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Waldo Kühn

Afrikaner Republicanism in
South Africa
A Synopsis

8/26/2017
AFRIKANER REPUBLICANISM IN
SOUTH AFRICA – A SYNOPSIS
A CONCISE HISTORY OF THE AFRIKANER COLONISTS OF
SOUTHERN AFRICA

BY WALDO KÜHN

First Published: SCRIBD, 2012. 2015 Revision.


Attribution: Non-commercial, No Derivatives.

Front page: Five-color, united Afrikaner flag conceived during the Anglo-Boer War.

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INDEX

Introduction 3
Chapter 1: The Cape Colony 4
Chapter 2: The Eastern Frontier -- Part I 10
Chapter 3: Stockenstrom and the Missionaries 21
Chapter 4: The Eastern Frontier -- Part II 31
Chapter 5: Piet Retief's Manifesto 41
Chapter 6: The Great Trek 47
Chapter 7: The Boer Republics -- Part I 57
Chapter 8: The Rise of Afrikaans 69
Chapter 9: The First War for Independence (1881-1881) 86
Chapter 10: The Boer Republics -- Part II 89
Chapter 11: The Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902)
Part I: The Cape Colony
Front 102
Part II: The Natal Front 109
Part III: To the Bitter End 120
Part IV:
Peace 135
Chapter 12: Post-War South Africa 138
Chapter 13: Union of South Africa (1910) 145
Chapter 14: Resistance to a White South Africa 148
Chapter 15: The 1914 Rebellion 155
Chapter 16: The 1922 Rand Revolt 158
Chapter 17: The Nationalist Party -- Part I 161
Chapter 18: The Second Language Movement 166
Chapter 19: The Nationalist Party -- Part II 170
Chapter 20: Defending Apartheid 176
Chapter 21: Social Engineering Gets Personal 183
Chapter 22: Cold War South Africa 188
Chapter 22: An Impotent Minority 198

Numbers in brackets after sentences or paragraphs refer to the numbered citation-list at


the end of the book. Sources are noted whenever statements might require further inquiry,
or for the purpose of recognition when I have relied heavily on a particular source. Word-
for-word quotes from sources are in italics and typed in gray, followed by the source-
number as in the list at the back. I use this method wherever a source is strong or unique
in bringing an idea across, or gives a knowledgeable opinion.

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INTRODUCTION
Afrikaner, as defined by the Afrikanervryheidstigting (Afrikaner Freedom
Foundation): A cultural-political community of Afrikaans-speaking South Africans
of mainly European descent, who by virtue of a shared past and shared
expectations for the future have a self-aware existence, are recognized as a
people and used to have sovereignty in an own state, is still recognizable by
culture and language and who holds the right to maintain its identity and to not be
extradited or handed over to forced assimilation (into a dominant culture.)

The story of Afrikaner republicanism is one of repeated ascendency of a group of


people from a cauldron of chaos, marked by a special leader who personifies the
movement at its critical stage, and whose personal integrity precludes ulterior
motives. Such notable leaders have been, in my mind, Andries Stockenstrom,
M.T. Steyn, Kruger, the generals and heroes of the Anglo-Boer War and the likes
of Professor Carel Boshoff and General Constand Viljoen.

I am an armchair historian, biased towards the ideals which I share with a


relatively small number of Afrikaner republicans who see as the only hope for the
future survival of Afrikaner culture, as we know and cherish it, the need for ethnic
consolidation in a cultural heartland, traditionally called a volkstaat (nation state).
I do not hold to rigid racial ideologies, although it is true that we are a people
largely descended from Europe, who have struggled to maintain our
(conservative) European heritage through the past 360 years amongst the often
much different culture of African civilization, and we do still desire to do so.
Culture, as I understand and use the term, refers to the following ways of life of a
community: Kinship, language, religion, norms and value systems, shared ideals,
struggles, prejudices and identity within the community. Other aspects of a
cultural group are mutual history, worldview, political solidarity and social
interaction like custom, openness and trust; as well as the society's expression in
arts and industry – though not necessarily in a competitive Darwinist sense.
Many of these aspects overlap between traditional ethnic groups and some
cultural fluidity is natural, while manipulative social engineering creates culture
that tends to be shallow and religiously apostate (i.e. unnatural).
I believe different societies with different identities are God-planted, and the
product of Promises and Blessings bestowed on forefathers.

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1. THE CAPE COLONY
The sea route around the Cape was well known. Bartholomeu Dias called it Cabo
das Tormetas, or Cape of Storms on his return to Portugal after a brief visit for
repairs to his ship in 1488. King João of Portugal named it Cabo da Boa
Esperança; Cape of Good Hope.
Real interest in a settlement (not colonization) was shown by the international
trading company based in the Netherlands called the Dutch East India Trading
Company. The Company's interest was in a replenishment station for ships
passing the Southern Cape route between Europe and East Asia (India, the
Malay Archipelago, China and Japan). The functions of the station were: supply
of fresh produce (especially young wine and vegetables to ward off scurvy),
wheat, fresh water and meat, as well as ship repairs and guiding ships into
Tablebay harbour in rough seas.
The first three Company ships arrived on April 6th, 1652. Initially a fortification of
earth and timber and some wooden houses were constructed as living courters
for employees, surrounded by plantations of vegetables, fruit and vines. It was
later (1674) replaced by the beautiful stone fortification, “The Cape Castle”, a
tourist attraction in the centre of Cape Town. In charge of Company activities in
the Cape was Jan van Riebeeck, who had held a similar position in Vietnam
(then part of a greater Japanese empire), but got into trouble for trading for his
own account, a common practice among Company officials and servants.
Van Riebeeck allowed company servants whose contracts had expired, to own
small farms outside the settlement. They were called free burghers. They were to
sell all produce to the Company at very low fixed prices and if found guilty of not
abiding by Company law, would be reinstated into the service of the Company.
That could mean becoming sailors and soldiers again, shipped off to fight in the
Malay Archipelago or perish on board (15–20 percent of Company sailors died at
sea).(2) Most of these free burghers were single men of Dutch heritage. They
traded with the Khoikhoi for livestock and there was some racial intermarriage,
especially when, in 1658, slaves were brought to the Cape. Slaves came initially
from Mozambique and Madagascar. In the first thirty years, the Cape was settled
mostly by single Dutch men and slaves, many from Angola, South-India and the
Malay Archipelago.

A steady stream of immigrants from all over Europe followed, including Flemish,
Frisians, Walloon as well as Dutch girls from orphanages. From 1680 to 1700

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some two hundred French Huguenots settled. They comprised mostly families
fleeing religious persecution.(115) Many were skilled viticulturalists and wine
makers. They were assimilated into the Dutch culture, spurred by the Company
that did not want a French corner and Governor Simon van der Stel, a veteran of
the Dutch-French war of the 1670s(2), but also because of the identical
Protestant religions of the Huguenots and the Dutch. In the 1700's the majority
immigrant-group were poor Germans, also Protestants, mostly single males
speaking diverse dialects that married either Dutch or French women. (2)
A sense of being Afrikaners rather than being Dutch or French or German had
crystallized by the end of the eighteenth century...People from Dutch and
German descent dominated the make-up of this [colonist] community; according
to J.A. Heese, [the dominant make-up was] 36% Dutch, 35% German, 5%
French and 7% non-European. (2)
(Another calculation by Professor Heese of the origins of the modern Afrikaner
estimates 35% Dutch, 34% German, 13% French, 7% non-European, 5% British,
3% other European and 3.5% undetermined. (97))
The official religion of the European colonists was Dutch Calvinism and the
official language was Dutch, although the general Cape populace spoke a
distinct dialect of the language. These included the European peasants,
Company slaves, free blacks (freed slaves) and local Khoikhoi. In the early years
of the colony, Portuguese and Malay were also widely spoken. The Malay slaves
(Dutch political prisoners) had also brought the religion of Islam to the Cape. (10)

When the European colonists, collectively known as the Cape Dutch, began to
resist Company restrictions and also later when they resisted anglicization under
British imperialism, they frequently referred to themselves as Afrikaners, and the
peasant farmers also were known as Boeren. The first person on record to do so
was Hendrik Biedouw in 1707, and in 1708 the Rev. E.F. Le Boucq spoke of the
danger that 'the Africaanders will fall to the level of the Hottentotdom.' (2)
Afrikaner really means African (Afrikaans for African: Afrikaan), and initially was
used in that sense.(2) See also (116). Giliomee goes into finer detail on the
intellectual debate over Hendrik Biedow's statement “...ik wil niet lopen (I will not
leave the colony), ik ben een Afrikaander al slaat die landdrost mijn dood...(I am
an Afrikaander even if the magistrate beats me to death...)”. But, as republicanist
ideals grew (largely from the 1780s) the term Afrikaner became more exclusively
associated with republicanist Afrikaans-speaking colonists, also known as the
South African Dutch, Dutch Afrikaners and Boers.

As the European settlement expanded in the 1600s, tension developed between

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the Europeans and the indigenous Khoikhoi who were systematically losing
grazing for their livestock to settler farmers.The first Khoikhoi-attack under
Doman occured as early as 1659 (seven years after the Company-post had been
established). They destroyed most farms and carried off the livestock. Doman
was banned to Robben Island and a nervous peace ensued. The Khoikhoi
answered Van Riebeeck when he remarked that there was not enough grazing
for all: 'As for your claim that the land is not big enough for both of us, who
should rather in justice give way, the rightful owner or the foreign intruder?' (2)
Van Riebeeck has been accused of having attempted to enslave the Khoikhoi.
This is based on an inscription in his journal over his frustration with the conflicts,
that “living in peace with the Khoikhoi was impossible, but killing them was
barbarous and unchristian.” He considered enslaving them as a compromise, but
knew that enslaving the indigenous peoples were a contravention of Company-
instructions.
As the farming colony expanded the Khoikhoi – many having been driven north
by the repeated wars with colonists and with San tribes – reached (for a while) a
workable relationship with the farmers. Khoikhoi laborors, living on frontier farms
with their clans and raising their own livestock and receiving seed and other
provisions from the farmers, did well for themselves. Gradually, as the frontier
moved on and the colony closed around them, the labor-relationships decayed
into serfdom.(1) Ownership of land was not restricted by race, but only Christians
were allowed to swear an oath, a legal requirement to obtain land. Most Khoikhoi
were not Christian. Khoikhoi and free blacks did not generally have the same
rights as burghers. They invariably lost out to burghers in cases where land
claims were contested (as in wills) and did not have access to borrowings,
usually supplied to whites by family-members. Some became addicted to liquor
and tobacco which the Company supplied liberally (2) – the start of the infamous
dopstelsel (tot-system). Many became drifters. Some (mainly of mixed Khoisan,
slave and European heritage) formed independant societies like the Griqua in the
north-eastern Cape, or found refuge at missionary stations which developed into
towns, many of which still exist. The Khoikhoi as a people were largely decimated
by a smallpox epidemic in 1713, but some royal dynasties are being restored.
The major clans today are the Nama and Griqua.

The most prominent missionary societies were the German Rhenish Mission
Society, Morawian Missionary Society, the Afrikaans Zuid Afrikaansche Sending
Genootschap (ZASG or ZAZG) and the London Missionary Society (LMS). For
decades of Afrikaner history, the schools provided for free by missionary societies
were responsible for the education of poor Afrikaner children, sharing with the

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“colored” children. The London Missionary Society and the Afrikaners were not
close friends though...

Slavery became well-instituted on Cape farms; ownership correlating with wealth,


with highest ownership (amount of slaves held per individual as well as
percentage of colonists owning slaves) in the western Cape heartland (up to 70
percent of farms in Stellenbosch) and progressively decreasing eastwards as
poorer burghers settled on loan farms; Khoisan servants and laborors were
common. Hideous forms of punishment for slaves in slave colonies had applied
in the early years of the Cape as well, like mutilation (replaced in 1727 by
branding on the back) to serve as a warning to fellow slaves for the rest of the
poor man's days. The Company's justification for judicial torture of slaves, was
that they were “descended from wild and rude Nations” which generally had so
little regard for life, as to not be deterred by the death penalty in itself. White
employees of the Company (sailors and soldiers) were also subject to extreme
types of punishment for various offences, like death for mutiny or cowardice, or
keelhauling for desertion; and burghers in a handful of notable cases received
severe sentences for killing slaves or Khoisan. But slave punishment was more
public in order to serve as a deterrent to possible slave uprisings. Roman Law,
applied in the Cape, recognized slaves though, as persons and not mere
property. They were also allowed to bring charges against their masters.
Seeing their role as guardians of the peace, the Stellenbosch college of
landdrost and heemraden in 1776 observed that ill treatment of slaves could only
lead to 'huge misfortune for the general welfare.' Thus, the law was used not only
to punish them but also to protect them. (2)
Working slaves in good condition also increased a farm's value in the case of
privately owned slaves. I.e. They had commodity-value. (1 – p.57)

The insidious expansion of the frontier of the colony – to the north and the east
led to increased ethnic tension. Conflict first broke out with the San in the 1700s
and in the latter part of the 1700s the stock farmers collided in the eastern Cape
with the Xhosa – the first Nguni civilization encountered. The war against the San
was harsh from the side of the Afrikaners. Their poisoned arrows were indeed
deadly and they had killed hearders when stealing livestock and attacked
farmers' families, leaving large swaths of farms in the northeastern frontier
uninhabited, but they sometimes met with unnecessary violence from the
commandos, notably under field corporal Adriaan van Jaarsveld. Another trend
that came into the spotlight was “indenturing” of San children, a twisted form of
custodianship reminiscent of the European workhouses, that claimed to “civilize”

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children. The practice had a more benign and official origin though. When
Commandant Godlieb Rudolph Opperman failed to resolve the crisis peacefully
and was instructed to expell (vergelden) the Bushmen, the very specific intention
of detainment of women and children was to save them from getting killed in the
conflict, which sometimes amounted to massacre.(2) Concilliation with the
Bushmen ensued after Field Commandant J.P. Van der Walt asked the landdrost
to refuse requests for the commandos to attack the Bushmen and capture
children since, 'the burghers would also give their all if they were robbed of their
children.'(2) But in later years capture of children became widespread, though
not universally acceptable, in the early Natal and Transvaal (ZAR) and children
were often “indentured”. They likely had some commodity-value like the slaves
had had, but were not generally mistreated, often being employed as hearders
and taught trades. Sometimes tribes, notably the Rolong and Bushmen, would
sell their own children to farmers, e.g. in exchange for blankets or livestock, as
had been experienced and reported on by Robert Moffat and Samuel
Broadbent.(3,14) The abduction of children were by no means exclusively an
Afrikaner-practice, nor was it found acceptable by all commando-members.(2)
The practice was also common in tribal conflicts. (4 – p 425 – 427). For example,
Swazi impis would raid neighbouring tribes and take children, especially from the
San, to become serfs (titfunja). (5)
The primary objective of identuring the children was quite possibly the breaking
up of menacing tribes by stamping burghers' authority on them, rather than
demand for cheap labor as a substitute for slavery, eg. see pp. 13-14. The
paternalistic-minded Afrikaners probably also really believed that they were
civilizing Africans through indenturement. Indigenous culture: customs like
initiation rites and polygamy, dress and religion (spirit guides, ritual practices,
superstition) conflicted with what Afrikaners considered Christian and very
strongly influenced their idea of a savage people. (4,6,7,8)
To avoid being discredited for permitting slavery, the ZAR authorities tried to
regulate the practice, and, in 1851 issued the Apprentice Act, which permitted
burghers to apply to the landdrost or field cornet to indenture African children
'given as gifts or obtained in any other legal or voluntary manner'. After the age of
twenty-five they were to be exempt from 'all compulsory labour obligations' and
be released. But the act also permitted the transfer of indentured servants called
'inboekelinge' which encouraged trade in these children. By the mid-1850s the
trade had reached such a scale that, in Cape Town, De Zuid-Afrikaan reported 'a
regular export' of captives to other parts of the ZAR. President Boshoff told the
OFS Volksraad that it was well-known that some farmers had bought child
apprentices from ZAR burghers. Some burghers made no secret of it and did not

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consider it a crime. (2)
In 1869 the synod of the Dutch Reformed Church in the ZAR considered the
situation so serious that it adopted a resolution that stated: 'Church discipline will
be applied to all members of our denomination found guilty of buying or selling or
exchanging or accepting in exchange, Kaffir children, contrary to the laws of the
state.' …two years later it decided to rescind the resolution on the grounds that
the evil no longer existed. (2)

Thus had begun a very long chapter in Afrikaner history: the question of morality
had gained momentum from various sides for various reasons, and naturally the
missionaries became involved, though sometimes for political reasons more than
philanthropy. Slavery, maltreatment and perceived maltreatment of the Khoisan,
encroaching on indigenous land, indenturing of children and denying rights like
suffrage, had colluded to haunt Afrikaners against a backdrop of transfer of
ownership of the Cape colony to the British Empire – a civilization that
considered itself more liberal, more noble and more cultured than any other.

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2. THE EASTERN FRONTIER – PART I
In 1795 France invaded the Netherlands. A new (short-lived) republic fashioned
on post-revolutionary France, called Batavia was declared. The monarg
(Stadtholder) of the Netherlands, William V (Willem Batavus) Prince of Orange,
fled into exile in England. Fearing the Cape colony would fall into the hands of
the French, England annexed it under the pretext of “securing it for the House of
Orange” and proclaimed it a British protectorate. It was transferred temporarily to
Dutch (Batavian) administration again untill 1806, when Britain retook it. In 1814
the Cape finally became British property.

In 1714, the then-government of the Cape introduced the loan-farm system to


enable poor burghers, otherwise faced with a life as knechten (servants) on the
Western Cape's wine and wheat farms, to obtain land for an affordable rental.
This encouraged settlement in the eastern districts of the Cape. No statutary
restrictions prevented non-Europeans from acquiring land, but usually only
burghers received loan farms for reasons that are not clear. (Van der Merwe,
Trek, pp. 71-85 and J.B. Peires, The House of Phalo, Jhb: Ravan Press, 1981, p.
85 are the sources given by Giliomee.) (2)
Thus were founded the agricultural districts of Swellendam and Graaff Reinet,
the hotbeds that would spurn the Great Trek. Intensive cattle grazing wore out
the veld. The farmers could not speculate with the land, so intensive grazing was
the best way to become more than a subsistance farmer. They could borrow
capital on the farm as a business though, but this led to a severe debt crisis. In
1812 a report on the situation by the judges of the first circuit court noted: “All the
young people, of which many of the houses are full, have no other prospect than
breeding of cattle and to obtain (land) for that purpose…All look forward to
becoming graziers, and no person forms for himself any other plan of livelihood.”
(2)

In 1778-1787, the Cape Patriots were an anti-Orangist movement that networked


with Dutch Patriots, who were calling for “overthrow of the Stadtholder of the
Netherlands and self-appointed regents that thwarted the aspirations of the
burghers.” The Cape Patriots' main issue was with Governor Joachim van
Plettenberg and Fiscal (chief prosecutor) Hendrik Boers, who enforced the
Company-regulation to re-enlist recalcitrant burghers into Company service. They
petitioned to the Company HQ for burgher-elected representation on the Council
of Policy when it discussed matters affecting burghers, as well as half the seats
on the Court of Justice for elected burgher representatives. They also called for a

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clearer definition of burgher rights, openness in making of laws and a stop to the
banishment of burghers, unless with permission from burgher councilors. They
complained to the Company about the trading activities of officials and the lack of
free trade. They called for better prices, lower farm rentals and access to export
markets in the Netherlands and East India. They also requested that white men
not be arrested by “kaffirs” (slave police constables) and that burghers be
allowed to punish their own slaves.
Their principle argument was that the 'constitution' of the colony had become
so defective that the survival of burgher society as a whole was imperiled. (2)
They played on fears in the Netherlands that discontented burghers' dispersal
into the interior would dissolve civilization and spell the end of the colony,
suggesting that if reform did not come to government structure in the colony,
colonists would continue to be driven out.
The Company made some major concessions. Alhough it did not concede to
burgher representation on its Council of Policy, it gave burghers representation
on the Council of Justice. Burghers would no longer be re-enlisted in the
Company's service. Though they would not be allowed to export in their own
ships, trade was permitted with foreign ships once all the Company's needs had
been met.
Revolutionary sentiments kept brewing however. In 1795 when a British force
occupied the Cape on behalf of the Prince of Orange, it encountered a deeply
divided white population with most of the top officials Orangists, anti-
revolutionary and pro-Britain, but the burghers in general, strongly pro-France,
pro-revolution and anti-Britain. (2)
The British quickly snuffed out revolutionary sentiment in the Western Cape, but
the burghers on the eastern frontier would challenge the political order.

The Company during Dutch reign did not bother much with the workings of the
eastern frontier. Two small towns, Swellendam (est. 1745) and Graaff Reinet (est.
1796) were the only administrative infrastructure between the mountain ranges
encircling the Cape colony and the Fish River (some 800 km east of Cape Town),
the eastern-most border with the Nguni-speaking Xhosa tribes. Each town
housed a drostdy (office of the landdrost.) The frontier's security needs were met
by the kommando, comprised of burghers (after 1739, kommando service was
compulsory for every burgher with interests in the outlying districts) and Khoikhoi
auxilliaries. The commando was headed by a field cornet – a burgher appointed
by the landdrost. He could mobilize the commando and act with much discretion
to respond swiftly to recover stolen cattle. (2)

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The main economy of the Xhosa was pastorialism, supplemented by agriculture
and hunting. The Xhosa's crops dictated settlement patterns in the high summer
rainfall areas of the eastern parts of South Africa. The Xhosas had been
migrating slowly westwards from the Kei River since the early 18th century and
settled up to the Fish River. An area west of the Fish up to the Bushman's River
(actually stretching as far west as the Sundays River) was a region of uncertain
rainfall called the Zuurveld, which formed a natural buffer between the Xhosa and
the colonists.

Governor Joachim van Plettenberg in a 1778 visit, reached an agreement with


some minor Gwali chiefs that the upper Fish River and Bushmans River would
serve as borders. But two years later the Council of Policy made the Fish the
official border and included the Zuurveld in the Cape colony. Even field corporal
Adriaan van Jaarsveld believed the Zuurveld had first been settled by the Xhosa,
and said that it should be returned to them for the sake of a lasting peace. But,
as it was, the 1778 treaty had neither been taken seriously by burghers nor
Xhosa. The Xhosa tribes were not united in those days and groups in the
Zuurveld usually sought alliances with burghers against other chiefs.
The Xhosa attempted to enmesh the burghers in their networks and eventually
integrate them into their society along the pattern of the Xhosa absorption of the
Khoikhoi clans. (Xhosa historian, J.B. Peieres, The House of Phalo) Trading,
begging and military alliances all formed part of the Xhosa's initial interaction with
another society, followed by marriage and other forms of social incorporation. All
hinged on outsiders accepting African leadership and on payment of tribute to a
chief, according to Xhosa custom. The Xhosa paramount chief Ngqika, for
example was eager to marry the daughter of the burgher Coenraad de Buys who
had struck up a relationship with the local kraal. (2)
The two societies managed to coexist. The few clashes that broke out were due
to deliberate provocations from either side.

The beginnings of the conflict on the frontier were complex. There was an influx
of Xhosas into the Zuurveld, caused by conflicts in the Xhosa hinterland. The
influx was accompanied by increased theft of burghers' farmstock.(1) And there
was Willem Prinsloo, involved in illegal trade with the Xhosa, who had shot a
Xhosa in an argument over stolen sheep, '...whereapon the Xhosa rose up and
attacked the inhabitants, resulting in the terrible slaughter of the Xhosa and the
ruin of many inhabitants', according to the report by the landdrost of Stellenbosch.
The Xhosa also resented a trigger-happy field corporal Adriaan van Jaarsveld,
whom they had knicknamed “The Red Captain,” for shooting a friendly party of

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Xhosas in the belief that he was being led into an ambush. Tensions continued.
Xhosas became threatening, walking around on farms in armed bands and
demanding whatever they wanted, especially when the men were not there. A
farmer said, “It is hard to be oppressed by the heathens on our own loan farms.”
A small group of burghers took matters into their own hands and the second
frontier war ensued in 1792. After the second war, the Zuurveld was abandoned
by burghers and most of their livestock were taken by the Xhosa. The concept of
the laager started, where burghers formed military camps by drawing into a circle,
fifty or more wagons with thorn branches thrust between the openings. The
elderly, women and children would hide in a square of four wagons in the center,
roofed with planks and raw hides. (2)

A new district secretary, Horatius Maynier attempted to stabilize the situation by


ordering burghers who had fled their farms, to move back. If they were not back
within a month, they would be facing disposession. To add to burghers' frustration,
the Company, trying to ward off financial collapse, decided to collect arrears
taxes. Tax collection had not been rigorously enforced in the past and burghers
did not consider the service they were getting in exchange as worth their while,
especially not in terms of security. Company agents who held the sole right to
buy meat from the farmers, were instructed to collect three years worth of arrears
taxes from the farmers. Many farmers refused to sell any stock, and Secretary
Maynier, who had connections to the meat monopoly, was branded a
slagterskneg or butcher's servant for supporting the tax collection.
Security was a big concern for the eastern burghers, but they were divided
(depending on where they resided) whether priority should be given to the
Bushmen in the north or the Xhosa to the east. Adriaan van Jaarsveld (the
heavy-handed field corporal) did not want conflict with the Xhosa and went on an
expedition north, against Secretary Maynier's instructions. On his return he was
charged with undermining Maynier's authority and, subsequently also with
financial irregularities. This drove him into an allience with Marthinus Prinsloo.

In 1795 Britain took over the Cape. In the Eastern Cape, the Van Jaarsveld revolt
(named after Field Corporal van Jaarsveld) broke out. Van Jaarsveld was jumped
from prison and a gang of armed burghers took over Maynier's administration
and ordered Maynier to leave Graaff Reinet. Similar anarchy erupted in
Swellendam.The insurrection leaned heavily on burghers' frustrations over taxes
and failing security. They called for tougher measures against the Bushmen and
Xhosa, including the need to recapture stolen cattle from the Xhosa and
indenturing Bushmen children. (2)

Waldo Kühn 13
Typical of some of the oppertunistic (and near-bankrupt) Zuurveld-men involved
in the insurrection, was Coenraad De Buys. De Buys had seven children with a
“colored” wife, when he also married the mother of the Rharhabe chief, Ngqika,
as well as a Thembu wife. Maynier had considered him one of the principle
causes of the 1793 war with the Xhosa. He had stolen cattle from several chiefs,
as well as wives. When some Xhosas confronted him, his Khoikhoi servants shot
dead five and De Buys severely assaulted several others.(He was said to be
about seven feet tall.) The Xhosa who raided the Zuurveld in 1793 targeted De
Buys, burned down his farmstead and took all his cattle.
Now, De Buys was instrumental in the 1795 Van Jaarsveld uprising. He was still
on good terms with the Xhosa chief Ngqika (Gaika), whose mother he had
married and he hated the English, calling them the “Bushmen of the Sea.” The
instigators made veiled threats to burghers that those who would not join the
rebellion could potentially become targets of Coenraad De Buys' Xhosa and see
their cattle handed over to the Xhosa.

The British government at the Cape, following on the momentum of suppressing


the Western Cape resistance, raised a corps of about 300 Khoikhoi (later to
become the Cape Corps) and included fifty of them in the British force led by
General T.P. Vandeleur, sent to crush the Van Jaarsveld revolt. (“Nothing I know
would intimidate the Boers more,” the British commander wrote later.) The rebels,
on hearing the news, threatened that they would unleash De Buys “with all of
Kaffirland” if a single Pandoer (Khoikhoi soldier) was included in the army sent
against them. The Swellendam uprising, however, fizzled out after a homemade
cannon had exploded and the Graaff Reinet rebels capitulated when the
government suspended ammunition supply to the districts, declared martial law
and disarmed all the burghers. Van Jaarsveld and Prinsloo were arrested. Ninety-
three burghers received heavy fines and twenty were sent to Cape Town for trial.
In September 1800, the Court of Justice composed of colonists, sentenced Van
Jaarsveld and Prinsloo to death. All were pardoned, but Van Jaarsveld died while
imprisoned in the Castle.

There was a twist however: The Khoikhoi servants, believing that the tables had
now been turned against the disarmed burghers, rose up against them. It was
alledged that as Vandeleur's troops marched towards the rebels on the frontier,
soldiers had incited servants to rise up against their masters. A Khoikhoi
insurrection under Klaas Stuurman, drove many burghers from their farms; then
asked the British military force for protection against the “cruel” burghers, as well
as restoration of Khoikhoi independance.General Dundas, acting British governor,

Waldo Kühn 14
also tested his army against the Xhosa in the Zuurveld, but realized it would not
be an easy fight. The troops were returned to Cape Town by sea.
Most of the Khoikhoi rebels now joined the Gqununkhwebe – a Nguni-people of
largely Khoikhoi descent. They organized a huge fighting force comprised of
various Khoikhoi and Xhosa clans. These insurgents, armed with horses and
guns and large numbers of Xhosa on foot, began to attack burghers' farms. The
burghers were severely hampered by a shortage of ammunition and still
Vandeleur would not issue any to them.
Dundas refused to commit British troops, but fearing for the loss of the eastern
districts, gave the order to call up a burgher-kommando to expel the Xhosa over
the Fish and get the Khoikhoi to return to their masters. The kommando was
defeated in a surprise night attack by 150 Khoikhoi and Xhosa. The insurgents
now raided the frontier, burning farms and carrying off livestock. All burghers
except three families had fled into laagers. Insurgents on the farms of the
Scheepers and Strydom families killed fifteen burghers and held twelve women
and children captive for two weeks.
Dundas, attempting to shift the blame for the fiasco onto the burghers, called
them 'timid to an extent beyond example' and 'a troublesome and disaffected
race,' characterized by 'the strongest compound of cowardice and cruelty, of
treachery and cunning.' The government decided to take the route of
reconcilliation with the Xhosa. Dundas, accompanied by Maynier, travelled to the
frontier. They played down the threat and instructed burghers yet again, to return
to their farms or risk disposession. The Khoikhoi were offered the promise of
labor contracts and arbitration with the landdrost rather than the field cornet.
Maynier was instated as resident commissioner of Graaff Reinet with twenty-two
British soldiers and a large contingent of armed Khoikhoi. To further outrage
burghers, two missionaries of the London Missionary Society, Revv. Johannes
van der Kemp and James Read used the burghers' church to accommodate
destitute Khoikhoi converging on Graaff Reinet. The Khoikhoi would now also
attend regular church services with the burghers. With peace briefly restored on
the frontier in 1802, the two missionaries received an abandoned farm where
they established the mission station Bethelsdorp. (2)

The Batavian Republic that ran the Cape from 1803–1806 on the Enlightenment
principles of good government brought some stability to the frontier with the new
districts of Uitenhage and Tulbagh added, as well as a drostdy and military post
(Fort Frederick) at Algoa Bay. The Batavians introduced severe penalties for
burghers who crossed the colonial border or ill-treated servants. In 1806, Britain
again took posession of the Cape. A report by Colonel Collins found that the

Waldo Kühn 15
Khoikhoi were still being ill-treated on farms. In the meantime, Ngqika had lost
control over the Xhosa to his rival Ndlambe, and De Buys left the eastern frontier
for the north. He is said to have fathered children wherever he encountered a
tribe; 315 in all. (12)

Soon the situation on the frontier began to deteriorate again. A British officer
stationed on the frontier warned that without immediate aid, the entire eastern
Cape was in danger of falling to the Xhosa.
Two perspectives on the situation were considered:
Colonel Collins suggested that a community of some six thousand new settlers
be placed in a compact settlement in the Zuurveld to shore up the border.
Another report was written in 1810 by the Swede, Anders Stockenström,
landdrost of Graaff Reinet. (His son was to become the first significant Afrikaner-
leader.) His comments would be considered extremely racist by today's
commentators, but should be seen in the context of the provocative (intimidatory)
stance the Xhosa had taken on the farms: “The Kaffirs are naturally insatiable
beggars and thieves. All domestic and agricultural labor being performed by
women and the cattle being hearded by the boys, the men have nothing to do but
to hunt and to wander among the colonists. On arriving on a farm, a party
begged for victuals while watching their oppertunity to carry off something for
their journey into the bargain.” He called for decisive action, since “they fancy us
afraid or unable to punish them according to their deserts.” He also wrote:
“Neither peace nor friendship can subsist between the inhabitants and the Kaffirs
while both inhabit the same country. [The reason] is interwoven in the character
of the Kaffir, in that of the colonist and in the nature of the country.”

In 1811 Sir John Cradock(11) became governor of the Cape colony. To him a
military operation was the only option: “No benefit could possibly arise either to
the Kaffir tribes or the Dutch settlers from any intercourse and all the present
evils proceed from their intermixture.” There was a degree of consensus that
previous military expeditions against the Xhosa had been unsuccessful because
the burgher commandos had made recapturing of livestock their primary
objective over military goals. Colonel Collins wrote: “The wars that were first
waged against the Caffres were carried out exclusively by the settlers, who seem,
whenever they have been unsuccessful, to have failed in a large degree from
their having considered the recovery of stolen cattle as the principle object of the
hostility.”

To the end of 1811 a large force was assembled under leadership of Colonel

Waldo Kühn 16
John Graham. It consisted of 440 British troops, 431 Khoikhoi soldiers and 450
burghers on kommando. Districts that did not provide men for kommando duty
were heavily taxed to the amount of £47 750.
Over the previous forty years the Xhosa, in the eyes of the burghers had been
many things – foes, certainly, but also trading partners, laborers and potential
military allies. (2)
Colonel Graham intended a total onslaught. Marauding Xhosa were to be
persued to their settlements where 'every man Kaffer' found was to be slain and,
if possible, the chief 'destroyed', as to instill in the Xhosa 'a proper degree of
terror and respect,' to prevent their return. (2)

Hopes for a peaceful settlement were dashed when an unarmed party of twenty-
four men, headed by Landdrost Anders Stockenström, went among a group of
hundred Xhosas to persuade them to retreat peacefully across the Fish River.
The Xhosas attacked the men after receiving word that a Xhosa had been shot
by a soldier. They killed Stockenström and seven other men.
The military force quickly moved to expell 8 000 Xhosas from the Zuurveld. A
series of forts were built along the border and two new frontier towns,
Grahamstown and Cradock were founded. When cattle rustling began again,
encouraged by a severe drought, a large kommando under Captain George
Fraser was assembled. His deputy was a Graaff Reinet deputy landdrost, Andries
Stockenstrom, the son of Landdrost Anders Stockenström. Stockenstrom later
summed up the intention of the kommando: “To kill, to make an example of, to
strike terror into the enemy was a duty, a standing order.” The Xhosa suffered
many casualties and chiefdoms in the Zuurveld were destroyed. Soldiers killed a
chief, Chungwa, in his own bed.
Some commando burghers remained apprehensive about British motives,
especially after a rumour had started that they would be enlisted in the British
army and shipped off to other wars. (2)

In 1809 the Hottentot Proclamation (Caledon's Code) gave more protection to


servants by requiring written contracts. It also formalized the pass system to
curtail vagrancy on farms. An annual circuit court touring the interior was
introduced. The second circuit court of 1812 became known as the Black Circuit.
The missionaries Van der Kemp and Read from Bethelsdorp aided Khoikhoi
laborers who brought charges of maltreatment against burghers. The judges
were probably biassed in favor of the burghers, but the real significance of the
Black Circuit was that the missionaries had succeeded in attracting the attention
of influential people in London to the issue of maltreatment of the Khoikhoi. (2)

Waldo Kühn 17
Other laws introduced in the same time seem contradictory. An 1812 regulation
allowed colonists who had maintained a Khoikhoi child for his first eight years, to
apprentice the child for ten years. In 1819, farmers were also authorized to
apprentice Khoikhoi orphans and children with no parental care, until age
eighteen.
In an attempt to stabilize the frontier and drive out lawlessness, as well as
inefficient farmers, Cradock ended the loan farm system, replacing it with title
deeds on properly surveyed land. In practice it made farms smaller and more
expensive, and delays in processing new land claims added to frustrations.

Respect for the law started to take root more effectively when a new, more
articulate class of landdrost were appointed, who managed to communicate to
the heemraden and burghers, that the new order of law was in their best interest.
Burghers would be won over to the principle of reform, rather than it being forced
apon them. The most important roleplayer was Andries Stockenstrom. As a
young man of eighteen he was in a meeting with his father (days before he was
killed) with Jacob Cuyler, the landdrost of Uitenhage, over the demands of the
missionaries Van der Kemp and Read, that the Khoikhoi have equal rights to
burghers in every facet of life. He took a stand in defence of the missionaries –
though not quite as ultra-philantropic as Read who would later declare himself a
Hottentot – but certainly in terms of equality of all men before the law. He held to
that view throughout his life and applied it later, when attempting to mend the
relationship between the burghers and Xhosa. 'Strict and equal justice at all costs
was the only safe course,' he once remarked.(2) He identified himself as an
Afrikaner, unlike most of the well-educated colonists of his day, and often found
himself defending the honor of this society of people. Voortrekker leader Andries
Pretorius called him his “best friend and father.”

Waldo Kühn 18
Sir Andries Stockenstrom (Cape Town, 6/7/1792 – London, 16/3/1864)

Stockenstrom's first challenge was another revolt started by pretty much the
same group of people responsible for the Van Jaarsveld Revolt and very much a
continuation of it. The main trouble maker was Hendrik Prinsloo. He was the son
of Marthinus Prinsloo, who had been one of the main instigators in that revolt.
At least one contemporary observer said that Marthinus Prinsloo was 'the
principle promoter of the late [Slagtersnek] disturbances.' All his sons participated.
Of the thirty-nine who were arrested afterwards, seven bore the name of Prinsloo
and a further five were married to Prinsloo women. (2)
Others involved were men like Coenraad Bezuidenhoudt and Cornelis Faber,
who had fled persecution after the Van Jaarsveld Revolt and found refuge across
the Fish River, living in close proximity to Ngqika. The main grievances were, in
the words of Hendrik Prinsloo, that “the Hottentots [were] preferred to the
burghers” (As evidence they pointed to the Black Circuit) as well as shortage of
land. (By 1798, 39 percent of the male burghers in Graaff Reinet owned land; by
1812 the percentage had shrunk to 25. (2))
The Slagtersnek Revolt began in 1813 when a Khoikhoi laborer, named Booy,
complained to Stockenstrom (then, deputy landdrost of Cradock) that his master
had withheld his wages and severely assaulted him. The master was Freek
Bezuidenhout, brother of Coenraad Bezuidenhout. Bezuidenhout ignored
Stockenstrom's summons to appear in court. A company of two British officers
and twelve Khoikhoi troops arrived at Bezuidenhout's farmstead with an arrest

Waldo Kühn 19
warrant. A brief battle ensued and Bezuidenhout was killed. At his funeral, a
brother, Hans Bezuidenhout, swore revenge and Hendrik Prinsloo immediately
began to enlist support. Cornelis Faber went twice to Ngqika with a proposal:
Ngqika would help to drive away the Cape Regiment and expel all government
officials from the frontier. He would then receive the entire Zuurveld, whilst
allowing the burghers to occupy the fertile Kat River valley, well east of the border.
One rebel leader proposed a plan to ‘maintain a certain understanding with the
Kaffirs,’ whereby they would cross the border and settle in an area towards the
east of the Xhosa as an independent Union. One of the Bothma brothers told
fellow rebels that Ngqika's people were unanimous that ‘they would fight for the
Zuurveld and we would fight for our land.’ As in the Van Jaarsveld Revolt, but this
time more directly, a threat was made to burghers who refused to join that they
would be attacked by the Xhosa and their property handed over to them. (2)
Stockenstrom saw the whole issue as a clear-cut case of order vs anarchy. At a
crucial point in the rebellion, he rode in unarmed among a group of disaffected
rebels and persuaded them to stand down. He also convinced influencial farmers
to stand with the government. The rebellion was crushed without a single shot
being fired. Five of the ringleaders were hanged. When four of the ropes initially
broke, burghers unanimously appealed for mercy; but Colonel Jacob Cuyler, a
royalist immigrant from America, had new ropes brought. (7)
Slagtersnek was a critical turning point in establishing the government's control of
the frontier... Governors began to comment favorably on the human quality of the
people who had settled the frontier. While never truly trusting the British rulers,
most burghers had accepted the fact that obeying the government and its laws
was in their best interests. In 1833 the governor, Sir Lowry Cole, not overly
sympathetic to the burghers, wrote with reference to them: 'Such is their dread of
criminal laws that many are afraid to defend their persons and property even in a
lawful manner.' (2)

In 1817, after visiting the border and witnessing that most frontier farmers had
fled or were preparing to flee, Governor Lord Charles Somerset announced strict
measures to deal with livestock theft. He told Ngqika, whom he indifferently
assumed to be the supreme Xhosa chief, that he would hold him personally
accountable for all future livestock theft. Ngqika had already become sidelined
among the Xhosa and with the added pressure, many of his followers joined his
rival Ndlambe. When Ndlambe attacked him, Ngqika appealed to the colony for
help. A military force under Colonel Thomas Brereton, with British and Khoikhoi
troops and a kommando under Stockenstrom was sent to his assistance. They
defeated Ndlambe, and then British soldiers backed by burghers, blasted the

Waldo Kühn 20
wooded valleys, driving out some 23 000 head of cattle.

December 1818 to January 1819 saw Xhosa reprisal in the first phase of the
Fourth Frontier War. One burgher wrote from his laager: “God alone will know
what will become of us…One can have no idea but that the whole of Kaffirland is
here. For God's sake please come to our assistance.”
During the second phase (Fith Frontier War) the “War Doctor”, Maqana Nxele (or
Makanda) attacked the garrison town of Grahamstown with six thousand men.
The garrison with the aid of Khoikhoi marksmen, averted defeat and then rode
out after Nxele, who subsequently surrendered.

The government now moved the border with the Xhosa even further eastwards to
the Keiskamma. Four thousand British immigrants were settled in 1820 in the
Zuurveld (once, the neutral zone). It became the Albany district, with
Grahamstown as its seat of landdrost and heemraden. To its east, a new neutral
zone was established, ranging from the Fish River up to the Keiskamma. Even
Ngqika was ordered to leave, and soon afterward the “neutral territory” became
Ceded or Conqured Territory, named Victoria Province.
Five years later another district, Somerset, was created to the northwest of
Albany. (See map)
Stockenstrom had serious doubts about the wisdom of intervening in the conflict
between Ngqika and Ndlambe and the capturing of such a large amount of cattle.
He believed in swift justice, had favored coming down very hard on marauders,
murderers and stock thieves, and believed that military campaigns, when called
for, should be carried out with conviction and never in a halfhearted manner. But
he denounced encroachment and the destruction of peoples, and raiding the
Xhosas’ cattle did not sit well with him. He wrote later of 'populous tribes driven to
desperation by being deprived of all their cattle.' He said that 'revenge, starvation
and desperation' had sent Ndlambe's men on reprisal raids in the colony. Had
Nxele taken Grahamstown, Stockenstrom believed the frontier would not have
survived without overwhelming reinforcements from Britain. (2)

Waldo Kühn 21
Waldo Kühn 22
3. STOCKENSTROM AND THE MISSIONARIES

In a 1770 judgment, British judge, Lord Mansfield called slavery “too odious an
institution to exist in England without specific legislation sanctioning it.” In 1787,
the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade was founded. In 1793
France abolished slavery in all its colonies. Word spread to the slaves in the
Cape. Colonists started to fear rumors of slave uprisings and Khoikhoi attacks on
the “farms of Christians.”
The British government initially moved slowly with slave reforms in the Cape,
fearing destabilizing the colony’s economy and social fabric. Leading burghers
like Landdrost Van der Riet of Stellenbosch feared that tampering with the
master-slave order in the Cape could lead to a second Saint-Dominigue. But
senior Cape-born officials like Landdrost Andries Stockenstrom and Chief Justice
J.A. Truter and F.W. Reitz (senior) knew the old order could not continue in the
light of the Enlightenment insistence on the freedom and dignity of all people. For
their own sake, burghers would have to change the way they viewed slaves and
servants.
The Cape-born officials challenged the burghers' conviction that most of the
Khoikhoi servants were too backward and depraved to enjoy the same liberties
as the burghers, and that their word had to be given lesser weight in the courts.
Stockenstrom argued that the old system of oppression had not been 'productive
of one single beneficial effect.' It had 'degraded the moral character of the
natives' and had given rise to the view that they 'were too miserable a species' to
enjoy any rights. Hence he did not doubt that a new system resting on personal
liberty and security of property could only be an improvement. Truter wrote that
'the [Hottentots] are, and remain, people, and free people at that.' (2)

One of the charges the London missionaries held against burghers, was the low
rate of Christian baptism among slaves and Khoikhoi servants. The Dutch
Reformed Church also had low levels of non-white attendants and the burghers
seemed to prefer having their own churches as cultural institutions. Afrikaner
Protestantism had been a major factor in ethnic identity formation of Afrikaners,
and for many, having passed catechism represented the height of their education.
Their Christian culture was fundamental to upholding their European civilization
against an alien, and what they considered heathen, indigenous culture. In a way,
it was unethical Christianity, so a compromise developed. The Afrikaner churches
(Calvinist and Lutheran denominations) founded their own missionary society, the

Waldo Kühn 23
ZAZG which established separate denominations for slaves and Khoisan. Two
ZAZG directors in 1851 regretted the 1819 decision to have separate
congregations, calling it an unwise decision and stating that, 'all illiterates and
heathen [should] be instructed and be prepared to become members of
established Protestant churches.'(2) But by that time, the pattern had been set.
It was thought, a major reason for the low baptism among slaves, was that
owners could not sell confirmed slaves, and they had to be manumitted on the
owner's death. When Britain ended the slave trade in 1808, the value of Cape
slaves increased dramatically. Fearing it would further discourage owners from
having their slaves confirmed, Fiscal Daniel Denyssen, a Cape-born public
prosecutor advised Governor Cradock to abolish the ban on selling Christian
slaves, while granting baptized and confirmed slaves some privileges, as legal
marriage, the right to have their children legalized and freedom to attend church
services at certain times. The move did not increase slave baptisms. (2)

In 1824, Chief Justice J.A. Truter, in an address to the annual meeting of the
ZAZG pointed to the important role the Christian church had played in Europe in
the abolition of slavery, and suggested the Cape church should play an important
role in smoothing the transition to a new labor dispensation. The ZAZG and other
Christian institutions had a Christian obligation to work towards a future order in
which the ex-slave would serve his master 'out of love for his duty', while the
master treated the slave 'as someone of the same nature as himself.' Landdrost
Stockenstrom and the Graaff Reinet heemraden wrote in an 1826 letter: '[The]
more [the slaves] made religious principles their own, the better they would be as
servants and the greater the benefits to their owners.' Stockenstrom also wrote in
the same year, that some slave owners 'had gone to great expense, others have
engaged in personal activity in order to make the slaves better members of
society.' (2)

The British government began to strengthen the British character of the Cape
colony and consolidating the eastern border with the Xhosa. They encouraged
settlement of poor British citizens in the colony. In 1820 an initial group of four
thousand British settlers, arriving in sixty parties, were settled on farms and the
town of Bathurst in the Zuurveld-district of Albany, on the eastern frontier. Many
were skilled in trades, and sold their farms for the settlements of Grahamstown,
Port Elizabeth and East London. Some trekked to Natal province where they
made a land agreement with Zulu king Shaka. (13)
Scottish-born Dr John Philip, new superintendent of the LMS in South Africa, took
a strong stand against slavery and maltreatment of Khoisan in the colony. The

Waldo Kühn 24
British government had prohibited the British settlers from owning slaves from the
start. Colonial encroachment on Khoisan land and unethical labor practices by
Boers, were placed in stark contrast with British standards of “humanity and
justice.”(2) Philip drew inspiration from Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations,
describing a vision of economic success created by free trade and free people.
Most of the British merchants in the Cape colony shared his views and were
keen to see consumer markets expand into the interior, including indigenous
peoples. The classic statement of the new mercantile interests was these words
of John Fairbairn: 'To stimulate Industry, to encourage Civilization, and to convert
the hostile Natives into friendly Consumers is a more profitable speculation than
to exterminate or reduce them to slavery.' (2)
Fairbairn had founded the colony's first newspaper, The South African
Commercial Advertiser, in 1824. In 1827, he married one of John Philip's
daughters.
A two-person Commission of Inquiry sent to the Cape by the British Parliament
found the Dutch colonists to be the chief obstacles to human progress,
underscoring the views of Philip and Fairbairn. They proposed liberating the
Khoisan and emancipating the slaves. Besides being just, it would also root out
the 'indolence and indifference' of the Dutch colonists and infuse a 'spirit of active
industry and intelligence in their life.' They found the legal and administrative
system influenced by 'local partialities, of hereditary prejudices, and of family
connections.' They recommended that lawyers be compelled to qualify in
England – One commissioner observed that color prejudice made it impossible
for aspirant lawyers at the Cape to attain judicial impartiality, a quality that
'constitutes the brightest excellence of the English judicial character.' (2)

Between 1825 and 1834 the British government abolished virtually all of the
existing colonial structures: The Court of Justice (Legal system), the Orphan
Chamber (Social services), the colleges of landdrost and heemraden in the
interior districts and the Burgher Senate of Cape Town (Local government
structures). British structures replaced them, English Law replaced existing
criminal law, and the government announced the Anglicization of the
administration. Free enterprise was promoted by abolishing Company-era
monopolies. Stockenstrom did not oppose these measures, but in an 1851
speech, called the abolition of the colleges of landdrost and heemraden a ‘great
mistake.’ “[All] confidence between the Government and the masses ceased, and
many of the evils which have retarded an advancement and disturbed our peace
may be traced to misunderstandings which the executive had not the means nor
the channels of clearing up.” (2)

Waldo Kühn 25
In a Graaff Reinet meeting in 1825, Stockenstrom discussed their grievances
concerning the oppression of the Khoisan and Xhosa, with the missionaries John
Philip and William Wright of the LMS and citizen activist Thomas Pringle (John
Fairbairn's associate editor of The South African Commercial Advertiser).
Stockenstrom noted that all decent and respectable “Boers” agreed that the
Khoisan had been cruelly dispossessed and suffering harsh legal discrimination.
He felt however, that Philip had downplayed Xhosa and Khoisan responsibility for
the cattle raids and singled out burghers for atrocities, rather than the British
military and British settlers, in order to advance his argument in London.
Philip was the principle spokesman for the LMS. He saw missionary work as a
vehicle for promoting both the liberties and rights of the indigenous population as
well as British cultural, social and political interests. If there was a clash between
the two he did not detect it, and if he did detect it he did not tell. (Andrew Ross,
John Philip, 1775-1851, Aberdeen University Press, pp 140-141) (2)
Philip did not trust Stockenstrom. He once observed to fellow Scotsman, the Rev.
Andrew Murray (sr) of Graaff Reinet: Stockenstrom is a “good fellow”, but one
who remained a “Dutchman”, naturally prejudiced in favor of the old system of
oppression of the natives.
Stockenstrom ended the discussion with by saying: “My system is to do my best
to get the white man hanged who murders a black, but I also do my best to root
out the gang of robbers and murderers among the blacks who cannot otherwise
be reclaimed.”

