From the time of the arrival of whites in the Transvaal in the late 1830s until the late 1860s, the political situation was fluid. Neither the trekkers nor African communities gained complete political ascendance. There was ‘an absence of clear-cut definition before the colonial state takes over’. Representatives of the white community – whether traders, hunters, missionaries or local leaders – began to play a more pronounced role in internal or intra African affairs. On both sides the chances for opportunistic or individualist action became greater.