5. The Republics of the Transvaal and Free State PDF Print E-mail

 

Book: Boerestaat, by Robert van Tonder
First English Edition [1977]

Contents

Chapter 5

The Republics of the Transvaal and Free State

Individual migration had already started in the 1820's but serious, organised migration started with the Uys trek in December of 1835. The Free State land on which the Republic of 1854 was established had been bought from Adam Kok's half-castes and the nomadic Koranas. The greater part of the Free State, however, was unoccupied. Firstly because of climatic reasons the black tribes settled in the warmer parts of the country where they are to this day – although in much expanded territories.
Secondly the Mfecane destroyed those tribes that had settled in the warmer parts of the interior. E. A. Ritter, in his book 'Shaka Zulu', published by Panther in 1976, describes the Mfecane as follows:

“Zwide, the Ndwande king, swept down on the Ngwanes and drove them in panic before him, killing all in his path. 'With the Ngwanes already deprived of their wealth, and now driven from their homes and country, Matiwane decided their and then to seek a new home.'
“It was, therefor, Zwide, and not Shaka, who inaugurated the terrible tribal migrations about to be related.
“With his army in the van, and all the women and children of the tribe at his heels, Matiwane fell without warning on the Hlubi capital, and razed the whole place, annihilating everyone in it, including Mtimkulu. Before the tribe could organise any resistance he burned and butchered everyone within his reach, driving the cattle he could get before him, including his own, which he had recovered. However, a large proportion of the Hlubis did escape westwards and, gathered into a formidable horde of refugees by Mpangazita, the slain chief's brother, they crossed the Drakensberg and their turn telescoped violently into the Sutu domain – [part of] the present-day Orange Free State. Here they came into murderous conflict with the Batlokwa tribe, the under the regency of Mantatisi, mother of Sekonyela, who was then a minor.
“This Mantatisi became one of the most renowned military leaders of the time – a veritable Boadicea. After her collision with Mpangazita and his Hlubis, she struck south-westward down the Caledon river, spreading death and destruction over the whole western Basutoland and the greater part of the Orange Free State.
“So successful was the ferocious Mantatisi, that within a year or two she had scattered the Ba-Fukeng, frightened the Bakwena out of her way, plundered the MaKhwakhwa, and even beaten Mshweshwe (Moshesh) himself, at Butabute in the war of the pots – so called because in the fight Mantatisi got all her tribal crockery broken.
“Throughout these widespread depredations, without their knowing it, Mantatisi and Mpangazita were gravitating towards each other in two semicircles, and at Mabolela they ran up against each other again. After a savage battle Mantatisi was able to retire over the Caledon, below Kolonyama, and there she kept Mpangazita at bay. Through all the following grim years the doughty chieftainess managed to preserve her tribe from destruction, but a fearful cost to other tribes. The ruses and stratagems she employed, allied with her deathless courage, would alone form a complete narrative.
“Mpangazita, on the other hand, after successfully fighting innumerable battles and ruining an untold number of clans, ultimately clashed once more with Matiwane in 1825 near Mabolela, when the latter was putting all the distance he could between himself and Shaka. For five days Matiwane and his Ngwanes fought a battle of annihilation with Mpangazita and his Hlubis.
“After Matiwane's first clash with the Hlubis in their original homeland he did not follow them when they crossed the Drakensberg mountains. Instead, he ravaged the whole of the northern, central and western portion of the present-day Klipriver county in Natal. He annihilated the Bele tribe, who were first cousins of the Hlubis, and mercilessly hacked his way south, burning and butchering infants and females, aged and sick alike. Whenever a fallen chief could be found he plucked the gallbladder from the corpse and greedily drank its contents, believing, thereby, that he would add his fallen enemy's courage and ferocity to his own. After crossing the Upper Tugela river he settled in the present-day Bergville district under the shadow of the Drakensberg, where it rises to its greatest hight of nearly 12,000 feet. Here he found peace, but for four years only, when Mdlaka, Shaka's general, drove him and his tribe helter-skelter over the Berg and into the Free State with the loss of his cattle.
“A second wave of devastation now swept over north-western Basutoland and the eastern Free State, and the remnants of tribes which were trying to re-establish themselves after the blood-tide of Mpangazita and Mantatisi had submerged them, were now broken up and dispersed, their granaries pillaged, and their remaining cattle driven off by the hungry Ngwane horde.
“The pitiless cruelty and unspeakable brutality of these intertribal wars of annihilation baffle description, and whether they were perpetrated by the followers of Matiwane, Mpangazita or Mantatisi they all bore the same pattern [11].
“Matiwane's defeat by Colonel Somerset at the head of 1,000 Europeans, supported by 18,000 Xhosas and Tembus, took place on 26 August 1828, near Mount Baziya, in the Eastern Province of the Cape Colony. Actually the expedition was directed against Shaka, whose armies had penetrated to that neighbourhood but by clever manoeuvres had got away with much booty. Counting the more or less direct distance from point to point along Matiwane's route, and excluding the countless zigzag perambulations, he had covered the best part of 1,000 miles through new territory, since he left his ancestral home, and converted his tribe into Nomads of Wrath, whom he skilfully guided through countless dangers and appalling vicissitudes, only to broken at last by the White man's guns and horses, allied to an overwhelming horde of Nguni warriors. By constantly absorbing fugitives from everywhere, this able captain had gathered a striking force far more formidable than anything with which he had started. These Nomads of Wrath were guilty of the most atrocious barbarities, but ultimately they died with reckless bravery even in the face of the new terror of thunder, smoke and death.

