BECK index

Southern Africa 1700-1950

by Sanderson Beck

Southern Africa and the Dutch 1700-1800
South West Africa 1806-1950
Southern Africa and Rhodes 1835-1902
Rhodesia 1901-50
Zulus and Sotho 1800-75
British and Boers in South Africa 1800-42
British and Boers in South Africa 1842-75
South Africa and Imperial Wars 1875-1902
Gandhi in South Africa
South Africa and Segregation 1902-50
ANC and Dissent in South Africa 1912-50

This chapter has been published in the book Mideast & Africa 1700-1950.
For ordering information, please click here.

Southern Africa and the Dutch 1700-1800

Southern Africa to 1700

In southern Africa the Nguni cultivated the soil; the Khoikhoi kept herds; and the San (Bushmen) hunted and gathered. In the second half of the 17th century the Dutch East India Company (VOC) imported slaves from Angola and Guinea. They used firearms and horses to win wars over cattle raiding and reduced the San and Khoikhoi to being servants. Wheat was exported from the Cape of Good Hope, and in 1700 the Dutch East India Company permitted grazing cattle outside the settlement. The first lethal clash between Dutch cattlemen and the Xhosa (called Kaffirs) occurred in 1702, and the Company reimposed the ban on trading with the Khoikhoi for two years. The ban was lifted in 1705 until 1727, after which private cattle bartering continued illegally. Farmers complained that Governor W. A. van der Stel (1699-1707), son of his predecessor, and his officials were violating the VOC regulation that forbade their private farming or trading even though anyone who objected to this corruption risked being sent to a penal colony such as Mauritius. In 1707 the seventeen directors of the Company ordered officials not to farm. Every free man between the age of 16 and 60 was enrolled in the militia, which had 513 European men by 1708. In 1713 a smallpox epidemic started from laundry brought by a passing ship. The Africans were decimated while 110 Europeans also died of the plague. Too much wheat and wine caused a price slump, and by 1717 the Company stopped allowing farmers to immigrate into the Cape colony. The Company maintained a monopoly on all commercial activity and fixed prices.

As the increasing numbers of Trekboers let their livestock graze further, the game animals departed, causing the San people to begin raiding the invading herds. Since the Trekboers had firearms, the San were easily defeated. The San lost their usual livelihood, as did the herding Khoikhoi, who were reduced to being servants; these people merged and were called the Khoisan. In 1724 the Company opened a slave station at Delagoa Bay, but in the 1730s most slaves were imported from Mozambique and Zanzibar. In 1728 Dutch farmers killed twelve Khoisan while taking back 23 stolen cattle along with 62 Khoisan cattle. The Company directors ignored appeals to return the Khoisan cattle.

In 1732 the quitrent system of land tenure was introduced. After the Company prohibited stock bartering in 1738, Estienne Barbier escaped from prison and led ten farmers in violent disobedience for a year before he was arrested and eventually executed. In 1739 the Trekboers broke their promise to share the spoils of looted cattle with the Khoisan. Swartebooij complained to the VOC directors, who backed down and awarded the Khoisan share to the Trekboers. A bloody battle ensued in which Swartebooij and a hundred Khoisan were killed as hundreds of cattle were taken. After 1740 the Khoisan in the colony could no longer herd livestock but had to serve as laborers. The Swellendam district was established in 1745. The continued importation of slaves made them more numerous than the Europeans by 1748.

Cape Town had no newspaper although Governor Ryk Tulbagh (1751-71) founded a library and promoted the scientific study of plants and animals. In 1754 the Khoisan raided farms in Roggeveld. In 1765 the Meermin left the Cape and purchased slaves from Madagascar. Allowed to work, the slaves got weapons and took over the ship; but most were recaptured at Cape Agulhas, and they were taken to Cape Town. After Trekboers crossed the Gamtoos River in 1771, clashes with the Xhosa worsened. The Khoisan, caught between the colonists and the Xhosa, resisted the Trekboers. The Xhosa were ruled by Phalo from about 1730 until he died in 1775. His son Gcaleka defeated his brother Rharhabe but died in 1778, succeeded by Khawuta, who ruled only the Gcaleka faction as the conflict continued.

By 1778 the Trekboers had reached the Great Fish River, and the Cape’s Governor Joachim van Plettenberg tried to set the eastern boundaries with Gwali chiefs. Two years later Van Plettenberg took in the Zuurveld even though it was not yet occupied by Europeans. The Gonaqua claimed they occupied the land, and the Gqunukhwebe said they had bought some of it from the Khoikhoi. Commandant Adriaan van Jaarsveld led his commandos in 1781 to evict the Gwali, who believed Van Plettenberg had agreed in 1778 this was their land. When Dange’s Chief Jalamba refused to leave, Van Jaarsveld scattered gifts of tobacco and then had his men open fire on the Dange. Most of the surviving Xhosas left, and the commandos killed many Ntinde who did not. Rharhabe and his heir Mlawu were killed in a war against the Thembu in 1782. His followers divided when the regent Ndlambe came into conflict with the young Ngqika.

In a secret meeting at Cape Town four hundred burghers signed a petition to the Governor asking to send a delegation to the 17 directors in Amsterdam with economic proposals. Because officials were underpaid, corruption permeated the Company. Farmers also complained of heavy taxes. The Heren 17 did not respond until 1783 when they exonerated the officials; the only major concessions allowed free trade with foreign ships and the purchase of surplus produce at fixed prices, though after Company demands were met. The Cape exported much wheat to the eastern Dutch empire until war with England stopped this in 1781. The Company complained the Cape colony caused large deficits.

In 1786 Moritz Woeke became landdrost of the new eastern district named Graaff-Reinet after Governor Jacob van der Graaff and his wife Reinet. In 1789 Ndlambe and Langan attacked the Gqunukhwebe, who crossed the Fish River and occupied the land. Woeke let them remain, and conflicts arose. Trekboer Coenraad de Buys abducted the wives of minor chiefs. When Cape authorities refused to aid the burghers in controlling the angry Gqunukhwebe, the farmers led by Barend Linderque made an alliance with the Xhosa leader Ndlambe. The battles resulted in many thousands of cattle being stolen, and farmers fled west. Woeke’s secretary Honoratus Maynier led the Graaff-Reinet commandos, and the Cape Council sent a force from Swellendam. The Gqunukhwebe led by Tshaka tried to flee east but ran into Ndlambe’s Xhosa, who killed Tshaka. Maynier’s force killed many Gqunukhwebe and made off with 8,000 cattle. Tshaka’s son Chungwa agreed to a truce but still claimed that his father had bought the land from Ruiter. By now Ngqika was 15 years old, and he attacked and imprisoned his regent Ndlambe. In these frontier wars during the last ten years of the Dutch East India Company’s rule to 1795, a reported 2,504 “Bushmen” were killed with 669 captured while 276 colonists (mostly Khoikhoi) were slain.

At a meeting in February 1795 burghers calling themselves “patriots” expelled Maynier and other officials from Graaff-Reinet. Cape authorities suspended the supply of ammunition to the district. A commission sent to investigate was expelled by armed burghers for refusing to act against the Xhosa in the Zuurveld. The burghers no longer recognized the VOC; as this rebellion coincided with the overthrow of the Dutch monarchy by the French and the British takeover of Cape Town, they asked the British to appoint magistrates. They could not agree, but lack of gunpowder and lead forced the burghers to recognize the authority of the British General James Henry Craig by 1797. He replaced the high court commission with a Senate of six burghers chosen by the Governor. The British increased official salaries and reduced perquisites to reform corruption, and they abolished the brutal tortures used against suspected and convicted criminals.

In 1799 Adriaan van Jaarsveld was arrested for forgery in connection with a loan, but he was set free by fellow burghers. After General Thomas Vandeleur arrived with a “Hottentot” Cape corps, the rebels led by Marthinus Prinsloo and Coenraad de Buys surrendered and were imprisoned. Maynier was reappointed landdrost and had Fort Frederick built at Algoa Bay. During the first five years of British rule, Government attempts to collect annual rents helped provoke these rebellions. In 1800 Ndlambe escaped to the Zuurveld. In trying to bring order to the Zuurveld, Vandeleur persuaded the Khoikhoi leader Klaas Stuurman to lay down their arms and move to Algoa Bay, where the Governor’s secretary John Barrow tried to keep them apart from the Trekboer families seeking protection. Chungwa stayed in the Zuurveld, and he was joined by 700 Khoikhoi fleeing the Trekboers. Armed burghers objecting to Khoikhoi soldiers in Graaff-Reinet provoked another frontier war that lasted until 1803.

South West Africa 1806-1950

The southwestern portion of Africa had the Okavango and Kaokoveld in Ovamboland in the north, Hereroland in the center, and Great Namaqualand in the south. Missionaries came to southwest Africa in the early 19th century. The brothers Abraham and Christian Albrecht first went to Great Namaqualand in 1806 and found descendants of the Hottentots (Khoikhoi). The Hottentot Jager Afrikaner moved with Orlams into the southern region. In 1829 a civil war drove out the older Namas, and Jan Boois took over. In 1834 E. J. Cook founded the Wesleyan Mission at Warmbad and called it Nisbett Bath. Jager’s son Jonker Afrikaner helped the Red Nation of the Namas defeat the Hereros and settled near what became Windhoek. Dr. Hugo Hahn of the Rhenish Missionary Society joined them.

In 1854 Jonker Afrikaner attacked the Topnaars, killing some and making enemies of Oasib of the Red Nation and the Swartboois of Rehoboth. However, they realized that fighting caused misery and made peace on January 9, 1858, agreeing to arbitration by an impartial Kaptein. Jonker died in 1861 and was succeeded by his oldest son Christian Afrikaner. The Walfisch Bay Mining Company had begun mining near Otjimbingwe in 1853. Europeans gathered there, and poor Hereros were hired. When the servants of the Afrikaners decided to free themselves, Christian Afrikaner attacked Otjimbingwe in June 1863.

Charles John Andersson had bought the mining company in July 1860, and he and some Europeans helped the Hereros. Christian was defeated and killed. His brother Jan Jonker wanted revenge. On June 15, 1864 the Namas were defeated again, though Andersson was crippled by a wound. Dr. Hahn persuaded Germany to sponsor a colony of German artisans and a trading post at Otjimbingwe, and in September the Rhenish Missionary Society bought Andersson’s business for £550. Chief Kamaherero made a peace treaty with the Topnaars in 1865 and then with Oasib of the Red Nation in June 1866. On December 26 Kamaherero granted Andersson waterholes and grazing rights for his help in the war. Andersson died at Ovamboland on July 4, 1867. Oasib had attacked Gibeon in February and in July was defeated by the Witboois and the Bersebas. Oasib died and was succeeded by his son Barnabas, who on December 19 made peace with Kido Witbooi of Gibeon, Paul Goliath of Bersebas, and David Christian of Bethanie. Three days later Jon Jonker attacked Otjimbingwe, which was defended by Hahn. All the Nama Kapteins joined the treaty at Bersebas on March 18, 1868.

Kamaherero and his followers disliked Christian pressures and left Otjimbingwe in January 1868 and went to Okahandja where they could practice their ancestor worship. On May 28, 1870 Jan Jonker made a treaty with Kamaherero and became his co-regent. Hugo Hahn persuaded Kamaherero to make another treaty on September 23 for the Herero nations which stated that Jan Jonker had no right to interfere. The Rhenish Missionary Society was dissatisfied with Hahn and formed a joint stock company for trading. Hahn wanted the Mission to be in control and resigned. On June 21, 1874 the three main chiefs of the Hereros—Kamaherero, Kambazembi, and Zeraua—sent a petition in English to the Governor of South West Africa to stop the Boers from coming into the territory. Colonial Secretary Carnarvon sent Palgrave to inquire, and he met with the chiefs on July 29, 1876. The Namas did not like Palgrave’s protection plan. Cape’s Governor Bartle Frere approved Palgrave’s report, and they annexed land by Walvis Bay on March 12, 1878.

In August 1880 war broke out between the Namas and the Hereros over cattle rustling by the Namas. In November the German ambassador in London asked the British if they would protect German subjects. Inspector Fabri had published Does Germany Need Colonies? (Bedarf Deutschland Kolonien?) in 1879, and this aroused the colonial spirit. In May and August 1883 Adolf Lüderitz purchased land from the harbor of Angra Pequena to the Orange River. On April 24, 1884 Chancellor Otto von Bismarck declared the area under German protection, and he sent Imperial Consul General and Commissioner Nachtigal to Walvis Bay to make protection treaties. Hendrik Witbooi led the Namas and made peace with Kamaherero. Bismarck sent Dr. Goering as Imperial Kommissar, and he made a protection treaty with Kamaherero on October 21, 1885. Chief Kamaherero died on October 7, 1890 and was succeeded by his son Samuel Maharero, who accepted a German garrison in 1894. In 1897 almost all of the cattle of the Hereros died in a rinderpest epidemic.

After the Hereros lost much of their land, they rebelled in January 1904. German Lt. General Lothan von Trotha was sent with a force of 14,000 men and ordered every Herero to be shot. About 80,000 Hereros lived there in 1903, but by 1906 less than 20,000 remained; 14,000 were imprisoned in camps, and 2,000 fled to South Africa. Chief Samuel Mahahero led a thousand people across the Kalahari Desert to Bechuanaland. Africans had their livestock and land confiscated, and they were not allowed to form tribal organizations or practice their ceremonies. As their culture collapsed, many converted to Christianity. The Germans lost 2,000 men and spent £23,000,000. When Nama’s Chief Hendrik Witbooi revolted in October 1904 with guerrilla warfare, the Germans disarmed the rest of the Witbooi soldiers. Hendrik was killed on October 20, 1905; his replacement Samuel Izaak surrendered on November 23, and the remaining Witbooi gave up on February 3, 1906. About one-third of the Namas were killed.

