to come into conflict with the appointed chiefs and by 1887 had ‘fought themselves to a standstill’.

In addition, a hut tax was imposed, not only on each hut but on every wife regardless of whether she occupied a hut. Wolseley’s infamous settlement of Zululand had not destroyed the Zulu homestead, the basic productive unit in the kingdom’s economy, nor had the Zulu been deprived of their land. The hut tax, however, served to divert some of the surplus accruing to an individual homestead head to the British government. Over 70% of the annual cost of administering Zululand was derived from this tax.

As the civil war intensified, the British realised that the settlement was simply not workable. Cetshwayo, encouraged by Bishop Colenso and his daughter Harriette who both visited him in Cape Town, petitioned the British government and was granted permission to visit England to put forward his case for the restoration of the Zulu monarchy. In Zululand similar petitions were presented to the British Resident by the uSuthu.

Early in 1883 Cetshwayo was reinstalled as king, but his powers had been severely reduced. He was confined to a smaller area, surrounded by his enemies, and his every move was watched by a Resident. Those who wished to show their loyalty to Cetshwayo were obliged to move into his central district of the kingdom. Zibhebhu, an arch opponent of Cetshwayo, whose allegiance was more to the colonial order than the royal house, and who occupied a large tract of territory to Cetshwayo’s north, forced uSuthu loyalists resident in his portion to return to Cetshwayo’s area.

A pre-emptive strike by the uSuthu against Zibhebhu failed. Later Zibhebhu and Hamu, another of the appointed chiefs, invaded the uSuthu. Cetshwayo was soundly defeated at his newly built capital at oNdini in 1883. The level of bloodshed exceeded anything the Zulu had experienced during Cetshwayo’s reign. Matters worsened for the uSuthu when Cetshwayo died in late 1883. The balance of power in Zululand had now shifted decisively to the Imperial administration and its supporters in Zululand

Cetshwayo Harriette

Cetshwayo and Bishop Colenso’s daughter Harriette, who visited him in exile in Cape Town.

In a last-ditch measure to regain power, Cetshwayo’s son, Dinuzulu, entered into a treaty with the Transvaal. In military terms, the alliance proved successful and Zibhebhu’s army was forced out of the loyalists’ territory. But it came at a huge cost. In return for their assistance, the Boers were promised vast tracts of territory on Zululand’s western margin, which they called The New Republic, with its ‘capital’ at Vryheid.

When the Transvaalers tried to claim even more land than what was agreed upon, the uSuthu refused. Sensing complete chaos in Zululand, the British intervened. Dinuzulu was allowed to retain control of his portion of central Zululand, but the Boers were also acknowledged as owners of the New Republic, and a Reserve area was set aside for those opposed to the loyalists. In Natal, pressure mounted for the annexation of Zululand, and almost inevitably it was annexed to the Crown in 1887. The promulgation of a Code of Laws placed Zululand under a similar ‘Native Policy’ to that existing in Natal.

Once more the uSuthu mounted resistance to the annexation. Again Zibhebhu’s services were called upon. The revolt was spectacularly successful for a short period. Making good use of the mountainous terrain, the uSuthu under Dinuzulu repulsed a police contingent sent to arrest their leaders, and Zibhebhu’s followers were attacked by Dinuzulu and forced to flee hastily from the Ndwandwe district. Finally reinforcements arrived, the uSuthu were driven from their hideouts, and Dinuzulu surrendered. In 1889, he and his leading adherents were tried for treason, found guilty and sentenced to prison terms on St Helena.

King Dinuzulu

King Dinuzulu, son of Cetshwayo and leader of the uSuthu (loyalist) faction of the kingdom. In 1889 he was found guilty of treason and imprisoned on St Helena.

In 1894 Dinuzulu was pardoned and allowed to return to Zululand, but as a mere induna with no chiefly powers or privileges. To appease colonial interests, his return was coupled to the annexation of Zululand by Natal in 1897.

After eighteen years, settler interests had prevailed in the land of the Zulu, and the plans Shepstone initially envisaged for the kingdom could be put in place. White settlers and traders entered Zululand in increasing numbers. Zululand was thus ‘reconstructed’. The territory was divided among compliant chiefs who ruled with limited authority. The governor of Natal became the supreme chief over Zululand. The situation was worsened by the outbreak of a number of natural disasters between 1894 and 1897. Locusts, drought and the devastating rinderpest epidemic of 1897 led to a massive decline in homestead production.

Already under stress from the imposition of the hut tax, many more Zulu men were forced onto the Witwatersrand labour market to make ends meet and pay taxes. The gradual emergence of a permanent labouring class alongside a traditional economy based on homestead production and cattle-keeping led in time to new social divisions in Zulu society.

The Bhambatha rebellion

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Diamonds And After From Diamonds To Confederation

Workers in compounds

Workers in compounds wearing mittens to prevent them from stealing diamonds.

