From the book: The Role of the Missionaries in conquest by Nosipho Majeke
THE NEXT PART of our history revolves round Moshoeshoe, chief of the baSotho, but he is not the central figure. To tell his story would to tell the story of the Builder of a Nation and the heroic efforts he made by military strength and by diplomacy to save that nation from the inroads of the Whites. Before the Whites appeared on the scene he had built up his Sotho nation out of tribes and remnants of tribes into a strong unit. This unity of Africans continued to be the guiding principle of his life, all the more imperatively as he sought to counter the encroachments of the invaders. He welcomed those tribes who requested land from him, for he reckoned that they would identify themselves with the Sotho nation as allies. In the same spirit he sent his emissaries as far south as the maXhosa. That is why the British feared him. His policy was known to them, largely through information gathered by the missionaries, and they recognised it as the source of his strength. Thus it was necessary for them to employ every device to counter his unity with disunity.
Wise as he was, however, the historical forces were against Moshoeshoe. While he was a match for the feudal Dutch, he had to fall before the more complex organisation of the British with its skillfully devised strategy and varied resources. The missionaries, as before, were to play an important part. Those tribes whom he thought to weld into a unit by natural allegiance to himself were to be won over to the side of the Whites and used as the instruments of his dismemberment. In the process they themselves were dismemberment. The fact that Moshoeshoe saved a part of his nation from the predatory embrace of the Cape Government and came under the direct rule of the mother-country, Great Britain, was no mark of victory, as is sometimes claimed. Imperialism at the fountain-head has bequeathed stagnation and poverty to the African inhabitants of the so-called Protectorates, no less than Imperialism operating in the union of South Africa has condemned the Non-Europeans to political and economic slavery.
Our particular task concerns the initial stages in the dismemberment of Moshoeshoe's territory. This part of the story involves the missionaries, with whom we have primarily to deal. But to understand more fully how and why the dismemberment was brought about, it is necessary to have a more extended picture of what was happening in the north, in the land of the baSotho, in the fertile valley of the Caledon River, lying to the east of the Griqua and beyond the Vaal in the grasslands of the High Veld.
It is not necessary here to go into the multiplicity of inter-tribal wars that had been going on in the north from the territory of the maZulu at the coast to that of the baTswana (Bechuanaland). There had been a movement of tribes east and south from the dry regions of Bechuanaland, bordered by the Kalahari desert, and a movement of tribes westwards, as well as south, occasioned by the Tshaka wars and the fact that the maNdabele, led by Mzilikazi, were on the march””and in greater numbers than the Trek Boers. It is sufficient to say that out of this chaos of tribal warfare Moshoeshoe had proved capable of welding together a strong unit, the main elements being of Sotho-Tswana origin. Our story begins when he was still in the process of building up that nation and was looking for every possible means of strengthening it. From the mountain strongholds of Basutoland he exercised a stabilizing influence. In the Caledon valley were several small tribes, such as the baTaung and a section of the baTlhaping, with their sub-chiefs. To the north of him the strongest chief was Sekonyela, chief of the *"maNtatisi" , a branch of the baTlokwa; Sekonyela had waged war with Moshoeshoe, but latterly lived on amicable terms with him. On the High Veld beyond the Vaal the maNdebele were in conflict with a number of smaller tribes, while down towards the coast the Zulu chief, Dingane, had made himself paramount, having usurped the chieftainship from his brother Tshaka.
We have to pick up the thread of our story, then, in the midst of this labyrinth of inter-tribal strife, with the Sotho nation constituting a core of tribal unity. Into this scene step first the missionaries, the agents of British interests. Later come the Trek Boers, those elements of discontented Dutch from the Cape Colony, who crossed the Orange River into Griqualand and Basutoland, with a few isolated parties crossing the Vaal and others trekking on into Zululand. It will be of particular interest to us to see the relational that developed between the missionaries and the Dutch in northern parts. We have, further, to ask ourselves what WAS THE ATTITUDE of the British towards these subjects of theirs, the Boers. How did they fit into the over-all strategy of the British which was directed to establishing their supremacy throughout Southern Africa?
The Missionaries ”” Advance Guard
Into the uncharted regions of the north the missionaries had been among the first to penetrate. The Rev. W. Edwards, one of the very first batch of missionaries sent to Southern Africa by the London Missionary Society, had, in 1801, penetrated as far north as the Kuruman River in Bechuanaland, where the chief of the Tlhaping had received him in a friendly' manner. The Rev. Edwards had relapsed into trading, but the contact far north had been made.
The work was subsequently taken up by the Rev. Read and later by that most able representative of the London Missionary Society the Rev. Robert Moffat. Then, in 1819, when Dr. Philip arrived as Superintendent of the London Mission, the Rev. Moffat was sent to establish the mission station at Kuruman. Here he built up a centre of missionary influence among the various Tswana tribes.
Significantly enough his prestige was enhanced by the fact that he was in a position to help the baTlhaping when they were attacked by a force of "maNtatisi" warriors, for he called upon the Griqua chief, Waterboer, who, it will be remembered, was a protégé of the missionaries, .to come to their assistance, and, armed as they were with guns, the Griqua routed the "maNtatisi. "There is no doubt that the Rev. Robert Moffat was an excellent ambassador for the British in the north. He was favourably received by the war-like Mzilikazi and his fame was carried to the ears of Moshoeshoe, who was told that these White men had skill in potent medicines, and that they had powerful weapons, guns that could defeat an enemy. To Moshoeshoe, these were facts of great interest and he was not likely to forget them.
At an early period, as we have seen, the missionaries of the London Missionary Society and the Wesleyans attached themselves to the Griqua chiefs. The Wesleyans, also, were not long in following after the London missionaries into Bechuanaland, where they attached themselves to the baRolong, whom they accompanied to Platberg on the Vaal in their flight from attacks by the "maNtatisi" and the baTaung. Soon afterwards four Wesleyan mission stations were established among different sections of the very "maNtatisi" whose war-like propensities had made it difficult for the missionaries to carry out their work. With the establishment of all these contacts among the tribes the missionaries constituted the advance guard of the British in the north.
The scene of missionary activity shifts next to Basutoland. It was in 1833 that a party of French missionaries of the Paris Evangelical Society, who had been in correspondence with Dr. Philip of the London Missionary Society, came northwards to Adam II at Philippolis and from there were directed to Moshoeshoe's mountain stronghold, Thaba Bosiu. The Rev. E. Casalis, the leader the party, interviewed Moshoeshoe for the purpose of obtaining land to set up a mission station. The chief received them with every kindness, and for this the way had no doubt been paved by the London Missionary Society. It was not only that the French missionaries acted on Dr. Philip's advice, since he was the local agent for both missionary societies; but Moshoeshoe's mind had been prepared beforehand by all that he had heard about the activities of the Rev. Robert Moffat, and those missionaries who were with the Griqua, which predisposed him to believe that the missionaries were associated with a powerful people, the British.