On 17 July 1828, the Council of Advice in the Cape passed Ordinance 50.
Stockenstrom outlined Ordinance 50 as placing 'every free inhabitant in the
colony on a level, in the eye of the law, as to the enjoyment of personal liberty
and the security of property.'(2) Ordinance 50 removed inequalities suffered with
respect to marriage and testimony, abolished passes for the Khoisan and the
indenturing of Khoisan children. It prohibited employers from inflicting corporal
punishment on their workers or punishing stock thieves themselves.
Burghers complained, not about the law itself, but its applications.
Stockenstrom reported in 1828 from Grahamstown that the new laws for the
Khoikhoi and the pending emancipation of the slaves were 'merely occasionally
talked of and commented on.' (2)
Burghers asked for a vagrancy law and protection from stock theft. Philip blocked
the vagrancy law and denied abuses resulted from Ordinance 50, but on one
occasion did request “more prisons, magistrates and constables.” Stockenstrom
supported the vagrancy law. He said of the Khoikhoi: “They should be made to

Waldo Kühn 26
work unless they can prove that they can live without it, and in this respect
should be closely watched, for in a country where property, particularly large
flocks of sheep and cattle, are so much exposed, it is easy to live by theft.”
Of the burghers' resistance to Ordinance 50 he said: “I deny that there was a
general feeling against the freedom of the Hottentots. The clamor was about their
depredations, which acquired in the eyes of the ignorant (and not unnaturally) the
appearance of being warranted by [Ordinance 50].”
Some farmers still held to a paternalistic view: “I continue daily to provide the
living [on the farm] with cattle and provisions”, wrote one N.T. Van der Walt in a
letter to Stockenstrom, requesting compelling San (“Bushmen”) in the vicinity to
work on farms. Stockenstrom answered the farmer that if wages were paid, “not
according to the will of the master but according to the demand of the servant,” it
would not be necessary to force San workers to stay on farms. Stockenstrom
wrote to the governor that farmers were still paying “three to twelve goats and
four shillings and sixpence to eighteen shillings annually”, and that he would not
support a vagrancy law if its purpose was to tie people down and force them to
work for miserable wages. “I have never believed, [that civilization consisted] in
one man being forced to serve another who had deprived him of his country, his
game, his all, under a severe lash for four shillings and sixpence per annum.”
Ordinance 50 could do little to end the Khoisan's life of servitude as long as they
owned virtually no land. Philip tried, without success, to obtain more land for
mission stations. The most Stockenstrom could achieve (“for the purpose of
frontier defense”), was the establishment of the Kat River settlement for small
scale Khoikhoi farmers in the northeastern Zuurveld. It provided 4–5 acres of
land and rights in common pasture for recipients. 2 114 Khoisan and Basters
settled there. Andries Stoffels of the Kat River settlement said: “The 50
Ordinance came out, then we first taste freedom that other men eat so sweet and
now it is mingled with Water and Ground, it is twenty times sweeter than forced
labor.” In answer to complaints over “irregularities” arising from the new found
Khoisan freedom, they replied: 'Give us more land.' (2)
In 1826, Stockenstrom commented that there was “so liberal a sentiment among
the inhabitants of [Graaff Reinet] in respect to the slave question that they –
instead of opposing themselves to the measures which the Government had in
mind for bringing about a gradual but complete emancipation – were prepared to
go ahead of the Government and would gladly stipulate a time...after which all
female children would be born as free people.” Stockenstrom wanted slavery
ended as soon as possible. “The evils connected with too much power in the
hands of the master are inseparable from slavery and this is the principle reason
why I wish to have that state extinct in the present or at least the following

Waldo Kühn 27
generation.”
Slave owners in the Western Cape supported abolition provided the right of
property and “fair compensation” was respected. There were also the usual
Doomsayers, who sketched nightmarish scenarios of rampant retribution.
Governor, Sir Lowry Cole noted in 1832 the financial plight of farmers as a result
of plummeting slave and wine prices, and wrote that “the ruin of the farmers
seemed to be sealed by the necessity of their keeping up a large establishment
of slave labor for which no profitable employment can be found.”

In 1831 a regulation limiting corporal punishment of slaves was issued. The


Dutch (Afrikaner) newspaper, De Zuid-Afrikaan, made an issue out of the
autocratic way in which the regulation had been issued while meetings against
the regulation were banned. The fuss fed John Fairbairn's suspicions that
Afrikaners and De Zuid-Afrikaan were not really committed to abolition, and
supplied ammunition for his fight against self-government for the (Afrikaner-
dominated) colony.
In the meantime, (John) Philip's 'Researches of South Africa' had appeared with
few good words for the Afrikaner colonists. (2)
De Zuid-Afrikaan hit back at Fairbairn's perception that he was master of the free
press and his Commercial Advertiser, the only independent newspaper. De Zuid-
Afrikaan declared that, in future, it would focus on four “humbugs”: “Free Press
humbug, Independent Newspaper humbug, Missionary humbug and the most
extreme of all humbugs, Philipish humbug.” The newspaper denounced “English
hypocrisy”, reminding abolitionists of the huge profits their own forbears had
made from the slave trade.
Fairbairn countered that while he disliked the autocratic rule at the Cape, “the
despotism of fifty Koeberg Boers was fifty thousand times worse.”
“At least John Bull has been awakened from his dream of confidence in the
Afrikaners.” Because of this, “all danger of Dutch domination” was now over.
The imperial government took the controversy seriously enough to delay granting
self-government for more than two decades, not only for fear of leaving slaves
and Khoisan at the mercy of the colonists, but also because it feared
confrontation between the Dutch and English- speaking colonists. (Ross, Status
and Respectability in the Cape Colony, p 48)(2) Solidarity between the two white
groups arose from the fact that they were a small minority in a colony with a large
slave population and an insecure frontier in the east.

In the 1830s the Imperial government decided on rapid abolition with monetary
compensation to owners. Fairbairn's Commercial Advertiser wrote: “What no man

Waldo Kühn 28
can have hoped for, time has brought out of its own accord. The vineyards
canattract...no more capital and the money sunk in the labor is about to be
recovered by the colonist...through the justice and generosity of the mother
country.”
The squabble between De Zuid-Afrikaan and Fairbairn had detracted from the
efforts of Stockenstrom, Truter and others to rid the colony of the system. The
result was that Afrikaners received little credit for the abolition of slavery. Slave
owners accepted the inevitable, but were disappointed by the low compensation
(about half of what was promised) and the fact that the compensation had to be
collected in London. Few farmers were able to travel to an office in London, so
claims were handed to agents who took a hefty slice. To ease the transition,
slaves had to continue working four years as apprentices for their masters before
final emancipation. Emancipation in 1838 went smoothly, most slaves from
Stellenbosch attending worship services at the Rhenish missionary station there.
Wheat and barley production were initially down, but readily recovered to pre-
emancipation levels. (2)

Self-government for the Cape colony was rejected by the Imperial government
colonial secretary, Lord Stanley, as he did not want to turn the Cape over to the
Afrikaners, whom he considered inferior to English- speakers 'in all respects
except in numerical strength.'
In 1837 the government allowed for election in the colony, of municipal councils
by British subjects of all colors on a low franchise qualification. Later, when the
issue of parliamentary elections came up, the colony found itself divided into two
main factions: a conservative and a popular faction. The conservatives in the
eastern Cape were a minority fraternity of British settlers under Robert Godlonton,
editor of the Grahamstown Journal. They rejected a system based on universal
franchise with low property qualification. Godlonton and Secretary to the
governor, Richard Southey, preferred Imperial rule to the prospect of an
'unprogressive majority.' In the words of Southey, they would be “swamped by the
Dutch and coloreds” if an excess of democracy were allowed. (2)
The popular faction in the west, were a loose coalition of Afrikaner and English
economic middle classes and Afrikaner farmers. In the east, Andries
Stockenstrom emerged as their leader. He had support of the farmers and the
Kat River Khoikhoi. When another war with the Xhosa broke out in 1846, the
frontier burghers refused to fight in a commando under British command, and did
so only when Stockenstrom was placed in charge. The British settler faction on
the frontier was as fiercely opposed to him as ever. (2)
A draft-bill backed by the popular party became the framework for a new

Waldo Kühn 29
constitution. The property franchise of £25 it proposed for voters to both
chambers of the elected parliament would counter the influence of the very
wealthy (who tended to be staunch imperialists) as well as the working class of
all colors. (2)

The Kat River residents, previously siding with the colonists on the frontier, had
progressively become alienated and suspicious of colonial intentions.
Godlonton’s Grahamstown Journal was leading a campaign, strongly backed by
land speculators, to break up missionary stations. An attempt was also made by
Government to enact vagrancy legislation. In the 1850–1851 war they joined
forces with residents of missionary stations and some landless farm workers and
aligned themselves with the Xhosa as representatives of a “colored nation”
committed to regain their independence. They announced their fight was not with
the Boers, but with the British. When Stockenstrom's farmstead was the only one
left in an area devastated by Xhosa invaders, some English settlers burned it
down.
Cape Afrikaners, like their English counterparts, learned to court the “colored”
vote to gain political power. F.W. Reitz (sr) told a mixed-race audience that he
supported the idea that 'the simplest farmer and the simplest Hottentot' were able
to judge who would best defend them. A delegation of farmers from the
northwestern Cape district of Clanwilliam told the governor that they shuddered
at the idea of any distinction in political rights 'between rich and poor, white and
colored.' Stockenstrom wrote to the delegation, 'as a countryman and as a boer
like yourselves' of his pride in their 'noble generosity.' He expressed his
admiration for the way the delegation had upheld the interests of the weaker and
colored classes 'in defiance of the machinations and intrigues of those who
always boasted of their superior education, liberality and philanthropy.' (2)

[Mixed-race] people did not welcome the non-racial franchise as warmly as they
had Ordinance 50. They would have preferred the colony remain under the
Queen and the British Parliament. Their suspicions of the new democratic order
was justified in 1856 when the new colonial parliament passed the Masters and
Servants Act, providing harsh penalties for desertion, absenteeism and breaches
of discipline. Verbal contracts were once again considered legal, as they had
been before 1809. (2)

Waldo Kühn 30
4. THE EATERN FRONTIER – PART II

In 1825 Ordinance 9 reigned in the right of farmers to fire on suspected vagrants,


deserters or escaped convicts. The problem with the ordinance was that it left the
burghers uncertain as to what was permissible in defense of their property; made
worse by the fact that the landdrost and heemraden had been abolished. They
felt left in the dark on legal matters. Stockenstrom was also now the only Dutch-
speaking official with influence on frontier policy. Stockenstrom himself expressed
concern that government policy had swung from great severity to 'sacrificing the
safety of [His Majesty's] subjects' and 'paralyzing their efforts to defend their lives
and property.' (2)

British military officers on the frontier, aligned with British merchants and
speculators based mainly in Grahamstown, exerted influence through the
Grahamstown Journal. The newspaper propagated colonial expansion into
Xhosa territory and the complete subordination of the Xhosa with a large military
presence. In 1837, Governor Napier referred to the Grahamstown Journal and
the merchant lobby in Grahamstown as those “most clamorous against the Kaffir
nation.” (2)
An unexpected mingler with the Grahamstown crowd was a burgher and former
field commandant, Piet Retief. Born in 1782, he was the son of a wealthy
Western Cape wine farmer. He had lost all his property on speculation deals. He
arrived penniless on the eastern frontier in 1811, as part of the reserve force for
the Fourth Frontier War. Three years later a favorable marriage improved his
financial situation (2), but again he lost everything through reckless speculative
ventures. He then attempted viticulture, but it failed. He obtained a license to sell
liquor, but could not meet supplier debts. In the early 1820's he received twenty-
four summonses for debt. One of his creditors was a slave girl, from whom he
had bought a herd of 141 sheep and 30 goats. (15)
During his service as field kommandant he was under strict instructions not to
enter Ngqika's territory. He had once lost four hundred sheep in a Xhosa raid and
soon afterward had tracked stolen stock up to the border, from where he got a
clear view of the animals. He expressed his frustration that, “I was not permitted
to cross the border with my troops as I was not trusted”, and added, “As long as
neither the Landdrost nor the Commandant of the Frontier is permitted to change
[the order not to cross the border] no kommando carried out will ever have
success.”

Waldo Kühn 31
By 1824 Retief's shady business ethics had led to his dismissal as field
commandant, despite a strong letter of support from frustrated farmers. He had
also alienated officials by bypassing his Graaff Reinet landdrost to signal his
frustration, sending Governor Somerset a list of murders and thefts committed by
the Xhosa over the previous five years inside his area of responsibility. Somerset
wrote a comment in the margin of the letter that he could not act independently
from the landdrost. (2)

Ngqika's eldest son, Maqoma bitterly resented having been forced from their
home in the Kat River Valley after the previous frontier war. He despised his
father for a vacillating coward and a drunk. Early in 1821 Stockenstrom reported
that Maqoma's followers were starting to re-occupy the upper Kat River Valley.
The government ignored them at first, and a serious of raids by Maqoma and
counter-raids by small unauthorized burgher-commandos followed.
In charge of the British military on the frontier, was Colonel Henry Somerset, the
son of Governor Lord Charles Somerset, with whom Stockenstrom had an earlier
fall out, resulting in a serious breach between Stockenstrom and the governor. In
one of Colonel Somerset's first actions, he led a force of Khoikhoi troops and
mounted burghers against Maqoma. Women and children got shot with
Maqoma's warriors, and seven thousand cattle were taken, a quarter of which
were distributed to colonists who had suffered losses.
In 1828 a military force accompanied by burghers, settlers and Thembu warriors,
led by a British landdrost, William Dundas, attacked a tribe he called the “Fetcani”
and captured 25 000 head of cattle and a hundred people who were then
indentured. Later, Colonel Somerset led a motley army of more than a thousand
soldiers, burghers, settlers and mounted Khoikhoi mercenaries, in alliance with
Thembu, Mpondo and Gcakela warriors.(2,17) They attacked Matiwane's Ngwane,
refugees of the Mfecane wars, near the present town of Umtata in the Transkei.
Somerset claimed he was countering an invasion of the colony by the armies of
Shaka. The sleeping camp was attacked. Howitzer fire killed more than four
hundred Ngwane hiding out in a forest. Somerset reported that his African
auxiliaries had killed thousands and captured all their victims' stock. The colonial
army returned with about one hundred women and children and indentured them
to farms. Dundas and Somerset came off scot-free and there was no recorded
response from British missionaries or journalists.
Referring to these attacks on the 'Fetcani' or 'Ficane', one burgher remarked to
Thomas Pringle, a Scottish settler: 'We are living in a state of bitter feud and
constant warfare with the natives and both parties were intent on mutual
extermination. But what had your Ficane done when they were destroyed by

Waldo Kühn 32
wholesale slaughter by your British commanders?...Here we had a massacre in
all its horrors by Englishmen in authority and does not tell against us unfortunate
Boors [sic].' The burghers resented such double standards and Retief would
articulate their sentiments in his manifesto, in which which he set out the causes
for emigration of burghers from the colony in the mid-1830s. (2)

The entire movement of emigrating from the colony in what was to become
known as the Great Trek, originated in the initiative and organizational ability of a
small group of Afrikaner farmers in the central region of the eastern frontier. (The
region between the upper Fish and the Koonap rivers sandwiched between
Albany district and the Kat River region.) (Muller, C.F.J., Die Oorsprong van die
Groot Trek, p.383, Cape Town: Tafelberg, 1974) (2)
Burghers in the central region felt more insecure than elsewhere. The
government had given out farms to burghers and settlers on condition that they
did not keep slaves. But in 1826 the Imperial government decided to delay
transfer of land pending a decision about the future of the zone. The secretary of
state for colonies in London did not hide his opinion that it would be better to
settle English-speaking colonists there. The government ordered the burghers to
leave the territory, but most decided to sit tight. The area was becoming steadily
more insecure with the influx of Mfecane refugees. (2)

One of Stockenstroms first duties in his office as commissioner-general of the


eastern province was to impose government policy more strictly. After Maqoma
had raided cattle from the neighboring Thembu people, Stockenstrom and
Somerset in 1829 expelled him from his home territory in the neutral belt.
Stockenstrom asked that the seized land be made a Khoikhoi settlement. His
primary objective was to create a defensive barrier against invaders, and then
also giving the opportunity for the Khoikhoi to become small-scale farmers. The
new residents claimed allegiance to the London Missionary Society and
successfully obtained James Read as their minister. By the second half of the
1830s the Kat River settlement housed some five thousand people. The burghers
felt envious that the most fertile land in the neutral belt had been given to the
Khoikhoi. Rumors of the imminent transfer of burghers' land to Khoikhoi and
English farmers began doing the rounds. According to Stockenstrom, some
burghers lamented: “The Englishman is very learned and we are very stupid.
They and the Hottentots will squeeze us all out by degrees.” (Stockenstrom,
Autobiography, vol. 1, p.391) (2)
Stockenstrom sought to curb the worst excesses of the reprisal system which
kept the Xhosa in a constant state of alarm: surprise attacks, firing at random,

Waldo Kühn 33
burning huts and seizing cattle. Colonel Somerset was determined to drive the
Xhosa out of the neutral territory. Sometimes patrols and commandos went out
every week. Stockenstrom began to suspect that this was part of a sinister
agenda to force the Xhosa on the border into a desperate incursion into the
colony, which would then be used as a pretext for a further colonial land grab. He
wrote of people 'desiring a chain of sanguinary wars' that would cost vast
amounts of money, but which 'would popularize themselves by bringing
enormous fortunes to some dozens of speculators and overwhelm headquarters
with patronage.' (2)
Colonel Somerset appealed over Stockenstrom's head to the governor and
continued his aggressive patrols. In 1833 Stockenstrom traveled to London to
seek more power for his post, and resigned when it was denied. He decided to
leave the Cape permanently for Sweden, the country of his father's birth. After his
departure the government's frontier policy lost the little credibility it still had in the
eyes of the burghers and the Xhosa. (2)

The government allowed some chiefs to return, including Maqoma, but he was
expelled again in 1833 to land he described as 'without a morsel of grass... as
bare as a parade.' In an attempt to curb the supply of guns to the Xhosa by
English traders, the government limited the supply of guns and ammunition to the
public in 1833, by making it only available through government stores. Field
cornets and field commandants, used to buying supplies for the burghers in their
commandos, where also severely restricted. Again, it left the burghers with the
impression that the government did not trust them enough to defend themselves.
When a new governor, Sir Benjamin D'Urban started his commission in 1834,
John Philip outlined the causes of the conflict as he saw it. He blamed 'the effect
of the commandos and patrols as hitherto practiced' and 'unscrupulous colonists
and bad men [who] were attracted to the frontier by the opportunities of plunder.'
He suggested policies be put in writing so 'that there might be an end to the
fluctuations of frontier policy universally complained of.' Cattle theft by Xhosas
continued, as did patrols, harassing even chiefs that tried to maintain peace. An
English surveyor wrote in his journal: “The year 1834 may be described as one of
unremitting plunder. The patrols were constantly making seizures of cattle
belonging to the Caffres, and every month – almost every week – they are
injuring and provoking that miserable people... [It] seems to be that it was the
expressed object of some persons in the colony about this time to provoke the
Caffres to a war.” (2)
Maqoma had reached the same conclusion and shared with the other chiefs,
including with the Xhosa paramount, Hintsa, his suspicion that the colonial raids

Waldo Kühn 34
were a 'prelude to other measures, which would not only endanger their
independence, but lead to a complete subjugation of their country.' (Peieres,
House of Phalo, p.91)(2) Hintsa lived beyond the Kei River, well east of the
traditional conflict zones. He was especially troubled at the news that the colonial
soldiers did not respect the sanctity of chiefs – in Xhosa custom a chief was
never threatened in a war. The harassment of the Xhosa in the neutral zone had
forged among the Xhosa, a common will to resist.
The colonists were oblivious that the Sixth Frontier War was about to dawn. The
general belief was that the Xhosa were now too afraid of the British to pose any
serious danger. Grahamstown was unprepared, with only 755 men stationed at
the frontier and delivery of ammunition at an all-time low in 1834, when Maqoma
and Tyhali attacked with a force of 12–15 000 men. The attacking force had split
up into numerous smaller detachments, bypassing the soldiers stationed on the
frontier, instead of massing in a single body to be decimated by the enemy guns.
(2) James Read witnessed the invasion from his Kat River station: 'The Boors to
the north and the south have been plundered almost to a beast ... The Boors will
be left in destitution and want.' Twenty whites and about eighty Khoikhoi were
killed, 455 homesteads burned and thousands of horses, cattle and sheep
carried off. Colonial losses were set at £300 000. The Xhosa once again
occupied the Zuurveld. (2)
Reinforcements arrived and D'Urban visited the stricken colonists. D'Urban was
moved by the plight of the colonists, and now felt that Philip and other critics had
grievously misrepresented the farmers and that the Xhosa were 'savage and
irreclaimable.'(2) He now considered the policy of the imperialists in the colony to
boldly expand the colony into Xhosa territory. The counter-attack of British
soldiers, Khoikhoi troops and settler- and burgher commandos, pushed deep into
Xhosa territory, beyond the Kei River, to capture Hintsa, the Xhosa paramount.
He was killed by an officer in an apparent attempt to escape, and his body was
mutilated.
In 1835, Governor D'Urban extended the eastern border of the colony to the Kei
River, the newly acquired territory becoming the Province of Queen Adelaide. In
London, John Philip and other missionaries were testifying before a select
parliamentary committee on the treatment of indigenous peoples in the colony. A
key witness in the hearings was Andries Stockenstrom, who had traveled from
Sweden to London to testify. Ironically he had just previously written a letter in
which he recalled how he had been insulted by Philip over the Bushmen question,
and commented grimly: 'Thank God, I have nothing more to do with these Cape
and Kaffir affairs', referring to the Cape as 'that devoted, that doomed Colony.' In
his testimony before the committee, Stockenstrom blamed much of the violence

Waldo Kühn 35
on the reprisal system and on compensation exacted from the Xhosa for cattle
theft. He said that many of these actions were based on fraudulent claims and a
desire to grab more land from the Xhosa. He proposed a treaty system to settle
future conflicts. On 26 December 1835, British colonial secretary, Lord Glenelg,
reversed D'Urban's decisions. Glenelg declared that the Xhosa had been driven
'by a long series of acts of injustice and spoliation' and had 'ample justification'
for invading the colony. The Province of Queen Adelaide was to be abandoned
and the colonial boundary moved back from the Kei to the Keiskamma, Tyhume
and Gaga rivers, with colonial control over the neutral belt between the Fish and
the Keiskamma. The government would allow chiefs to 'rent' land in the neutral
belt on condition of good behavior. Glenelg asked a surprised Stockenstrom to
return to the Cape, with a promotion to lieutenant governor. (2)
When, in early September 1836, Stockenstrom arrived in Grahamstown, he
found many burghers already leaving the colony or preparing to leave. A mass
emigration of frontier farmers was well under way. For Stockenstrom, this
emigration was a huge setback to his plans for a more orderly form of
colonization, which he saw as essential for Afrikaner survival. (2)

The Trekboers were semi-nomadic pastorial farmers who had steadily been
moving outwards from the heartland of the Cape colony (Paarl, Stellenbosch and
Franschhoek) since Company rule in the 1700s. The eastern frontier had largely
been a Trekboer-settlement. From the 1820s the Trekboers were mainly migrant
farmers from the eastern frontier. They initially requested temporary permits from
the landdrost to pasture livestock outside the northern and northeastern borders
of the colony, on condition that they were not to cultivate the land or to erect
buildings. By the latter 1820s they simply informed the Graaff Reinet authorities
that they were crossing the border. They systematically moved inland towards the
Orange River, some had crossed into the current land of Namibia and settled
there. The Voortrekkers would also encounter Trekboers as far as Transorangia,
the later Orange Free State. Other than the conflict with the Bushmen, the
Trekboers in the interior did not clash with African tribes, and there is little
evidence that they added to the pressure of the Mfecane. Timothy Keegan states
Trekboers in Transorange added to the destabilizing influence already caused by
Griqua-Bergenaar raiders and Mfecane refugees converging on the area. (3)
Some Mfecane refugees, called Mantatees, became indentured workers on
frontier farms. Farmers initially gave food aid to refugees, but soon the influx
became a burden to them. (C.F.J. Muller, Die Oorsprong van die Groot Trek,
Cape Town: Tafelberg, 1974, p.94) (2)

Waldo Kühn 36
Aquatint by Samuel Daniell from around 1804 of camped Trekboers.

The Mfecane (The Crushing) (Nguni) or Difaqane (Sotho), called the “Kaffir wars”
by Afrikaners, were a series of tribal wars in Natal and the Highveld, driven by
drought and overcrowding, giving rise to heightened competition for land. The
ivory trade also played a role. A South African historian, Julian Cobbing advanced
a theory that Portuguese slave traders' raids had set off the Mfecane, while
another historian, Elizabeth Eldridge cast doubt on the theory, pointing out that
there was no Portuguese slave trade out of Delagoa Bay (Maputo in
Mozambique) at that stage.(18) Some of the refugees of the Mfecane, like
Shoshange, fled to and settled in Portuguese regions, where they had their own
reign of terror, and might have been role players in an informal slave trade. The
Zulu king Shaka's mobilization of the Zulus as the cause of the Mfecane has
been well documented: by the Zulus themselves and the tribes that lived in fear
of them, as well as by European witnesses, and also backed up by some
archeological evidence. Notable effects of these wars for the Voortrekkers were:
the rise of the Ndebele (a breakaway group from the Zulus under Mzilikazi), the
rise of Dingane (Zulu) and Moshweshwe (Basotho) and, most importantly, large
tracts of fertile land in the interior of South Africa had been vacated (at least
temporarily) giving Voortrekker scouts the impression that the land was open for
the taking.

The causes for what became the Great Trek were:

1. Losses incurred in the Sixth Frontier War (1834-1835). Piet Retief had lost
all his livestock and his farm was sacked. Gert Maritz' brother suffered

Waldo Kühn 37
near-fatal stab wounds. An English-speaker wrote in 1836 from the Lower
Fish River that Afrikaners had little hope for the future, adding: 'One said
that in his father's life time and his own they had five times been swept out
by the Kaffirs ...' (2)
2. Lack of land. By 1812 only 40 percent of married burghers in Graaff Reinet
district were property owners. By 1832 no more crown land was available.
(2)
3. Lack of reliable cheap labor. After Ordinance 50 most Khoikhoi left for the
missionary stations or became squatters. Louis Tregardt and Gert Maritz
were motivated by emancipation of the slaves. Tregardt had ten skilled
slaves which had disqualified him from obtaining land in the neutral territory
and Maritz suffered financial loss through emancipation. Some historians
have tended to overstress the dissatisfaction of the paternalistic Boers over
the emancipation of the slaves, as the root cause for the Great Trek. Issues
over slaves featured among the general dissatisfaction, but were not the
major cause. Piet Uys first became interested in the Trek as a means to
spread the Gospel. His motives became political when his wife was
arrested on charges, which he considered malicious, brought by an
indentured slave. He longed for the old paternalistic order with vagrancy
laws and 'domestic right' (huijs reg) to keep slaves in line in one's own
household, as was to be expected from the head of the household.
However, other than Tregardt's ten slaves, the other twenty-nine families in
his party owned a total of only five slaves among them. Also, only a fifth of
the colony's slaves were owned in the districts from which the greatest
number of Voortrekkers came. Many Voortrekkers also managed to
persuade their ex-slaves and servants to accompany them. (2)
4. Insecurity on the frontier: Bushmen continued to steal cattle on the
northeastern border. The large number of Mfecane refugees flooding into
the frontier became a nuisance as they roamed from farm to farm in search
of food. In the central and southern sections of the frontier, wandering
parties had crossed over the border, stealing and begging for food. Xhosa
congestion in the neutral territory was also becoming acute. In September
1836 an English farmer wrote from Fort Beaufort, some hundred kilometers
from the sea: “The principle grievance of the Farmers in my Neighborhood,
is...their having to support such incredible numbers of Hottentots,
Bechuanas and Fingoes that daily vagabondize the Country and I do
myself declare that at no period within the past fifteen years have I ever
seen them in such numbers as they are at present... ten or fifteen idle
vagabonds in a day.” Field Cornet Carel Buchner reported in 1837 from the

Waldo Kühn 38
Zuurveld: “The unbridled conduct of the Blacks around here goes against
the marrow of the Africanders and that and nothing else is the cause of the
emigration.” (2)
5. The lack of government control was worst in the northeastern Tarka district
from which a third of the 12 000 Voortrekkers came. A justice of the peace
stationed in Cradock, assisted by a single constable had to maintain order
in an area covering 44 200 square kilometers. Most people had to travel
two or three days to the drostdy to lay a complaint or appear before a court
to testify or to answer a summons. Consequently many burghers preferred
not to file complaints. Responding to Stockenstrom's remark that they
intended to leave the colony in order to lead a lawless existence, some
prospective Voortrekkers in the northeastern divisions replied: 'It is the
contrary, we leave the Colony because we know of neither Government nor
Law – of the Government we know nothing nothing except when we have
money to pay and the law never reaches us except to fine or otherwise
punish, often for acts we did not know to be wrong. Our Field Cornets can
give us no assistance, as they are as much in the darkness as ourselves.
We are like lost sheep.' (1, 2)
6. Still, the above reasons do not fully explain why some fairly wealthy
farmers sold their farms cheaply, just to leave. Many departed without
bothering to wait for their due compensation for freed slaves, for stores and
provisions supplied to the armed forces, or for losses sustained in the war.
Stockenstrom noted the burghers had told him they no longer felt at home
in their own country. Olive Schreiner, a feminist writer with strong liberal
convictions, who had lived among the people in the frontier districts of
Colesberg and Cradock wrote: 'But that which most embittered the hearts
of the colonists was the cold indifference with which they were treated, and
the consciousness that they were regarded as a subject and inferior race ...
[The] feeling of bitterness became so intense that about the year 1836
large numbers of individuals determined to leave for ever the Colony and
the homes which they had created.' (Olive Schreiner, Thoughts on South
Africa, Jhb: Ad Donker, 1992, p.205)(2) Hendrik Potgieter wrote to the
governor in December 1838: 'We do not intend to do anything illegal and
we consider ourselves as free burghers who can go where they wish.'
Three years later he wrote: 'I do not wish to submit myself to any British or
to any other power in the world, and I am not British and I hope and trust
never to become that.' Andries Pretorius wrote to the Rev. G.W.A. Van der
Lingen of Paarl, whom he called 'a true Afrikaner', that the trekkers
'presently wandering around will still become a volk and live in His honor.'

Waldo Kühn 39
The burghers had also noted how John Philip and other LMS missionaries
had made them the transgressor and the indigenous peoples always the
victim. There was even a suspicion, though unfounded, that John Read had
connived with the Xhosa invaders of the Sixth Frontier War. Piet Retief
wrote of 'dishonest persons who were believed to the exclusion of all
evidence in our favor.' This sense of marginalization and disaffection
developed within the context of a government that introduced a social
revolution at the same time as removing virtually all the local government
institutions with which the burghers had identified. (2)
7. Another motive to leave British rule was the fear of being drafted into the
British army. After the Sixth Frontier War the government announced plans
to enroll the burghers as a militia to provide a more modern (professional)
system of frontier defense. Colonel Harry Smith had suggested that they
could consider themselves 'very lucky' to be released from their military
duties after the last war, when they were allowed to return to their farms
'only on condition of serving the Government when called upon.'
Stockenstrom may have had Smith in mind when he expressed anger
about the 'designing miscreants' who had revived 'the old stupid suspicion
that the British Government intends by degrees to make Soldiers and
Sailors of the redundant population.' (2)
8. The idea held by some trekkers that Boer-Afrikaners were a “Chosen
People” had likely originated from the turbulent history of Afrikaner-
protestants in Africa, who were forever at war with the local people
(traditionally considered to be heathens) since the Khoikhoi wars in the
earliest days of settlement. The combination of war and religion would have
gone a long way towards creating the “Chosen People” culture, because in
wartime people tend to huddle around the security that their religion offers.
The burghers did not have a British military presence or a government that
cared about their needs under Company-rule. They relied on their own
commandos and the laagers and a few representative government
structures. They also had their Christian faith. In 1798, 20 000 of the fewer-
than 22 000 'Christians' in the colony were Europeans. The Dutch
Reformed synod of 1829 prohibited the continuation of the hitherto practice
of separate Communion for slaves, free blacks, Basters and Khoikhoi from
that of Afrikaners. It is against this backdrop that Piet Retief's niece, Anna
Steenkamp once commented that she had found the idea objectionable
that slaves had been 'placed on an equal footing with Christians, contrary
to the laws of God, and the natural distinction of race and religion...
wherefore we rather withdraw in order to preserve our doctrines in purity.'

Waldo Kühn 40
5. PIET RETIEF'S MANIFESTO

During the 1830s three reconnaissance parties, called commission treks, were
sent to investigate options for settlement. One went to Damaraland in present
Namibia, another to the present Mafikeng and Gaborone in Botswana and the
third to Natal. The third trek returned with glowing reports of fertile land with
abundant pastures. As a result of the Mfecane wars, large areas in the interior
were temporarily depopulated and seemed to be there for the taking. Also as a
result of the wars, some greatly strengthened African polities, especially the Zulu
and Swazi states, were much more powerful than fifty or sixty years earlier. (2)

Piet Retief, in spite of his failed ventures and debt problems, was hugely popular
with Afrikaner burghers and English settlers alike. During the Xhosa invasion,
Retief and his stepsons had taken the lead in defending their Winterberg district,
making it virtually the only district to have made a stand to the invasion. He had
drawn together a large group of Winterberg people, including more than two
hundred women and children. The curbs on the supply of ammunition had almost
cost them their lives and he believed that they would have been overrun, had the
attacks gone on for much longer. A week into the attacks he was appointed
provisional field commandant. The governor would later mention Retief's
'excellent character' and his 'active and judicious conduct.' He had lost forty-eight
head of cattle, four horses and three hundred sheep in the cattle raid, while
creditors’ letters piled in. Retief and Stockenstrom could not see eye to eye
though. Stockenstrom took his new post in Grahamstown on September 1836
finding the eastern frontier in a state of turmoil. Stockenstrom was suspicious that
Retief had been conspiring with the expansionist clique in Grahamstown. Ever-
since his receiving news of Stockenstrom's appointment, Retief had attempted to
discredit him.
Stockenstrom assumed office in Grahamstown on September 3, 1836 in an
atmosphere of crisis and confusion. On his way there, the Graaff Reinet and
Cradock burghers had received him warmly and had outlined their grievances
soberly in a document. Grahamstown itself was hostile; the expansionists among
the British settlers had long considered Stockenstrom their main enemy. They
presented a disrespectful address referring to his evidence in London, which he
refused to accept. (2)

Stockenstrom had decided on a policy of fair and just protocol to stabilize the

Waldo Kühn 41
frontier. He wrote to Lord Glenelg: 'the colonists [have to be] allowed to protect
their property and lives against plunderers and marauders, even if it be
necessary to shoot the assailants. This in the actual state of things cannot be
prevented. The vacillating and contradictory doctrine which has been held forth
on this point, rushing from one extreme to the other, has been one of the main
causes of our misfortune.' 'To enable the neighboring tribes to leave us in peace
our people must positively remain within the limits of the colony and not molest
them.' Until reprisals and commandos ceased, no 'civilization' could take root
among them. Stockenstrom also recommended prompt action to redress other
grievances, amongst them payment by the government of what it owed burghers
for provisions in the latest frontier war, and immediately issuing the long-delayed
transfer of land deeds. (2)

In a carefully worded address, called the Winterberg address, Piet Retief sought
to incite the burghers in the district against Stockenstrom, by suggesting that
Stockenstrom had presented them to the Aborigines committee in London as
'Monsters of cruelty and barbarism.' Stockenstrom responded that Retief
considered him deluded to sign such a “ridiculous” document.
On September 20th, 1836 Retief and Stockenstrom met at the Kat River
settlement. Retief complained that the country was swarming with plundering
blacks and the frontier system afforded no protection. Stockenstrom reiterated his
stance: “strict justice to all parties” and “equal rights to all classes without
distinction.” If they thought they would be happier in another country, he would
advise them to leave. Retief had not been intent on leaving at that stage. The first
Voortrekkers had already left in late 1835. During Retief and Stockenstrom's
meeting in September 1836, Gert Maritz' trek was underway from Graaff Reinet.
A month later Retief wrote to military officers stationed nearby, expressing his
dissatisfaction over immunity from arrest enjoyed by blacks with government
passes, suggesting that burghers were suspicious of irregularities with the issue
of passes. He could not fathom how the Xhosa 'who had deprived us of our
goods and blood are allowed to come in among us to deprive us of the little we
still have to live on, but also to deride us in our impoverished state... Kaffers with
passes... in my ward [are]... congregating with not the least purpose than to live
solely on plunder... Must I not arrest such and send them to [you]?' Stockenstrom
warned Retief that if he arrested a person with a pass he would have to face the
consequences: 'Until the law is altered you must abide by it.' He threatened to
dismiss him as field commandant if he continued to 'trample existing regulations
under foot.' By end 1836 Retief had resolved to leave. He disappeared from the
scene for a while and it is thought that he was visiting trekkers already beyond

Waldo Kühn 42
the border and that it was then that they had first requested that he lead them. In
January 1837 he went to Grahamstown to bid Stockenstrom farewell.
Stockenstrom was still opposed to the trek. He mocked that Retief seemed to
prefer the protection of governance afforded by Dingane and Mzilikaze over that
which the British government offered. He did give his blessing though, reminding
Retief, “Wherever you may wander do not forget and remind your fellows that
you are Christians and as such have enduring obligations.”

On February 2nd, 1836 Retief published his manifesto in the Grahamstown


Journal, aided by his friend and the editor, Louis Henry Meurant.
The document sought to dispel the impression that the trekkers were anarchic
frontiersmen intent on escaping the restraint of laws.(2) Moreover, it carefully
tested the government's reaction, or rather, attempted to prime its thinking
towards accepting the concept of a separate and independent Afrikaner republic
in the interior.
“We despair of saving the colony from those evils which threaten it by turbulent
and dishonest conduct of vagrants who are allowed to infest the country in every
part; nor do we see any prospect of peace and happiness for our children in a
country thus distracted by internal commotions.” The trekkers had decided 'to quit
this colony with a desire to lead a more quiet life than we have heretofore done ...
under the full assurance that the British government had nothing more to require
of us, and will allow us to govern ourselves without its interference in the future.'
The manifesto listed the pervasive lack of security, especially the losses incurred
during the last frontier war and the conduct of vagrants, 'vexatious' laws made
with respect to slaves and the financial losses sustained in the emancipation
process. It deplored the 'unjustifiable odium under the cloak of religion' that
missionary propaganda cast upon the frontier burghers. It emphasized that the
emigrants did not intend to enslave anyone, but would maintain regulations to
suppress crime and restore “proper relations” between masters and servants.
They would not deprive others of their property, but would defend themselves
against attacks on their lives and property. They would make their intention to live
in peace clear to the black tribes amongst whom they settled. They would make
laws to govern themselves and forward copies to the colony for its information.
The last passage expressed a 'firm reliance on an all-seeing, just and merciful
Being whom it will be our endeavor to fear and humbly obey.' (2)
The manifesto: http://husky1.stmarys.ca/~wmills/retief_manifesto.html
On the day the manifesto appeared in the Grahamstown Journal, Stockenstrom
dismissed Retief as field commandant.

Waldo Kühn 43
In a letter of July 1837 Retief again assured the British government that no
enmity was intended towards the 'British nation.' Leaving the colony had
occasioned the trekkers 'enormous and incalculable losses.' He even requested
British help to prevent hostilities against African tribes who had been enlisted
against them. But he also struck a new note: '[We] desire to be considered a free
and independent people.' (2)

Stockenstrom would continue to implement a solution for the conflict on the


frontier. He had already a clear mind as to the best route to take. He believed in a
treaty-system between the colony and the Xhosa, similar to the international
treaties between independent nations.
In November 1836 he wrote: 'We must have either extermination [vergelden
means retribution or expulsion] or conciliation and justice. A middle course is
ruin.' Stockenstrom expected resistance to his idea of treaties as in international
relations. He wrote in another letter, people thought it absurd to apply the rules of
intercourse between civilized nations to the colony's dealings with [natives]...
[However] 'I believe the principles of truth and justice to be universal, as well as
eternal...with nations as well as with individuals. I believe them to bind the
mightiest power as well as the most insignificant community.' To dismiss the
whole issue by calling the Xhosa 'a gang of thieves' did not reflect well on the
colony. '[We] have been beaten in the field, as well as in the cabinet, by a gang of
thieves,' an obvious reference to the reversal of D'Urban's policy. (2)
The treaty system allowed recovery of lost cattle only via a councilor who had the
trust of the local chiefs. The influential lobby of British officers, expansionists and
land speculators undermined the system however. A rumor began to do the
rounds that back in 1813 Stockenstrom had shot a Xhosa in cold blood to avenge
his father's death. This eroded his authority so much, that he sued Duncan
Campbell, civil commissioner of Albany, for libel. The Supreme Court, with some
of his enemies sitting as judges, found insufficient evidence against Campbell. A
subsequent hearing vindicated Stockenstrom, but his reputation had been
damaged to the extent that the new governor, Sir George Napier pressed for his
dismissal. Lord Glenelg rejected the recommendation, but his successor
removed Stockenstrom from his post in 1839. Five years later, Maqoma
commented: 'I will hold by Stockenstrom until I die... If the treaties are forced
from us, nothing can preserve us from going to war.' (2)

After 1839 cattle thefts by the Xhosa increased. Napier noted 'the complaints and
grievances under which the border farmers labor, as regards the constant
plunder of their flocks and cattle and the slaughter of their armed herdsmen.' J.

Waldo Kühn 44
Hare, new lieutenant-governor of the eastern province wrote to the governor in
1842: 'I have talked till I am tired with the chiefs; on every occasion they make
me fair promises which are never performed.' The government again allowed
farmers to cross the border and look for their cattle in a way that resembled the
old reprisal system. The government started to change the treaties unilaterally
and soon scrapped them. (2)
The colonial government was not tenaciously committed to seeing
Stockenstrom's treaty system through. Pressure on the government by English
land speculators intensified and Sir Peregrine Maitland reintroduced the old
spoor law. Hermann Giliomee writes: Would Stockenstrom's treaty system, if
properly applied, have had a chance of providing stability? Stockenstrom had
weaknesses, but he was not naïve. The Xhosa were not 'mild, gentle shepherds',
he once wrote. 'Vigor is as necessary as justice in your dealings with them, and if
you allow them to become masters you must give up the colony.' He recognized
that treaties in themselves could not maintain political equilibrium; ultimately the
colonial government would have to enforce them through its own 'irresistible
power.' The government lacked the vision and will to do so. (2)

In 1846 the Seventh Frontier War broke out after the slaying of a white frontier
farmer and construction of a military fort in Xhosa territory. John Philip now
remarked that the frontier colonists had given the Xhosa no reason for making
war. He wrote that he could not help describing the spirit of the colonist as 'being
of a more Christian character than appeared on any former occasion.'
Stockenstrom came out of retirement after the burgher commando refused to
serve under any other commander. Stockenstrom wrote in 1847: “...The frontier
farmers have been taunted with having clamored for war and now having got it to
their hearts content... We have amongst us foolish and violent men, as in every
community, but we have also our due of the rational, honorable and well-
disposed; and I am bound to declare upon personal observation that at the
period referred to the fears and complaints were perfectly just.” He also wrote in
a more despondent tone regarding a possible solution to the crisis: “Such is the
double evil of injustice that it often makes justice inexpedient if not ruinous. But
matters are coming to such a pitch that it may soon be doubtful which side shall
dictate the terms of peace!...Since the mandate of 'Extermination' has gone forth,
all parties think it is better to exterminate than to be exterminated, and it is
questionable which side is likely to be most successful at the game.” (1)

Sir Harry Smith, the new governor, reverted to D'Urban's policy of twelve years
earlier, annexing the area between the Keiskamma and the Kei rivers. The chiefs

Waldo Kühn 45
became mere functionaries, many Xhosa were pushed out and the government
sold their land to English-speaking speculators to fill its own coffers. The Xhosa
invaded again in 1850, rallied by the sangoma Mlanjeni. Some Kat River
Khoikhoi and farm workers joined them, announcing their fight was against the
British; not with the Boers. The burghers did not want to be involved. Sir Harry
Smith wrote to the Colonial Secretary that the Boers were 'indifferent' and
'apathetic.' A British settler expressed surprise at how 'anti-English' the frontier
Afrikaners had become. A notable event in naval history took place during the
Eighth War. It was the 1852 wrecking of the HMS Birkenhead at Gansbaai, whilst
underway with reinforcements ordered by Harry Smith during the invasion. The
incident gave rise to the Birkenhead Drill: “Women and children first!”
1856 to 1858 saw a further massive setback for the troubled Xhosa, when a
sixteen year-old igqirha (diviner), Nongqawuse, announced a supernatural
provision of bounty, and victory over the settlers, provided all the cattle in the
land were sacrificed to the ancestors. On 18 February 1857 the ancestors would
return. Some powerful chiefs, mainly Sarhili of the Gcalekas believed her and
killed all their cattle, and forced lesser tribes to follow suit. This act led to mass
starvation and spread of disease from the large amount of carcasses. The Xhosa
had now become fully surrendered to the power and mercy of the colony.
Stockenstrom, testifying in London, laid the blame for the war upon the
aggressive local governor and rapacious speculators. He asked: 'What single
benefit have the colonists derived from any Kaffir war?' He called for
representative government in the colony. Representative government was duly
introduced in 1853. By now most Afrikaner leaders in the western part of the
colony strongly opposed any further conquest of land beyond the border.

Waldo Kühn 46
6. THE GREAT TREK

Between 1835 and 1845 some 2 308 families, or 12 000 Afrikaners,


accompanied by 4–5 000 servants departed from the colony. Officials generally
condemned the trek. Andries Stockenstrom expressed concern that the trekkers
would encroach on and subject the indigenous peoples. He advised the
government to reject any land deal made by the trekkers that smacked of
exploitation (where 'such bargain or right can evidently only be extorted by
violence and fraud in most cases.')
Gideon Joubert, a prominent frontier colonist, expected the trekkers to be
destroyed speedily and the survivors forced to return, or degenerate into a state
'worse than that of the heathen.' The Cape synod of 1837 expressed its concern
over the 'departure into the desert without a Moses or Aaron' by people looking
for a 'Canaan' without having been given a 'promise or direction.' De Zuid-
Afrikaan was concerned that the Voortrekkers had removed themselves from
British authority, but its editor Christoffel Brand (later first Speaker of the House
of Assembly when Stockenstrom got his representative government in 1853)
wrote to Andries Pretorius in 1839: 'You must never forget that I am an Afrikaner
and hence have an interest in my countrymen who have emigrated.' The Rev.
G.W.A. Van der Lingen of Paarl gave advice to Andries Pretorius before he
departed, but declined to join the trek as its minister. (2)

In May 1835 the first company left under Louis Tregardt (his son switched to
Trichardt, a Dutch form of the Swedish family name.) Tregardt was a wealthy
Eastern Cape farmer who, in 1833 had settled deep inside Xhosa territory with
twenty-nine other families after reaching an agreement with Xhosa paramount
Hintsa. Colonel Harry Smith had accused Tregardt of conspiring with Hintsa at
the outbreak of the Sixth Frontier War and wanted to arrest him. The charges of
inciting Hintsa were unsubstantiated and charges of cattle theft were found to be
false.(19) He moved outside the colonial border in 1835 from where he intended
to coordinate his trek with that of close friend Hendrik Potgieter. His trek of nine
families was joined by that of Lang Hans Janse van Rensburg, another exiled
farmer, at the Vaal River. Tregardt kept a diary of his trek, which led first to the
Limpopo region in the far north (border province between South Africa and
Zimbabwe). Tregardt parted ways with the trek of Janse van Rensburg after
arguments over which routes to take and Janse van Rensburg's wasting of
ammunition on ivory hunting. Janse van Rensburg's trek of forty-nine persons

Waldo Kühn 47
were extirpated shortly afterward in a night-long assault by the Shoshangane.
Two small children survived, concealed by a merciful attacker under his shield.
They died a year later from malaria. Tregardt sojourned in the Soutpansberg with
a forward party of Potgieter's trek in August 1836. They were to join up soon
afterward, but Potgieter became engaged in conflicts. Tregardt then headed
south-east to the Portuguese territory of Lorenco Marques (Maputo in
Mozambique). They found a way over the forbidding northern slopes of the
Drakensberg, at times, partially dismantling their wagons and hauling them on
branches in a two-and-a-half month feat. They maintained good relations with the
Pedi and Gwamba people. Before reaching Lorenco Marques in 1838, members
of the trek had already died from malaria and Tregardt lost three children to
unknown causes. In Lorenzo Marques he was welcomed by the small
Portuguese community, but most of the remaining fifty-two members succumbed
to Malaria. Tregardt died within six months of his wife. The twenty-six survivors
were transported by schooner to Port Natal.

Louis Tregardt (10/8/1783 – 25/10/1838)


(This is thought to be him.)

Andries Hendrik Potgieter (Hendrik Potgieter) trekked out of the Tarka region in
late 1835, early 1836. Gerrit Maritz' trek left Graaff Reinet in September 1836
with more than seven hundred people. Piet Retief's party of a hundred men,
women and children departed from Albany district in February 1837. Hendrik
Potgieter's trek started with only thirty-three fighting men, along with women and
children, and increased to two hundred after the parties of Sarel Cilliers (the
Voortrekkers' spiritual leader) and Casper Kruger joined the trek. Potgieter, an
energetic, active man with a taciturn temprament, concluded agreements with
African chiefs to live in peace.(2) But in August 1836, while Potieter and a
commando were far to the north holding talks with Tregardt, Mzilikazi's Ndebele

Waldo Kühn 48
attacked the camps of the Liebenberg and Erasmus families, part of Potgieter's
trek. The Ndebele murdered twenty-four trekkers, including six children. Three
(some sources: two) more children were abducted and never again seen.
Another child was recovered from a fleeing warrior.(19) Then, on October 20th,
1836, a Ndebele army of four thousand to six thousand men attacked Potgieter's
laager, well-fortified on a slope, and, during the Battle of Vegkop, thirty-five
trekkers beat off the massive attack with loss of only two lives (his brother
Nicolaas and a son-in-law). The Ndebele did succeed though, in carrying off
almost all the trekkers' cattle. In January, commandos went out to punish
Mzilikazi. The first, headed by Potgieter and Gerrit Maritz, consisted of hundred
armed trekkers in alliance with forty Griqua and !Koranna, and sixty members of
the Baralong tribe. They killed four hundred Ndebele, sacked Mzilikazi's village at
Mosega and took seven thousand cattle. In November, another commando under
Potgieter and Piet Uys forced Mzilikazi to flee to the present Zimbabwe.

Internal divisions, schisms and squabbles nearly ended the Trek. They wanted a
settlement with access to a harbor. Retief wanted Natal where he would
negotiate with the British. Potgieter wanted the Highveld, with a route to Delagoa
Bay (Maputo in Mozambique). Hendrik Potgieter was a patriarchal personality
with an autocratic streak. This would later have huge implications for the fledgling
Boer republic. While Potgieter and Maritz were at Thaba Nchu, the trekkers
elected a Burgerraad (Burgher Council) to supervise the making and
enforcement of laws, with Maritz as civilian president and Potgieter as military
commander. Maritz and Potgieter soon fell out and the Burgerraad was split.
When Piet Retief arrived at Thaba Nchu the next April, he was unanimously
elected governor of the trekkers and took over as military commander from
Potgieter. Maritz became judge-president of the Council of Policy and deputy
governor. Potgieter's exclusion was confirmed two months later at a meeting in
Winburg, where nine articles were adopted, setting up the 'Free Province of New
Holland in South East Africa' with Retief as overseer of the “company”. When Piet
Uys' trek arrived soon afterward, he refused to accept resolutions in which his
own trek had not been consulted. Also, Maritz, increasingly suspicious of Retief's
autocratic tendencies, warned trek parties that Retief had appropriated
'unprecedented power and dominion.' (2)
Potgieter and Maritz now continued north, while Retief moved eastward.
However, Maritz then decided to rejoin Retief in Natal. Potgieter followed
reluctantly.

Retief and a forward party reached the Zulu king Dingane's capitol of

Waldo Kühn 49
Ungungundlovo in October 1837. There he met with Francis Owen, a local
missionary who had assisted him in arranging the visit, and a young man named
William Wood and his father and uncle, traders from Port Natal. Wood acted as
interpreter. Dingane promised the trekkers land between the Mzumvuba and
Tugela rivers, on condition that Retief recovered cattle, which had been stolen
from him by the Tlokwa chief, Sekonyela. Although Retief had been warned
against Dingane's treacherous nature, he was now under so much pressure that,
almost as in his business ventures in the colony, he risked all against impossibly
long odds.(2) Francis Owen warned him that the deal he was trying to pull off
was a 'mad enterprise' to which Retief replied: 'It takes a Dutchman, not an
Englishman, to understand a Kafir.' Retief's men recovered the cattle for a few
men wounded. On their return, Dingane signed the land treaty which Retief had
prepared. He had, at that stage, already decided to murder the trekkers. On their
final visit to Ungungundlovo, he was insistent they part with their weapons when
entering the kraal. At the command, “Bambani, bulala aba Tagati!” (“Grab and kill
the wizards!”) the Boers were overpowered and dragged off to their place of
execution. Retief was killed last. Dingane then had Piet Retief’s heart and liver
brought to him. A week later, when the first opportunity presented, Francis Owen
and the Wood family managed to get away.
In the grim aftermath, after one of Dingane’s generals had advised that the “hens
on the nests” be killed, six to seven thousand Zulu impis attacked the
unsuspecting Boer settlements at Blaaukranz and Weenen (“Weeping”). Intent on
killing the “white dogs,”(101) they massacred 41 Voortrekker men, 58 women and
185 children, as well as 250 Khoikhoi and Basutos who had accompanied the
trekkers. (534 people in total.) Babies' heads were dashed against wagon wheels
and corpses of men and women were mutilated.(19) The Zulu force took 20 000–
25 000 head of cattle leaving many families destitute. Two women, having
received about twenty stab wounds each, were among the survivors. Individual
heroics like that of Therese Viglione, the wife of an Italian trader, who mounted
her horse to warn other families, had prevented further bloodshed.
In early April 1838, a two-pronged commando totaling about 350 men led by
Hendrik Potgieter and rival Piet Uys, was ambushed by 6 500 Zulus at Talana Hill
after they had crossed the Buffalo River. Afterward Potgieter was criticized for his
actions in the fight and even blamed for the deaths of Uys and his eleven year-
old son. Potgieter subsequently left Natal for good.