In 1908 diamonds were discovered east and south of Lüderitz, and by 1913 exports were approaching £2,000,000 or 75% of the exports and more than 10% of world diamond production. The Ovambos had 100,000 people, and they were conscripted to work in the mines. The Herero and Nama had lost their cattle and their land to the Europeans and had to work for starvation wages. In 1911 most of the African men outside of Ovamboland were working for Europeans. In 1913 the Government began subsidizing European farming.

After the Great War began in August 1914, the British navy seized the port of Lüderitz while the Germans captured Walvis Bay. Afrikaners such as Hertzog opposed the war. Col. Maritz defected to the Germans in October, and General de Wet revolted in the Orange Free State. General Louis Botha used only Afrikaner troops to put down the rebellion. By January 1915 the Germans had abandoned their northern ports. Botha led 50,000 European troops against 2,000 German regulars and 7,000 reservists, capturing Windhoek in May. The remaining Germans fled north and surrendered in July. More than 30,000 black South Africans served in South West Africa as South African troops occupied South West Africa until 1921. The League of Nations awarded the mandate for South West Africa to the Union of South Africa.

In 1925 Europeans were represented in a legislative assembly, but the administrator held the power. The economy did not grow much between the world wars. By 1935 European farmers owned twice as much land as they had in 1913. In 1937 there were 31,800 Europeans speaking Afrikaans or German. A long drought in the first half of the 1930s killed half the cattle. South Africa’s pass laws were extended to males over fourteen years. Starting in 1928 chiefs could be removed without appeal, and by 1937 the seven Ovambo chiefs had been replaced. In 1946 Smuts of South Africa applied to the United Nations for the annexation of South West Africa, but Chief Hosea Kutako of the Herero led the opposition that defeated the referendum. Paramount Chief Frederick Maharero was living with 14,000 Hereros in the Bechuanaland Protectorate. In 1949 the National Party in South Africa allowed Europeans from South West Africa to have six representatives in the Cape Town Parliament. The International Court of Justice ruled that the mandate had been transferred to the United Nations and was still in force.

Southern Africa and Rhodes 1835-1902

From the east Swahili-Arabs penetrated Zambia, which was ruled by a series of Kazembes. The Swahili-Arabs used guns to hunt for ivory, much as the Chokwe did further west. The Bemba kingdom made contact with Swahili-Arabs south of Lake Tanganyika about 1850. After Bemba chitimukulu Chileshye died about 1860, Chitapankwa eventually gained power and began to trade for guns to develop Bemba slave raiding and ivory hunting as well as to fight off the Ngoni in the east. The Luba kingdom between the Lualaba River and Lake Tanganyika expanded from 1780 to 1874 during the three long reigns of Ilunga Sunga, his son Kumwimba Ngombe, and Ilunga Kalala.

In 1835 Zwangendaba, after he was defeated by Soshangane and Nxaba, led his Ngoni north across the Zambezi into Zambia, Tanzania, and Malawi while those led by Nxaba stayed in Urozwi raiding the cattle of the Shona. Nxaba ventured north of the Zambezi River also, but he was killed fighting the Kololo. Zwangendaba welcomed various peoples into his Ngoni nation and settled at Mapupo. After Zwangendaba suspected witchcraft and destroyed the “great house,” he died about 1845. His Ngoni nation split into five kingdoms. Three factions moved south to Zambia and Malawi, while the Tuta went north to Nyamwezi. The Gwangara moved to the east of Lake Nyasa but collided with the Ngoni Maseko led by Maputo, eventually driving them south of the Ruvuma River. The Ndendeule fled to the Kilombero valley and in the 1860s established the Mbunga kingdom. The Ngoni invasions in eastern and central Africa destroyed many villages and killed thousands, causing famines and the displacement of populations.

David Livingstone had visited the Kololos in 1851, and he used them as porters going down the Zambezi. A few settled among the Manganja; these Kololos opposed the slave trade and, using firearms given them by Livingstone, they were able to deter the Yao, Portuguese, Arabs, and Ngoni; thus they were welcomed by the Manganja. Sebetwane increased the Kololo by entering into marriage alliances and by assimilating the Lozi into the Kololo culture without discrimination. After Sebetwane died in 1851, his successor Sekeletu, suffering from leprosy and fearing witchcraft reversed the liberal Kololo policy and suspected the Lozi. Mpepe tried to assassinate Sekeletu, but he killed Mpepe, who was replaced by Sebetwane’s younger brother. When Sekeletu died in 1864, he was succeeded by Mbololu; but the Lozi’s commander Njakwa led a rebellion that was supported by Lozi’s Prince Sipopa and killed the Kololo. Sipopa then ruled the Lozi homeland until 1876.

Lewanika became paramount chief of Lozi in 1878, and he cooperated with missionaries. He regained his throne in 1885 and let François Croillard found a mission at Sefula in October 1886. Chief Khama III of the Ngwato was a Christian and became an ally of the British against the Ndebele. The Bechuanaland Protectorate was established in 1885. Khama was the enemy of Matabele’s Chief Lobengula.

In 1867 Karl Mauch and Henry Hartley discovered gold near the Umfuli River. In 1870 Chief Lobengula granted the Tati concession to the London and Limpopo Mining Company, and the next year he gave a similar concession to the South African Goldfields Exploration Company. In 1869 new diamond fields in Griqualand West produced the famous Star of Africa stone, and Griqualand West became a British colony in 1873. In the early 1870s about 50,000 Africans came to work in the diamond fields each year. Their wages enabled them to save and purchase an old musket for £4 or a breech-loading rifle for £12. Chief Langalibalele of the Hlubi settled in northwest Natal, and they refused to register the guns they bought, fearing they would be confiscated. In 1873 Governor Benjamin Pine led 200 British troops, 300 European volunteers, and about 6,000 Africans against them, and they fled across Bushman’s River into Basutoland. Those following fought a rearguard action against the pursuing Natal troops. Natal’s army destroyed Langalibalele’s new home, killing 200 and making the women and children serve the settlers. Molapo turned in Langalibalele for a share of his cattle.

Cecil Rhodes and Charles Rudd started the De Beers Mining Company on March 12, 1880. In July 1887 Transvaal’s President Paul Kruger sent Piet Grobler, who signed a treaty with Lobengula, but it was not made public. Rhodes found out about it and sent the former missionary John Moffat to his friend Lobengula in Bulawayo, and the Moffat Treaty was signed on February 11, 1888. Rhodes next sent his partner Rudd to negotiate with Lobengula, who on October 30 granted all mineral rights in his kingdom for £100 a month, 1,000 modern rifles with 100,000 rounds of ammunition, and an armed steamboat on the Zambezi. Rudd promised him he would not bring more than ten white people to work in his kingdom, but this and other promises were not written down. Lobengula published his repudiation of the agreement in the Bechuanaland News in February 1889.

The Rudd Concession enabled Rhodes to get a charter from the British Government for the British South Africa Company in 1889. He also formed Consolidated Goldfields of South Africa, and the combined capital of his two enterprizes was about £13,000,000. The Company could hire their own police, make roads, railways, telegraphs, and harbors, and establish banks and mining operations; but the Colonial Secretary could veto most actions and had the authority to settle disputes with chiefs and foreign powers. The Company was actually owned by the Central Search Association that had formed in April with Rhodes, Beit, Gifford, Cawston, A. O. Maund, and Charles and Tom Rudd as directors. They agreed to let the Chartered Company use the Rudd Concession for half the profits, and in July 1890 it became the United Concessions Company.

In September 1889 Chief Lobengula became angry at Lotje, the Ndbele leader of the pro-concession party. Lotje was found murdered, and 60 or 300 of his relatives and dependents were slaughtered according to divergent reports. British consul Harry Johnston in Mozambique gained treaties from Mambwe, Luingu, and Tabwa chiefs between the Malawi and Tanganyika lakes. Lewanika had Croillard send a letter asking for British protection. Harry Ware visited Lewanika in April and traded rifles and ammunition for mineral concessions east of the Machili River. Rhodes bought this concession from Ware’s employers and sent Frank Lochner, who confirmed it with Lewanika on June 27, 1890. However, Alfred Sharpe was unable to make a treaty with Msiri that year, though he signed treaties with Tabwa’s Chief Nsama and Kazembe on the Luapula. The Company’s forces led by Captain Heyman came into conflict with the Portuguese in Manicaland, and he defeated two hundred Europeans and three hundred Africans led by Col. Ferriera at Choua Hill on May 11, 1891. That year Nyasaland by Lake Nyasa (Malawi) became a British Protectorate.

Rhodes sent the Pioneer Column to take over the plateau northeast of the Ndebele, and the Company began administering North-Western Rhodesia. On July 17, 1890 he became prime minister of the Cape Colony with the support of the Afrikaners’ Bond. On April 13, 1891 Cape Town’s High Commissioner decreed that the Company’s area was a British sphere of influence where the Crown could legislate, and on May 9 an Order in Council made southern Zambezia a British Protectorate. Britain and Portugal made a treaty defining the eastern frontier of Rhodesia, but western borders were unresolved. At a shareholders’ meeting in 1892 Rhodes estimated that maintaining 650 police would cost the Company £250,000 a year. So he and Jameson decided to reduce the police force to 150, which would cost about £50,000 a year.

In 1893 conflicts arose over stolen cattle, and in July Lobengula sent raiders across the border into an area of Shona territory occupied by whites for the first time. Jameson sent a patrol led by Captain Lendy that killed Umgandan and nine others. After the Ndebele raided the area of Fort Victoria, Jameson became more concerned. Rhodes offered £50,000 of his own money, and on August 14 the Company issued the Victoria Agreement offering volunteers 20 gold claims, a farm of 6,350 acres, and loot (cattle) for the campaign. They had only 1,100 men facing about 18,000 Africans, but the British had new machine guns. Major Forbes led columns toward Bulawayo. Lobengula protected the white men in his capital, but he burned his kraal and blew up ammunition they could not carry. Forbes entered the burned ruins of Bulawayo on November 4.

On December 3 fleeing Lobengula sent a bag of a thousand gold sovereigns to his pursuers with a message that he was conquered and that they could go back. This bag fell into the hands of Troopers Wilson and David of the Bechuanaland Police; but they kept the money and told no one and were tried a year later. Lobengula died, but accounts vary as to how. Forbes sent Major Allan Wilson with fifteen men and later Captain Borrow with 12 men; but they were surrounded by the Ndebele and were wiped out on December 4. Bulawayo attracted commercial activity. In 1893 North-Western Rhodesia and North-Eastern Rhodesia became British Protectorates, and Nyasaland was renamed the British Central Africa Protectorate.

On May 24, 1894 Rhodes and Jameson decided they could occupy Matabeleland as they had Mashonaland. On July 18 the Council authorized the Company to collect the hut tax and establish the Native Department in Southern Rhodesia. Journalists had begun calling these territories Rhodesia in early 1891, and in 1892 the first newspaper in Salisbury was called the Rhodesia Herald. Volunteers claimed their farms, and many others came to settle so that by 1899 Europeans had 15,700,000 acres of the best land. The Gwai and Shangani Reserves for the Ndebele were 6,500 square miles, but they lacked water and were remote. Instead most Ndebele stayed on the land now owned by whites. When the indunas submitted, Jameson said the Company claimed the King’s cattle but not private herds. About 30,000 head were distributed to volunteers as loot, and the Company took 20,000 as police rations. The Ndebele had owned more than 200,000 cattle, but now they were reduced to 40,930. The British recruited black police but got them from the subordinate tribes of the Amaholi who were despised by the Abezansi and Abenhla. Many of the police commandeered men and abused the women. Chief Commissioner Brabant was put in charge of collecting the hut tax, which was imposed much earlier in colonial development than usual.

In the 1890s a series of natural disasters considerably weakened the Africans in northeastern Rhodesia. In 1892-93 smallpox infected the Luvale, Lozi, Ila, and Toka. At the same time rinderpest wiped out many cattle, goats, and buffalo. A plague of red locusts destroyed crops and caused a famine. In 1894 Lewanika freed slaves of Barotse descent whose relatives paid a ransom. A treaty signed in 1894 by Leopold II and the British Government established the Congo’s frontier with Katanga as part of the Congo.

On December 29, 1895 Leander Starr Jameson led a raid against Kruger in the Transvaal with about five hundred Company police from Pitsani, hoping that the English and other foreigners would turn against the Boers. Captain John Willoughby commanded the force that invaded on December 29; but no one joined them, and on January 2, 1896 Jameson surrendered to republican commandos at Doornkop. Jameson, Willoughby, and four hundred men were put in the Pretoria jail. Four leaders were sentenced to death, including Cecil’s brother Frank Rhodes, but Kruger commuted their sentences to fines of £25,000. Jameson and five officers were sentenced to fifteen months in prison without hard labor. Cecil Rhodes quickly resigned his premiership of the Cape Colony, and he also withdrew from the board of the Company. Report of their defeat spread through Matabeleland, and only 48 mounted European police remained in the country.

On March 20, 1896 some African police were attacked at Umgorshwini by the Umzingwani River, and two were killed. Three days later the Ndebele began murdering whites, killing 122 men, 5 women, and 3 children by the end of the month. Some Ndebele followed Lobengula’s brother Umfezela, and Mpotshwana led others. Lobengula was to be succeeded by sons born after he became king; but Rhodes had sent them to Cape Colony to be educated. A former slave named Mkwati was a charismatic priest of the Mwari cult, and he roused zealous fanatics against the Europeans. The American scout F. R. Burnham claimed he “shot Mlimo,” but in fact he had killed the priest of the only Mwari shrine opposed to the revolt. The African police were considered unreliable, and those who had not run off were disarmed. There were less than 600 modern rifles in the country, but the Africans had learned to shoot better. The Europeans had five working machine guns left in Bulawayo.