The Rev. Casalis has left a record of his first interview with Moshoeshoe, from which we quote the following passage:
"If Moshesh and his people" (he said) "consented to place themselves with us under the care and direction of God, we had the most perfect assurance that He would undertake to make the incursions of their enemies cease and to create in the country a new order of belief and of manners which would secure tranquality, order and abundance. . . ."
To this Moshoeshoe replied:
" ... It is enough for me to see your clothing, your arms and the rolling houses (wagons) in which you travel, to understand how much intelligence and strength you have. ... I have been told that you can help us. ... You promise to do it. ... That is all I want to know. . . ."
Apart from the mere formalities of speech, Moshoeshoe says enough here to indicate the trend of his thinking. He must have been aware that the people who had sent these missionaries were a power to be reckoned with; he knew what was happening among the Xhosa tribes; he had come out of a period of storm and stress with a nucleus of united tribes, but dangers lay ahead. Very possibly he argued that it would be wise to be in a position to treat with such a power, and for this purpose the missionaries would be useful.
Be that as it may, he granted the French missionaries leave to set up their first mission station at Morija, some twenty miles from his mountain stronghold at Thaba Bosiu. The French missionaries soon followed this up with several other stations in the Caledon valley, one with a section of the baTlhaping, another with the baTaung, and another at the foot of Thaba Bosiu itself. Within a few years they had eleven stations all told in the land of Moshoeshoe.
Next on the scene came the Wesleyan missionaries. This requires some explanation. To the fertile Caledon valley a few months after the arrival of the French missionaries, came about 15,000 people from the barren region of Platberg on the Vaal, which bounded Moshoeshoe's territory on the north. These comprised the Seleke baRolong, whose chief was Moroka, and several other sections of the baRolong who had sought refuge in Platberg from the maNdebele. Together with them came a section of the Griqua, who, under Barend Barends, had also settled on the Vaal, and a group of Koranas and Khoikhoin, all of them under their respective chiefs.
There was nothing extraordinary about a migration of this nature, especially under the disturbing conditions that prevailed at this time. According to tribal custom, any such tribe could ask and receive from Moshoeshoe abundant land in which to settle, accumulate cattle and grow their crops. While virtually independent, they would owe allegiance to Moshoeshoe as paramount chief: it was understood that the chiefs and headmen of any new tribe would join the counsels of the Sotho chief to assist him in matters pertaining to the territory as a whole. The land thus granted for occupation was not given absolutely, for it belonged to the people and was inalienable; but it was customary for the new tribe to give Moshoeshoe presents of cattle and sheep as a token of admission to the rights and privileges (i.e., citizenship) of the Sotho nation. It was in this way that the new arrivals, the baRolong, the Griqua and the Korans, were welcomed by Moshoeshoe when they came asking for land. The baRolong, who were the largest in number, received an extensive tract of land west of the Caledon, at Thaba Ncho, and others were accommodated according to their needs. It may be said that the question of boundaries, in the European sense of the word, did not enter into the matter. It was by such additions that Moshoeshoe intended to strengthen the Sotho nation.
There was one factor, however, that made these new arrivals from any that had gone before. These sections of the baRolong the Griqua and the Koranas were each accompanied by Wesleyan missionaries. It is noteworthy that, as in the case of the Fingos, the missionaries were able to attach themselves to a tribe when it was already in a weakened state. They had come from Platberg with their protégés and on their arrival were met first by the French missionaries. Now Moshoeshoe granted land to the new tribes in the usual manner, and received the few cattle presented to him by the chiefs as the customary token of becoming part of the larger Sotho nation. The missionaries, however, must needs draw up a document, on the strength of which they were to claim that several miles of territory were sold outright for seven oxen, one heifer, two sheep and one goat. A strange "purchase price" indeed, and still more strange that a writer like S. M. Molema in his book, Chief Moroka,” should endorse this blatant distortion of fact. Stranger still, that he, writing to-day, should state: "He (Moshoeshoe) gave the Methodist missionaries the right to settle the Barolong west of the Caledon." Since when had a Black man given the missionaries the right to interfere in the carrying out of a time-honoured custom whereby one chief gave land to another? It was by the same trickery that the Boers fastened on the fertile valley of the Caledon and refused to be shaken off. "They begged for pasturages everywhere in a very good, soft manner," said Moshoeshoe once, ’but we did not imagine that they would appropriate the land to themselves.”
The full implications of the missionary transaction were only to become evident some ten years later. Meantime Moshoeshoe maintained good relations with the lesser tribes around him. He intervened successfully in a dispute between the Griqua and the baTlokwa, whose chief, Sekonyela, seems at this time to have been on friendly terms with him. Moroka, chief of the Seleke baRolong, had reason to be grateful for his military assistance in driving off a group of hostile Koranas from the mountain fastnesses above the Caledon. Under the shadow of Thaba Ncho the once refugee baRolong lived at peace and increased their cattle. Whenever possible, Moshoeshoe employed diplomacy in settling disputes and only when that failed did he make use of his military strength. It was a combination that for stability.
With their habitual thoroughness the Wesleyan missionaries extended their activities to embrace not only those sections of tribes had accompanied from the Vaal to their new home on the banks of the Caledon, but they attached themselves also to the Tlokwa chief, Sekonyela. Thus the Wesleyans, together with the French missionaries, who worked in close co-operation with the London Missionary Society, were well entrenched in Moshoeshoe's country. Taking the north as a whole, the ground had been prepared for the next stages of the White invasion.
The Missionaries and the Trek Boers
By the middle thirties of last century the number of Dutch people moving northwards was considerably increased. Herrenvolk history books designate this stage in the migration of the Dutch as the "Great Trek." Of those who crossed the Orange River, many stayed on in Adam Kok's land round Philippolis; others, having humbly asked Moshoeshoe for pasturage in the Caledon valley, had every intention of holding on to what had been granted to them by tribal custom: a few isolated parties under their separate leaders reached the Vaal, where they came up against the maNdebele; others trekked eastwards into the land of the maZulu. The Trek Boers were in danger of being submerged because of their small numbers, their lack of military strength and their complete lack of cohesion. For the procuring of guns they were dependant on the British, whose subjects they were.
But into these outlying regions in the north the missionaries had gone before them. And here an interesting relationship between the English missionaries and the Dutch developed. Down in the Cape Colony the Dutch had hated the missionaries for their interference in the matter of "liberating" the Khoikhoin; they were slow in recognising the usefulness of the missionaries in subjugating the inhabitants of Southern Africa. Actually at this stage it was a question of the feudal Dutch lagging behind the new economy of the British. But on the High Veld the erstwhile antagonists recognised their identity of interests in relation to the Black man, and acted accordingly.