When Gerrit Maritz died, a measles epidemic was raging in the camps of the
Natal Voortrekkers and their position looked hopeless. On his deathbed, Maritz
said: “It was with me as with Moses; I have seen the Promised Land but will not

Waldo Kühn 50
call it my home.” The Trekker-leader Karel Landman, who had covered the
retreat of the “Flight Kommando” when Piet and Dirkie Uys had been killed, took
temporary leadership. Two months later, things took a turn for the better with the
arrival in November 1838 of a kommando dispatched by the trek of Andries
Pretorius, in response to Maritz' earlier plea for assistance.

Mass grave for Piet Retief's murdered party.

... Andries Pretorius arrived with a party of sixty and a fine bronze cannon. A tall,
robust man with an impressive bearing, Pretorius had a degree of self-confidence
that shaded into arrogance, but he was, as Stockenstrom observed, 'no fool' and
a brilliant military and political strategist besides. (2)
Pretorius was appointed commandant-general of the new kommando. Joined by
Karel Landman and Sarel Cilliers, the kommando had the strength of 470 men
with sixty-four wagons and two cannons. Strict discipline was maintained, a
fortified laager drawn at the end of each day, and regular reconnaissance patrols
sent out. Pretorius encouraged the idea of a vow and his kommandants and men
agreed. On Sunday, December 9th, 1838, Sarel Cilliers officially prayed for divine
favor. If God granted victory, they and their descendants would commemorate
the day of the battle as a Sabbath and would build a church. They repeated the
prayer every evening until the battle of Blood River on the morning of December,
16. On that fateful day, 468 Trekkers, three Englishmen and sixty blacks faced
between ten thousand and twelve thousand Zulu.
After a reconnaissance party detected the Zulu force on 15 December, a laager
was drawn, covered from two sides by the Ncome River (a tributary of the Buffalo
River) and a natural trench or donga. That evening the prayer was repeated for
the last time. The Zulu attacked on the Sunday morning of December 16th.

Waldo Kühn 51
Pretorius used a tactic of purposely dividing his defense, allowing the Zulu
regiments to mass in front of the cannons, decimating them with every shot. The

Position of the Boer laager at the Battle of Blood River. (19)

Voortrekkers' front loaders became so hot from the continuous firing that it was
feared they would explode, making reloading a treacherous affair. Three
thousand Zulus fell around the laager, their blood flowing red in the Ncome River,
hence the name Blood River. When they retreated, kommandos rode out after
them, engaging them with fire from the saddle. Only three Boers were wounded,
including Andries Pretorius. The commando was henceforth called the “Victory
Commando.”
The crippling blow to Dingane's power-base saw the Zulu nation split, with
Dingane's half-brother Mpande, aligning him with the trekkers. He sent ten
thousand men to support a follow-up expedition against Dingane, after Dingane
would not return four thousand cattle and failed to adhere to stipulations of a
British brokered treaty. The “Cattle Kommando” returned 41 000 head of cattle.
Dingane fled and was later assassinated by Zulu rivals. Pretorius proclaimed
Mpande king of the Zulu and vassal of the Natal republic.
A church was built in Pietermaritzburg to honor the vow, but public celebration of
the day was not continued after 1839. It was Paul Kruger, who had been a
teenager in a family on Potgieter's trek, who made the day an official day of
remembrance in 1880.
About the Vow: http://www.reformationsa.org/index.php/history/71-daycovenant

Waldo Kühn 52
Geloftekerk (“Church of the Vow”): Andries Pretorius, Jacobus Burger and Johannes Maritz
led the campaign to generate funds for construction in 1839. C.J. Brand, editor of De Zuid-
Afrikaan in the Cape Colony helped with the fund-raising effort.

In 1839 a republic was established with Pietermaritzburg the capitol, and two
towns, Congella near Port Natal and Weenen. The Volksraad (Peoples' Council)
consisted of twenty-four representatives, with local government consisting of a
landdrost, assisted by a local council of burghers (heemraden). In the districts,
field cornets represented the government. All burghers were eligible for
kommando duty under direction of the field cornets and district kommandants. At
the head was a commandant-general appointed by the Volksraad, for all practical
purposes, the head of state, who was Andries Pretorius. In 1841 the republic was
enlarged to include the Potgieter-trek communities of Winburg, south of the Vaal
and Potchefstroom, north of the Vaal, adding a representative for each of these
three communities on the Volksraad.(2) Hendrik Potgieter was given the position
of commandant-general for the area west of the Drakensberg.
Among a section of the trekkers, there was an increasing tendency to see all
trekkers as a united society of burghers with a right to make their own laws in the
settlement they had founded. This section, known as the Volksraad party,
strongly opposed unchecked personal power. In 1840 the party abolished the
post of commandant-general for times of peace. It introduced a radical form of
self-rule with annual elections, Afrikaner male franchise, and frequent appeals to
the Volksraad. (2) The Natal Volksraad wrote in 1841 to Governor Napier at the
Cape that they saw themselves as an instrument in God's hand to promote
Christian civilization and to protect blacks from internecine 'murder, pillage and
violence.' The Cape government was keeping a close eye on developments.

Waldo Kühn 53
Andries H. Pretorius (27/11/1798 – 23/07/1853)

With the “Cattle Kommando” expedition of 1839 against Dingane, the military
council had authorized every commando member to seize four “orphaned
children”, to be formally registered and indentured by officials of the republic, with
boys released at the age of twenty-five and girls at twenty-one. A French
naturalist who had accompanied the kommando, Adulphe Delegorgue, later
reported that some children had died from exposure after their capture, when
they helped to drive the captured cattle. [My source, J.C. Van der Walt: children
“died from cold and exposure”, but the kommando had taken place in February
1839, summer in tropical Natal.] Pretorius seized eight children, between the
ages of five and thirteen, but took nearly four years to get them registered with
the secretary of the Volksraad. Trade in children was forbidden by the Volksraad.
In 1841 the Volksraad expressed dismay over a reported trade in Zulu children,
but said it lacked the power to stamp it out. In 1842 the Volksraad wrote to
Governor Napier in Cape Town: “[We] formed a Government of our own,
prosecuted wars that came upon us unexpectedly and made peace, we took
possession of uninhabited tracts of country acquired by friendly treaties, as well
as with our blood and treasure.”

After some cattle thefts, the Volksraad asked Pretorius to lead a kommando.
Pretorius operated in a way reminiscent of Colonel Henry Somerset's reprisal
patrols on the eastern frontier, where commandos acting on sparse evidence,
had intentioned to intimidate all the chiefs in the vicinity to refrain from stealing,
rather than punish the guilty.(2) Pretorius led a commando in a surprise-attack
against a Bhaka chief, Ncaphayi, accused by Pretorius of cattle-theft. The

Waldo Kühn 54
commando killed thirty people, abducted seventeen children for distribution as
apprentices and took three thousand head of cattle. Pretorius also wanted to
force serfdom onto Zulu men. News of the attack on Ncaphayi and abduction of
children, reached the colonial government via missionaries working in the area.
Ncaphayi had been under colonial government protection at the time. The
Volksraad also engaged in forced removals of black communities inside Natal,
settling them at the southern border with the colony. (2, 112)

In 1838 a small British force had briefly occupied Port Natal, around the time of
the Battle of Blood River. They had negotiated the truce between the
Voortrekkers and Dingane after the battle. In 1842, following the above-
mentioned events of social disruption, the government sent an occupying force of
250 men to Port Natal under Captain T.C. Smith. Pretorius set up camp at
Congella, as a base from which he intended to negotiate with Smith. Shortly after
midnight of 24 May, Smith launched a surprise attack on the camp of Pretorius,
but Petrorius' men hit back with such overwhelming fire that the British retaliated.
Pretorius laid siege to the British camp. Dick King escaped the siege, and after a
long flight on horseback, managed to reach the colony to summon help. British
re-enforcements arrived by ship and Pretorius was forced to withdraw. Henry
Cloete, an anglicized Afrikaner, was instated as commissioner of the annexed
territory. The Volksraad was allowed to continue administering the interior of the
republic, pending a British decision.

In July 1842 the Volksraad invited Henry Cloete to Pietermaritzburg for


negotiations. A hostile crowd gathered outside the Volksraad building while
deliberations continued inside, but the Volksraad decided to submit to British
authority. Most vociferous in their opposition to the British were the poor and
illiterate. Women, once again, were staunchly pro-freedom and pro-republican. In
this instance, Susanna Smit, sister of the late Gerrit Maritz and Stephanus Maritz
(a Volksraad member) and the wife of Erasmus Smit, a former LMS missionary,
took the lead, voicing a determination to not yield to British authority, but to
“rather walk barefoot back across the Drakensberg to die in freedom”, holding
death dearer than loss of liberty.
Afrikaner women had been a driving force behind the Trek. A British settler on the
frontier wrote while the Trek was underway: 'they fancy they are under a divine
impulse... the women seem more bent on it than the men.' In 1838 a British
commander noted of the trekker women in Natal, that despite suffering great
difficulty, 'they all rejected with scorn the idea of returning to the Colony... if any of
the men began to droop or lose courage, they urged them on to fresh exertions

Waldo Kühn 55
and kept alive the spirit of resistance in them.' Cloete was dismayed by the
women's fury, calling it 'a disgrace on their husbands to allow them such a state
of freedom.' (2)

The British administered the territory on the terms of equality for all before the
law, aggression against indigenous tribes were prohibited and slavery illegal. A
second trek followed, though not as dramatic as the first, occurring in different
migrations out of Natal, towards the Highveld regions of Transoranje
(Transorange) – the later Orange Free State (OFS) and Winburg-Potchefstroom
– the settlements founded by Hendrik Potgieter in what later became the
Transvaal Republic (ZAR).

Waldo Kühn 56
7. THE BOER REPUBLICS – PART I

Hendrik Potgieter governed the trekkers of the Potchefstroom-Winburg area on


the Highveld. He notified Henry Cloete that his people did not consider
themselves bound by the Pietermaritzburg Volksraad's submission to British
authority and that they wished to continue running their own affairs. In 1844 they
established their own Burgerraad (Burgher Council) and accepted a constitution
of thirty-three articles with provision for annual elections. The following year,
Potgieter moved his capitol from Potchefstroom to the eastern Transvaal
bushveld. He established the town of Andries Ohrigstad within a two-week ride of
Delagoa Bay which would serve as a port. The area was infested with tsetse fly
though and the farmers' stock was decimated. Many farmers gave up cattle
farming for ivory hunting and the surrounding tribes were increasingly hostile.
Potgieter had an agreement with the Pedi leader, Sekwati, that he would protect
the Pedi from future Swazi hostilities in exchange for land. Potgieter became
increasingly autocratic, announcing the Burgerraad would meet in future
wherever he and his immediate followers were settled. When the trekkers from
the ultra-democratic Volksraad party from Natal, under leadership of J.J. (Kootjie)
Burger, moved into the area, conflict developed.(2) They set up a Volksraad in
Ohrigstad in 1845 with Burger as Secretary. They considered Potgieter's political
system an autocracy and wanted an orderly farming-settlement. They accused
Potgieter of being too harsh on black people and 'lusting after their cattle and
elephant tusks.' Potgieter operated as a barterer, nomadic farmer, hunter, ivory
trader and power broker who cultivated links with African auxiliaries, including the
half-caste tribe founded by Coenraad De Buys, dealing in raiding chiefdoms,
extorting tributes, seizing cattle and also women and children.
In 1846, Potgieter asked the Volksraad's permission to send a kommando
against Mzilikazi's Ndebele, whom he had resented since they attacked his trek a
decade earlier. His reason for the request was to search for some trekker
children they had abducted. Burger insisted on strict instructions to be given to
the expedition leaders not to attack innocent kraals and to refrain from shedding
innocent blood. When Potgieter failed to find Mzilikazi, he attacked another
chiefdom, capturing a large number of stock and four hundred prisoners. He
attacked the Transvaal Ndebele under Langa unprovoked, killing many and
taking women and children, separating them from one another and allotting each
commando member three or four children. Some kept them, some exchanged or
sold them for between £7 and £15, while others objected and left the commando.
The Volksraad had enough; Adriaan de Lange called for action against Potgieter

Waldo Kühn 57
for plunging the land into crisis from which it would take years to recover. Some
shots were apparently exchanged and the community disintegrated. Potgieter
and his followers founded the small settlement of Zoutpansbergdorp
(Schoemansdal) in 1849. A number of African chiefs who held him in high regard
came to pay their respects before he died in 1852. His opponents founded the
town of Lydenburg (“Place of Suffering”) in the eastern Transvaal.

Trekboers had been living in peace with the Griqua and Sotho nations in the land
of Transorange. The Griqua were an Afrikaans-speaking semi-autonomous
mixed-race people living on the northern and northeastern outskirts of the Cape
colony. They had a council that had established its own code of laws, with field
cornets acting as officials of the council. They had two provinces or captaincies
recognized by the colonial government, one west of the Orange River governed
by Andries Waterboer and one east of the Orange (inside Transorange) under
Adam Kok III. When the Voortrekkers joined the Trekboers in Transorange, John
Philip started to fear for the independence of the Griqua as well as for that of the
Basotho nation under Moshweshwe. Philip persuaded Governor Napier to sign
formal treaties with the Griqua and Basotho in 1843. Potgieter had also
previously signed a treaty with Adam Kok, noting that they were both fairly recent
occupants of the land of Transorange, asking to be regarded as “neither more
nor less than your fellow-emigrants, inhabiting the country, enjoying the same
privileges with you.” Both Trekboers and Voortrekkers would quickly protest
though, whenever the Griqua authority would arrest whites. Kok feared
confrontation with the Boers and backed off when conflict erupted.

By the end of 1847, Andries Pretorius and a large number of the remaining Natal-
contingent of trekkers decided to leave. They were tired of the insecurity of living
under the British and facing threats from Bushmen and blacks. Pretorius had
even contemplated fighting the British with Zulu allies. In 1848 they abandoned
their farms and trekked over the Drakensberg. By coincidence, during the trek
over the inhospitable mountain in torrential rain, they ran into Sir Harry Smith,
who ordered them to return to their farms. When they refused, Smith informed
them that Britain would annex both the Transorange and Transvaal as British
territories. Smith wrote later: 'I was almost paralyzed to witness the whole of the
population with few exceptions trêking [sic]. Rains on this side of the mountains
are tropical... and [these] families were exposed to a state of misery which I
never before saw equaled.' In 1848 Governor Harry Smith annexed the area
between the Orange and the Vaal rivers as the Orange River Sovereignty.

Waldo Kühn 58
Andries Pretorius wrote a manifesto, signed by nine hundred burghers. He
compared the Afrikaners, who were not allowed self-governance, to the Griqua
who were allowed 'self-government with all the privileges of liberty.' Pretorius
wrote: '[Had] we perhaps been colored, it might perhaps be possible, but now we
find it impossible, because we are white African Boers.' He told the governor how,
“when they were children there was Kaffir War in the old colony, and now we are
men with gray hairs and there is still a Kaffir war... a war caused under British
rule.” “How did we obtain possession of [Natal] – unjustly or easily? No; we
obtained it justly from a sovereign power; and subsequently it cost us the blood
of dearest wives and children, and we will never refrain from exclaiming it before
the great Creator and before the world. And where is the country now? Still in
possession of the owners? ...” (1, 2)

The British authorities declared Pretorius a rebel and issued a £2 000 bounty on
his head. In a brief but sharp battle, Governor Smith defeated Andries Pretorius'
force at Boomplaats. Pretorius fled to the vicinity of the current Pretoria. Because
of the rivalry with Potgieter, he organized Trekkers outside Potgieter's sphere of
influence, and in 1849 established a Volksraad for the entire Transvaal region. A
commandant-general was appointed for each of the four main regions
(Soutpansberg – north, Lydenburg – east, Marico – west, and the central and
southern region.) The Volksraad gave Pretorius a mandate to negotiate a political
settlement with Britain for the Transvaal Trekkers.

British control in the Transorange Sovereignty consisted of Resident Henry


Warden, four magistrates, five clerks, eight constables, one Dutch Reformed
minister, four schoolteachers and 250 troops. Fixing the borders was entrusted to
Richard Southey, secretary to Sir Harry Smith. A large number of English settlers
arrived in the Sovereignty. A lobby again clamored for a tough policy against
Mosheshwe and obtaining the fertile Caledon River valley. English farmers
tended to appeal to the British Imperial state for land titles, infrastructure and
administration, security and providing markets for their produce. Voortrekkers did
not want to be part of an English state and many declared their refusal to pay
taxes to the British Sovereignty. They also did not want expulsion of the Basotho,
or severing of contacts with the Basotho. Some made their living by exchanging
Basotho wheat for powder and leadshot. The Basotho also profited from having a
market for their wheat. Many Afrikaners were happy to have Chief Moshweshwe
ratifying their land claims.(2) Josias Hoffman, who would later become the first
Free State president, objected to a plan to expel some three thousand Basotho
from the Caledon River valley: 'The natives will not consent to remove and will

Waldo Kühn 59
revenge such unjust treatment...If Southey thinks that he can bind the Boers to
the British government by giving them all the land he is mistaken and knows
neither the Boers nor the natives.'
After a spate of stock theft, Warden attempted to enforce the boundary that
excluded the Basotho from a large part of the valley. The unsuccessful attempt
coincided with the Eighth Frontier War in 1851. The English-language newspaper,
The Friend, in Bloemfontein wrote: 'We see a war of races ... the declared aim
and intention of the black man being to drive the white man into the sea.' It said
an 'extensive conspiracy' across South Africa of Africans against whites existed.
How was the white man to respond? 'We answer in one word: UNION. Let the
white man in South Africa be united, and at the same time let them be just.' (2)
In 1852 a large force under a new Cape governor, Sir George Cathcart,
attacked Mosheshwe in an offensive that soon faltered. Mosheshwe sued
prematurely for peace to help the British force to save face, but it was a hollow
victory for the British. Cathcart advised the imperial government to set up a
permanent garrison of two thousand men to reinforce British authority in the
Sovereignty. But British policy-makers in London were unwilling to be sucked into
the quagmire of the deeper interior of South Africa... (2)
The liberal John Fairbairn in Cape Town changed his negative view of the Boer
Trekkers. He and others were now preoccupied with opening up the interior and
'civilizing' the natives. Fairbairn wrote: 'It is now clear that the destruction of
Matsilikatzi (sic) and the overthrow of Dingaan were steps in the Providential
Scheme of tranquilizing Southern Africa.' De Zuid-Afrikaan compared the Trek
with Israel's exodus from Egypt and as a means of bringing the Gospel and
civilization to the 'wild national tribes into the deep interior of South Africa. ' (2)

At the Sand River Convention of 1852, Britain gave Transvaal Afrikaners the right
to govern themselves and purchase ammunition from the British colonies. It also
promised to disclaim all prior alliances with the 'colored nations' north of the Vaal,
and to prohibit arms trade with the local tribes. The main condition was that
slavery would not be permitted. Andries Pretorius and Hendrik Potgieter had
reconciled their differences before Potgieter's death in 1850.
The British also decided to leave the Orange River Sovereignty. Their negotiator
shunned a group of loyalist Trekboers and negotiated the Bloemfontein
Convention with a group of burghers in 1854. The Trekkers between the Orange
and Vaal could form their own government and purchase ammunition from the
Cape Colony and Natal. Britain still recognized its treaty with Adam Kok, but in
the early 1860s he sold his land and trekked across the Drakensberg to found
East Griqualand. (2)

Waldo Kühn 60
Thus were formed the two Boer republics: In the Transvaal, the Zuid-
Afrikaansche Republiek (ZAR) established in 1852 after the Sand River
Convention, and two years later the land of Transorangia became the Orange
Free State Republic (OFS). There were some twenty thousand burghers in the
ZAR north of the Vaal River and fifteen thousand in the OFS between the Orange
and Vaal rivers. Some OFS burghers kept alive the idea of incorporating their
state into the Cape Colony until the late 1860s, but the great majority of burghers
became staunch republicans. (2)

Andries Pretorius had strongly favored a united Boer state. After his death in
1852, he was succeeded by his eldest son Marthinus Wessel Pretorius as head
of the ZAR Volksraad. The OFS sent a delegation to the ZAR and the matter of a
united Boer state was considered. But the ZAR became divided by internal strife
and religious dissent after the arrival of Rev. Dirk van der Hoff as the ZAR's
Dutch Reformed minister, sent by the Cape DRC on condition that the ZAR-
church joined the synod of the Cape Colony. The old east-west factions from the
days of conflict between Hendrik Potgieter and the Volksraad party were revived.
The Potchefstroom-faction opposed incorporation with the Cape synod, while the
Lydenburg Volksraad-faction favored inclusion. Van der Hoff himself, supported
by M.W. Pretorius in this, did not favor a non-racial church as stipulated by the
Cape synod. (2)
Shortly afterward, the ZAR saw conflict with indigenous tribes flare up, following
the murders of a group of Soutpansberg-burghers and Field-cornet Hermanus
Potgieter (Kommander of the Soutpansberg area founded by Hendrik Potgieter.)
It led to the “Seige of Makapan's Cave”. People throughout the ZAR gathered in
laagers for safety and to complicate matters, an outbreak of lung sickness
paralyzed normal transport, making meeting of the Volksraad impossible and, for
all intents and purposes, leaving the ZAR temporarily without government. In
1855 a draft constitution for the ZAR was accepted though, and the Volksraad
founded a new village on two farms Marthinus Wessel Pretorius had previously
bought, stipulating that it be named after his father. Thus, Pretoria was founded.
Pretorius was sworn in as ZAR president on 6 January 1857, with Stephanus
Schoeman of the Soutpansberg as kommandant-general. On the same day, the
Vierkleur, designed by Rev. Van der Hoff was officially hoisted for the first time.(20)
In 1859 a group of ZAR burghers formed their own church, the morally and
theologically conservative Gereformeerde Kerk (Dopper Church). One of the
founders was the future state president, Paul Kruger.

Waldo Kühn 61
In the Free State, a constitution was drawn up by J. Groenendaal, a Dutch
teacher and A. Coqui and J.M. Orpen, members of the English-speaking party in
the OFS. The franchise, though not specifically based on race, was racial in
practice as it only applied to burghers of the republic. (The idea that tribes like
Mosheshwe's Basotho would want representation on the burghers'
representative body, just seemed illogical.) All church parishes in the OFS were
absorbed into the Cape synod of the DRC. The first president of the Free State
was J.N. Boshoff.

M.W. Pretorius made a huge diplomatic blunder with awkward attempts at


incorporating the OFS into the ZAR. President Boshoff, becoming suspicious of
Pretorius' intents, made an equally clumsy attempt at isolating him in his own
country from the Soutpansberg and Lydenburg factions. Matters came to a head
with a standoff between the armies of the two republics at the Renoster River on
25 May 1857. Common sense prevailed though and war was prevented.
Pretorius managed to reunite his own country and was reelected ZAR president.
When the OFS saw crisis erupt with a major war with the Basotho, a union
between the two republics became a strong possibility, but was prevented by Sir
George Grey who threatened to suspend the Sand River and Bloemfontein
conventions.
On 12 December 1859, after the resignation of President Boshoff, Pretorius was
elected with an overwhelming majority as president of the Free Sate. The new
post however caused so much instability in the factional ZAR, that he held the
post for only three years. In this time he managed to stabilize relations in the
Free State with the Basotho and other chiefs, and ratified a boundary with
Mosheshwe that was advantageous to the OFS. After concluding that the
Transvaal did not favor his dual presidency, he obtained an honorable discharge
from the OFS presidency.

The ZAR had become increasingly unstable and matters escalated to the point of
imminent civil war with all the hallmarks of a failed state. A state army
(Staatsleger) was at odds with a “peoples’ army” (Volksleger). Pretorius stabilized
the situation and was again asked to take up the presidency in the Free Sate.
Again, matters in the ZAR boiled over and Pretorius resigned from the OFS
presidency for a second time in 1863. A special court in the ZAR called for an
election. Pretorius was nominated but W.C. Janse van Rensburg was elected.
After irregularities were discovered, a reelection was held and Janse van
Rensburg reelected. Rumors of ballot tampering continued and an army under
Commandant Jan Willem Viljoen clashed with the Staatsleger under Paul Kruger

Waldo Kühn 62
on the Crocodile River on 5 January 1864. After blood was shed, all parties came
to their senses and, again, M.W. Pretorius was elected president of the ZAR. The
conflict had left the ZAR in an economic crisis, and Pretorius was forced to print
paper money to honor commitments (mandaten) that were issued in this period.

It is interesting to note that amidst all the turmoil in the ZAR, there was a strong
sense of being a proper secular republic. In 1859, probably with political motives,
the Committee of the Evangelical Association in Port Elizabeth, representing the
Anglican Church and the Reformed Church wrote the Lydenberg Volksraad-
faction (at that stage having formed its own short-lived republic separate from the
Potchefstroom-Soutpansberg faction). They were basically trying to pull rank and
criticized the republic on religious issues, such as the Voortrekkers not having
been good missionaries. The response was drafted by a Dutch immigrant to the
ZAR, T.A. Bührmann. He wrote:
“...We form part of that people whom you so misjudge... and to whom you have
addressed your open letter... We all belong to that people whom you have
attacked and held in contempt. This people have sacrificed all their possessions
and set out with apprehension and concern in order to acquire and establish their
own country and their own form of government, just as was done by your
forefathers and ours and all European nations before us. In this way we hoped,
and still do, to free ourselves from all the laws and customs of other nations
which are contrary to our consciences and our national sentiments and seem to
us improper...” (The Lydenberg faction did not object to racial equality in the
churches and were not referring to British colonial racial equality as “laws and
customs of other nations” that “seemed improper” to them. (2))
The letter goes on: “You refer to our departure from the colony and our
withdrawal from civilized life... you would have rejoiced in this and thanked God
without cease, if we had done this with the purpose of bringing Christ's gospel to
an ignorant people in the wilderness. Truly brothers, to hear such language from
learned people is incomprehensible to us. Where, in the history of the world,
have you heard of a people that left its own fatherland, its own happiness,
sacrificing peace and property, with the sole purpose of all becoming
missionaries, and of forcing a savage people to accept civilization and a religion
which they do not desire? We are aware, and we thank God for it, that
exceptional people are often aroused to devote themselves to the cause of the
gospel, but if whole nations were to do this, they would probably fail in the
purpose for which God has called them... You ask whether the Almighty said to
our Commander-general, 'Arise and take possession of the land!' We answer that
He did not, but that the largest part of this country north of the Vaal River, as well

Waldo Kühn 63
as a large part of what is now the British colony of Natal, and the Orange Free
State was lawfully purchased by the Dutch emigrants from its previous owners –
the Kaffir tribes who lived there – and a part was acquired by rightfully waged
wars, caused by unwarranted attacks of the natives of that country. Thus we
have in our opinion acquired the lands by right and in accordance with the tenets
in God's Word...” (1)

Marthinus Wessel Pretorius (Graaff Reinet, 17/09/1819 – Potchefstroom, 19/05/1901)

M.W. Pretorius had managed to get the ZAR recognized as a state by Holland,
France, Belgium, the U.S.A. and Germany in the years of 1869 to 1871. Basically,
all the important powers, with the stark exception of Great Britain. Britain had
come to regret its conventions with the Boer republics, and was beginning to
search for routes to place diplomatic and economic pressure on the republics.
Britain refused the republics' request to share in customs duties on goods
imported to the republics via the harbors of Cape Town and Natal. Pretorius
looked to Delagoa Bay in Portuguese territory and laid claim to a strip of land that
extended the ZAR border to Delagoa Bay. Britain clamored for an international
incident, but Portugal responded to the contrary. On 29 July 1869, Portugal
concluded a “treaty of peace, friendship, trade and frontiers” with the republic. (20)
When diamonds were discovered in Griqualand, the ZAR was one of the
interested parties. Pretorius was accused of allowing the opportunity to slip out of
reach when he, acting without consulting the Volksraad, conceded to British
arbitration, and the diamond rights were subsequently lost to the ZAR. Under
criticism, Pretorius was no longer sure whether he had done the right thing, and
in his bewilderment admitted that he no longer felt confident in dealing with such

Waldo Kühn 64
matters He disappeared from public life, but made a powerful comeback after
British annexation of the Transvaal in 1877. During the period of passive
resistance he was elected chairman of the committee of Boer leaders, was a
member of the committee that negotiated with Sir Bartle Frere at Hennops River
in April 1879, and acted as chairman of the national assembly at Wonderfontein
on December 15th, 1879 during the First Anglo-Boer War. He was arrested for
treason for involvement in the national assembly, but quickly released. After
retirement from politics, he took the role of historian of the ZAR, although his
archives were largely destroyed during the Second Anglo-Boer War. He was kept
under British watch, and on a cold night in 1901 while staying with a friend, some
British troops aroused him from his sleep and interrogated him for hours outside.
The next day he fell ill and died a few days later. (20, 97)

In 1868, due to pressures of encroachment on the Basotho in the OFS, and


when it seemed imminent that the OFS would conquer it, Britain annexed
Basotoland as a protectorate on behalf of the Sotho king. Then, rich diamond
fields were discovered west of the OFS border, in Griqua territory. A British
arbitrator accepted the claims of the Griqua and the Thlaping over that of the
OFS. Losing the diamond fields turned out to be a blessing in disguise and a
turning point in the history of the OFS. It had brought to its border (onto its
doorstep so to speak) a large market without the disadvantage of having to
extend the vote to large numbers of immigrants. (2)
Jan Brand, president from 1864 -1888 handled the issue well from a diplomatic
point of view, and succeeded in getting Britain to pay £90 000 as compensation.
Brand was a gifted leader and instilled new political confidence. He spent the
money on a state bank that enhanced the state's financial autonomy, and, by the
early 1880s, had established the basic framework of a remarkably stable state.
The state was by no means rich or modern, however... [There existed little
infrastructure]. Some wool was exported, but wheat had to be imported from
Basotuland until the 1890s. Still, Brand had his priorities right. He put special
emphasis on establishing a sound legal system in order to attract trade and other
forms of business, and he stamped out corruption. (2)

In the ZAR, M.W. Pretorius, after resigning in the face of the diamond claim issue,
was succeeded by Thomas François Burgers, a former liberal DRC minister who
had been suspended by the Cape synod for heresy. He was the last thing the
religiously conservative ZAR needed at that stage. He was an idealist with grand
visions. He sponsored balls and other lavish forms of entertainment in Pretoria,
and issued bonds that the ZAR could not honor. To issue hard currency he

Waldo Kühn 65
borrowed the substantial sum of £66 000 from the Cape Commercial Bank. He
reformed the education system and called for a nationalist form of history to be
taught in schools instead of the imperialist version. He became ever unpopular
when he attempted to ban religious instruction during school hours, on the
grounds that the Bible did not belong in school, since school was a place where
science had to be taught. He proposed that church membership should no longer
be a requirement for teachers and education officials.(2) This was the last straw
for many in the ultra-conservative ZAR, and would usher in untold misery to a
large group who could stand his leadership no longer, and literally trekked into
the desert in three phases, from 1874 to 1880 (The Thirstland Trek.)
He applied for a grand loan of £300 000 from banks in Europe to build a railway
line to Delagoa Bay, but the Cape Bank, fearing ZAR default, blocked it and he
received £90 000, spending most on railway materials which ended laying rotting
in Delagoa Bay after the railway scheme had collapsed. Kruger made the cruel
but apt comment about all his ambitious schemes: 'Burgers wanted to fly, but his
wings were clipped in time. Now he has to crawl along with us.' (2)
Burgers also had attempted to get Afrikaner and English diamond diggers to
shun their ethnic identities to form a single white nation. 'We should be only one
nation, and know only one nationality – the Afrikaansche.' (2)
In 1875, F.W. Reitz became Judge President (Chief-Justice) of the OFS, and
later succeeded Jan Brand as OFS president. Some years later his son, Deneys,
wrote in No Outspan how the Thirst-land Trek had come about:
When the Transvaal republic was established in 1852 the Bapedi refused to
accept its jurisdiction, and when Secocoeni in 1875 became their paramount
chief he began to raid and harass the European settlers. Thomas Burgers was
president at the time. He owed his position to the fact that he had been a
clergyman of the Dutch Reformed Church in the Cape Colony and the Boers
thought it would be a sort of fire insurance to have as head one who stood under
Divine guidance.
On assuming office he had acquired an uneasy inheritance. The Boers of those
days were rugged unbending Calvinists and when they found that instead of the
stern sectarian they had applied for they had saddled themselves with a
President who held a broad interpretation on religious subjects, there was trouble.
He was a Freemason, he traveled on the Sabbath and he even attended dances
when any were given in Pretoria.
His conduct was regarded with such horror that a large party of Boers from the
Western Transvaal abandoned their farms and trekked away across the Kalahari
desert rather than submit to so impious a ruler.
What was still worse, Secocoeni was marauding and looting from his stronghold

Waldo Kühn 66
at Tjadi and to crown it all, the British Resident at Pretoria intimated that this
defiance was causing unrest among the Zulus in Natal and that unless he was
brought to book Her Majesty's Government would be forced to annex the
Transvaal.
Poor Thomas Burgers did not know which way to turn. He had found no favor in
the eyes of his people, his coffers were empty, discontent was rife and he had no
option but to take the field against the recalcitrant chieftain. He could raise only
eight or nine hundred men for most of the Boers refused to serve under one
whose dogma was suspect. Even Paul Kruger made it known that he would not
be answerable for an expedition led by one of the ungodly and he stayed at
home, so Burgers took command in person and he led his half-hearted army
against Secocoeni. He found him down the Steelpoort valley and ordered an
attack. The men were lukewarm and the attack failed. Other attempts were made,
but Secocoeni held his own and after eight months of desultory fighting the
campaign was abandoned.
With difficulty the President extricated his force. The enterprise had cost him dear,
for the British government carried out its threat, and using the unsuccessful issue
as an excuse, troops entered Pretoria, the Queen's sovereignty over the
Transvaal was proclaimed, and the republic for the time being ceased to exist.
Secocoeni, having defied the Boers and having helped to bring about their
downfall, now defied the British. Two punitive expeditions were sent against him
without success and it was not until 1879 that Sir Garnett Wolseley marched in
with a strong force of infantry and guns and aided by five thousand Swazi levies
he stormed Tjadi and captured Secocoeni.
Now followed the [First] Boer War of 1881. Under leadership of Paul Kruger and
Piet Joubert, the Transvalers rose in arms against Great Britain. They inflicted a
succession of reverses on the troops sent against them and after the disaster of
Amajuba, peace was made and Transvaal regained its independence. Paul
Kruger was made President. He respected Secocoeni for his courage, and
finding him still a prisoner he released and placed him at the head of the tribe
once more. (4)

Deneys Reitz once went on an expedition to Namibia to find out what had
become of the Thirstland Trek survivors: They issued a statement that they were
leaving the Transvaal because they looked on President Burgers as the anti-
Christ; he was a freemason, he had been seen at dances, and he travelled on
the Sabbath; but the real propelling power was the old unconquered fever, the
wanderlust that had started them on their fateful path so many years before.
About three hundred families shook off the dust of the Transvaal republic from

Waldo Kühn 67
their feet and in May 1874 set out on what was practically a continuation of the
Great Trek. The survivors and their descendants are still to this day trekking
somewhere in the interior of Africa. After four years of dangers and hardships
they had crossed the Kalahari desert and the intervening wastes and what was
left of them reached the Kaokoveld in desperate condition. They had lost more
than half their number from thirst and disease, and word of their awful plight
ultimately filtered down to the Cape. (4)
… As I sat cogitating on the front seat I saw smoke rising about a mile ahead and
walked tither to find out what it meant. Fortune had unexpectedly smiled on me.
Camped by a waterhole I found an old man named Van der Merwe who, with his
wife and son, were halted here with their sheep and cattle. This was a lucky
encounter without which I would never have succeeded in entering the
Kaokoveld. Van der Merwe senior had actually been a member of the Thirstland
Trek of 1874. He was a youth of fourteen at the time and he gave me an
absorbing account of the trials and dangers they had endured in the Kalahari
desert, the 'Great Thirst' (Groot Dors) as he called it. He witnessed many terrible
sights of men, women and children dying of thirst and of cattle licking the wagon
tyres because they gleamed like water. He had settled in the Koakoveld with the
other survivors and then trekked with them into Angola. (4)

They founded a settlement in Namibia, but were chased off into Angola by the
Damara and Nama peoples. They remained nomads in Angola as the
Portuguese had attempted to convert them to Catholicism and would only allow
schooling in Portuguese, though some settled down. Some returned to Namibia
but their communities were unsuccessful. In 1928 the South African government
settled the remnants of the Thirst-land trekkers in Outjo in Namibia.

In 1876 Lord Carnarvon instructed Theophilus Shepstone, Native Administrator in


Natal to annex the ZAR with all of twenty-five British troops. At that stage the
state could no longer pay its civil servants. Land pledged for public and private
debt was largely unsaleable. On April 12, 1877 Shepstone proclaimed the
Transvaal a British colony. Burgers returned to the Cape Colony, but the rest of
the executive, including Kruger, kept their seats. Most civil servants took an oath
of loyalty to the new government. Shepstone promised self-rule and the use of
Dutch as a second official language. British administrators reformed the chaotic
finances and defective administration. A separate Department of Native Affairs
introduced a uniform hut tax of ten shillings and clear pass-regulations. (2)

Waldo Kühn 68
8. THE RISE OF AFRIKAANS

Afrikaners in general, and especially in the Boer republics, were not renowned for
being a very learned people. In the Cape Colony the education system was an
English one. Attempts were made to create an English colony both in terms of
language usage and culturally. Afrikaners were not eager to learn the language,
never-mind being educated in it, but in the Cape Colony it was catching on,
mostly for pragmatic reasons. The Afrikaner-majority in the Cape electorate
meant little in terms of the colony's “representative government”; in practice the
Cape was governed by the British governor and his London-nominated executive.
Afrikaners formed only a third of the representatives in the Cape legislature. A
canvasser in 1869 found that in his area, nine in ten young Afrikaners had not
bothered to register to vote. (2)
Afrikaners generally lagged behind their English-speaking counterparts in terms
of education levels. The reason for this has much to do with the development of
the Afrikaans language. Afrikaans developed from several influences in the Cape
colony, but is still very much a Germanic language, quite close to Flemish.
Because the regions in Europe where mutual understanding with Afrikaans are
the highest tend to be areas sandwiched between Dutch and French-speaking
regions, it has been suggested that the arrival of the Huguenots played an
important part in the development of the Afrikaans language. (21)
Afrikaans was not a formal language though; for all formal and administrative
purposes Dutch was the language of use. Afrikaans was a “spoken language” but
not a “written language.” Many Afrikaners had lost the ability to write in Dutch and
reading it was difficult. At the same time they saw no point in acquiring fluency in
the Dutch language. The result was a literary dark ages for Afrikanerdom that
lasted until Afrikaans was formally recognized as Taal (language). In Transvaal
only 8 per cent of white children of school-going age were at school in 1877 and
in the OFS, 12 per cent. Paul Kruger's education was based on the Bible, and
there is reason to suspect he actually believed the earth was flat.
Another group, finding themselves in a similar situation to Afrikaners, was the
Cape Malay community. Many of the Malay political prisoners, whom Holland had
deported to the Cape, were schooled, both in terms of the Islamic religion and
literature, as well as being artisans. They spoke Afrikaans and influenced its
development in many ways. One such way was being pioneers in writing the
language. They simply translated religious and cultural treasures into their new
language.

Waldo Kühn 69
Afrikaners, often finding themselves in frontier situations, had developed some
unique characteristics. Family on the farm was the center of frontier life. Family
loyalties and obligations took precedence over other commitments. Lack of land
and fear of attacks by blacks often compelled several related families to live on
the same farm, forming an extended family. The custom developed of people
addressing each other in familial terms such as “Oom”, “Tante” (“Tannie”), “Niggie”
or “Neef” (Uncle, Aunt (Auntie), Niece or Nephew), even if not related, but the
nuclear family remained the core of frontier life.(2) Afrikaners still use “Oom” and
“Tannie” to address older people. Apart from the church there was little
institutional life outside the capitol that could foster political integration. A traveler
once wrote: 'They were a slow, quiet, well-meaning people, extremely
conservative, very sparing because they have little ready money, very suspicious
because afraid of being outwitted by English traders.' (2)
Few in numbers, frontier Afrikaners feared blacks, but not all blacks. In her
reminiscences of her youth as a young child with the Voortrekkers in Natal, the
wife of Commandant-general Piet Joubert told of the trekker community's great
fear of blacks after the massacres in Natal in 1838. For months the trekkers slept
with their shoes on because they feared a Zulu night attack. Yet she did not think
that all blacks were hostile. Almost in the same breath she mentioned a tribe who
wished to trade and wanted to work for the trekkers... The author of the principal
Afrikaans biography of Paul Kruger wrote that after his traumatic experiences as
a young boy in Natal, he 'learnt never to trust Africans.' (Kruger, D.W., Paul
Kruger, vol. 1, p.15) Yet in his own account he ventured, unannounced and
accompanied by only one burgher, into an assembly of African chiefs at a time of
hostilities on the far northern frontier. 'Without displaying the least distrust, I
dismounted in their town, and they all kept quiet. They greeted me with the words,
“When it is peace, it is peace; and when it is war, it is war”, which implied that my
arrival without escort showed them that my disposition towards them was friendly,
that I expected the same from them, and that therefore they must keep the
peace.' (Paul Kruger, The Memoirs of Paul Kruger, NY: The Century, 1902, p.115)
(2)
By the beginning of the 1830s the ideology of free trade and progress was
becoming dominant in the British Empire and in the Cape Colony as part of it.
Based on the key belief that the application of rationality and scientific
examination would free mankind from the shackles of tradition and superstition, it
was essentially a secular religion. In the Cape Colony it was the British settlers
who embraced the gospel of progress with the greatest fervor. A commitment to
free enterprise and free trade, along with proficiency in English, were considered
essential for any 'progressive' person. Once the Cape had been granted

Waldo Kühn 70
representative rule in 1853, the idea of British non-racial democracy was
presented as an essential part of this secular religion. (2)

Christoffel Brand's De Zuid-Afrikaan wrote in 1835: 'It is an error that we have


frequently opposed, to suppose that as British subjects we are compelled to
adopt a British nationality. A colonist of Dutch descent cannot become an
Englishman, nor should he strive to be a Hollander.'
John Fairbairn and Thomas Pringle's The South African Commercial Advertiser
on the other hand, called for and end to 'national distinctions and loyalties' and
for the 'cordial and complete amalgamation of the Dutch and English colonists
which is so ... essential to the interests of the well-being of both.'
In 1821, Henry Ellis, deputy colonial secretary, called for the proclamation of
English as the language of government. The next year the government
announced that over the following five years English was to be phased in as the
only language permitted in the courts and government offices. Free government
schools offered education through the medium of English alone. Afrikaner
parents, eager to have their children learn English, but resisting the displacement
of Dutch, called for schools offering bilingual education. (2)
Some well-educated colonial Afrikaners were in the process of being anglicized.
Henry Cloete claimed in 1831: 'The Cape Dutch were essentially English. Their
habits, their intermarriage, their general improvements, all exhibit and prove this
fact.' Others sought to promote Cape Afrikaner identity, and in 1832 was founded
the Maatschappy ter Uitbreiding van Beskawing en Letterkunde, an Afrikaner
cultural organization, which began preparing a history of the settlement. Cape
professionals who were not willing to accept a denigration of their cultural
standing and history included lawyers like Christoffel Brand, D.F. Berrangé,
Daniël Denyssen, J.H. Neethling and Johannes de Wet, the Reverends Van
Oosterzee and Van der Lingen, and the surveyor W.F. Hertzog. (2)

Lord Charles Somerset called on the Cape clergy, half of whom were Scots,
though able to speak Dutch, to use English in the church since proficiency in
English would benefit the youth who had hopes on employment in the
government and administration. The DRC found any pressure to anglicise
unacceptable. In 1824 Chief-Justice J.A. Truter had warned the government to
exercise caution. Only when all were proficient in English could the step be taken
'without any humiliating feeling.' The synod refused a request by the Scottish
clergy to offer some of their services in English. Christoffel Brand's De Zuid-
Afrikaan wrote in 1834: 'Members of the Synod consult ancient history to
persuade yourselves that to change the language of your religion you would be

Waldo Kühn 71
taking the first step to betray your belief and religion.' (a reference to the
experiences of the Israelites in Babylon.)
During the 1830s and 1840s the Rev. G.W.A. Van der Lingen of the Paarl DRC-
parish almost single-handedly held the fort against the British gospel of progress
and anglicization. He was widely read with a huge collection of books – a quarter
of the books held by the South African library at the time (as well as a collection
of some thirty thousand high-quality cigars.) (2)

Gottlieb Wilhelm Anthonie van der Lingen


(“A true Afrikaner”, A.W.J. Pretorius called him.)

Van der Lingen was everything the stereotype-conservative calls for: He believed
secularization had destroyed the glory of the seventeenth century Dutch Empire,
which no British achievement could hope to rival. He considered European
civilization as superior to the ‘savagery’ of Africans. He was strongly outspoken
against liberal theologians and he considered the major external dangers, the
democratic spirit, marked by the revolutions that flared up in Europe in 1848 (22),
and materialistic British imperialism. During the 1860s, he and his Paarl followers
launched a campaign against trains running on Sundays. The campaign was
almost successful, but he overplayed his hand, arguing for a complete boycott of
trains until the unequivocal subjugation of the colony to the value system of the
Reformed faith. The struggle of Van der Lingen and his Paarl conservative
followers against progress had now become an object of derision. (2)

In 1865 English became the only medium for instruction in government schools.
At least 70 per cent of Afrikaners in the Cape Colony during the 1860s could not
understand English. The few top schools attended by children of the white elite

Waldo Kühn 72
became bastions of English cultural influence – Diocesan College (1849, Cape
Town), St Andrews (1856, Grahamstown), Grey Institute (1856, Port Elizabeth)
and Stellenbosch Gymnasium (1866), but even in small towns English and
Scottish teachers attempted to enforce English medium. Afrikaner children were
fined for speaking Dutch and taught to act in the way of British ladies and
gentlemen. Van der Lingen, at considerable personal expense, established the
Paarl Gymnasium in 1857 as a Dutch-medium private school under church
control. It was the only school in the Cape Colony that stood unequivocally for
Cape Dutch culture and language, and for the Reformed religion. It was a
harbinger of what later would be called Christian-National education. (2)

M.E. Rothman wrote of British domination in her hometown of Swellendam: 'Of


all the groups of people the following were English or Scottish: all the
shopkeepers except two... the most senior shop assistants, the magistrate, the
doctor, the postmaster, the attorneys, all the teachers except a few assistants,
later also the bank manager and his clerks and the few policemen... Barry and
Nephews controlled the biggest commercial concern in the town and district. The
Anglican and Wesleyan ministers were English, and the Dutch Reformed minister,
in the person of Dr Robertson, was also British.' She noted with resentment how
the English-speaking Victorians would use social etiquette and other ways to
demonstrate their superiority as a nation and as a class. To them, rural Afrikaners
were ignorant, superstitious and conservative. They were hospitable, but
notorious for their heavy use of coffee and brandy and the men's incessant
chewing of tobacco, and their refusal to 'improve' themselves. The English writer
Olive Schreiner (sister of Cape PM William Schreiner), upon reflecting on her
early years spent living among Afrikaners in the Karoo, wrote how as a girl she
thought it was 'not quite just of God to make us so much better than all the other
nations.' She remembered how it would have been absolutely impossible for her
to eat sugar that had been touched by a Boer child or to sleep between sheets a
Dutchman had slept between. (2)

The Cape Argus newspaper expressed a militant cultural imperialism and had no
sympathy for those who bemoaned the loss of Dutch in the colony. It called
Afrikaans 'a miserable bastard jargon' not worthy of being called a language.
Christoffel Brand's De Zuid-Afrikaan conceded that the Dutch nationality in the
colony was bound to disappear completely, but looked towards the possibility of a
composite 'nationality' from the fusion of the two white groups, rather than having
the English nationality absorb the Dutch one. In this sense, De Zuid-Afrikaan
sometimes used the term “Afrikaner” in a way that sought to include white

Waldo Kühn 73
English-speaking countrymen. The paper committed itself to resist the eclipse of
the Dutch heritage and denounced those who in order to present themselves as
'civilized' abandon their 'ancestral language, morals, outlook; their own nationality
and eventually also, their own religion.' (2)

As a student of theology in the Netherlands, Van der Lingen had been shocked
by the state of the Christian religion, largely brought about by a liberal theology
that set great store on rationality and advocated the critical questioning of the
Bible, particularly the orthodoxy on original sin and the biblical miracles. Equally
horrified by the predominance of liberal theology in the Netherlands were Andrew
and John Murray (the sons of Andrew, senior), N.J. Hofmeyr, the leading
proponent of missionary work and J.H. Neethling. In a key speech at the 1857
synod, N.J. Hofmeyr pleaded for a local seminary to keep young candidates from
the Cape from the 'pernicious sphere of influence' of theological schools in the
Netherlands which denied the divine nature of Christ and the Holy Spirit.
Dr A.N.E. Changuion who had founded an institute for the promotion of liberal
theology in Cape Town, and regularly shared his liberal views in De Zuid-Afrikaan,
predictably campaigned against a local seminary. He wrote of the danger that it
would turn out 'reactionary theologians, semi-enlightened people and semi-
civilized members of society.' (2)
The support for a local seminary was overwhelming though. At its inauguration in
1859, the synodal moderator P.E. Faure made it clear that it would be expected
to teach the 'true Reformed, Christian religion.' Two members of the orthodox
party, John Murray and N.J. Hofmeyr, became the first professors. Van der
Lingen was offered a chair, but he withdrew after his proposal that the seminary
be sited in the conservative heartland of Paarl was turned down in favor of
Stellenbosch, which offered the imposing Drostdy building as a campus. His
proposal that the professors be obliged to speak Dutch, both in class and at
home, was narrowly defeated, but the synod decided that a proper study of the
Dutch language and culture would be an essential part of the syllabus. An
outraged Argus reacted: 'It was intended only to foster by such means a spirit of
spurious nationality, calculated to produce the most mischievous results in the
minds of unthinking persons who may be weak enough to be led away by such a
delusion.' (2)
The establishment of the theological seminary in Stellenbosch led to Stellenbosh
becoming home to a complex of Afrikaans academic institutions: The Rhenish
Girls' School (1860), Paul Roos Gymnasium (1866), Bloemhof Girls' School
(1875). Stellenbosch College (Victoria College) became Stellenbosch University.

Waldo Kühn 74
Theological seminary of the Dutch Reformed Church (23)

There is no evidence that the liberals in the church were more tolerant than the
conservatives on racial matters. Both groups accepted or accommodated
themselves to the de facto racial division, but did not turn it into a principle. The
Volksvriend, founded to express the conservative view, declared in 1865 that
there was no reason to deny the son of any black man access to any educational
institution if the father could pay his son's way. (Jan H. Hofmeyr Autobiography,
Cape Town, 1913, pp 85-91) Since few could do so, this was not much more than
a refusal to make an issue out of race or color. (2)

The liberals considered the battle far from over though. They now turned to the
courts to establish a foothold in the Reformed Church. Their first attack was to
cry foul that Reformed churches in the Boer republics were included in the
membership of the Cape synod. Those members were largely staunchly orthodox.
The Supreme Court ruled that the representatives from parishes outside the
colony's borders had to be excluded from the Cape synod. This greatly
strengthened the liberals' position in the Cape synod. The second prong of the
attack was against the “guardians” inside the churches. Reformed church
councils tended to have an oligarchical structure. Although it was already an
established Reformed Church principle that lay members had a say in the
election of church councils, liberals clamored for free elections for church
councils and a liberal church member sought government intervention. The
government refused to intervene. In 1864 the synod suspended two liberal
ministers for heresy, J.J. Kotzé and Thomas François Burgers (the later
disastrous ZAR president.) They appealed to the courts and their cases were
referred to the Privy Council in London, which ruled in their favor. They were
reinstated in the synod membership. The liberals were not yet finished. Their next
target was state subsidies for churches while the state had little control in the
affairs of the churches. Thomas Burgers wrote an open letter to Andrew Murray

Waldo Kühn 75
that there was never 'a more anomalous claim than this demand for state support
but without state control... You want to serve one Lord, but receive wages from
two.' The church in the end lost its government grant, not due to the efforts of the
liberals, but Saul Solomon, a Congregationalist who successfully fought church
grants in Parliament. Solomon came from a Jewish family and was a member of
the Congregational Church; greatly influenced by Rev. Dr John Philip. His main
issue (he was a very outspoken MP) with state aid to churches, was that it
discriminated against other religions. (In 1849 he subscribed to a fund to
establish the first synagogue in the Cape and in 1856, helped to bring from
England, Rabbi Joel Rabinowitz.) (24, 25)
The future of the DRC would henceforth rest with the number of Afrikaner
members who could make a contribution to its coffers.