“With a handful of followers Matiwane escaped from the [...] [extermination. Ed], with the intention of throwing himself on the mercy of Shaka...
“Matiwane finally reached Zululand to find that Shaka was no more, and Dingane on the throne. The latter accommodated him at his Royal kraal for a time, and then summoned him to appear. Suspecting the worst, Matiwane solemnly removed his brass armring and handed it to his fourteen-year-old son, Zikali, whom he instructed to remain at home.
“'Where are your people?' asked Dingane. 'Here they are, all that are left of them,' was the reply. 'Then take them all away,' Dingane ordered. Thereupon they were led away and each Ngwane had his neck broken by a violent twist of the head; but Matiwane they tortured to death...
“... The direction he chose was unlucky; had he gone north-west instead of south-west he would have anticipated Mzilikazi by four years, and had the free run of Africa without coming into collision with the Whites or other Inguni tribesmen.”

Before the remnants of these interior tribes could recover from devastation, Mzilikazi appeared. The following quotation is taken from 'The Washing of the Spears' by Donald R. Morris as published by Jonathan Cape in 1966.

“By 1824 it was all over. Not a single clan remained in a belt a hundred miles wide south of the Tugela River; in an area that had teemed with bustling clans only thousands of deserted kraals remained, most of them in ashes. A few thousands terrified inhabitants remained, hiding out in the bush or forest in pitiful bands, and cannibalism flourished. No one dared to till crops or build kraals.
“The clan structure in the far south held, although strained to the limit. Two major tribes were formed by the debris: the Fingoes of British Kaffraria [12] – reduced almost to helots – whose very name had been taken from their cries of want as they entered the area, and the Bacas, who led a precarious existence in the hunted corners of Natal until the coming of the white man provided them shelter from the Zulu wrath [13].
“Other Zulu expeditions harried the north, where some scattered Sutu clans had spilled over from the Transvaal. Shaka placed Mzilikazi in charge of one of these raids, and, in Ndwandwe country, he stopped off at the kraal where his father had once ruled before Zwide killed him. His reception was heartfelt, and, his raiding mission successfully accomplished, he settled at his father's kraal with the cattle he had brought off – and two regiments entrusted to his care.
“Shaka, noting the discrepancy between reports of the cattle taken and the token numbers Mzilikazi had sent him, requested the balance, but Mzilikazi made no reply. Such defiance was more than sufficient to call for heavy retaliation, but Shaka sent only a light impi to collect the cattle, and Mzilikazi defeated it. Even the Shaka was inclined to let the matter drop – Mzilikazi had been a favourite – but the Zulu elders would not condone such resistance from a young foreigner. Shaka regretfully sent a second impi in force, and Mzilikazi decamped for the interior.
“He had with him only some three hundred warriors, but they were Zulus and they added their measure of ruin to that caused by the baTlokwa, the emaNgwaneni and the amaHlubi. Mzilikazi hammered a tribe – the Matabele – out of his original band and such Sutu clans as he could swallow. Where Mshweshwe had been based on an impregnable fortress, working with people speaking a single tongue, Mzilikazi was adrift on an open plain and forced to cope with a language barrier. The nation he forged, however, was even more powerful than the Basuto, and after cutting a wide swath of destruction...”