A year or two after the baRolong, accompanied by the Wesleyan missionaries, had come to settle at Thaba Ncho in Moshoeshoe's country, the first parties of Trek Boers passed that way. (Numbers of them had already been infiltrating into a considerable tract of his country where the Caledon River joined the Orange.) From the beginning, the Rolong chief, Moroka, sided with the Boers against other African tribes. This was undoubtedly due to the action of the missionaries. An incident at Veg Kop on the Vaal, where the Boers encountered the maNdebele, vividly illustrates what was happening here. Trekking with their ox-drawn wagons, their sheep and horses, the Boers were attacked by the maNdebele warriors, who left them high and dry on the bare veld, with nothing but their wagons. Placed in this helpless position, their leader, Hendrik Potgieter, sent his brother to Thaba Ncho for assistance and the Rev. Archbell took him to Chief Moroka, who brought the party to safety and supplied them with cattle and corn.
The first, second, third and fourth parties of Trek Boers found refuge in Thaba Ncho and some of them settled there. S. M. Molema in his book, "Chief Moroka," writes:
"Thaba Ncho had thus become the rendezvous of the Voortrekkers, their haven and half-way house to unknown and undetermined destinations. They were one and all guests of Moroka and Seleka Barolong . . . victims of a common enemy””the hated Matebele and Mzilikazi."
The humanity of one people to another, irrespective of colour””this is understandable. But this was not all. Very soon afterwards the Trek Boers got the baRolong to do their fighting for them. And not only the baRolong, but the Griqua and the Koranas in Moshoeshoe's land, precisely those people, in fact, who were controlled by the Wesleyan missionaries. The Boers were glad to make use of one African tribe against another; for the Africans were best acquainted with the terrain, they knew the best roads to take, they knew the best time to fall upon a Ndebele village when the warriors were away. In this the Boers were adopting a tactic well known to the British. In view of what ultimately happened to these allies of the Boers, S. M. Molema's comment on the events of that time strike one as particularly inappropriate:
"The four clans of the Barolong and their chiefs ... as well as the Griquas under Peter Davids and the Koranas, all saw the hand of God in the arrival of the Dutch emigrants at Thaba Ncho. . . . They rejoiced at the prospect of having powerful allies."
It is a testimony to the influence so long exercised by the missionaries in inducing such an outlook, that a Black man can even to-day write in such terms, and with apparently so little awareness of the significance of such a situation where African was used against African, to the ultimate defeat of both. As the Trek Boer continued to make use of inter-tribal conflicts, the maNdebele, being unable to turn back into Tshaka's country, where his brother, Dingane, ruled, moved further north across the Limpopo River, chiefly to escape Dingane. Now the Boers regarded themselves as the owners of that stretch of territory beyond the Vaal, where, with the departure of the maNdebele, the weaker tribes, such as the baHurutse, remained. At Mosega, where certain Anglican missionaries expressed a desire to continue their work, the Boers made it quite clear that they were allowed to remain only on sufferance. The missionaries "were not to forget that the country belonged to them," said the Boers.
Judging from the services rendered by the Wesleyans, who had persuaded the tribes under their influence to regard the Boers as their allies and to fight on their behalf, it would appear that the missionaries were more aware of the common interests between the two White sections, i.e., in the subjugation of the Africans. This brings us to a consideration of the relationship between the Trek Boers and the Colonial Government.
Strategy of the British
By the forties of last century the movements of that section of the Dutch who had trekked away from the Cape Colony were complicating the advance of the British in Southern Africa. They were well entrenched on the banks of the Orange River, in spite of the protests, of the Griqua; they were in the Caledon valley and Moshoeshoe was likewise protesting to the British that the Boers refused to recognise his authority, while occupying his lands. With the departure of Mzilikazi still further north, they were assuming possession of lands on the Vaal, and, though the remaining tribes were divided and weak, they themselves were divided and lacked the military resources to back up their claims. They were highly vulnerable to attack from the Africans. As Dr. Philip once reported:
"The immigrant Boers are divided among themselves . . . the collision which arise from differences of opinion make them fear each other. .They are in fear from the Colony, and the are in fear from the natives. . . ."
In the country of Tshaka, however, they had been able to set Zulu against Zulu and warriors of Mpande, Dingane's brother, had done the fighting for them, with the result that by 1840 Dingane was laid low.
Thus, in that part of the east coast known as "Natal" both the British and the Boers laid claim to the country. In the first instance Captain Gardiner, a naval officer who had turned missionary, had claimed in D'Urban's time that Dingane had "ceded" a part of his land to the British, and he had asked the Governor to take over the settlement at Port Natal (Durban). Then a party of Trek Boers led by A. W. J. Pretorius, set up a "Republic of Natal," claiming that Dingane had "ceded" his land to another party of Boers led by Retief. Pretorius, moreover, proceeded to occupy Port Natal, which the missionary-captain had been at such pains to build up into a strong English community. The Boers were obviously getting rather out of hand. Port Natal was of strategic importance to the British for two reasons. The coastline was always the lifeline for trade and communication with Europe. They had also to ensure the position to the rear of the maXhosa, whom they had not yet brought to subjection. The maMpondo and other tribes to the south of the maZulu and east of the maXhosa were kept in a state of disturbance by the Boer encroachments. The Wesleyan missionary with Faku amaPondo chief, urged him to seek the protection of the British but on the whole the situation needed careful handling.
The difficulty was that the Trek Boers wanted to forget they were British subjects. It was a point, however, that the British forgot. They assumed their own supremacy; they had the backing of the vast resources of the mother-country. And since they had taken over control of the Cape Colony the majority of the had lived amicably amongst them, collaborating with them in their wars of aggression and sharing in the spoils of conquest already completed. The discontented Dutch who had trekked northwards were comparatively few, but they were becoming difficult to handle because of their over-independent attitude. On the other hand, the British knew that the basic conflict in Southern Africa was between White and Black, and not only once, but every time the Dutch were in danger of being defeated by the Africans, the British came to their assistance. It had happened in the Cape Colony when a united force of Khoikhoin and amaXhosa””Ndlambe's warriors””had pursued the Dutch as far south as George; and again, when Dingane had put Relief and his party to death as his answer to their arrogant request for his country, the British at Port Natal had joined forces with the Dutch.
From the British viewpoint, then, the Trek Boers in the North could be allowed a free hand in their encroachments on African territory, provided they did not upset their own strategy and endanger the position of the White man in Southern Africa. British policy had still to be guided by the recognition of the fact that the Africans were capable of prolonged resistance, and especially did they fear Moshoeshoe's policy of allying himself with other tribes, his continual efforts to strengthen the Sotho nation. If the British could find some means of rendering Moshoeshoe harmless to themselves, the Trek Boers would be allowed to continue their land-grabbings. They were safeguarded by the fact that the British, with their superior organisation and resources, were coming up behind them. In due time British Imperialism would take over, and on its terms.
At first, however, the British had to maintain certain equilibrium in the north. The relationship between themselves, the Boers and Moshoeshoe, therefore, required skilful handling. This provides the key to the apparently ambivalent attitude of the British (the Colonial Government) to the Boers, at one time ready to come to their assistance and to recognise their land seizures, and at another time making a "friendly alliance" with a chief like Moshoeshoe.
