Part 5 out of 8
Mr. Advocate F. A. Silva wrote to the `Daily News': --
AN APPEAL FOR JUSTICE
Sir, -- Will you please allow me space, while appreciating
your editorial of this date, to bring to the kind notice of your readers
the distinction between "British justice as supposed to be"
and "British justice as it is" with regard to the subject races,
especially the black men?
If even the "hair" of a "white" British subject were to be touched in China
or Japan or Turkey or Russia, the whole of the political parties of England,
with their usual patriotism, will rise to the occasion, and with one accord
demand the use of physical force against that country.
But here in South Africa, on the day the "Act" came into law, all agreements
with regard to land were terminated, and thousands of the Natives
found themselves ruined and homeless. From tenants they have become serfs.
If the Imperial Parliament looks with complacency on these
tyrannical proceedings of a local Parliament, then the British public
should not be surprised if the intelligent and thoughtful
among the subject races of "Britain" consider "British justice"
and "Russian tyranny" to be synonymous terms.
Let us draw attention to one more letter, by an Anglo-African
to the `Daily News', which was typical of the rest: --
THE BLACK MAN'S BURDEN
Sir, -- Those of your readers who, like myself, have some
first-hand knowledge of the Natives of South Africa, know that this grievance
voiced by the native deputation is a very real one. That such a deputation
should have to come to England to urge such a plea is humiliating enough
to them and to us. That their plea should be urged in vain
would be disastrous to the last degree.
If the Natives' Land Act is the best thing the Union Government can do
in the discharge of its responsibilities to the native tribes
placed under its care by the King, then many of us would have to revise
our faith in self-government as a fit instrument of national evolution;
and would, moreover, strenuously resist the ultimate incorporation
of the northern territories within the Union as being infinitely worse
for the black man than even government under Chartered Company control.
One hopes that it is not yet too late for both Boer and Briton in South Africa
to see that this debasement of the whole idea of self-government
is to affront and discourage all in Great Britain who saw
in the grant of its own political freedom to that great country
a healing for its many woes. In the meantime Liberalism
must back the native deputation at all costs, and it is well
that `The Daily News and Leader' should lead the way.
ONE OBJECT OF THE S.A. WAR: THE LIBERATION OF THE NATIVE
One object of the South African War was to liberate the Native
in the Transvaal. One result of it is that we have practically
less opportunity to interfere in his behalf than we had
under the Convention with the South African Republic. Interference in
the internal affairs of a self-governing colony -- in this case a colony
in which a small number of white men govern a large number of black --
has ceased to be within the realm of practical politics.
But if this political interference is impossible, moral remonstrance
is all the more in point. There is in all parts of the world
a better and more enlightened as well as a duller and more callous
public opinion, and the better opinion of a colony is powerfully reinforced
by judicious expression of feeling in the mother country.
There are occasions when that opinion should even be formally expressed
by the Colonial Office or by a resolution of the House of Commons.
Now, there is at present a deputation of South African Natives in this country
appealing against the ratification of the Natives' Land Act of 1913.
Mr. Harcourt has told them that he cannot interfere, nor can he
any more than if he were an ornamental registering clerk.
But he can if he chooses speak winged words to the South African Government,
which, having alienated the entire white working population,
is now exciting the same hostility among the blacks.
The Act itself probably has a deeper motive. It prevents
the sale of white men's land to the Natives or native land to the white men.
This would have the effect of securing to the Native
that very small portion of his own country which he has still managed
to retain. This probably commended the measure to those
who because they care for elementary justice are called negrophile,
the colour of justice in a white man's eyes being apparently black.
The other effect would be to prevent those Kafirs who are
becoming educated and rising in the social scale from acquiring land.
As in proportion to population the white man has by far the greater
amount of land, it is clear that he does not come badly out of the bargain.
However, it is not the Act itself of which the most serious complaint is made.
What makes matters worse is the interim arrangement that
pending the delimitation of native land by a Commission
no Native whose lease of land has expired shall be able to renew it
for a money rent or for any consideration whatever except labour service.
It is contended that farmers are taking advantage of this prohibition to exact
unpaid labour services from Natives, and are thus in effect reducing them
to serfdom. It is clear that the position in which the Native is placed
renders this only too possible, and it is an extraordinary thing
that any such violent alteration of status should be made
before instead of after the report of a Commission. For our part
we cannot believe that men like Generals Botha and Smuts deliberately desire
to reduce the Native to the condition of a semi-servile, landless labourer,
and we would venture on behalf of the many Liberals who fought steadily
for the right of South Africa to govern herself to appeal to them
to extend a similar consideration to the people of whose destinies
they have become responsible, and to suspend the operation of the Act
until the administrative preparations for carrying it out with equity
have been completed. -- `Manchester Guardian'.
VIEWS OF THE "STAR"
We have always realized that one of the gravest problems of self-government
in South Africa is the native question. On the one hand,
South African Colonial opinion -- by which is meant "white" opinion --
will bitterly resent any shadow of dictation from Downing Street;
on the other hand, the conscience of the British people cannot remain
indifferent to any flagrant oppression of or injustice to the native races
under the British flag. A very difficult question of this kind
is raised by the deputation of South African Natives,
which is now in this country, seeking to move the Colonial Office
on the subject of the Natives' Land Act recently passed by General Botha.