The liberal theologians advanced their ideas through Onderzoeker (“Investigator”)


a monthly theological journal, and a widely read newspaper, De Volksblad. De
Zuid-Afrikaan tried to uphold a neutral stance but tended to veer towards the
liberal side.
Hofmeyr and fellow conservatives established De Volksvriend, as a 'religious and
social paper' but it was deadly dull (2). It seemed headed for failure when Prof
N.J. Hofmeyr, at the end of 1862 appointed a nephew, Jan Hendrik Hofmeyr,
then only seventeen years old, as editor. He turned the journal around, created a
lively and lucid style, improved news coverage, championed the orthodox issue
and raised issues like Dutch culture and nationality.(2) He took over De Zuid-
Afrikaan in 1871 and became a leading Afrikaner-figure.

Andrew Murray personified a pronounced evangelical movement in the Cape


Colony. Traditionally the Calvinist doctrine emphasized the sovereignty of God
who intervened in all matters, and a covenant theology which included the
practice of infant baptism. Emphasis on rituals (baptism, confirmation and
Communion) seemed to affirm membership of an ethnic rather than a
confessional group. Evangelicalism stressed, in addition to orthodoxy, also a 'vital
religion of the heart', central elements of which were conversion, divine
atonement and the winning of souls for the Kingdom of God. (2)
The 1860s saw the Great Revival sweeping the Western Cape, led by DRC
Reverend Andrew Murray, son of the Scottish-born minister. On some occasions
the revival was accompanied by extreme emotional outpourings, sometimes
bordering on hysteria, which many mature Evangelical and Charismatic churches
are still cautious about. In the town of Worcester for instance, some ex-slave
women gave expression to outbursts of great emotion. Murray tried to restrain

Waldo Kühn 76
them by saying, 'God is a God of order, but this is disorder', but he later
supported it as a positive development. In Paarl, even Van der Lingen fell down
in a trance during celebration of Pentecost.
The fervor generated a newfound enthusiasm for missionary work, which in the
Western Cape would soon give rise to efforts to make the Bible available in a
language that was simpler than Dutch, which many Afrikaans-speakers struggled
to fully comprehend. This would be the initial impetus behind the first Afrikaans
language movement.

Afrikaners were slowly starting to organize on the ground. During the 1869
election campaign it was reported: 'On the hustings and at some of the meetings
men of position and ability stated amid the applause of their hearers that they or
their candidates were Afrikanders.' (McCracken, The Cape Parliament, p.109)(2)
Afrikaner farmers formed boereverenigings (farmers' societies) to push for
protection of colonial products and to promote farming interests. English-
speaking farmers tended to form their own associations.
Afrikaner farmers were experiencing many of the pangs of a newly introduced
free market economy. All vestiges of protection of Cape wines had been removed
from the London market. Cape wines had to compete on equal terms with
countries like France. As a result, Cape wine exports fell more than 80 per cent
between 1863 and 1875. In 1860, the Supreme Court raised the historic ceiling of
6% interest on mortgages and financial transactions. Farmers increasingly found
themselves in vassalage to profit-driven banks exporting dividends to London,
while numerous local banks, many based on Afrikaner capital had failed. Most
prominent among the new 'Imperial banks' based in London, now dealing directly
with farmers, was Standard Bank, which rapidly increased its footprint in the
colony. In times of recession, Imperial banks called up their credit, causing a
chain reaction that bankrupted many farmers. Strong resentment developed
against the 'Imperial banks'. Until the 1870s, the interests of Afrikaner wine and
wheat farmers and those of merchants (either British or European Jews), largely
converged, with the merchants marketing the farmers' products both locally and
abroad. Relations soured when the merchants started to import increasing
quantities of wine, spirits and wheat. Farmers began to wish for local protection
like import tariffs. No one seemed to have their interests in mind. Since the
opening up of the diamond fields the colony had undergone dramatic economic
growth and broadening. (2)

Gordon Sprigg became prime minister of the Cape Colony in February 1878. An
avowed imperialist who championed 'British supremacy in Africa',(2) Sprigg

Waldo Kühn 77
formed a cabinet with not a single Afrikaner or western Cape politician. To cover
the cost of new railways and colonial intervention in a war between Xhosa
factions, the Sprigg cabinet decided to impose a tax on brandy producers; almost
all western Cape farmers. Ignoring their protests, Sprigg steamrollered the bill
through Parliament. Jan Hofmeyr of De Zuid-Afrikaan recommended
parliamentary action and formed the Zuid-afrikaansche Boeren Beskermings
Vereeniging (BBV) to oppose the excise law. The BBV was reasonably
successful and Hofmeyr (“Onze Jan”) won the important Stellenbosch
parliamentary seat in 1879, where-after members' enthusiasm waned. (2)

Stephanus Jacobus du Toit, called 'SJ', attended the Paarl Gymnasium, the
Dutch-medium school founded by Van der Lingen. Du Toit was an admirer of
Abraham Kuyper, the Dutch neo-Calvinist thinker whom he had met on an 1880
visit to the Netherlands. Du Toit studied at the theological seminary at
Stellenbosch and became involved in the leadership struggle that followed after
Van der Lingen's death. Du Toit's conservative supporters were pitted against a
faction that wanted away with Van der Lingen's legacy and with Dutch-medium
private Paarl Gymnasium. Du Toit formed his own conservative Northern Paarl
DRC parish. Its members included an extraordinary number of poor people,
mostly “coloreds”. Against this humble backdrop SJ Du Toit would become the
driving force behind the first Afrikaans language movement that spanned the
years 1875–1890. (2)

Johannes Brill, a Dutch educationist in Bloemfontein noted that the ‘Zuid-


Afrikaansche taal [Afrikaans]' was 'the unofficial language that was not written but
spoken from Cape Town to deep in the interior of South Africa.' A German
traveler wrote of an “abbreviated forcible Dutch” spoken by the children of
German immigrants. In the 1860s and 1870s Afrikaans appeared in newspapers
often in poems (ditties) with the intention of achieving a humorous effect. The first
serious editorial in Afrikaans was by Louis Henri Meurant in Het Cradocksche
Nieuwsblad, about cessation of the eastern Cape from the western Cape.
Meurant knew that many eastern Cape farmers understood Afrikaans better than
Dutch. Some status-conscious Afrikaners in towns and cities, seeking to win
acceptance in a society dominated by English-speakers, were embarrassed by
Afrikaans. According to J.H.H. De Waal, they disdained it as an impoverished
dialect, degenerate Dutch, an incomprehensible Creole tongue, a 'Hotnotstaal'
(Hotnot is a derogatory term derived from Hottentot) without any future. Other,
more reasonable Afrikaners like Chief Justice Lord John Henry de Villiers, felt
that Afrikaans was too poor in vocabulary and structure, primitive in accuracy of

Waldo Kühn 78
meaning and incapable of expressing ideas connected with higher spheres of
thought. De Villiers felt Afrikaners' energies would be better spent embracing the
richness of the English language.(2) In the early 1870s Dutch-immigrant Arnoldus
Pannevis proposed in De Zuid-Afrikaan that the Bible be translated and printed in
Afrikaans, primarily for the sake of the great mass of illiterate or semi-literate
“colored” people. Another Dutch immigrant, Casper Peter Hoogenhout, argued
an Afrikaans Bible would also help many whites 'who did not half understand
Dutch.' De Kerkbode, voice of the DRC, noted such proposals but argued the
solution was better education to make children proficient in Dutch.
In 1874 S.J. Du Toit entered the debate in De Zuid-Afrikaan under the name
'Ware [True] Afrikaander', and took the debate to a new level of sophistication. A
mother tongue, he said, was a person's most precious possession. 'The
language of a nation expresses the character of that nation. Deprive a nation of
the vehicle of its thoughts and you deprive it of the wisdom of its forefathers.' He
deplored the great damage done to Afrikaner colonists by the policy of English as
the sole official language. In an obvious dig at Andrew Murray and his allies, he
criticized the DRC hierarchy for allowing 'unnecessary' English sermons and for
promoting English in the schools it had founded. He refuted the argument that
Afrikaans could not be considered a proper language since it supposedly lacked
a grammatical structure and was composed of different linguistic elements. He
also denied that Afrikaans was the language of the colored people; instead, the
'Hottentots had abandoned their language and had adopted ours.' Afrikaans was
a white man's tongue, 'a pure Germanic language', one of purity, simplicity,
brevity and vigor. Afrikaners must be taught that Afrikaans was their mother
tongue, and that their duty was to develop Afrikaans as a [national language],
along with Dutch. In a subsequent exchange of letters in De Zuid-Afrikaan, Du
Toit formulated one of the main spelling rules of the language: 'We write as we
speak.' (2)
Arnoldus Pannevis continued to push for an Afrikaans translation of the Bible. In
a letter to the British and Foreign Bible Society, he suggested SJ Du Toit as
translator. He noted in his letter that the English and Dutch Bible were
incomprehensible to many in the Cape Colony. An official of the Society
subsequently contacted Du Toit. Du Toit called together a task group for this
purpose. They met at the house of Gideon Malherbe, the son-in-law of Van der
Lingen. The group founded an organization called the GRA (Genootskap van
Regte Afrikaners; Society of True Afrikaners.) Six of the eight founders were
members of Du Toit's Northern Paarl congregation. They concluded that the time
was not ripe for a Bible translation and informed Rev. Morgan of the Society.
They agreed though, on an urgent need to persuade Afrikaans-speaking white

Waldo Kühn 79
people of the importance of Afrikaans in their national life and to see themselves
as a distinct community, called Afrikaners. The GRA launched the first Afrikaans
newspaper, Die Afrikaanse Patriot, its first issue appearing on 15 January 1876,
under the editorial alias “Oom Lokomotief”. Circulation began at fifty copies and
stood at 3 700 in the early 1880s, surpassing De Zuid-Afrikaan. SJ Du Toit, it
seems, had turned the original agenda of a Bible that simple white and mixed-
race people could read, into a movement that promoted Afrikaner nationality. It
would appear that he had dishonored the original agreement with Arnoldus
Pannevis, and misused a religious need for advancement of a nationalist agenda.
Nonetheless, Pannevis supported what he was doing. In fact, Pannevis wrote
that it was not sufficient to write and read 'Hottentot Afrikaans'; the time had come
to discover how the 'civilized part of our people' speaks Afrikaans, and having
established that, to formulate rules for the language. He was referring to the
dialect spoken by Afrikaners in the western and eastern Cape as opposed to the
“Hottentots Hollands” dialect. His letter was probably part of a game-plan to
address certain perceptions of Afrikaans as an unsophisticated and uncultured
language. Clearly the Afrikaans Bible remained on the horizon as a primary
motive. But who would sponsor a translation of the Bible in a lingo that its own
speakers had not yet properly established? Bible translation was after all an
exact science; it was a meticulous process that would take years to accomplish,
and publication would require serious financial commitment from sponsors who
demanded a thoroughly professional end-product. Du Toit was open about his
nationalist passion from the start, and Pannevis was well aware of this when he
suggested Du Toit for the Bible project. Du Toit kept to his word, although it was
his son, the famous poet, Totius, who would complete the enormous task of an
Afrikaans translation of the Bible. To cultivate a feeling of nationality, Du Toit tried
to counter the great emphasis on British history in schools. In 1877, with Du Toit
as the main author, a nationalist history in Afrikaans, called, Die Geskiedenis van
ons Land in die Taal van ons Volk (The History of our Land in the Language of
our People) which sketched the history of the colonial Afrikaners in heroic terms:
'They were oppressed throughout their history, it said, but nevertheless they
remained true to their Christian faith and lived honorable lives. It called the
executed Slagtersnek rebels (p.20) martyrs, and painted the role of the British
government and 'the English' invariably in a negative light. Other publications of
the GRA included Eerste Beginsels van die Afrikaanse Taal (First Principles of
the Afrikaans Language), an anthology of Afrikaans poetry and a picture book for
children.

Waldo Kühn 80
Stephanus Jacobus (“SJ”) du Toit (1847-1911)

Du Toit also felt very strongly about Christian-National education, which was
strongly propagated by neo-Calvinists like Abraham Kuyper in the Netherlands.
Du Toit took up the issue in an 1876 pamphlet, in which he protested against the
colony's education system which after 1865 was almost completely secular. He
believed that parents had the right to insist that their children receive religious
instruction and be taught national history of which they themselves approved. (2)

Jan Hofmeyr, editor of De Zuid-Afrikaan, had aided Die Afrikaanse Patriot in its
start-up phase, arranging for publication of the first issues and printing Du Toit's
version of Afrikaner history, but wrote in 1876 that 'the men of Patriot were
waging a hopeless battle.' De Zuid-Afrikaan, representing the upper-class
Afrikaner, still felt Du Toit was on Van der Lingen's anti-progress path leading
nowhere.
In the Boer republics Patriot was a hit. The Free State newspaper, The Friend,
wrote of Patriot: “It is not only the lowly bywoners [poor Afrikaners living in
workers' quarters on farms] who read it, but also the civilized people among us.”
When Theophilus Shepstone annexed the ZAR in 1877, interest in the paper
quickened among Afrikaners, most of whom rejected the annexation. (2)
SJ Du Toit now began to stoke up anti-Imperialist sentiment. In 1880, in the face
of the annexation of the ZAR, Patriot pushed for active resistance. Some
Transvaal leaders would later claim this had been a decisive spur for them to
take up arms. An unimpressed Cape synod called for condemnation of the paper.
Du Toit had begun to wage his own nationalist war, criticizing the church for
encouraging submission to the colonial and imperial government, English in

Waldo Kühn 81
schools and the new emphasis on revivalism. When the Cape synod formally
denounced Patriot, its sales only increased. Then, the ZAR-revolt achieved a
series of military victories over British forces, culminating in a decisive victory at
Majuba on 27 February 1881. Cape Afrikaners now united in solidarity with their
brothers in arms in the Transvaal; the revolt became a struggle that affected
everyone 'with a true Afrikaans spirit.' Jan Hofmeyr of De Zuid-Afrikaan said the
struggle filled Cape Afrikaners, 'otherwise groveling in the mud of materialism,
with a national glow of sympathy for their brothers in the Transvaal.' (2)
Jan Hofmeyr supported Dutch culture, but also supported capitalism, a system
largely supported by English-speakers. SJ Du Toit showed signs of both
nationalist and populist (protesting against the concentration of capital (2))
responses to modernity. In an editorial on 20 June 1879, Du Toit proposed the
formation of a public organization, an Afrikaner Bond with the slogan 'Afrika voor
de Afrikaners'. He explained the aim of the organization was to stand for more
than 'Afrikaners with Afrikaans hearts' as the GRA had done. It would be an
organization in which 'any Afrikaner can feel at home and work together for the
good of a united South Africa', a body in which 'no nationality divides us from
each other, but in which everyone who recognizes Africa as his Fatherland can
live together and work as brothers of a single house, be they of English, Dutch,
French or German origin.' It would be the aim of the Bond to withstand 'the
sacrifice of Africa's interests to England and those of the Farmer to the
Merchant.' Trade and industry had to be developed to benefit the land, 'not to fill
the pockets of speculators' and the money 'must not be dominated by English
banks.' The editorial also demanded equal recognition for Dutch as public
language and protested the large sums spent on education for English-speakers.
(2)
SJ Du Toit's Patriot targeted Standard Bank, which repatriated a large part of its
dividend to its London office, accusing it of conspiring to bring about the collapse
of numerous small banks. It called Standard Bank a 'gigantic devil fish', and
called for amalgamation of the local banks and eviction of Standard Bank, as was
done in the Free State in the mid-1860s. The paper also suggested that Afrikaner
boerewinkels (co-operative stores) be founded in every town and called it a duty
of 'every true Afrikaner not to spend a copper at an Englishman's shop if he can
avoid it.' Jan Hofmeyr on the other hand wanted an organization that would unite
Afrikaner and English farmers, and would benefit both the farmers and the
merchants. He was keen to attract well-educated Afrikaners; at the same time
Hofmeyr was careful not to alienate the church or English population. (2)
Hofmeyr cared about the culture of the colonial Afrikaners but did not want to
elevate it to a divisive issue. He identified with the Afrikaners in the Boer

Waldo Kühn 82
republics and would on occasion stress that 'blood was thicker than water', but
he also wanted the colonial Afrikaners to be loyal to the Empire and the Colony,
though at the same time, he saw no need to glorify the Empire. He defined the
commitment of colonial Afrikaners to the Empire in purely pragmatic and material
terms. Cape Afrikaners were 'as loyal British subjects as any other people' but
were not prepared to become Englishmen. (2)

SJ Du Toit was becoming increasingly radical, pushing the anti-liberal, neo-


Calvinist line of Abraham Kuyper. In February 1882 Du Toit left the Cape to
become head of the education department of the ZAR. Du Toit declared that the
Afrikaner Bond had found its roots on Majuba. The Boer had become “self-
aware.” (28)

At a Bond congress held in Cradock, Jan Hofmeyr who had become a member of
the Bond, told the audience a united South Africa would only come about after a
'sane feeling of nationality had developed.' The two white groups did not require
a common language to bind them in such a nationality, but mutual respect
between the two groups and their ability to act as a cohesive force.
After a congress in Richmond, the Bond of SJ Du Toit amalgamated with
Hofmeyr's BBV. Jan Hofmeyr managed to become head of the Bond, and would
henceforth define the Afrikaner Bond. Hofmeyr's inclusive Afrikaner-definition
now became the “Afrikaner” in the constitution of the Bond: 'The Bond knows no
nationality at all except that of the Afrikaners and regard as belonging thereto
anyone, of whatever origin, who strives for the welfare of South Africa.' Hofmeyr
envisaged a new composite nationality that recognized each-other’s language,
culture, education and religion. Unlike the secretive GRA, the Afrikaner Bond was
an open political party. Colored votes were welcomed but political membership
not encouraged.
In 1882 Hofmeyr won the right for Dutch to be used in Parliament; in 1883
knowledge of Dutch became compulsory for some civil servants and became a
compulsory subject for civil service applicants in 1887. It was also permitted in
the higher courts since 1884. In his parliamentary career Jan Hofmeyr,
affectionately known as “Onze Jan”, fought for the wine and wheat farmers and
the financial and legal professionals in towns. His agenda included protective
tariffs, attracting foreign investment for the sake of infrastructure development,
opening markets for Cape wine and brandy, control over labor and higher
franchise qualifications. He supported secular education but did not oppose
Christian-National education; instead convincing Parliament to introduce
legislation that left the decision over religious instruction to the discretion of the

Waldo Kühn 83
school committees.(2) The Afrikaner Bond in the second half of the 1880s held
half the seats in the Cape Parliament, but Hofmeyr would not form a government
and refused to become Prime Minister, for fear that holding office would cause
divisions in his own camp and upset English-speakers. In 1887 the Afrikaner
Bond still expressed their undivided loyalty in an address to Queen Victoria.

In the ZAR, SJ Du Toit was behaving in a pattern contrary to his character. It


seems likely that he had been trapped into investing in a dud gold-speculation
venture. He went bankrupt as a result. It would not be the first time an elaborate
plot had been arranged against him. (29)
As Paul Kruger's representative dealing with land disputes, he rashly annexed
disputed territory to the ZAR, causing great embarrassment for the republic. He
also failed the ZAR in his post as superintendent of education. His
disillusionment with Afrikaner nationalism grew as his relationship with President
Kruger cooled. He returned to the Cape in 1890 embroiled in personal feuds and
nourishing a bitter resentment of Kruger.(2) Out of the blue he favored unification
of the states in South Africa under British protection and became loyal to Arch-
imperialist Cecil John Rhodes. It is likely that he was receiving financial
assistance from Rhodes. (2)
As a result his relationship broke down with his brother D.F. Du Toit and C.P.
Hoogenhout, co-founders of the GRA and Patriot.
By the 1890s Oom Lokomotief was running low on steam. The novelty of the
Afrikaans Patriot was wearing off, in part because it printed everything the public
sent in and its content was becoming repetitious, and the ultra-phonetic spelling
they used emphasized the Western Cape dialect of the movement's founders. Du
Toit's fundamentalist approach did not help, nor did the secret meetings of the
GRA. (Membership was secret and members signed an oath to keep till death,
the secrets of the GRA.) The major reason however, for the demise of the
movement, was Du Toit's association with the betrayers of the ZAR. (29)
Jan Hofmeyr irrevocably broke with SJ du Toit after the Jameson raid. (2)
Hofmeyr supported the establishment in 1890 of the Zuid-afrikaanse Taalbond
(ZA Language Society) which committed itself to promoting the volkstaal and
awakening of a developed feeling of nationality. With 48 votes to 37, the
Taalbond opted for High Dutch rather than Afrikaans as volkstaal. It hoped to
revitalize Dutch by simplifying its spelling. But Dutch was dying in South Africa
with fewer people able to speak it. Paul Kruger, in a visit to Rotterdam in 1884,
switched over during a speech from using his broken Dutch to Afrikaans. A Dutch
report noted the difference: in his own language the speech was 'lively, glowing
and spirited.'

Waldo Kühn 84
By the end of the nineteenth century the future of Afrikaans did not look
promising. English politicians like Cape Prime Minister Cecil John Rhodes lauded
loyal Cape Afrikaners, who loved to display their proficiency in English. Many
young Cape Afrikaners considered it progressive to speak English; informal
correspondence, even between lovers, was in English and it was fashionable to
give children, especially daughters, English names.
Jan Hofmeyr's Afrikaner Bond had a working relationship with Rhodes before a
sheep farmers’ revolt over disease control methods, and the Jameson Raid,
wrecked it, and SJ du Toit was more-or-less sorted. Even Paarl Gymnasium felt
compelled to accept government support, forfeiting its status as private Dutch-
medium non-secular school.

The British had given up attempting to murder Dutch as a language and were
willing to allow the Afrikaners to commit the foul deed themselves. Nor were they
disappointed. Considering English the symbol and measure of success, a
growing number of the Afrikaner elite used English, even in the privacy of their
homes. It was with some despair that Hofmeyr in 1890 cried: 'Do not ask for
rights in Parliament and school which you do not wish to have in your home. The
language question is a matter of life and death. Despise your language and you
despise your nationality.' (2)

Waldo Kühn 85
9. THE FIRST WAR FOR INDEPENDENCE (1880-1881)

In 1867 diamonds were discovered in the Northern Cape, in West-Griqualand, on


the western borders of the Transvaal and Free State. Overnight, speculators
flocked to the region from all over the world. The town of Kimberly was founded
and it boasted a population of 50 000 within five years. British imperialists
became interested, and in the 1870s Britain annexed West-Griqualand.

In 1875, British Colonial Secretary, Lord Carnarvon, approached the OFS and
ZAR about the possibility of a federation with the Cape and Natal colonies to be
modeled after the 1867 federation of the English- and French-speaking provinces
in Canada. The Boers turned down the request, not trusting British intentions. In
1877 Theophilus Shepstone annexed the ZAR. (p.76) Paul Kruger went to
London twice as a member of a three-man delegation to persuade the British
government to permit a referendum on Shepstone's claim that the majority in the
Transvaal favored annexation.
In 1877 Sir Bartle Frere was sent to the Cape Colony as governor and high
commissioner, with instructions to unite the two colonies, the two Boer republics
and native states in South Africa into a Confederation.(31) He agreed with
Shepstone's arguments that the strong Zulu army Cetshwayo had been building
up, and his alliances with other tribes, were a threat to general security.
Shepstone was previously Native Affairs Secretary in Natal and the Zulus had
him nervous for some time. Gold and diamond speculators were increasingly
flocking to the Transvaal following some initial discoveries there. They were
frequently being raided by Pedi tribesmen and petitioned Shepstone for British
protection. In December 1878, Frere presented Cetshwayo with an ultimatum to
disband the Zulu army and to accept a British resident. Cetshwayo did not want
to lose his throne and played for time. On January 11th, 1879 the British army
under Lieutenant-General Lord Chelmsford invaded Zululand with 7 000 regular
troops, 7 000 black 'levees' and 1000 white volunteers from the colonies. (7)
On the morning of January 22nd, 1879, scouts from one of the three columns
almost ran into a Zulu army of 20 000 impis. They charged back to the column to
warn them. The Zulu attackers were on their way. Most of the black 'levees' fled
back to Natal when they saw the masses of oncoming Zulu, leaving the column
with about one thousand soldiers of the 24th Regiment of Foot, and some Natal
Carbineers. At the Battle of Isandlwana that ensued, the column was wiped out,
the British losing 1 600 men. A second Zulu attack at the military outpost at

Waldo Kühn 86
Rorke's Drift was fought off. By July 1879 the British had taken the Zulu capitol
Ulundi. Sir Garnett Wolseley also defeated the Pedi in 1879. (see p. 67.)

The new Liberal government in England under W.E. Gladstone refused to


reinstate the independence of the Transvaal. A movement of burgers, supported
by De Volksstem under editor J.F. Celliers, declared that they would only pay
taxes to their own legitimate government. Sir Owen Lanyon had J.F. Celliers
arrested and sent troops to arrest Cmmdt. Piet Cronje and Pieter Bezuidenhout
who were at the forefront of the anti-tax movement. On December 13th, 1880 at a
meeting at Paardekraal, a resolution was adopted by the Boer-leadership to
restore the independence of the ZAR under the triumvirate of Paul Kruger, Piet
Joubert and M.W. Pretorius. In Potchefstroom British troops opened fire on a
group of armed burgers under Piet Cronje, who were attempting to print a
proclamation announcing the restoration of the republic. Major-General Sir
George Pomeroy Colley, newly arrived governor for the eastern part of South
Africa, was taken by surprise when Transvaal Administrator, Sir Owen Lanyon
requested reinforcements. British garrisons were besieged at Potchefstroom,
Pretoria, Lydenburg, Rustenburg and Marabastad and reinforcements were
forced to dig in at Standerton. On December 20th, the 94th Irish Regiment under
Colonel Anstruther was “ambushed” (attacked, after they refused an ultimatum to
not proceed) with heavy casualties at Bronkhorstspruit, by the commando of
Commandant Franc Joubert. Meanwhile, General Piet Joubert occupied Laing's
Neck, the passage between Transvaal and Natal, and Paul Kruger set up a
temporary capitol at Heidelberg. The Boers were excellent marksmen, used to
firing from cover due to their dependance on hunting. Most were armed with
single-shot breech loading rifles like the Martini Henry.

General George Pomeroy Colley led a force of 1 200 soldiers of the 58th
Regiment, 3rd Batallion, the 60th Rifles, the Mounted Squadron, a party of Navy
sailors and four artillery pieces against Piet Joubert's 2 000 entrenched Boers at
Laing's Neck. The foot soldiers of the 58th Regiment advanced with difficulty over
the broken terrain and saw heavy casualties inflicted by Boer snipers; the cavalry
charged a hill, only to be picked off by Boer snipers entrenched on an opposing
slope. Boers moved to intercept the remainder of the 58th advancing up Table
Mountain. Their retreat was covered by two companies of the 60th Rifles. The
Boers also attacked the Naval Brigade near Mount Prospect but were kept back
by heavy return fire. The British lost 84 killed, including some high ranking
officers, 113 wounded and two captured. Boer losses were 14 killed and 27
wounded. At the Ingogo River-crossing, Boer forces attacked a British mail

Waldo Kühn 87
convoy, a major line of communication, with losses of 139 British troops and
officers. Paul Kruger sued for peace, but Colley attempting to outflank the Boers,
ascended Majuba Hill during a night march with 360 men, probably with the
intention of scoring a victory that would allow Britain to negotiate from a position
of strength. They were spotted by the Boers who immediately started scaling the
hill on two sides, making maximum use of natural cover afforded by the terrain.
Colley was hit above the left eye by a sniper and felled with his revolver still
clutched in his hand, leading some to believe he had committed suicide. British
losses on Majuba were 100 killed, 134 wounded and 60 prisoners. The Boers
suffered only three dead and five wounded.
The sieges of the British garrisons throughout the Transvaal generally saw few
casualties, except at Potchefstroom where twenty-four British soldiers were killed
and seventeen in Pretoria, as a result of attempts to raid the Boer positions.

The British government of William Gladstone ordered a truce, and took a


conciliatory stance towards the ZAR, not wanting to get bogged down in a
protracted and costly war. On March 23rd, 1881 an agreement was reached
(the Pretoria Convention) of self-government for the ZAR with nominal British
oversight (suzerainty), specifically pertaining to African and native matters. (31)

(32) General Piet Joubert, pivotal figure in the First War for Independence.
During the Second, he would find his Christian principles in conflict with his role
as military commander.

Waldo Kühn 88
10. THE BOER REPUBLICS – PART II

The period immediately following the First War for Independence, saw a surge in
republican sentiment in the ZAR. Kruger saw the Battle of Blood River of 1838
and the vow made before the battle as symbolic of the will of the Transvaal
burghers to survive as an independent people against overwhelming odds. The
commemoration of the battle became a grand political and religious occasion. A
festival at the end of 1881 at Paardekraal drew a crowd of twelve to fifteen
thousand people. Similar festivals followed every three years, with Kruger's
speeches, emphasizing a link between national and Christian identity, marking
the climax. (2)
When Kruger was elected president in 1883, he led a delegation to London,
where Abraham Kuyper, leader of the neo-Calvinist movement in the Netherlands,
joined them as adviser, to re-negotiate the terms of the Pretoria Convention with
Britain. They secured some major new terms through the London Convention.
Transvaal again became entitled to call its state the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek.
A resident in Pretoria would no longer have the final say in 'native affairs' of the
state. The reference to British suzerainty was removed, although Kruger agreed
to the ZAR not entering into treaties with other countries without British
permission. This clause meant that, like the Orange Free State, the ZAR was
technically not free from British control under international law. During the 1890s
some British politicians argued the clause offered grounds for Britain's right to
intervene in the ZAR's internal affairs. (2)
The Boers were again represented by an elected Volksraad (People's Council).
Kruger said that the Volksraad 'represents the volk; if the voice of the majority is
not heeded, the State becomes impure.' Kruger, President of the ZAR (1883-
1900) and Jan Brand, President of the OFS (1864-1888), could prevail over their
Volksraad by virtue of their strong personalities and great political acumen. (2)
Kruger sometimes meddled in the affairs of the otherwise independent courts of
law.(111) He also often arbitrated on his front porch and had his own church-
parish. This was not foreign to the traditional role of the Boer leaders as
arbitrators. In this sense, Kruger tended to capture the popular imagination as a
Biblical-type figure. The story was widely retold of two brothers who had inherited
their father's farm. The Will specified the farm was to be divided precisely in half;
the elder brother acting as executor. He had divided the farm in such a way
however, that he would receive the best grazing and water, while his brother
would receive largely in-arable parts. The younger brother sought the council of

Waldo Kühn 89
the wise Kruger. He heard the case on his porch and, after a few contemplating
puffs from his pipe, turned towards the elder brother and asked: “Did you divide
the land in two as your father had specified in his Will?” “Yes Oom, I did”, the
brother answered. Whereupon Kruger turned towards the younger brother: “Your
brother said he divided the land as your father had asked him to do. Now, it is
your turn. Choose your half.”

The ZAR Volksraad introduced a conservative Christian-based, Dutch-medium


education system. To Kruger, the Bible was 'the foundation for educating children
at school... it [was] the foundation for everything.' (2)
See: http://www.slideshare.net/frontfel/paul-kruger-voortrekker-commando-
and-conservationist

From 1882 the state would only give grants to schools if Dutch was the medium
of instruction, and in 1895 opposed attempts to increase the amount of English
taught in state schools. Kruger held that 'every attempt to expand education in
English will help towards the destruction of the landstaal (ZAR's official
language).' (2)
In 1884, following the successful re-negotiations in London, Kruger had
addressed a crowd, estimated at 100 000, in Amsterdam to strengthen ties and
invite Dutch immigration to the ZAR. He told the crowd: 'We have kept our own
language, the language of the Netherlands people... Our people in the wilderness
have kept their language and their faith through every storm. Our whole struggle
is bound up in this.' In response, between five- and six thousand Dutch
immigrants came to the ZAR over the following fifteen years. They greatly
strengthened the state's administrative capability and civil service. There were
some initial tensions as Dutch immigrants competed for posts with educated
Transvaal burghers and some were considered arrogant. The newspaper Land
en Volk persistently attacked undue Dutch influence in the administration. (2)

Kruger believed in stable relations with African tribes, and preferred negotiated
settlements to war. An example of these relations was his relationship with
Magato (Mokgatle Thethe) of the Bafokeng tribe. Since 1837 when the
Voortrekkers had freed the Bafokeng from the tyranny of the warmongering
Mzilikazi, relations between the two groups had been good, except for a brief
time during the First War for Independence, when Magato displayed loyalty
towards Britain. Kruger and Magato had been fellow-pupils in a missionary
school where Kruger learned to read and write. Kruger’s farm also bordered
Bafokeng land. When the Netherlands offered the Transvaal a scholarship

Waldo Kühn 90
program for four bright students to study in the Netherlands, Kruger selected:
Nicolaas Smit, son of General Nicolaas Smit, hero of Amajuba, Sarel Eloff, a
grandson of Kruger, and Bloemhof and Paul Magato, two sons that Magato had
preferred to take over his rule. The move created conflict among the Bafokeng
people, as the populist and first-in-line for the throne, Tumagolê had been
overlooked by his father. Tumagolê would not accept the Christian faith and his
father had considered him a scoundrel and a troublemaker. Under custody of a
supervisor from Kruger's Dopper church, Rev. Leendert van der Valk, the Magato
brothers were schooled in Tswana (their native language), Sotho, English and
Dutch as well as religious studies. They were subsequently sent for university
training in the Netherlands, Paul Magato in missionary work and Christian
education, and Bloemhof Magato in carpentry, wagon-making and draughting.
On the successful completion of their studies they returned to their tribe, but the
tribe demanded Tumagolê as leader over the Christianized Bloemhof. The ZAR's
commissioner of native affairs instructed the tribe to settle the conflict through an
election. Tumagolê won, and the brothers left with some followers.(9) (In 2006
the Bafokeng tribe listed their appreciable resources on the JSE as the
investment and holdings company Royal Bafokeng Holdings (Pty) Ltd. (JSE:
RBH). (27))
While some Transvaal burghers opposed native reserves, which housed a
considerable portion of the black population of Transvaal, considering tribalism a
threat to their republic, Kruger argued for tribes willing to live in peace to have
their own land so that they would not feel oppressed, asking the very relevant
question: 'Was it fair and Christian to drive them off their land?' (36, 2)
Many blacks in the republics made their living on farms by sharecropping, where
they worked farmers' land, turning a portion of the yield over to the farmer. Blacks
preferred sharecropping to wage labor as it gave them considerable freedom and
an opportunity to acquire large herds of cattle. Also working the farms, were poor
Afrikaner tenants called bywoners. They mostly only managed to sustain their
own families, and farm owners (both individuals and companies) increasingly
preferred the more productive sharecroppers over bywoners. Fearing
encroachment and displacement of bywoners, the ZAR government attempted to
limit sharecroppers to five families per farm, but with little success. (2)

Kruger had accepted a plan for industrialization for the predominantly agrarian
ZAR. It gave exclusive rights with protective tariffs to individuals and companies
to produce articles like liquor, soap, bricks, leather and dynamite. The plan was
not tailored to the unexpected rapid economic expansion of a major gold industry.
Before 1886, gold speculators had been congregating in the eastern Transvaal

Waldo Kühn 91
towns of Baberton and Pilgrim's Rest after some significant gold discoveries
there. But in 1886 the mother-load of the Witwatersrand reef on the central high
veld of the Transvaal was discovered. The first find was reputedly made by an
Australian speculator, George Harrison, who sold his claim for less than ten
pounds, not realizing the significance of his find. An international gold rush
followed, backed by large scale investment, particularly from Britain. By the end
of the century the Witwatersrand mines were producing a quarter of the world's
gold. In the early 1890s the industry was employing more than 100 000 men.
Johannesburg had a white population of 50 000, of which a mere 6 000 were
Afrikaners. The great majority of the rest were British. The capitol of Pretoria was
completely overshadowed by Johannesburg, one of the most dynamic and
volatile places in the world. (2)
The gold mines drew avaricious moneymen, schemers, and criminals along
with miners, white and black. There was a virtual explosion of industrial
enterprise. At the top of Johannesburg's social pyramid were the mining house
magnates, the so-called Randlords, and at the bottom, the flotsam and jetsam. In
the city there were nearly three hundred bars, almost all with back premises that
catered to commercial sex. The streets teemed with with diggers, prostitutes,
gamblers, saloonkeepers, washerwomen and domestic servants. (Charles van
Onselen, Studies in the Social and Economic History of the Witwatersrand, 1886-
1914; London: Longman, 1982.) (2)
By the end of the century, foreign monopolies owned between thirty and fifty
percent of the land in the Transvaal. They preferred black labor, and black
migrant workers' crowded compounds sprang up around the cities.
Poor Afrikaners migrated in a steady stream to Johannesburg to take jobs as
brickmakers, transport riders, etc. Kruger set aside the suburb of Vrededorp for
them. Following a visit to the ZAR, the young Cape lawyer Jan Smuts wrote that
the economic revolution was undermining the old farming and burgher
community in a more dangerous way than English supremacy itself was capable
of. President M.T. Steyn (OFS president from 1896 to 1902) commented that the
struggle to survive had become fiercer: 'Capitalism had appeared in South Africa,
the enemy of labor had slung its octopus legs over all forms of labor.' (2)

Kruger did not trust the Uitlanders ('Outlanders' or aliens) who were streaming
into the republic. He considered them as a fifth column lying in wait for the first
opportunity to overthrow the state.
Kruger was resented by those frustrated by his economic and political policies,
which focused on protecting the interests of the ZAR burghers.

Waldo Kühn 92
Kruger soon acquired strong enemies and aroused dismay in the Cape Colony,
which he shut off from the booming market. The mining industry, intent on
holding down costs, complained vociferously about the high railway rates, the
price of dynamite, corruption, and the scarcity of African labor, all of which were
estimated to cost the mining industry more than £2 million a year. Kruger's
proclivity for giving concessions and posts to incompetent family, friends and
supporters made matters worse. (2)

The ZAR managed remarkably well though with the great urban influx. It devised
an efficient local administration for Johannesburg and other towns. There were
no restrictions on foreign investments in the republic and a low tax of five percent
on declared profits, and an efficient mining code was enacted. Within two years
44 mines produced a gold output of £1.3 million and after ten years output
increased to £32 million. The ZAR used its gold revenue to build infrastructure
and linked Johannesburg to ports. Enough food reached Johannesburg to feed
the burgeoning population. After 1895 Kruger made impressive progress with
administrative reform, including strengthening the administration with Dutch
immigrants. By 1897, out of 1 958 ZAR civil servants, 306 were Dutch immigrants,
478 were from the Cape and 682 from the Transvaal. (2)
The principle Opposition in the ZAR Volksraad, commanding about a third of the
electorate in both houses, were the Progressives, under leadership of Piet
Joubert and including Louis Botha, J.H. (Koos) De la Rey, Carl Jeppe, Ewald
Esselen and Schalk Burger. (It is surprising to find religious conservatives like
Commandant-general Piet Joubert and Koos De la Rey as prominent leaders of
this group.) They urged more rapid modernization of the republic, attacked
maladministration, corruption, the conservative educational system and Kruger's
parochialism. Piet Joubert is said to have favored a South African confederacy
with self-ruling provinces under British protection. In the 1893 presidential
election, Kruger defeated the popular Joubert only narrowly. (2)
To prevent the Uitlanders from winning power through the ballot box, the Kruger-
government in 1890 extended the franchise qualification period from one year to
fourteen years and created a separate legislative council to represent Uitlander-
interests. In the franchise issue, the Uitlanders had now found a unifying focus
for their frustrations, and imperialists again had a target to make into a cause for
British integrity. The Progressives called for a lowering of the franchise
qualifications, believing the Uitlander demand for the franchise was only a bluff.
Ludwig Krause, a Cambridge graduate, believed that only those 'who really
meant to join the Republic and to stand by it would have availed themselves of
the privilege [to take up citizenship]; no loyal Englishman would have renounced

Waldo Kühn 93
his Queen and country [in order to vote].' Kruger refused to budge on the issue.
He saw 30 000 enfranchised burghers pitted against 60 000 to 70 000
'newcomers' (including immigrants from the Cape and Natal) that could
potentially vote if all requirements were waived. (2)
Bold reform of both the severe franchise qualification and a concession on the
price of dynamite would have eased much of the agitation against the ZAR. But
Kruger obstinately refused to change his position until it was too late. Jan Smuts
noted at Kruger's death that 'he typified the Boer character both in its brighter
and darker aspects.' (2)
Kruger's reluctance to reform the franchise became the pretext for British
aggression, led by Chamberlain and Milner. But they wanted war not so much
because Kruger was obstinate and blocked modern development, but because
he was flexible and pragmatic on most issues and was succeeding in
modernizing the ZAR. Left alone, the ZAR would soon dominate South Africa.
This was a prospect that Milner had to prevent even if it meant war. (2)

Andrew Murray believed in the concept of liberal imperialism, stressing the


common, non-racial rights of all British citizens, including the right to democratic
government. It promoted social and industrial progress, offered the protection of
the British fleet, whilst interfering little with colonies' affairs; while British
missionaries spread Christianity. These “ties that did not chafe”,benignly bound
South Africa to Britain. Liberal idealism was the redeeming face of British Empire.
In an anguished open letter just before the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War in
1899, Andrew Murray, then moderator of the Cape synod of the DRC, would
implore Britain, the 'the noblest, the most Christian nation in the world' not to go
to war against the republics. He would appeal to those liberal values he believed
in – the fervent belief in Britain as one of the most benign forces in the world;
working for order, liberalization, modernization and the rehabilitation of subject
peoples.(2) His appeals went unanswered, for the other face of British
imperialism was aggressive, authoritarian and condescending towards other
cultures. It emphasized the autocratic values of hierarchy, obedience and order,
and sanctioned ruthless aggression on their behalf.(2) Such Anglo-supremacism
was called jingoism. Chief exponents of jingoism in South African relations were
Joseph Chamberlain, Colonial Secretary in the Unionist government that came to
power in Britain in June 1895, and Lord Alfred Milner, High Commissioner for
South Africa from 1897-1905. Lord Milner believed in British racial superiority.
Cecil John Rhodes was, he confessed, an out-and-out jingo, when he came to
South Africa in 1870 at the age of seventeen. Ten years later, at twenty-seven, he
had amassed a fortune in the diamond fields of Kimberley. At twenty-eight he

Waldo Kühn 94
was elected to the Cape Parliament as a member for the Barkly West
constituency of the newly annexed Griqualand West. At thirty-seven he founded
De Beers Consolidated, which controlled 90 percent of South Africa's diamonds
and the bulk of the world's output. A little more than ten years later he would
become the dominant figure in Consolidated Gold Fields, one of the largest gold
mining companies in Johannesburg, as well as the British South African
Company, with a royal charter for developing the land north of the Limpopo River,
which was to become Rhodesia, and then Zimbabwe. Rhodes developed a sub-
imperialism whereby the Cape Colony would be semi-autonomous in ruling itself
and colonizing new territories to bring about a federation in Africa under the
British flag. Rhodes began to rally the Cape Afrikaners behind this cause. The
Afrikaner Bond was a natural ally. They already saw the Afrikaner's future within
the British Imperial system of trade and finance, and would accept the idea of a
South African federation under British control.(2) Rhodes courted the affection of
Cape Afrikaners through a hitherto unrivaled charm-offensive. He generally
respected Cape Afrikaners as a people and appreciated their Cape Dutch culture.
He openly spoke of his admiration for Cape Dutch architecture and furniture, and
commissioned the design of a mansion in Cape Dutch style, with the Dutch name
Groote Schuur. In the placid atmosphere of Cape Town Rhodes set out to woo
Hofmeyr and the Afrikaner Bond with all the skill of a confident suitor, with an
almost irresistible mix of dynamism, power, humility and charisma. (2)

Cecil John Rhodes

Waldo Kühn 95
Rhodes began referring to himself as an Afrikaner, in line with the inclusive Bond
definition.
Soon the pro-Rhodes editor of the Cape Times, the brilliant Edmund Garrnett,
used the term 'John Bull Afrikander' in asserting that Britain and Rhodes in
particular were acting in the interests of South Africa as a whole. Jan Smuts later
described the spell that Rhodes wove over the colonial Afrikaners between the
mid-1880s and mid 1890s: 'He had become the national idol of the Dutch
Afrikanders. The Dutch are perhaps a suspicious people, but when they do come
to put their trust in a man... then the trust becomes almost absolute and religious;
such was their faith in Rhodes.' (2)
Rhodes followed a strategy that would allow the convergence of his own policies
with that of the Afrikaner Bond. He backed the Bond's demand for the official
recognition of Dutch, its opposition to Sunday trains, and its insistence on
introducing religious instruction in state schools. He helped to get the brandy tax
repealed, supported protection of Cape wheat and wine from cheap imports, a
limit on compulsory dipping of sheep to control scab pest (some Afrikaner
farmers were paranoid that petty government officials were making regulations to
gain control over their farms; others had religious objections to the practice.)
Rhodes also supported the exclusion of traditional Africans from the franchise.
(He fought the 'blanket vote' which allowed communal land-ownership of tribes to
qualify their members for voting.)

De Zuid-Afrikaan had openly criticized Kruger’s stubbornness, noting that the


Transvaal needed someone more competent than Kruger at the helm. The Bond
wanted to see the Boer republics join the colonies in the Imperial system of free
trade and finance. The Bond did however feel a strong solidarity with the
republics. Hofmeyr wrote to William Gladstone that the Cape Afrikaners were
'connected to the Boers of the Transvaal by the ties of descent, language,
religion and – for many of us – of inter-marriage and friendship; we feel that their
wrongs are our wrongs and services rendered to them are services rendered to
us.' (2)

When the First Boer War drew to a close in 1881, the entire area to the west of
the two republics was under British authority. Griqualand-West had been
annexed prior to the war, and to its north the land was the British protectorate of
Bechuanaland. In a small pocket of Bechuanaland, on the disputed western
border of the Transvaal, a chief favored by Britain, Mankoroane of the Batlapin
tribe (a Tswana tribe) and Montisoa, were at war over grazing land with Moshette,
aided by the !-Koranna Khoe, an armed and mounted Khoikhoi-Griqua tribe.

Waldo Kühn 96
Various white mercenaries sided with both protagonists. Some Boer and English
mercenaries joined the !Koranna after their leader, David Massouw (David
Mossweu) had promised them land in exchange for their effort. To circumvent a
Transvaal proclamation forbidding its citizens to be involved in native wars, the
mercenaries from the Transvaal had given up their ZAR citizenship. Mankoroane
was defeated and the ZAR stepped in to broker a treaty whereby the
mercenaries received a large part of his land. On 26 July 1882, the white settlers
declared their land an independent republic named Stellaland (Stellar land) after
a comet that was visible in the sky at the time, and a neighboring republic named
Goshen. On 6 August 1883, Stellaland and Goshen united to form the United
States of Stellaland. Many white immigrants, both Boers and British, moved to
the new republic. It was home to some 38 000 people, 5 000 of which were of
European origin. The republic announced a tax levy on all trade going through its
territory.
Location of Stellaland.

It lay inside a major British trade route, the Great Road to the North and
threatened Rhodes' mining industry. The British also feared that the ZAR might
annex the republic in an effort to circumvent the Pretoria Convention (and the
1884 London Convention) that prohibited Boer expansionism. The small republic
was torn by internal conflict, between whites and between white settlers and
native tribes. Montsioa asked the ZAR for protection. On 10 September 1884, the
ZAR annexed the republic under SJ du Toit, now Commissioner entrusted with
the Western Border. Du Toit had not realized that Montsioa was already under

Waldo Kühn 97
British suzerainty.(36) In December 1884 a British force under Sir Charles Warren
invaded the area and abolished the republic. It was subsequently included into
British Bechuanaland.(33) Kruger's main concern was establishing order and
security on the Transvaal's western border, and he was prepared to abandon
territorial expansion to the west.(2) Meanwhile, David Massouw had become a
voluntary vassal of the ZAR. For reasons that are not clear, he refused to pay tax
and assumed, in Kruger's words, ''a very threatening attitude”, and raided cattle
in the area. In a clash in December 1885 with a Boer-commando and artillery
under General Piet Joubert, David Massouw was killed along with
many !Koranna at their capitol, Mamusa Hill. Also killed were fourteen ZAR
commando-members, including a Captain Schweizer and a Field-Cornet Reneke,
in whose honor the town Schweizer-Reneke was named. (34, 36, 66)

In 1884 Germany proclaimed a protectorate over South West Africa. The


possibility of the ZAR linking up with the German territory was not far-fetched. In
the early 1880s when the Boer republics had wanted to form a customs union,
the Cape rejected the plan. Political and economic power had however shifted in
Kruger's favor after the gold boom, and now the Cape was very eager to form a
customs union that would join the colonies and republics in an economic union. A
customs union would be the first vital step for a united South Africa under the
British flag, with the Cape as senior member. Kruger realized this, and rejected a
customs union and imposed heavy duties on Cape goods. He also blocked the
extension of railway lines into the Transvaal before the completion of the railway
line linking the ZAR with Delagoa Bay.
Kruger called on Cape Afrikaners to support the ZAR as the representative of a
pure Afrikaner spirit. But Hofmeyr considered Kruger's rejection of a customs
union a mistake. In 1887 Hofmeyr and three fellow Cape Bondsmen informed
Kruger that their own attachment 'to the cause of our Transvaal brothers' had
cooled, and warned that once 'a division arises between kinsfolk, one cannot
foresee where it will end, and the Africander cause is far from being strong
enough to be able to face division between the Transvaal and Colonial sons of
the soil.' The ZAR was growing more powerful economically and in 1890 Kruger
announced a claim to Swaziland, which lay between the ZAR, Delagoa Bay (to
the east) and Natal (to the South). Hofmeyr traveled to Pretoria to tell Kruger he
could not claim Swaziland without joining the existing customs union. An irate
Kruger thundered at him in public: 'You are a traitor, a traitor to the Africander
cause!'(2) The ZAR stayed out of the trade union that was formed, and annexed
Swaziland anyway. (37)

Waldo Kühn 98
In 1890 Rhodes became prime minister of the Cape Colony with the aid of the
Bond. Succumbing to Rhodes' blandishments that expansion was an Afrikaner
as well as a British imperial project, De Zuid-Afrikaan wrote in 1890: 'Under the
British flag and with the help of the British capital we are marching to the north.'(2)
By the end of 1893, a mercenary-force of Rhodes' British South African Company
(BSA) had occupied large parts of Rhodesia (Mashonaland and Matabeleland).
Britain had now effectively encircled the economically powerful ZAR. Still the
ZAR refused to join a customs or railway union. In 1894 it completed the Delagoa
Line and immediately diverted most of its foreign trade away from the Cape. To
add to British chagrin, Germany backed Kruger's rejection of the customs union.
(2)

Rhodes now embarked on a reckless gamble to overthrow the ZAR. High-ranking


British officials who shared in his plot, or had prior knowledge of it, included
Joseph Chamberlain, Colonial Secretary in Lord Salisbury's cabinet, Sir Graham
Bower, Imperial Secretary in Cape Town and Sir Hercules Robinson, High
Commissioner in Cape Town. On December 29th, 1895, Leander Starr Jameson
led some five hundred men from the private army of the BSA on an invasion of
the ZAR, intent on sparking an Uitlander rebellion on the Witwatersrand. The
rebellion would serve as a pretext for the British High Commissioner in Cape
Town to intervene and proclaim British sovereignty over the Transvaal. The plan
failed (a wrong telegraph line had been cut, and instead of communicating with
instigators among the Uitlanders, communications went directly to Pretoria) and
the raiders were quickly rounded up. The scandal led to Rhodes' resignation as
Colonial Prime Minister and ended his friendship with Hofmeyr, who all along had
made it clear that he would not tolerate any aggression against the republics.
The Jameson Raid revealed that Rhodes, the man Hofmeyr had promoted as a
genuine ally of Afrikaners, had, and in a cold and calculating way, deceived them.
Even the conservative establishment in Britain was embarrassed. Openly
contemptuous of it, Rudyard Kipling, bard of the jingoes, wrote his famous poem
'If' to defend Chamberlain, widely suspected of complicity in the Jameson Raid.
(2)

F.S. Malan, who was to become a leading liberal leader of the next century, wrote
as editor of the widely read Cape Dutch newspaper, Ons Land : 'Once again one
writes our history with blood. The monster of jingoism has again shown its
abhorrent face. The affairs of South Africa are again arranged from Downing
Street.'(2) Rhodes showed no remorse over the Raid and re-entered politics as a
supporter of the Progressive Cape-government headed by Sir Gordon Sprigg.
The Bond found help from an unexpected quarter. Cape Liberals, like John X.