The rebels cut the telegraph wire to Salisbury on March 31, and the Cape Colony mustered 800 men for the Matabele Relief Force. On April 17 Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain named General Frederick Carrington commander, and he took over from Col. Richard Martin. Col. Napier led 700 in the Bulawayo Field Force, and all together Carrington had more than 2,000 European soldiers, 250 Ngwato sent by Kgama, 200 natives from South Africa, and 150 Africans from Rhodesia. A patrol met a Ndebele force on June 6 by the Umguza River and killed about 300. After that, the Ndebele did not try to take the offensive. In mid-June Shona tribes started the Chimurenga revolt and slaughtered about 120 whites. Shona’s paramount Chief Mashiangombi began fighting in the Hartley area on June 18, and he would be one of the last to be subdued. The Shona argued that the white men had brought forced labor, the hut tax, flogging, and many natural disasters that included locusts, rinderpest, and droughts. They appealed to their God called Mwari or Mlimo in Sindebele. Many followed Mudzinganyama, but he was soon arrested by settlers and was assassinated. The young militants supported Kagubi and Nehanda; but the first was captured in October 1897 and the other in December. Both were condemned for murder and were hanged on March 2, 1898. Rhodes rode in one assault in which about a hundred Ndebele were killed on July 5, 1897.

Carrington believed they would need 2,500 white troops in the next dry season, but Rhodes considered that too expensive. Although he no longer held an office, Rhodes led an effort for negotiation that was welcomed by the Ndebele who faced starvation in the rainy season. On August 21, 1897 Rhodes, four others, and an African interpreter met with Ndebele chiefs to discuss terms. They met again on the 28th, September 9, and October 13. Rhodes promised to disband the black police, reform the administration, end cattle collecting, and guarantee the lives of the senior indunas. On September 18 Rhodes gave the minor indunas the choice of war or surrender. They chose peace, knowing the senior indunas would hire them. On January 5, 1898 Rhodes included Lobengula’s oldest son Nyamanda and five other Chimurenga chiefs among ten Company appointees, assigning them land for settlement and 2,300,000 kg. of grain as reparations.

Mkwati tried to keep resistance going in the Somabula and Shangani area, but he fled to west Mashonaland. Mpotshwana went north across the Zambezi but was arrested by Lewanika, who turned him over to the Europeans. Martin captured the kraal of Mashiangombi near Hartley, and the chief was killed. The Africans killed in the second Matabele war were uncounted, but 450 Europeans were killed in addition to the 372 slaughtered in the initial revolt. The Company paid white settlers in Matabeleland £250,000 to compensate for damage and another £100,000 in Mashonaland. The consequences of the Jameson raid cost Rhodes and his partner Beit nearly £400,000 each.

The territories of the Company were administered as North-Eastern Rhodesia in 1897, and Africans had only 14,000 cattle left. The railway was connected to Bulawayo on October 19. People knew that malaria was associated with marshy areas and a hot climate, but the connection with the anopheles mosquito was not discovered until the British-Indian physician, Ronald Ross, figured it out at Calcutta in 1898. Yet the British ordered plenty of quinine to treat the disease. That year the British attacked Mpezeni of the Ngoni. Rhodesia’s first Legislative Council was formed with five members nominated by the Company and four elected. In 1899 the Company avenged an earlier defeat by Kazembe, and in 1900 the Bemba and the Lunda submitted. The Lozi in the north also came to terms. Rhodes had congenital heart problems and died on March 26, 1902. His dream of British domination from the Cape to Cairo had been nearly attained except for the Belgian Congo and German East Africa. Yet during the Great War the British would gain Tanganyika from the Germans. Railways were used to connect ports to inland territory usually running east and west. Oceanic shipping was easier than building a long railway north and south.

Rhodesia 1901-50

The name Southern Rhodesia became official in 1901 for the territory south of the Zambezi River. Rhodesia had become white aristocracies exploiting black labor. By 1902 railway lines reached Salisbury from Beira in Mozambique and from the Cape, and taxes were being collected in all but the most remote areas of Northern Rhodesia. In 1903 the Resident Commissioner refused to permit raising the hut tax on Africans from £1 to £2. That year the Legislative Council, which had less than half its members elected, enacted two racist laws. Extra-marital intercourse between a black man and a white women was made illegal with five years hard labor for the man and two for the woman, but there was no law against white men having sex with black women despite efforts by the Rhodesia Women’s League. The other law authorized judges to impose the death penalty for attempted rape, allowing white women to accuse black men of a capital crime without ruining their reputations. The Company paid the Native Commissioner who put the Ndebele chiefs in a subordinate position with duties such as catching criminals, collecting taxes, and reporting crimes, epidemics, and deaths.

Southern Rhodesia contributed soldiers to the Boer War. Their army had 5,500 white men and 2,700 Africans with 1,720 of the Europeans holding commissions. In 1904 Lewanika began bringing in black missionaries from the African Methodist Episcopal Church to teach school. In 1903 the Foreign Office allowed the Witwatersrand Native Labour Association (WNLA) to recruit from Nyasaland as well as Northern Rhodesia. African mineworkers in Southern Rhodesia increased from 17,300 in 1906 to 34,500 in 1912, and the value of gold production rose from £1,100,000 in 1904 to £3,600,000 in 1913. The Masters and Servants Act made it a crime to break a labor contract, and officials tolerated assaults by Europeans against Africans at work. Lack of food, dysentery, and pneumonia caused high mortality rates among miners. The death rate in 1906 was 76 per 1,000, and the next year in the Gwanda district 153 African miners died out of each 1,000.

North-Western Rhodesia and North-Eastern Rhodesia were amalgamated as Northern Rhodesia in 1911. During the next two years white farmers in Southern Rhodesia refused to pay an extra tax for the bureau that recruited workers from the north for monopolizing companies. In 1913 in Southern Rhodesia the number of police was 550 whites and 600 black constables. The elected members on the Legislative Council increased to twelve compared to six appointed. Administrator William Milton (1898-1914) retired in October 1914 and was succeeded by Francis Drummond Chaplin (1914-23). Northern Rhodesia supplied 3,500 troops and about 75,000 porters during the Great War while Nyasaland provided 197,000 military porters. Mbelwa in Nyasaland refused to raise men for the Carrier Corps and was deported in 1915.

John Chilembwe was a Yao and was educated at a black Baptist college in Virginia. He established the Providence Interior Mission at Mbombwe in the Shire Highlands of Nyasaland. He preached against the Great War of the Europeans and like John Brown tried to raise a revolt that made him and his followers martyrs. He was shot by African police while attempting to escape to Mozambique. Many came home hungry and sick and died during the famines of 1917 and 1918. The influenza pandemic hit Southern Rhodesia in September 1918 and killed about 7% of the African miners. At least 17,000 died in Nyasaland.

Farmers wanting to get African labor on equal terms organized the Responsible Government Association in 1917, and Charles Coghlan helped win over European artisans. Southern Rhodesia had a black-to-white ratio of 27-1, and many resisted unification with Northern Rhodesia where Africans outnumbered Europeans nearly 60-1. Lobengula’s oldest son Nyamanda and other Ndebele leaders asked for home rule within Matabeleland under Protectorate status with direct rule from the British Crown, which had been achieved by Khama in Bechuanaland, Lewanika in Barotseland, and by Moshweshwe in Basutoland. Nyamanda’s movement was supported by the South African Congress and the Aborigines Protection Society in England. Nyamanda tried to restore some alienated lands and sent a petition to King George V in March 1919. Lewanika’s son Yeta III in Barotseland challenged the Company’s claims to land in northwest Northern Rhodesia and called for British protection. Some Africans were educated by missionaries, and Yohanna B. Abdallah, Y. M. Chibambo, and Samuel Ntara became successful historians of their tribes.

In Southern Rhodesia’s Legislative Council election in 1920 the Responsible Government Association candidates won a majority. Company rule was to be replaced, and many people favored joining the Union of South Africa; but the terms were not favorable, and in the 1922 referendum voters chose the Responsible Government. In January 1923 the Rhodesian Bantu Voters Association was founded to help the few African voters gain influence. The Responsible Government constitution was published on September 24, and on October 1 Southern Rhodesia became a Crown colony with Charles Patrick John Coghlan as the first premier. Northern Rhodesia was also made a Crown colony in April 1924 with Herbert Stanley as governor. John Chancellor was the first governor of Southern Rhodesia. The Legislative Assembly had thirty members, and the franchise was limited to British subjects with property who could pass a literacy test. A convention was established by which the British Parliament would not legislate for Southern Rhodesia except by request of the colony’s government.

In the 1924 election the Rhodesian Party won 26 seats and Independents 4 while the Labor Party was shut out. The religious Watch Tower movement came to Nyasaland from South Africa in 1908 and later became known as Jehovah’s Witnesses. They were popular but got unfavorable publicity when Tomo Nyirenda went from Nyasaland to Northern Rhodesia in 1925 and preached against the white regime. He drowned some he considered witches and was hanged in 1926. When Coghlan died on August 28, 1927, he was succeeded by Howard Moffat. In September at the Shavna mine 3,500 workers went on strike, but they were quickly attacked by police.

A Commission led by Morris Carter investigated land tenure and then recommended that of the 75 million acres of Southern Rhodesia not in native reserves 48 million should be only for Europeans and 7 million only for Africans with the remaining 18 million going to either race. The remaining forest and game reserves were controlled by the Government. The Carter Commission proposals were enacted into law on April 1, 1931 with the result that one million blacks with the reserves had 28 million acres while 50,000 whites had 48 million acres. Nearly every city and town was in the European area so that Africans could not live in Salisbury, Bulawayo or any urban area. The popular mchape movement began in the Mlanje district of Nyasaland in 1933 and was spread in Northern and Southern Rhodesia by those selling medicine to free people from witchcraft.

In the early 1930s the value of copper exports rose five-fold. In 1933 the Reform Party managed to win a majority of 16 seats, and their leader Godfrey Huggins would be prime minister of Southern Rhodesia for the next twenty years. However, he made an alliance with the United Party, dissolved the Assembly and in 1934 won 24 seats. That year the Industrial Conciliation Act extended segregation from rural areas to the towns and mines. In May 1935 changes in the poll tax were considered discriminatory against urban areas, and a strike spread from Mufulira to Nkana and Roan Antelope, where police killed six strikers. In 1936 the Native Registration Act kept Africans from entering towns unless they had official permits or could prove they had work there. European mineworkers organized the Northern Rhodesia Mineworkers Union. Africans were restricted, and their wages remained so low that the number of black wage-earners increased from 179,000 in 1931 to 300,000 in 1941. The average European earned thirty times more than the average African. In 1938 Northern Rhodesia spent more on one thousand white schoolchildren than on its entire budget for African education, and the first junior secondary school for Africans did not open until 1939. In 1940 Northern Rhodesia produced 240,000 tons of copper worth £12,500,000.

During World War II in 1942 Huggins nationalized the Iron and Steel Works at Bulawayo. In 1944 African Regional Councils were formed by those in Urban Advisory Councils and by native authorities. In 1946 the Liberal Party won 11 seats, and the United Party won 14; but Huggins managed a minority government for two years. In 1948 Africans organized four unions for mineworkers, and the next year these were amalgamated into the Northern Rhodesia African Mineworkers’ Union. In April a strike by African workers affected Bulawayo, and hundreds of Africans marching with sticks and other items surprised many people. That year the Northern Rhodesia African National Congress was founded. Southern Rhodesia had an ANC since 1934 that was revived in 1945. In 1936 only 104,000 African children were in school in Southern Rhodesia, but by 1950 there were 224,000.

Zulus and Sotho 1800-75

A famine in 1802 pushed refugees into the camps of the Ndwandwe, Ngwane, and Mthethwa. In 1804 Mthethwa’s Chief Jobe learned of his son Godongwana’s plot to overthrow him and sent him into exile. After Jobe died in 1809, his son returned and was called “the outcast” (Dingiswayo). He became chief and wisely allowed the opponents he defeated to keep their chiefs and cattle, increasing his army. Dingiswayo gained control over the trade route to Delagoa Bay and united several northern Ngoni kingdoms into his Mthethwa confederacy. Shaka was the son of the Zulu leader Senzangakona by the Langeni woman Nandi, and he was brought up by his parents’ tribes, the Langeni and Qwabe. Shaka at 16 became a herder for the Mthethwa, and six years later he was conscripted into their army. Because of his bravery and military ideas, Dingiswayo made Shaka commander of a regiment. After defeating a Buthelezi champion in a duel with a stabbing spear, Shaka developed the use of this new weapon into an effective tactic.

When Senzangakona died about 1816, he was succeeded by his son Sigujana; but Nandi’s son by a later marriage, Ngwadi, killed Sigujana. Dingiswayo’s warriors then helped Shaka become Zulu chief. Shaka expanded the Zulu army from 500 to 2,000 and instilled discipline. He did not allow his soldiers to marry until they were old enough for the reserves. Surviving enemies they conquered were incorporated into the Zulu regiments; but they were discriminated against until they learned the Zulu dialect. Dingiswayo’s rivals, Ndwandwe’s Chief Zwide and Ngwane’s Chief Sobhuza, quarreled with each other, and the Ngwane fled north, where they overcame some Ngoni. In 1818 Zwide invited Dingiswayo to peace talks and had him assassinated. The Mthethwa fled across the Mfolozi River, and Shaka merged the Mthethwa confederacy into his Zulu nation. Shaka and chiefs he trusted judged individuals and executed them for murder, robbery, rape, adultery, treason, cowardice, and spying. Zululand was shared by all, as no one held private property, except that ivory traded at Delagoa Bay for beads belonged to Shaka. The Zulu defeated the Ndwandwe in 1819.