The political impact on southern Africa of the diamond discoveries was reflected in its effect on the southern African economy. Before the revelation of South Africa’s mineral wealth, Great Britain’s interest in the subcontinent was limited to the strategic importance of the coastline, control of which was essential to the defence of her Indian Empire. The South African interior was another story. Economically, it was marginal at best. At worst, it was a black hole of quarrelsome and greedy settlers dragging a reluctant Imperial government into costly and avoidable ‘native wars’.

The diamond discoveries changed the picture, more especially because the nearcoincidental discovery of gold in what are today Zimbabwe and Botswana gave hints of the riches yet to come. Britain started to take note that it was no longer the only role player in the region. The Portuguese were taking steps to firm up their claims to Delagoa Bay, and President M.W. Pretorius of the ZAR contemplated the annexation of great swathes of Africa from Lake Ngami in the west to the Indian Ocean.

Most important, the relatively small problem of Griqualand West had sensitised the British government that the economic viability of the mineral discoveries was threatened by the chaotic and expensive methods whereby black labour was recruited for the mines. It was not that black people were unwilling to work, as the 1 000-kilometre trek of the Pedi to Kimberley conclusively proved. It was that the price of this labour was far too high. Payment in guns threatened white military superiority. Payment in money threatened not only low-wage white agriculture but the building of railroads on which access to the mineral wealth itself depended.

British Colonial Secretary Lord Carnarvon

British Colonial Secretary Lord Carnarvon, also known as ‘Twitters’, promoted confederation in South Africa after the discovery of its mineral wealth.

Britain viewed independent Afrikaner republics and independent African kingdoms as political anachronisms retarding economic development. The ZAR, for example, introduced pass laws to keep workers on the farms and did not stop short of kidnapping migrants en route to the mines. Its hut taxes and land grabbing provoked war with the Pedi kingdom, and that was even worse.

The Zulu kingdom, on the other hand, trained its young men up as warriors rather than labourers. As Theophilus Shepstone put it, ‘Had Cetshwayo’s thirty thousand warriors been in time changed to labourers working for wages, Zululand would have been a peaceful prosperous country instead of what it now is, a source of perpetual danger to itself and its neighbours.’

Come the hour, come the man. In 1874 the man was the British colonial secretary, Lord Carnarvon, known to his colleagues as ‘Twitters’. Carnarvon had united the British colonies in Canada in 1867, and was anxious to repeat the trick in South Africa. Even when it became clear that the white settler governments wanted nothing to do with confederation, Carnarvon persisted. He saw the weakness of the ZAR as a definite opportunity, and a false report that Sekhukhune’s Pedi army had routed the Afrikaner forces gave him an idea. He informed his subordinates that they should ‘let slip no opportunity of justly acquiring the Transvaal’, and he appointed two dedicated imperialists to import ant positions. Sir Bartle Frere, who had succeeded in promoting unity in India, was appointed high commissioner and Theophilus Shepstone as special commissioner with powers to annexe the ZAR (known to the British as the Transvaal). Shepstone was told to persuade the Afrikaners to agree but, if not, to press on regardless, ‘for we cannot please everyone’.

Shepstone’s annexation of the ZAR in April 1877 set off a chain reaction that eventually led to the great South African War of 1899–1902 and its result, the consolidation of a single powerful South African state, politically dominated by white people and economically dependent on the controlled supply of cheap black labour. The Zulu kingdom of Cetshwayo was the first casualty of this process.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Diamonds And After Origins Of The Migrant Labour System

Along with the concentration of ownership by monopoly interests, and interconnected with it, came the origins of the migrant labour system that reached its mature form after the opening of the gold mines and dominated the South African economy over 100 years of segregation and apartheid. Not that contract labour and exploitative conditions were new to the Africans of South Africa, but institutionalised forms of labour control such as the compound system now emerged, and in the industrial environment exploitative relations now assumed the same racial form as that which already existed in the rural areas.

It is striking that the Diggers Democracy phase of diamond mining was not necessarily racially exclusive and that it mobilised black labour on the basis of incentives rather than coercion. Richard Southey, the lieutenant-governor of Griqualand West, understood the need to attract black labour to the diamond mines, and he insisted that blacks as well as whites had a right to own claims. The last of the black claimholders, Rev. Gwayi Tyamzashe, was still holding on at Dutoitspan as late as 1883.

Southey further allowed black migrants who lacked any capital to buy a claim the right to sort through the ‘debris’ or mine dumps and to keep whatever overlooked diamonds they happened to find. The wages paid to black workers on the diamond fields were reputedly the highest paid anywhere in South Africa.Most important of all, Southey recognised the one incentive guaranteed to attract black workers to the diamond fields – the right to buy and own guns. By the 1870s, farsighted black rulers could foresee the time that they would have to fight for their independence and they began to arm their people accordingly. Foremost among these was King Sekhukhune of the Pedi who sent whole regiments (travelling 200 men at a time on account of the dangers of the journey) to work in Kimberley. The average labour term varied between four and eight months – corresponding, as historian Peter Delius has sardonically observed, ‘broadly with the time required to purchase a gun’. Another who accumulated firearms on the diamond fields was the Hlubi chief Langalibalele, and it was the demand of the magistrate that he surrender his guns that sparked Langalibalele’s rebellion in 1873.