The Transvaal was virtually completely unoccupied. The renegade Zulu chief, Mzilikazi, in fleeing Shaka's wrath had erected temporary kraals in the Marico area, on the Botswana border, from where he continued to pillage the surviving clans for his own account eventually driving everybody out of the Transvaal. By the time the emigrant Boere arrived in the northern Free State, from where they scouted out the Transvaal, Mzilikatse was raiding deep into Botswana.

On October the 16th 1836 Mzilikatse sent 5,000 of his warriors to attack the Boere laager at Vegkop. Under Potgieter's leadership the 38 Boere riflemen warded off the attack with the loss of one man killing 400 Matabele. This was the first of a series of brilliant victories that this Boere leader, who never lost a battle and never made mistakes, would chalk up. Mzilikazi's force had been warded off but not beaten, Potgieter's force begin too small to achieve as much. However on January the 17th 1837 Potgieter and Gerrit Maritz joined forces and did battle with Mzilikatsi's Impi at Mosega in the vicinity of Zeerust achieving a resounding success.

Mzilikatse fled and erected new kraals to the north. In spite of his victory over the Matabele at Mosega Potgieter realised that he had not yet broken Mzilikazi's might. From November the 4th to November the 12th Potgieter and Pieter Uys joined forces and attacked the Matabele at Kapain with 330 men. In an epic battle lasting nine days they succeeded in driving the Matabele across the Limpopo as far north as Bulowayo in Zimbabwe where they live to this day. With this glorious battle Potgieter cleared and secured the entire Transvaal for Boere settlement, something that was not achieved by the Blood River punitive expedition because the Zulu were never driven from Natal.

It should be mentioned here that Mzilikazi allowed himself to be influenced by the British missionaries Moffat and Livingstone who smuggled weapons through to him and agitated against the Boere, similar to the seditious role Owen played in Dingane's kraal. The ongoing British Boere-hating missionaries that pertinaciously fulfil the same role this day. Think of the French-Beytaghs, the Reevess's, the Huddlestons, and the Tutus of today.

In 1852, after Our Boere gave Sir Harry Smith a good run for his money during the battle of Boomplaats, Britain recognised the independence of the Transvaal with the Sand River Convention in which the name 'Emigrante-boere' was used. Through this convention the most powerful of our Boere Republics came into being. The Free State was founded in 1854 and from the start the two Republics wished to amalgamate but the British refused to accede.

For a mere 25 years the Boere were allowed to develop and establish their own states. In 1874 gold was discovered at Pelgrimsrust and in 1877 the British interfered again and annexed the Transvaal. Our Boere faulk now produced its greatest leader: PAUL KRUGER.

Under Paul Kruger's brilliant leadership our faulk organised a formidable resistance and with the great battle of Majuba the British colonial force in South Africa was dealt a crippling blow and we regained our freedom. But again our Boere faulk only had peace for a mere nineteen years....

Our magnificent Republics, that were regarded as model states, achieved world fame overnight with the discovery of gold on the Witwatersrand in the Transvaal in 1886.

And guess who was back on the scene?

In 1899 Britain again attacked our Boere Republics and what followed was the most heroic battle for freedom the world has ever known.

The total Boere population numbered only 180,000 souls; men, women and children. Our forces were made up of 60,000 men ranging in age from boys of nine to octogenarians. Against this modest army Great Britain fielded 440,000 troops recruited from England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Cape Colony and Natal.

Our Boere faulk had to wage total war. They fought with every fibre of the faulk's begin. They fought for their very survival as faulk and as human beings. During the great battles of Magersfontein, Colenso, Spioenkop, Paardeberg, Dalmanutha, Sannaspos, Ysterspruit, Tweebosch, Nooitgedacht and many others, they dealt the mighty Great Britain one devastating blow after another... 180,000 against 15 million!