Actually these two things were part of a single strategy, for it was the British who were in control of the situation. Only the Boers did not seem to appreciate this comprehensive strategy. Any such alliance" between an African chief and the British, by persuading him to accept their "friendship" ””and consequently their interference in his affairs””neutralized his power and therefore saved the master tactic-Protection. A treaty pledging "friendship" and “protection” to a chief served the double purpose of enabling them to exercise control over him, and to step in as his "protector" against the Boers””or any other prospective land-grabber””when the time came to take over his territory themselves. This was an extension of the tactic they had employed in setting one Xhosa chief against another, only to seize what they professed to protect. And they were to employ it repeatedly in the next few decades.
This British "Protection"
The most clear-minded protagonist of British policy in relation to the north at this time was Dr. Philip, superintendent of the London Missionary Society. He was now politically mature, with a wealth of experience in handling affairs in the Cape Colony, and his valuable offices were fully recognised by the Government. He could now boast:
"I have the Home and the Colonial Government both at my feet. ... At this moment the Governor is consulting me and taking my advice on the most important affairs of South Africa. . . ."
And again, writing to Buxton:
"At present the Colonial Government does nothing as to relations with the independent native tribes without consulting me."
With his customary acumen he saw the situation in the north as a whole. In what might seem a labyrinth of inter-tribal wars and Boer encroachments, he had one guiding principle, the necessity for British supremacy and the establishment of the new economic system throughout Southern Africa. This at all times dictated his attitude to the Dutch as well as the African chiefs. It was not that he was hostile to the Dutch. Witness his delicate regard for their land seizures at the expense of the Griqua. But he viewed with some disquietude and undisciplined advance of the Trek Boers under their separate leaders, coupled with their hostility to the British. And lack of unity on the European front weakened the hold of the White man in Southern Africa.
In 1840-41 he made a tour of the northern mission stations, which to all intents and purposes was a political tour. He visited Adam Kok at Philippolis; he held discussions with the French missionaries, who arranged a most important interview with Moshoeshoe; he made the strenuous journey by ox-wagon to Kuruman (the Rev. Robert Moffat being then absent in England) and learned a great deal about the inter-tribal conflicts of the Tswana tribes. And he did not let it rest at that. Through the French missionaries at Beersheba in the land of Moshoeshoe, he sent out invitations to the neighbouring Boer farmers, who had taken up their abode there, to come and have discussions with him. He had found them hostile (for what Dutchman did not hate the name of Philip, the so- called "liberator" of the Khoikhoin?) But, as he himself reported, he found them "much softened" after he had explained to them his "pacific intentions." We do not know the details of his "friendly conversation," but he adds, "They trembled for their security if I induced the chief (Moshoeshoe) to drive them out." There spoke the arrogant representative of British Imperialism. To us it is significant that this missionary ambassador, who was about to visit Moshoeshoe for the precise purpose of preparing the ground for a "friendly alliance" between Moshoeshoe and Britain, which the chief undoubtedly supposed would strengthen him against the Boer encroachments, should go out of his way to reassure the Boers of his "pacific intentions. " These may be surmised from the fact that he advocated the recognition of the Inad seizures of the Boers during negotiations for the treaties with Adam Kok and Moshoeshoe.
Having collected his information about the position in the north Dr. Philip sent in his report to the Colonial Government, which promptly despatched it to the Imperial Government. Briefly, he reported a state of disorder and division among the small African tribes on the Vaal and in Bechuanaland; and disorder and division among the Boers; but Moshoeshoe, chief of the Sotho nation, controlled a wide area. His conclusions can be summed up in the following statement that "the future peace of the country . . . was involved in the future relations between Moshesh and the Boers." His assessment of the situation, while it was accurate, lay rather more stress on the possibility that the Boers on the Vaal, realising the dangers of their dividedness, might join up with those in Natal. Naturally his bias was towards seeing established as soon as possible the new order of society under the supremacy of his masters. So his advice was forthright and sweeping: "Annex up to the Tropics." His would bring both the Africans and the recalcitrant Boers within the embrace of British Imperialism. The alternative advice was to make a treaty with Moshoeshoe, without delay.
As to annexation, the Government seems to have considered that the taking over of Natal for strategic purposes was enough at this stage (1842). The British, always masters in the tactics of "divide and rule," were not likely to be unduly perturbed at the spectacle of the refractory Boers and their strongest enemy, Moshoeshoe, engaged in a destructive war, so long as it did not get out of hand. Such a war might well give them the whip-hand of both.
Here we would remark that not every agent of British Imperialism saw as far as Dr. Philip in terms of the new society. Neither would we suggest that he could dictate the precise lines that events were to follow. This would be to falsify the historical process and fall into the error of ascribing too much to one man. Historical forces to operate in a more complex fashion, making use now of one agent and now another. Nevertheless, as the political agent of the Government. Dr. Philip played his part in setting in motion the events that were to engulf the Sotho nation.
Since the temporary policy of the Imperial Government was to avoid as far as possible the expenditure involved in outright annexation, the alternative was to push the idea of British "Protection" with the chief who constituted the strongest threat to British security in Southern Africa, namely, Moshoeshoe. This may seem paradoxical. But there is no doubt that a "friendly alliance" with Britain was made to appear profitable to the chief. This was the business of the missionaries. With the Boers creeping steadily into the outlying parts of his territory, causing disturbances with his people, and with the knowledge that they had made use of the baRolong, who occupied his land at Thaba Ncho, to hurry Mzilikazi, Moshoeshoe considered that it would be to his advantage to have the backing of British authority””and British guns””to check the Boers. From the British viewpoint, on the other hand, to bind Moshoeshoe with a treaty was to neutralise his power.
Acting through the French missionaries. Dr. Philip had first prepared the ground by a personal interview with Moshoeshoe. He then advised the Governor of his favourable reception by the chief and proposed that he should open correspondence with him on the question of a treaty, using the Rev. E. Casalis as their intermediary. In due course Moshoeshoe communicated with the British representative, expressing the desire to enter into friendly relations with the British Government. The manner in which he expressed himself (through the missionary) makes interesting reading:
"He (Moshoeshoe) has observed with the greatest interest the development of the liberal system which the English nation has adopted in favour of the tribes which the extension of her territories places in contact with her. He is more and more convinced that the existence and independence of his people are possible only under the protective shield of the Sovereign whom you represent."
The request was accompanied by letters from the French missionaries and Dr. Philip. Thus did Moshoeshoe put his neck into the British noose. For all his sagacity he was befooled by the myth of British "Protection." And not all his skill and cunning could extricate him from the consequences of that initial error. As in all such "treaties" the one signatory saw it in a totally different light from the other. For the British, the treaty meant the first step in gaining control over Moshoeshoe and his nation. Sir. G. Lagden, in his History "The Basutos," describes it as "A historic document, being the herald of negotiations leading up to the Constitution of British rule in Basutoland." He is quite right, though it took a long time and involved a long and tortuous history of inter-tribal wars in which the British were the prime agent-provocateurs and the Boers the accessories.