The Bantu-speaking Ngoni have a humanistic proverb, “Man becomes human through other humans.”1 About 1820 the Ngoni led by Soshangane fled from the Zulu to Mozambique, where they plundered the Shona, collected tribute from the Portuguese, and overcame his Ngoni rivals Zwangendaba and Nxaba. The latter turned west and invaded the peaceful region of the Urozwi, destroying the great cities at Zimbabwe and Khami. Matiwane led the Ngwane west and attacked the Hlubi, killing their chief Mtimkulu and taking most of their herds. Those fleeing south joined the Mfengu. Mpangazita led the Hlubi in an invasion of the Tlokwa, causing Ma Nthatisi to lead her people west across the Drakensberg mountains. In 1822 the Tlokwa defeated the Mfengu, whose survivors migrated north and eventually established the Lozi state. Zwide’s grandson Mzilikazi defected from Shaka and led the Khumalo (later called the Ndebele) across the Vaal River. In 1825 Matiwane’s Ngwane defeated the Hlubi, killing Mpangazita.

Jakot Msimbithi was the son of a chief, but he had been seized in a commando raid and was apprenticed to a Boer farmer. He became an interpreter for the British, but he and war-doctor Nxele were captured during the Xhosa attack on Grahamstown and were sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island. After Nxele drowned in an escape attempt, Msimbithi was taken as an interpreter on the HMS Leven before being employed by Lt. Francis Farewell on a journey to Zululand. During a storm at sea Msimbithi escaped and went to warn Shaka that white traders were coming. In 1823 Farewell and Henry Fynn, who had studied the native languages, lied when they told Shaka that they were envoys from King George. After Shaka was stabbed by a Ndwandwe spy, Fynn treated the nearly mortal wound with chamomile tea for several days; Fynn was given much of Natal and acquired a harem of Zulu wives. Both Fynn and Farewell published diaries portraying Shaka as barbaric so that the British public would be moved to take over the territory where they now owned so much land. According to them, Shaka was so afraid of being overthrown that he had killed most of his male relatives. He even was said to have killed wives who became pregnant so that he would not have any children. Every man was conscripted into the Zulu army, and the old and unfit were exterminated.

By 1824 Shaka had conquered all the clans in the region south to the Xhosa. Meanwhile Farewell was building a fort at Port Natal and claiming it was British territory. After Zwide died, Shaka intervened in the Ndwandwe succession. In 1826 Fynn and Farewell aided his Zulu army of 40,000 in a bloody battle against Ndwandwe that destroyed that tribe. The refugees with their chief Soshangane joined Mzilikazi, the Ndebele chief who had defected from Shaka five years before. Nathaniel Isaacs, who failed to gain the ivory he coveted, wrote a lurid account of Shaka that was published as his Travels and Adventures in Eastern Africa in 1836. He reported that Shaka had 170 young men and isigodlo girls executed because he suspected them of adultery.

After the death of his mother Nandi in 1827 Shaka demanded that his entire nation mourn, and 12,000 men were ordered to guard her grave for a year. Fynn reported that thousands died from exhaustion or were killed for disobeying severe restrictions against planting crops, drinking milk, or having sexual intercourse. After three months of this, Gala asked Shaka to put a stone in his stomach and pointed out that others besides Nandi die. Shaka then rewarded him and cancelled the mourning punishments.

In March 1828 Shaka tried to send an embassy to King George that was led by former British naval officer James King and Chief Sotobe; but Major Josias Cloete at Algoa Bay denied them access to the Governor, and they failed to bring back the youth elixir Shaka most wanted. Shaka’s army defeated the Mpondo but avoided encountering the British, who mistook chief Matiwane and his Ngwane for Zulu and defeated them at Mbholompo. According to Isaacs, Shaka’s Zulu invaded Mozambique to attack Soshangane’s Ngoni and lost 5,000 men in battle, and another 15,000 starved or died of malaria on the march home. Outrage over the suffering caused by these losses and the mourning punishments motivated Dingane and Mhlangana to stab their half-brother Shaka to death on September 24, 1828.

Dingane and Mhlangana first attacked and destroyed Ngwadi and his followers. Dingane was supported by the chief induna (Zulu official) Mbopha, and they executed Mhlangane. Dingane then had Mbopha killed and restored Sotobe. This caused Qwabe’s Chief Nqeto to organize a rebellion and flee south through Natal. Dingane fought Mzilikazi’s Ndebele and Sobhuza. He gave Matiwane refuge but later had the old chief killed. Dingane sent a present to the British, hoping to develop trade and asking for a missionary; but he demanded tribute from the Portuguese at Delagoa Bay. After they refused, in 1833 he sent Zulu warriors that drove the Portuguese out and killed their Governor Ribeiro. Xhosa interpreter Jacot Msimbithi warned Dingane that the white men were coming; but Fynn made him suspect Msimbithi, whom Dingane also killed. Missionary Allen Gardiner began giving the Zulus religious instruction in 1835, and the same year he mediated a treaty between the traders at Port Natal and Dingane. The next year Dingane used guns in an expedition against Sobhuza. By 1837 six American missionaries were in Natal and Zululand, and Anglican Francis Owen began a mission in the Zulu capital at Mgungundlovu.

Mzilikazi considered himself a Zulu, and his Ngoni tribe of Ndebele grew to several thousand and attacked the Tswana and Rolong. His warriors stole cattle, destroyed towns, and captured women and children for the Ndebele tribe. Between 1825 and 1834 the Ndebele ravaged the central and northern Transvaal. Young men lived in military settlements until their regiment was victorious in battle. Later they were allowed to marry and farm for the Ndebele while still performing as reserves during wars. Although a few private individuals could own cattle, no one could slaughter livestock without Mzilikazi’s permission. In 1829 the Korana defeated the Ndebele using guns; but in a surprise night raid the Ndebele captured the guns. That year Mzilikazi first met the missionary Robert Moffat, and their close friendship lasted many years. In 1832 the Ndebele defeated an invasion by Dingane’s Zulu and moved his capital west to Hurutshe country; their Chief Mokgatla fled, and many Hurutshe joined the Ndebele tribe.

In 1835 Ndebele envoys went to Cape Town and signed a friendship treaty. In 1836 the Ndebele attacked Voortrekkers at Vegkop; but the next year these Boers, allied with Griqua and Rolong, attacked and killed more than four hundred Ndebele at Mosega, destroying fifteen kraals. After suffering an attack by the Zulu and another by Voortrekkers led by Hendrik Potgieter in October 1837, Mzilikazi led his people north across the Limpopo River. The Ndebele ravaged the Urozwi, but they eventually got along and stayed. Another skirmish between Potgieter and the Ndebele occurred in 1847, but five years later Mzilikazi agreed to a treaty allowing the Boers to hunt in Ndebele territory. Moffat found Mzilikazi physically incapacitated when he visited him in 1854; he accepted missionaries in his country and ruled the Ndebele until he died in 1868. A majority of the indunas selected Lobengula as Ndebele king; but one regiment resisted, and Lobengula had to win a civil war to gain the throne.

In November 1837 Voortrekker Piet Retief asked Dingane for fertile land and was promised it if he could retrieve stolen cattle, horses, and guns from Tlokwa’s Chief Sekonyela. Retief met Sekonyela in the garden of Wesleyan missionary James Allison and put the Chief in handcuffs until the Tokla delivered the goods. Retief turned the seven hundred cattle over to Zulus’ King Dingane at Mgungundlovu but not the fifty horses and guns. When Retief and seventy Boers came for their land in February 1838 and entered the enclosure unarmed, Dingane treacherously had all of them slaughtered. He respected the missionaries to avoid antagonizing the English. Eleven days later near Bloukrans River the Zulus massacred 281 European men, women, and children along with more than 200 native servants, taking some 35,000 cattle and sheep.

After these long-remembered massacres, the missionaries left Zululand. John Cane led an African force from Port Natal that destroyed Zulu villages; but when traders led a similar force across the Thukela (Tugela) River, they were annihilated by a Zulu regiment commanded by Dingane’s half-brother Mpande. These Zulus then destroyed Port Natal as the remaining Europeans took refuge on a ship. In December 1838 a stronger Boer force in Zululand formed a laager and fighting 10,000 Zulu with firearms killed about 3,000 in the battle at Blood River while only three Boers were wounded. Dingane abandoned and burned Mgungundlovu. Voortrekkers were ambushed near the Black Mfolozi but managed to kill about a thousand Zulu while losing only five men. Dingane then made peace with the Boers, promising to move up the coast and stay north of the Thukela.

Shaka’s brother Mpande stayed in Natal, and about 17,000 Zulus came over to him, “breaking the rope” to Dingane. Mpande went before the Boers’ council and requested land south of the Thukela. In December 1839 the British withdrew from Natal. After Mpande testified they were involved in the murder of Retief’s party, Boer commando Andries Pretorius executed two Zulu envoys by firing squad. Pretorius tried to capture Dingane and took about 36,000 Zulu cattle back to Natal. Dingane put to death his best general Ndlela for having persuaded him to let Mpande live years before. With Boer support in the Zulu civil war Mpande defeated Dingane at Magongo in February 1840. Dingane fled to Sobhuza but was put to death. Sobhuza also died that year and was succeeded by his son Mswazi, who developed the Swazi kingdom by adopting Zulu military methods and Sotho democratic influences. Pretorius proclaimed Mpande king of the Zulus and vassal of his Natal republic.

Zulus’ King Mpande maintained good relations with the Boers and the British for nearly a third of a century. He made a treaty with British Commissioner Henry Cloete in 1843, making the Thukela and Buffalo rivers the border between Zululand and Natal. Mpande had many wives who gave him 23 sons and more than thirty daughters. His council met annually and approved his new laws that greatly reduced the severity of punishments. Zulu young people were allowed to be sexually active, and prostitution was unknown. Zulus believe that dreams are messages from their ancestors and reveal the truth. His sons divided into two factions as Mpande favored Mbuyazi; but Cetshwayo led about 20,000 Usuthu warriors, who defeated Mbuyazi’s 7,000 Isigqoza in a battle that killed thousands of men, women, and children in 1856. Cetshwayo remained loyal to his father but made sure he had no other heir.

After Mpande died, Cetshwayo was crowned king by Shepstone in 1873. His friend John Dunn was made a chief and eventually ruled about 10,000 Zulus, naming 49 wives in his will. Cetshwayo ruled 300,000 with an army of 30,000, reviving the military system. He collected over 100,000 cattle in his royal kraal at Ulundi; but a lung disease spread, causing an epidemic that destroyed about half of the Zulu cattle by 1875. Novelist Anthony Trollope visited South Africa in 1877 and published a sympathetic account of the natives the next year, prophesying, “I have no fears myself that Natal will be overrun by hostile Zulus;—but much fear that Zululand should be overrun by hostile Britons.”2 The Zulu concept ubuntu means wholeness and implies that compassion, reciprocity, dignity, harmony, and humanity are needed for community.

Named for the sound of cutting hair, Moshweshwe was chief of the Sotho (Basuto). He did not smoke nor drink, and he had more than thirty wives. He was taught by Motlomi, who emphasized impartial justice and peace instead of war, warning him against relying on witchdoctors. In 1822 Moshweshwe made peace with Ngwane’s Chief Matiwane by giving him cattle, and he cultivated Shaka’s friendship with gifts. When Shaka learned that the gifts were being hindered by the Ngwane, he attacked them. A siege by Ma Nthatisi’s Tlokwa caused Moshweshwe to flee and negotiate with Matiwane. The Sotho found a secure home on top of a steep mountain called Thaba Bosiu.

In 1825 the Ngwane defeated the Hlubi and killed Mpangazita, causing some to join Sotho’s Moshweshwe. After the Zulu ravaged Ngwane cattle in 1827, Matiwane attacked the Sotho the next year. The Ngwane were forced to retreat and were defeated by the Cape corps. Moshweshwe made peace with the Tlokwa and defeated the marauding Ndebele in 1831. Then Moshweshwe sent the cattle back to the Ndebele with the message, “Our master assumes you must have been hungry to have attacked his people. He sends you these cattle so that you may eat and go in peace.”3 In 1832 Adam Krotz, a Griqua Christian, visited Moshweshwe at Thaba Bosiu and told him about missionaries. French missionaries, deterred by Mzilikazi’s violence, were drawn to Thaba Bosiu the next year and soon established missions at Morija, Beersheba, and Mekuatling. During the turmoil of the next decade the peaceful Sotho increased to 40,000.

Moshweshwe’s Sotho territory between the Orange and Caledon rivers was defined in a treaty he made with the Cape’s Governor Napier in 1843. Two years later the Cape’s Governor Peregrine Maitland persuaded Moshweshwe and the Griqua leader Adam Kok III to let the Boers pay rent for using their land. In 1847 Governor Harry Smith informed the Griqua that rent from the tenant farmers would go to the colony; but Moshweshwe was able to negotiate British protection against trekkers’ claims to his land. Yet the next year Smith used Major Warden to annex Sotho land. The Sotho routed a Mfengu force commanded by Englishman Bailie and in 1851 defeated Warden’s army at Viervoet. Ma Nthatisi’s son Sekonyela had become chief of the Tlokwa, and their numbers increased. Using firearms supplied by the British, Sekonyela attacked the Sotho capital at Thaba Bosiu in 1852. In December of that year Governor Cathcart demanded 10,000 cattle and a thousand horses in three days. Moshweshwe sent the British 3,500 cattle and begged for peace. Because of raids by the Tlokwa and Korana, Moshweshwe attacked them in 1853. Sekonyela went to live in exile, but his brother Mota and most of the Tlokwa agreed to live under Sotho sovereignty.