The ultimate object of General Botha's plan is the greatest exodus
since the days of Moses; it is apparently to get rid of black landholders
in areas in which the majority of the landowners are white,
and to buy up tracts of land elsewhere from white landowners, in order
to settle Natives upon them. In this way the black and the white races,
so far as landholding is concerned, will be segregated into separate areas,
with a reduction of possible cause of friction, and in some respects
this is an excellent policy. But the trouble is that General Botha
has passed the first part of his policy and has left the second part
to the future. The Land Act provides that hereafter,
"except with the approval of the Governor-General" -- which proviso
is mere leather and prunella -- a Native shall not buy or hire any land
from a person other than a Native. The effect of this is that
at the termination of any existing tenancy a Native will have
to relinquish his farm, and will not be able to hire or buy another
from any white owner. If the Government had provided farms
in the proposed native reserves for these men, their policy would be complete,
but nothing has been done, and the fulfilment of that promise depends upon
General Botha's continuance in office, and does not bind his successors.
It is not surprising the South African Natives regard this Act
as a means of driving them into the labour market either at the mines,
or for white farmers. Mr. Dower, the Secretary for Native Affairs,
addressing a meeting of Natives at Thaba Nchu, in the Free State,
gave a strong hint of this when he said: "My best advice to you
is to sell your stock and go into service." Here at home we hear a great deal
about the "magic of property" and the importance of giving the worker
an interest in the soil he tills; but in South Africa they apparently agree
with the southerner in the `Biglow Papers' that
Libbaty's a kind o' thing
Thet don't agree with niggers.
It is clear that it is the duty of the Colonial Office to guarantee,
in conjunction with the South African Government, the carrying out
of the full policy as outlined by General Botha, and we hope
occasion will be taken to urge action on these lines. -- `Star'.
CAN BRITAIN PREVENT SLAVERY
A question of great importance and a question which may easily strain
the links that bind the various parts of the Empire and the Mother Country,
has arisen in South Africa owing to the operation of the Natives' Land Act
passed last year by the Union Parliament. The Native question is by far
the greatest problem South Africa has to solve, and its difficulties
are so great that nobody has been able to advance any feasible scheme
for its settlement, though there have been many suggestions
as to the broad lines on which the matter may be settled.
The Land Act is an attempt to establish modified segregation --
i.e., confining the white man and the black to separate areas of the country.
It is by no means a well-thought-out nor a very practicable enactment,
and unfortunately has had the effect of greatly irritating the Natives
throughout the Union. The Natives do not think they are being treated fairly,
and have used every legitimate means to obtain a hearing.
These means, however, are exceedingly meagre, practically non-existent,
since they have no one to represent them, and as they have no vote
they can bring no pressure on Parliament. Having failed in South Africa,
they have sent a deputation to Great Britain, since, as they are
British subjects, they consider that Great Britain should look after them.
Arriving here, they find the Home Government cannot interfere
in the internal policy of a self-governing colony, and so are left
with no means of obtaining redress. It is surely impossible to admit
that Great Britain can do nothing for the mass of the native population,
although at the moment it appears to them that though
they are subjects of the King he cannot even hear their appeal,
and will do nothing for them, and has abandoned them, a state of affairs
which is quite incomprehensible to them and leads them to depend
solely on themselves to obtain redress -- and that way rebellion lies.
Britain is in an awkward position as she still has obligations
to secure justice to the Natives. If South Africa were to enact slavery,
would Britain still be able to do nothing to prevent it?
Ousting the Native
Surely Mr. Harcourt can suggest to the South African Government
the necessity of appointing a Commission to inquire into
the working of the Act, a Commission which would include Natives
as well as whites. That the Natives have a material grievance is certain.
The Act says that there shall be certain areas in which no Native
can own or lease land, and similarly areas in which no white
can own or lease land. That within a certain period the Natives owning land
in the white area must sell out, and when their leases run out
they shall not be renewed, similarly for the whites in the black area.
Now at present no black area has been delimited, and the Commission
performing this task will not report for a year or more;
meanwhile the blacks are being turned off the land and have nowhere to go.
The only course left to them is to hire themselves out as servants
to the white; and, in fact, that is the real object of the Act.
The farmers found that the Natives were acquiring land rapidly,
and working for themselves rather than for the white man.
There was a shortage of labour, and farmers wished to force the Natives
to work for them rather than for themselves. This ejection
with no other alternative is obviously most unfair, especially as
there are indications that the native areas will not be delimited
for a considerable time. The South Africans have always feared
a combined action of all the native tribes, but surely by this Act
they have chosen the simplest way of irritating every Native in South Africa.
This condition of affairs is exceedingly grave, and, though the results
are suppressed at present, there is no knowing what may happen
if the British Government, whom the Natives regard as their final
court of appeal, shows itself powerless. We know that the native question
in South Africa is terribly difficult, but it is an obvious course
to be pursued in order to maintain good relations between the two races
that grievances should be fairly heard and dealt with justly.
-- `Review of Reviews'.
Chapter XVIII The P.S.A. and Brotherhoods
The Brotherhood must help not only the spiritual part of life,
but also in social matters. They should always help the down-trodden,
showing the brotherly feeling which was portrayed throughout
the life of Christ.
Rt. Hon. A. Henderson, M.P.,
President of the Brotherhood Movement, at Weston-super-Mare.
In a previous chapter we mentioned a yellow-covered newspaper which
abused our English friends for supporting the appeal of the native deputation.
It characterized the advocacy of the aims of the deputation by the Brotherhood
as "Rubbish -- a commodity which can always be picked up,
and quite a lot of people spend much of their time in collecting it."
"Why," exclaims this paper with indignation, "we had imagined
that the `Brotherhood' movement was of a religious nature."
Our answer to this taunt is, that just because the Brotherhood movement
opposes the Natives' Land Act it must be religious,
for Anglican Bishops in South Africa have denounced this law
in their episcopal charges (vide `Church Chronicle', 1913, October issues),
and Anglican Bishops in South Africa are nothing if they are not religious.