There is no need to go into the details of the "Napier Treaty" of 1843 (Napier was Governor of the Cape Colony at the time). It is sufficient to say that it was on the "Indian model" already worked out by Philip for the purpose of ruling through the chiefs. Moshoeshoe was to receive a "present" of £75 annually in money or arms. Guns were what he wanted and this pittance was a concession to the pretence of making him "the faithful friend and ally of the Colony," charged with the onerous duty of "punishing any attempt to violate the peace of the frontier of the Colony by any people living within his country." Two other important points call for comment. First, the chief undertook to receive a Government Agent with whom he had to consult "on all matters concerning his territory and the Colony." This meant the thin edge of the wedge of Government interference in all his affairs. It meant primarily interference on the question of land””the root question between Black and White. Secondly, the Government arrogated the right to define the boundaries of Moshoeshoe's territory, and the boundary question was the land question. This proved to be the very crux of the situation. The chief could not have surmised that the imposition of boundaries was an important part of this "friendly alliance" with the Colonial Government; neither did he suspect the import of that little "deed of sale" that the missionaries had got him to sign under false pretences when he granted the baRolong land at Thaba Ncho. He signed the treaty, but pointed out that he was not satisfied with the proposed demarcations of his territory. This brings us back to the Wesleyan missionaries and the part they played in the carving up of the land of the baSotho.
The Rev. William Shaw, superintendent of the Wesleyan missions, took it upon himself to write to the Governor protesting that certain lands, some hundreds of square miles round Thaba Ncho, belonged, not to Moshoeshoe, but to his protégé , Moroka, chief of the baRolong. In the draft treaty sent to Moshoeshoe this land was not included as part of his territory. Moshoeshoe pointed out the “error" of demarcation and seems to have assumed that it would be rectified, for he dictated a letter to the British representative as follows:
"It being evident to me from the general tenor of the said treaty, that it is not the desire of the Governor to place any undue restraint upon me as to the extent of territory, I have given my signature in good faith. . . ."
Alas for Moshoeshoe's good faith””or misplaced diplomacy””dragon's teeth had been sowed in his soil and the mutual destruction of the tribes would continue for years to come.
Within a month of the signing of the treaty, the Rev. Shaw put in separate claims on behalf of those small sections of Griqua, Koranas and Khoikhoin, whom Moshoeshoe had allowed to occupy his territory and welcome as part of the Sotho nation, together with the baRolong. Protesting that these sections were completely independent of Moshoeshoe, he suggested settling the matter "without going into the question of native customs." S. M. Molema in "Chief Moroka" echoes this argument when he states:
"Moroka and his co-immigrants from Platberg on the Vaal”¦ .strenuously denied Moshoeshoe's right to overlordship. . . .They averred that they had absolute right and full title to their territories by virtue of purchase proved by documentary evidence."
On the advice of the Rev. Shaw, those same baRolong, Griqua, Koranas and Khoikhoin asked for separate treaties with the Colonial Government, and he got Sekonyela, the Tlokwa chief, to do likewise. "Those tribes combined," wrote the Rev. Shaw to the Governor, "are stronger than Moshesh. . . . Their jealousy is aroused."
It was by such methods that the missionaries helped to bring discord into the land of Moshoeshoe, and no better means could have been found for splitting the tribes.
It was all too easy to make an issue out of this artificially engineered "boundary question," which was just land plunder under a new name. The imposition of boundaries was previously unknown to Africans. The very fact that a refugee tribe could ask and receive land for pasturage in the midst of the occupants already in the territory, flowed from this. But as soon as the new conception of the sale of land and separation into specified areas was introduced, clashes were inevitable. It was impossible to fix these boundary lines, except on paper; in fact they were deliberately left indeterminate, for no two charts agree. The Boers broke them at will, and in the case of the Africans, villages belonging to different groups lay on either side of these imaginary lines. What better pretext for creating a state of perpetual disturbance? These paper boundaries served one purpose only””to fan the flame of inter-tribal conflicts.
The Military take over
With the stage set for a protracted boundary dispute, the long tale of fraud, plunder and fratricidal strife begins to unfold. Where the missionaries left off, the other agents of Imperialism carried on, and it remains for us to summarize, with a view to bringing out the main points relevant to our theme, a period of anarchy as devastating as any in the history of Southern Africa. The details are voluminous and distracting and much must be omitted. We shall attempt to give the essentials, directing the reader to policies and tactics that mark, in the midst of apparent chaos, a steady progression towards the supremacy of British Imperialism in Southern Africa.
Throughout the period the missionaries still had their functions to perform, breaking down the old system with new ideas, as they were doing in their various fields of operation throughout the country. The different denominations, also, continued to be the partisans of their respective protégés, upholding the "property" rights of the different tribes, the French missionaries supporting the claims of Moshoeshoe and his allies, the Wesleyans supporting Sekonyela, Moroka and the others against him. The effect of this was only to whip up the boundary disputes. As the carnage increased the missionaries sent eloquent letters of protest to the Government, which were of no avail in mitigating the sufferings of the people.
Once Moshoeshoe had signed the Treaty it was not long before the British lion revealed the predatory nature of its "protection" and "friendship." Moshoeshoe and the various claimants to parts of his territory, as well as representatives of the Boers and the Griqua from Philippolis, were called to meet the new Governor, Maitland, ostensibly to settle the land disputes. The result was a second treaty which showed a remarkable partiality for the claims of the Boers. The English Governor professed himself unable to settle the thorny question of boundaries, but left a Dutchman to settle the whole matter, to wit. Commandant Gideon Joubert (An excellent example of the jackal left in charge of the sheep The other clauses were equally significant:
- (1) "A portion of the undisputed country to be specified and set apart for the occupation of white British subjects" ;
- (2) "Religious teachers and white persons desirous of carrying on trade and other business to be enabled to acquire land for building" ;
- (3) A Resident Agent (i.e.. Magistrate) was appointed to try Africans accused by British subjects;
- (4) Half of the quit-rents from the lease of land to the Whites went to pay the magistrate and a police-force.
The far-reaching effects of these innovations are familiar to us from what had been happening among the Xhosa tribes. Furthermore, Moroka and the other disputants, who, through their missionaries, had begged for the favour of a treaty as well as Moshoeshoe, had also to allow British subjects to occupy their lands.