After creating the Orange Free State, the Boers clashed with their Sotho neighbors, and war broke out in 1858. Having modernized the military with guns and horses, 10,000 mounted Sothos were able to defend the mountain fortress at Thaba Bosiu, and Governor Grey arbitrated a treaty between the Sotho and South Africa’s President Boshoff. Unable to stop cattle raids against both sides, in 1866 Boers led by President J. H. Brand destroyed the crops until the starving Sotho ceded most of their fertile land to the Orange Free State. However, the Sotho did not abandon their territory, and the Boers could not take Thaba Bosiu. Moshweshwe had appealed to the British in 1861 and again in 1865. Finally in 1868 the Cape’s Governor Wodehouse took it upon himself to annex Basutoland (Lesotho) from the two exhausted sides, letting the Orange Free State retain most of the conquered territory. Moshweshwe died at the age of 84 in March 1870, the month Brand ratified the agreement. He was succeeded by his son Letsie, but the paramount authority passed to Charles Griffith, who became the High Commissioner’s Agent in 1871. Moshweshwe’s brothers Molapo and Masupha ruled in northern and central Basutoland.

British and Boers in South Africa 1800-42

The British government began publishing the Cape Gazette in 1800. The next year a contract system for farm labor was introduced. In 1802 Britain and France ratified the Amiens treaty that gave the Cape settlement back to the Batavian Republic. Jacob de Mist and the new Governor Jan Willem Janssens arrived to take over at the end of the year, but the British General Dundas did not leave until March 4, 1803. General Janssens ended the third frontier war by granting Khoikhoi leaders their own lands. In the peace agreement neither side had to return stolen livestock; the Trekboers resented this because they believed they had lost 50,000 cattle, 50,000 sheep, and 1,000 horses. More than a third of the farms in Swellendam and Graaff-Reinet had been abandoned.

After the Napoleonic Wars broke out in 1805, the British moved to regain the Cape colony. When a British force of 4,000 men arrived in January 1806, Janssens and a thousand men fled to the mountains. Major General David Baird offered a liberal capitulation, and on March 6, 1807 the Batavian troops were deported in British ships to Holland. After Britain banned the slave trade in 1807, Cape Town’s exports went up from 180,000 rixdollars that year to 1,320,000 in 1815. In the ten years after the end of the slave trade the number of slaves in the Cape colony only went up from 30,000 to 32,046; by then they were no longer a majority of the Cape Town population.

The first British governor, Lord Caledon, appointed Col. Richard Collins to report on the colonists’ concerns regarding the Khoisans and Xhosa. In 1809 the so-called “Magna Carta of the Hottentots” was proclaimed that required Khoisan to register and carry a pass or risk being arrested as vagabonds. The fear of a French invasion was greatly reduced after the British took over the islands of Mauritius and Réunion in 1810. John Craddock became governor the next year, and in 1812 he enacted a law whereby Khoisan children of employed parents should be apprenticed at age eight for ten years. Dr. Van der Kemp had married a Khoikhoi and adopted Xhosa ways. He and his assistant James Read of the London Missionary Society (LMS) complained that this was a way of enslaving the Khoisan. Their charges of cruelty and murder were investigated by judges in what was called the “black circuit.” Nearly a hundred families were involved, and more than a thousand witnesses were summoned; several were found guilty of violence. The Cape Town Free School for the poor was founded in 1813 and began teaching more than two hundred students of all races and both sexes.

In the Zuurveld the Xhosa stole cattle and murdered five Khoisan herders in December 1809. As the Xhosa moved west, the Boers abandoned their farms and moved back toward Graaff-Reinet. In 1810 Ndlambe kept demanding cattle from his people, and the Xhosa raiding continued. The next year Governor Craddock sent Col. John Graham with troops to be joined by the commandos of landdrost Andries Stockenstrom, who tried to negotiate with the Xhosa and was killed along with thirteen Boers. On the first day of 1812 Graham ordered 500 men to enter the woods and kill any Kaffir they found in order to show their superiority. His forces and the farmers killed Xhosa men and women, capturing 2,500 cattle. Chungwa resisted and was killed, but Ndlambe and the Xhosa escaped across the Fish River. Governor Craddock promulgated the quitrent system that went into effect in August 1813 and made land-owning hereditary, though the Boers preferred the old system with lower rent. Taxes were raised on most towns to pay for the defense of the eastern frontier. After his brother was killed, Johannes Bezuidenhout led a Boer rebellion against British rule in 1815. They were defeated at Slagter’s Nek, and he was killed; many were put on trial, and five were hanged.

In 1817 Cape Town’s Governor Charles Somerset visited the east and asked Chief Ngqika (Gaika) to stop the Xhosa stealing, and by the end of the year a force was sent to make Ndlambe comply. They captured 2,060 cattle; though only 603 were identified by their owners, the others were kept as compensation for other losses. The next year a few soldiers were murdered in isolated attacks.

Nxele (Makanna) was a Xhosa who had grown up on a Boer farm and learned Dutch. He returned to his people and became an inyanga (diviner). He disagreed with missionaries and believed that white people had been banished to Africa for having killed Jesus and that Mdalidiphu, God of the black people, would drive them into the sea. Another diviner named Ntsikana had a more peaceful vision of submitting to the will of God, but he could not persuade Ndlambe, who followed Nxele. However, Ngqika sponsored Ntsikana. After Ndlambe and Nxele slaughtered hundreds of Ngqika’s men at Amalinde, Ntsikana told Governor Somerset that he had been attacked for trying to stop cattle stealing. Boers volunteered, and retreating Ndlambe abandoned 23,000 cattle to the pursuing commandos and Ngqika, who was reinstated and given 9,000 cattle.

Nxele urged the Xhosa to unite and led about 6,000 men in an attack on Grahamstown in 1819; but the bullets did not melt like water as he had predicted. Col. Willshire commanded a force using 270 muskets. The British had only three men die while they killed about a thousand spear-carrying warriors. Nxele surrendered the next day and was sent to Robben Island, but he drowned while trying to escape. Ndlambe eluded capture, but he had lost his power and died a few years later. Ngqika now was the main chief over the Xhosa west of the Kei River, and he promised to keep them out of the neutral territory and “ceded” 10,000 square kilometers of good pastureland to Governor Somerset. The Xhosa would remember the British as those who came to help but killed instead.

In 1819 the Government in England financed with £50,000 a program to move a thousand unemployed families to the Cape. Land grants were given to those who could afford to hire ten people; but the Zuurveld, named “sour country” by the Boers, was difficult to farm, and in 1823 farmers’ petitions protested their miserable conditions. By reducing customs duties on wines, exports to England made this the Cape’s most profitable business until 1825 when the duties were increased.

In 1827 the British established a legal system in the Cape colony with resident magistrates and trials by jury, though slaves and Khoisan usually found their participation to be only as defendants in criminal cases. Well into the 1830s theft, cattle-killing, arson, rape, incest, and burglary were still capital crimes. A newspaper was suppressed in 1827, but two years later publishing was allowed without the approval of the Governor and Council. Security was required in case of libel until 1859. Missionary John Philip persuaded Cape authorities in 1828 to enact Ordinance 50 guaranteeing equal rights for all “Hottentots and other free persons of colour.” This abolished the Pass laws and allowed the Khoisan to own land; it also prohibited employers from making contracts with servants for more than a year or from making children apprentices without their parents’ consent, causing resentment among white farmers who feared losing control over their servants and workers. In 1829 the Cape government expelled Ngqika’s successor Maqoma, the brother of Sandile, and gave the fertile Kat River valley to Khoikhoi and the mixed-race Barends called “bastards.”

In 1834 the British government voided a vagrancy law aimed at Africans, and in December of that year the British decreed the emancipation of all the slaves in their colonies, including 39,000 in Cape Town, though the slaves would have to work for their former owners for four more years. The Xhosa invaded the colony to recover lost land in 1834. Governor Benjamin D’Urban ordered villages destroyed and crops burned; he and missionaries persuaded 16,000 Mfengu to move to the eastern frontier of the Cape colony. The British government ordered D’Urban to return the land he annexed. Named beggars because of their plight, the Mfengu worked for white farmers to learn skills and after a few years were selling grain, tobacco, cattle, milk, and firewood. They fought for the Cape colony in three frontier wars.

Unwilling to pay taxes to British authorities, about 15,000 Boers left their homes between 1835 and 1841 to trek into Zulu country. With guns the Voortrekkers were able to fight off about 5,000 Ndebele at Vegkop in October 1836. Most of their livestock were taken, but Rolong’s Chief Moroka helped Potgieter’s people to survive. The next January the wealthy Gert Maritz joined Potgieter, and with the help of Griqua, Kora, Rolong, and Tlokwa they captured the Ndebele stronghold at Mosega, killing 430 people and regaining 7,000 cattle. In November 1837 commandos led by Potgieter and Piet Uys defeated the Ndebele again, forcing Mzilikazi to cross the Limpopo. After the two massacres of Voortrekkers by Zulus in February 1838, trekkers got revenge in December when they were attacked at the Ncome River, which was renamed Blood River. Shooting from inside their laager (circle of wagons), they killed some 3,000 Zulus while only three Boers were wounded.

That month, in response to the Republic of Natalia proclaimed by the Boers with Pretorius as President, British Governor George Napier sent a force to occupy Port Natal. Sotho’s Chief Moshweshwe did not object to the trekkers occupying some of the grazing land. After the Zulus destroyed the trading post of Port Natal, the Voortrekkers built a new capital they called Pietermaritzburg. Voortrekker commandos captured Zulu children and made them “apprentices” until the age of 25 for males and 21 for females. After the Volksraad (Council) decided to remove Africans from Natal, Napier sent a force to reoccupy Port Natal. In May 1842 the British forces and Voortrekkers clashed at Congella, and in October Jan Mocke proclaimed a republic by the Orange River. Reinforcements led by Col. Josias Cloete got the Volksraad at Pietermaritzburg to submit. T. C. Smith was put in command at Fort Napier, which was built to control Pietermaritzburg.

In 1835 Col. Henry Smith crossed the Kei River and offered Gcaleka’s Chief Hintsa safe passage for talks; but Hintsa was arrested and shot dead when he tried to escape. After Governor D’Urban claimed the short-lived province of Queen Adelaide, the Xhosa chiefs made peace. Commissioner-General Andries Stockenstrom (junior) proposed a system of treaties with the Xhosa to settle cattle-stealing disputes in the Cape colony while he criticized the commando raids of suspected thieves’ homesteads as having caused the sixth frontier war. The British appointed Stockenstrom lieutenant-governor for the Eastern Districts in 1836, and his treaty system reduced conflict until the drought of 1842.

British and Boers in South Africa 1842-75

Missionary John Philip hoped that the Griqua in the north would help convert other Africans to Christianity. In 1842 British Governor George Napier warned those who might invade, molest, or injure Africans, and a judge interpreted the Cape of Good Hope Punishment Act as authorizing the British Government to protect the Griqua lands. In 1843 Napier made a treaty with Adam Kok III and Sotho’s Chief Moshweshwe to maintain order with British courts. The next year Lt. General Peregrine Maitland replaced Napier as clashes between Voortrekkers and the Griqua escalated. After Tsili was arrested for stealing an axe, Xhosa’s Chief Tola had him liberated by hacking off the hand of a fellow prisoner who died. In reaction Col. John Hare sent out a punitive expedition. Chief Sandile refused to surrender Tola, and the “War of the Axe” erupted in which colonial cavalry killed 500 Ndlambe soldiers. By 1846 the Xhosa had 7,000 armed men; but because of the famine they wanted to make peace. They would not fight, but they also refused to leave the region. Governor Henry Pottinger stopped war-time rations because the 400 men he ordered into military duty from the Kat River Settlement did not report. Yet all but about a hundred of the able-bodied men were already on military duty.

Harry Smith replaced the incompetent Pottinger as governor later in 1847. Increasing pressures for more grazing land were a result of the proliferation of sheep and the wool industry that by 1851 accounted for 59% of the Cape’s export revenue. To drive the Xhosa out, Smith gave annexation as an excuse to impose martial law. Fines were imposed on the Xhosa for petty offenses. Ngqika’s Chief Sandile refused to obey a summons to Governor Smith and attacked a colonial patrol, causing the eighth frontier war to break out on Christmas Day in 1850. Some ranchers were motivated to side with the Xhosa against the British Government. The rebellion led by Smith’s former interpreter Hermanus Matroos was suppressed, and their lands were given to Europeans, who quickly bought up the best land. Smith’s failed attempt to annex Sotho land caused the British government to send a commission to assess his aggressive policies, and he was replaced by George Cathcart. Amid an epidemic of lung disease in the cattle, in 1856 a girl named Nongqawuse persuaded Xhosa’s Chief Sarhili that the ancestors directed them to slaughter all the cattle, destroy their grain, and stop cultivation to build new facilities, expecting miracles. Some resisted and were blamed for the failure, resulting in a civil war that lasted a year until Sarhili renounced the devastating policy.

When the British tried to import convict labor into Cape Town in 1849, protests promoted by the South African Commercial Advertiser persuaded Governor Harry Smith to block their even leaving the boat, causing the British Parliament to change its policy. Editor John Fairbairn and Andries Stockenstrom proposed a constitution. A committee drafted one in 1851, and by 1854 representative government was achieved with voting rights for adult males of all races who had property worth at least £25. This liberal policy was in contrast to the color discrimination in the Orange Free State and Natal. Xhosa Tiyo Soga was educated in Scotland, became a missionary, married a Scot, and translated the Gospels and Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress into Xhosa before he died in 1871.