The same pressures that resulted in the concentration of capital – rising costs and falling diamond prices – likewise impacted on the relatively favourable position of the black workers. Not for the last time in the history of South Africa, the white underclasses attempted to preserve a privileged position at the expense of others. The white leaders of the so-called Black Flag rebellion of 1875 accused black workers of undermining the price of diamonds by flooding the market with stolen diamonds and diamonds from the ‘debris’ mine dumps. Lieutenant-Governor Southey called troops from Cape Town to put down the rebellion but found to his surprise that he himself was to be removed.

The fall of Southey, a former comrade-in-arms of Sir Harry Smith and brother to the man who shot King Hintsa, shows just how fast the mineral revolution was rendering Cape liberalism obsolete. The very elementary liberal principle, upheld in this case by Southey, that all men had an equal right to the pursuit of property became intolerable to colonial administrators and mining magnates as soon as the property in question was firearms or diamondiferous land and the men were black. Colonel Owen William Lanyon, Southey’s successor, immediately removed all restrictions on the ownership of diamond claims, and this victory was soon followed by various measures intended to discipline the black labour force.

When these disciplinary measures threatened their labour supply – 30 000 Africans left the diamond fields in 1882 – the mining companies looked to convict labour. In 1884 De Beers built its own convict station with 25 security guards housing some 400 convicts. Between 1873 and 1887, some 67 000 convicts passed through Kimberley’s prisons. The mines found prison labour cheap and tractable, and soon – in the name of antitheft security – hit on the idea of housing their workers in entirely self-sufficient closed compounds. Workers shopped at the company store and were treated at the company clinic. Escorted by guards armed with clubs, the workers marched from the compound straight to work along walkways covered to prevent any communication with outsiders.

Different ethnic groups were deliberately kept apart from each other to make it ‘difficult for the natives to form riotous combinations’. Black workers deemed ‘troublesome or turbulent’ were expelled, but only after first taking photographs which were pasted into a blacklist kept at the compound entrance. When these measures fell short, the compound managers could always call on government, as they did at Wesselton mine in March 1894 when three miners were shot dead by the Kimberley Mounted Police and compound guards.

Meanwhile, the continuing mechanisation of the mines made it necessary to import skilled labourers from Europe. These foreign immigrants lived freely in their own homes and received higher wages than the indigenous Af ricans emerging from their closed compounds to perform heavy labour for a minimal wage, a situation that Europeans in Europe would rightly have rejected. This racial division of the workforce into white skilled and black unskilled labour was Kimberley’s last legacy to the political economy of the emerging South Africa.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Aftermath Of The Mfecane The Swazi

The Royal Kraal of the Great Place, Swaziland

Sobhuza rallied together diverse communities of the Sotho, Tsonga and Nguni and embarked on the conquest of what was to become Swaziland in about 1820. This picture of the Royal Kraal of the Great Place, Swaziland, is from J.A. Ingram’s Land of Gold, Diamonds and Ivory, 1889.

The Swazi nation, just like those of the Sotho, the Pedi and others, was forged during the turmoil of the Difaqane. During the rule of Zwide over the Ndwandwe, Sobhuza was forced to flee north. Here, in the general area of what was later to be called Swaziland, Sobhuza rallied together diverse communities of the Sotho, Tsonga and Nguni into a restructured Ngwane (or proto-Swazi) state. However, Zwide frequently raided the fledgling kingdom.

The invasions made Sobhuza a homeless refugee, forced to abandon his capital, Shiselweni, and change capitals many times. He eventually sought refuge with a Sotho chief, Magoboyi, around the Dlomodlomo mountains to the northwest. Fortunately for Sobhuza, Zwide became preoccupied with his conflicts with the Mthethwa and the Zulu. Sobhuza used this opportunity to reorganise his forces, although still under Magoboyi’s authority. He attacked and defeated neighbouring chiefdoms and within one year had grown quite power ful, to the extent that it began to worry even his host, Magoboyi. But more worrying to Sobhuza himself were challenges to his authority by close relatives, all of which failed. In 1819, after Shaka routed Zwide’s armies in the Mhlatuze valley, near modern Eshowe, Sobhuza finally felt secure enough to return to Shiselweni.

The relative security of Shiselweni attracted many refugees to augment Sobhuza’s power. As a precaution against attack from Shaka, Sobhuza began to look to the north of Shiselweni for natural fortresses he could use in the event of attack. He therefore embarked upon the conquest of what was to become central Swaziland in about 1820. This area included the fertile and well-watered Ezulwini valley. To the west was the Mdimba mountain range, where cave fortresses were ideal for cover during battle.