Nonconformist Ministers have condemned this law in their annual
synods and conferences. Ex-Premier W. P. Schreiner, K.C., C.M.G.,
at present the London representative of the Union of South Africa,
is the son of an old South African missionary. He was member of
the Union Parliament when this law was passed and was one of the few senators
who had the pluck to vote against it after condemning it;
and it is monstrous to suggest that these pious and learned men
could conspire to denounce a law just for the pleasure of denouncing it.
And to our untutored mind it seems that if it be true that all these good men
are working for the spread of Christ's Kingdom in South Africa,
then we must be pardoned the inference that in the same country
protagonists of this Act are working for the establishment of another kingdom.
This inference grows into a belief when it is recalled that the men
who are responsible for the recent commotion are the very men
who forced this law upon the Government.
In the various reports of the South African Church Synods of 1915,
the character of this "Church closing" law stands out in bold relief,
and it is there revealed as an opponent of Christ and His work. Let us refer
to only one of them. "The native work of the (Transvaal) District
has been seriously hampered by the operation of the Natives' Land Act.
As the result of evictions under the Act, some of the Churches on farms
have ceased to exist." -- Cape `Methodist Churchman', Jan. 22, 1915.
The numerous South African opponents of this law had no share
in the recent upheaval, and the Brotherhoods by lending their platforms
to a campaign in opposition to a law that emanates from such a quarter
show that their cause, in addition to religion, is on the side of law,
order, and constitutional liberty. We know, of course,
that no doctrine of liberty would be acceptable in South Africa
that did not also imply "liberty to ill-treat the blacks".
Hence the Brotherhood propaganda, being colour-blind,
explains the fury of the London mouthpiece of "lily-white" South Africa.
Early in July the deputation called at the Brotherhood headquarters
in Norfolk Street, Strand, to explain to the National Brotherhood Council
the object of their mission. Mr. William Ward, the national secretary,
received the deputation in person; Mr. John McIntosh, secretary to
the London Federation, Mr. W. Mann and other officers being also present.
They invited the deputation to the Quarterly Meeting of the London Federation
at Bishopsgate on July 14, 1914, after which the deputation received
invitations to address meetings in various parts. Some of these engagements
still remain unfulfilled. A list of the centres visited is given
at the end of this chapter.
At the Bishopsgate gathering Mr. Will Crooks, M.P., was the "star turn".
He welcomed the deputation and regretted the cold reception accorded to it
by the Colonial Secretary. He added, however, that if they proceeded
along the same moderate lines followed by Dr. Rubusana and Mr. Msane
(the two members of the deputation who spoke that evening)
he felt certain that they would do more good for their cause in the country
than they did at the Colonial Office.
The `Brotherhood Journal', the newspaper organ of the movement said: --
Bear ye one another's Burdens
For Brotherhood men and women there can be only one response to their appeal.
For Brotherhood is not only between man and man, but between
nation and nation, and race and race.
In our movement, at any rate, there can be no colour bar to love and justice.
If our Brotherhoods did not rise to a cause like this, we might well question
the reality of their fraternal pretensions.
We are told that the problem has its difficulties. No doubt.
But they can be overcome, if only our statesmen will act
in a spirit of courage and faith. Surely empire means not only
privilege and power and glory, but also responsibility and obligations.
If it means only commercial profit, and injustice is to be done with impunity
under the Imperial flag,
Of what worth is such an Empire?
This is a matter in which every one of our members should exert
the force of opinion on the side of right. Let us open
to our coloured brothers' cause our platforms and our hearts.
The five members of the deputation will be in this country for some months,
and are prepared to address Brotherhoods and Sisterhoods,
and to send information as to their case to any who wish it.
We doubt not that they will find in our midst not only
a most sympathetic hearing, but active help in educating public opinion
in this country, in order that a great wrong may be righted.
How unlike so many poor attempts at brotherhood, organized in
the name of Christianity, especially in our part of the globe,
where "they have made the welkin ring with the sorrowful tale
of the unfortunate condition of the weak, but, like the rich man
in the parable, they liked their Lazarus afar off," and considered their
fraternal pretensions satisfied if they sent their dogs to lick his wounds.
No, the Brotherhood movement is no such parody. It is practical Christianity
which knows no distinction of colour or boundaries between nations.
Our nine months' association with Brother Martin and Brother Timberlake,
of the Shernhall Brotherhood, confirms this view; and our acquaintanceship
with other members of this wonderful movement (which counts
judges and members of Parliament as well as factory hands
among its office-bearers) satisfied the writer that they are always ready
to practise what they preach.
A noteworthy occasion in connexion with the campaign was our visit
to the Southall Brotherhood on Sunday, March 14. We can hardly
forget the day; it was on Crocus Sunday when thousands of Londoners
went to Hampton Court in crowds to see the crocus bulbs in bloom.
It was a glorious day and we remember it as the second day in 1915 on which
the European sun shone through a cloudless sky from sunrise to sunset.
Thousands of people attended at Hyde Park to witness the church parade,
and still more thousands took advantage of the glorious spring day
after a strenuous winter to flock to Epping Forest and other popular resorts.
In the afternoon we took part in an Imperial indoor demonstration
organized by the "Southall Men's Own" at the Central Hall.
Mr. William Cross of Hanwell represented England; Mr. T. Owens, F.C.I.S.,
represented Wales; Mr. S. S. A. Cambridge, a black barrister,
represented his homeland, British Guiana; Miss Ruth Bucknall, the celebrated
lyric soprano, who artistically contributed the solos, represented Australia;
while Scotland and the Emerald Isle were also represented
in the orchestra and elsewhere in the hall; Mr. and Mrs. Lionel Boote,
of Auckland, New Zealand, represented "the most English of the Colonies"
(unfortunately the Indian representative could not reach Southall in time),
and the writer represented South Africa, the baby member
of the British family.