In Natal neither the local government nor the British would expend funds to help the Africans get education, which was left to the missionaries. Theophilus Shepstone grew up in the Cape colony and was fluent in Xhosa. He served as Diplomatic Agent in Natal from 1845 to 1853 and then as Secretary for Native Affairs until 1875. He based administration on the tribal chiefs he recognized. In 1847 the British made Natal their colony and established the Locations Commission that put nearly a hundred thousand Africans under the jurisdiction of Shepstone. After 1849 every Zulu chief had to pay in cash or cattle an annual tax of seven shillings for each hut. Shepstone tried to use some native laws. In 1850 he let Chieftain Matyana off with a fine of 500 cattle after he killed three relatives; but in November Shepstone instituted capital punishment in murder cases. After Matyana had a witch doctor beaten to death in 1858, a skirmish erupted, wounding Shepstone; Matyana escaped and fled. In 1856 Natal gained representative government, but most Africans were under their chiefs and could not vote.

An economic depression in the British Isles between 1847 and 1851 stimulated massive emigration, and about 5,000 came to Natal lured by twenty acres of land for £10 in a scheme designed by the British Government and land speculator Joseph Byrne. However, the best land was already occupied by Afrikaners (Boers) or owned by speculators. Byrne went bankrupt in 1850, and most of the immigrants ended up in the towns of Pietermaritzburg or Durban. Experiments in growing arrowroot, coffee, cotton, indigo, tobacco, and sugar resulted in only sugar becoming a commercial success along the coast. Wool was the major product in the interior. Wool exports went from 20,000 pounds in 1832 to 25,000,000 in 1862, when they were more than 80% of the colony’s exports.

John W. Colenso became Natal’s first Anglican bishop in 1853, and he translated the New Testament and some of the Old Testament into Zulu. Because of his efforts to promote Zulu rights and understand their religion, he was accused of heresy by Archbishop Robert Gray; but his sentence of deprivation was voided by the Privy Council in 1864. Europeans, upset that Natal Kaffirs (Africans) were avoiding work on their farms, began importing indentured laborers from India in 1860. These immigrants were indentured for five years, usually to sugar planters, and after ten years they received free passage back to India. The Governor could grant them land instead, and most Indians stayed in Natal. About 6,000 came from Madras and 300 from Calcutta. By 1870 about 18,000 Europeans lived in Natal among a quarter million Africans; the Boer republics had about 45,000 whites; and the Cape colony had 200,000 Europeans.

In 1848 the Cape’s Governor Harry Smith used troops to annex the territory between the Orange and Vaal rivers, forcing Andries Pretorius to lead his people across the Vaal. Smith ordered Major Henry Warden to draw the boundaries without disturbing any white landowners, and the “Warden line” reduced the territory Napier had recognized as Sotho’s. When Warden attacked the villages of Taung’s Chief Moletsane on Viervoet mountain in 1851, Moshweshwe helped defeat Warden. In February 1852 British commissioners by the Sand River Convention guaranteed the Boers north of the Vaal self-government without interference in alliance with Africans. Two years later the Bloemfontein Convention established a Boer republic called the Orange Free State (OFS). Their constitution made all white people there for six months citizens and gave the vote to male citizens registered for the military. Josias Hoffman became the first president of the Orange Free State, but in 1855 for conciliating the British and giving the Sotho gunpowder he was forced by guns to resign after impeachment failed. The new president, Jacobus Boshoff, accepted the Warden line.

Ivory hunters and slave raiders caused troubles in Soutpansberg of the northern Transvaal. After the elephants were killed there, they taught Africans to shoot so that they could bring back ivory from areas with malaria. Hermanus Potgieter captured so many Ndebele children to be “apprentices” that chief Mankopane and Mokopane led an attack that killed him and several Boers in 1854. Five hundred Boer commandos tracked these Ndebele to caves, where seven hundred surrendered; but at least a thousand Ndebele were killed escaping or died in the caves during the 25-day siege. Marthinus Pretorius of Potchefstroom led this expedition, and in 1856 he accepted a constitution, as did the Jouberts in Lydenburg; but Stephanus Schoeman of Soutpansberg did not join this South African Republic (SAR) until 1860 when he became commandant-general. The Transvaal constitution specifically denied equality to non-whites. In 1859 mistreated Africans around Schoemansdal rebelled, and in the 1860s the Venda defended themselves with firearms they had learned to use shooting elephants. When Venda’s Chief Makhado led an uprising in 1867, Commandant-General Paul Kruger had to withdraw from Schoemansdal with the white inhabitants. The Venda and Sotho were both divided, and Soutpansberg was ravaged by Shoshangane’s successor Mzila and by Mswazi.

When Marthinus Pretorius tried to take over the Orange Free State as the heir of his father Andries Pretorius in 1857, a confrontation was resolved by agreeing to mutual autonomy. British Commissioner George Grey tried to mediate the conflict with the Sotho, but in 1859 Grey was recalled to England for promoting British annexation of the Orange Free State. This caused Boshoff, who also favored this, to resign. In 1861 South African Republic’s President Marthinus Pretorius signed the Treaty of Waaihoek, which redefined the border between Zululand and the Transvaal. The unionists elected Pretorius President of the OFS, and he had to resign his office in the SAR. In 1863 Pretorius went back to the Transvaal, where he served as President of the South African Republic until 1871. Parliamentarian Jan Hendrik Brand was elected President of the Orange Free State in 1864 and held that position until 1888.

The South African Republic followed the policies of the Natal Republic in not allowing Africans to have firearms, ammunition, or horses and requiring a pass signed by an employer or an official. Africans had to pay taxes and were pushed off fertile land by white farmers. Adam Kok III sold his rights in the Orange Free State and led his people out to found East Griqualand. Africans could be conscripted to work for a year, and the laws were enforced by the military. Mistreated African servants could appeal to the landdrost but risked being punished for a “frivolous” complaint.

Diamonds were discovered in 1867, and by 1870 some 10,000 people were digging along the north side of the Vaal River. That year a second diamond rush started southeast of the Vaal River in the Orange Free State. Natal’s Lt. Governor Robert Keate arbitrated that Griqualand West belonged to the Griqua, but in 1871 Chief Nicolaas Waterboer gained protection as Griqualand West became a British colony with boundaries set by Arnot. African labor was hired and by 1873 made up half of the 50,000 workers. They worked six months or a year for cash to buy guns, farm tools, or brides. An international recession in 1873 forced many to sell their diamond stocks to the wealthy. Hlubu’s Chief Langalibalele had a record harvest that year and owned 15,000 cattle. Suspected for having 63 unregistered guns, he was attacked for not obeying a summons and was imprisoned on Robben Island. Other Hlubi prisoners were made indentured servants. Bishop Colenso defended the Hlubi chief and observed that the Hlubi were treated unjustly because of swartgevaar, an excessive fear of Africans by Europeans. Colonial Secretary Kimberley, after whom the diamond town was named, believed that conflict over the diamond mines prevented the confederation of South Africa; but in 1874 he was replaced by Lord Carnarvon, who began working for federation the next year.

South Africa and Imperial Wars 1875-1902

In February 1875 British Colonial Secretary Carnarvon appointed Garnet Wolseley as a special commissioner to get control over native policy, and in May Carnarvon told High Commissioner Henry Barkly to organize a conference of the European communities in South Africa to discuss native issues, control of the arms trade, and perhaps confederation. In 1876 a Special Magistrates’ Court was set up to conduct mass summary trials to punish Africans who failed to carry passes. In August Transvaal’s President T. F. Burgers went to war against Pedi’s Chief Sekhukhune, who acknowledged Transvaal sovereignty in February 1877. Griqua, Khoikhoi, and the Tswana of Griqualand West took up arms and were soon followed by chiefdoms along the Orange River. In 1879 Sekhukhune rebelled, and he was captured in November. The British appointed his half-brother Mampuru chief of the Pedi, and he killed Sekhukhune after his release in 1881. The Cape Government incorporated Griqualand West, and in 1880 they were given four seats in the Cape Parliament. Natal denied the vote to Africans in 1865 and to Indians in 1896.

The ninth and last Cape-Xhosa war broke out in 1877 after a Gcaleka was killed at the kraal of a Mfengu headman. The Cape colony defended the Mfengu against the Ngqika under Sandile. More than 3,500 Africans were killed along with 60 Europeans and 137 of their African allies. Prime Minister Gordon Sprigg implemented the Peace Preservation Act in 1878 that controlled firearms and took the lands of the Ngqika and Gcaleka. This policy provoked rebellions in Matatiele, by the Mpondomise of Qumbu, and in Thembuland. Phuthi’s Chief Moorosi tried to hold out on a fortified mountain, but he was defeated and killed in November 1879. Cape forces suppressed the trans-Kei rebellions with the aid of Bhaca and Mfengu soldiers in early 1881. The Sotho still held out, and the new High Commissioner Hercules Robinson arbitrated an agreement that let the Sotho register their guns and pay compensation.

In 1881 Mfengu teacher, John Tengo Jabavu, began editing the Isigidimi SamaXhosa section of Lovedale’s Christian Express. In 1884 Jabavu founded the Xhosa newspaper, Imvo Zabantsundu, and he supported the liberal James Rose Innes running in the Victoria East constituency that year. British rule over Basutoland was restored, and Moshweshwe’s exclusion of European settlers was maintained. However, the Sotho economy was weak, and most Sotho men had to go to colonies and republics to earn money for their families. In 1897 the Cape Parliament passed the Transkeian Territories Annexation Act that empowered the Governor to detain individuals for three months without trial.

In October 1877 the Zulus’ King Cetshwayo told Shepstone that his favoring the Transvaal Boers had ruined their relationship. Bartle Frere became High Commissioner in March 1877 and wanted to break Zulu power. A Natal border incident was used to demand that Cetshwayo extradite two offenders and disband his army within thirty days. Frere sent about 7,000 British troops with volunteers and Africans led by Lord Chelmsford to invade Zululand, and on January 22, 1879 they were disastrously defeated at Isandlwana. He won a token victory for the British at Ulundi on July 4 as the Zulus stopped fighting. Garnet Wolseley promised the Zulus that they could keep their land and cattle after Cetshwayo was captured. He was turned over six weeks later and taken to Cape Town. Wolseley put Zululand under thirteen independent chiefs. Cetshwayo was allowed to visit England in 1882 and to return in January 1883 to Zululand, where he faced rivals for power. Zidhbehu’s Mandlakazi, armed by Johan Colenbrander, defeated Cetshwayo in the Msebe valley in April and at Ulundi in July. Cetshwayo fled to the British in August and died on February 8, 1884.

The Afrikaner intellectual leader S. J. du Toit about 1876 founded with his friends the Society of True Afrikaners (Genoostskapo van Regte Afrikaners) and the Die Afrikaanse Patriot newspaper, and he published The History of our Country in the Language of Our People (Die Geskiedenis van ons Land in die Taal van ons Volk). The British annexed the Transvaal on April 12, 1877. In 1879 to coordinate resistance to British rule S. J. and his brother D. F. du Toit founded the Afrikaner Bond in the Cape, and branches were soon set up in the Orange Free State and Transvaal. In 1880 Elijah Makwane revived the Native Education Association which had been started in 1876. In December 1880 Transvaal Afrikaners rebelled, and they declared their independence the next year. In August 1881 the Convention of Pretoria granted the Transvaal “complete self-government, subject to the Suzerainty of Her Majesty.”

In 1882 the Transvaal proclaimed the independent republics of Stellaland under Gerrit J. van Niekerk and Goshen under Gey van Pittius. Transvaal sent delegates to London, and in 1884 the southwestern boundary was set. President Kruger announced in September that Goshen was protected by Transvaal. The Orange Free State’s President J. H. Brand arbitrated a dispute by selecting the Methodist Tsipinare Majaraj to lead the Rolong. Tsipinare banished his brother Samuel, who went to the Orange Free State to organize a counter-revolution. On July 19, 1884 he led 400 men and killed Tsipinare at his home in Thaba’Nchu. Brand’s Executive Council sent out a commando which annexed the territory. In 1885 Bechuanaland south of the Molopo River was annexed as a British colony.

In 1886 the British Government recognized the South African Republic with reduced boundaries and in 1887 annexed the remainder of Zululand, but Natal’s Governor Arthur Havelock let Zidhbehu and the Mandlakazi displace Usuthu settlers, who formed an alliance with Transvaal Boers for one-fifth of Zululand. Dinuzulu defeated them at Nongoma and fled from British troops to the Boers. He finally surrendered to the British who exiled him on St. Helena in 1889. Natal annexed Zululand in 1897.

The Swazi lost their winter pasturage to Trekboers from Transvaal by the end of 1886, minerals to English prospectors in 1887, and monopoly concessions in 1888. Swazi’s King Mbandzeni (r. 1874-89) supported the governments of the Afrikaners and the British to overcome the Pedi; but he gave away numerous concessions, and he had councilors who opposed him killed. President Paul Kruger of the South African Republic (SAR) signed the first Swaziland Convention with Britain in 1890, and in 1894 the SAR established a protectorate over Swaziland. By 1891 Transvaal representatives had bought most of the concessions for £100,000, and in 1894 Swaziland became a political dependency of the Transvaal.

In 1885 gold was discovered in the De Kaap fields of eastern Transvaal. Capitalists, who had made money from diamonds in Kimberley, moved on to the Rand, which was declared a public digging in September. They began selling land in the new city of Johannesburg. In the next 27 years Europeans invested about £125 million in the Witwatersrand. British investment in South Africa went from £34 million in 1884 to £351 million in 1911. By 1904 the European population in South Africa had passed one million.

In 1896 British South Africans organized the South African League in the Cape Colony, Natal, and the Transvaal to urge the British Government to intervene in the Transvaal. In 1897 Transvaal’s Chief Justice J. G. Kotze ruled that the resolutions passed by the Volksraad were not valid as laws because Constitutional requirements were not met, thus invalidating most of the Republic’s laws. The Volksraad reacted by denying the right of the judiciary to test resolutions, and they authorized the President to dismiss judges who refused to take such an oath. In 1898 Kruger dismissed Kotze. In the election that year the Bond narrowly won, and W. P. Schreiner led the new government. Paul Kruger was elected to his fourth five-year term as President of the Transvaal in 1898, and he prepared for war against the British. In May the reformer Jan Christiaan Smuts was appointed State Attorney.