Sobhuza used a careful strategy of both conquest and diplomacy against recalcitrant groups. First, he attacked and defeated the weakest groups, such as the Magagula, the Ngwenya, the Dlhadlha and the Mavimbela. Many others simply subordinated themselves to Sobhuza. The more formidable Maseko, however, kept their autonomy, despite Sobhuza having married one of his daughters, laMbombotsi, to their king Mgazi, as a strategy of eventually subordinating the group.

In the long run, however, the Maseko were defeated when their soldiers were lured into a ‘joint hunt’ for wild animals. They were attacked unawares, defeated and scattered into different parts of the region. The Ngwane were clearly on the ascendancy. To further consolidate his power, Sobhuza allocated each of his sons a chiefdom to rule. But the conquered areas still remained unsettled and insecure, with security generally prevailing only in the military towns.

The greatest threat to Ngwane security and Sobhuza’s rule came from the south, but Shaka ruled for just twelve years during which his military priorities lay elsewhere, mainly in defensive strategies. Sobhuza also resorted to diplomacy to help his state survive. For example, he made rain for the Zulu and married two of his daughters to the Zulu king. Despite these overtures of peace, Shaka sent an army to attack the Swazi in 1827 – but the Swazi’s use of their defensive strongholds in the Mdimba mountains ensured that the Zulu attack was a failure. Simultaneous Zulu attacks on the Mpondo and the Shangane kingdom to the north overstretched Zulu resources, which also facilitated Swazi resistance.

The death of Shaka on 22 September 1828 and the succession of Dingane brought a welcome respite for the Swazi. Taking advantage of this opportunity, Sobhuza consolidated his position as king and expanded his boundaries as far as the Sabie River to the north and the Steenkampsberg to the west. Stability and prosperity reigned once more. In 1839 a Swazi army was able to rout Dingane’s troops in open battle. Sobhuza died at about this time.

Shaka Zulu

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Diamonds And After The Diamond Monopoly

Cecil John Rhodes

Cecil John Rhodes (1853-1902) arrived in South Africa at the age of seventeen. His unique combination of engineering and fi nancial skills, coupled with his imperial connections, made him master of the diamond fi elds, prime minister of the Cape and, through his British South Africa Company, owner of most of Zimbabwe and Zambia.

In 1871 more than 2 000 diggers, several of them black, owned the diamond fields. Within seventeen years, 2 000 had been reduced to just one, De Beers Consolidated Mines. The early period is known as the ‘Diggers Democracy’; the later period is still with us in South Africa today. How did this change come about?

During the Diggers Democracy, regulations limited each digger to a maximum of two claims, each claim measuring 30 x 30 Cape feet (about 9.5 metres). The maximum number of claims per digger was later increased to ten, but claims could also be subdivided into halves, quarters and even sixteenths. Each registered claim was separated from its neighbours by a roadway 2.25 metres wide, which was not supposed to be worked, but the deeper down the diggers went the greater the temptation to burrow sideways into the diamondiferous earth that was supporting the roadway. Long before the diggers penetrated the maximum depth of about 365 metres, roadways were collapsing, mines were flooding, rocks were falling, and it became clear that more sophisticated methods and machines were required.

The diamond diggers at their midday meal.

The diamond diggers at their midday meal.

The costs of mining rose while the price of diamonds fell due to the increase in supply. The poor got poorer and were forced to sell their claims to the rich, who were becoming even richer. By 1881 the number of claim owners had been reduced to 71, but there were only twelve who really counted; by March 1888, the twelve had been reduced to one man – Cecil John Rhodes.

Legend has it that Rhodes clinched his victory over rival capitalist Barney Barnato by offering him membership of the Kimberley Club to which Barnato, as a Jew, had been denied access. The reality was inevitably more complex. Rhodes won in the end because he was an Englishman in a British colony, an English politician strongly allied with the Afrikaner Bond, a Parliamentarian who sat on government commissions in an industry that depended on government support.

But more than that Rhodes was a financier who genuinely engaged with problems of production whereas Barnato was little more than a lucky speculator. Rhodes had a precocious understanding of the importance of mechanisation [‘the application of machinery to diamonds will lick depreciation in prices’, he wrote at the tender age of 23 years]. Whereas others speculated in land and shares, Rhodes invested heavily in pumps, crushing machines and haulage equipment, and he was prepared to accept shares rather than cash in payment for services rendered.

By 1885 Rhodes had gained control of three of Kimberley’s four mines, with only the Kimberley Central mine remaining outside his grasp. But Kimberley Central was by far the richest of the mines, and Rhodes knew that he would be finished if ever the various owners at Central got their act together. Having secured the financial muscle of the Rothschild Banking group, Rhodes launched a pre-emptive strike, and in March 1888 De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited was born. The Trust Deed of the new company permitted it to engage in any business enterprise, to annexe land anywhere in Africa, to govern foreign territory, even to maintain a standing army if it so desired. In his opening address, Rhodes promised the shareholders to make De Beers ‘the richest, the greatest, and the most powerful Company the world has ever seen’.