Among such intellectual giants, one was inclined at the outset
to feel somewhat out of place, but thanks to the encouraging Brotherhood cheer
which always accompany their reception of a speaker, the stripling
soon finds himself at home, as is always the case on any Brotherhood platform,
and that was how we felt that day.
Mr. W. Cross said, in part, that one of the most striking proofs
of the unity of the Empire was shown in the splendid way
that men had come forward to assist the Mother Country
on the battlefields of Europe from all parts of our Dominions.
The coloured men from India had come as free men and fellow-subjects
to do their share. The Empire was composed of territories and people --
once separated by race and creed, now united under one flag.
There was a great resemblance between Brotherhood and Empire.
In it all kinds of religion were represented, yet all were united
in one great principle. It had been said the soul of Russia was pity,
of France reason, and of Britain justice. No Empire could be built to stand
unless based on justice and freedom. The principle of freedom underlay Empire
as it underlay Brotherhood also. There was no limit to the Empire
that was founded upon unity, toleration, justice, and liberty;
it surely had no end. Similarly there was no frontier
to the kingdom of Brotherhood, and they looked for a kingdom out-spanning
far beyond the roll of British drums -- the kingdom of Brotherhood --
the kingdom of Christ.
Referring to the limitations of colour in South Africa, Mr. Cambridge said:
"Have you no cattle and sheep in South Africa? Are there no birds?
Have you not observed that they are of different colours and yet are not
restricted in their flight on that account; and are you going to run counter
to the work of nature in regard to human beings? The British Empire
has a population of over 430,000,000, of which less than 100,000,000
are white, and there was a big problem to solve: `How to rule
with justice and equity this great multitude of various races and creeds
and consolidate them as fellow-subjects of one great and mighty Empire.'
The future of the British Empire could be secured by following
the high ideals of `Brotherhood' which were foreshadowed by Christ
in the Bible, and by great writers such as Shakespeare and Addison.
The fall of Rome was due to her failure to recognize the duty
of welding her subjects together as brothers one and all
under the Fatherhood of God. . . ."
It is a pity that the argument used by Mr. Cambridge would not go down
with the majority of the rulers in South Africa. If it did
one would remind them that even South African ladies pay
higher prices for black silks than they do for white silks;
that the value of domestic animals does not as a whole appear
to be influenced by their colour: thus, whereas the fleece of white sheep
commands a higher price in the South African wool market
than the fleece of black sheep, their mutton has about the same flavour.
Again of horned cattle, which give the same quality of beef,
irrespective of colour; farmers will tell you of them
that coloured cattle are among the best for farming and other purposes,
while white bullocks are subject to sore eyes, and white cows
continually suffer from erythema of the nipples (`Garget-mammitis');
yet we have not heard that this peculiarity had any influence
on the quality of their beef or the quality of the milk they give.
The springbuck, whence the best South African venison is obtained,
has the colours of black, white and brown; and this blend has not prevented it
from having the reputation of being the prettiest and most graceful antelope
in the world. But argument in this respect is simply wasted
on the ruling caste in South Africa: there, Mr. Cross's views
about "freedom, liberty," etc., will simply be laughed out of court,
unless he limits them to white men; so that one sometimes wonders
whether Christ's metaphor about "casting pearls before swine" does not find
an application here. Look at the weighty arguments delivered
inside and outside Parliament against the Natives' Land Act.
Surely no legislature with a sense of responsibility could have
passed that law after hearing arguments of such force and weight against it;
but the South African legislature passed that Act and seems to glory
in the wretched result of its operation.
Mr. Boote expressed his pride in finding how shining was the native policy
of New Zealand when contrasted with the native policy of South Africa.
"Why," said Mrs. Boote to us, with evident satisfaction,
"we have got Maori members of Parliament and our country
is all the better for it." She had every justification to look pleased
at the comparison which reveals the justice of her country's rule,
for we remember how the women of New Zealand got the vote.
The white members of Parliament in New Zealand were equally divided
on the Women's Enfranchisement Bill; but for the native members,
there would have been a tie, as was the case in South Africa three years ago,
when the white members of the South African Parliament,
as seemed likely there, wheedled the Women's Suffrage Bill out of the House.
Happily for Women's Franchise in the Antipodes the Maori members
voted solidly for the Bill and secured the passage of a reform which,
judging by the satisfactory results in Australia and elsewhere,
gave the lead to the rest of the Empire.
It was at Hammersmith, where the chairman after hearing
our story of the operation of the Natives' Land Act,
in moving a resolution, in a sympathetic speech, asked: "Why did we
spend 240,000,000 Pounds and kill 10,000 men in the South African War
if this is the result?" He asked the permission of the audience to change
the last hymn on the programme and sing the Brotherhood Song of Liberty.
As the newspaper `South Africa' seems to insinuate that
the Brotherhood movement by allying itself with our cause
had deviated from its aims and objects, we would explain that the chairman
did not run out of the meeting to borrow a book from somewhere
containing that song. The song is No. 26 of the `Fellowship Hymnal' --
the hymn-book of the P.S.A. and Brotherhoods.
At subsequent meetings it had often been our pleasure,
after delivering the message from the South African Natives,
to sit down and hear the chairman give out that hymn,
and the orchestra lead off with the tune of Costa's March of the Israelites.
A pleasant variety was lent to it at the Victoria Brotherhood
in Monmouthshire, which we visited on the first Sunday in 1915.
There the chairman gave out the now familiar hymn, and the grand organ chimed
the more familiar tune of "Jesu, lover of my soul" (Hollingside's),
and the variety lent extra freshness to the singing of
the Brotherhood Song of Liberty, which is reproduced: --
Men whose boast it is that ye
Come of fathers brave and free,
If there breathe on earth a slave,
Are ye truly free and brave?