Early in 1899 High Commissioner Alfred Milner came back to South Africa, and he encouraged the South African League to gather more than 21,000 signatures on a petition from the Witwatersrand for British intervention in the Transvaal. Schreiner proposed a conference. Instead Milner met with Kruger in Bloemfontein at the end of May, demanding that Kruger give the vote to all Uitlander who had lived in the Republic for five years. Kruger said no. Smuts said in August that the Transvaal would accept Milner’s demand if the British would stop claiming suzerainty and interfering. Chamberlain rejected that, and Milner broke off negotiations in October 1899. That month Transvaal and the Orange Free State declared war on Great Britain to fight for their independence.

Smuts believed he had 40,000 men against 15,000 British, and commandos from the Transvaal and the Orange Free State invaded Natal on October 11. Three days later the British reaffirmed their alliance secretly with Portugal, blocking arms coming from Lourenço Marques. Both sides refrained from using Africans in the fighting, but they served as porters, scouts, and guards. After the Jameson Raid the Transvaal had imported many German Mauser rifles which were superior to the British Lee-Enfield. The Boer republics took the offensive at first, occupying northern Natal and besieging Ladysmith. Afrikaner commandos invaded the Cape midlands and gained recruits. Others went west and besieged Kimberley and Mafeking.

The British Commander-in-Chief Redvers Buller was soon replaced by Lord Roberts but continued to fight as second in command and reconquered Natal. In early 1900 Roberts invaded the Orange Free State and took Bloemfontein on March 13, entering Johannesburg on May 5 and Pretoria on June 6. He proclaimed sovereignty over the “Orange Free Colony” on May 24 and over the “Transvaal Colony” on September 1. Kruger went to Europe to try to get aid while 8,000 Free Staters and 7,000 Transvaalers continued to fight. The Afrikaners began a war of movement and invaded the Cape colony in 1901. The British began burning farms before Roberts left in November 1900; but under General Kitchener the number of farmsteads destroyed reached about 30,000.

Writer Olive Schreiner and Marie Koopmans de Wet led the protest movement in the Cape. Editors of opposition newspapers who included such stories were tried and convicted for seditious libel. Train-wrecking became more frequent in 1901 as the number of incidents reached 135. Boers were put on trial for various crimes; 360 were sentenced to death, but only 35 were executed. General Kitchener implemented a policy of denying support for the commandos by putting civilians in the countryside into concentration camps, but the British spent less on the camps for Africans. Most of the Boer men were sent overseas, and during the war more than 26,000 white women and children died. The Cape Cabinet wanted to grant amnesty in April 1900, but Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain refused. By mid-1901 the rebels held most of the northwest Cape. Kitchener and Louis Botha began peace negotiations in February 1901, but Kitchener would not agree to self-government. Representatives of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State met on June 20 and decided to insist on independence though Kruger said they could not count on foreign support. Kitchener sent out a decree in August that commandos must surrender by September 15 or be banished for life.

Although Africans were 80% of the population, they did not fight in the Boer War. Yet 107,000 were interned, and 14,154 died in the concentration camps. The British spent about £222 million and deployed nearly a half million soldiers against about 65,000 Boers. The British had about 6,000 troops killed, but 16,000 died of enteric fever and other diseases. Fewer than 7,000 Boers were killed. Their representatives voted to accept a peace agreement on May 31, 1902. Amnesty was general with a few exceptions, and a commission in each district was to assist with resettlement.

Gandhi in South Africa

M. K. Gandhi worked in South Africa as a lawyer. He was about to return to India when he noticed in the newspaper that a bill was being proposed that would deprive Indians of the vote. His friends urged him to stay and lead the fight for their rights in South Africa. He founded the Natal Indian Congress in 1894, and their efforts were given considerable notice by the press. While he was visiting India, Gandhi wrote a green pamphlet entitled The Grievances of the British Indians in South Africa. When he returned from fetching his family from India in January 1897, the South Africans tried to stop him from landing by bribing and threatening the ship-owner Dada Abdulla Sheth; but Dada Abdulla was Gandhi’s client, and finally after a long quarantine period Gandhi was allowed to disembark. The waiting mob recognized Gandhi, and some whites began to hit his face and body until the Police Superintendent’s wife came to his rescue. The mob threatened to lynch him, but Gandhi escaped in a disguise and remained in protective police custody for a few days. Later he refused to prosecute anyone, holding to the principle of self-restraint in regard to a personal wrong; besides, it had been the community leaders and the Natal government who caused the problem.

Gandhi felt it was his duty to support the British during the Boer War; so he organized and led an Indian Ambulance Corps to nurse the wounded on the battlefield. Even this effort was somewhat delayed by race prejudice; but when three hundred free Indians and eight hundred indentured servants volunteered, the whites were impressed. Gandhi was given a medal for his service in the Boer War. In 1902 he traveled in India, and with Gokhale’s support his resolution for the Indians in South Africa was passed by the Indian Congress in Calcutta.

Gandhi served the Indian community in Johannesburg, and during the plague of 1904 he got Indian money sterilized so that they could get nursing services. He was instrumental in publishing Indian Opinion weekly in English, Gujarati, Hindi, and Tamil from the hundred-acre Phoenix Farm community he founded. He recruited another Indian ambulance unit during the Zulu Rebellion and was made a sergeant major. That year Gandhi led a delegation to London and met with the Secretary of State for India, John Morley, to present the case for Indians’ rights in South Africa. Gandhi also met with Winston Churchill, who promised to help.

Gandhi’s first use of civil disobedience on a mass scale began in September 1906 when the Transvaal government wanted to register the entire Indian population and passed what the Indians called the “Black Act.” In response they held a mass meeting in the Imperial Theatre of Johannesburg; some were so angry at the humiliating ordinance that they threatened a violent response if put to the test. However, with Gandhi’s advice they all decided as a group to refuse to comply with the registration provisions. Gandhi suggested that they take a pledge in the name of God; even though they were Hindus and Muslims, they all believed in one and the same God. Every one of the nearly three thousand Indians present took the solemn pledge. Gandhi decided to call this technique of refusing to submit to injustice satyagraha, which means literally “holding to the truth.” One week after the pledge Asiatic women were excused from having to register.

When the Transvaal government finally put the Asiatic Registration Act into effect in 1907, only 511 out of 13,000 Indians registered. Gandhi and several other Indians were arrested. He was sentenced to two months without hard labor. On February 3, 1908 General Jan Christiaan Smuts promised Gandhi that he would repeal the Transvaal Asiatic Registration Act if they would accept the compromise and register. Gandhi explained the agreement to a meeting, and a majority agreed to register. However, Gandhi’s former client Mir Alam Khan accused him of selling out to General Smuts and swore he would kill any man who gave his fingerprints. A week later Gandhi went to register, and the tall Mir Alam knocked him out. Gandhi was kicked and beat by Mir Alam and his companions until he was rescued by passing Europeans. Gandhi was taken to the home of Baptist minister Joseph Doke, where he gave his fingerprints and recovered from his injuries.

General Smuts then introduced a bill to validate the voluntary certificates but not to repeal the Black Act. So on August 16, 1908 three thousand Indians gathered outside the Hamida Mosque in Johannesburg to hear Gandhi make a speech before they burned about two thousand registration certificates. Mir Alam apologized to Gandhi, and they shook hands. Some Chinese burned their certificates too. Two days later the Government started deporting new Asiatic immigrants for not knowing a European language. On October 7 Gandhi was arrested for not having his certificate and for refusing to be fingerprinted. He asked for the maximum punishment and was sentenced to a fine or two months hard labor; he chose the latter.

While reading in jail, Gandhi discovered Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience.” He was already familiar with the works of Tolstoy and was “overwhelmed” by The Kingdom of God is Within You. Gandhi distinguished satyagraha from “passive resistance,” which had been used by religious Non-conformists and suffragettes in England and sometimes inflicted injuries and damage. In Satyagraha in South Africa Gandhi wrote that passive resistance had been used along with the use of arms; but satyagraha is the negation of brute force and avoids any injury to the opponent while being willing to suffer in one’s own person. As other examples of satyagraha he gave Jesus Christ, the early Christians, and the Russian Doukhobors cited by Tolstoy.

The protest movement for Indian rights in South Africa continued to grow. At one point out of the 13,000 Indians in the province 2,500 were in jail while 6,000 had fled Transvaal. In being civil to the opponents during the disobedience, Gandhi developed the use of ahimsa, which means “non-hurting” and is usually translated “nonviolence.”

Gandhi was sent to London again in 1909, but he felt that suffering in jail did more good than spending money in England seeing politicians and journalists. Aided by a donation of £1,500 and the 1,100-acre farm bought and built by architect Hermann Kallenbach, Gandhi named this ashram Tolstoy Farm. He exchanged a few letters with the great Russian novelist before he died and continued to write and edit the journal Indian Opinion in order to elucidate the principles and practice of satyagraha.

Three issues brought the quest for Indian rights in South Africa to a crisis—there was a £3 annual tax on former indentured servants; Asian immigration was banned; and in March 1913 a law went into effect invalidating all but Christian marriages. After Gandhi explained the new law to his wife Kasturbai, she and others crossing the border into Transvaal in protest were arrested on September 15, 1913. Gandhi could not figure out how to feed the striking miners that gathered around him at Newcastle; so after warning them about the horrors of European-run jails, at the end of October he led them from Natal into Transvaal so that they could be “safely deposited in jail.” He was followed by 2,037 men, 127 women, and 57 children. After they crossed the border, they were not arrested. Gandhi was arrested and paid bail to return to his army; he was arrested again and released and arrested once more, all within four days. The pilgrims headed toward Tolstoy Farm but were deported back to the Newcastle mines, where they were imprisoned. Gandhi was sentenced to three months’ hard labor, but the strikes and demonstrations went on with about 50,000 indentured laborers on strike and thousands of free Indians in prison.

The Christian missionary Charles F. Andrews donated all his money to the movement. Gandhi and the other leaders were released and announced another march. However, Gandhi refused to take advantage of a railway strike by white employees and called off the march in spite of Smut’s broken pledge in 1908. After six months of negotiation the issues were finally resolved by Smuts and Gandhi at the end of June in 1914. Effective in July, the Indian Relief Act abolished the £3 tax and recognized Indian marriages. All marriages regardless of religion were valid; the tax on indentured laborers was canceled including arrears; and Indians were allowed to move more freely. General Smuts expressed his respect for Gandhi and his gentle but powerful methods, which had made him realize which laws had to be repealed. Gandhi summarized in Indian Opinion the power of the satyagraha method and prophesied how it could transform modern civilization.

Gandhi and India 1919-1933

South Africa and Segregation 1902-50

The Europeans made sure the Africans would have no say in the government until after self-government was introduced. High Commissioner Milner had moved to Johannesburg in August 1901, and he acted as Governor of the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony until April 1905. He forbade the use of the Dutch language in public schools except for the teaching of English. Milner amalgamated the Transvaal and Orange River railway systems and created a South African Customs Union for two years, ending Transvaal’s duties on Natal sugar and Cape wines. Chinese laborers began arriving in 1903 on three-year contracts. Before the experiment ended in 1907, 63,695 Chinese laborers imported made up nearly one-third of the mine workers. Gold production went from a little over £1 million in 1901 to £21 million in 1905 and to £32 million in 1910, the year in which all the Chinese had been removed from South Africa.

In December 1904 the Transvaal Responsible Government Association was founded and led by E. P. Solomon, and by May 1905 they had 5,000 members, mostly in Johannesburg. In January 1905 Louis Botha announced a political movement called Het Volk (The People), and the two organizations worked together for self-government in the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony. J. C. Smuts wrote about Het Volk’s conciliation policy and went to London in early 1906. Some in Natal refused to pay a recently imposed poll tax of £1 on every man not subject to the hut tax. The Natal militia suppressed the rebellion, but thirty Europeans and about 3,000 Africans were killed. In 1907 the Natal Government arrested the Zulus’ Chief Dinuzulu and charged him with 23 counts of treason, but the judge acquitted him for lack of evidence.

In the Transvaal election in March 1907 Het Volk won 37 of 69 seats, and Louis Botha formed a government. The Transvaal constitution made both English and Dutch official languages, but English was the language of record. In the Orange River election in November the Orangia Unie party led by General Barry Hertzog aligned with Het Volk and won 30 of 38 seats, and Abraham Fischer became prime minister. The Cape Colony tried to retain color-blind elections; but voters had to pass an educational test, and traditional land tenure did not qualify Africans. In 1909 Europeans were 23% of the Cape Colony and cast 85% of the votes. In Natal whites were only 8% of the population and had 99% of the votes. In February 1908 the Cape’s Prime Minister Jameson resigned, and he was replaced by the less imperialistic John X. Merriman. A strike in 1907 led to the founding of the South African Labour Party in 1909.

In May 1908 an intercolonial conference made railway and customs agreements, and they recommended that the four parliaments appoint delegates to a national convention to draft a constitution for a united South Africa. The National Convention met in Durban and Cape Town from October until February 1909 when they unanimously approved a new constitution. African journalists and clergy objected to the franchise provisions and excluding non-whites from Parliament, and they convened a Native Convention at Bloemfontein in March and passed resolutions condemning the color bars and calling for equal justice. The African Political Organization (APO) met in Cape Town and also protested the exclusion of non-Europeans.