But the more money De Beers made in Kimberley, the worse off Kimberley became. De Beers was a monopoly, and the logic of the diamond monopoly was to downsize, to cut costs, to cut production, to cut small entrepreneurs out of retail. Among the first steps taken by Rhodes after he gained control was to reduce output by a half and lay off 1 000 workers. A procession of unemployed mineworkers, white and black, marched to Kimberley and burned Rhodes in effigy, with the following words: ‘We will now commit to the flames . . . a traitor to his adopted country, a panderer to the selfish greed of a few purse-proud speculators, and a public pest. May the Lord perish him. Amen.’

Diamond diggers having their midday meal

The diamond diggers at their midday meal.

Close to 75% of De Beers’ disbursements were paid outside South Africa. Three months after the inception of the new company, a disastrous fire broke out at De Beers and 202 men died, mainly because the mine never wasted money on emergency exits and insisted on continuing operations for eight hours after the fire had actually started. Deprived of its small diggers and its small shopkeepers, its remaining residents locked up in closed compounds or working for De Beers, Kimberley declined from a glittering ‘city of diamonds’ to, in the words of Sarah Gertrude Millin, ‘a small, stagnant town’ servicing a big hole.

The foundation of De Beers Consolidated did not yet mean that Rhodes was out of the woods. Rhodes was above all a producer, but his partners in De Beers were merchants, financiers and speculators. Rhodes soon clashed with a cartel of four leading diamond merchants known as The Syndicate, who banded together in 1892 to control the price of diamonds. Rhodes doubled production and stockpiled diamonds at great personal cost, so as to break The Syndicate’s stranglehold. It was clear that the dynamics of the diamond industry necessitated vertical as well as horizontal integration, control of marketing as well as control of production. In April 1892 Rhodes and The Syndicate reached an agreement and created a reserve fund to support the diamond price. The agreement finally mutated into the Diamond Corporation (founded 1930), for many years the only institution through which diamonds could be sold on the international market.

Rhodes did not live to enjoy the fruits of his monopoly, dying in 1902 at the age of 49. The luck of the great Barnato finally ran out in 1897 when Barnato either jumped overboard or was pushed by his nephew, motivated less perhaps by greed than by his uncle’s endless chattering, while travelling to England by ship.

Among the capitalist titans who organised themselves as The Syndicate to do battle with Cecil Rhodes in 1892 – including Barnato himself, Randlords Julius Wernher and Alfred Beit, and the Mosenthal brothers, masters of the wool trade and a great commercial empire stretching from Port Elizabeth to present-day Botswana – one might easily have missed the obscure figure of immigrant diamond dealer, Anton Dunkelsbuhler. But Dunkelsbuhler did well out of being a member of The Syndicate. So well in fact that in 1896 he called his nephew from Germany to assist in the family business. In 1917 the nephew, whose name was Ernest Oppenheimer, founded the Anglo American Corporation which, within a few years, was to absorb De Beers Consolidated and thus consummate the marriage of diamonds and gold.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Aftermath Of The Mfecane The Pedi

Tlhaping chief and his wife

A Tlhaping chief and his wife, as observed by John Campbell at Kuruman in the 1820s, before life was disrupted by the Difaqane.

During the Difaqane, the Pedi leader in what is today Mpumalanga used similar strategies to the Sotho societies to the south. Around 1828 Sekwati took over the paramountcy by force and established full control over the region by 1837. Like Moshoeshoe to the south, Sekwati built his power and chiefdom partly through diplomacy, by establishing alliances with neighbouring chiefdoms to increase his military and productive capacity. The practice also enabled Sekwati to create a network of relationships of patronage and clientage, which boosted his position as ruler. At the same time, he kept a close eye over local rivals. Refugees fleeing from warfare in southern Mozambique, and from Swazi raids on communities of the lowveld and escarpment, all headed for the relative security of Sekwati’s Pedi kingdom. Stripped of their economic and social support, such as cattle and networks of kinship alliance, these refugees entered into relations of close dependence with the Pedi paramount chief through loans of cattle.

Thaba Mosega

Thaba Mosega, the hill at the heart of Sekwati’s Pedi capital. Sekwati became chief in about 1828 and had established full control over the area by 1837.

The establishment of a lasting security for Sekwati proved arduous, largely because of the expanding sphere of raids by the Swazi. In about 1838 a Swazi army sent by the regent, Somcuba, attacked the Pedi stronghold at Phiring, but was repulsed with limited loss of life and stock. But perhaps the worst victims of Swazi raids were groups located between the Swazi kingdom and the Pedi, such as the Koni, the Pai, the Pulana and the Kutswe.

Later the Pedi faced an even more formidable external enemy. In 1851 a Zulu army sent by King Mpande made two attempts to storm the Pedi stronghold – to no avail, thanks to the use of guns they had recently begun to acquire. Pre-empting a further Zulu attack, Sekwati sent gifts of ostrich feathers to Mphande and perhaps continued to pay him tribute regularly.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Diamonds And After The Creation Of Griqualand West

Migrant workers on their way to the mines

Migrant workers on their way to the mines. In the wake of the discovery of diamonds, two new systems that would greatly infl uence South Africa followed. These were migrant labour and monopoly capitalism.