The Wesleyan missionaries waited upon the Commandant to ensure the land claims of their protégés, but he paid them scant courtesy, though he expressed the conviction that the power of Moshoeshoe should be broken and the country divided into small "native" districts. The results of his interference were more land for the Boers and embittered relations between Moshoeshoe and the petty chiefs whose claims had been unsatisfied. Before long the first blood was spilt between the baTlokwa and Moshoeshoe's baSotho. Sekonyela was a great warrior, a chief in his own right, who held lands to the north of Moshoeshoe. He too, had been persuaded to enter the boundary dispute, and the old feud between them, which had died down, was rekindled. Raids and counter-raids brought death and destruction to both sides. This was but the beginning. Petty chiefs who were not involved in the actual boundary dispute, but were allies of Moshoeshoe, were also attacked by the baTlokwa; the baTaung, under Moletsane, suffered heavily at the hands of Sekonyela; the baRolong, the Koranas and the smaller Griqua groups under their various captains, became embroiled in the general upheaval. Added to this there were repercussions from the "War of the Axe," which sent fugitive baThembu into his country. The dogs of war had been unleashed.
Then Sir Harry Smith, the new High Commissioner, appeared, pursued his aggressions against the maXhosa, had a little fight with the Boers at Boomplaats and declared the sovereignty of the British Queen over the territories north of the Orange River to the Vaal, over Dutch, Griqua and Bantu””all as Dr. Philip had suggested in the first place. The Proclamation sent out by Sir Harry is an excellent demonstration of that contrast between truth and official language, with which we have become familiar. A brief extract from this lengthy document will suffice:
"I do hereby proclaim, declare and make known the Sovereignty of Her Majesty the Queen of England over the Territories north of the Great Orange River, including the countries of Moshesh, Moroko, Molitsane, Sikonyela, Adam Kok, Gert Taaibosch and other minor chiefs as far north as to the Vaal River . . . with no desire or inclination whatever on the part of Her Majesty to extend or increase Her Dominions or to deprive the Chiefs and their People of (the) hereditary rights...but on the contrary, with the sole view of establishing an amicable relationship with hose chiefs . . . and protecting them from any future aggression or location of Her Majesty's subjects. . . ."
The gist of this document was the extension of British control north to the Vaal. Magistrates were installed among the baSotho and mission stations were declared to be "under the special protection of Her Majesty the Queen of England." With evangelical enthusiasm, typical of the arrogant Imperialist, Smith also decreed "the erection of Churches and Schools to prevent the spread of infidelity and immorality among the Emigrant Farmers, seeing that some were fallen nearly to a level with the natives." In view of the machinations of the missionaries, there was considerable irony in his answer to Moshoeshoe on the question of the disputes that had arisen:
"In proclaiming the Sovereignty of the Queen, it is as much to protect Moshesh against his internal as his external enemies." Then Smith took his departure, promising a Commission to settle the "boundary question."
These impudent speeches and promises were but the interludes to the internecine strife that soon burst forth again with renewed fury among the baSotho, the baTlokwa, the baRolong and other tribes.
The farcical pretence of arbitration on the part of the Resident Agent, Major Warden, served only to enrage both sides, for Moshoeshoe made it quite clear that he rejected this whole business of the "delimitation" of his territory. But he was not to escape the inexorable logic of having accepted British "protection." Major Warden seems to have played the role of agent provocateur. Be that as it may, as the feud between the baTlokwa and Moshoeshoe's baSotho increased in ferocity, with the baRolong and others joining in, the Resident Agent decided it was time to make a display of British force. We find him writing to Sir Harry Smith that:” the country cannot enjoy peace until the baSotho tribe, of late years become powerful, be put under restraint."
Smith replied with approval:
"Your suggestion that this Chief (Moshoeshoe) must be humbled . . . must be carried out. . . .
"The accusations of the other chiefs must be carefully received. . . ."
So war continued to ravage the baSotho.
The next step was a "Conference" with all the chiefs, excluding Moshoeshoe, for the purpose of forming a League against him and thus isolating him. Sekonyela and Moroka, as well as the Griqua chief, Gert Taaibosch, and the Korana chief, Carolus Baatje, were bribed with the promise of their lands being secured to them.
What followed was the barefaced robbery of the "Warden Line" decision, with the bulk of the land allocated to those British subjects now swarming on the banks of the Caledon””the Boers. Moshoeshoe realised, like Ngqika before him, the greed of his "protectors."
For the baSotho, Warden's Boundary Commission resolved nothing and gave nothing but renewed carnage and devastation, Moshoeshoe stiffened in his resistance both to the British and the Boers, and to all those of his people who had been persuaded to join forces with them. By 1849 Warden was writing to Smith:
"The Basuto require humbling ... it can easily be done and at little cost to the Government, The Griquas, Baralongs, Mantatis (i.e., under Sekonyela) and Korannas with a small British support would, in a few days, overrun the whole of Basutoland."
Moshoeshoe was to make him eat his words, but while the military victory of the campaigns that followed went to the chief, the loss to the Sotho nation was irreparable. The battles did not cease until Sekonyela and his people were destroyed and the baRolong reduced to a state of destitution, not to speak of all those smaller tribes reaching to the confines of Sotho territory on the lower Orange River who were involved in the disputes.
Having received such confident assurances from Major Warden, Smith authorized him to launch an attack on Moshoeshoe and his ally, Moletsane, under the specious pretext of demanding restitution on behalf of the Rolong chief, Moroka, who had the paramount thrust upon him, an unhonoured honour that brought him as low as it had brought Ngqika and his people. The British armed their African "Allies" with guns, and the Boers for the most part looked on at the spectacle of the members of the Sotho nation severally and separately rending one another. Moshoeshoe's defeat of the combined forces at Viervoet brought dire distress to the baRolong, to whom the British gave no compensation. The Boers made no secret of the fact that they were more interested in preserving their farms than helping the British and bargained with Moshoeshoe to leave them in possession of their (his) lands. Indeed it looked as if Moshoeshoe might yet outwit them all. Warden had to call for reinforcements from Natal, including Africans. But Moshoeshoe routed them also.
Faced with defeat in the very quarter from which they had most to fear, the British realised the necessity to revise their tactics. The trend of events was reflected in the action taken by the missionaries, who, in addressing a memorial to the Imperial Government, unfed a picture of "irretrievable ruin" in Basutoland, where, they prophesied, no White man would be able to set foot, so bitter was the feeling of the people. This missionary action in itself served no purpose, except that it sounded the danger-signal, a function that the liberals to this day religiously carry out. The Imperial Government instituted a full-scale enquiry and a revision of colonial policy.
Here we must remind ourselves that it was the British who were in the long run masters of the situation, whatever the immediate set-backs. It lay with them to make the next move and evolve a master-plan, which, though protracted in its effects, ultimately delivered the baSotho into the hands of British Imperialism and thus furthered the military conquest of all the African tribes. They took immediate steps to resolve the crisis produced by Moshoeshoe's victory, by conciliating the recalcitrant Trek Boers and giving them a definite stake in the land they were occupying but doing so little to defend. But it was not a situation that allowed of a simple solution and British strategy was to follow a tortuous path before it finally achieved its aim””the supremacy of British Imperialism.
The overthrow of tribalism was to take another twenty years, and indeed, as the disintegration spread, the conflict sharpened, Moshoeshoe's first victories coincided with the unity of the maXhosa, baThembu and Khoikhoin in the 1850-52 War. The very extensiveness of the White invasion north and east and even in the more arid regions of the north-west, presented the British with the problem of control and more particularly the fear of any one region getting out of hand and provoking a general uprising. So uncertain was the situation and so precarious the balance of forces that they could not exclude the possibility of a general onslaught from every direction on a Colony that had not yet stabilized itself. As Sir George Grey was to express it:
"On some points of this extensive line, it is all that the European race can do to maintain its position." It was a state of affairs that the British had to reckon with for some years to come. The historian, Walker, writes:
"From the Zoutpansberg (Eastern Transvaal) to the Transkei and from Natal to Namaqua-Damaraland, the tide began to run strongly against the white man. . . . Many of the Bantu had guns as good as those of their opponents."
There was always the danger that if Moshoeshoe routed the Boers in the north the flood-gates of an African invasion would be released down into the Colony. Thus the continued lack of cohesion among the Trek Boers coupled with their hostility, held dangerous possibilities for the British, precisely because they had not yet completed the subjugation of the African tribes. The Boers so far had shown themselves incapable of uniting their forces against the tribes surrounding them.
Moshoeshoe himself was beginning to use the weapon of "divide and rule" ; and with a fair measure of success, with the result that some of the Boers refused to join the British forces against him, preferring to pacify him if by so doing they could hang on to their farms.
It was in this situation that the British turned their attention to the Trek Boers. In a word they made a deal with them. The time was not yet ripe for incorporating them into a single unified state where the new economic system could fully develop. Meantime the Colonial Government gave them some form of independence and a free hand where the Africans were concerned. The first step in this political deal was the Sand River Convention of 1852 whereby Her Majesty's Government guaranteed "the emigrant farmers beyond the Vaal freedom to manage their own affairs without let or hindrance."
In the agreement the Boers promised to abstain from slavery, while Her Majesty's Government assured them of an open gunpowder market. It also disclaimed "all alliances whatever and with whomsoever of the coloured nations to the north of the Vaal River Chaos reigned north of the Vaal among the various warring factions of Boer diehards, but by recognising them as constituting the "South African Republic," the British hoped to introduce an element of stability amongst them as well as giving them a stake in the land, which they must now defend as a unit against the tribes surrounding them.
Meantime the situation in the land of the baSotho deteriorated still further from the British point of view. A new Governor, Cathcart, having supplied Sekonyela, as his "ally" with guns and ammunition, vowed "to make an end of the baSotho nation as had been done of the Gaikas." But with his second resounding victory, this time at Berea, Moshoeshoe deflated his thunder and the Governor departed, leaving behind him, in his own words, "a disadvantageous impression as to the real power of the British nation." Even now it can be said that the real losers were the baSotho, for the baTlokwa, the baRolong and Moshoeshoe's baSotho turned their fury against one another.
With the Berea victory behind him, Moshoeshoe now proposed peace. But British strategy outplayed Moshoeshoe's diplomacy. The Orange River Sovereignty, by which Smith had proclaimed the Queen's sovereignty over Griqua, Boers and baSotho, was declared to be no more. Now the second part of the deal with the Trek Boers was completed at the expense of Moshoeshoe, and also Adam Kok, whose lands, by a secret agreement between the Boer representatives and the British Commissioners, were added to the bargain. The Bloemfontein Convention of 1854 bestowed independence on the Boers of "The Orange Free State," a piece of territory whose boundaries were deliberately left undefined, though Moshoeshoe was led to believe that at least the large thefts of the "Warden Line" no longer held good. Thus did 15,000 Trek Boers receive a province”” they who in number were rather less than those Fingos who had been "liberated" and led by the Rev. Ayliff to their locations at Peddie, there to be used as "allies" of the British against the maXhosa. Like their brothers across the Vaal, the "Free State" Boers were to get their guns and ammunition from the Cape Colony. While a strict embargo was placed on the sale of guns to the baSotho. In the matter of treaties with chiefs. Her Majesty's Government did not relinquish its treaty with Adam Kok, but it assured the Boers that it had "no wish or intention to enter hereafter into any treaties which may be injurious or prejudicial to the interests of the Orange River Government."
On the chess-board of Southern Africa the British might thus be said to have made some skilful moves. Withdrawing overt control for the time being from the north, they had left the Trek Boers with two cattle-farmer republics as a counter to Moshoeshoe and the tribes across the Vaal. Presumably this would have a stabilising influence upon them since they had a common interest in defending themselves against the Bantu. The Treaty with the Waterboers in Griqualand West had been allowed to lapse. That one-time "bulwark of the Colony" was sunk in poverty. But (as we have seen) Adam Kok of Philippolis still had his uses. When his lands were thrown as a "peace-offering to the Boers," Sir George Grey transported him and the Griqua to a more strategic position in "No man's-land." Stretching from the Drakensburg Mountains down towards the Atlantic south-east of the baSotho, it was as rich a stretch of territory as any in Southern Africa. It had become a focal point of unrest. Theophilus Shepstone, now "Diplomatic Agent" in Natal, had a megalomaniac ambition to bring 60,000 amaZulu here, with himself as White Chief; but Grey intended it ultimately to carry a wealthy White population. Meantime he made Adam Kok's Griqua the "Fingos" of this region, as a barrier between the still independent maMpondo and maXesibe to the south-east of them, and the baSotho on the other side of them. The Trek Boers with their republics were to act as the White "Fingos" against a possible attack from the baSotho of Moshoeshoe and the various other clans of Tswana descent further west and the maNdebele and others in the north-east. By such manipulations extending from the borders of the Cape Colony to beyond the Vaal, and by employing to the full the policy of "divide and rule," the British were in a position to bring about the gradual weakening of all the tribes. The Trek Boers had their republics; for their guns they had to rely on the Colony. It was under these conditions that they were given the right of way to begin fighting the baSotho.
The British had gone. After all the intrigues, from the coming of the missionaries onwards, they left a legacy of inter-tribal strife. When the Governor, Cathcart, had retreated, the erstwhile "allies" of the British, Moroka, Sekonyela and the rest, were left to their fate. The protracted wars had taken a heavy toll of life, laid waste their fields, brought hunger and want to their people. Their pleas for protection and compensation and their bitter recriminations fell on deaf ears. It is recorded that Moroka flung back his annuity of £50 "with the taunt that the British Government had oppressed instead of protected him." It was knowledge that came too late. His people to-day occupy the barren Reserve of Thaba Ncho in the midst of the "Orange Free State." The fate of Sekonyela, that brave fighter, was a tragic one. He continued the battle after the British and the Boers had gone, and Moshoeshoe at first made a formal request to the Governor to intervene, but was told that "the policy of Her Majesty's Government was never again to interfere in native quarrels." Then the hand of Moshoeshoe himself dealt retribution on Sekonyela and his ally, Gert Taaibosch, the Korana chief. With the flower of their warriors killed, a small band of homeless people sought refuge at Winburg and were sent to a location in the Cape Colony. Sir Godfrey Lagden, in his History of the baSotho, writes: "The Batlokwa ceased thenceforth to have any existence as a tribal entity." Sekonyela, too, it is stated, put the blame for his disaster on "his loyalty and alliance with the British. Moshoeshoe offered him land for his people, but he refused. The chief's victory over Sekonyela was actually a defeat for the Sotho nation as a whole, and his offer of land could not mend what had been broken. These were some of the triumphs of disunity.