If ye do not feel the chain
When it works a brother's pain,
Are ye not base slaves indeed --
Slaves unworthy to be freed?
Is true freedom but to break
Fetters for our own dear sake,
And with leathern hearts forget
That we owe mankind a debt?
No! true freedom is to share
All the chains our brothers wear,
And with heart and hand to be
Earnest to make others free.
They are slaves who fear to speak
For the fallen and the weak;
They are slaves who will not choose
Hatred, scoffing, and abuse,
Rather than in silence shrink
From the truth they needs must think:
They are slaves who dare not be
In the right with two or three.
J. R. Lowell.
P.S.A. and Brotherhood Societies Addressed by the Deputation
and the Order in Which They Were Visited
[Modified from original table format]
[a] Society. [b] Name of President or Secretary.
[c] Where Meetings are Held. [d] By Whom Addressed.
[a] 1. London Federation of Brotherhoods [b] Mr. John McIntosh
[c] 230, Bishopsgate, E.C. [d] Mr. Saul Msane, Dr. W. B. Rubusana
[a] 2. Tooting Brotherhood [b] Rev. E. Aldom French
[c] Wesleyan Central Hall, Tooting, S.W. [d] Mr. Saul Msane,
Dr. W. B. Rubusana
[a] 3. Willesden Green Men's Own Brotherhood [b] Mr. H. J. Weaver
[c] Baptist Church, High Road, Willesden Green [d] Mr. Sol T. Plaatje,
Mr. T. M. Mapikela
[a] 4. Westbourne Park Brotherhood [b] Dr. J. Clifford, MA.DD.
[c] Baptist Church, Bayswater, W. [d] Dr. W. B. Rubusana
[a] 5. Willesden P.S.A. [b] Mr. W. Springbett
[c] Primitive Methodist Church, Willesden Green [d] Dr. W. B. Rubusana,
Mr. T. M. Mapikela
[a] 6. East Ham Brotherhood [b] Rev. W. H. Armstrong [c] Central Hall,
Barking Road, East Ham [d] Dr. W. B. Rubusana, Mr. T. M. Mapikela
[a] 7. Tooting Graveny Brotherhood [b] Mr. A. Riding [c] Central Hall,
Tooting, Broadway [d] Mr. Saul Msane
[a] 8. Men's Brotherhood [b] Rev. A. Clifford Hall
[c] Congregational Church, Greenwich Rd., S.E. [d] Mr. Saul Msane
[a] 9. Hammersmith Brotherhood [b] Mr. J. W. Butters
[c] Albion Congregational Church, Hammersmith [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 10. Shern Hall Brotherhood [b] Mr. W. H. Jennings
[c] United Methodist Church, Whipps Cross [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 11. Swanscombe Brotherhood [b] Mr. E. Pallant [c] Wesleyan Church,
Swanscombe, near Northfleet [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 12. Clifton Brotherhood [b] Rev. F. Hastings
[c] Congregational Church, Peckham Rye [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 13. Abertillery P.S.A. [b] Mr. Wm. Davies [c] The Pavilion,
Abertillery, South Wales [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 14. Abertillery P.S.A. [b] Mr. E. Jefferies [c] Wesleyan Church,
Abertillery, South Wales [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 15. Barking Brotherhood [b] Mr. W. Barnard [c] Wesleyan Church,
Barking, Essex [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 16. Willesden Green Men's Own [b] Mr. C. E. Pink [c] Baptist Church,
High Rd., Willesden Green [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 17. Victoria Brotherhood [b] Mr. J. W. Hall [c] Wesleyan Church,
Newport, Monmouthshire [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 18. Marsh Street Men's Own Brotherhood (Men's Meeting)
[b] Mr. E. K. Fuller [c] Queen's Cinema Electric Theatre, Walthamstow
[d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 19. Greenhithe Brotherhood [b] Mr. S. W. Lineham
[c] Wesleyan Church, London Rd., Greenhithe [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 20. Marsh Street Men's Own (Evening Meeting: Mixed)
[b] Mr. W. F. Toynbee [c] Queen's Cinema Electric Theatre, Walthamstow
[d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 21. Dartford P.S.A. [b] Mr. H. Keyte [c] Primitive Methodist Church,
Dartford, Kent [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 22. Southall Men's Own Brotherhood [b] T. Owen, Esq., F.C.I.S.
[c] Central Hall, Southall, W. [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 23. Lloyd's Park P.S.A. [b] Rev. R. P. Campbell
[c] United Methodist Church, Lloyd's Park [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 24. Men and Women's Meeting [b] Mr. F. Mercer
[c] Independent Church, Edmonton, North [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 25. Chiswick Brotherhood [b] Mr. D. J. Hawkins [c] Brotherhood Hall,
Turnham Green Terrace [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 26. Abney Brotherhood [b] Mr. W. A. Procktor [c] Abney Church,
Stoke Newington [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 27. Uxbridge P.S.A. [b] Mr. W. Ashton, J.P.
[c] Old Meeting House (Congl.), Uxbridge [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 28. West Ealing P.S.A. [b] Mr. S. Garrard
[c] Primitive Methodist Church, West Ealing [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 29. New England P.S.A. [b] Sir Richard Winfrey, M.P.
[c] P.S.A. Hall, Peterborough, Northampton [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 30. Shern Hall Brotherhood [b] Rev. James Ellis
[c] United Methodist Church, Walthamstow [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 31. Leighton Men's Meeting [b] Mr. G. F. Drew [c] Corn Exchange,
Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 32. Pembury Grove P.S.A. [b] Mr. Ernest Prior
[c] United Methodist Church, Clapton [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 33. Shepherd's Bush Brotherhood [b] Mr. F. C. Simpson
[c] Shepherd's Bush Tabernacle (Baptist) [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 34. East Ham Brotherhood [b] Mr. G. Sorrell [c] Central Hall,
Barking Road, East Ham [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 35. Botwell Brotherhood [b] Mr. J. Matson [c] The Cinema,
Hayes, Middlesex [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 36. Kingsland P.S.A. [b] Mr. J. Harding [c] Congregational Church,
High Street, Kingsland [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 37. Heathfield Brotherhood [b] Mr. Hy. H. Castle
[c] Recreation Hall, Heathfield, Sussex [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 38. Men's Own Brotherhood [b] Rev. A. Hallack, M.A.
[c] Angel Street Church, Worcester [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 39. Greenwich P.S.A. [b] Rev. W. T. Penny [c] Central Hall,
London Street, Greenwich [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 40. Hither Green P.S.A. [b] Mr. P. Duff [c] Congregational Church,
Torridon Road [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 41. Whitefield's Men's Meeting [b] Rev. W. Charter Piggott
[c] Whitefield's Tabernacle, Tottenham Court Road [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 42. North End Brotherhood [b] Mr. Elwin Wrench [c] North End Hall,
Croydon, Surrey [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 43. Trinity Men's Own [b] Mr. A. J. Walker [c] Congl. Church,
Victoria Park, Sth. Hackney [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 44. Acton Brotherhood [b] Mr. James McIntosh [c] Congl. Church,
Churchfield Rd., Acton, W. [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 45. P.S.A. Brotherhood [b] Mr. W. G. Brown [c] Wesleyan Church,
High Rd., Tottenham [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 46. Northampton Men's Own [b] Rev. R. Morton Stanley, M.A., B.D.
[c] Doddridge Church, Northampton [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 47. Cheshunt and Waltham Cross P.S.A. [b] Mr. A. W. Ashmead
[c] Drill Hall, Waltham Cross [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 48. Staines P.S.A. [b] Mr. R. C. Edwards [c] Town Hall,
Staines, Middlesex [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 49. Snell's Park P.S.A. [b] R. Green, Esq., C.C.
[c] Congregational Church, Upper Edmonton [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 50. Camberwell P.S.A. [b] Mr. H. A. Spong [c] Masonic Hall,
Camberwell, Surrey [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 51. Norbury Brotherhood [b] Mr. J. L. Moody [c] Wesleyan Church,
London Rd., Norbury [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 52. Hastings Brotherhood [b] Mr. A. G. Strickland
[c] Congregational Church, Hastings, Sussex [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 53. Evesham Men's Own Brotherhood [b] Mr. G. H. White
[c] Cowl St. Church, Evesham, Worcestershire [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 54. South Bank Brotherhood [b] Mr. T. Bosher
[c] South Bank-on-Tees, Yorkshire [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 55. Tees-side Brotherhood [b] Mr. T. Summers
[c] Wes. Church South Bank, Yorkshire [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 56. Shepherd's Bush, P.S.A. [b] Rev. W. G. Davis
[c] Wesleyan Church, Shepherd's Bush [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 57. Stockton United [b] Mr. W. Weighell [c] Baptist Tabernacle,
Stockton-on-Tees [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 58. Wembley Brotherhood [b] Mr. H. W. Hagger [c] Union Hall, Wembley
[d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 59. Watford Men's Own [b] Mr. A. G. Baker [c] Beechen Grove,
Ch. Watford, Hertfordshire [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
[a] 60. Clerkenwell Men's Own [b] Mr. R. G. Pursaill [c] Peel Institute,
Clerkenwell Green [d] Mr. S. T. Plaatje
In addition to the Brotherhoods and P.S.A.'s, we are indebted to
the Sisterhoods, Adult Schools and several Church bodies who gave us
many occasions to speak, the response to our message being most gratifying.
Chapter XIX Armed Natives in the South African War
Oh, where is he, the simple fool,
Who says that wars are over?
What bloody portent flashes there,
Across the Straits of Dover?
Nine hundred thousand slaves in arms
May seek to bring us under
But England lives and still will live,
For we'll crush the despot yonder.
Are we ready, Britons all,
To answer foes with thunder?
Arm, arm, arm!
The Gallant Bakhatla Tribe
When Bechuanaland was invaded by the Republican forces
at the outbreak of the Boer War, the British Police Force
in the Bechuanaland Protectorate, finding themselves hopelessly isolated
in that far-away region, decided to evacuate Gaberones and effect a junction
with Colonel Plumer's force which was then coming south from Rhodesia.
The British Commissioner, before leaving Gaberones,
advised the Native Chiefs of the Southern Protectorate
to make the best terms possible with the invaders until the Transvaal Republic
was conquered by the advancing British Army.
Chief Lentsue of the Bakhatla, acting entirely on his own responsibility,
sent his brother Segale with a message to the Dutch Commandant, reminding him
that the war was a white man's war, and asking him at the same time
not to traverse his territory with armed Boers; he also added
that any invasion of his territory would be resisted with all the means
at his disposal. Naturally, this message was treated with the contempt
that a Boer would habitually treat any frankness on the part of a "Kafir",
and the Boers, in utter disregard of this warning, invaded Bakhatla territory.
Chief Lentsue was not in a position to attack the Boers
at the beginning of the invasion. He had the men but hardly enough ammunition
to last for a whole day, so he had to bide his time, scheming the while
to secure an arsenal. The Dutch contempt for Lentsue's threats
advanced by 100 per cent when they overran his outer villages on two occasions
and he failed to offer any resistance, but they had not calculated
that his Intelligence Department and War Office were hard at work
in order that his threat to the Boers might not come to naught.
Accordingly on a certain day a convoy of huge buck-wagons,
each drawn by sixteen African bullocks, carrying ammunition
to the Dutch troops in Bechuanaland, meandered its way slowly
in the direction of the Marico River, escorted by a squadron
of mounted Burghers. All of a sudden they were surprised and disconcerted
by a fusillade of musketry, and the situation grew in gravity
from the fact that whichever way the members of the convoy scampered,
they appeared to be running from the frying-pan into the fire.
The ruse was swift and successful, indeed so successful
that the train of ammunition and provision wagons proceeded on its way
to Lentsue's town, Mochudi, but under a different escort.
What had happened was this: The sub-chief Segale, who has since
been known as Lentsue's fighting general, had closely watched
the movements of the Dutch and studied their plans, till he was able
to anticipate the coming of this convoy and to waylay it.
He captured enough ammunition in this and succeeding attacks
to enable the Chief Lentsue to arm his men. Thus they repulsed
two invasions of the Boers, followed the enemy into his territory,
and came home with numbers of head of cattle, and Lentsue's territory
was never again invaded by the Boers.
This isolated action of the Bakhatla Chief and people
in a remote corner of the Empire, on the boundaries of the late Boer Republic,
had its moral and material value. The Boers, who virtually owned
the whole of Bechuanaland to the south, except Mafeking town,
found that it would pay them better to adopt a friendlier attitude
towards the other Bechuana tribes. Thereby a Dutch Field Cornet
pronounced all the Bechuana Chiefs as the original Afrikanders --
with the exception of Lentsue of the Bakhatla, and Montsioa of the Barolong
in Mafeking. These two chiefs, the Field Cornet said,
were traitors to their country as they had joined the foreign Rooineks
against their black and white fellow Afrikander. But the armed Burghers
ceased to help themselves to native property, and the Government's
huge compensation bill at the end of the War became less formidable
in consequence. Furthermore, the task of that unacknowledged hero
-- the native dispatch runner -- became so appreciably easier that
an almost regular bi-weekly communication was maintained between headquarters
at the Cape and the siege garrison at Mafeking, for the native runners
after crawling through the lines of the investing Boers,
under cover of the night, could move through the peasant villages
with much less danger of detection by Boer patrols.
But it must be confessed that Chief Lentsue's defensive activities
were wholly illegal, inasmuch as the Boers, although they had declared war
against Lentsue's sovereign Lady, Queen Victoria, were not at war with him.
It was defined, by an uncanny white man's mode of reasoning,
that the war was a white man's business in which the blacks
should take no part beyond merely suffering its effects. The Natives' retort
to this declaration was in the words of a Sechuana proverb,
viz., "You cannot sever the jawbones from the head and expect to keep
those parts alive separately." It was this principle, we presume, that guided
Lentsue's action. Still from the standpoint of white South Africa,
the Chief's operations were a purely filibustering adventure;
and while it seemed difficult to indict Lentsue on any definite charge,
some of his men were arrested for having taken part
in a cattle-raiding expedition in Transvaal in the course of which
they shot and killed a German subject of the Transvaal Republic.
These men were tried at Pretoria after peace was declared,
and three of them were sentenced to death. All through the trial
the Chief stood by his men, who pleaded justification. He accompanied them
in the first instance to Pretoria, and afterwards paid for their defence
at the trial, and it was evident that he took the verdict and sentence
very much to heart.
If the verdict strained the loyalty of the Bakhatla,
it had the effect of satisfying the Boers across the Bechuana border,
in the Western Transvaal, who had to live down the sad memory of a victory
gained by a black chief over their white army and of their purposes thereby.
From a Dutch point of view nothing could be more humiliating
than that black men should have gained such a signal success over them,
and they are constantly crying out for the repression of Lentsue
and his "proud" Kafirs. The Boers' demand that the Union authorities
should make the thraldom of the Natives more effective,
forgetting that the armed forces of the Boers when left to themselves
during the temporary British evacuation of Bechuanaland were unable to do it.
Notwithstanding this fact, the newspapers, especially the Rand Sunday Press,
seem always to have open spaces for rancorous appeals to colour prejudice,
perhaps because such appeals, despite their inherent danger,
suit the colonial taste. Preceding the introduction of the Natives' Land Act,
the clamour of a section of the colonists and most of the Transvaal Boers
for more restrictive measures towards the blacks was accompanied
at one of its stages by alarming reports of "Native disaffection",
"Bakhatla insolence", and similar inflammatory headlines. One Sunday morning
it was actually announced in the Sunday Press of Johannesburg
that the Bakhatla had actually opened fire on the Union Police
and were the first to draw blood. Our own inquiries proved
that the British Protectorate, in and around Lentsue's territory,
where the Bakhatla dwell, was abnormally quiet. All that had happened
was that two Dutch policemen had unlawfully crossed into Bechuanaland
with firearms; that the Natives had disarmed them and taken them
to their chief, who in turn handed them over to the British authorities
at Gaberones, where they were tried and sentenced.
It is not suggested that Sunday papers in giving publicity
to disturbing reports lend their space to what they know to be untrue;
but the fact remains that, right or wrong, their editorials seem ever ready
to fan the glowing embers of colour prejudice into a blaze;
and after arousing in this manner a most acute race feeling,
the editors, upon discovering their mistake, if such it was,
did not even trouble to tell their readers that they had unwittingly published
exaggerated accounts -- since after a fair trial before the British tribunal
at Gaberones, the offending Union Police were fined 50 Pounds.
The fact is that while under the quasi-Republican laws of the Transvaal
a native policeman dare not lay his "black hands" on a "lily-white" criminal,
even if he caught him in the very act of breaking the law:
in British Bechuanaland, "there shall be no difference in the eye of the law
between a man with a white skin and a man with a black skin,
and the one shall be as much entitled to the protection of the law
as the other," and so in spite of scaremongers' ravings to the contrary,
Chief Lentsue proved himself once more on the side of the law of his Empire.