In October 1871, almost immediately after the Keate Award, Governor Sir Henry Barkly annexed the diamond fields under the name of the Crown Colony of Griqualand West, but the Griquas themselves derived no benefit from the steps taken in their name. They had served their purpose as cat’s paws of imperialism, enabling the Imperial authorities to acquire control over mineral-rich lands. In November 1876 Lieutenant-Governor Lanyon embarked on a surveying process with the intention of confining indigenous black people to strategically placed rural locations comprising no more than 10% of the original Griqualand. And between 1875 and 1878 a dodgy legal mechanism called the Griqualand West Land Court stripped the remaining Griquas of the little they had left.

Chief Waterboer, in whose name the diamond fields had been annexed, was arrested and imprisoned in 1876 when he tried to free some of his followers from a prison work gang. In 1878, numbers of Griqua, Korana and Tswana who had lost their land rose in rebellion and attacked white traders and land surveyors. Defeat was inevitable, and hundreds of prisoners were marched off to Kimberley and forced to work as labourers on the mines that had been stolen from them.

Old-style historians used to see the diamond fields dispute mainly as an event leading up to the South African War of 1899–1902. But just as the historical significance of that war has been reconsidered in the light of later events, so too has new significance been detected in the story of Kimberley and the diamond field discoveries. The development of the diamond fields was accompanied by the development of two new institutions – monopoly capitalism and migrant labour. Both shaped the future of South Africa for the next 100 years or more, so that when even greater mineral discoveries were made on the Witwatersrand fifteen years later, the institutional arrangements they adopted had already been put in place

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Aftermath Of The Mfecane Tswana Societies

Medicine men administering a charm to Rolong warriors going to battle.

Of all the Tswana societies the Rolong were among the worst affected by violence of the Difaqane, as unleashed by the Ndebele. Here medicine men are administering the charm to Rolong warriors when going to battle.

All Tswana groups, just like the Sotho, were affected by the violence of the Difaqane. The Tswana were not so adept at nation building as the Sotho. Two factors contributed to this. First, Tswana chiefdoms were numerous, autonomous and disunited before, during and even after the Difaqane. Second, many other Tswana societies, such as the Kgatla-ba-Kgafela and the Fokeng, had internal power struggles of their own. Both these factors weakened them. The Tswana tended to regroup along former lines after the Difaqane rather than build new societies.

The Tswana faced the depredations of the early Difaqane raiders as well as the later power of the Ndebele. Between 1823 and 1826, the Rolong were attacked by the Phuting, the Hlakwana, the Taung and the Fokeng, who had fled their homelands in the east. Driven by hunger, these people raided for cattle and attempted successfully to drive the Rolong out of their best lands. The Rolong were forced to move from one settlement to another to escape attack. Communities fell apart and the Rolong chiefs Sefunyela, Ta wana and Gontle struggled to retain adherents. People tended to huddle in smaller groups around what arable and grazing lands remained.

Rolong medicine men blowing a counter charm towards the enemy.

Rolong medicine men blowing a counter charm towards the enemy.

From 1826 to 1836 the Ndebele introduced a period of ambiguous peace. Although the former raiders were displaced, the Ndebele brought the Tswana under tighter and more centralised control. Most of the Tswana groups were forced to flee their homes following Ndebele attacks upon them. Examples are the Tlokwa-baga-Sedumedi, Kwena-ba-Modimosana, Phalane and Kgatla of the Pilanesberg, the Hurutshe near the modern-day town of Zeerust and the Pedi of today’s Mpumalanga Province. They were able to return only after the expulsion of the Ndebele by the Voortrekkers from the western Transvaal in January 1837.

Yet other communities did not flee from their homes. An example is the Ramokhele branch of the Taung who lived a precarious existence under Chief Moseme at Thaba Nchu, close to the Modder River. To the northeast there was a similar situation in which Tswana groups were barely surviving by hunting and stealing, under constant fear of attack from the Ndebele.

Of all the Tswana societies, perhaps the worst affected by the violence of the Difaqane unleashed by the Ndebele were the western Rolong. Between 1826 and 1832 the presence of the Ndebele brought them some security against attack from other groups fleeing the Difaqane. But in 1832 two Ndebele representatives sent by Mzilikazi to oversee the Rolong capital, Khunwana (just west of the present-day town of Mafikeng), were put to death by the Rolong, who distrusted Ndebele motives.

Kwena with supplies for Mzilikazi

Kwena with supplies for Mzilikazi. As subjects of the Ndebele, the Kwena were obliged to offer Mzilikazi tribute.