Waldo Kühn 99
Merriman and Jacobus W. Sauer who had previously opposed the Bond over its
'native policy', helped it to win the 1898 election by narrowly defeating Rhodes'
Progressives. The new Cape Prime Minister was William Schreiner, who
criticized the Sprigg government for not showing 'any sympathy or conciliatory
approach' to 'the sister republic [ZAR].' (2)

In 1895 Kruger turned seventy. Certain that Britain would soon embark on further
acts of aggression, he began to arm the ZAR. In the Orange Free State, Jan
Brand's successor, F.W. Reitz, resigned the Free State Presidency in 1896 due to
ill-health. He was succeeded by M.T. Steyn. When he recovered, he took up the
post as Kruger's Secretary of State in the ZAR. Some years later his son, Deneys
Reitz, would reminisce of those days:
Our small country [OFS] was a model one. There were no political parties, nor,
until after the Jameson Raid of 1895, was there any bad blood between the
Dutch and the English... in our quiet way we were a contended community,
isolated hundreds of miles from the seaboard...(4)
For the next two years [since moving to the ZAR] diplomatic relations with
Great Britain ran downhill and even in our classrooms we talked of little else than
the approaching conflict. (4)

Martinus Theunis Steyn was the first Free State-born burgher to take up the
OFS-Presidency. He was a member of the Bloemfontein-elite, well-to-do
influential families who, like their counterparts among the Colonial Afrikaners,
spoke mostly English up until the Jameson Raid. He married the English-
speaking Tibbie Fraser. Steyn studied Law in the Netherlands, but, struggling too
much with the Dutch language, completed his training in London at the Inner
Temple. Deneys Reitz described him as 'not brilliant, but possessed of a dogged
courage.' The OFS fit in neatly between the colonial Cape and the republican
Transvaal. It was aligned politically with the ZAR, yet culturally more in tune with
the Cape. Steyn sought not to alienate English-speakers, even after the Jameson
Raid. Yet he set in motion steps to make Dutch the language of the
Administration and pressurized schools to switch to Dutch-medium education.
Steyn had initially pressed for franchise-reform in the ZAR, considering the
fourteen-year franchise qualification 'in conflict with republican and democratic
principles.' But from 1898 he was convinced that British demand for franchise-
reform in the ZAR was a pretext. He considered Chamberlain's “suzerainty” a
hollow concept concocted by the British to seize control of the ZAR. Steyn told
Kruger he would go to war if Britain proved to be using the franchise as an
excuse to destroy the independence of the republics. In 1897 the ZAR and OFS

Waldo Kühn 100


concluded a treaty pledging mutual assistance in case of war. Britain warned the
OFS shortly before the outbreak of the war to remain neutral. Steyn told the
Volksraad that he would rather lose the independence of the Free State 'with
honor than to to so in dishonour and disloyalty.' (2)
At the outbreak of war, the two republics would fight together as one, joined by
six thousand Cape Afrikaners actively rebelling against Britain amidst unthinkable
oppression. The man, who would perhaps most strengthen the resolve of the
Cape Afrikaners, would be Boer-General Jan Smuts.
Jan Smuts was born in the western Cape and studied at the Victoria College in
Stellenbosch. He studied law at Cambridge University and was a top-class
student. Smuts came from a Bond-supporting home and came up for Rhodes in
1895 in his first political speech. In 1898 he gave up his British citizenship and
became State Attorney of the ZAR. Kruger considered him as a 'man of iron will',
destined to play a great role in South Africa's future.
Among Afrikaners the nickname 'Slim Jannie' stuck. The name meant a
mixture of being clever, smart, cunning, devious and persuasive. He was
undoubtedly the shrewdest white South African politician of the twentieth century.
(2)

Waldo Kühn 101


11. THE ANGLO-BOER WAR (1899-1902)
PART I – THE CAPE COLONY FRONT

Lord Milner took it upon himself to increase British pressure on the ZAR over the
franchise issue. Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain was more cautious so
soon after the Jameson Raid. Milner struck up an alliance with some of the gold
magnates and mobilized the Uitlanders to press their demands. He took a
defying stance towards Cape Afrikaners, challenging them to choose sides
between Britain and Kruger. Britain would have thought twice if there were a real
prospect that the Cape Afrikaners would rise massively in revolt. But the Cape
Afrikaners were immobilized by their own multiple identities. (2)
Milner entered into an informal secret alliance with the biggest gold magnates,
Alfred Beit – who had financed the Jameson Raid – and Julius Wernher,
Germans who had become naturalized British citizens. They believed that
through firm action Kruger could be weakened or removed, making for a more
efficient gold industry. Deep-level mining that predominated on the Rand, entailed
considerable investments to cover production costs. These interests had little
patience with Kruger's industrial policy, and with his government's failure to
implement the recommendations of its own Industrial Commission to abolish
monopolies. Wernher said the magnates 'were quite prepared for war', and that
'the situation must be terminated now.' Milner worked closely with the magnates
to create the impression in London that Kruger would eventually buckle under
diplomatic and military pressure and concede all the franchise demands.
Although they knew that the republics would fight, the message they sent out
was one that Rhodes also spread: 'Kruger will bluff up to the cannon's mouth.' (2)

In May 1899 M.T. Steyn hosted a meeting in Bloemfontein between Kruger and
Milner. Kruger was accompanied by Jan Smuts. Both Smuts and Steyn felt that
Milner was not negotiating in good faith and not interested in the huge
concessions Kruger was willing to make. Kruger offered to reduce the fourteen-
year bar to a seven-year residence qualification with certain conditions. Milner
insisted on a five-year franchise which had to be immediately implemented retro-
actively(!) With tears running down his cheeks, Kruger exclaimed: 'It is our
country you want!' The later-writer John Buchan who was part of Milner's
entourage, described the encounter: 'There was a gnarled magnificence in the
old Transvaal President, but [Milner] saw only a snuffy, mendacious savage.' (2)

Waldo Kühn 102


Eastern Cape-born W.P. Schreiner was prime minister of the Cape Colony since
the disbandment of the Rhodes cabinet. His cabinet included moderates like
John X. Merriman and J.W. Sauer. Schreiner and Jan Hofmeyr had been invited
to attend the Bloemfontein Conference, but both succumbed to pressure from
Milner to decline.

Lord Alfred Milner, British High Commissioner and Cape Colonial Governor
between 1897 and 1899. Post-war Governor to 1905.

The Schreiner government intended to send a notice to London that it would not
under any circumstances condone British intervention in the affairs of the
Transvaal. They dropped the idea however for fear that Milner would invite the
Progressives, who staunchly supported him, to form a new government. In Britain,
Lord Salisbury's government felt pressurized to go to war. It came to power on
the basis of being super-patriots and jingoes, but was put off by the financial
constraints of war in a distant corner of the world. Jingoist newspapers like The
Times, were continually taunting the government to put its money where its
mouth was. Salisbury made it clear, '[We], not the Dutch, are Boss.' Even Henry
Campbell-Bannerman, liberal leader of the opposition, would not rule out war as
a means to address denial of the vote to British Uitlanders. George Bernard
Shaw described the Boers as being 'a small community of frontiersmen totally
unfitted to control the mineral assets of South Africa.' Joseph Chamberlain
explained what was at stake: 'the position of Great Britain in South Africa and
with it the estimate formed of our power and influence in our colonies and
throughout the world.' (2)
This was the reason why early in September the cabinet agreed to a request,
engineered by Milner, from the colony of Natal to send ten thousand imperial
troops to defend it against an invasion by republican forces (2)

Waldo Kühn 103


Salisbury stated: 'We have to act upon a moral field prepared for us by Milner
and his Jingo supporters.' It was the Boers who eventually issued the ultimatum,
demanding an end to the buildup of British troops on the Natal-border. They were
hoping on a quick succession of spectacular victories before the main body of
British troops arrived, and in the process triggering an uprising of Cape
Afrikaners. The Boer forces numbered around 54 000, while Britain had only
27 000 troops, most of them stationed at the Cape, when the war broke out.

Sympathy for the Boer-cause was widespread in Europe and Russia. Even in
Britain amongst liberal circles arose a sizable pro-Boer lobby. Active support was
offered by volunteers and mercenaries from across Europe, although the
republics paid no compensation, and only supplied rations, horses, weapons and
ammunition to foreign volunteers. Their numbers included: 2 000 Dutch, 550
Germans, 400 French, 300 Americans, 250 Italians, 225 Russians, 200 Irish, 150
Scandinavians, 100 Polish and an unknown number of Australians. Kruger
insisted that the Irish volunteers take up ZAR citizenship as they would be
executed as traitors to the Crown if they were to fall into British hands.
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_commandos) The Australian Colonel Arthur
Lynch almost met with such a fate, but, following a widespread outcry, was
released after a year in military prison and pardoned in 1907 by King Edward VII.
The foreigners at first operated as separate commandos or legions, but after
disaster had struck the Scandinavians and the French, the foreign volunteers
were placed under command of General De la Rey.(38) The Russian tzar and
Sweden also supplied field ambulances and the German military trained the ZAR
artillery. Other assistance came from African laborers employed (sometimes) as
trench- and grave diggers, and agterryers (“rear riders”), unarmed servants who
tended the horses and did the cooking.

First shots were fired on October 12th, 1899 after Britain rejected the Boer
ultimatum. The 50 000 – 60 000 strong Boer forces fought on two fronts: to the
west and southwest of the republics inside the Cape Colony and Cape Midlands,
and to the southeast in Natal. British reinforcements by sea were arriving almost
daily at Cape Town and Port Natal (Durban). British troop strength peaked at a
quarter-million at one stage. By wars-end Britain would have committed half-a-
million Imperial troops and £230 million to this war.
28 November 1899 on the western front saw the Battle of Twee Riviere (Battle of
Modder River) after initial battles at Graspan and Belmont. General De la Rey
instructed his forces to dig in at a distance of 50-100 meters from the river bank
rather than on the hillsides to the rear where he believed they would make easy

Waldo Kühn 104


targets for British artillery. The combined force of General De la Rey and General
Piet Cronjé were 3 500 - 4 000, with six Krupp guns and four pom-pom machine
guns, facing 10 000 British troops under Lord Methuen with three batteries of
artillery and four twelve-pound naval guns. Methuen marched for the hills where
he expected to find the Boer entrenchments. His troops were exposed in the
open when the two groups engaged. In the ten-hour shoot-out that followed, the
British lost 70 dead and 413 wounded to the Boers losing 16 dead, 66 wounded
and 13 captive. De la Rey's son, Adriaan was one of those killed.
December 10th saw fighting in the Stormberg region in the Cape Midlands
towards the south of the Free State border. Major-General William Forbes
Gatacre lost some ninety men killed or wounded and over six hundred captured
after they had become isolated around the Kissiesberg area.

The next battle on the western front was fought on December 11th as Lord
Methuen's troops moved to lift the siege of Kimberley. Cecil John Rhodes was
among the civilians besieged in the town. They ran into General De la Rey's line
at Magersfontein. Again, De la Rey had prepared well-concealed trenches in
front of the hills rather than on the slopes where he expected they would make
an easy target for British artillery. President Steyn had paid a visit to the trenches,
following De la Rey's criticism of the vulnerability of Piet Cronjé's troops and
general complaints about poor performance of Marthinus Prinsloo's Free State
men at the previous battle.
Methuen was frustrated by lack of intelligence, although he had a balloon section
at his disposal. Maps were inadequate and scouts could not move freely on
account of barbed wire fencing of the farms and Boer sniping. Methuen had
15 000 men in three columns. The first column, consisting of the Highland
Brigade, the 9th Lancers, the 2nd King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and
supporting artillery, engineer and balloon sections, would attack Magersfontein
Hill from three sides after a night march to get close enough to storm the
objective, while artillery pounded the Boer positions. The artillery opened fire on
the afternoon of 10 December with 24 field guns, four howitzers and a 4.7 inch
naval gun. By midnight, amidst heavy rains, the leading elements of the
Highlanders under Major-General Wauchope were approaching their objective at
the southern ridge of Magersfontein. The Boers, alerted to the impending attack
by the artillery barrage, were lying in wait. The thunderstorm and the high iron
ore content of the surrounding hills were playing havoc with the compasses of
the advancing troops. Wauchope fearing that his men would lose direction
retained them in tight formation, not realizing that he was almost upon the Boer
trenches. The Boers opened fire at close range as the Highlanders struggled to

Waldo Kühn 105


change their formation. Wauchope was one of the first killed. The Black Watch,
storming the hill, was decimated by their own artillery barrage and the rearward
forces of Piet Cronjé. The Highlanders found some relief when several guns
moved forward to give fire support, although most of the artillery was still directed
at the hills behind the Boers. As General Cronjé attempted to encircle the
remaining Highlanders, reinforcements moved up in the Gordon Highlanders and
Coldstream Guards as well as the Grenadier Guards. The Seaforth Highlanders,
attempting to stem Cronjé's attack, ran into the isolated Scandinavian Corps. The
Scandinavians were part of an extra Boer flank located between the entrenched
line of De la Rey and the mobile line of Cronjé. The entire flank had been ordered
to abandon their position, but the command had not reached the Scandinavians
in time. In the process of denying the Seaforth Highlanders access to the Boer
guns, the isolated one of two sections of the Scandinavian Corps was decimated,
with 49 dead or taken prisoner, leaving only seven wounded survivors.(39) In a
subsequent letter to Kruger, Cronjé wrote: 'next to God, we can thank the
Scandinavians for our victory.'(40) (http://www.angloboerwar.com/boer-units/1955-
scandinavian-corps) By 16h00 on the afternoon of the 11th, the Boers called for a
cease fire to allow the British to collect their wounded from the trenches. There
were moments of pandemonium when the naval gun opened fire, Captain (RN)
Bearcroft having been unaware of the truce. After the British sent their apologies
the truce recommenced. British withdrawal commenced to beyond range of the
Boer artillery. When the Boers did not withdraw that night as Methuen had
anticipated, he withdrew his troops.
British losses at Magersfontein were at least two hundred killed (including 22
officers), 675 wounded and 63 missing in action. Boer casualties are placed at
about 250, of which 105 were fatalities. The battle heralded in the “Black Week”
for the British – the period from 11 to 15 December during which the British lost
some 7 000 men on the two main fronts, without any major advances. In addition
to the fighting, a typhoid epidemic broke out at this time among British troops.
Following further heavy British casualties at Spioenkop in Natal, British Field-
Marshall Lord Frederick Sleigh Roberts replaced Sir Redvers Buller as
Commander in South Africa. Lord Roberts initially wanted to follow Buller's
strategy of marching for the Boer capitols of Bloemfontein and Pretoria, using the
railway line from Cape Town for logistical support. Strong public pressure led him
to change his attention to relieving the siege of Ladysmith (in Natal) and
Kimberley and Mafikeng (northeastern Cape). Roberts left Buller in command in
Natal, while he massed the recently arrived reinforcements from Cape Town to lift
the siege of Kimberley. Roberts had just lost his son Freddy, at Colenso in Natal.
Following the Battle of Magersfontein, Piet Cronjé's forces were withdrawing

Waldo Kühn 106


towards Bloemfontein after he had been outflanked by Major-General John
French, while General De la Rey's forces had left for Colesberg further to the
south, to strengthen the Boer forces that were struggling to hold back a British
advance on the Free State. At Jacobsdal, Cronjé's kommando was joined by
hundreds of non-combatants, greatly impairing his mobility.

Methuen's First Division held the attention of the Boer line that remained at
Magersfontein, while Major-General Hector MacDonald moved around their right
flank. Meanwhile Lord Roberts' large force of the 6th and 7th infantry divisions
secretly advanced towards Kimberley. Major-General John French's division
encountered little resistance from the Boers and on February 15th was met by
cheering crowds in Kimberley. Instead of calling on Lieutenant-Colonel Kekewich,
the commander of the besieged garrison, French met with Cecil John Rhodes at
the town's largest hotel. At this time French's force was succumbing to the long
and hot forced march, and the horses of the mounted divisions were not
acclimatizing well. He was left with two regiments of Australian and New Zealand
light horse, and two battalions of mounted infantry. He further wore down his men
by fruitless efforts to capture one of the Boers' Long Toms (Creusot 40-pounder
siege gun) which was being withdrawn to the north.
Cronjé's slow-moving convoy of fighters and civilians had vacated their laager at
Jacobsdal and reached the Modder River at Paardeberg Drift, with the British 6th
Division on their heels. French unexpectedly began attacking them from the north
after another of his forced marches (40 miles out of Kimberley.) The British
cavalry was not on full strength and tired after the long march. General De Wet's
kommando was only 30 miles to the southeast and Chief Kommandant Ignatius
Ferreira a similar distance to the north. De Wet wanted to use artillery to blast an
escape-path through the British lines for Cronjé. But instead of attempting to
meet up with De Wet, Cronjé drew a laager, making a sitting target for a siege.
Lieutenant General Kelly-Kenny of the 6th Division proposed laying siege to the
laager and bombing them into submission. Lord Roberts was ill, and his Chief of
Staff, Lieutenant-General Herbert Kitchener, in overall command of the British
forces, overruled Kelly-Kenny. Kitchener ordered his infantry and mounted troops
into a series of uncoordinated frontal attacks against the laager, despite the
preceding months' repeated demonstrations of the high cost of frontal attacks on
entrenched Boer positions. This time proved no different. By nightfall, 280
soldiers of the Highland Brigade and Royal Canadian Regiment were killed,
including 24 officers and some nine hundred wounded. 18 February 1900
became known to the British as “Bloody Sunday.” Roberts retook command that
evening and immediately ordered digging of trenches and bombardment of the

Waldo Kühn 107


Boer positions, which continued for the next nine days at great cost to the
besieged Boers, as well as their horses and cattle. Due to the shelling the
wounded could not be treated and the dead lay unburied. During the ordeal, the
Boer scouts of Captain Daniël Theron sneaked small groups of civilians and
combatants safely through the British lines. On 27 February the surviving Boers
surrendered, after the Royal Canadian Regiment had the previous night dug in
on the high ground, only 65 yards from their positions. Boer casualties amounted
to 1 000 dead and 4 000 taken captive. (41, 42)
The surrender of Piet Cronjé at Paardeberg had a huge impact on the Boer
morale and was a major turning point of the war. It coincided with a series of
setbacks for the Boers in Natal, following an initial spirited campaign. (4)

The Boers saw another setback in this time when the siege of Mafikeng, which
had gone on since the war broke out on 13 October 1899, was lifted in May 1900,
largely due to the perseverance of Colonel Robert Baden-Powell. Baden-Powell
had been recruiting civilians, mostly from Rhodesia, and enlisted the Barolong
tribe; his primary objective being to maintain the appearance of a strong British
presence on the northwestern border of the Transvaal for its psychological effect
on the civilian population, and secondly, to divert Boer forces from Natal to allow
the British landings in Durban to continue unmolested. During the siege of his
garrison in Mafikeng, Baden-Powell's daring actions included building an
armored train in the Mafikeng railway yard, and sending the train packed with
riflemen firing away into the heart of the Boer camp, and returning it again to
Mafikeng using the railway line which the Boers had left intact. On November 19th
4 000 Boers were withdrawn to be used elsewhere in the war.
Colonel B.T. Mahon, on orders from Lord Roberts, lifted the siege on 17 May
1900. British casualties were about eight hundred with 212 fatalities. Boer
casualties were in the region of 2 000. The sieges of Mafikeng and Kimberley
had also caused a marked increase in the infant mortality rate due to malnutrition
among non-Europeans in the towns.

Waldo Kühn 108


PART II — THE NATAL FRONT

At the start of the war, the British forces in Natal were concentrated at Dundee
and Ladysmith. The Transvaal commandos of about 11 000 men marching on
Natal, were under Commandant-General Piet Joubert, who had been the pivotal
military commander during the First War for Independence. A further 4 000 men
from the Free State were stationed west of the Drakensberg. Joubert first had to
destroy the British forces at Dundee (they were fairly isolated in the far northern
region of Natal) and then move on to Ladysmith where the railway connections of
the Transvaal and Free State met up with that of Dundee, and where a large
British garrison was stationed. Jan Smuts had suggested that the ZAR force
push all the way to Durban and take the port to prevent further landing of British
troops.

The Battle of Talana (Battle of Glencoe) on 20 October 1899 was the first of the
Natal campaign and, for that matter, the first major clash of the Second Boer War.
Lieutenant-General Sir William Penn-Symons was in control of the troops at
Glencoe. Penn-Symons' brigade consisted of four infantry battalions, part of a
cavalry regiment, three companies of mounted infantry and three field artillery
batteries. They occupied the important coal mining town of Dundee. Coal was of
vital strategic importance as it powered the railways. On the evening of October
19, two Boer forces numbering 4 000 each, under General Lukas Meyer and
General “Maroola” Erasmus closed on Dundee. Erasmus' force on Impati Hill
effectively did not take part in the battle as the hill was shrouded in a thick mist
giving them almost zero visibility. Meyer's men on Talana Hill were stormed by
the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, King's Royal Rifle Corps and Royal Irish Fusiliers. The
British forces became pinned down by Boer fire and Symons was mortally
wounded when he moved forward to spur them on. British artillery drove the
Boers off Talana Hill but also hit soldiers of the KRRC. A group of British soldiers,
attempting to cut off the retreat of Meyer's men from Talana Hill, strayed onto
Impati Hill and were pinned down and captured by the men of “Maroola” Erasmus,
offering a young Deneys Reitz his first taste of battle in what was to become a
very long war for him. As the British line of supply and retreat had been cut off by
Boer forces at Elandslaagte, they fell back cross-country to Ladysmith to join the
rest of their garrison. British losses were 41 killed, 185 wounded and 220
captured or missing. The Boers lost 23 killed, 66 wounded and 20 missing.

Waldo Kühn 109


The Boers holding Elandslaagte station were mainly the Johannesburg
commando with several detachments of foreign volunteers. General Sir George
White sent Major-General John French to recapture the station. After evaluating
the situation French telegraphed Ladysmith for reinforcements which arrived duly
by train. The Boer positions were pounded by three batteries of artillery, while a
battalion of the Devonshire Regiment advanced frontally and Colonel Ian
Hamilton with a battalion each of the Manchester Regiment, Gordon Highlanders
and the dismounted Imperial Light Horse moved around the Boers' left flank.
Some Boers were already holding up white flags when General Kock led a
counter-charge driving the British back temporarily. They recovered quickly and
Kock and his companions were killed. The rest of the Boer forces attempted to
flee but two squadrons from the 5th Lancers and 5th Dragoon Guards got among
them and began to cut them down with sabers and bayonets. Sir George White
ordered his troops on to Ladysmith where he feared an attack by the OFS Boers.
British casualties were 55 dead and 205 wounded. The Boers lost 46 dead, 105
wounded and 181 MIA.(43) Among the Boer casualties was a German volunteer,
Graf Henry “Herra” von Zeppelin (armed only with a whip). He was a brother of
Graf Ferdinand von Zeppelin, inventor of the Zeppelin airship.

October 24th, 1899 saw the Battle of Rietfontein when White gathered his men to
guard the retreat of the Dundee men under Brigadier-General James Yule to
Ladysmith against the OFS commandos under Marthinus Prinsloo. The Boers
were entrenched in an amphitheater in the hills above Rietfontein. White led part
of his force consisting of cavalry from the 5th Lancers, 19th Hussars, Imperial
Light Horse and Natal Mounted Rifles, infantry from the 1st Gloucestershire, 1st
Devonshire, and 1st King's Liverpool Regiments and 2nd King's Royal Rifle Corps,
supported by guns of the 42nd and 53rd Field Batteries and Royal Artillery. From 8
am. to 3 pm. the two sides were locked in a rifle and artillery duel, with White
unable to get close enough for a charge.(44) British casualties were 12 killed, 103
wounded and 2 MIA. Boer losses were 9 killed and 21 wounded. (45)

The next major action in Natal was the Battle of Ladysmith. White continued to
build up the garrison at Ladysmith although the town was surrounded by high
ground from which the Boers could strike or lay siege to it. On 29 October the
Boers placed artillery on Pepworth Hill, consisting of a 155 mm Creusot Howitzer
and some Krupp guns. The Boer forces entrenched in the hills were under
command of Generals Louis Botha and Christiaan De Wet, under overall
command of an ageing Commandant-General Piet Joubert.

Waldo Kühn 110


The British frontal attack on Pepworth Hill was led by Colonel Ian Hamilton and
consisted of a battalion each of the Devonshire Regiment, Manchester Regiment,
Gordon Highlanders and the Rifle Brigade. Another column under Colonel
Grimwood intended to attack the Boers' left flank from Long Hill, 1.5 miles (2.4
km) east of Pepworth Hill. It consisted of the 1st and 2nd battalions of the King's
Royal Rifle Corps and a battalion each from the Leicestershire Regiment, King's
Liverpool Regiment and Royal Dublin Fusiliers. The bulk of the mounted troops
under French were stationed in reserve or to Grimwood's right. They consisted of
the 5th Lancers, 5th Dragoon Guards, 18th Hussars (less a squadron lost at Talana
Hill), 19th Hussars, several companies of the Mounted Infantry, the Natal
Carbineers and Imperial Light Horse. Six batteries of 15-pounder guns of the
Royal Artillery would support the attack. A detachment was sent to capture the
crucial Nicholson's Pass, which would cut off an advance of the Free State Boers
and prevent a Boer retreat directly to the north. The detachment consisted of the
1st battalion of the Royal Irish Fusiliers and half a battalion of the Gloucestershire
Regiment, backed up by number 10 Mountain Battery with RML 2.5 inch
Mountain Guns. It was led by Lieutenant-Colonel Carleton of the Royal Irish
Fusiliers.
Grimwood's brigade, underway to take Long Hill, became separated on
Lombard's Kop and Farquhar's Farm and saw fratricide from its own right flank.
French's troops were behind schedule. The Boer artillery opened fire from
Pepworth Hill on the town and British artillery answered by opening fire on both
Pepworth Hill and the desolate Long Hill. The gun crews on Pepworth Hill took
heavy casualties. Deneys Reitz described the scene:
Six or seven dead artillerymen, some horribly mutilated were laid out on a
square of canvas to which they had been carried from above, and Ferdinand
Holz, the German military doctor, was attending a number of wounded also
brought down from the emplacements. An ambulance van was standing nearby
with several of its mule team dead in their traces, and in the distance the native
drivers were running wildly to the rear. At the guns above twenty to thirty shells at
a time were bursting with terrific noise... More dead lay about and wounded men
were sheltering with the rest in the lee of the parapet. I liked the spot so little that
I tried to persuade my brother to return with me to our commando, but, although
he was somewhat shaken by his ordeal, he refused to come, and I had to admit
that he was right. As there was no object in my remaining I bade him good-bye,
and taking advantage of a slackening in the British gun-fire I made my way down.
Below I found Dr Holz, lying in a heap, struck dead by a shell while helping the
wounded... (4)

Waldo Kühn 111


When White had not received word from Carleton who was supposed to occupy
the vital Nicholson's Pass, he called off the attack and ordered a retreat as
opportunity presented. Two batteries of field artillery supported the retreat, each
successively providing covering fire while the other limbered up and fell back.
Deneys Reitz described what ensued: Towards noon as we were increasingly
hustling our opponents, we heard a bugle ring clear above the rifle-fire, and at
the same time a white flag went up. Hundreds of khaki-clad figures rose from
among the rocks and walked towards us, their rifles at the trail. We stood up to
wait for them. The haul was a good one for there were 1 100 prisoners, mostly
Dublin Fusiliers. The commando responsible for this came from Heilbron in the
northern Free State. They were led by Commandant Mentz, but the man who
chiefly urged on the fight was Field-Cornet Christiaan De Wet, afterwards the
redoubtable guerrilla leader. I saw him here for the first time as he made his way
from point to point during the action, and I well remember his fierce eyes and
keen determined face.
Shortly after the surrender I was talking to some of the captured officers when I
heard one of them exclaim: 'My God: look there!' and turning around we saw the
entire British force that had come out against us on the plain that morning in full
retreat to Ladysmith. Great clouds of dust billowed over the veld as the troops
withdrew, and the manner of their going had every appearance of a rout. There
were about 10 000 soldiers, but General Joubert had far more than that number
of horsemen ready to his hand, and we fully looked to see him unleash them on
the enemy, but to our surprise there was no pursuit. I heard Christiaan De Wet
mutter: 'Los jou ruiters; los jou ruiters' ('loose your horsemen; loose your
horsemen'), but the Commandant-General allowed this wonderful opportunity to
go by, a failure that cost us dear in the days to come.
Judging by the disorderly appearance of the retreat he could have driven the
English clean through Ladysmith and out beyond, and he would have lost fewer
men in doing it than we lost in the subsequent siege, but the English went
hurrying back unmolested, save for the occasional shell from Pepworth Hill,
where our guns had sprung into life again, and, with the whole Boer army looking
on, no attempt was made to exploit the victory that had been gained... (4)
(The prisoners that were taken were from Carleton's force that never made it to
Nicholson's Pass and became pinned down by De Wet's forces on Nicholson's
Neck.) The Boer Long Tom came back into action and briefly harassed the
retreating soldiers. A detachment of British naval guns that had just arrived by
train opened fire on Pepworth Hill and finally silenced the Boer gun. Casualties of
the battle fought are approximate: on British side, 400 killed and wounded and
800 taken prisoner. Boers, 200 killed and wounded. (46)

Waldo Kühn 112


There was on this day, and for long after, much acrimonious discussion regarding
the Commandant-General's failure to pursue when the English turned back, and I
was told by old Maroola himself, that when officers came up to implore Piet
Joubert to follow he quoted the Dutch saying: 'When God holds out a finger, don't
take the whole hand', meaning the Almighty had sufficiently aided us for one day,
and that it did not behove us to presume upon His bounty, a view which Isaac
Malherbe said might be sound theology but no good in making war. (4)
The aftermath of the battle saw a protracted blockade. During the blockade,
demoralization began to set in among the Boers and some of the men's families
joined them with ox-wagons and servants. Kommandant-General Piet Joubert's
officers petitioned for permission to dynamite the British trenches around
Ladysmith. He refused the request, considering such an act unchristian .(2)
General Louis Botha attempted to persuade him to take Durban but we would
have none of it.
On December 9th, a group of three hundred soldiers from the besieged
Ladysmith garrison managed to blow up the Boers' Long Tom gun stationed on
Lombaardskop (Surprise Hill), repeating a similar feat from the previous day.
They suffered some eighty casualties but also inflicted many casualties on the
Boers. The gun later came back into action; with the damaged end of its muzzle
sawed off, it was nicknamed Die Jood (“The Jew”).

After the Battle of Ladysmith, the next major battle in Natal was the Battle of
Colenso fought on 15 December 1899, marking the end of the British “Black
Week”. General Sir Redvers Buller was determined to lift the siege of Ladysmith.
The Boers were dug in at Colenso, north of the Tugela River, blocking the road
and railway line to Ladysmith. The Boers were under the command of General
Louis Botha, after Commandant General Piet Joubert had been incapacitated
after falling from his horse.
Buller intended to outflank the Boers, crossing the Tugela at Potgieters Drift
some 50 miles (80 km) upstream of Colenso. There he was out of range of
communications, and when he learned of the defeat of Methuen and Gatacre at
Stormberg and Magersfontein on the western front, he considered that he might
be expected to take overall command of British forces, which he could not do
without a telegraph connection. He also feared becoming isolated and trapped by
the Boers cutting him off. He thus decided on a frontal attack following two days
of artillery bombardment commencing on December 13th. Botha had nine
kommandos and the Swaziland police available, a total of 4 500 men. Against
this, Buller had 14 000 infantry, 2 700 mounted troops and 44 guns.

Waldo Kühn 113


Botha's plan was to cover the crossings of the Tugela River head-on, while
simultaneously attacking the flank of the crossing British troops with kommandos
stationed further upstream, as well as their rear, with kommandos being posted
on Hlangwane Hill. The Middleburg and Johannesburg commandos and a
contingent of the Free State kommando were posted at Robinson's Drift, 8 miles
(13 km) upstream of Colenso, the Ermelo commando at Bridle Drift, 3 miles (4.8
km) upstream of Colenso and the Zoutpansberg kommando and Swaziland
police at Punt Drift, at the end of a loop in the river to the east of Bridle Drift. The
main force of the Heidelberg, Vryheid and Krugersdorp kommandos were
entrenched in a range of low hills and the river bank at Colenso itself. The
Wakkerstroom and Standerton kommandos were stationed on Hlangwane Hill.
Buller had five brigades and additional cavalry and mounted troops. The 5th Irish
Brigade under command of Major General Fitzroy Hart would cross Bridle Drift.
The 2nd Brigade under Major-General Henry J.T. Hildyard would occupy the
village of Colenso itself – there was another ford and one surviving bridge over
the Tugela. His attack would be supported by two Field Batteries of the Royal
Artillery and a battery of six naval 12-pounder guns under Colonel C.J. Long. A
regiment of cavalry, the 7th Dragoon Guards under Colonel J.F. Burn-Murdoch
protected the left flank. On the right flank, Buller intended a brigade of colonial
light horse and mounted infantry under Lord Dundonald would capture
Hlangwane. Buller anticipated the Boers on Hlangwane would abandon their
position for fear of being cut off once Hart and Hildyard had established
bridgeheads on the north bank of the Tugela. In reserve were the 4th (Light)
Brigade under Major-General Neville Lyttelton and the 6th (Fusilier) Brigade under
Major-General Geoffrey Barton. Buller also had three more batteries of field
artillery and another battery consisting of eight naval 12-pounder guns and two
4.7 inch naval guns ready to support the flanking mounted troops if needed.
The battle, as usual, did not go as planned. Hart's troops marched towards Bridle
Drift, but sketchy maps and a guide who could not speak English, led them to the
wrong ford, Punt Drift at the end of a loop in the river. Although Botha had
ordered his troops to hold fire until the troops began crossing the river, the entire
brigade jammed into the loop was too tempting a target and the Boers
commenced fire. The battalions repeatedly attempted on their own initiative to
extend to the left to Bridle Drift, but Hart kept recalling them back into the loop.
They suffered over 500 casualties before they were extricated. Meanwhile,
Hildyard advanced towards Colenso. Two field batteries of Colonel Long forged
ahead of them and deployed in the open, well within rifle range of the nearest
Boer trenches. The Boers opened fire and after heavy casualties the gunners
eventually stopped fighting and seeked shelter in a donga (dry river bed).

Waldo Kühn 114


Meanwhile, Dundonald's light horse brigade became pinned down at the foot of
Hlangwane. Buller decided to call off the attack even though Hildyard had just
occupied Colenso. Buller called for volunteers to recover Long's guns. Two
teams of volunteers moved forward with horses and managed to bring away two
of the guns. In this action, Lieutenant Freddy Roberts, the only son of Field
Marshall Lord Roberts, was killed. He was awarded the Victoria Cross
posthumously. Three of his fellow volunteers also received the Victoria Cross.
Other attempts to recapture the guns were unsuccessful. The British withdrew to
their camp in the afternoon, leaving behind several wounded gunners and some
of Hildyard's men who were subsequently captured, as well as ten guns. Of
Buller's reserve forces, Lyttelton committed some of his troops to aid Hart's
withdrawal but Barton was too cautious to risk his troops in support of the hard-
pressed Dundonald and Hildyard. Buller's army lost 143 killed, 756 wounded and
220 captured. Louis Botha's Boers saw 50 killed or wounded. (Unofficial claim:
six killed and 27 wounded.) Lord Roberts replaced Sir Redvers Buller (nicknamed
Reverse Buller) as Commander-in-Chief in South Africa, but Buller remained in
command of the Natal forces. The Natal campaign saw one more major battle at
Spioenkop. Thereafter, several more days of heavy fighting began taking a toll on
Botha's forces and saw their retreat. (47)

The last major battle in Natal was at Spioenkop (“Spy Hill”), known in English as
the Battle of Spion Kop after the Dutch spelling, fought on 23-24 January 1900.
Since the battle at Colenso, Buller's army had been strengthened by
reinforcements and additional transport teams to make another push to relieve
the besieged Ladysmith. The Boers were still entrenched on the northern banks
of the Tugela River. Louis Botha's 8 000 men with four field guns and two pom-
poms faced Sir Redvers Buller's 30 000 men with 36 field guns. Buller's
commanders were General Sir Charles Warren (former Commissioner of the
Metropolitan Police, in which capacity he had investigated the “Jack the Ripper”
murders), Major-General Neville Lyttelton, Major-General Edward Woodgate, and
Lt-Col Alexander Thorneycraft (He was one of six “special service” officers, like
Robert Baden-Powell and Herbert Plumer, who had been dispatched to South
Africa before the war broke out to recruit local irregular troops.) Buller intended to
cross the Tugela at two points to establish a bridgehead. After the Boer line had
been broken, Buller would push through to Ladysmith. Buller delegated control of
his main force to General Sir Charles Warren to cross at Trikhardt's Drift, while a
second smaller force under Major-General Neville Lyttelton would attack as a
diversion at Potgieters Drift, east of Warren's force.

Waldo Kühn 115


General Louis Botha

Warren's force numbered 11 000 infantry, 2 200 cavalry and 36 field guns. On
January, 23rd they marched westward to cross the Tugela under sight of the
Boers. Movement was slowed by the mass of baggage carted along for the
officers. Warren's included a cast-iron bathroom and well-equipped kitchen. By
the time they reached the Tugela, the Boers had dug new trenches to cover their
exposed positions. British mounted troops under Lord Dundonald had reached
the Boers' extreme right flank on their own initiative, but Warren recalled him to
guard the force's stores. Once all his forces had crossed the Tugela, Warren sent
part of an infantry division under Lieutenant-General Francis Cleary to attack the
Boers' right flank positions on a plateau called Tabanyama. Cleary's attack made
no progress as the Boers had dug new trenches on the reverse slope of the hill.
Meanwhile Lyttelton's attack at Potgieter's Drift had not fully got underway.
If the British could capture Spioenkop, the high hill in the middle of the Boer-line,
they could bring up artillery and put the entire line under shells from the hill. On
the evening of 23 January, Warren sent the larger part of his force under Major-
General Edward Woodgate to take Spioenkop. Lt.-Colonel Alexander
Thorneycraft was to lead the initial assault. Thorneycraft surprised and drove a
small picket of fifteen Boers off the hill amidst a thick mist, killing one of them. He
had mistakenly only taken one part of the hill and his men were digging in within
shooting range from surrounding high ground held by Boers. The Boers realized
though that, from their current vantage point the British could take nearby
unoccupied hillocks from where their artillery could endanger the Boer positions
on Tabanyama. Boer artillery-shells from Tabanyama began raining on the British

Waldo Kühn 116


positions on the hill. Commandant Hendrik Prinsloo secured two vulnerable
unoccupied hillocks, Aloe Knoll and Conical Hill with 88 men from the Carolina
commando. 300 members of mainly the Pretoria commando attacked the British
entrenchments on the crest of the hill in a typical British-style frontal charge, only
without bayonets, which the Boers did not use. The Boers were also not used to
the hand-to-hand combat that followed; the British soldiers wielding fixed
bayonets against the Boers' drawn hunting knives. The Boers could not drive the
British off the hill in this way, but the Boers on the nearby Aloe Knoll and Conical
Hill were in range to enfilade the British position while the artillery pounded them.
Major-General Woodgate was killed in the barrage. He was replaced by Colonel
Blomfield of the Lancashire fusiliers, who was subsequently wounded. Also killed
were the sappers' Major Massy and Woodgate's Brigade Major, Captain Vertue.
Major-General Talbot Coke's brigade, sent as reinforcement, would not risk an
attack on Tabanyama and did not fire on Aloe Knoll, believing it to be occupied by
British troops. (48)
Deneys Reitz described a peculiar incident that played off among the Boers
scaling the hill towards the British entrenchments amidst heavy fire from the
British Lee-Enfield Rifles: Near me was a German named von Brusewitz. He had
been an officer in the German army, but the year before he had run a civilian
through with his sword during some scuffle in a Berlin café. There was a great
outcry over the incident, and to allay a popular clamour the German Emperor
broke him from his regiment. They say that in Germany the word 'Brusewitzerei'
is still used to denote the arrogance of the officer caste. However that may be,
von Brusewitz was now on top of Spion Kop, where he seemed bent on getting
killed, for, although we warned him not to expose himself too recklessly, he paid
no heed, and repeatedly stood out from the rocks to fire. As the English soldiers
were so close to us this was sheer folly, and after he had tempted Providence
several times the inevitable happened. I saw him rise once more, and, lighting a
cigarette, puff away careless of the flying bullets until we heard a thud, and he fell
dead within a few feet of me, shot through the head. Not long after this,
something similar happened. An old Kaffir servant came whimpering up among
us from below, looking for his master's body. I advised him to be careful, as he
went from rock to rock peering over to examine the dead men lying in the open,
but he would not listen, and soon he too had a bullet through his brain. (4)

Some of the Lancashire Fusiliers attempted to surrender amidst the heat and
lack of water. As the Boers advanced to round them up, Thorneycraft shouted:
“I'm the Commandant here; take your men back to hell sir! I allow no surrenders.”
At this point British reinforcements arrived on the scene and a vicious point-blank

Waldo Kühn 117


firefight ensued, saving the British position. The Scottish Rifles drove the Boers
back with a bayonet charge. In the morning, Lyttelton sent two battalions to
Spioenkop. One battalion, the King's Royal Rifle Corps attacked Twin Peaks.
After losing Colonel Riddell killed and a hundred more casualties, they broke
through the Boer line and took the double summit at 5 pm. The Boers abandoned
Spioenkop. Almost simultaneously, Thorneycraft ordered his troops to abandon
their positions. With no water and no counter to the Boer artillery he saw no point
in holding the position any longer. The British lost 243 killed and 1 250 wounded
or captured. The Boers lost 68 dead among 335 casualties. Kommandant
Hendrik Prinsloo's commando suffered 55 casualties out of 88 Carolina men.
Mahatma Ghandi was decorated for heroic action as a stretcher bearer in the
Indian Ambulance Corps which he had organized. (48)

14-27 February saw continued intense fighting called the Battle of Tugela Heights.
The Boers were driven from the southern bank of the Tugela by the Earl of
Dundonald's mounted brigade, Major-General Neville Lyttelton's 4th Infantry
Division, Major-General Henry Hildyard's 2nd Brigade and Major-General
Geoffrey Barton's 6th Brigade outflanking the Boers on Hlangwane. From
Hlangwane a pontoon bridge over the Tugela allowed the British to cross. Major-
General Arthur Wynne's 11th Brigade captured Boer positions at Horseshoe Hill
and Wynn's Hill, 3 miles (4.8 km) north of Colenso, but Major-General Fitzroy
Hart's 5th Irish Brigade took heavy casualties to the northeast. On 25 February a
six-hour armistice was called to collect the many British casualties. A combined
attack on the Boers' left and right flanks by Lieutenant-General Charles Warren's
5th Infantry Division and Major-General Neville Lyttelton's 4th Infantry Division
under artillery cover saw heavy Boer resistance from Railway Hill until it fell to
Colonel Walter Kitchener's 5th Brigade. The period saw 2 300 British killed,
wounded and MIA. Louis Botha's men lost 200 killed.(49) Ladysmith was relieved
and the Boer offensive was finally over, and the conventional phase of the war
was beginning to draw to a close, although the war itself was far from being
fought.

At this stage morale was low among the Boers, as they were systematically
being driven back to the Free State and beyond. Many openly deserted. The
Free State kommandant-general excused his men from an attack as they wanted
to attend a cattle sale. Bloemfontein fell on 13 March, Johannesburg on 5 May
and Pretoria on 6 June. Between March and July 1900, twelve to fourteen
thousand burghers surrendered. General Christiaan De Wet described Lord
Roberts' invitation to Boer combatants to return to their farms after swearing an

Waldo Kühn 118


oath of neutrality, as 'worse than the murderous lyddite bombs in shattering
Afrikanerdom.' Those who refused to sign the oath were sent to prisoner-of-war
camps. Many of the others would lose their farms anyway during the scorched-
earth campaign that was to ensue, and most would rejoin the commandos during
the guerrilla phase (50), while some were interned in concentration camps.
Towards the end of the war, some were persuaded to join the British army as
scouts. Called “Joiners”, they were resented by many Boers. A British army claim
estimates nearly five thousand republican burghers among its ranks in 1902. The
brothers of Generals Piet Cronjé and Christiaan de Wet played leading roles in
trying to get the Boers to accept the hopelessness of their cause and see
surrender as the only option for survival. (2)

Had the Anglo-Boer War ended in 1900, it would have gone into the history
books as another colonial war and would most likely not have conjured up such
strong feelings as it continues to do. But the two years that were to follow would
see suffering beyond imagine: 33 000 farms were burned down in the republics
(even the chickens were bayoneted) and water sources poisoned with animal
carcasses. Some nine thousand Boer-combatants died in all of the Anglo-Boer
War; Boer-civilian deaths in the two years that were to follow were three times
that number: 4 177 women, 1 500 (mostly elderly) men and 22 074 children (in
the camps) and thousands more in the open veld before wars-end. By the time of
the peace negotiations, 25 000 Boer children were dead.(4) In the Cape Colony,
Cape rebels as young as fourteen were executed as traitors; their families forced
to attend their execution. Sometimes they were presented with a bill for the
ammunition used. Families of rebels on farms in the Cape Colony, and those
suspected of aiding guerrillas were harassed and brutally attacked on their farms
by native gangs. (60)
It will never be known how many family-bibles were destroyed or looted during
the scorched-earth campaign, but many were lost. In those days almost every
Afrikaner-family possessed a large Dutch bible (Statebybel) which had been
passed down from generation to generation. A family-tree (a concise family-
history) was kept on the blank front pages. Alienating Afrikaners from their family-
history would have been vital if Anglicization was to succeed. No effort was
spared in destroying the archives of the Boer republics.

Waldo Kühn 119


PART III – TO THE BITTER END

President Steyn made General Christiaan de Wet Chief-kommandant of the Free


State, but with the Boers struggling to reorganize to make a proper stand,
Bloemfontein fell on 7 March 1900. On 17 March, Boer leaders met at a joint
council of war at Kroonstad. De Wet disbanded the kommandos with instructions
to reassemble at Sand River on 25 March. Non-combatants and wagons would
no longer accompany them and strict military discipline would be adhered to. The
burghers who had sworn an oath of neutrality were called up again. A new spirit
prevailed among the reassembled burghers. Though strict, they trusted De Wet.
(50)

General C.R. De Wet

On 31 March 1900 De Wet's force dealt the British a severe blow by defeating
Brigadier-General Broadwood's forces at Sanna's Post (Koring Spruit).
Broadwood's men were moving towards Bloemfontein following attacks on Boer
forces at Thaba n'Chu. The force consisted of Q and U Batteries of the Royal
Horse Artillery, a composite regiment of the Household Cavalry, the 10th Hussars,
the New Zealand and Burma Mounted Infantry and Roberts' Horse and
Rimington's Guides (light horse units raised from English-speaking South

Waldo Kühn 120


Africans). De Wet had 2 000 men at his disposal. He sent a force of 1 600 men
led by his brother Piet, to attack Broadwood from the north, while he occupied
Sanna's Post to intercept Broadwood's retreat. Sanna's Post also had strategic
value as it housed Bloemfontein's waterworks. An ambush was prepared for the
British at Modder River, while Piet de Wet's artillery opened fire on the British
troops as they were striking camp. The British retreated as expected towards
Christiaan de Wet's waiting force of entrenched riflemen. The civilian wagon
drivers who were first to reach the ravine where the Boers were hiding, were
seized and threatened that they would be shot if they alerted the British to their
presence. Unsuspecting British soldiers approaching the ravine in small groups
were ordered to surrender. About two hundred were captured along with six guns
of U-Battery. An alert officer realized what was happening and ordered Q-Battery
away. The British fell back to the cover of a railway station, while Q-Battery under
Major Phipps-Hornby and one gun from U-Battery that had managed to get away
from De Wet's force, deployed in the open and opened fire. Along with fire from
the railway station, the Boers were pinned down in the ravine, but Piet de Wet's
men stepped up pressure and Broadwood elected to fall back to the south.
British troops under fire managed to retrieve five of the seven captured guns,
many felled while crossing open terrain. Three hours after contact was broken,
Major-General Sir Henry Colville arrived to reinforce Broadwood's brigade, but by
then De Wet's men had returned to well-defended positions across the Modder
River. British casualties were 155 killed or wounded, and 428 captured along with
field guns and wagons. The Boers suffered three killed and five wounded. With
Bloemfontein's water-supply cut off, an epidemic of enteric fever, dysentery and
cholera broke out among the occupying British garrison in April 1900, leading to
2 000 fatalities.

