The annexation of Pondoland


In 1894, Pondoland was annexed by the Cape Colony. It was one of the last occupied areas in South Africa. The area was not occupied by force of arms. However, the colonial governments of both the Cape Colony and Natal coveted Mpondo territory, but civil conflict among competing Mpondo groups gave the Cape government under Cecil John Rhodes , the Prime Minister, the opportunity to occupy Mpondo territory in 1894. Only a small portion of Pondoland was taken by the White settlers

The life of the Pondo people started to change gradually, as they were force to become wage earners in order to make a living. Furthermore, legislation regarding land ownership gradually squeezed the Pondo off their land. In the 1860s, European traders established trading posts throughout Mpondo territory, and the Mpondo traded cattle and hide products for agricultural implements, other items and weapons. With increased use of draft animals and new farming techniques, agricultural productivity improved.These traders brought in paid employment to the Mpondos, as well as goods such as blankets, beads, metal ware and agricultural implements. The Cape Colony limited the powers of the Chiefs. The homesteads faced new demands such as taxation, which forced them to become labourers in the broader Colonial economy.

The British occupation had both a positive and a negative impact on the socio-economic and political history of the Pondo people. One of the positive aspects was that it introduced education, and the negative aspect was that the occupation brought about conflict amongst the Pondo, especially when Chiefs started to collaborate with the colonisers at the expense of Pondo people.

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Last updated : 31-Jan-2014

This article was produced for South African History Online on 31-Jan-2014