This incident provoked a devastating reprisal. In 1833 an Ndebele army surrounded Khunwana at night and launched a surprise pre-dawn attack. Indiscriminate slaughter of men, women and children followed. Consequently, large numbers of homeless refugees were forced to wander the lands between the Vaal River and Philippolis. The Rolong themselves fled south. At the same time, another Ndebele force attacked a branch of the Kwena under Khama who lived near the Madikwe-Odi confluence. The Kwena were defeated and their population scattered or captured. The Hurutshe of Chief Mokgatlha, although not attacked (because they were Mzilikazi’s acknowledged vassals), nevertheless panicked and also fled south when they heard of the Rolong’s fate. The uprooting of so many communities led to general starvation.

But in the Madikwe valley, not all of the Tswana communities fled their homes. Some remained and accepted Ndebele rule. Others worked for the Ndebele either in agriculture or tending livestock, all the while being checked on by the Ndebele for loyalty. The subject chiefs regularly paid tribute to Mzilikazi in various forms, such as tobacco, karosses, iron tools and weapons. As long as they paid tribute, the subject peoples were left in peace by the Ndebele rulers.

Robert Moffat

Robert Moffat of the London Missionary Society. He worked among the Tlhaping at their capital Dithakong from 1816 and obtained the help of the Griqua for them at the Battle of Dithakong in 1820.

Some Tswana reconstructed their broken societies only with the aid of European missionaries who had settled among them just before the Difaqane. To the extreme southwest, the Tlhaping and their close neighbours, the Tlharo and Kgalagadi, were spared the ravages of the Difaqane due to the role and presence of the London Missionary Society’s Robert Moffat at the Tlhaping capital, Dithakong. Moffat had worked among the Tlhaping from 1816 and offered them protection at the battle of Dithakong in 1820, and afterwards. Moroka’s Rolong-bo-Seleka of the present-day Thaba Nchu area survived due to the critical and timely role of missionaries, whose presence deterred potential enemies from attacking them – such as the Taung, and Moshoeshoe, who claimed they occupied Sotho territory.

In 1833 they were resettled by missionary James Archbell at a flat-topped hill to the west called Thaba Nchu. From the four mission stations they founded in the area, the missionaries provided both practical and spiritual assistance to the Seleka, the Griqua and the Korana. Moroka himself never became a Christian but depended on missionary help in his struggle with Moshoeshoe over the latter’s land claims in an area inhabited by Moroka’s people. Moroka remained at Thaba Nchu and never returned to his original homeland of Khunwana even after the expulsion of the Ndebele.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Aftermath Of The Mfecane The Ndebele State In The Western Transvaal

Mzilikazi receiving Robert Moffat and Andrew Smith

C.D. Bell’s illustration of Mzilikazi receiving Robert Moffat and Andrew Smith at Mosega.

Under their leader Mzilikazi, originally of the Khumalo clan, the people who came to be called the Ndebele moved from present-day KwaZulu-Natal in order to expand their zone of power westwards – not, as usually has been thought, as a result of Zulu aggression. They headed northwards, eventually settling in and controlling approximately the same area as what later became the Transvaal. From the mid-1820s, they embarked on a process of state-building.

Small in number at first, the Ndebele expanded by

Mzilikazi and his warriors dancing.

Mzilikazi and his warriors dancing.

incorporating conquered peoples into their ranks. Indeed, during the whole of its brief ten-year period of militaristic existence, the Ndebele state was one of raiding and conquering local communities. These were incorporated into Ndebele society as servants, soldiers or client communities located on the periphery of Ndebele settlements. This was partly a defensive tactic, to protect the Ndebele from possible Griqua and Kora raids, and from the Zulu, who coveted Mzilikazi’s increasing cattle herds.

Ndebele towns and military outposts were located mainly in the Mosega Basin on the upper Madikwe River. In the east, cattle posts extended from the upper Odi River to the Pilanesberg mountains. The average population of an Ndebele town was about 700 people. Apart from military preoccupations in every Ndebele settlement, food production by women was also a major undertaking.

After the Griqua/ Ndebele confrontations of 1829 and 1831, a scientific explorer from the Cape, Dr Andrew Smith, linked up with the London Missionary Society’s Robert Moffat at Kuruman, and travelled together to Mosega where Mzilikazi expressed his wish to have white missionaries and traders in his kingdom. Mzilikazi also established diplomatic relations with the Cape authorities.

In 1833 he moved northwest, settling between the Marico (Madikwe) and Crocodile rivers. During their occupation of the Madikwe valley, the Ndebele were preoccupied with defence against external aggressors and establishing ‘proper’ political relations with their subject communities. Mzilikazi was extremely sensitive to armed parties entering his kingdom, especially from the south, from where he thought danger was most likely to come. When the Ndebele were eventually displaced from the highveld by the Voortrekkers in 1837, they trekked over the Limpopo River to present-day Zimbabwe.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Aftermath Of The Mfecane Moshoeshoe And The Sotho

Sotho war dance

Sotho war dances as illustrated by C.D. Bell in Andrew Smith’s journal 1834– 1836. Sotho military tactics and innovations were primarily for defence, using the Sotho knobkerrie, long spear, battle-axe and cowhide shield. The Sotho did not use the short stabbing spear invented by Shaka. From the 1820s to the early 1830s, their formidable army repeatedly and successfully defended the fl edgling Sotho ‘nation’ against external invaders, notably the Tlokwa of Chief Sekonyela, the Ngwane of Matiwane and the Ndebele of Mzilikazi. Sotho territorial chiefs commanded their own military formations and King Moshoeshoe had his own royal regi ment, commanded by Makoanyane, but the Sotho did not have professional fulltime regiments.