A last desperate stand for Pretoria was made on 11 to 13 June at Donkerhoek


(Diamond Hill). Lord Roberts' troops had marched into the capitol on 5 June.
4 000 Boers (some sources 6 000) entrenched in the hills east of Pretoria faced
14 000 men led by General Ian Hamilton. The British attacked from the front and
on both flanks. Lieut.-Gen. Sir John French attacked the northern flank with
1 400 riders supported by artillery, but was stopped by General De la Rey on Day
1. Hamilton, attacking the right flank, encountered strong resistance from
General Piet Fourie. Roberts contemplated a costly frontal charge, but based on
reports received that evening decided to support Hamilton's effort against the
strong-point of Diamond Hill. Five battalions attacked the western slope of
Diamond Hill and, although driving the Boers back to defensive positions,
became pinned down themselves with covering fire from both flanks, with heavy

Waldo Kühn 121


fire coming from Rhenosterfontein Hill. Colonel S. De Lisle concentrated his
attack on Rhenosterfontein Hill, an eastward extension of Diamond Hill. His force
consisted of a battalion of British mounted infantry and the New South Wales
Mounted Rifles from Australia. As Hamilton began to drag his artillery up the
plateau, Louis Botha ordered his men to quietly disperse during the evening of
the 12th. They were pursued the next day by Major Hatherly Moor with 150
Australian troops and some minor skirmishes followed. In all the British saw less
than two hundred casualties. The Boers lost at least 24 killed and wounded. (51)
Shortly afterward a meeting of Transvaal military leaders including Jan Smuts,
Louis Botha and J.H. De la Rey recommended immediate surrender to avoid
disaster. Kruger, supporting their recommendation, cabled M.T. Steyn. But Steyn
furiously replied that the Transvaal had got the Free State and the Cape rebels
involved in a ruinous war in which the Free State had been laid waste. Was the
ZAR now to conclude 'a selfish and disgraceful peace' the moment the war had
reached its borders? Whatever the Transvaal intended to do, the OFS would fight
to the bitter end. Steyn was now the rallying point of the republican resistance; in
the words of Smuts, 'the most heroic figure of the war.' (2)
Chastened, the Transvaal burghers decided to continue fighting to the 'bitter
end' – until they were utterly crushed in defeat or had won the battle and restored
the republics' independence. The last stage of the war continued until May 1902.
(2)

OFS President M.T. Steyn

Waldo Kühn 122


ZAR President Paul Kruger

Seeking German assistance, Paul Kruger had traveled to Berlin in November


1900, but Kaiser Wilhelm II declined to meet with him. As of 1901, using the
Delagoa line, the war cabinet headed by Kruger with his Secretary of State, F.W.
Reitz operated out of railway cars temporarily stationed at Machadodorp in the
eastern Transvaal. Due to Kruger's frail health, they moved to Waterval-onder
were the winter was less harsh. Deneys Reitz described the last time he saw him:
At Waterval-onder we had our last sight of President Kruger. He was seated at
a table in a railway saloon, with a large Bible open before him, a lonely, tired man.
We stood gazing at him through the window, but as he was bowed in thought, we
made no attempt to speak to him. He left for Portuguese territory not long after,
and I never saw him again, for he was taken to Holland on a Dutch man-of-war,
and he is still in exile. (He died in Switzerland in 1904.) (4)

Lord Roberts was intent on closing the Boers' access to Delagoa Bay for good. At
the same time his net was closing around them, because what seemed like the
entire remnant of the Boer army was steadily being corralled to the Machadodorp
area on the Delagoa line in the eastern Transvaal. Along the path of retreat,
groups of Boers made courageous stands; then fell back after suffering losses. A
force of 19 000 troops under Sir Redverse Buller with 82 guns closed on Louis
Botha's line of 7 000 with 20 guns dug in near the town of Belfast. The brunt of
the battle was born by the Johannesburg section of the ZAR Police, dug in on a
hill on the farm Bergendal. The 74 men were attacked by 1 500 troops on foot of
the Inniskilling Fusiliers, 1st Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment and Gordon

Waldo Kühn 123


Highlanders following an artillery barrage. Twenty ZARP men were killed and
nineteen including their commander, Cmmdt. Oosthuizen, taken prisoner. The
remainder escaped with the rest of the retreating Boers towards Nelspruit. British
casualties were fifteen killed and 107 wounded.
Deneys Reitz vividly captured the final retreat, before Lord Roberts, on
September 1st, declared the entire ZAR British territory:
Beyond Machadodorp a single road climbs the last range, and from here one
can look down on upon the low country. As this was the only avenue of retreat,
we soon found ourselves traveling among a medley of burghers, guns, wagons,
and a great crowd of civilian refugees fleeing with their flocks and herds and
chattels. It was pitiful to see the exodus, for the English brought their guns up
with great speed and the road was heavily shelled over at times, as the wagons
with women and children came under fire, but on the whole their behavior was
good, and in the end the shelling proved more unpleasant than dangerous.
After a while the Transvaal Artillery managed to get a battery of Creusot guns into
action, which held up the advance sufficiently long to enable the non-combatants
with their wagons, carts and animals to get out of range, after which we too
moved slowly up the mountain...
Next day the Boer forces retired still farther down the valley to Nooitgedacht,
where about two thousand English prisoners were confined in a camp. They
were lining the barbed-wire enclosure beside the railway line to watch us go by,
and were in high spirits, for they knew that they were to be liberated that day.
They exchanged good-natured banter with us as we passed, although one of
them, less amiable than the rest, said to me: 'Call this a retreat? - I call it a bl—dy
rout!' I must say it looked like it, for by now the English advance was on our heels
once more, and the narrow valley road was thronged with horsemen, wagons
and cattle, all moving rearward in chaos. With the Boers however, appearances
are often deceptive – what might seem to be a mob of fugitives one day, might
well prove to be a formidable fighting force on the next, and the soldier who
spoke to me little thought that the men pouring in by disorderly flight were yet to
test the endurance and patience of Great Britain to its utmost. (4)

On 6 November 1900 Christiaan De Wet was camped with 800 members of the
Free State Kommando at Bothaville in the Free State. In their company was
President M.T. Steyn. They were surprised by an attack by an advanced guard of
600 men from a British force of Mounted Infantry under Major-General Charles
Knox. De Wet's forward look-outs at his main outpost had fallen asleep. The
advanced guard led by Lt.Col. Le Gallais were 300 yards away when first spotted.
The majority of De Wet's men fled on horseback with Pres. Steyn. But a core of

Waldo Kühn 124


150 men remained behind to fight the MI. An intense close-range firefight with
rifles and field guns ensued. After four hours that saw 38 British killed or
wounded and 25 Boers killed plus a further 30 wounded, Knox showed up with
his large infantry force. One surviving officer of the advance guard, Major William
Hickie led the MI in a bayonet charge, producing a Boer surrender of the
remaining 130 men. Hickie wanted to execute three of the men for being found in
possession of dum-dum bullets, but Knox humanely stopped this. De Wet
abandoned four Krupp field guns, a pom-pom, and two artillery pieces previously
captured from the British at the Battles of Colenso and Sanna's Post. The British
Lt.Col Le Gallais died that night of his wounds and Lt.Col. Wally Ross of the 8th
MI was severely wounded in the face. Of Knox's failure to pursue the rest of De
Wet's men, Hickie wrote: 'The general is an old woman...If Knox had the same
dash as Le Gallais we should have taken the whole lot, bagged the whole crowd.'
Despite his losses of weapons, ammunition, clothing and other supplies, De Wet
remained in the field and within a fortnight struck back at the British.

On 5 September 1901 in the Battle of Groenkloof, a British column under Colonel


Harry Scobell defeated an outnumbered kommando of Cape rebels led by
Kommandant Lotter. Major-General Sir John French had a three-point strategy to
deal with guerrilla kommandos: Prevent them from forming, keep chasing them to
prevent them from collecting supplies and new followers, and tire them down so
they can be hunted. Scobell's force which included the 9th Lancers, Cape
Mounted Rifles and Imperial Yeomanry, was in pursuit of Lotter's kommando in
the Tandjiesberg mountains after receiving intelligence from their African spies.(53)
Scobell followed Lotter to the farm Groenkloof were he believed they were holed
up in the farmhouse, but they were spending the night in a nearby sheep shed. At
dawn a squadron of Lancers went to investigate the sheep shed. As Lord
Douglas got of his horse to retrieve a dropped pistol, the men in the shed opened
fire, killing six men in his party. Immediately, a thousand rifles opened fire on the
sheep-house. Thirteen rebels were killed and 46 wounded, while 61 unwounded
were taken into captivity. Lotter and seven others were later executed for high
treason. This was a huge blow to the Northern Cape rebels, and their elite
kommando at that. Jan Smuts, whose theater of operations had become the
Northern Cape, would take revenge twelve days later at Elands River.

Waldo Kühn 125


General Jan Smuts

At this time, about a thousand Boers had penetrated the Cape Colony. The
kommandos of Generals De Wet and J.B.M. Hertzog had suffered such losses
during their respective stints in the Cape that they returned to the Free State. The
kommandos in the Cape Colony were joined by Cape rebels who were operating
under the knowledge that they would be executed as traitors to the Crown if
caught. Practically the entire rural Afrikaner population, known as the Cape Dutch,
supported the guerrilla forces operating in the colony. Generally English farmers
and “colored” communities and farm workers were aligned with the British and
the forces needed to be on their guard to the possibility that their movements
could be reported at any moment. (4)
On 17 September the kommando of Jan Smuts, desperate for supplies, horses
and ammunition, received word from a local farmer about a British camp in the
Elands River Poort. The men of the Smuts-kommando surrounded the camp of C
squadron of the 17th Lancers under Captain Sandeman in thick mist. Some men
of the Boer advanced party attacking the camp from the front were wearing
British uniforms, which added to the bedazzlement of the British soldiers. Deneys
Reitz stressed that men wearing British uniforms did so not intent on deceiving
the enemy, but because they had nothing but raided uniforms to wear. Reitz
himself had been wearing a grain sack for a shirt at that stage. Nor were the men
aware of the decree issued by Lord Kitchener that any Boer caught wearing a
British uniform was to be executed. (Wikipedia states the decree was issued just
after this incident.) The Lancers lost 29 killed including four officers and 41
wounded, before surrendering. Boer losses were one killed and six wounded.
Captain Sandeman's lieutenant, Lord George Vivian, pointed Deneys Reitz to his
bivouac tent and suggested he take his personal uniform.
During the following months many members of the kommando went about
bragging with their English uniforms, and were perplexed as to why the British

Waldo Kühn 126


were executing their men when caught. On learning of the decree they quickly
discarded the uniforms. (4, 53)

As Jan Smuts was raiding in the Cape Colony and gaining supporters among the
Cape Dutch, Louis Botha attempted to do the same in Natal. British intelligence
became aware of the plan and military columns moved to intercept his
kommando, but he managed to evade them. On 14 September 1901 Botha's
1000 man commando camped near Utrecht, in order to rest their horses from
exposure to the cold spring rains. After further intelligence information, Major
Hubert Gough took a train with the 24th Mounted Infantry, from Kroonstad in the
OFS to Dundee in Natal. Gough marched his men from Dundee to De Jaeger's
Drift (A drift is a ford in a river) on the Buffalo River. During a reconnaissance
patrol on 17 September, Gough observed through his field glasses, 300 Boers
dismounted on a farm near Blood River Poort. Leaving Lieutenant Colonel H.K.
Steward with 450 of the MI in the rear, Gough proceeded with the rest of his men
into a plain that afternoon intent on launching a surprise attack on the farm.
Unbeknown to him, Botha was moving around his right flank with seven hundred
men. Botha launched a mounted attack on the exposed men, killing 23 and
wounding 21. 241 men and two guns were captured. Boer casualties were light.
The captured men were stripped of their weapons, useful gear and clothes and
allowed to walk to the nearest British post.
Botha could not find a crossing on the Buffalo River that was not blocked by
British forces. On the Zululand border he attacked a British camp named Fort
Itala. He lost 56 men killed or wounded in the process and aborted his plan and
turned back to Transvaal. (54)

The Battle of Bakenlaagte took place on 30 October 1901. Colonel G.E.


Benson's British No 3 flying column specialized in night raids and were terrorizing
Boer kommandos on the Highveld. Louis Botha's kommando joined up with those
of Generals Grobler, Brits and Viljoen to attack the rearguard of the column while
it was in marching formation to its base camp. On 30 October No 3 flying column
was returning to base after “farm clearing operations”. It was raining and the
column was spread out into small clusters of marching men. Small groups of
Boer snipers were harassing them. Botha arrived with 800 men after a 40 km
continuous ride and went straight into action as the strung out column presented
a unique opportunity for his numerically superior force. The column's rear guard
of 210 Commonwealth men made a defensive stand on Gun Hill against 900
Boers. After a close quarter 20-minute fight the rear guard was annihilated. They
suffered 73 killed and 134 wounded. Colonel Benson, a veteran from

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Magersfontein, died the next morning of his wounds. The Boers lost 14 killed and
48 wounded. The Boers were unable to take the entire column as they had
planned, because the fight with the rear guard allowed it time to deploy in
defensive positions under Lt Colonel Wools-Sampson. (55)

By this time the scorched earth policy was laying waste to most of the farms in
the republics. Lord Roberts had destroyed only the surrounding farms if the
railway line had been sabotaged, but Kitchener stepped up the policy to a
general campaign designed to terrify the Boer guerillas and deprive them of
supplies. By the end of 1900 the British had begun destroying Boer homesteads
and putting the families in concentration camps.
The British anti-Boer propaganda that preceded the war created the
conditioning that was necessary for treating harmless civilians callously. A British
writer wrote: 'We have conjured up for ourselves a fantastic and outrageous
image which we call a Boer. This savage being was hideous in form, unkept and
unwashed, violent, hypocritical, a persecutor and assassin of the English.' Once
the Boers had been defined in derogatory terms, it was not too difficult to put
Boer women and children in camps in shocking conditions. (2)
Historian Thomas Pakenham remarked: '[The plan for concentration camps] had
all the hallmarks of Kitchener's famous shortcuts. It was big, ambitious and
simple – and extraordinarily cheap.' The British military under whose
responsibility the 150 - 200 000 Boer and African civilians in the camps fell,
considered the well-being of the inmates a low priority. (2)
Without any proper sanitary conditions, the condition of the underfed inmates
quickly deteriorated. Many died, mainly of typhoid and measles, partly because
the Boers as a rural people had not built up immunity to diseases and partly
because of their weakened condition.

It was Emily Hobhouse, who brought the matter to British public attention. She
had been organizing protests against the war in Britain, and received permission
to visit South Africa and to inspect some of the camps. On her return in May 1901
she laid her findings before the British public. By October the death rate had
soared to 344 per thousand. Children under five had virtually no chance of
surviving. (2)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emily_Hobhouse

List of names: http://www2.lib.uct.ac.za/mss/bccd/Persons/A/2/0/

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Lizzie van Zyl died in 1901 in Bloemfontein camp. 50 percent of the Boer child-population of
the two republics died in the camps. 25 percent of the Boer-inmates died. Children accounted
for 81 percent of camp deaths.

Towards the end of 1901 a commission of women who supported the war, visited
the camps. The Fawcett commission, while investigating only the “white camps”
(camps where white women and children constituted the majority inmate
population) – there were also more than 21 000 (as calculated by Stowell V.
Kessler; Some sources: 100 000) displaced African civilians in separate camps,
with an imprecisely recorded death toll of 12 per cent (the lower death-toll could
be due to the African camps containing a greater proportion of adult males who
were more resilient than children) – made some valuable recommendations
which saw the death rate drop sharply.(2,61) The recommendations included
providing facilities for boiling drinking water, that rations be improved with
vegetables added and sending more nurses from England.
[The concentration camps were not the same as the POW camps. 25 600 of the
28 000 Boer prisoners-of-war were sent overseas to camps like St' Helena and
Bermuda.]
Many women had managed to avoid capture by forming small bands called
vrouwen laagers, which wandered the land and hid in mountains, forests and
reed beds. Nonnie de la Rey led one such group and became the personification
of the women who defied the British. Boer women's resolve was again a major
factor in the continuation of the war. After the British had overrun the Free State
in mid-1900, a Boer woman said: '[We] think the men should be on kommando
instead of meekly giving up their arms to, and getting passes from, the English.'
In one camp the British considered separating the Hensoppers (men who had
surrendered without a fight) from the women to spare them their bitter

Waldo Kühn 129


reproaches. In another, a Hensopper wrote of being 'unmercifully persecuted by
the anti-British sex.' A British visitor, J.R. MacDonald wrote after the war in What
I Saw in South Africa (London: The Echo, 1902): 'It was the vrouw who kept the
war going on so long. It was in her heart that patriotism flamed into an all-
consuming heat, forgiving nothing and forgetting nothing.' A Free State woman
stated what separated her from the English: republicanism, history, the taal
(language) and 'hatred of the [British] race.' (2)

In the Cape Colony the governor, Sir Walter Hely-Hutchinson, believed that half
of the white population was more-or-less pro-Boer and that the greater part of the
colony was in a 'half suppressed state of rebellion.' The Bond-backed Schreiner-
government was attempting to walk an impossible tight-rope, constantly clashing
with Milner over his demands to declare martial law in affected districts. In June
1900 the government split over the Imperial government's demands that the
Cape rebels be disenfranchised after the war. In the wake of Schreiner's
resignation, Milner appointed Gordon Sprigg in his place and suspended
Parliament for the rest of the year. It would not reconvene for nearly two years. (2)

By the end of 1901 Kitchener decided to send no more civilians into


concentration camps, and to turn all those who wished to leave over to the
kommandos. Due to the scarcity of food this placed an impossible burden on the
kommandos. In Transvaal alone, 2 540 families were now dependent on the
kommandos. By March 1902, with winter approaching, large tracts of farmland
had been occupied by Africans. In the southeastern Transvaal a Zulu force,
retaliating against theft of their cattle, attacked a sleeping Boer kommando and
killed 56 burghers.
By the start of 1902, republican forces in the Transvaal constituted 10 000, and in
the Free State a combined force of 6 000 Freestaters and 3 000 Cape rebels.
Early in 1902 the British high command allowed delegates of the republics to
deliberate over the war. Steyn continued to stress the necessity of the Boers not
losing self-respect by suing for peace. Kitchener remarked: '[Steyn] is head and
shoulders over the rest and has great influence.' (2)

Movement of the Boer guerrillas had become greatly restricted by Lord


Kitchener's block house system. Lines of block houses interspersed with barbed
wire armed with trip wire alarms lined the railways and carved up the countryside.
The system was designed to allow the guerrillas to become trapped by British
columns. One line in the Free State reached from Harrismith to the Tradoux farm,
25 miles (40 km) east of Bethlehem. The line under construction was guarded at

Waldo Kühn 130


four points by forces under Major-General Sir Leslie Rundle. Rundle with 330
men and one gun guarded the wagon road, the end of the blockhouse line was
guarded by 150 infantry, a 400-man regiment of the Imperial Light Horse lay 13
miles (21 km) to the east at Elands River Bridge, and Major Williams with 550
men, mainly of the 11th Battalion, Imperial Yeomanry held the hill Groenkop with a
15-pounder gun and a pom-pom. General De Wet scouted the British positions
on Groenkop for three days and noticed it was possible to scale the western side
of the hill using the cover afforded by the trace of a gully. On Christmas day his
forces were silently scaling the hill after removing their boots. Halfway up they
were spotted by a look-out who fired a few shots to make alarm. De Wet shouted
'Stormt Burgers!' the men charged over the crest and fired down into the British
tents. The British surrendered after 40 minutes of fighting. British casualties were
about 300 and those on the side of the Boers, light. The 250 unwounded British
prisoners were stripped naked and turned loose the next day.
By 5 February 1902 the blockhouse system was complete and Kitchener sent
9 000 men on a sweep through the countryside, netting 285 Boers, although De
Wet and President Steyn escaped the snare. The second drive lasted from
February 16-28. Again De Wet got away, but had abandoned most of his cattle.
On 27 February the column of Col. Henry Rawlinson encircled and captured a
650 man kommando at Lang Reit, near Tweefontein. The next drive from 4-11
March by Major Elliott's division could net only hundred Boers and allowed De
Wet to escape to join the fighting Koos de la Rey in the Western Transvaal. (56)
Kitchener's block houses did not extend into the Western Transvaal due to
insufficient water supplies. Instead he deployed nine columns to sweep the
region and hunt down De la Rey and other Boer operatives.
In 1902 there were 3 000 Boer fighters operating in three kommandos in the
West Transvaal under the overall command of General De la Rey. On 24
February De la Rey attacked a wagon convoy commanded by Lieutenant Colonel
S.B. Von Donop. De la Rey killed, wounded or captured 12 officers and 369 men,
for the loss of 51 Boers.
Lord Methuen vowed to track the Boer leader down. Less than two weeks later,
De la Rey ambushed Methuen's column at Tweebosch (De Klipdrift) on the Little
Harts River. The British force numbered 1 250, including nearly 1000 mounted
men and four guns. Methuen's force contained largely green troops of whom
many surrendered or fled. The British regulars fought stubbornly from dawn till
9:30 am. British casualties were 200 killed and wounded and 600 surrendered
plus all four guns captured. Methuen was taken prisoner after being wounded
twice and breaking his leg when his horse fell on him. He was the only general
taken prisoner by the Boers during the war.

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General J.H. (Koos) de la Rey

De la Rey sent Methuen to a British hospital in his own carriage under a flag of
truce, despite demands from his own troops that he execute him. De la Rey was
subsequently court marshaled by the Boers for freeing such a valuable prisoner,
but after convincing them that Methuen would withdraw from the war, he was let
off. When news of the disaster reached Kitchener he withdrew to his room for two
days, refusing to eat. Methuen was replaced by Colonel Ian Hamilton, who would
beat the Boers at Rooiwal on 11 April, the final battle of the war. Questions were
asked as to why Methuen was not replaced after his defeat at Magersfontein.
Methuen escaped with his career intact, with the War Office and Kitchener taking
the blame for providing him with green troops. (57)
On 6 April, Kitchener placed Colonel Ian Hamilton in charge of another drive to
attempt to capture De la Rey's fighters. They wanted to drive the Boers against a
line of blockhouses, entrenchments and mobile columns at Klerksdorp. Hamilton
ordered the column of Colonel Robert Kekewich to dig in at Rooiwal. They dug in
with 3 000 infantry, six field guns and two pom-poms. The Boers were unaware of
this new twist, having scouted Rooiwal only recently, they believed it to be lightly
defended. Therefore, in an attempt to escape Hamilton's drive, a kommando
under Kommandant Potgieter and General Kemp tried to overrun the position
with 1 700 mounted riflemen on the morning of April, 11th. Firing from the saddle,
the Boer charge overran a British picket of forty mounted infantry, inflicting twenty
casualties. Some inexperienced British troops and some Yeoman units fled in a
panic. But the British line was too strong and the Boer charge was stopped 30
meters from the line by a combination of rifle and artillery fire. Fifty Boers were

Waldo Kühn 132


killed including Kommandant Potgieter, and many more were wounded. The rest
fled. British casualties came to 70 killed and wounded. Hamilton delayed pursuit
of the Boers, fearing ambushes. After 90 minutes he gave the order to pursue.
Fifty were captured and the artillery taken at Tweebosch recovered.(58) This was
the last major battle of the war.

Commandant F.J. Potgieter, slain 27 metres from the British line at Rooiwal.

The war saw atrocities from both sides. Gideon Scheepers became a hero of the
resistance in the Cape. He was executed after being treated harshly while lying
sick. His family was refused to bury him and his body was subsequently buried at
an unknown location. He was a Free State citizen. His adventures are described
at: http://trailriderreports.blogspot.com/2010/12/on-trail-of-gideon-
scheepers.html
The execution of Abraham Esau by a Free State kommando under Charles
Nieuwoudt in Calvinia was a Boer atrocity that also created a martyr. Esau was
trying to organize a “colored” army to fight the Boers in the Northern Cape. For
this the Boers flogged him repeatedly and tied him to a pole in the hot sun for
being an instigator. This already had made him a martyr. When the Boers
discovered that he had kept the British updated on the activities of kommandos in
the region, he was executed. (59)
Another possible Boer atrocity against the non-white community of the Northern
Cape, committed by Manie Maritz, is described in Commando. There were no
repercussions as Maritz would become commander of a South African Defence

Waldo Kühn 133


Force invasion force in German West Africa. In that capacity he committed
treason by conspiring with the Germans and leading his men into a trap during
the First World War, when South Africa under Jan Smuts and Louis Botha was at
war on the side of the Allies. He subsequently fled to Spain. Deneys Reitz:
General Smuts and his staff travelled by a separate route to the Leliefontein
Mission Station, which we reached in six days. We found the place sacked and
gutted, and, among the rocks behind the burnt houses, lay twenty or thirty dead
Hottentots, still clutching their antiquated muzzle-loaders. This was Maritz's
handiwork. He had ridden into the station with a few men, to interview the
European missionaries, when he was set upon by armed Hottentots, he and his
escourt narrowly escaping with their lives. To avenge the insult, he returned next
morning with a stronger force and wiped out the settlement, which seemed to
many of us a ruthless and unjustifiable act. General Smuts said nothing, but I
saw him walk past the boulders where the dead lay, and on his return he was
moody and curt, as was his custom when displeased. (4)

The British accused members of Smuts' kommando of a massacre of unarmed


Africans who had worked for the British forces. The incident was described by
Deneys Reitz: The shooters, short on ammunition, were acting in defense of two
fellow kommando-members who were being driven toward a cliff by a mob.
Earlier in the day the hostile tribesmen had attacked the Boers riding through
their village, and killed two of them. Their corpses were mutilated for muti. (4)

There was also the of execution of Boer captives, which George Witton claimed
was widespread,(64,65) but it was generally known in the republics that the British
treated their prisoners well and the Boers had no qualms about leaving their
seriously wounded for the British who had excellent field hospitals.

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PART IV – PEACE

In May 1902 sixty Boer leaders (thirty each from the Transvaal and OFS)
gathered in Vereeniging under British auspices to discuss the issue of peace.
Any decision required a two-thirds majority among the sixty delegates. Each
delegate would vote as a plenipotentiary, that is, in accordance with his own
opinion after the debate was concluded, and without consulting his men in the
field. The Free State delegates continued to resist the idea of surrender, but their
resolve was weakened when Steyn's declining health forced him to withdraw
from the discussions.
Proposals put forward at the meeting included that of a state within a British
protectorate. ZAR State Secretary F.W. Reitz, supported by Louis Botha,
proposed that they could cede Swaziland and dispose of the idea of a state
which maintained its own foreign affairs and military. They could even give up the
Witwatersrand with its gold mines, which would simultaneously rid them of the
money that soiled the Boer character and all the drankjode (Jews engaged in the
liquor trade). The British abruptly rejected the idea.
Smuts believed the only realistic option was to accept the idea of a united South
Africa as part of the British Empire. Smuts told them of a private conversation he
had had with Kitchener, who shared with him his feeling that a Liberal
government would soon come to power in Britain, making self-rule for South
Africa a distinct possibility. Steyn alleged after the war that he had received a
letter from Smuts which suggested that Smuts may have proposed during his
meeting with British leaders, the possibility of South African military support
should Britain ever find itself in trouble.
The British offered to not treat the Cape rebels too harshly. They would be
disenfranchised for five years, an offer that might not be repeated should the
fighting continue. Milner for one would prefer, as he had suggested, confiscation
of property and banishment of the Bittereinder leaders. But Kitchener was more
forthcoming. Kitchener told the British government that Britain would have to
build South Africa on the whites and in particular the Afrikaners. He considered
the Boers who fought and those that supported them, as the best future British
allies, rather than the 'loyalists' Milner wanted to use as collaborators. (2)
The issue of the black franchise in the Transvaal and OFS came up as early as
February 1901 during talks held in Middelburg in the Transvaal between Louis
Botha and Kitchener. They agreed the issue would be resolved when self-rule
was granted to the territories some time in the future. The British government

Waldo Kühn 135


commented on the issue a few weeks later that the blacks would be restricted to
the degree of safeguarding the preponderance of whites.(2) Smuts deferred the
issue in his draft proposal at the 1902 talks: 'The question of granting the
Franchise to the Natives will not be decided until after the introduction of self-
government', in other words, ironing out details of the issue was beyond the
scope of the current talks.
Generals Christiaan de Wet and Jan Kemp expressed the view that the republics
were the very foundation of Afrikaner power and cultural existence. If they were
to disappear would Afrikanerdom itself not be shattered? Louis Botha on the
other hand argued for a pre-emptive surrender, 'while we are still a nation, and
before we have quite vanished as such.' He personally could carry on, and he
knew that his family was well looked after, however, the Boer position was
steadily deteriorating. Britain was redoubling its efforts, the Cape was no longer a
factor, there was ever-increasing danger from blacks, and the enemy would no
longer look after the families in camps. 'It has been said that we should fight to
the bitter end, but nobody can tell me where the bitter end is. Is it where every
man is either buried or banished? Do not let us regard a period of universal burial
as the bitter end. If we do we shall be to blame for national suicide.' De la Rey
was prepared to continue fighting if it held any hope of saving the volk (the
people or nation) but it would likely end in a dishonorable mass surrender. (2)
Smuts told the delegates that a point had been reached where independence
was no longer realistic. That avenue had now become exhausted and a new way
had to be found for the Afrikaner nation to survive. '[We] must not sacrifice the
Afrikaansche volk on the altar of independence... We must not run the risk of
sacrificing our nation and its future to a mere idea which can no longer be
realized.' He said, 'It has not been a war for the freedom of all the Boers but for
the freedom of all the nations in South Africa.' As to how the Afrikaner nation
would maintain itself if not in an independent republic, one of the delegates,
Jozua François Naudé, later co-founder of the Afrikaner Broederbond, suggested
maintaining the Dutch language as a vessel to resurrect the volk, since
guarantee of the language right was one of the conditions set by the Bittereinders
in the veld. (2)
The terms of peace were:
Unconditional surrender and recognition of the British sovereign,
All POWs would be repatriated provided they became British subjects,
A guarantee to Boers of personal freedom and liberty,
A pledge to end military rule promptly,
Deferral of the issue of franchise of blacks until a South African government was
instated,

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The allocation of a sum of £3 million, as financial aid to the vanquished Boers.

On 31 May 1902 the delegates elected to surrender with 54 votes against six.
Acting ZAR president S.W. Burger stressed the necessity for Afrikaner unity in
undertaking any future political action. He urged Afrikaner loyalists not to shun
those who were disloyal, but to forgive and forget. When the Free State
delegation told Steyn the final terms he cried: 'You have sold out the volk for £3
million!' A seriously ill Steyn was absent when the peace treaty was signed that
same evening in Pretoria. He had previously vowed, 'I shall never put my hand
on a piece of paper in which I sacrifice my people's independence.' (2)

The period following the peace treaty saw emigration of large groups of Boers,
known as the Boer diaspora. A group moved to Patagonia in Argentina(62),
another group under Ben Viljoen moved to Mexico (Hacienda Humboldt in
Chihuahua), others to Namibia and Angola. A large group moved to British East
Africa. They were mostly “Joiners” (who had sided with Britain during the war)
and their families who felt persecuted among Afrikaners. The treks took the form
of migrations, and began to dwindle in 1906 and 1907 when the Transvaal and
OFS were granted a measure of autonomy and the British government stopped
issuing cash grants to settlers in British East Africa. Generals Ben Viljoen and
Piet Cronjé were criticized in South Africa for taking part in the “Boer War Circus”
in the U.S.A., a pre-Hollywood reenactment of the Boer War.

Trevor S. Emslie, involved with the publication of Adrift on the Open Veld (4)
wrote: In 1902 the Boers lost the war, but won the peace on favorable terms – by
1907 General Louis Botha was Prime Minister of a united South Africa including
the Cape and Natal. Yet the bitterness of reaction to the suffering and loss of
men, women and children in British concentration camps – more than double the
total number of fighting men lost on commando – was to leave an indelible mark
for decades to come. Who can deny that past brutality gave birth to future
oppression, and that the wrongs of the second half of the twentieth century were
closely bound up with those of the first?

Waldo Kühn 137


12. POST-WAR SOUTH AFRICA

Lord Milner was now High Commissioner of the Cape Colony, as well as
Governor of the Transvaal Colony and Orange River Colony, with Natal's support
pledged. Aided in part by the extensive disenfranchisement of the Cape Rebels,
the Progressives won the 1904 election with Leander Starr Jameson (protagonist
in the Jameson Raid) at the helm. A contingent of Oxford graduates, called
Milner’s Kindergarden, was brought from England to oversee reconstruction and
promote imperialist goals, building the new union on capitalism and an efficient
professional bureaucracy. Milner put much effort into developing a single political
system, an overhauled civil service and integrated infrastructure. £16 million was
spent on getting the defeated Boers back to farming.
The peace treaty stipulated that Dutch would be taught in schools where parents
desired it, and would be allowed in courts. Milner frankly told the Boer leaders he
wanted only one public language in South Africa, English. Milner proclaimed
English the sole official language and the sole medium for instruction in schools.
Three hours a week would be set aside for children to study the Bible in Dutch
and the Dutch language, if the parents had requested it. Schools had to spread
the Imperialist creed: 'Language is important but the tone and spirit is even more
important... Everything that cramps [South African scholars'] view to South Africa
only... makes for Afrikanerdom and further discord.' Acting Director for Education,
E.B. Sargent declared his intention to infuse Afrikaner children with 'the
greatness of the English Imperial idea.' Six hundred young teachers from Britain
and other parts of the Empire were sent for. Sargent told his staff their function
was to indoctrinate children as comprehensively as possible: 'You ought to have
a political aim in all your school work and that aim should be to make political
parties unnecessary.'
Milner wrote it was a complete illusion that Afrikaners cared much about 'the
great Afrikaner nation.' Smuts commented: '[Milner] has dreamed a dream of a
British South Africa – loyal with broken English and happy with a broken heart.' (2)
Smuts wrote to the Free State leader Abraham Fischer: '[There] are years of
great danger before us – partly because people have fallen so deep, so
fathomlessly deep, into poverty and misery, partly because everything will be
done by the other side, through their education system and otherwise, to
anglicise the generation now growing up. It is our duty to guard against this and
that is why I am so strongly in favor of ourselves, if necessary, providing the

Waldo Kühn 138


education for our children.' (2)

Milner's policy towards native peoples was summarized in the statement that
blacks had to be governed well and justly, but ruled by the white man since he
was elevated 'many, many steps above the black man' which the latter would
take 'centuries to climb.' (It is possible that he was attempting to appease
Afrikaner-fears with the statement.) Pass laws controlling movements of Africans
were policed more strictly and strike action by blacks was illegal. Afrikaners were
allowed to take up arms for protection of whites in areas with high concentrations
of blacks; an Afrikaner constabulary under Major-General Robert Baden-Powell
disarmed rural Africans. Louis Botha said during evidence at the Transvaal
Labour Commission in 1903: '...the Kaffirs are gradually beginning to see that the
Boers are just as much masters as the other white men, and that the two races
[Boer and British] are standing together.'(2) (Britain had made extensive use of
armed black soldiers against Boer-fighters and–civilians during the war. They
were thought to have been promised Boer-land and cattle for their services. (7,
110))
Before the war, the British army had raised black expectations by promising
workers much higher wages. But gold mines were coming under pressure as
most of the richer reefs were exhausted and dividends could be maintained only
through lowered production costs, which meant lower wages for workers. In
December 1900 the Chamber of Mines reduced black mineworkers' wages by
nearly a quarter and introduced, with Milner's backing, the Witwatersrand Native
Labour Association as a central recruiting agency through which mines
cooperated in imposing uniformly low wages for blacks, only slightly higher than
farm wages. Many blacks were not prepared to perform the dangerous work with
an average death rate of 70 per thousand workers per month at such low wages.
To remedy the labor shortage, Milner agreed to the proposal by some mining
directors to import Chinese workers on short term contracts with temporary
permits to stay in South Africa. More than 63 000 Chinese laborers were brought
in, forming a third of the mine labor force at the end of 1905. They worked and
were housed in dismal conditions. Milner invariably sided with the employers in
industrial disputes, emphasizing the importance of rapid economic growth. Soon
Milner's administration was accused of using Chinese 'slave labor.'
The Boer leaders used the Chinese issue with success against Milner and the
white English-speakers on the Witwatersrand found themselves split into different
camps over the issue: A faction of white laborers fearing competition from low-
wage Chinese labor and opposed to the capitalist economic power of the industry,
formed a workers' party. Another faction called the Responsibles favored prompt

Waldo Kühn 139


introduction of self-rule, while a third, which included some of the mining
magnates, called the progressive faction, supported Milner. Milner also fell out of
favor with Cape English-speakers. He had wanted to suspend the Cape
Constitution as part of the unification process which was to create a new national
constitution. His plan met with opposition from John X. Merriman, calling it 'a raid
upon the liberties of the country.' Merriman was supported by anglophile Gordon
Sprigg, who broke with his party over the issue.
With Milner growing unpopular, the Boer leaders now sent out a message to
English-speakers that they were keen to work towards reconciliation of the two
groups. The call for reconciliation made a great impression on moderate English-
speakers. Smuts had once written to his wife: 'The curtain falls over the Boers as
British subjects and the plucky little republics are no more... Let us do our best to
bind up the old wounds and to forgive and forget...' (2)

The Afrikaner Bond had managed to get through the war relatively unscathed,
although three of its parliamentary members had lost their seats as a result of
their association with republican forces.
William Schreiner, still supported by the Bond, and including the likes of liberal
politicians like John X. Merriman and J.W. Sauer, formed the South African Party.
The SAP was to offer a more inclusive alternative to the Bond. Its stated aim was,
'the development of a feeling of unity among the different nationalities of British
South Africa and the unification of the British South African colonies in a Federal
Union, with consideration for the mutual interests of the colonies and of the
superior authority of the British Crown.'
Meanwhile the Boer leaders had made Afrikaner-unity after the war, one of their
first priorities. Louis Botha addressed a secret meeting of the Dutch Reformed
synod, requesting that the National Scouts (Boers who had joined the British
military) be chastised, but accepted back into the congregations, thereby making
the church an instrument to promote reconciliation among Afrikaners. Milner had
approached Botha, Smuts and De la Rey with the prospect of seats in a
nominated legislature. They declined the invitation and rejected an initial British
Constitutional offer which granted only limited self-rule, while withholding the vote
from the many landless Afrikaners.
In May 1904 the political party Het Volk was established in the Transvaal under
the leadership of Louis Botha and his deputy, Jan Smuts. In May 1906 the Free
State Boers formed the Orangia Unie.

Milner's education policy had seen many school teachers from the ZAR
retrenched after the war; many of whom now poured their energy into the

Waldo Kühn 140


establishment of Christian-National private schools, after the education model
developed by the Dutch neo-Calvinists Groen van Prinsterer and Abraham
Kuyper. A second taalbeweging (“language movement”) was in the making. The
first movement (Chapter 8) had centered on a conservative faction of the Dutch
Reformed Church in the town of Paarl. The Stellenbosch theological seminary
had been central to that struggle. A major role player had been Rev. SJ du Toit.
The new movement centered on the Reformed (Dopper) Church and its
theological school at Potchefstroom. The teachers and ministers trained at the
Potchefstroom seminary were the strongest supporters of Christian-National
schools. The central figures in the new struggle were Willem Postma, a political
columnist and later Reformed minister, his brother Ferdinand, later rector of the
Potchefstroom seminary, and a former Boer medic, theology professor and
Afrikaans poet, J.D. Du Toit (son of SJ du Toit). It was Jakob Daniël du Toit, well
known as the Afrikaans poet Totius, who was to complete the task his father had
taken up, of completing the Afrikaans translation of the Bible. J.D. Du Toit wrote
contemplative and sorrowful poetry, borne out of his experience of losing two
children. His little girl had been struck by lightning and literally fell dead into his
arms. He put much effort into producing poetic versions of the Psalms.
The Doppers' influence was out of all proportion to their small numbers. Taking
'In isolation lies our strength' as a motto, the Doppers wove the strands of religion,
language and nationhood into a nationalist cloth. Willem Postma urged Afrikaners
to protect their identity from being destroyed by English-speakers and their
culture. 'Our people are Christian Afrikaners. This is our tradition. The whole
development of our people comes from and is the fruit of Christian principles.' To
adopt the mother tongue is a badge of identity and to give it a central place in the
school and the church was a way of building a strong, separate nation and
religious community. 'Take away our language and we will become Englishmen
and accept their religion.' He extended the principle of separation between the
two white groups to separation between whites and blacks. He envisaged a piece
of land for the black nations with their own schools, churches, parliaments and
universities; however if 'they came here they must work and not play tennis.'
Ferdinand Postma urged the teaching of Afrikaner history to counter the
imperialist history taught in schools. (2)

Milner took note that the new wave of Afrikaner nationalism was being driven by
the Afrikaner Calvinist intelligentsia. He wrote in 1905 that the influence of
parsons, doctors, attorneys, law agents, journalists, and the more educated and
town-frequenting of their own class, were responsible for 'pumping' the 'Afrikaner
doctrine' into the more simple country Boers. (2)

Waldo Kühn 141


CNE-schools (Christian Nationalist Education), private schools promoting the
Calvinist value system and Afrikaner culture, rapidly sprang up in the former
republics as a result of Dutch aid and the founding of the Commission for
Christian National Education in the Transvaal through the efforts of Jan Smuts
and church leaders. The schools used mother-tongue instruction, with English as
second medium. Many Afrikaner children were too poor to attend private schools
and went to missionary schools which offered mother-tongue education. (By
1891 already, one out of three whites had attended these schools with black and
colored pupils.) A large number of Afrikaner children dropped out of state schools
at an early age. By the 1890s there were more non-white pupils at school in the
Cape Colony than whites.

In January 1906 the Liberal Party under Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman came to
power and Smuts paid Campbell-Bannerman a visit in London, to take up the
case of the republics. As a result of the discussions, in which Smuts painted the
political conflict in Transvaal as a conflict between the mining industry and 'the
permanent population of the land, English as well as Dutch', Britain granted self-
government to the former republics. Smuts considered this concession as a
'magnanimous gesture'.

Het Volk won the 1907 Transvaal election, where Afrikaners formed no more than
50 percent of the electorate, using the same formula used by the SAP in the
Cape – broadening its appeal to attract both Afrikaners and moderates from the
English-speaking white community. Louis Botha formed a six-member cabinet
with four Afrikaners and two English. The party knew that it had to tread carefully
on the issue of language of instruction in schools, as English-speakers would be
up in arms if their children were expected to learn Dutch at school. Smuts now
changed his mind about the effectiveness of the CNE system, arguing for state
schools to foster reconciliation between the two white communities.
Reconciliation was indeed an urgent matter, as the ensuing years would prove,
with Afrikaners constantly on the edge of rebellion. But Louis Botha was already
talking of more than reconciliation, referring to a new “single nation of whites.”
Smuts felt strongly that education had to prepare Afrikaner children for the job
market, for which proficiency in English was essential. After the war, more
Afrikaners than ever were desperately poor and flocking to the cities.
Announcing Het Volk's withdrawal of its support for the CNE schools, Louis Botha
remarked: “We have to make concessions in education. But it is for no other
reason than to realize one of our greater ideals, namely to bring about in this
country a single nation of whites.” Smuts' school system allowed mother-tongue

Waldo Kühn 142


education until the sixth school-year, with English progressively phased in and
becoming the medium for education from the sixth year, though two subjects
could be taken in Dutch if preferred.
Het Volk also appeased the mining industry. Smuts, who at one time had
considered capitalism as a new factor in the world that endeavored to 'gain
political power and to make all other forms of government and influence
subservient to its own needs', now tolerated it and encouraged industry for the
sake of rapid economic development. Het Volk's leaders assured the mining
magnates of a stable and efficient environment in which to operate. (2)

In the Free State, where Afrikaners constituted 90 percent of the white population,
Alfred Milner spent substantial amounts of funds on expropriating farms and
settling British immigrants on them. First to express their disappointment with this
tactic were the Afrikaners who had sided with Britain during the war.
General J.B.M. Hertzog, backed by M.T. Steyn, formed the Orangia Unie. They
won 31 out of 38 seats in the Free State. Abraham Fischer became PM, but
Hertzog wielded most influence in the cabinet.
Hertzog raised the issue of language policy to a central position in the recovery
of the Boer people. Hertzog and Steyn declared that the respect the British
displayed towards Dutch as a public language would be the yardstick of the
respect they had for the Afrikaner community. Hertzog stated: 'It is impossible to
cooperate with someone who displays contempt for the language. Someone who
is lacking in respect for the language in which I was educated is lacking in his
respect for me.'

J.B.M. Hertzog, Boer general, judge and leader of his people.

Waldo Kühn 143


Their school system allowed mother-tongue education with the second language
gradually phased in, but after the sixth year at least three subjects had to be
taught in Dutch and three in English. The English community was in uproar that
their children in the Free State had to study in Dutch and the English media
called Hertzog a 'racialist'.
A sharp division had been forming for some time between the Free State
leadership and the Botha-Smuts partnership. Strongest was the Free Staters'
resentment of Louis Botha, who had explored peace terms with the British
leaders during the war, without having consulted them. After the war, Botha had
sent the Free State leaders money to buy a newspaper company, suggesting it
was a personal gift when it had in fact been acquired from an old ZAR
government fund. In 1907, Botha's Het Volk government presented the newly
discovered, 3100 carat Cullinan diamond to King Edward VII as a token of the
Transvaal people's 'loyalty and affection.' Steyn remarked: 'It would be better if
Botha did not lay the loyalty butter on so very thick.' (2)

Milner left South Africa in 1905, embittered by the Liberal government's granting
of self-rule to the republics. He remained committed though to destroying
Afrikanerdom. He remained committed to settle 250 000 British immigrants (the
Milner-settlers) in South Africa as he wanted to see a ratio of three British for
every two Afrikaners. They had to dominate the civil service.(97) Such ideals only
strengthened Afrikaners’ resolve and caused a resurgence of Afrikaner-
nationalism which peaked in the 1930s.
Afrikaners were finally “free”; though within the confines of the British Empire,
they had for the first time in their turbulent history the power to decide the future
of South Africa. At this stage a federation of states with equal weight for the black
nations might have been in the best interests of everybody living in South Africa.
Instead, they opted for a united South Africa under white control.

Waldo Kühn 144


13. UNION OF SOUTH AFRICA

The main factor affecting the decision to form a union rather than a federation
was conflicts among the four colonies over customs and the railway system. The
leading role players in crafting a political union of the four colonies were Smuts in
Pretoria and Merriman in Cape Town. M.T. Steyn's blessing was also procured
since he had emerged as an influential Afrikaner leader. For a time the inclusive
version of the concept of an “Afrikaner” was again fashionable. At Smuts'
recommendation the four colonies sent delegates to a national convention, the
1908-1909 National Convention, to draft a constitution for a union. Chief Justice
of the Cape Colony, Sir Henry de Villiers presided over the talks. The British High
Commissioner was excluded and only white delegates attended. Three critical
issues were concluded:
1. The native franchise.
2. The system of governance.
3. The official language.

The franchise issue:


John X. Merriman and Jan Smuts had been in contact over the issue before the
Convention. The first problem discussed surrounding the issue, was the still
lingering tensions between the two white communities in the wake of the war,
including English fears that Afrikaners would use their numerical superiority over
them to reinstate what they had lost in the republics. The second was the
numeric difference between whites and the other South Africans. The 1910 Union
census showed a total population of 5.9 million people with an approximate ratio
of 1: 4 between whites and Africans. (Between the 1920s and early 1960s it grew
to 1: 5 and in the 1990s, when whites relinquished power, to 1: 7.) (2)
Merriman wrote to Smuts: 'above all we must constantly keep in mind that as
Europeans we are but a handful in the face of an overwhelming mass of an
inferior race.' He proposed a qualified franchise, but Smuts rejected it on account
of the large scale of poverty and illiteracy among Afrikaners. Merriman reminded
Smuts that Africans were 'numerous and increasing in both wealth and numbers...
They are the workers and history tells us the future is to the workers.' Smuts
responded: 'I don't believe in politics for them... [It] will only have an unsettling
influence.' He preferred to shift 'the intolerable burden of solving that sphinx
problem to the ampler shoulders and stronger brains of the future.' The next
generation could consider extending the vote, but for now it was 'one of the most

Waldo Kühn 145


dangerous things' for the white race to do.
At the Conference, F.S. Malan, parliamentary leader of the Afrikaner Bond
proposed a qualified vote. He pointed out that it had taken whites a hundred
years of strife and tears to achieve unification. If the country did not settle the
issue of black political rights it would once again head for 'a struggle and tears
and suffering.' A union based on black exclusion was not a genuine union and the
germs of discord would continue to exist. Hofmeyr added his voice with the
warning: 'It would be a bad day if in addition to protecting our northern borders
against the teeming millions of Darkest Africa, we had to be continually on our
guard against a malcontent colored and native population in our midst,
outnumbering us by five or six to one.' The Bond prided itself in the fact that
people in the Cape were not barred from voting purely in terms of color.
Louis Botha rejected the Bond's proposal of a qualified vote on behalf of the
Transvaal. When the time was right he would be willing to consider a non-white
franchise safeguarded by proper qualifications, but added that the people of
South Africa were conservative and progress was bound to be slow. (2)
In 1909 W.P. Schreiner led a multiracial delegation to London to request that
Britain override the constitution on the question of the political exclusion of blacks
in the Union. The British government turned down their request.
System of governance:
Delegates opted for a unitary, largely flexible constitution modeled on the British
Westminster system which was not at all suited to a society as diverse and torn
as that of South Africa.
Official language:
Hertzog proposed 'equal freedom, rights and privileges' for English and Dutch.
Every civil service appointment had to be made 'with due regard to the equality of
the two languages, and the right of every citizen in the Union to claim either
language as the medium of communication between himself and any officer or
servant of the Union.' The statement upset English-speakers. Steyn called on the
delegates to expunge 'the devil of race hatred' (between the Boer and English
races.) The way to do that was to place the two languages on a footing of
'absolute equality in Parliament, in the courts, in schools and public service –
everywhere.' Steyn's plea was accepted by the Convention and entrenched in
Article 137 of the Union constitution, thus creating two official languages.
A draft constitution was approved by the four colonies and it passed unaltered
through British Parliament as the South African Bill. On 31 May 1910, eight years
to the day after the Boer-surrender was signed at Vereeniging, the four colonies
became the provinces of the Union of S.A.
For the first general election, Het Volk of the Transvaal and the Free State's

Waldo Kühn 146


Orangia Unie amalgamated with the Bond and the South African Party in the
Cape to form the new South African Party (SAP) led by Louis Botha. Their
opposition was the Unionist Party, a party with similar policies but more English-
speaking and pro-Britain. The SAP won the election and Botha became Prime
Minister. (63)
A national education system developed that made mother tongue education in
either Dutch or English a right, instead of Hertzog's dual-medium education
system which was deemed a violation of the National Convention. In Natal,
language of instruction was chosen; in the other provinces mother tongue
education was made compulsory up to the sixth school year, where-after the
student chose one or both languages for further instruction. The students' second
language would be taught as a subject only. English South Africans remained
indifferent to the Dutch language and Louis Botha's government would allow civil
servants to ignore the constitutional equality of both languages, believing the
language issues would sort themselves out. (2)
One of the few prominent figures from the Boer War to remain firmly committed
to Botha and Smuts was Deneys Reitz:
I had returned from exile, not hating the British, but resenting the enforced rule
of any other nation. [Louis Botha and Jan Smuts] showed me that only on a basis
of burying past quarrels and creating a united people out of the Dutch and
English sections of the population, was there any hope for white men in South
Africa... (4)
...After many wanderings I reached the little town of Heilbron on the northern
Free Sate plains, and there cast anchor. The place had under fifteen hundred
inhabitants, but it was the centre of a sturdy Boer peasantry who had fought
bravely during the war, in the course of which they had suffered great losses...
The Boers are an intensely race-conscious people, and before long they began
to say that General Botha's policy would lead to their being swamped by the
British element. Opposition spread, and General Hertzog seceded from us with
his followers. He formed the Nationalist Party, with the object of keeping the
Dutch apart as a separate entity, as against General Botha's ideal of merging us
all into one nation. These differences rent South Africa and the struggle became
an exceedingly bitter one...
The Free State Boers stood behind Hertzog almost to a man. They thought he
aimed at secession from the British Empire, and the re-establishment of the
republics... (4)

Waldo Kühn 147


14. RESISTANCE TO A WHITE SOUTH AFRICA

During the 1880s an informal group of liberal politicians in the Cape Colony,
called the 'Friends of the Natives', had supported African rights on issues like
pass laws, residential segregation laws, laws restricting access to liquor for
Africans and the increasing anti-black tendency in the Cape Parliament, like
ending of the blanket vote during the Sprigg government in 1887. The group was
made up of Cape liberals like William Schreiner, John X. Merriman, Jacobus
Wilhelm Sauer, James Rose Innes and C.W. Hutton, son-in-law of Andries
Stockenstrom. John X. Merriman had once remarked that South Africa could
never be a white man's country. The 'European race' had to see itself as 'the
garrison', holding the country 'in the interests of civilization and good government
and general enlightenment in South Africa' (i.e. “white trusteeship”.) The
organization found favor in the eyes of the Xhosa newspaper, Imvo Zabantsundu,
founded by John Tengu Jabavu, who encouraged blacks who qualified to vote to
strengthen the hand of such white politicians. (2)
Afrikaners generally did not agree with the notion of white trusteeship. They
could not picture South Africa as a black man's country and often would remind
non-whites in urban areas to “know their place”. Perhaps it was easier for
members of the English community to think of South Africa as a black man's
country, defining their own nationhood within the context of the British Empire.
Afrikaners feared being swamped by what they called 'Kaffirdom'. The Bond
criticized African traditions like polygamy, which helped blacks to 'outbreed'
whites. F.W. Reitz had called in 1891 in his capacity as Free State President for
the breaking up of the urban black settlements (slums) forcing the blacks living
on urban land to become workers; his justification being: 'Self-preservation is the
first law of nature and if the Caucasian must either remain the dominant race or
perish, then of the two evils let us choose the least.'
The Glen Grey Act, proposed by Rhodes with Bond support, seeked to break up
the tribal system by dividing the communally owned native reserves into
subsistence plots for families, with the eldest son entitled to inherit the plot. The
intention was to defer black political attention away from Parliament to new
institutions in the reserves: Location Boards elected by registered plot holders,
District Councils with elected members from the Location Boards and
Government-appointed members, to advise on local issues like allocation of local
levies for public works, schools and clinics. The plan did not work because the
chiefs were opposed to it. (2)

Waldo Kühn 148


In 1899, Cape PM William Schreiner said it would be the best to have migrant
workers from the reserves “compounded”, while working for wages in the urban
areas, then 'at the end of their term... go back to the place whence they came, to
the native territories where they should really make their home.' The opportunity
to create such “compounds” or locations outside of towns presented itself with an
outbreak of bubonic plague in the large cities. Slums were torn down for reasons
of public health, and between 1902 and 1904 cities across South Africa passed
legislation compelling Africans to live in the new segregated locations. (2)

After the Union constitution had been accepted in 1910, non-Europeans stood to
lose the vote if a two-thirds majority in both houses of Parliament ruled against it.
Dr Pixley ka Izaka Seme, a Zulu relative of the Swazi royal family, educated at
Columbia and Oxford Universities and called to the bar at the Middle Temple,
organized a black political movement in response to the Union. He called for an
end to the animosity between the black tribes and to forgive and forget ancient
grievances. In 1912 he called for a conference of African leaders in Bloemfontein.
The purpose was for delegates to 'devise ways and means of forming a national
union for the purpose of creating national unity and defending our rights.' The
conference ended with the formation of the South African Native National
Congress (SANNC), later African National Congress (ANC). They intended to
further the interests of 'the dark races of the subcontinent' through use of
'peaceful propaganda' firstly and then 'passive action' or 'continued movement'
(struggle) along the lines advocated by Ghandi. (67)

Milner had once called the quest for a white man's country 'a root principle.' He
had struck a chord with Smuts with his argument that South Africa could not
become such a country if it was 'full of poor whites.' Smuts had despaired over
the vulnerability of Afrikaners after the war, for 'having fallen so... fathomlessly
deep into poverty' and once remarked, 'Two such peoples as the Boers and the
English must either unite or they must exterminate each other.' In many ways,
Smuts was a paradox of political viewpoints. He was deeply moved by the plight
of his Afrikaner people, yet within a decade was aligning them with their former
enemy. He is considered a racist by some liberal activists and a liberal by some
conservatives. He is blamed for having played a formative role in apartheid, yet
in his student days at Cambridge, had confided in F.S. Malan that he could
picture all the nations in South Africa coming together in a single new nation, 'by
bringing civilization, education and religion to Africans, uniting whites and blacks
by common ideals and hopes for the future.'(2) He had likely meant, “Uniting in,
and working together for, a single federal South Africa”, a model that was

Waldo Kühn 149


obviously functioning fairly well in the UK. This was a view in line with that held
by the Afrikaner Bond; Smuts came from a Bond-supporting family. All his policies
and views seem to fall into place in that particular context under a mystical
philosophical concept he called “holism”, which saw the nations and communities
of the world becoming a big family. ('The driving force in this human world should
not be morbid fears or other sickly obsessions, but [an] inner urge towards
wholesome integration and co-operation.') He was a founder of the League of
Nations and pushed for formation of the United Nations. He saw a place for every
people who wished to define themselves as a nation and therefore supported the
formation of the state of Israel. He considered Ghandi a great leader, yet
ironically defended white privilege in South Africa against accusations brought by
Ghandi and India. [Ghandi had been removed from a “whites-only” train-
compartment in South Africa. He had however been ordered from the train for not
having an overnight-ticket. He would later claim it was because of his race; later
admitted it was due to his not having had a ticket.(103) But Indians also resented
having to bear passes in the Transvaal, as well as other forms of discrimination
against Indian South Africans, which went some way to tarnish Smuts’
international reputation.(62)] Smuts famously pleaded for the lifting of the
humiliating terms imposed on Germany by the Treaty of Versailles, warning of its
potential dire consequences well into the 1930s. Hertzog once called Smuts “too
big for South Africa.” (69)

The term 'segregation' first appears in South Africa in a document by R.W. Rose
Innes, brother of the liberal politician James Rose Innes. He envisaged more
territories like Glen Grey as 'reservoirs of labor', ultimately growing into 'great
native states' enjoying large powers of self-government and representation in a
federal parliament. (2)
In 1903 Lord Milner had appointed the South African Native Affairs Commission
(SANAC) with chairman Sir Godfrey Lagden, to create a coordinated and
systematic native policy within a future federal South Africa. The SANAC-report
warned against the practice of Africans combining to buy pockets of land among
white-owned farms and recommended that Africans be denied access to 'white'
land through purchase, lease or sharecropping. The State had to reserve for
Africans the present 'locations' or other areas of concentrated African settlement.
It proposed segregated townships for blacks, and education appropriate to lower
level jobs. The Cape's non-racial franchise had to be abolished, making way for a
separate voters' roll through which blacks could elect a limited number of white
representatives in an envisaged federal parliament. The Botha-government
accepted the SANAC recommendation for black locations when the Transvaal

Waldo Kühn 150


gained self-rule in 1906. The 1913 Native Land Act confirmed these demarcated
lands, leaving blacks in South Africa in ownership of a mere eight per cent of the
country,(67) although some SAP members had proposed doubling the acreage of
the reserves. Some political leaders also believed the borders of South Africa
had not been fixed and expected that the British Protectorates of Basutoland
(Lesotho), Swaziland, as well as Bechuanaland (Botswana) and Rhodesia, and
potentially even Mozambique and the southern part of South West Africa could
still be incorporated into South Africa.(2) However, at the time it was acutely
evident that land shortages were forcing out increasing numbers of the
inhabitants of the reserves to seek work elsewhere. The Native Land Bill allowed
only five black families per farm in the Free State and prohibited sharecropping
and labor tenancy. In Transvaal and Natal sharecropping arrangements remained
though, because landlords and land companies were more powerful. In the Cape
Province arrangements were also unaltered as the Bill's requirements would
have contradicted the Cape Constitution. (2)
Due to the limited allocation of land for the black nations, one may conclude that
the primary achievements of SANAC and the Native Land Act were the
institutionalization of a caste-system under the pretext of federalism.
SANAC dealt primarily with the labor demands of large employers like the mining
companies. Smuts, writing to Merriman in 1906 distanced himself from the 'mine
owner and exploiter...the real slave driver in South Africa.' M.T. Steyn, who did
not generally concern himself with the issue of native rights, gave his input on the
matter in writing to Merriman: 'The question of native rights is to my mind a vital
question for all of South Africa unless we hold with the Magnates that the natives
have no other rights than to work for such wages as will increase their already
bloated dividends.' (2)

As a result of the Native Lands Act, thousands of blacks were evicted from white
farms and had to struggle on foot to locations and reserves. The ANC sent a
petition to PM Louis Botha and appealed again to the British. But by 1913 Britain
was preoccupied with the prospect of WWI and the Botha-government was
facing rebellions and threats of civil war from disgruntled Boer-Afrikaners who
wanted their old republics. In this atmosphere Botha had to convince Afrikaners
to stand by their former enemy, against Germany, a former ally. There were
general strikes on the Reef every year and these were tense affairs for whites.
Deneys Reitz wrote regarding the 1913 strike:
Our Heilbron commando was among those for service and I now realized how
deeply the political feuds had bitten. I found that our men looked with suspicion
upon instructions emanating from General Botha, and as we rode towards the

Waldo Kühn 151


Vaal River on our way to Johannesburg, there was a great deal of mutinous talk
in the ranks. When we reached the south bank, they refused to cross over into
the Transvaal. As usual, meetings were held and speeches were made, and
some of the orators said that instead of fighting the strikers, we should ride
through the river and fight Botha's men. Our commanding officer was David van
Coller, a brave soldier but a narrow man and a strong supporter of the Nationalist
Party. Nevertheless he did his best to talk reason into his followers, and after two
days of haranguing, the bulk of the men pocketed their political scruples and we
forded the river.
We found Johannesburg in a state of siege...
General Beyers came to address us. I had served under him when we took the
British camp below the Magaliesbergen in December 1900, but I had never liked
him. He had recently been appointed Commander-in-Chief of all army forces in
South Africa, and he rode up in full uniform and be-feathered helmet and sword.
I sat my horse directly in front of him, so I heard every word he said. His speech
was a scarcely veiled attack on the Government and on Botha and Smuts. He
ended by saying that these English townspeople had forgotten what a Boer
commando looked like, and that it was time we refreshed their memories. He
then ordered us to follow him through the streets of Germiston, a curious
performance, I thought, for the head of our army. Next day he told us to ride
through the town again, and to arrest every man who looked as if he were a
striker. We galloped alongside the houses, rounding up everyone, and by the
time we were finished, we had captured a Member of Parliament, two Wesleyan
ministers, and several town councilors as well as many other perfectly innocent
citizens. There were curses and complaints, and fainting women, and the
incident aroused a great deal of resentment against General Botha, who had
nothing to do with it.
There were thirty thousand Boers under arms, many of them Nationalists, and
with political feeling running high; there were strange rumors in the air. Our men
said openly that Beyers should utilise the commandos on the Reef to overthrow
Botha's government, and I heard talk of his intending to proclaim a republic... (4)

In 1912 Hertzog, in his capacity as minister of Native Affairs, indicated that he


wanted big reserves for blacks where self-government for them was a more
realistic proposition. He met with an African delegation including Sol Plaatje,
secretary of the SANNC (later ANC) and proposed his envisaged black lands in
the Union. It is likely that the map he used included Bechuanaland, Basotuland
and Swaziland as part of the 'vast dependency of the Union'. In these areas the
'energies and aspirations of black professionals could find their outlet with no

Waldo Kühn 152


danger of competition from Europeans.' Plaatje considered his proposal 'a fair
ground for discussion.' Hertzog was however dismissed as minister of Native
Affairs in December of the same year over other issues. Shortly afterward he
made it known that he was still vague on how the land should actually be divided
and he was unsure how much land blacks required. For now the priority was
'reserve native camps' where whites could no longer purchase any land. (2)

The British government made transferring of the High Commission Territories –


Basutoland (Lesotho), Bechuanaland (Botswana) and Swaziland conditional on
an acceptable South African racial policy. The British government might have
considered at this stage, a well-developed black local government and councils
as more significant than the franchise. (2)
How to divide the land fairly between white and black was a complex issue.
Louis Botha wanted to appoint a commission with a mandate to reach a
compromise, but first priority remained that all SAP members agreed with
decisions taken to prevent a split in its ranks. Botha said if the need for white-
preservation was their first principle, the second was to treat Africans as 'a great
people.' Hertzog also wanted a policy that worked 'fairly and justly', through
arranging for reserves as separate territories where Africans could 'grow stronger
and stronger.'
The Beaumont Commission of 1916 recommended an extra eight million morgen
added to the existing native reserves. It added that it was already 'too late in the
day to define large compact Native areas or draw bold lines of demarcation.'
African land was 'hopelessly intermixed with the lands owned and occupied by
Europeans whose vested interests have to be considered.' Sol Plaatje called the
land allocation a travesty of the plan that Hertzog had proposed.
With the law in the Free State limiting sharecroppers on farms to five families,
they migrated to the Transvaal where 90 percent of arable land was being
worked by sharecroppers in the 1920s. Both sharecroppers and white tenants
lost out though, when land prices and stock prices increased dramatically.
Increasingly farmers sought cheap black laborers who worked more efficiently for
less and were less demanding about living conditions than whites.

Louis Botha died on 27 August 1919, heart-broken that Boer-republicanist


Afrikaners had misunderstood his good intentions.(4) He was succeeded by Jan
Smuts. By this time, black migration to the cities had created sprawling
shantytowns housing 13 percent of South Africa's black population. Diseases like
TB were rife. Smuts said: 'The natives have come to our towns unprovided for.
They have picked up our diseases and have found our white civilization a curse

Waldo Kühn 153


to them... the Native question is so large. We know so little about it.' The state
had to accept its obligation of providing proper housing and proper control of
Africans in the urban areas, in order to address 'one of the biggest blots resting
on our civilization.' (2)
Smuts relied on the judgment of his friend, the Cape liberal F.S. Malan, then
Minister of Mines. His vision was one of 'villages' where Africans who were
'civilized could feel at home and develop.' Smuts also felt that if Africans had a
stake in the status quo they could become a bulwark against labor unrest and
political agitation. In 1920 in a meeting with an African delegation he promised
better conditions for regular and reliable black workers, better housing and
exemptions from pass laws. By this time Smuts was also stressing the
importance of developing and preserving African tribal life, calling it 'a distinct
human type which the world would be poorer without.' (2)
The Smuts government submitted the Native Urban Areas Bill in 1923 to the
Native Conference. It envisaged that settled Africans could acquire freehold
property and aimed to improve the administration of black residential areas.
Hertzog opposed the bill on the grounds that black title deed owners in 'white
land' would soon demand 'the white man's vote', which would constitute a matter
of life or death for white civilization.'

In 1923 the Dutch Reformed Church organized a conference attended by white


and black church leaders, delegates from welfare societies, the ANC and chiefs.
Speaking on behalf of the blacks, Selby Msimang of the ANC said they would be
happy with territorial segregation if the Natives Land Act would grant half of the
country for black occupation. The white leadership knew such a move would
have severe political costs; or perhaps, it was again the will and commitment to a
satisfactory solution that were lacking on their part. From now on native rights
would be dealt with largely through stonewalling and ambiguity, although some
concessions were made, as were continual efforts to get agricultural and
industrial development projects off the ground in tribal areas.

In 1924 Hertzog's Nationalist Party won with an overwhelming majority, largely as


a result of Smuts' violent oppression of the 1914 rebellion against the Union's
sending “children of the concentration camps” to fight England's war against
Germany.

Waldo Kühn 154


15. THE 1914-REBELLION
During celebrations of the Day of the Vow from 14-16 December 1913, the
Bloemfontein Women’s Monument was unveiled by Rachel (Tibbie) Steyn in
memory of the women and children who had died in the concentration camps.
(Not to be confused with the women’s memorial at the much less-austere
Voortrekker Monument that would arise in Pretoria from 1938; unveiled 16
December 1949.) Funds for construction of the Bloemfontein Women’s
Monument were, in large part, raised from the public through a 25 cent-campaign.
Among the many speakers were Generals Louis Botha, Christiaan de Wet, Koos
de la Rey, J.B.M. Hertzog, as well as F.W. Reitz, J.D. du Toit and others. A
message from Emily Hobhouse, too ill to attend the ceremony, was read. It was
decided that it would be fitting that a staatsman (statesman), a Godsman (man of
God) and a krygsman (warrior) from the “troubled years” would be buried at the
foot of the monument. Former Free State President M.T. Steyn (died in
December 1916) became the statesman. General De Wet (died in February 1922)
became the krygsman, and in 1941 Father J.D. Kestell was buried representing
the Godsman. In 1926 Emily Hobhouse died in England. Her ashes were buried
at the foot of the monument. In January 1955 when Tibbie Steyn died, she was
buried in the same grave as her husband. The solemn unveiling in December
1913 could not put the bitterness of the past to rest though. War-clouds were
already gathering.

In 1914 Britain declared war in Europe; it was the First World War. In August
1914 Britain requested the South African government to seize the southern part
of German South-West Africa. Even in the SAP-camp there was not a great deal
of enthusiasm over the South-West campaign. Botha presented the issue as one
of 'duty' and 'honor' to meet South Africa's obligations to Britain. Former OFS
President M.T. Steyn remarked that South African forces were mobilizing against
Germany, which had shown sympathy for the Boer republics. 'Never did I think
that any government, and least of all an Afrikaner government, would use the
children of the concentration camps against the [German] nation.'
The old Boer generals were largely opposed to the campaign. Koos de la Rey
called a meeting of armed burghers. He had tremendous influence still among
the Transvaal burghers, although his son considered him no longer accountable
for his actions. He was also still under the influence of the Boer mystic, Siener
(Seer) Nicolaas van Rensburg. Van Rensburg had told him God wanted the Boer

Waldo Kühn 155


people to be free. Botha and Smuts met with De la Rey, and he would have
reminded them of an agreement among some bittereinder leaders to restore the
Boer republics. Botha answered him: 'Oom Koos, it may be the will of God that
this nation shall be free and independent. But nothing will ever convince me that
it is the will of God that it should be brought about by treachery and dishonor.' A
congress held by Hertzog's Nationalist Party on 26 August unanimously
condemned the planned South-West campaign. But in Parliament, Botha
received a large majority, including Koos de la Rey's vote, to invade German
South West Africa. A military force under Lieutenant-Colonel Manie Maritz was
sent to launch the invasion from Upington in the Northern Cape. (2)

On 15 September De la Rey, underway with General C.F. Beyers to hold talks


with the rebels, was accidentally shot and killed at a police road block set up to
capture a gang of bank robbers. There were widespread rumors that it was a
government assassination. Although a subsequent inquest confirmed it was an
accident, the rumors lingered. That same day General Beyers resigned his
commission as commandant-general of the Active Citizen Force (ACF). Together
with the influential General Christiaan de Wet and General Jan Kemp, senior
ACF officer in the Transvaal, they published a document demanding that no
South African forces take part in the war. They believed Germany would win the
war, and any action on the side of Britain would be detrimental to South Africa.

Early in October, Manie Maritz resigned his commission and had his own men
surrender on a parade ground. He gave them the option to join the German side
or to become POWs. Some joined the Germans but according to Deneys Reitz,
most, including one of his brothers, marched off to the POW camp. The rebellion
is also sometimes called the Manie Maritz Rebellion.
To stem growing dissatisfaction with the invasion plan, Botha announced that
only volunteers would be used for the South West campaign and that he would
personally lead it. Most of the Imperial troops stationed in South Africa had been
shipped off to Europe, leaving Botha only with the ACF (Citizen Force). It was
generally accepted that it would be sheer folly to use English-speaking units
against the Afrikaner rebels, thus the government had to rely on the rural
Afrikaner units. Many younger Afrikaners stood by the rebels, but some of the
older members still remembered the heroism and dedication of Botha as well as
that of Jan Smuts during the Boer War and enlisted. General De Wet, who had a
community of poor Afrikaners under his wing on his farm, made promises of
financial rewards to those who stood by the rebels (obtained from an assessment
levied against the burghers who stayed at home, the unfaithful who fought us and

Waldo Kühn 156


from the mines). De Wet, heading the Free State outbreak was supported by the
likes of District-Commandant David van Coller of the Heilbron commando.
General Beyers headed the Transvaal outbreak. A fierce battle seeing many
casualties ensued when six thousand government troops caught up with five
thousand rebels of Christiaan de Wet at Mushroom Valley.
Since the government troops were citizen force members and did not wear a
uniform and were also Boers, it was sometimes hard to tell which side was
government and which was rebel. Deneys Reitz described a lighthearted scene
as the government troops entered the little pro-rebel Free State town of Reitz
(named after his father). The town expected government forces to enter it that
day, but they expected uniformed British soldiers, not a Boer commando:
This little 'dorp' that bears our family name was strongly rebel in sympathy. One
of the Transvaal men told me that when they entered the town, some of the
inhabitants expected to see Khaki-clad British soldiers...whereas [Botha's] men
were chiefly old-fashioned Boers from the Eastern Transvaal. Thus it happened
that when the advance guard rode in, an ancient rebel dame rushed into the
street, and seeing only shaggy burghers, thought they were her own people and
called out in Dutch: 'But men, where are the bloody English?' (Waar is die
verdomde Engelse?) to which a young Boer scout replied in the same language:
'Old lady, we ARE the bloody English.' (4)
He also wrote: I found my house pillaged, but no wanton damage had been
done, and, needless to say, every shop and warehouse had been cleared by the
rebels. In South Africa, however, the commandeering of supplies in time of
trouble is part and parcel of our military system, and the Heilbron insurgents had
at any rate shown a sense of humour, for most of their requisition notes were
endorsed: 'Payable to bearer by the winning side.' (4)

In all, some 11 472 Afrikaners were estimated to have rebelled, 7 123 from the
OFS, 2 998 from the Transvaal and 1 252 from the Cape. 190 rebels were killed
and 132 government troops. The rebels were treated leniently, but Jopie Fourie,
an ACF officer who, without resigning his commission, had led a rebel attack that
inflicted casualties on government forces, was sentenced to death. An Afrikaner-
delegation including future PM D.F. Malan pleaded with Smuts to extend leniency,
but it was refused and Fourie was executed on a Sunday, requesting not to be
blindfolded. Fourie said before his execution: “I hope they do not shoot me in the
face” and, placing his hand on his chest, “Here is a big Afrikaner-heart, big
enough to take all their bullets.” His death was a huge blow to Jan Smuts’
popularity.
Jan Kemp was sentenced to six years imprisonment and a £1000 fine, De Wet to

Waldo Kühn 157


five years and £1000. C.F. Beyers drowned while attempting to escape. Between
four and five thousand rebels received fines and prison sentences, but most were
released within a year and the leaders the following year. The Helpmekaar
movement, committed to the upliftment of poor Afrikaners, payed most of the
rebels’ fines and also took care of reparations for damages.

60 000 South African government forces invaded German South-West Africa and
took it from the Germans after some casualties on both sides. In 1920 the
League of Nations, of which Smuts was a founding member, gave South Africa a
mandate to govern the former colony and lead it to independence. South Africa
saw some heavy losses in WW I. The Battle of Delville Wood saw over 2 000
casualties of the 3 000 man brigade. On 21 February 1917 the troop ship Mendi
went down after a collision with another ship, taking the lives of 607 members
(mostly Zulu) of the 802nd South African Native Labor Corps.
Jan Smuts and Louis Botha were vehemently opposed to the harsh conditions of
the Treaty of Versailles, warning against embittering Germany after the war.
Botha died shortly afterward, alledgedly by suicide following a sickbed.

Waldo Kühn 158


16. THE 1922 WITWATERSRAND STRIKE

The year 1921 saw an incident where a South African military force violently
suppressed an uprising of a group of Xhosas in the Transkei led by a religious
fanatic called Enoch. The sect referred to themselves as the 'Israelites' and when
the military force attempted to disperse the group and arrest Enoch for
advocating the defiance of authority, the zealots charged the military, armed with
crude swords and battleaxes. The soldiers opened fire, killing 163. There
followed a public outcry. The press and public accused the troops of using
excessive force. The incident served to further weaken Smuts' SAP.(2, 4) In South
West Africa, a South African protectorate following WW I, a South African military
force, summoned by the South-West African administration, was responsible for
the deaths of more than a hundred members of the Bondelswarts tribe in May
1922. They had revolted over a tax imposed on dogs. Some were armed, either
because they wanted to fight the authorities under Abraham Morris (the son of a
Scottish missionary-father and Khoi-mother), or for the sake of defending
themselves. Aircraft bombing the tribe's flocks also killed women and children.(68)
Smuts had used similar forceful methods earlier that year, suppressing the 1922
mineworkers' strike, causing Hertzog to comment that his footsteps 'dripped with
blood.' (2)
In the 1920-election the Labor Party win 21 seats out of 134. Many working-class
Afrikaners supported the party due to its emphasis on workers' rights. But its
appeal among Afrikaners was tarnished by its dedication to the British Empire
and an almost wholly English-speaking leadership. Hertzog's Nationalist Party
won 44, the Unionist Party (a pro-British conservative party that had started life
as the official opposition to the SAP; then became its ally after Hertzog's NP
became a political force) won 25, and Smuts' South African Party won 41 (with
help from the colored vote.)
1920 saw a strike by 71 000 black mineworkers over wages and the color bar.
Then the gold price dipped sharply from 130 shillings per fine ounce at the
beginning of 1920 to 95 shillings at the end of 1921, while production costs rose
dramatically. The Chamber of Mines, fearing mine closures, recalled a previous
agreement with white unions of a fixed ratio between black and white workers. It
also scrapped the color bar, allowing black workers to do the type of semi-skilled
work previously reserved for white workers, which it hoped would drive down
wages in that job-level. It called the color bar an immoral practice. (2)

Waldo Kühn 159


The 1922-Strike by white workers ensued, accounted here from the Smuts-
government's point-of-view by Deneys Reitz:
...in January 1922, there arose the most serious crisis of our term of office: for
we had to face an armed revolt on the gold mines.
It began with a dispute on a colliery, the workers of which laid down their tools.
The strike spread to the Reef and the position became aggravated, as the
original leaders were superseded by extremists who called a general strike and
they resorted to violence.
At the head of the disturbances were Fisher and Spendiff, two Australian
communists, and the outbreak assumed alarming proportions. The rank and file
of the workers were mainly young Dutchmen [Afrikaners] from the country
districts, brave and reckless and traditionally prepared to settle their quarrels with
a rifle.
Revolutionary commandos sprang up overnight, and as many of the insurgents
had relatives and friends in the rural areas, there was the danger that the
conflagration might bring about a civil war. In Johannesburg and along the Reef,
anarchy reigned. A workers' republic was declared; dissident rebel forces
captured the outlying suburbs and townships; police were shot at sight and their
barracks and stations were besieged and bombed while incendiarism and street
fighting were the order of the day. Johannesburg was completely surrounded and
our government troops with difficulty held the inner ring of the city.
As the younger member of the Cabinet I bore less responsibility than the others,
but it was a trying time.
With Johannesburg and the gold mines practically in the hands of the insurgents,
General Smuts declared martial law. Fifty thousand mounted burghers were
called up and he made a dramatic dash through the rebel lines into
Johannesburg. He was fired on at close range, but he got safely through and
took command in person.
He attacked them next day with infantry and guns and he surrounded their
stronghold at Fordsburg with his horsemen. After causing leaflets to be dropped
from aeroplanes warning the women and children to evacuate the town, the
government commandos closed in under cover of gunfire and Fordsburg was
taken. As our men entered, Fisher and Spendiff shot themselves and the rising
collapsed.
It had been an expensive affair. More than seven hundred people were killed and
there was heavy material damage. Politically, the effects were disastrous. Our
opponents blamed us for having acted too harshly and our supporters blamed us
for not having acted quickly enough, so we were ground between the upper and
the nether millstone. To add to our troubles came the trial of a number of

Waldo Kühn 160


ringleaders. They were not prosecuted for high treason but for coldblooded
murders of civilians and for the shooting down of natives.
As always, a reaction set in. Thousands may lie unremembered on the field of
battle but the public blenches at executions. When five of the worst offenders
were sentenced to death, mass meetings were called, petitions were signed, and
reprieves were demanded. But we decided to hang these men. They had
committed atrocious murders, not in the heat of action, but by deliberately killing
non-combatants...
The hanging of a man named Taffy Long did us most harm. He was a soldier with
a good war record. He had served at Gallippoli and had been decorated for
courage. Every returned soldier in the Union clamored for his release and Prince
Arthur of Connaught (our Governor-General) at first refused to sign the death
warrant. Still, he had been found guilty of a brutal murder and we felt that the
better soldier he had been the less justification was there for his conduct.
I regretted his fate though in Cabinet I voted for his death. He was a brave man.
The evening before he was to die he asked for something to read and he was
given a Bible. He looked at the sacred volume, read its title, and sent it spinning
through the open door of his cell into the passage beyond. He said: 'Bible! Bible
be damned, bring me one of Nat Gould's novels.' He went to his doom next
morning singing the Red Flag. (4)

In the aftermath of the strike the government did not resurrect the color bar.
Minister of Mines and Industry, F.S. Malan explained to Parliament in 1923 that
the color bar was 'degrading to the white man to say that [he] should be artificially
protected against the native and colored man.' He said white miners should
rather have availed themselves to the opportunities offered by the mines to
undergo further training. Jan Smuts was willing to accommodate white labor, but
they could not 'tyrannize everything.' He also noted that a legal color bar was an
admission by whites that they could not compete against blacks without taking
recourse to laws that violated right and fairness, and he said that 'no stationary
barrier should be placed on the native who wishes to raise himself in the scale of
civilization.' He also wrote privately that he had no objection to helping 'our poor
whites', but it was important that 'no injustice was done to any other section of
the community.'(2) In 1924 the government passed the Industrial Conciliation Act,
allowing trade unions to reach legally binding agreements with employer bodies
in industrial councils. The councils first had to attempt to resolve a conflict before
a strike is called. White and colored workers were favored for membership of
these unions, while 'pass bearers' (Africans) were excluded. The state insisted
that employers and trade unions played their part in uplifting the poor whites.

Waldo Kühn 161


17. THE NATIONALIST PARTY – PART I
Before the 1924 election, Hertzog's NP entered into an alliance with the Labour
Party, called the Pact. Both parties expressed sympathy for the very low
minimum wages earned by black workers at the bottom of the labor ladder. In
order to help attract black voters in the Cape, the NP enlisted Clements Kadalie,
a Malawian immigrant and founder of a black trade union, the Industrial and
Commercial Workers Union (ICU) which had 10 000 members by the end of the
1920s, but then fell apart. Hertzog told Kadalie that their task was to establish
'between white and black Afrikander that faith in and sympathy with one another
which is so essential for the prosperity of a nation.' Note how the Hofmeyr-Bond's
Afrikander - “the patriotic African citizen” – had crossed the color line. The Cape
leader of the NP, D.F. Malan (not to be confused with F.S. Malan) sent a
message to a meeting of African leaders in Queenstown: 'No race has shown a
greater love for South Africa than the native and in that respect he is certainly an
example of true patriotism. He should therefore take his place alongside the
nationalist in the same area.' (2)
The Pact alliance drew votes from all sections of South African life, workers as
well as farmers, and the pro-NP newspaper, Die Burger noted that most coloreds
voted for the Pact. Blacks were not so much pro-Pact as they were anti-SAP. The
African National Congress sent a telegram to leaders of black and colored voters
to cast their vote against the SAP. Their problem with the SAP was that it lacked
a clear racial policy and the slogan went out: 'No policy, no vote.' In reaction to a
report in The Star that some Communists had decided to back the Pact, Smuts
declared, 'the Red Flag has come to South Africa'. (2)
In the 1924 election the NP won 63 out of 135 seats, its partner, Labour, 18 and
the SAP, 52. Hertzog became PM of South Africa.
The Pact government was strongly committed to segregation though, and,
following some deliberation, decided to break off ties with the ICU. Kadalie
pleaded for an equal society. The communists also wanted an equal society, and
a socially integrated one at that. Bram Fischer called in London in 1933 for an
'integrating [of not only] the two different European races, but [to] see that these
two advance together with our vast black population.' (2)

A fair franchise remained problematic. In the light of continued tensions between


the two white societies, the Cape Times wrote in November 1925 that expanding
the African vote would lead to 'either a Parliament dominated by black voters or

Waldo Kühn 162


the break-up of the Union, possibly by way of a bloody civil war.' (2)
Hertzog announced plans to remove Africans from the voter's roll in the Cape
Province. However, extending the vote to women in 1930 gave such a boost to
white dominance on the Cape’s qualified voter's roll (Cape-blacks were migrant
males, mainly from the Transkei) to make their place on the voters' roll
insignificant. Blacks were removed from the roll in 1936.

To stimulate industrial growth, South African companies were protected by high


import tariffs. Called, import substitution, local production of imported goods was
encouraged. The next step was protection of white labor against numerically
overwhelming black labor. Companies profiting from import substitution were
threatened with a relaxing of import duties, unless they employed a certain
percentage of whites. Ratio of white to black unskilled workers increased
dramatically, while the Apprentice Act (stipulating eighth grade education as
requirement to enroll in a trade) and closed shop control by white unions kept
blacks out of trades.(2) The NP had promised in the run-up to the 1924 election
that they would treat white and colored people as people who belonged together
economically and politically. Nonetheless, government circulars called on
departments to employ as many white youths as possible to solve what was
known as the poor-white crisis, and colored workers under the civilized labor
policy earned on average half the wages of their white counterparts. The
Civilized Labor act protected the living standards of workers in the types of jobs
where white workers were protected, as above-mentioned. In 1926, C.W. Malan,
Minister of Railways and Harbors defended lower wages for coloreds: 'The
Colored man is different from the white man in his standard of civilization... and
must be treated accordingly.' Systematically the civilized labor policy came to be
interpreted as a white-employment policy.(2) A Mines and Works Amendment in
1926 reinforced the color bar and excluded Indian miners from skilled jobs.
White-protectionist social engineering followed its course and in 1928 the
government passed a law prohibiting marriages between white and black people
(though not between white and “colored” people.)

Poor suburbs and slums in the 1920s were racially mixed. The ACVV, a Christian
welfare organization with an Afrikaner nationalist agenda, had been established
in the aftermath of the Anglo-Boer War, in the wake of the widespread poverty
and suffering among Afrikaners. It now concerned itself with the rapidly
urbanizing Afrikaner-poor. At the head of the organization was Miems Rothman
(writing as MER) who attempted to persuade Afrikaner families to move out of

Waldo Kühn 163


these areas. Apart from their concern that Afrikaner women were being exploited
in slums, they feared for the loss of their Afrikaner identity. Rothman saw the
survival of the Afrikaner volk in its working class being consciously white and
consciously Afrikaner.

The 1930s saw a catastrophic drought and the Great Depression. The
government committed large-scale loans to farmers and launched several public
works schemes. In 1932 South Africa abandoned the gold standard. In the 1933-
election, Hertzog's NP and Smuts' SAP formed a coalition-government under
pressure from lobbyists from the mining and farming industry. Soon afterward the
two parties fused to form a new party, the United Party (UP), with Hertzog as
leader. It drew support from Afrikaners, English and Coloreds. Daniel François
(D.F.) Malan, former Cape leader of the NP, broke away with a faction of the NP
to form his own party, the Purified National Party, which became the official
Opposition. He opposed the UP's emphasis on unification of English and
Afrikaners, calling it a bulwark of 'imperialism and capitalism', and insisted that
Afrikaners still needed a party of their own, dedicated to preserve their language,
faith and traditions. (2)

By the early 1930s racially integrated slums were again a dominant feature of the
urban landscape. Through the Slums Act of 1934, the UP government gave city
councils the power to break up the slums. The black townships were established
in Johannesburg and elsewhere, and in the Cape, new colored townships,
although the Cape had no restriction on where people were allowed to live.
Spending on colored education under Hertzog increased by 60 percent, seeing a
30 percent increase in colored pupils.(74) The Dutch Reformed and Dopper
churches supported segregated communities. Regarding poor whites, it meant
reducing class cleavages within the Afrikaner community, while the church's
education policy held that it should be based on the group's national culture, with
a prominent place given to its language, history and customs. In 1935 the DRC
called for Africans and colored people to be assisted in developing 'into self-
respecting Christian nations.' J.G. (Valie) Strydom, Missions-secretary for the
DRC in the Free State, strongly propagated Christian-National education to
create in the black child respect for the history, customs and culture of the ethnic
community in which they were born. In 1947, D.F. Malan would remark: 'It was
not the state but the church who took the lead with apartheid. The state followed
the principle laid down by the church in the field of education for the native, the
colored and the Asian.' As a result, he said, friction was eliminated.

Waldo Kühn 164


Population numbers of South Africa spanning five decades
1930 1950/51 1970

White population 1 801 000 2 641689 3 835 000


Black population 5 585 000 8 556 390 15 918 000
Whites in manufacturing 91 024 191 093 276 900
Blacks in manufacturing 90 517 267 070 617 200
(2)

In 1933 the Broederbond's Executive Council undertook the project of a savings


bank to mobilize Afrikaner capital, finance Afrikaner enterprises and give jobs to
the poor. The state denied permission to register a commercial bank, and a
cooperative was registered instead by Broederbond treasurer J.J. Bosman and
sixty fellow Broeders. It was called Volkskas (Peoples' Bank.)(2) During the 1938
centenary of the Great Trek, D.F. Malan and the Free State church leader, J.D.
('Father') Kestell suggested that the best tribute to the Voortrekkers would be a
reddingsdaad (rescue act) to save poor Afrikaners. The state and corporates
would provide only limited support they warned. (The state was however
financing the £360 000 Voortrekker Monument, which was probably causing
some ethnic tension – see p.169.) Their slogan, a call by Kestell was, 'n Volk help
homself (A nation rescues itself). The Afrikaner Broederbond assigned the FAK
(a federation of Afrikaans cultural institutions) the task of organizing a congress
to discuss setting up large peoples' funds for the rehabilitation of the Afrikaner
poor. The Broederbond decided against charity and opted instead for employing
Afrikaner savings and investments in enterprises that would 'rescue' Afrikaner
poor by employing them. The project had to make profit for the shareholders,
promote the collective advancement of Afrikaners and help Afrikaners to escape
from poverty, by Afrikaner employers offering them respectable wages. The
Broederbond entered into an alliance with Cape Town based insurance company
Sanlam. The concept of volkskapitalisme (peoples' capitalism) was born at the
congress when L.J. Du Plessis defined the goal of mobilizing 'the volk to conquer
the capitalist system and to transform it so that it fits our ethnic nature.' The
Volkskongres created a finance house, a chamber of commerce and a 'rescue'
organization. Afrikaners were encouraged to buy shares in Afrikaner
organizations. (2)

Waldo Kühn 165


18. THE SECOND LANGUAGE MOVEMENT

In 1890 the Zuid-Afrikaansche Taalbond elected to opt for the use of Dutch with a
simplified spelling, over Dutch or Afrikaans. A young Hertzog, studying Law in
Amsterdam at the time, wrote that it was 'total arrogance' to try to maintain such
a complex and 'synthetic' language as Dutch. 'We can just as well expect that the
stream of a river run backwards.'(2) Yet in his early political career following the
Boer War, he placed his energies into fighting for the Dutch language as a tool to
guard the character of the Boer-Afrikaner against English cultural assimilation. At
a Stellenbosch student festival in celebration of the constitutional recognition of
language equality (a festival Louis Botha's SAP considered 'too political') in 1913,
having just left the SAP, Hertzog read out a telegram from M.T. Steyn quoting
Cicero in Dutch: “The language of the conqueror in the mouth of the conquered is
the language of slaves.” It made a powerful impact on the audience and is said to
have affected public use of English among Afrikaners. (2)
In the early political debates over the use of Dutch versus Afrikaans as volkstaal
(people's language or national language) Hertzog initially came out strongly in
defense of retaining Dutch and found himself opposed to D.F. Malan on the issue.
The reasoning of those who favored Dutch was that it strengthened the Afrikaner
nation by making them part of the greater Dutch- and Flemish-speaking nations
of Europe. Afrikaans would isolate the Afrikaner as a small minority that would
quickly be overrun by English. Professor W.J. Viljoen (heading a Dutch literature
society at the Victoria College and Stellenbosch seminary) defended Dutch as
the “language of our fathers” and the “Afrikaner's holy birthright.”
In November 1906, D.F. Malan founded the Afrikaans Language Society
(Afrikaanse Taalvereniging; ATV) together with J.H.H. De Waal in the Cape, in
the same vein as Gustav Preller’s Afrikaanse Taalgenootskap, created in Pretoria
the previous year. The society's aim was the promotion of Afrikaans as a
language that belonged to the Afrikaner nation. Their slogan was: “Learn Dutch
and speak Dutch if you can or want, but if you cannot or want not, then do not
write in English, but Afrikaans.” Malan considered Dutch a foreign language
which did not have a place in South Africa.
The influential Reformed Church insisted on Dutch use in the Church over
Afrikaans. As late as 1912 the Afrikaans promoter, Rev. Willem Postma noted
that the time was not yet right for an Afrikaans translation of the Bible, since the
language was “still in the making”. The Dutch Bible and Dutch sacraments were
sacrosanct and guarded by the greater Church-order of De Mist seated in the

Waldo Kühn 166


Netherlands. In 1919 the Stellenbosch seminary announced their acceptance
that Afrikaans be recognized next to Dutch, and the synod accepted a resolution
in favor of an Afrikaans Bible translation. There was initial widespread opposition
to the synod's decision, but D.J. Du Toit's Afrikaans Translation was launched in
1933, the Afrikaans Psalm-book followed in 1937 and the Afrikaans Hymn-book
in 1944.
Afrikaans literature dramatically developed through the likes of writers and poets
like D.J. Du Toit (Totius), Eugène Marais, C. Louis Leipoldt, Jan F. Celliers, A.G.
Visser, D.F. Malherbe, C.J. Langenhoven and N.P. Van Wyk Louw.
Eugène Marais' poem Wintersnag (Winter's Eve) is considered the herald of this
rich movement. Marais was a newspaper editor of Land en Volk in the ZAR,
critical of Paul Kruger's government. He was studying Law at the Inner Temple,
and made his way back to South Africa via East Africa, intent on joining the
fighting Boers in the Boer War with a German donation of medicine and
ammunition. But he came down with malaria and the war had ended by the time
he reached South Africa. He was a compassionate man. He was an outspoken
supporter of Afrikaans, once branding in an editorial, 'Jingo-Afrikaners who
despise their mother-tongue' the greatest enemies of Afrikaans. Like D.J. Du Toit
(p.141), he was a somewhat tragic figure who lost his wife with the birth of their
son. He had many interests and was a keen observer in the fields of psychology,
natural sciences and medicine. His pen saw several significant works of poetry
and prose. He fought a morphine addiction and committed suicide on 29 March
1936. Gustav Preller predicted that if only a few lines of Afrikaans survived a
hundred or more years, the poem Wintersnag might be among them.

Eugène Marais, literary artist.(70)

Waldo Kühn 167


Cornelius J. Langenhoven was an attorney from the small town of Oudtshoorn,
who became one of the foremost champions of the Afrikaans language and one
of the more colorful characters of the Afrikaans literary world. He is renowned for
his wit which he applied so well in his humorous and satirical works. As an MP he
once made the remark in Parliament: “Half of the honorable members are
donkeys.” When instructed by the Speaker to withdraw the statement, he replied,
“Half of the honorable members are not donkeys.” As a SAP member of the Cape
Provincial Council, he succeeded in 1914 to have Afrikaans instituted as
alternative to Dutch-medium instruction in primary schools. His Afrikaans articles
made an invaluable contribution to the Afrikaans daily, Die Burger, which had as
its first editor, D.F. Malan.
His vigorous articles in newspapers, journals and books were written in a
supple and lucid Afrikaans. He reduced the language issue to a concise and lucid
question: 'If Dutch is our language we must speak it; if Afrikaans is our language
we must write it.' (2) He said of Afrikaans: “It is the medium of social intercourse,
the channel of expression for the deepest and tenderest feelings of the South
African Dutch. It is interwoven with the fiber of their national character, the
language they have learnt at their mother's knee, the language of the last
farewells of their dying lips.”(2) Regarding its phasing in as a language of
instruction, he told gradualists in a speech in 1914 to the ZA Akademie voor Taal
en Letterkunde in Bloemfontein, that postponing Afrikaans introduction until it
became a so-called cultivated language would leave English in a dominant
position while Afrikaans children were being taught that they and their language
were not only 'uncivilized' but also incapable of becoming 'civilized'. (2)

Langenhoven commemorative stamp marking the centenary of his birth .

Waldo Kühn 168


Langenhoven wrote the Afrikaans lyrics to the South African anthem, Die Stem.
In 1925, due in large to the contribution of Langenhoven, Afrikaans became used
in Parliament and in 1927 was recognized as official language next to English .
(72)
In 1925 a bill was introduced in Parliament to create a national flag for the Union
to replace the existing Union flag, the Red Ensign. There was uproar among
English South Africans over the plan the replace the Union flag, and Natal
Province threatened to cede from the Union. A compromise design of the
replacement flag had the Princes' Flag planted by the Dutch East India Company
as it was said to not be tied to any country in particular. In the center horizontal
white stripe, were the three flags of Britain, the Free State Republic and the
Transvaal Republic. The flag would always be hoisted alongside the Union Jack.
It was first hoisted on 31 May 1928. From 1957 on the Union Jack was no longer
hoisted alongside the South African flag.

Flag of the Union: The Red Ensign

Controversial South African flag from 1928

Waldo Kühn 169


19. THE NATIONALIST PARTY – PART II

Hertzog suggested removing African voters from the Cape voters' roll and
doubling the size of the reserves. In 1936 he obtained the necessary two-thirds
majority to launch the plan. Blacks in the Cape would be placed on a separate
voters' roll with three elected white representatives in the House of Assembly.
Hertzog wanted coloreds to remain on the Cape voters’ role, noting that they
“speak our language and belong with us.”(71) Blacks in the rest of South Africa
would be represented by four senators elected by electoral colleges. A Natives
Representative Council would discuss issues affecting Africans in the reserves
and in the common area. The reserves now constituted 13 percent of South
Africa's land-area. (2)
Jan Hofmeyr (nephew of the Bond leader, “Onze Jan” Hofmeyr), the leading
liberal in Parliament, thought the system unjust and based on fear. He said white
civilization would endure in South Africa only with the consent and goodwill of the
non-Europeans within the borders. Another liberal from the Cape, F.S. Malan
presented a similar view, holding that peoples' interests had to be met equally,
irrespective of color. Opposing him was the other Malan, D.F. Malan, leader of
the Purified NP, the Opposition-party. The question remained one of white
survival against a scenario where, as qualified black voters' numbers continued
to increase to parity with whites, blacks would without doubt demand a universal
franchise over a qualified one.

An influential group in the NP was neo-Calvinists from Potchefstroom like H.G.


Stoker who held to the belief of different social spheres (such as the family and
the volk) that had their grounding in the ordinances of God's creation.
Another strand of NP-members openly subscribed to Naziism. Most prominent
among them was Nico Diederichs who had studied in Germany in the 1930s.
Hendrik Verwoerd, editor of Die Transvaler, formed a strong bond with J.G.
Strijdom, Transvaal-leader of the NP. Verwoerd's parents had immigrated to
South Africa from the Netherlands when he was two. He had spent time in
Germany in 1926 and then moved to the United States the following year,
subsequently returning to Stellenbosch University to pursue an academic career.
He was not a Nazi-supporter and did not preach a message of superiority of one
racial group over another.(2) He did however single out Jews in the 1930s for
dominating and being over-represented in certain economic sections, namely the
wholesale and retail trade, and the Cape NP had called for a halt to Jewish

Waldo Kühn 170


immigration, adding that trading and business licenses had to be allocated to
Jews on a proportional basis to the fraction they constituted of the white
population. Verwoerd was a social engineer who believed strongly in the concept
of using demographic and sociopolitical data to order society for its own good. (2)
Verwoerd's analysis of the reasons for the parlous state of things was however
both contentious and erroneous. He claimed that blacks pushing into the labor
market had edged out colored people who, in turn had squeezed out whites. It
was in the country's interests to restore whites and coloreds to their old jobs. He
conceded that it might 'superficially' look like 'having the appearance of privilege',
but assured his audience that no privilege was at stake because the difficulties
could be surmounted by employing South African blacks on the mines in the
place of foreign blacks, or by stepping up the development of the reserves. (2)

Afrikaners, while representing the vast majority of union membership in the


1930s, made up only 10 percent of leadership positions in organized labor; the
positions being dominated by people of English and Jewish descent. Solly Sachs,
a prominent trade unionist remarked: “The workers' organizations looked on the
Afrikaners with an air of disdain. [They] failed almost entirely to appreciate fully
the development, tradition, sentiments and aspirations of the masses of
Afrikaners as a people who suffered cultural, economic and political oppression.”
A DRC study observed: 'A very great disadvantage of the South African capitalist
system is that those who represent it, and wield power in it, do not belong to the
[Afrikaner] people and feel nothing for our ideals, language and religion...' (2)

Communists were actively trying to enroll working class Afrikaners. They had
some success, but were vastly more successful in their efforts to recruit black
workers to their cause, which the DRC charged was a bid for revolution, atheism,
equality and the abolition of private property. On the other side was the Afrikaner
Broederbond, a secretive Afrikaner-nationalist organization with mainly NP
membership; its chairman from 1938 being Nico Diederichs. It was not yet the
mighty influence in the ranks of Afrikaner political leadership that it was to
become from 1948, WWII being the catalyst for its rise. Hertzog did not belong to
the organization and Smuts called it a 'dangerous, cunning, political fascist
organization.' (73)

The election of 1938 saw the UP remain in power with 104 seats and Hertzog as
PM, while Malan's Purified NP remained the Opposition with a slightly increased
29 seats. As war clouds were gathering in Europe, Hertzog withdrew to the
seclusion of his farm. (4)

Waldo Kühn 171


Deneys Reitz:
From the start the United Party had been united only in name. The old Nationalist
stalwarts who had joined the new party under General Hertzog in 1933 had done
so with mental reservations and we on our side had entered the pact with
misgivings... Now came the crucial test. Earlier in the year when all could see
that Europe would soon be plunged in conflict, General Hertzog had repeatedly
promised that he would summon Parliament before he decided on war. But he
never undertook to consult Parliament should he decide not to go to war, and it
never struck anyone to question him on the point. (4)

A technicality in the administration of Parliament which had to be addressed,


forced Hertzog to summon Parliament for a three-day Session. It so happened
that on the morning of Friday, September 1st, 1939, the day before Parliament
convened for the Session, Hitler invaded Poland. It was expected that Britain and
France would soon be at war with Germany. It was impossible for Hertzog to
avoid the issue. On the Saturday, Hertzog promised an announcement on the
Monday. Hertzog called a special Cabinet meeting that same afternoon at Groote
Schuur, his Ministerial residence. He gave a speech in which he made his case
for South Africa remaining neutral. He argued that Hitler, who had greatly
reconstructed Germany, might win the war and that the British connection would
always drag South Africa into its wars. Smuts made his case for standing by the
Empire. Hertzog declared his intention to move a Resolution for South African
neutrality in Parliament on the Monday. It was clear that the United Party would
split into the old Smuts and Hertzog camps.
On the Monday, Smuts responded to Hertzog's neutrality-resolution with a
counter-resolution in a powerful speech. Hertzog's supporters also had the 29
Opposition votes, while Smuts' supporters could rely on the minority parties:
7 Dominionites, 4 Labor MPs and 3 Native Representatives. Smuts' counter-
resolution was carried with 80 votes against 67.
Hertzog resigned his Office, making Jan Smuts Prime Minister for a second time.
Smuts formed a new cabinet with the following members:
Prime Minister and Minister of Defence: Jan Smuts
Deputy PM and Minister of Native Affairs: Deneys Reitz
Finance: Jan Hofmeyr
Agriculture: Colonel Collins (A Boer War veteran under the late General Louis
Botha)
Justice: Dr Colin Steyn (Son of M.T. Steyn)
Railways: Claude Sturrock (Called a canny Scotsman by Deneys Reitz)
Lands: Senator Conroy

Waldo Kühn 172


Posts and Telegraphs: Mr Clarkson (from Natal)
Interior: Harry Lawrence
Commerce and Industries: Mr Stuttaford (Successful merchant from the Cape)
Mines: Colonel Stallard (Leader of the Dominion Party)
Labor: Walter Madeley
Minister without Portfolio: Major Piet van der Byl (Had fought in WWI) (4)

In 1940, Hertzog and D.F. Malan joined forces to form the Herenigde Nasionale
Party (HNP) (Reformed Nationalist Party) or Volksparty, on the same principles
and policies of the former NP. In November of the same year Hertzog retired from
politics and D.F. Malan became HNP-leader.

South Africa's major contributions in WWII were in campaigns in Italy and North
Africa, notably the Battle of El Alamein and the fall of Tobruk. South Africans
served in the RAF and took Madagascar from the Vichy French. 334 000 South
Africans of all races served in WWII, which saw around 9 000 killed, 35 percent
of which were Afrikaners.(4) They had joined mostly for socio-economic
reasons.(2) Smuts served as field marshal in the Imperial War Cabinet. Smuts
was a co-signatory of the Treaty of Paris, making him the only person to have co-
signed the Treaties of both World Wars.
A group of Nazi-sympathizers belonged to an ultra-nationalistic Afrikaner
organization called the Ossewa Brandwag (Ox-wagon Sentinel) which was
responsible for acts of sabotage in South Africa. The members were rounded up
and detained at a camp at Koffiefontein in the Northern Cape. Among them were
future PM in the Presidency of Nico Diederichs, John Vorster and future Secret
Police head, Hendrik van den Bergh.

In the 1943-election the HNP of Malan won 43 seats in Parliament. In 1947 he


reached an alliance agreement with N.C. Havenga's Afrikaner Party (AP) to
partake in the 1948 election. In that election the HNP won 70 seats and the AP 9.
D.F. Malan became Prime Minister. (In 1951 the HNP and AP united under the
old name, National Party.)
In January 1944, D.F. Malan elaborated on why he had used the word “apartheid”
in Parliament: 'I do not use the term segregation, because it has been interpreted
as fencing off, but rather apartheid, which will give the various races the
opportunity of uplifting themselves on the basis of what is their own.' Verwoerd
would say something similar: “Every people or nation is responsible for their own
destiny.” Malan would also say: “Let those who belong together through a sense
of inner conviction, develop together.”

Waldo Kühn 173


Daniël François Malan

In 1942 Smuts declared that the policy to prevent black urbanization and to keep
black and white apart had failed. 'Isolation has gone and segregation has fallen
on evil days.' The Smuts-government also began reforming social policy.
Provisions for old age pensions, grants for invalids and unemployment services
were improved and the principle established that Africans had to be included in
any social security scheme and in any legislation affecting such benefits. Africans
would also be allowed to qualify for many professions at white universities,
instead of only studying at Fort Hare College. During the ten years up to Wars-
end, government spending on black schooling increased 300 percent. Black
wages in manufacturing were increasing sharply.
The Fagan Commission was appointed by the Smuts-government in 1946 to
investigate changes to segregation. The Commission challenged the
development of a policy towards blacks solely in context of the reserves. It noted
that a stream of black labor was 'flowing into the Union...as the most
industrialized of all countries in Southern and Central Africa.' The flow could be
'guided and regulated, and may perhaps even be limited...but not stopped or
reversed'. Any policy that was based on the idea that blacks in the cities were all
migrants rooted in the reserves, would be a false policy. The commission outlined
three options: Total segregation was impractical. It also rejected equality (no
discrimination) and recommended a midway, a policy that whites and blacks will
develop side-by-side, economically intertwined as part of the same big
machine.(2) At the time the report was published, Smuts' popularity stood at an

Waldo Kühn 174


all-time low. (75)
The Nationalists of D.F. Malan responded with a commission of their own, the
Sauer Commission in 1947, headed by Paul Sauer. The Commission called the
influx of black workers into the cities a 'problem'. The report made an ideological
case for black fatherlands, and called for 'total Apartheid between whites and
Natives...the eventual ideal and goal.' Black unions could not be allowed 'at this
stage.' The report called for the removal of 'surplus' black labor and the
mobilization of sufficient labor to where it was required. (2)

In 1946 the Smuts-government passed a Bill that separated white and Asian
areas. Asians (mainly Indians in Natal, originally brought in by the British
administration to work the sugar caine fields) had been successful far beyond
their 3 percent of the population of South Africa, owning 19 percent of retail
enterprises by 1950 and buying up white land. Asians would have to be
represented by white delegates in Parliament and the Provincial Councils.
Hofmeyr wrote to Smuts: 'It is the last straw breaking the camel's back and I
cannot be party to it.' The Cape “coloreds” were represented by the CAD
(Coloured Affairs Department) and CAC (Coloured Advisery Council) while
Africans voted through the NRC (Natives Representative Council.) The African
National Congress (ANC) supported the NRC in the 1930s, while the more
radical All Africa Convention (AAC) boycotted it. In colored circles, militancy was
increasing against the CAD and CAC. (2)

Waldo Kühn 175


20. DEFENDING APARTHEID

N.P. Van Wyk Louw was an Afrikaans poet and scholar, one of the foremost
writers from the 1930s. He was a Nationalist, who defended the concept of
separate development as 'the typical tragic situation of history: two “rights” [the
white and the black right to self-determination] which confronted each other
implacably.' Blacks were numerically superior while whites, Afrikaners in
particular, held the upper hand politically, economically and militarily. Either this
'stale-mate' could be resolved by the 'ploughing under' of the less numerous
group or by the 'separate development' of each,(2) which appeared to him the
peaceful solution. He called Hofmeyr's proposal of 'going forward in faith' with
steady expansion of the franchise, as bordering on irresponsibility. He pointed
out that while Britain was an ethnically homogenous society, South Africa was a
heterogeneous society.
He expressed his frustration in the following terms: abstractly formulated, the
demands for 'freedom, equal rights and equal opportunities' were 'almost
evidently fair.' However, applied to South Africa, these demands would mean that
'a small, relatively highly developed Afrikaner people and the English section
would be reduced to an impotent minority in a black mass.' Hence 'to be liberal in
South Africa looks to the Afrikaner – who unlike the English-speakers does not
have another country to flee to – like national suicide and individual destruction.'...
Afrikaners were not a small colonial group of 'officials and merchants', like the
whites in British and Dutch India, but a volk rooted in the land. In a statement that
went well beyond the conventional fears of black rule he wrote that if the
Afrikaners became a minority 'they would be as helpless as the Jew was in
Germany.' (2)

Afrikaner nationalists argued that their survival as a volk was inseparable from
maintaining racial exclusivity. Apartheid was the only policy, they argued, that
systematically pursued that end. Apartheid with its racist outcomes was not a
goal in itself; political survival was. In his book, Het die Afrikaanse volk 'n
toekoms? (Does the Afrikaans volk have a future?) G.D. Scholtz, historian and
editor of Die Transvaler, pointed out that Afrikaners never had the luxury of
'safety in numbers.' (2)
Piet Cillié, next to H.F. Verwoerd the most articulate apartheid apologist, wrote in
1952 that 'South Africa was remarkably free from racial mythologies.' The
Afrikaners' desire to survive was a far stronger and a more indestructible feeling

Waldo Kühn 176


than race prejudice. 'Like the Jews in Palestine and the Muslims in Pakistan, the
Afrikaners had not fought themselves free from British dominion only to be
overwhelmed by a majority of a different kind. Eventually we shall give that
majority its freedom, but never power over us...' (2)
L.E. Neame, liberal editor of The Cape Argus, took issue with the argument that
apartheid was based solely on the claim that the white race was inherently
superior to all others. An unreasoning prejudice against color was not the root of
the matter. The problem is 'national rather than pigmental. Differentiation is not
enforced as a brand of inferiority but as a bulwark against the infiltration of
people of another civilization. The motive is not detraction but defense.' (2)
Geoff Cronjé, a sociologist had an issue with racial purity. He used interracial
slums as an example where whites would lose their ethnic ties, develop feelings
of equality with those not white, and become conditioned to blood mixing. He
insisted on a legal ban on interracial sex. (2)

In a 1939 lecture, Alfred Hoernlé outlined three possible futures for South Africa:
1 Parallelism: in which different races would be subjugated to a “master
group.”
2 Assimilation: in which all racial differences would be obliterated.
3 Separation: total dissociation to render impossible the very possibility of
domination of one over another. Like Hofmeyr, Hoernlé doubted if whites would
be willing to make the enormous sacrifices that would be required to make it a
reality. (2)

Van Wyk Louw considered Hoernlé's option of 'separation' as a possible solution


for South Africa. True nationalism would have to be true for everyone. Hence, 'we
[Afrikaners] should not speak of ourselves as the volk [nation] of South Africa, but
as one of the nations of South Africa.'(2)
Van Wyk Louw added an ethical dimension to Afrikaner survival through the
phrase voortbestaan in geregtigheid (“survival with justice” or “a just existence”) –
which insisted that national death might be preferable to ethnic survival reliant on
injustice. 'Can a small volk survive for long if it becomes something hateful,
something evil, in the eyes of the best in – or outside – its fold?' (2)

Another scenario Van Wyk Louw envisioned was one where a great number of
Afrikaner people doubted in themselves 'whether we ought to survive as a volk.'
Afrikaners will continue to survive on an individual basis and may even prosper,
but no longer constitute a distinctive volk: 'they would be absorbed in either an
Anglo-Saxon or Bantu-speaking nation.'

Waldo Kühn 177


Another scenario or crisis affecting survival of Afrikaners as an ethno-national
group, would be establishment of a great non-Afrikaner majority by way of a
state-sponsored mass-immigration -- as had been attempted by Lord Alfred
Milner (and in latter times, by the ANC-government through its legal policy of
representivity (representiveness) and integration. (See Chapter 22.)

Several Stellenbosch academics and leaders of the Missions Commission of the


DRC in the Transvaal suggested the idea of an institute that would study the
complex racial issue. Broederbond delegates met with Stellenbosch academics,
and on 23 September 1948 SABRA (Suid-Afrikaanse Buro vir Rasse-
aangeleenthede) was founded with one full-time organizer, H.B. Thom.
[SABRA emphasized the importance of the homelands, and helped create the
Thomlinson report in the 1950s, which told Verwoerd it would take R10 billion
(1998 currency value) to develop the reserves into self-sufficient economies.(2)
In the mid 1970s, when it was becoming increasingly evident that apartheid had
failed, SABRA began to research the possibility of an Afrikaner homeland. The
research was led by the social demographer Dr Chris Jooste. Dr Jooste's books,
'n Volkstaat vir Boere-Afrikaners (A Nation-state for Boer-Afrikaners) and Lesse
uit die Joodse Besetting van Palestina (Lessons from the Jewish Settlement of
Palestine) would serve as inspiration for Missions-professor Carel Boshoff's
Orania-project in 1991 (which the Western mass-media remain largely critical of.)]

Chris Jooste, Architect of Orania.

Waldo Kühn 178


The Smuts-government had moved financial responsibility for black education
onto the shoulders of central government. In 1948 the new NP government
established a commission of inquiry under Werner Eiselen, into the needs of
native education. The report expressed concern over the lack of a 'group feeling'
among blacks. It said that African cultures were dynamic and could serve as the
context for the modernization of native peoples. Instead of imitating English
culture, the system had to instill pride in their own (volkseie) – that is: their own
history, customs, habits, character and mentality. The report strongly emphasized
mother-tongue education. As a result, ethnic language-education became
compulsory. Verwoerd, in announcing the new system said that the black child
had been subjected to a school system 'which drew him away from his own
community and practically misled him by showing him the green pastures of the
European, but still did not allow him to pasture there.' He would be facing a color
bar or a ceiling below that of whites in a white community; however, within his
own community 'all doors are open.' In addition to serving his own community in
the envisaged black states, he could serve the black community in the common
area as teachers, nurses, policemen, etc. Verwoerd was criticized for his
statement that it would serve no purpose to teach a black child mathematics if he
or she would not utilize it. In the end though, the syllabus was largely the same
for both black and white schools. The majority of black schools wanted to have
English- or Afrikaans-medium education after the eighth year. Only one percent
wanted their mother-tongue. (2)
In practice government funding could not keep pace with the rapidly growing
black school population and per capita spending on black pupils were about 10
per cent of their white counterpart. The government located most of the new
schools offering the highest standards of education inside the reserves,
frustrating urban blacks. The 1950s saw a doubling of black pupils, while
Westernized Africans continued to refer to the system as 'gutter education',
designed to prepare blacks for a marginal place. Act 45 in 1959 made provision
for universities in the homelands offering mother-tongue tuition. Universities were
also segregated by race. Black or colored students could attend courses at white
universities only if their own universities did not offer it. One of the main
objectives of the policy was to remove black students from the influence of liberal
academics in the city environment. (2)
Students at the 'bush colleges' did not become the leaders of their respective
ethnic communities, as the apartheid system envisaged, but the most disaffected
elements in the subordinate population. [It] failed to produce the 'apartheid man'
among the subordinates... (2)

Waldo Kühn 179


In 1976 Carel Boshoff, a missionary and son-in-law of Hendrik Verwoerd, in his
capacity as chairperson of SABRA and Broederbond member, led discussions
aimed at developing a practical 'master plan' for making the homelands feasible.
Conservatives in the Bond suggested linking up the townships and the
homelands, and consolidating patchworks of territories, as well as a rapid transit
system for homeland laborers. They realized that it would take something
imaginative and drastic for the system to work. However economic realities had
made the Witwatersrand and other central areas the industrial heartland of South
Africa, which nothing that was conceivable in the homelands at that time could
match as a job-creating force. The rapidly increasing numbers of the black
population was also weighing against the homelands-idea. (2)

Government attention was increasingly directed to the common area. It asked


whites to hold back on demands and to accept reduced social spending in order
to reduce the gap between whites and blacks. The assumption was that income
gains would moderate black political demands. (2)
The subsistence crisis of the homelands sent desperate people streaming to
squatter camps in towns and cities, breaking down the system of influx control
with their feet and their numbers. Blacks took heart from the collapse of the
Portuguese empire in Mozambique and Angola. Black schools and universities
sent people out into the world determined to challenge the basic assumptions of
the system. (2)

Waldo Kühn 180


Homelands map:

Waldo Kühn 181


Language map (2000):

Waldo Kühn 182


21. SOCIAL ENGINEERING GETS PERSONAL

The Population Registration Act of 1950 (the Bill was introduced by NP Minister
of the Interior Eben Dönges in D.F. Malan’s cabinet) classified every citizen into
one of four categories: white, colored, Asian or African, and further subdivided
Africans and “coloreds” into ethnological groups, like Zulu or Xhosa, Griqua or
Cape colored.
The law transformed apartheid from a loose body of segregation measures into
a system, imposing a tight racial grid.
Putting colored people in a rigid statutory pigeonhole was particularly difficult...
Jan Smuts thought of them when he responded to the Population Registration
Bill. 'Don't let us trifle with this thing', he pleaded. '[We] are touching on things
which go pretty deep in this land.' He called it an attempt to 'classify the
unclassifiable' and reminded the government that fifteen years earlier a
commission had found racial registration impractical... (2)
One's racial classification would fundamentally affect all aspects of one's life,
social, economic and political.
...every year Parliament experienced the absurdity of government
announcements of how many whites had been reclassified as coloreds (or the
other way round), and how many coloreds were now deemed to be Africans.
A system of race classification had as a corollary a ban on sex between whites
and people who were not white... The Prohibition of Mixed Marriages act of 1949
extended the 1927 ban on marriages between whites and blacks to cover all
marriages between white people and those not deemed white. (2)
Classification caused human tragedies of the cruelest kind. Some lovers
classified in different categories, on finding they could not marry legally,
committed suicide…The Immorality Act of 1950 outlawed carnal intercourse
between a white and non-white. (2)
The Immorality Act was only erased from the books in 1985. By that time it had
caused much misery. 11 500 people had been convicted and many charged.
Offenders included ordinary people, church ministers, school teachers and even
a secretary to a prime minister.
Facing widespread ostracism, some white offenders committed suicide or
emigrated. (2)
Cape Town had been spared separate living areas by decree, until the 1950
Group Areas Act assigned people their neighborhoods by race. The Reservation

Waldo Kühn 183


of Separate Amenities Act separated white and non-white to separate public
facilities, entrances, toilets, rail carriages etc. Coloured people were effectively
removed from the voters’ role by the Separate Representation of Voters act of
1951.(105) Three decades later Coloureds and Indians received more substantial
representation in the Tricameral Parliament, which was largely shunned by voters.
In adopting [residential segregation] the government, as earlier, had greatly
underestimated the scale of the undertaking. When the Act was introduced,
Dönges stated that persons of a single group occupied 80 to 90 per cent of the
different residential areas in South African towns and cities. Separation should
not be difficult, therefore. But the law had a far more drastic impact. When the
government announced its detailed proposals for Cape Town, the UP-controlled
City Council was so shocked that it boycotted the public hearings. Eventually one
out of every four colored people and one out of six Asian people (against only
one in 666 whites) across the country had to move. The most controversial action
occurred in the second half of the 1960s, with the removal of 65 000 coloreds
from District Six, a vibrant but crime-infested inner city ward of Cape Town,
where whites, many of them slumlords, owned 56 per cent of the property. (2)
Residents were moved to the Cape Flats, Mitchell's Plain and Atlantis.

To curb the flow of blacks into the cities, a process called “influx control”,
Verwoerd proposed the industrialization of the border regions of the homelands.
Border-industries would allow migrants to return to the reserves at day's end.
Pass law compelled black men in the cities to carry passes. The Native Laws
Amendment Act of 1952 imposed harsher influx controls, like obligating
professional blacks to carry passes like the day laborers, and giving jobless
blacks in urban areas only 72 hours to register at a labor bureau. From 1957
women also had to carry passes.
The permanently urbanized Africans were considered the apartheid system's
elite. They, too, had to carry passes, but they did not have to register at a labor
bureau and they were first in line for government housing. At the bottom of the
pile were black migrants and farm workers with extremely limited chances...Black
migrant workers had to accept whatever contract they were offered by a labor
bureau. They could not go out and search for work on their own. Separated from
their families for the greatest part of the year, such workers lived in degrading
conditions in single-sex hostels. And, because of the absence of adult men from
the reserves, the agricultural land there were not worked properly, in turn forcing
more men to become migrants. (2)
The Sharpeville Massacre of 21 March 1960 resulted from a demonstration
against bearing of passbooks. 69 people were killed by police when protesters

Waldo Kühn 184


converged on a police station. The 5 000–7000 strong crowd had grown to about
19 000 and the peaceful protest turned hostile. Among the dead were eight
women and ten children. Some of the casualties had been shot in the back. A
police report claimed that young and inexperienced policemen had panicked and
opened fire. It pointed out that two months before, nine constables had been
killed (stoned and burned) in similar conditions in Cato Manor. The policemen
also had no prior riot control training. (76)

In January 1961, Dag Hammerskjöld, in his capacity as Secretary General of the


United Nations, paid an official visit to South Africa. He had six off-the-record
meetings with Verwoerd in six days. Verwoerd considered the UN's expectation
of speedy integration of South Africa unacceptable. Hammerskjöld then posed
the question if apartheid could be made a feasible alternative to integration. For
the homelands policy to be the basis for that alternative, Hammerskjöld
demanded that the government set aside a sufficient and coherent territory for
blacks, publish a plan for their economic development, and introduce institutions
based on the will of the people that would lead to independence if the people so
desired. At the same time, Africans working outside the homelands would have to
be entitled to similar rights and protection as in those Western countries that
housed foreign workers, and in particular, entitlement to full citizenship of South
Africa after prolonged residence.(2) Hammerskjöld was killed shortly afterward in
a plane crash in Zaire. (As of July 2015, suspicious circumstances surrounding
his death were still being investigated.(107)) The government introduced limited
local government structures to urban Africans later in 1961 and the Transkei
received self-government with the prospect of independence.

On 31 May 1961, 59 years after the Treaty of Vereeniging had brought an end to
the Boer War and 51 years after the Union was formed, South Africa became a
republic. Verwoerd appointed a new Minister of Justice, John Vorster, who made
state security his highest priority. The same year, the ANC under Nelson Mandela
formed an armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation or MK).
Leading members of MK were rounded up in July 1963 at their hideout in the
Johannesburg suburb of Rivonia, including Nelson Mandela (captured later).
They were charged with 221 acts of sabotage and sentenced to life-
imprisonment during what became known as the Rivonia trial. Also arrested was
well-known communist Afrikaner Bram Fischer, who admitted preparations had
been underway for guerrilla warfare since 1962. In 1962 the UN passed a
resolution calling on member states to impose diplomatic sanctions on South
Africa, while the Security Council agreed on an arms embargo.

Waldo Kühn 185


On 9 April 1960 at an agricultural show, a respected farmer, David Pratt shot and
wounded Verwoerd. He claimed he was shooting at the 'epitome of apartheid.'
Pratt was declared 'mentally disordered and epileptic'. On 1 October 1961 he
hanged himself at Bloemfontein Mental Hospital. On 6 September 1966
Verwoerd was assassinated in Parliament by a parliamentary messenger, Dimitri
Tsafendas. Tsafendas was also declared insane. Verwoerd was succeeded by
John Vorster. Conspiracy theories centered around Vorster, whose acceptance
speech happened to be neatly typed and lying on his desk on the morning of
Verwoerd's murder, and who had close ties to the notorious State Security Chief
Hendrik van den Bergh, former fellow internee at Koffiefontein. (77, 78)

H.F. Verwoerd

In 1973 the UN General Assembly declared apartheid a crime against humanity.


South African athletes had been barred from competing in the Olympic Games
and diplomatic sanctions and the arms embargo had been extended to general
economic and cultural boycotts. In 1974 PM B.J. (John) Vorster's government
passed the Afrikaans Medium Decree proposed by Minister of Education, Andries
Treurnicht, to compel black schools in South Africa to switch to a 50:50 mix of
English and Afrikaans education. African languages would only be used for
religious and social studies instruction. It was another attempt to drive blacks into
the homelands by telling them that South Africa outside the confines of the
homelands was not their country.(114) Pupils in Soweto boycotted school and a
mass rally was held on June 16. Police loosed dogs on the students who
responded by stoning the dogs to death. Also stoned to death were two white
men, including a Dr Melville Edelstein, who had dedicated his life to social
uplifting of blacks. The mob that stoned him placed a sign around his neck which
read: “Beware Afrikaaners”. As the incident was a focus of the propaganda war of

Waldo Kühn 186


the time, it is unclear how many people were killed by police (anywhere between
23 and 600) and how many of those were children. Thirteen year-old Hector
Peterson became the symbol of the uprising and his grave has been declared a
national monument.(79) The incident greatly underscored South Africa's pariah-
status in the world. When, in October 1976 Transkei was declared independent,
no country would recognize that status; instead deriding it as a 'puppet state' of
the apartheid regime.

Meanwhile the Cold War had come to South African shores. Operation Savannah
was underway in Angola, Rhodesia was locked in civil war, with Ian Smith's
prospects not looking up, civil war was erupting in Mozambique and the ANC-
Communist Party alliance were threatening to take South Africa on the same
path as its neighbors. All the turmoil was supported by the Soviet Union. Fighters
were armed with AK-47s and RPG-7s and Soviet-made mines, grenades, rockets
and larger weaponry.

Waldo Kühn 187


22. COLD WAR SOUTH AFRICA
In the 1920s the Comintern instructed the Communist Party of South Africa to
adopt its Native Republic thesis, which stipulated that South Africa belonged to
the Natives; that it was the black peoples' state. The party was banned in 1950
and went underground. Inside the Soviet Union and its loyalist regime in Cuba,
human rights were not high on the agenda. The saying goes: “Hitler killed
millions, but Stalin killed tens of millions.” It was an oppressive system where
persons were incarcerated for subversive activity against the Communist State if
caught in possession of a Bible!(96,108) All property were state-owned, salaries
were paid by the state as a grant, communist indoctrination was part of everyday
life, all media were state-owned, people disappeared often, there was re-
education for those considered a subversive influence, military spending was
huge with compulsory military service, and WMD were stockpiled. It is safe to say
such a regime's interest in Southern Africa was strategic rather than humanitarian.
The importance of the southern sea route around the Cape did not escape
attention.
Recent research by Prof Stephen Ellis of Leiden University indicates that even
Nelson Mandela was a member of the SA Communist Party. According to writer
Mark Gevisser, who had been allowed access to sensitive ANC-documents, 29 of
the 30 senior leaders in the ANC's national executive committee in the 1970s and
80s were members of the SACP. Ellis claims it was the SACP that declared war
on Pretoria in 1960 and forced the fatal decision on the ANC. (80,98)

In the 1970s Angola was split into three armed factions, FAPLA (armed wing of
MPLA), UNITA and the FNLA of Holden Roberto. MPLA/FAPLA (holding the
coastal areas) was supported by the Soviet Union, while UNITA (central-south)
and FNLA (northern regions) had been befriended by the CIA. Holden Roberto
was a typical Third-world warlord who took power by confiscating farms and
killing everyone in sight. Under his reign of terror a thousand whites had been
killed, over which he boasted: 'This time the slaves did not cower. They
massacred everything.'(81) FAPLA held the capitol Luanda, which Roberto's force
wanted to pry from them. FAPLA was organizing itself to defend its position with
aid of Cuban military instructors. South Africa, at that time was fighting SWAPO
(South West African People's Organization) in South-West Africa. SWAPO, led by
Sam Nujoma, was founded in the northern area of Ovamboland and saw itself as
liberation force fighting for freedom of South West Africa, which was under South

Waldo Kühn 188


African administration at the time. SWAPO's armed wing was called PLAN –
People's Liberation Army of Namibia. After the Portuguese had given up Angola,
the Vorster-government feared that Angola would become a refuge for PLAN-
guerillas, where they could regroup, train and launch insurgencies into South
West Africa. Such insurgencies were marked by mining of farm roads, murder of
chiefs considered friendly to South Africa and abduction of children for training as
PLAN fighters. (82)
In August 1975 South African forces entered southern Angola to guard the
Ruacana-Calueque hydro-electric facility, which supplied electricity to South-
West Africa, against the fighting. Soon afterward they formed the mobile combat
group Foxbat, to protect Unita against a FAPLA offensive in the south. Liaising
with the CIA, South African Task Force Zulu launched Operation Savannah in
October to drive FAPLA from the south and assist Roberto in taking Luanda. Zulu
advanced rapidly. Fidel Castro sent a 652-strong battalion of Cuban Special
Forces to assist FAPLA. Roberto's FNLA with assistance from Zairian troops and
a 52-man South African artillery contingent was defeated in the north at the Battle
of Quifangondo. The South African WWII-era artillery was no match for the
modern Soviet BM-21 multiple rocket launchers. Twenty-six South Africans were
extracted via the coastal town of Ambrizete by two South African navy frigates.
Zulu's advance from the south became bogged down by heavy rains which
turned the dirt roads into mud. The Eland armored cars (South African built
Panhard AML) had almost no mobility and FAPLA had destroyed all bridges that
could assist the South African advance. FAPLA's resolve strengthened and by
December they had assistance from about 3 700 Cuban troops. In South Africa
the seriousness of the situation began to be suspected when the most extensive
military call-up in its history was announced. The South Africans withdrew after
losing 49 men (listed at the time as MIA) and a number of vehicles.(83) A number
of the casualties resulted when a Puma helicopter was brought down by own fire.

With an arms embargo in place, the last loopholes of which were in the process
of being closed, a local armaments industry became a priority for John Vorster
and his Defense Minister, P.W. Botha. Armscor was founded as a parastatal arms
manufacturer and the booming defense industry sprouted many high-tech private
contractors. In addition to small arms and ammunition, the Ratel infantry fighting
vehicle was built, sporting long range six-wheeled mobility, land mine protection
and a host of gun turrets. It is still being made; at present by BAE Systems which
has taken over Denel Vehicle Systems.(100) The G5 and the mobile G6 howitzers,
based on a gun design by the infamous Gerald Bull, could fire a 155 mm base-
bleed projectile out to 40 km with very high accuracy(84) and a multiple rocket

Waldo Kühn 189


launcher, mortars and range of fragmentation and cluster bombs rounded off the
fire support arsenal. Plans were obtained for local assembly and manufacture of
the Mirage III and F1, Puma helicopter and the Italian Aermacchi trainer. The
post-WWII-era Centurion tank was upgraded to the Olifant MBT with a diesel
engine, redesigned suspension and new gun and upgraded fire-control system,
and the 8X8 Rooikat armored car was developed. The industry focused on force-
multiplication, giving a small army the maximum advantage through high
technology. This approach included development (with clandestine international
cooperation) of secure, jam-resistant frequency-hopping communications and
radar, electronic warfare equipment, electronic fuses, guided bombs and missiles,
unmanned aerial vehicles, the Cheetah upgrade of the Mirage III and the Oryx
upgrade of the Puma to the equivalent of Eurocopter Super Puma; design of the
Rooivalk helicopter and Carver fighter, as well as an ambitious project to launch
military satellites. A number of naval vessels were built, including the
sophisticated SAS Drakensberg.(84) Indeed remarkable projects, given that
military spending averaged well under five percent of GDP! (82) In 1993 South
Africa became the first country to dismantle its entire nuclear arsenal and
abandon its military nuclear capability.

G6-Rhino mobile artillery

Waldo Kühn 190


Another major operation that did not go as intended by the SADF, was the attack
on Cassinga in 1978, part of a greater and largely successful operation against
SWAPO called Reindeer. Operation Reindeer entailed major assaults on SWAPO
bases in southern Angola. The Chetaquera (“Vietnam”) and Dombondela bases
were located near the border with South-West Africa, about 35 km inside Angola,
and were attacked successfully with a combination of air strikes and mechanized
infantry using the new Ratel IFV. A number of hijacked bus-passengers from
South-West Africa were rescued at Chetaquera. (82 – p.146.) But Cassinga
(SWAPO codename 'Moscow') was further to the north, 260 km from the border.
Intelligence had indicated it to be one of two SWAPO HQ's inside Angola; the
other being further north at Lubango. Photo reconnaissance showed a network of
trenches, anti aircraft guns, an (incomplete) star shaped SA-2 type anti-aircraft
missile facility and other military infrastructure. It also showed a school bus that
had earlier been hijacked in South-West Africa. The surprise attack entailed air
strikes followed by an attack by airborne infantry. Seventeen transport helicopters
(Pumas and Super Frelons) would be waiting at the extraction zone to extract the
paratroopers after the attack. General Constand Viljoen, who believed a
general's place was at the front line, flew in on board one of the helicopters. In
command at the SWA tactical HQ was Major General Ian Gleeson. The
composite parachute battalion of 2 and 3 Parachute Battalions, flying in aboard
four C-130 Hercules and five C-160 Transall transport aircraft, was under
command of Colonel Jan Breytenbach. The helicopter extraction zone was
guarded by two Hawk Groups (rapid-reaction paratroopers) from 1 Parachute
Battalion. An airborne reserve company from 2 Parachute Battalion in a C160
Transall stood by, should reinforcements be required. There was also a mobile air
operations team under Commandant James Kriel, to set up and run a Helicopter
Administration Area. A Cessna light aircraft flew as observation and radio relay
(Telstar) aircraft and, in a holding pattern over the SWA-Angola-border was a DC-
4 Strikemaster EW and ELINT aircraft, to intercept enemy communications and
jam their networks at the appropriate time. The jamming of communications was
the reason for the delay in response by the Angolan and Cuban forces.
The risky attack was led by four Canberra medium bombers carrying 300 Alpha
anti-personnel bomblets each, and five Buccaneer bombers, each carrying eight
1000 lb (450 kg) bombs. A sixth Buccaneer carried seventy-two 68 mm rockets.
Four Mirage III with two sidewinders and 30 mm cannon provided added security
against Angolan intervention. One Canberra crew was tasked with photo
reconnaissance following their attack to help plan the Buccaneer attack and to
determine the drop zone for the airborne assault. A potentially fatal error occurred
at this stage. Air-photo interpreters put the wrong scale on the images, despite

Waldo Kühn 191


the altimeter readings clearly visible on the photographs. Compounding the error,
the lead aircraft, distracted by the bombing, issued the 'jump' signal a few
seconds late. The result was that many paratroopers overshot their intended
drop zone, some landing in a river, others on the far side of the river. One
missing paratrooper was presumed drowned. With the element of surprise lost as
the paratroopers struggled to regroup on the ground, PLAN soldiers were able to
prepare defensive positions and PLAN leaders including Dimo Amaambo and
Geenwell Matongo, two principle targets, made their escape. Two rifle platoons
that landed in their intended drop zone attacked the northern part of the base and
sealed the northern escape route and D-company secured the southern escape
and prepared a tank ambush on the road to Techamutete. A-and B-companies
attacked the base from the north rather than from the east as planned. Inside the
base they came under heavy sniper fire, and B-10 gun fire. The aircraft had
meanwhile returned to their respective bases in SWA (Ondangwa and
Grootfontein) to refuel and rearm for a possible second strike. Of the thirty-two
1000 lb bombs dropped by the Buccaneers, 24 had scored direct hits on hard
targets. The bombers were used later in the day for the attack on the Chetequera
complex. The sole rocket-armed Buccaneer remained over Cassinga to provide
close air support. A- and B-companies were now pinned down by close, accurate
fire from a number of ZPU-4 anti-aircraft guns directed at them. Two paratroopers
were seriously wounded. The CAS Buccaneer could not strike the guns for fear
of hitting the paratroopers. Colonel Breytenbach ordered his mortar team to
direct fire on the guns, while D-company was instructed to fight their way through
the trenches at the west of the base, towards the guns. The men from D-
company were surprised to find a number of civilians inside the trenches. They
took heavy fire from PLAN soldiers and returned fire in what they described later
as a mode of “kill or be killed” in which hitting civilians caught in the crossfire
could not be prevented. 9-Platoon meanwhile entered the trenches from the
north. By the time the guns had been silenced, 95 SWAPO soldiers were dead in
the trenches and two paratroopers. As the base was being mopped up and the
wounded treated, a radio intercept indicated that the Cuban force at Techamutete
was underway. The CAS Buccaneer spotted thirty AFVs and APCs advancing
slowly up the road from Techamutete. The Buccaneer attacked, destroying three
BTR-152 APCs, before returning to base to refuel and rearm. The extraction of
the paratroopers was chaotic and improvised, and there was some confusion
among the commanders at the extraction zone as to what the emergency was
about. The first wave of the extraction got underway though. An ambush by 22
men of D-company destroyed a Cuban T-34 by landmine and four BTR-152s by
RPG-7 fire, before the ambushers also retreated to the extraction zone. By the

Waldo Kühn 192


time the armored column had come into hearing distance of the beleaguered
paratroopers a Buccaneer and two Mirage IIIs appeared overhead. The
Buccaneer destroyed two tanks with its rockets, while taking fire from a towed
14.5 mm anti-aircraft gun. The Mirages strafed the convoy with their twin 30 mm
guns and destroyed ten APCs. At this time, General Constand Viljoen, still
waiting to be extracted with the remainder of the paratroops, removed and hid his
beret and rank insignia. The seventeen helicopters now arrived for the last wave
of the extraction, but their arrival had betrayed the position of the extraction zone
to the armored column, which immediately made for it. The men could see trees
being flattened as the column approached. The Cubans began firing their guns
from two hundred meters away. The Buccaneer pilot, having expended his
rockets, swooped dangerously low over the treeline in a series of dummy runs to
distract the column. Due to the chaotic first wave of the extraction, there was
nearly not enough room on the helicopters for all the men. Some equipment had
to be dumped and 40 captured SWAPO-personell were left behind. Some young
captives held by SWAPO at Cassinga, whom PLAN had abducted from
Southwest Africa, also could not be liberated due to lack of space on the
helicopters – a decision which Colonel Breytenbach deeply regrets to this day.
Victory on the battlefield however, turned into a massive PR defeat: The
casualties suffered by the SWAPO base at Cassinga were 624 dead and 611
injured. Among the dead were 167 women and 298 teenagers and children.
Since SWAPO combatants included women and teenagers, and since many
combatants did not wear uniforms, it was not clear which casualties were
combatants and which civilians. SWAPO claimed the South Africans had
attacked a refugee camp. The International Red Cross concluded that the camp
was both a military and a refugee camp. Two days later on May 6th, 1978,
SWAPO-leader Sam Nujoma addressed the United Nations at their invitation,
before the Security Council passed Resolution 428, condemning 'the armed
invasion of Angola carried out on 4 May 1978.'(85) Angola and Namibia still
remember the attack as the “Cassinga Massacre” and Namibia has declared 4
May a public holiday, called “Cassinga Day”.

Civilians were not spared in Umkhonto we Sizwe's armed struggle. In the 1980s
several soft targets were bombed. Many civilians, including a number of children,
were killed and maimed: In 1983 the Church Street bomb in Pretoria, detonated
near the SA Air Force Headquarters, caused 20 deaths (including that of the
terrorist) and 200 injured, mostly civilians. In Amanzimtoti in Natal in 1985 (two
days before Christmas) a bomb planted by Andrew Sibusisu Zondo in a shopping
mall in retaliation for an SADF raid in Lesotho, killed five civilians and injured 40.

Waldo Kühn 193


In 1986 Robert McBride planted a car bomb in front of the Magoo's Bar (said to
have been frequented by off-duty security police officers) on the Durban beach-
front, killing three civilians and injuring 69. He later received amnesty from the
Truth and Reconciliation Commission and became a police chief. In 1987 a bomb
outside a Johannesburg court killed three people and injured ten. The previous
year 24 civilians were injured in a similar attack in Newcastle in Natal. In 1987 a
military target in Johannesburg was hit by Hein Grosskopf, killing one civilian and
injuring 68 military personnel. The bombing of a bank in Roodepoort in 1988 left
four people dead and 18 injured. A bomb outside a magistrate's office caused
three deaths. A bomb at the Ellispark rugby stadium killed two people and injured
37. Wimpy Bar fast food outlets (the Wimpy-bombings) and a grocery store were
targeted for their perceived enforcement of apartheid laws. MK also mined roads
in Northern Transvaal which killed 23 or 25 people. The ANC abandoned this
strategy because black laborers were among those killed. (86)
South African Security Forces allegedly identified an MK weapons cache and
covertly removed several of the limpet mines, filed down a mechanism in the
timer of the device, and carefully placed them back as they had found them. As a
result, several similar bombings were prevented as the devices would explode in
the hands of the terrorists when the timer was set. John Vorster's successor, P.W.
Botha, declared his willingness to negotiate with the ANC in the 1980s, but set
the condition that they end their campaign of violence. He was supported in this
by Margaret Thatcher, who took a similar stance towards the IRA at the time,
although privately she was pressurizing him to release Nelson Mandela (104).

The Border War or Bush War in South-West Africa and Angola continued
throughout the Eighties with twenty-three major operations, mostly against
SWAPO in South West Africa, all of which the SADF dominated.(82, 84) Amidst
these operations against SWAPO, FAPLA and Cuba, the SADF fought a hearts-
and-minds campaign in South West Africa through manning clinics, building
roads and building and maintaining water and other infrastructure.
In Angola, a large build-up of Soviet arms and Russian, Cuban, East-German,
North-Korean and Vietnamese military personell was taking place. In the evening
of June 5th, 1986, South African Special Forces damaged two Soviet freighters,
Captain Vislobokov and Captain Chirkov and sank the Cuban ship Habana in
Angola’s Namibe harbor. A fuel storage depot was also set ablaze.(106) A large-
scale clash with Angola was now imminent.

The final phase of the war in Angola has been dubbed the Battle of Cuito
Cuanavale of August 1987 to April 1988. It actually consisted of three South

Waldo Kühn 194


African operations called Modular, Hooper and Packer. The original intention of
these operations was not, as the MPLA and Cubans maintain the taking of any
towns or Luanda for that matter, by the SADF. The sole purpose was to block a
FAPLA-Cuban advance on UNITA's strongholds in southern Angola. (84)
Operation Modular aimed to halt the FAPLA advance on the UNITA strongholds
of Mavinga and Jamba. Operation Hooper intended to inflict maximum casualties
on the retreating FAPLA force. Operation Packer aimed to force the retreat of the
FAPLA force to the west of the Cuito River. Operation Modular began when
Jonas Savimbi requested South African assistance against the advance of
FAPLA's 47-Brigade on UNITA's stronghold at Mavinga. 61-Mechanized Battalion
was dispatched to intercept the advance of 47-Brigade. The two forces met at the
Lomba and Cuzizi rivers. Meanwhile UNITA repulsed an attack by 16-Brigade to
capture Cunjamba. Colonel Deon Ferreira described the Battle at the Lomba to
General Jannie Geldenhuys: Our better equipment and soldiers apart, it was our
timing that made the day. I have never seen such timing before: 47 Brigade
wanted to cross the Lomba from south to north to join up with 59 Brigade. We
knew it beforehand and engaged them on the way. We caught them in the open.
They were totally destroyed by any definition. (82)
The Ratel ZT-3 armed with laser-guided anti-tank missiles, was introduced to
battle for the first time. On 13 September 1987 a second attempt of 47 Brigade
and elements of 59 Brigade to cross the river was frustrated. They suffered
heavy losses while the South Africans lost two Casspir APCs and a Ratel IFV.
From 14 to 23 September, 21- Brigade made daily attempts to cross the Lomba,
each time driven back with losses. The South Africans made a tactical withdrawal
when two MIGs launched two bombs over the area which exploded high up in the
air, causing a thick smoke to drift down. Fearing it was chemical dust, Deon
Ferreira ordered his troops to evacuate the area.(82) Battles on 9, 11, 13 and 17
November saw 525 FAPLA soldiers killed and 33 T-55 tanks destroyed.
Operation Modular flowed into Hooper. 61-Mechanized was reinforced with
elements of 4 SA Infantry, as well as a squadron of Olifant main battle tanks, a
troop of pre-production G6 self-propelled guns and additional 127 mm MRLs.
13 January 1988: FAPLAs 21 Brigade is attacked. They retreat to the west of the
Cuito River. 250 FAPLA soldiers are killed. Large quantities of FAPLA arms are
destroyed or captured including eighteen tanks, two SA-8 SAM systems and two
SA-9 SAM systems, APCs, guns, radar and logistics vehicles. 14 February 1988:
Combined South African forces attack FAPLA's 59 Brigade, killing 230 FAPLA
soldiers and destroying nine T-55 and T-62 tanks. 25 February 1988: Combined
South African and UNITA force attack 25 Brigade south of the Tumpo River.
South African/UNITA force capture vital tactical high ground, but an Olifant tank is

Waldo Kühn 195


destroyed and two more are abandoned in a minefield. The fighting is part of
Operation Packer. The South Africans withdrew under political pressure; with US
brokered peace talks already underway. The FAPLA-Cuban-MK alliance claims
the South Africans were routed after having failed to take Cuito Canavale. As
evidence they point to the captured Olifant tanks. General Jannie Geldenhuys
comments: The fact remains that you can't score a try [goal] on your own half of
the field! (82)
In the fighting between September 1987 and April 1988 (collectively called the
Battle of Cuito Canavale) FAPLA lost 4 785 soldiers killed in action and Cuba, 49
(plus 3 missing). 31 South Africans died in battle and six more “died of malaria”.
During this time UNITA is said to have suffered 3 000 KIA.(88) The following
military hardware were lost at Cuito-Canavale:

Cuba-Fapla SA Defence Force

Tanks 94 3
Armored troop
and combat vehicles 100 3 Casspirs
5 Ratel IFVs
BM-21/ BM-14 MRLs 34
D-30/ M-46 guns 9
TMM mobile bridges 7
Artillery, rocket,
missile systems 15
Radars 5
23mm anti-aircraft
guns 22
Logistic vehicles 389 1 Rinkhals, 1 Withings,
1 Kwêvoël
Combat aircraft 9 MIG 21 / 23 2 Mirage F1 (one lost
in an accident.)
Helicopters 9
Light aircraft 1 (82)

The SADF also lost a number of Seeker unmanned aerial vehicles. (99)
Unita possessed only captured Fapla tanks and Stinger missiles, thus had no
major equipment-losses.

Waldo Kühn 196


After Cuito Canavale, some fighting continued in Angola before full South African
withdrawal. The Cubans turned their attention to the Calueque water-scheme.
SADF artillery destroyed a Cuban SA-6 air defence and associated artillery
network, and the two sides locked horns in southern Angola. In the continued
fighting the Cubans lost 302 soldiers killed, while the South Africans lost twelve
killed: On 27 June, seven MIG 23s attacked the wall of the Calueque dam. An
eighth MIG veered off to bomb the water pipeline to Ovamboland. One of its
bombs landed between a South African Buffel APC and Eland armored car, killing
eight men of 8 SA Infantry and three of 2 Special Service Battalion.
The last South African soldiers were withdrawn from Angola on September 1st,
1988. On December 22nd, 1988 South Africa signed the Tripartheid Accord with
Angola and Cuba. As part of the accord, UN Resolution 435 was accepted,
granting independence to SWA – henceforth Namibia. (South Africa temporarily
suspended Resolution 435 when PLAN fighters mobilized to violently push the
remnants of the South African security forces out of Namibia on April 1st, 1989.
Over 300 SWAPO soldiers were killed while twenty-six members of the security
forces died. Resolution 435 was resumed on May, 19th.) SWAPO won Namibia's
first national election and Sam Nujoma became president.

On November 9th, 1989, the Berlin Wall was opened for civilian crossing. In
South Africa, the event was understood to hold major change. On 2 February
1990 the African National Congress, SA Communist Party and Pan Africanist
Congress were unbanned. Nelson Mandela was released from Victor Verster
Prison in Paarl on February 11th. The period leading to 1994 saw increased
violence in South Africa, in part from Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Zulu-nationalist
Inkhata Freedom Party, whose militias had been trained by the SA government in
the Eighties. Resistance to tearing down the homelands saw the Boipatong
Massacre, the Bisho Massacre, the Shell House Massacre and a half-hearted
AWB invasion of Bophuthatswana. Members of Apla (armed wing of the PAC)
also attacked a white church congregation in Kenilworth, Cape Town with R5
assault rifles and hand grenades – the St James Church Massacre.
In April 1994 the ANC won 62 percent of the vote in the general election and
Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s President.

Waldo Kühn 197


23. AN IMPOTENT MINORITY

When a survey among white students in 1986 asked how they would respond to
an ANC government, 44 percent of Afrikaners, as opposed to 10 percent of their
English-speaking counterparts, said that they would resist physically, while a
further 32 percent said they would emigrate. (2)
A study by the SA Institute for Race Relations found in 2005 that a fifth of white
South Africans, mostly in the 20-40 age-group, had indeed emigrated in the
decade from 1995. (90)

In 1989 at a SA Communist Party conference in Havana, chaired by Thabo


Mbeki, the party rejected “group rights” for being “fraught with the danger of
perpetuating inequality.” Charging at inequality has become the vision of the ANC
government, summed up by the National Democratic Revolution. Through harsh
affirmative action laws demanding representivity (“transformation of society”) -
the Employment Equity Act of 1998 and the Promotion of Equality and Prevention
of Unfair discrimination Act – every state institution, public body and all private
companies with greater than R5 million turnover, have become obliged to reflect
the racial demographic constitution of South Africa among its employees on a
departmental level, irrespective of local or provincial demographic differences.
An example of the implication of AA for Afrikaners: Afrikaans welfare
organizations working among poor Afrikaners had been informed by the
Department of Social services that they would lose their state subsidies unless
they immediately began working among blacks and made their staff
representative. (79% black, 10% white, 9% colored, 2.5% Asian.) Another effect:
“colored” residents of the Western Cape, who constitute 50 persent of the
province’s population, will be entitled to only 9 or 10 percent of the province’s
jobs. The official line, as recently stated by ANC spokesperson Jimmy Manyi,
being that they are currently “overrepresented” in the province.(102) By 2002 the
government had edged out 120 000 white civil servants. Massive amounts of
energy and money have been spent on eliminating social differences and
creating a homogenous society. The centralist “National Democratic Revolution”
plan of 2007 is outlined in a Youth League training document which explains that
“national” in NDR entails: “...the task of Nation Building – consolidation of a single,
collective South Africanness – dispelling of narrow ethnic, tribal and racial nations.
Racism – ideological weapon for imperialism.” There are other “dimensions” to
the word like Revolutionary nationalism and National consciousness...(89)

Waldo Kühn 198


Thus, it would appear that maintaining an Afrikaner identity is tantamount to
“group rights” which are “fraught with the danger of perpetuating inequality.”
Another document, 'The State, Property Relations and Social Transformation',
endorsed the notion that the state was 'an instrument in the hands of the
liberation movement' to transform South Africa. Soon a National Deployment
Committee was formed, which was charged with the task of deploying ANC
cadres in all areas of society that the government considered necessary for
transformation. (2)

Flip Buys became fascinated with trade unions while studying at Potchefstroom
University. He saw an irony in the fact that communists worldwide had mobilized
trade unions to promote their ideology and anti-capitalism; yet, a small anti-
communist trade union in Poland led by Lech Walesa, could manage to spark a
chain reaction leading to the demise of communism. He also made a study of
Christian trade unions in the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada and Germany, noting
how they played a much broader role than that of trade union; and in Quebec
and Flanders, had become tools in the protection of the wider interests of
minorities. Also observing how the Israeli Histadrut movement had developed an
economy to the benefit of its members, he concluded that, should a minority's
civil rights become imperiled, their workers' rights would follow suit. With
academic knowledge of the dangers of democracy without minority protection in
multi-ethnic countries, and with real-world experience of trade unionism, this fear
unfolded as he watched the credulous National Party negotiators at Codesa
crumbling before union-hardened ANC negotiators like Cyril Ramaphosa.
Buys subsequently led the conversion of the Afrikaner trade union;
Mynwerkersunie (Mine Workers Union) into one based on the Christian trade
union movement in Belgium, with an adapted version of the Belgian and Israeli
strategies, and gave it the name of the Polish trade union, Solidarity. (91)
The middle class urban Afrikaner with double-cab pickup and sport bar has
become king of his own castle. Politically Afrikaners back the Democratic Alliance
Opposition, which focuses on individual rights and other carefully selected
pragmatic issues, like fighting bureaucratic inefficiency in municipalities and
maladministration of taxpayers' rands. The DA-government in the Western Cape
has also recently begun tackling pressing social issues at the root, like teenage-
pregnancy and high-school drop-out problems in the rural Western Cape.
Carel Boshoff's Orania settlement in the barren Northern Cape is still growing.
Though small, it has come to symbolize old-fashioned Afrikaner republican faith
and perseverance. With mineral rights, water rights and many other economic

Waldo Kühn 199


and political rights in the hands of the State, its prospects are not easy. The
town's purpose is to serve as a growthpoint for future Afrikaner demographic
consolidation. The point being that Afrikaner culture will disappear without social,
economic, academic and political institutions where Afrikaners are not negated to
a minority by the new anti-apartheid. Thus, these institutions are built on the
principle of small business ownership, cooperative investment and a touch of
socialism. The general calls of Afrikaners, no longer as hostile and skeptical
about the project as they were in the 1990s, remain: “I cannot exercise my
profession there”, “The ANC will not allow it” and, “Are only white people allowed
there?” When asked by a correspondent, historian R.W. Johnson, “What if an
Afrikaans-speaking colored applied to join Orania?”, Carel (IV) Boshoff, son of
Carel Boshoff (who died in 2011) and grandson of Hendrik Verwoerd, answered
by outlining the Afrikaner's general disposition in South Africa: “Today's Afrikaner
is a modern atomized individualist but we still have an identity which is
transmitted across generations. Here, because we are succeeding, every day we
face a bigger picture and we have to be open to that.” Johnson persisted with the
issue, to which he responded, “Look, we have made endless overtures and
initiatives towards the colored community. None have borne fruit. It is not easy.
What seems clear is that the colored masses of the Northern Cape do not wish to
become Afrikaners in the same sense as us, even if they are partially our own
blood, our own relatives.” Whether Orania would join the DA in representing a
successful white-colored alliance, Boshoff carefully responded: “We would like to
make an alliance with the coloreds but it will not be a fusion. We will remain
Afrikaners. We must be careful, in any alliance, that we do not become a footnote
to our own project.” (92)

Carel and Carel (IV) Boshoff

Waldo Kühn 200


General Constand Viljoen negotiated Section 235 into the Constitution. It guarantees self-
determination of any community sharing a common cultural and language heritage. During the Codesa-
negotiations he had considered using the South African Defence Force, with 50 000 men at his disposal,
to overthrow the government of F.W. De Klerk. He opted instead to enter politics heading the Freedom
Front which dedicated itself to an Afrikaner volk-staat or nation state. He received almost 425 000 votes
(compared to the National Party of F.W. De Klerk’s slightly fewer than 4 million votes and the ANC of
Nelson Mandela’s over 12 million votes) in the 1994-Election.

Government has shown respect for the concept of diversity (non-uniformity);


even Mbeki had once challenged a Volk-staat-delegation to “put something on
the ground that we cannot deny before negotiating over a Volk-staat”. Afrikaner
political leader Dr Pieter Mulder has taken the initiative to represent the Afrikaner
people on the UN body UNPO (Unrepresented Nations and Peoples
Organization). Other peoples in the region with representation at UNPO are the
Vhavenda, living in the northern region of the old Transvaal, and the Rehoboth
Basters who reside in Namibia.

In addition to being politically sidelined, Afrikaners have fallen victim to what


appears to be an orchestrated hate campaign. In twenty years from 1990 to 2010,
more than 2 600 farms of members of the largely Afrikaner agricultural union TLU
/ TAU have been attacked. In some attacks all the victims survived, though often
critically injured, while other attacks involved multiple fatalities – often every
member of the household getting killed. Dr Dirk Hermann of Solidarity points out
that this figure used in the book Land of Sorrows, by himself and Maj.-Gen. Chris
van Zyl, errs on the conservative side. (94) Former-journalist Adriana Stuijt has
published a list with the names of 3 775 farm murder victims for the period 1994
to January 21st, 2011. 96 percent of the names on her list are rural white
Afrikaners. (95)

Waldo Kühn 201


Theft is seldom the motive. Roelien Schutte and Eileen De Jager have a grisly
job: They clean up murder-scenes and suicide-scenes after police-investigators
have left. They discuss a farm murder case in a documentary book: (They had
cleaned about 70 farm-attack scenes at the time of writing.)
“...[The motive] was murder. You don't kill two elderly people in such a cruel
manner for a few articles”, says Eileen while she takes a deep drag from her
cigarette... “In a farm murder robbery is never the motive. Theft is an incidental.
Murder is the motive, revenge another element. But actually, when we look
around at the different scenes, we cannot but think it is all about torture and
murder.” They do not watch TV news anymore. The violence they see in their
daily jobs gets too watered down and twisted. “We see the news as it happened.
Not the one or two sentences used to describe a farm murder. Everyone thinks
they are in and out, shoot the people and it's all over”, says Eileen irascibly.
“Nobody thinks of the hours of torture. We see it; it is what we find with such a
murder. An Old tannie (lady) raped in front of her husband whose hamstrings
have been cut so that he cannot walk...Thereafter he is executed. It is the case
with most men who die in farm murders. They are shot execution-style.” And
women? “The attackers like to slit their throats. Or shove broken bottles in their
vagina.” Not even innocent pets are spared. “Their throats are also slit. Or some
are kicked to death. Or their heads are squashed.... Roelien reckons 'farm
murders' are not sufficiently descriptive to bring home the cruelty and torment
suffered. “It should be farm tortures”...
Do only white farmers get murdered? “No, definitely not. We have cleaned up
scenes where black farmers had been killed. But the torture is notably less. They
usually just get shot, and more articles are stolen from their homes.”
“Which again makes us think that the motive in farm murders is rather revenge. If
it is not, then why the cruel torture? Why kill an innocent child?” wonders Eileen.
“Spare their lives please – what can a baby or toddler do to an attacker?..” (93 –
Translated from Afrikaans)

There is an unspoken feeling among many Afrikaners that there is not really a
future for their children in South Africa. Pragmatic considerations appear to be
increasingly outweighing Afrikaner-idealism and conservative sentiments. In 2014
racial relations are complex; relations appear to be both better and worse at the
same time.

Waldo Kühn 202


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Waldo Kühn 207