The wars””if such they may be called””between the Boers of the "Orange Free State" and the baSotho, are not our concern. By 1858 President Boshoff was suing for peace and sending a desperate call for help to the British Governor, Sir George Grey, putting the blame on the British Government for the "dire strait" in which the Boers had landed. The Government had sent arms, but the Dutch section of the Cape Colony had not gone to the help of their brothers. "The English ought never to have given it (the 'Free State') up," said Boshoff. True to pattern, the British stepped in and offered the mediate between Moshoeshoe and the Boers. The Boers had been chastised enough; Moshoeshoe was threatening to enter the "Free State" , for he had not yet assumed the offensive. It was time to act. In his communications with the Imperial Government, Grey wrote:
"If the Basutos are conquerors in the war it will greatly encourage the coloured races against the Whites, and as they will be dissatisfied with our assumed neutrality, under the guise of which we have continued to supply the Orange Free State with arms and ammunition, whilst we have acted as police to prevent the Basutos from obtaining such supplies, I fear they will regard themselves as justified in ... assailing us. . . ."
Grey was already thinking in terms of extending the economy of the Cape Colony to include the Boers in the north. The whole drive of his activity, as we have seen, was the extension of British Imperialism, the smashing of tribalism and the establishment of the capitalist economy throughout Southern Africa. To him, therefore, the existence of the backward Boer States on their own was an absurdity. The "Free State" was threatening to collapse. As the historian, Walker, points out: "it was almost entirely a pastoral state, dependant for corn on the Caledon valley tribes and on its European neighbours north and south." The Transvaal was rent us with civil war, with political and religious feuds. The latter presents us with a point of peculiar interest. Walker writes: "Controversies raged round the question of the relations of the Dutch Reformed Church in the Transvaal with the parent church of the Colony. The issue was of great importance to the Transvaalers, who believed that Harry Smith had threatened to conquer them with the 'spiritual sword' of the colonial clergy."
Both States, also, were chronically bankrupt, trade being mostly by the primitive method of barter. It was all these factors that made Grey warn the Imperial Government that:
"The smallness and weakness of the states, the knowledge that they were isolated bodies . . . has encouraged the natives to resist and dare them. . . ."
But, as he saw it, their weakness was not only a military danger to the Colony. Like Dr. Philip before him, he could not tolerate the continuance of the feudal economy of the Trek Boers, since it retarded the development of that system of capitalism which by its very nature could not be confined to the Cape Colony alone.
"Such petty (Boer) states," he continues," ... can have no efficient administration of justice. Trade and commerce must, therefore, necessarily languish. Their revenues will be so small that they cannot efficiently provide for their protection. Hence a new incentive is given to the surrounding native races to attack them. Life and property thus become insecure. . . . South Africa appears to be drifting, by not very slow degrees, into disorder and barbarism. ..."
These were strong words, but the Imperial Government was to bide its time where the Boers were concerned. They seem to have thought that the two cattle-farming "Republics" could be safely left on the High Veld. Neither of them had an outlet to the sea. When President Boshoff of the "Free State" had sent his S.O.S. to Grey, the latter had proposed an armistice, to be accepted by the baSotho and the Boers. Moshoeshoe's sons were against the proposal, but the French missionaries strenuously urged its acceptance. Moshoeshoe agreed. He requested simply the restoration of all the land of the baSotho before the White man came to carve it up. Grey acted as simply in the spirit of European unity and ratified the old Warden Line in favour of the Boers. British mediation had resolved a crisis for the Boers, but solved nothing.
The wars and intrigues of the following period lie outside the scope of this history. But the sum total of it was a state of perpetual upheaval in the land of the baSotho. Chiefs and minor chiefs, sons and brothers of Moshoeshoe, were all involved in a guerilla warfare on an ever-widening scale. To the end he kept his enemies at bay.
Nevertheless, the final victory went to the Imperial Government. At last Moshoeshoe, now an old man, requested the "Protection" of the British Queen. He was keenly aware of what had been happening in other parts of the country, in the Cape Colony, in Natal close to his borders, in "No-man's-land" between the Colony and his territory, a vast process of tribal disruption going on every where; and his actions seem to have always been guided by the recognition that there was a people behind the Boers with far greater resources than his own. With them he sought to make an honourable agreement, expecting that the territories confiscated by the Boers would be restored to him, since in the guerilla campaigns he was unvanquished. But the Imperial Government was in a position to impose its own terms on him. This he knew. Between his first request for the "Protection" of the British Queen in 1841, when the missionary had painted such a glowing picture of its benefits, and his last request in 1868, lay a long and tragic history of conflict between him and those who were his natural allies. It is true, the core of the Sotho nation was still in existence, but later wars between his son'' and the Colonial Government were to weaken the baSotho still further.
Moshoeshoe's request for the Queen's "Protection" resulted in a treaty which left the Boers in possession of large parts of Basutoland. Those in charge of Imperial policy had come to the following decisions: first, it had been a "mistake" to relinquish control north of the Orange and thus leave a "weak debatable land . . . between a foreign power and us." The foreign power was Portuguese East Africa adjoining the Transvaal, which was itself seeking expansion in Central and Southern Africa. Secondly, they decided that: "We should accept the Basutos' offer (to come under the British Crown) and so tend towards one South African British Government including Natal." (A British Crown Colony.) In these statements we see that British strategy is working itself out step by step to its logical conclusion””the supremacy of British Imperialism in Southern Africa. Behind these decisions were events of far-reaching importance making it imperative for Imperialism to complete the task that was actually begun””indeed was inherent in the situation””when the British took over the Colony at the beginning of the 19th century. These events we shall have to look into in the following chapter, for they brought to a climax the whole process of the overthrow of one system, tribalism, by the forces of the new system, capitalism.
It was in 1869 that the land of the baSotho was annexed in the name of the Queen. A few months later Moshoeshoe died. When the Imperial Government granted self-government to the Cape Colony in 1872, it handed over the control of the baSotho at the same time. After a period of protracted wars between the sons of Moshoeshoe and the Colony, what is known to-day as Basutoland was taken over by the Imperial Government as a "Protectorate." What this has want for the Sotho people is evident in the lack of development, the stagnation and poverty of their country, the burden of taxation, the neglect of the soil, because the able-bodied men, as in all other Native Reserves" in the Union itself, have to go out as labourers in the mines. Of the original land of the baSotho, large sections of it fell to the Boers of the "Free State" , while the southernmost parts were confiscated by the Cape Colony. Many of its people scattered in these territories comprise the landless peasantry living in South Africa to-day in a state of economic slavery.