The Sotho ‘nation’ managed to survive in one form or another from the 1820s to the present, a remarkable achievement given the difficult conditions that prevailed in the region throughout the nineteenth century. Unlike Sekonyela or Moletsane, Moshoeshoe neither participated directly in a Difaqane raiding community nor left his home base between the Maluti mountains and the Caledon River. He was attacked intermittently by practically all of the main Difaqane marauders, but still was able to build his paramountcy over the Sotho.

When the wars began, Moshoshoe used a combination of force and diplomacy to build his power and following. In order to avoid confrontation, he sent tribute to Matiwane of the Ngwane, to the Tlokwa, and later to Shaka of the Zulu. This was the strategy of diplomacy for which Moshoeshoe later became famous. In 1822, apparently anticipating Tlokwa invasion, he had moved his people to Butha-Buthe, a flat-topped mountain, for better defence. When they were attacked, the Sotho rolled boulders down the steep slopes of the mountain and onto the invaders. Simultaneously, Moshoeshoe bargained with the invaders not to seize or destroy his accumulated seed grain. Finally, he managed to convince an Nguni marauder, Sepeka, to come to his aid by attacking Sekonyela.

During the fighting, Moshoeshoe escaped to the safety of another flat-topped mountain, Thaba Bosiu. While Moshoeshoe continued to be a rival to Sekonyela, he established alliances with other chiefs to the north, such as Sekwati of the Pedi. To the south, the dominant chief was Mokuoane of the Phuting. In order to pre-empt any plans by Mokuoane to attack Moshoeshoe, Moshoeshoe sent his brother Mohale to negotiate. The two sides struck a deal and remained faithful but independent allies who would sometimes conduct joint cattle raids in the south.

On Thaba Bosiu, Moshoeshoe subjugated its local ruler while maintaining his alliance with Matiwane. This continued until Matiwane’s followers, jealous of Moshoeshoe’s influence and believing that he was conspiring with Shaka, incited their chief to attack Moshoeshoe in his mountain stronghold. Matiwane was defeated and crossed the Drakensberg in an epic march to the Eastern Cape. Moshoeshoe was now the undisputed ruler of vast lands stretching from the Caledon River and westwards to Thaba Nchu. Thus his emerging kingdom included many hitherto independent chiefdoms, such as the Ramokhele chiefdom of Moseme.

Remnants of broken communities also joined Moshoeshoe for the security and

Evening prayer at Morija

Evening prayer at Morija. The most important outside contact Moshoeshoe made was with the French missionaries. He invited the Paris Evangelical Mission Society (PEMS) to his kingdom, where they were settled from 1833, with Morija as their headquarters.

economic stability he could offer. He retained his herds and increased them through frequent raids. Moshoeshoe also increased his popularity and influence through the mafisa system in which he loaned cattle to impoverished newcomers. Despite this dependence upon him, Moshoeshoe allowed the satellite chiefs – usually settled on the periphery of the kingdom – to live in their own villages as they wished, following their own traditions. At the same time Moshoshoe also expected them to contribute to the stability and protection of his emerging kingdom, particularly as buffers against external invaders. Moshoshoe was thus continually expanding the geographical extent of his kingdom as well as its population into a loose but distinct community. Identification with Moshoeshoe’s polity was built not around language or culture, but through recognition of allegiance to him.

Despite this relative security the Sotho still continued to face raids from the Kora. Furthermore, from the late 1820s new influences began to filter into the kingdom. Apart from the threats from external African enemies, Moshoeshoe began to hear from returning refugees about the superior technology of the whites.

But perhaps the most important outside contact Moshoshoe made was with the French missionaries Thomas Arbousset, Eugène Casalis and Constant Cosselin. They belonged to the Paris Evangelical Mission Society (PEMS). Invited by Moshoshoe to his kingdom, they settled at Morija from1833. Moshoshoe also settled two of his sons with the missionaries at Morija, partly in order to understand their work and motives in greater depth. But once he had gained their confidence, Moshoshoe brought Casalis to live permanently at Thaba Bosiu to be his adviser and diplomatic agent in his dealings with white people.

Thus, as will be shown later, this ‘missionary factor’ gave Moshoeshoe strength and confidence in his interaction with whites. Many of the early Christians were to form the core of an educated elite, which articulated nationalist sentiments in the following years. The PEMS mission stations were dotted along the southwestern border of the kingdom where they became a buffer against Kora and Boer raids.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment