Somerset concludes a treaty with Ngqika (aka Gaika)

Ngika ka Rarabe Image source

Wednesday, 2 April 1817

On this day 1817, Cape Governor Lord Charles Somerset concluded a treaty with the Xhosa chief, Ngqika (who was also known as Gaika). The treaty was concluded after Somerset visited the eastern frontier and asked Gaika to stop stealing cattle. Gaika thus received British help when his uncle, Ndlambe, attacked him at Grahamstown in 1819. Ndlambe, who was defeated, had opposed Gaika's claim to the chieftainship of the Rarabe clans of the Xhosa. After Ndlambe and Nxele Makana slaughtered hundreds of Ngqika's men at Amalinde, Ntsikana told Somerset that he had been attacked for trying to stop cattle stealing. Boers volunteered, and Ndlambe, who was retreating, abandoned about 23,000 cattle to the pursuing commandos. Ngqika, who was reinstated, was given 9,000 cattle.

Makana urged the Xhosa to unite and he and Ndlambe led about 6,000 men in an attack on Grahamstown in 1819, but the bullets did not melt like water as he had predicted. Colonel Willshire commanded a force consisting of 270 muskets and thus while the British lost the lives of three men, about a thousand spear-carrying warriors were killed. Makana surrendered the next day and was sent to Robben Island, where he later drowned while trying to escape. Ndlambe eluded capture, but he had lost his power and died a few years later. Ngqika then became the main chief over the Xhosa west of the Kei River. He promised to keep them out of the neutral territory and ceded 10,000 square kilometers of good pastureland to Lord Charles Somerset.

Last updated : 29-Mar-2017

This article was produced by South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011

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