Britain was humiliated before the entire world and we Boere hammered the first nail into the Empire's coffin. Germany took courage and built up a mighty army and navy and fought two World Wars against Britain reducing her to a secondary power in spite of the fact that she had free access to South Africa's gold [14]. Only 70 years after our battle for freedom would a major power again be humiliated in this fashion when little Vietnam overpowered the U.S.A. and sent her packing.
The so-called 'Boer War' was ended by the humiliating and criminal Treaty of Vereeniging which had one mitigating provision in clause 7. “MILITARY ADMINISTRATION in the TRANSVAAL and ORANGE RIVER COLONY will at the earliest possible date be succeeded by CIVIL GOVERNEMENT and, as soon as circumstances permit, Representative Institutions, leading up to self-Government, will be introduced.” This is followed by clause 8 which reads: “The question of granting the Franchise to Natives will not be decided until after the introduction of Self-Government.”

To this day the Transvaal and the Orange Free State have not been granted self-government. And the South African government automatically inherited Britan's outstanding obligations under the treaty when Union was proclaimed by an act of the British Parliament.

No matter how hard the British tried they could not achieve a military victory over our Boere faulk. Then the greatest genocide of modern history was initiated – 35,000 Boere homes in Transvaal and Free State were arsonised, all our women and children were incarcerated in concentration camps. The first concentration camps in the world where the British systematically murdered 27,000 innocents! One sixth of our Boere faulk was annihilated. In the hell-camps of Turffontein, Kroonstad, Irene, Potchefstroom, Kimberley, Klerksdorp, Bloemfontein, Nylstroom, Bethulie, Winburg and many more – for the full list refer to the introductory of this book – our Boere faulk were nearly wiped off the face of the earth.


11. 'There must have been some basic cause of these movements. People practising agriculture by essartage and stock-raising are often driven into movement by temporary soil exhaustion. This is a possible cause.' - Footnote by E. A. Ritter.
12. On the eastern border of the Eastern Province of the Cape Colony.
13. Far from oppressing the black people for 300 years as the A.N.C. and the S.A.C.P. would have everybody believe, we Boere freed them from generations of black tyranny!
14. See quotation from Winston's Churchill's memories of W. W. II on page 56.

Small boys – Prisoners of war taken by the British and ferried thousands of kilometres to Ceylon and Bermuda.
Small boys – Prisoners of war taken by the British and ferried thousands of kilometres to Ceylon and Bermuda.
Small boys – Prisoners of war taken by the British and ferried thousands of kilometres to Ceylon and Bermuda.

 

Woman and children being loaded onto open coal trucks to be ferried to the concentration camps in midwinter. Many kiddies caught pneumonia that first night and died soon on arrival at the camps.
Woman and children being loaded onto open coal trucks to be ferried to the concentration camps in midwinter. Many kiddies caught pneumonia that first night and died soon on arrival at the camps.
Small boys – Prisoners of war taken by the British and ferried thousands of kilometres to Ceylon and Bermuda.

 

Women and children being herded to the concentration camps with their home burning in the background. For this cruel task the British were wont to employ blacks.
Women and children being herded to the concentration camps with their home burning in the background. For this cruel task the British were wont to employ blacks.


An emaciated Boere baby in the concentration camp.
An emaciated Boere baby in the concentration camp.

 

Like little Lizzie van Zyl at the top and emaciated child at the bottom 27 000 Boere women and children were murdered by the British in their infamous concentration camps.
Like little Lizzie van Zyl at the top and emaciated child at the bottom 27 000 Boere women and children were murdered by the British in their infamous concentration camps.
Like little Lizzie van Zyl at the top and emaciated child at the bottom 27 000 Boere women and children were murdered by the British in their infamous concentration camps.

 

All the Boere churches in the Republics were destroyed.
All the Boere churches in the Republics were destroyed.

 

A Boer family photographed shortly after their arrival in the concentration camp. Of this particular family only the mother survived a three month sojourn.
A Boer family photographed shortly after their arrival in the concentration camp. Of this particular family only the mother survived a three month sojourn.

 

SUSSIE IS SIEK (Little sister is ill) - That is the pathetic caption to this photograph in the original book. There is no bed for the dying child. Chairs have been improvised into a bed.
SUSSIE IS SIEK
(Little sister is ill)
That is the pathetic caption to this photograph in the original book. There is no bed for the dying child. Chairs have been improvised into a bed.

Chapter 4 - Contents - Chapter 6