The National Convention met again in May 1909 at Bloemfontein and agreed to amendments from the Cape and Natal parliaments. A non-white person could not be in the Parliament, and representation was based on the number of voters (white men). In June the finished Constitution was approved by the four parliaments of the Cape, Natal, Transvaal, and Orange River with only two votes against in the Cape. The Constitution of South Africa was approved by the British Parliament in August, and on September 20 King Edward VII proclaimed that the Union of South Africa would begin on May 31, 1910. Herbert Gladstone was appointed Governor-General, and he invited Louis Botha to form a government. The Rhodesias were not included in the Union, but the territories of Bechuanaland, Basutoland, and Swaziland were scheduled to come into the Union in the future. The Parliament had a House of Assembly with 121 members and a Senate with 48.

In 1911 the Het Volk and Orangia Unie parties merged to form the South African Party (SAP) to extend segregation, and they prohibited strikes by contract workers and reserved categories of work for whites. They were opposed by the Unionist Party and the Labour Party with mostly English-speaking members. In May 1912 the Treasurer H. C. Hull came into conflict with Minister J. W. Sauer of Railways and Harbors because he did not coordinate his railway budget with the Treasury. The Minister of Public Works, George Leucharis, resigned, but Louis Botha could not get Barry Hertzog to resign. So Botha resigned himself and formed a new government without Hertzog and Leucharis. The Defence Act of 1912 funded a white Active Citizen Force. The Native Land Act of 1913 imposed territorial segregation by getting rid of African land ownership and sharecropping outside of scheduled areas. The Act set aside 7.5% of the land for the Africans that were 67% of the population. This was opposed by John Tengo Jabavu and his South African Races Congress.

In November 1913 Hertzog and General C. R. de Vet walked out of the SAP congress in Cape Town, and in January 1914 at Bloemfontein they organized the National Party favoring bilingual education and public services. In August 1914 the imperial Government of Britain asked the Union of South Africa to invade German South West Africa. If South Africa would not act, the British would send forces. The South Africa government said that only volunteers would enter German territory, but this promise was not kept. About 7,000 from the Orange River province and 3,000 from Transvaal resisted the invasion with arms. However, the Afrikaner leader Hertzog declined to support this rebellion which was put down after a few months. Botha led forces that conquered the north while Smuts took over the south by July 15, 1915. Those opposed to England’s wars joined the Nationalist Party which won 27 seats in the 1915 election. Botha sent 6,000 South African troops in December to fight for the British in Europe. Smuts led the invasion of German East Africa that began in February 1916. He published the pamphlet, “The League of Nations: A Practical Suggestion,” in 1917, and US President Wilson used some of his ideas on the League Council.

In the 1920 election the Nationalists won 44 seats to 41 for the South African Party, 25 for the Unionists, and 21 for Labour. That year 32,455 whites working in the mines earned £10,640,000 while 179,000 blacks earned only £5,960,000. The Unionist Party was dissolved, and its members were encouraged to join the SAP, which then won 79 seats in the 1921 election. In May soldiers massacred 163 blacks for refusing to vacate white land at Bulhoek in the eastern Cape, and a year later the Smuts regime crushed the Khoi chiefdom of the Bondelswarts in southern South West Africa for refusing to pay a dog tax. The Apprenticeship Act of 1922 gave whites more opportunities to get into skilled trades than Africans, and the Industrial Conciliation Act of 1924 protected unionized white workers and helped management avoid precipitate strikes. The Nationalists led by Hertzog formed a coalition with the Labour Party led by Col. Creswell, and in the 1924 election they won 63 and 18 seats respectively to 53 by the SAP.

In 1925 Afrikaans became an official language for the first time. The Wage Act of 1925 and the Mines and Works Amendment Act of 1926 protected white workers. J. C. Smuts was also interested in philosophy, and he published his Holism and Evolution in 1926. In 1929 the Nationalists won a majority of the seats with 78, and the Native Administration Act brought all possible black workers in South Africa under the pass laws and movement control. The Natives Urban Areas Act of 1930 put tighter restrictions on recruiting farm workers by urban employers. Giving white women the vote in 1930 reduced the African electorate from 3.1% to 1.4%. In 1931 white men in the Cape and Natal were exempted from the property and income test, adding 10,000 to the voter roll.

The Great Depression affected South Africa’s trade. Diamond exports fell from £16.5 million in 1928 to £1.4 million in 1934, and the price of wool decreased from 16.6 pence in 1928 to 4.4 pence in 1932. In March 1933 Hertzog and Smuts formed a coalition ministry by agreeing on the following seven points: maintaining South African autonomy, accepting the national flag, equal language rights for speakers of Afrikaans and English, safeguarding sound rural population, accepting white labor policy, maintaining “white civilization” and political separation, and protecting South Africa’s currency and economy. In the next election this coalition won all but 14 seats with 75 for the Nationalists and 61 for SAP. The United South African Nationalist Party became known as the United Party (UP). Hertzog removed the last 11,000 blacks from the voter rolls in the Cape province. Extreme Afrikaner nationalists formed the Purified Nationalist Party in 1934, but it grew slowly.

The 1936 census showed that there were a half million more Africans outside of the native areas than inside them. The 1937 Native Laws Amendment Act intensified segregation. In the 1938 election Smuts’ SAP portion won more seats than the Nationalists and so controlled the UP parliamentary caucus. In 1939 the Government spent only £2 a year on each black student but £25 a year on each white pupil. The Cape had free schools for Africans, but elsewhere they had to pay about 15s a year.

On September 4, 1939 Hertzog proposed a motion in the Assembly for a policy of neutrality in World War II, but Smuts got an amendment passed 80-67 favoring breaking relations with Germany. The Labour and Dominion parties supported Smuts, but the Malinite Nationalists backed Hertzog. Parliament was not dissolved to avoid a violent conflict. The War Measures Act of 1940 authorized the Government to intern suspects and enemy aliens, call in all guns, and use arbitrary powers to control supplies and industry. South Africa spent about £650 million on World War II. Colored and African soldiers were not deployed in combat. South Africans fought in Ethiopia against the Italians in 1940-41 and took over Madagascar from the Vichy French regime in 1942. About 200,000 South Africans were in uniform, and nearly 9,000 were killed. In January 1942 the War Measure 145 prohibited strikes by Africans.

On May 26, 1948 the Nationalists did not get a majority of the votes; but they won 79 seats to 71 for the United Party coalition, and this was the first time they could rule alone and began the apartheid era. Dr. Malan formed the first bilingual government of South Africa with only Afrikaners. Some Africans boycotted Indian stores, and in January 1949 a race riot broke out in Durban by Africans against Indians in which 142 people were killed with more than a thousand injured. In 1950 the Suppression of Communism Act was used to suppress dissent, and the Group Areas Act enforced segregation by restricting residential and business areas to particular racial groups.

ANC and Dissent in South Africa 1912-50

The Native Convention formed the South Africa Native National Congress (SANNC) in January 1912. The next year Charlotte Maxeke founded the women’s section and led protests against African women having to carry passes in the Orange Free State. Makgatho was president of the SANNC from 1917 to 1924 when they sponsored a passive resistance campaign against the pass laws and strikes by sanitary workers in Johannesburg in 1918 and by municipal workers at Port Elizabeth in 1920. In January 1919 a strike by African and Colored dock workers led by Clements Kadalie stimulated the founding of the Industrial and Commercial Workers’ Union of Africa known as ICU. In February 1920 a strike spread to 22 mines in the Transvaal in which 71,000 African workers participated. In 1923 the SANNC became the African National Congress (ANC).

In February 1926 the African National Congress (ANC) held a national convention in Bloemfontein and condemned all racial segregation, and they voted to boycott the “native conferences” sponsored by the Government. At the end of 1926 the ANC organized the First Non-European Convention in Kimberley. Africans were segregated and pushed into slums by the 1926 Color Bar Act and the 1927 Native Administration Act. The ICU grew to 30,000 members by 1924 and to 100,000 by 1927. Then it began declining because of rivalries between leaders, tensions between communists and conservatives, and Government repression.

In 1927 the African National Congress (ANC) began protesting the pass laws, and 700 demonstrators in Johannesburg went to prison. The APO became the African People’s Organization, and their President, Dr. Abdurahman, organized the first Non-European Conference in 1927 for Colored (APO), the ANC, and the South African Indian Congress (SAIC). The Non-European Trade Union Federation was organized, and by 1928 they claimed 10,000 members on the Rand. D. D. T. Jabavu led the campaign against the Representation of Natives Bill and the Native Trust and Land Bill. In December 1935 the ANC held the All African National Convention in Bloemfontein and began a campaign against Hertzog’s land and election bills.

The African National Congress (ANC) elected the physician Albert Xuma president in December 1940. Moved by the democratic principles of the Atlantic Charter signed by Roosevelt and Churchill on August 14, 1941, the ANC formulated African Claims demanding full citizenship for Africans. Anton Lembede spoke and wrote to get people to think of themselves as Africans, instead of as Xhosas or Zulus, and to overcome their feelings of inferiority by looking to heroes such as W. E. B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, and Haile Selassie.

At the ANC conference in December 1943 they adopted a new constitution that eliminated the House of Chiefs and adopted a Bill of Rights published as African Claims, which was rejected by the Government. They also proposed forming a Youth League and did so on Easter Sunday in 1944, publishing a Manifesto with high moral standards. Anton Lembede was elected its president, Oliver Tambo secretary, and Walter Sisulu treasurer; the executive committee included A. P. Mda and Nelson Mandela. The Youth League rejected Communism as a foreign ideology. In his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, Mandela admitted that he went so far as to break up Communist Party meetings by tearing up signs and capturing the microphone. Lembede, Sisulu, and Mandela wanted to exclude whites from the League, but others such as Tambo disagreed. Communist J. B. Marks led a successful strike of 70,000 miners and in 1945 was elected president of the League.

Albert Luthuli was born in 1898 in Rhodesia and was educated by American Congregational missionaries. From 1921 to 1935 he taught teachers at Adams College. To reconcile Christianity with his Zulu heritage he sponsored a cultural society for the study of Zulu folklore. He became the Zulu chief of 5,000 people at Umvoti in 1936 but continued to preach every Sunday. Luthuli joined the African National Congress (ANC) in 1945. That year he was elected to the Native Representative Council, and they demanded the Government abolish all discriminatory laws. In 1948 Luthuli spent nine months lecturing to churches, schools, and fraternal organizations in the United States, warning that Communism, Islam, materialism, and secularism were threatening the soul of Africa. He recommended combining Christianity with African culture.

At its annual convention in December 1945 the ANC drew up a bill of rights for full citizenship. Prime Minister J. C. Smuts appointed the Fagan Commission, which reported in 1948 that complete segregation in South Africa was not only undesirable but also impossible. When the Smuts government passed the Asiatic Land Tenure Act in 1946, the Transvaal Indian Congress (TIC) and the Natal Indian Congress (NIC) launched a two-year campaign of nonviolent resistance in which two thousand people went to jail. The leaders, Drs. Dadoo and Naicker, were sentenced to six months hard labor. In March 1947 Naicker of the NIC, Dadoo of the TIC, and Xuma of the ANC agreed to the “Joint Declaration of Co-operation” to work for voting rights, working rights, removing land restrictions, extending free compulsory education, freedom of movement, and ending all discriminatory legislation. While Dr. Xuma was speaking at the United Nations, the Youth Leaguers organized an ANC boycott of the Native Representative Council. Xuma opposed this and Lembede’s call to boycott the visit of British royalty in 1947, but the charismatic Lembede died of a stomach ailment.

In the 1948 elections Dr. Malan’s Purified National party won a large plurality over the United Party of General Smuts and began to implement its apartheid policy that denied Africans permanent residence in the towns. Malan pardoned those who had supported Nazi Germany, and his government took the vote away from the Coloreds (Africans of mixed race). Mixed marriages were prohibited in 1949, and the Immorality Act made sexual relations between white and nonwhite a crime. The Population Registration Act defined all South Africans by race as black, white, or colored (mixed), and later they added Indian. The Group Areas Act restricted where they could live under the apartheid system.

On October 3, 1948 the Representative Council of the ANC issued a “Call for African Unity” in a new group called the All African National Congress, but the All African Congress leader W. M. Tsotsi considered their differences “basic and fundamental.” The Youth League demanded that Dr. Xuma, the ANC president, support a program of action, or they would elect someone else. He refused, and in December 1949 Dr. J. S. Moroka was elected president and Sisulu secretary-general. Mandela could not get permission from his law firm to attend the 1949 conference, but Oliver Tambo was elected to the national executive committee. They developed a Programme of Action for black resistance. The Communist party and the Indian Congress proposed a general strike for May 1, 1950, and the May Day demonstrations led by Communists with interracial participation protested discrimination. On that day Malan sent in 2,000 police to disperse protestors, and their guns killed eighteen people. President-General Moroka opened the Freedom of Speech Convention in Johannesburg, and they approved June 26 for a general strike and National Day of Mourning for Africans who died in the struggle for liberation and to challenge the Suppression of Communism Act, which made any protest of state policy illegal. They were supported by the South African Indian Congress (SAIC) and the African People’s Organization (APO).


1. Quoted in Shaka’s Children by Stephen Taylor, p. 32.
2. South Africa by Anthony Trollope, p. 228.
3. Quoted in The Zulu Aftermath by J. D. Omer-Cooper, p. 103.

Copyright © 2010 by Sanderson Beck

This chapter has been published in the book Mideast & Africa 1700-1950.
For ordering information, please click here.


Ottoman Empire 1600-1907
Ottoman Fall and Turkey 1908-1950
Persia (Iran) and Afghanistan 1600-1950
Arabia, Yemen, and Iraq 1600-1950
Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan 1600-1950
Palestine and Zionism 1600-1950
Egypt, Sudan, and Libya 1600-1950
Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco 1600-1950
West Africa and the French 1600-1950
West Africa and the British 1600-1950
Ethiopia and Somaliland 1600-1950
East Africa 1600-1950
Congo, Angola, and Mozambique 1600-1950
Southern Africa 1700-1950
Summary and Evaluation



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Chronology of Asia & Africa 1800-1950
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