Go mokong-kong ko Tipereri,
Go mokong-kong gole;
Go mokong-kong ko Tipereri,
Go mosetsana montle.
Tsela ea Kgalagadi, Tipereri,
Pelo ea me e koo.
"Tipperary" in Rolong.
The Barolong and the War
The Barolong and other native tribes near Mafeking were keenly interested
in the negotiations that preceded the Boer War. The chiefs continually
received information regarding the mobilization of the Boer forces
across the border. This was conveyed to the Magistrate of Mafeking
with requests for arms for purpose of defence. The Magistrate
replied each time with confident assurances that the Boers
would never cross the boundary into British territory.
The Transvaal boundary is only ten or twelve miles from the magistracy.
The assurances of the Magistrate made the Natives rather restive;
the result was that a deputation of Barolong chiefs had a dramatic interview
with the Magistrate, at which the writer acted as interpreter.
The chiefs told the Magistrate that they feared he knew very little about war
if he thought that belligerents would respect one another's boundaries.
He replied in true South African style, that it was a white man's war,
and that if the enemy came, Her Majesty's white troops
would do all the fighting and protect the territories of the chiefs.
We remember how the chief Montsioa and his counsellor Joshua Molema
went round the Magistrate's chair and crouching behind him said:
"Let us say, for the sake of argument, that your assurances are genuine,
and that when the trouble begins we hide behind your back like this,
and, rifle in hand, you do all the fighting because you are white;
let us say, further, that some Dutchmen appear on the scene
and they outnumber and shoot you: what would be our course of action then?
Are we to run home, put on skirts and hoist the white flag?"
Chief Motshegare pulled off his coat, undid his shirt front
and baring his shoulder and showing an old bullet scar, received in
the Boer-Barolong war prior to the British occupation of Bechuanaland,
he said: "Until you can satisfy me that Her Majesty's white troops
are impervious to bullets, I am going to defend my own wife and children.
I have got my rifle at home and all I want is ammunition."
The Magistrate duly communicated the proceedings to Capetown,
but the reply from headquarters was so mild and reassuring that one
could almost think that it referred to an impending Parliamentary election
rather than to a bloody war. But the subsequent rapid developments of events
showed that the Natives of Mafeking were in advance and that those
at headquarters were far behind the times. In a short time
after the interview of the chiefs with the Magistrate,
the Boers, following the terms of their ultimatum, crossed the border
between the Cape and Transvaal, cut the lines of communication
north and south of Mafeking and, before any arms could reach this quarter,
Mafeking (a little village on the banks of the Molopo) was surrounded,
with Montsioastad, a town of 5,000 native inhabitants.
The population of these places was largely increased by refugees,
both white and black, from outside the town, and also from the Transvaal.
At this time of the investment General Cronje sent verbal messages
to the chief advising him not to mix himself and his people
in a white man's quarrel. This view of General Cronje's was,
at the beginning of the siege, in accord with local white sentiment.
The European inhabitants of the besieged town had a repugnance
to the idea of armed Natives shooting at a white enemy;
but the businesslike method of General Cronje in effecting the investment
had a sobering effect upon the whole of the beleaguered garrison;
the Dutch 100-pounder Cruesot especially thundered some sense into them
and completely altered their views.
The Barolong youth had his baptism of fire on October 25, 1899,
when General Cronje tried to storm the garrison by effecting an entry
through the native village. He poured a deafening hail of nickel
into the native village. The Natives who were concealed behind
the outer walls of Montsioastad waited with their rifles in the loopholes,
according to Captain Marsh's instructions, till the Boers
were quite near to them, then returned the fire with satisfactory results.
After this encounter the whites, for the first time, regretted that
there were not any arms in the place with which to arm all the Natives.
As this attack was unmistakably severe and a Red Cross wagon
moved around the Boer lines in the afternoon, it was feared
that the native casualties were heavy, and medical aid was offered
by the white section of the garrison. But all were agreeably surprised
to find that beyond slight damages to the housetops there were no casualties
among the Barolongs. The following was the only injury:
A shell burst in front of Chief Lekoko as he was engaged
in repelling the Boer attack, but no fragments of it touched him.
One piece of shell, however, struck a rock and a splinter of the rock
grazed his temple. At best only a few rounds of ammunition
could be handed out to those of the Barolongs who used their own rifles,
and it is doubtful if so little ammunition was ever more economically used,
and used to greater advantage.
The investment of Mafeking was so effective that only
certain Natives could crawl through the Boer lines at night.
Throughout the seven months of the siege only one white man managed,
under the guidance of two Natives, to pass into the village.
All the dispatches which came into and out of Mafeking
were carried by Barolong runners. Before the Boers moved their stock
into the far interior of the Transvaal, the Barolongs continually
went out and raided Boer cattle and brought them into the besieged garrison.
Often the raiders had to fight their way back, but sometimes as they returned
with the cattle in the night the Dutch sentries preferred to leave them alone.
The result was that General Snyman, who commanded the besiegers
after General Cronje went south, issued a general order
authorizing the shooting dead of "any one coming in or out of Mafeking",
armed or unarmed.
At his village called Modimola, ten miles outside the beleaguered garrison,
there lived Chief Saane, uncle of the Mafeking chief.
Being apparently harmless he was not for some months molested by the Boers.
Later, however, they rightly suspected him of supplying the garrison
with information. They then took him and his followers to Rietfontein,
where they placed him under surveillance, but Chief Saane proved
even more useful in captivity than in liberty. He used the seemingly
inoffensive young men of Rietfontein, to glean all first-hand information
from the Boers, who still had command of the lines of communication.
Then he sent the news in verbal messages to his nephew, the paramount chief
in the siege, who in turn communicated it to Her Majesty's officers
in command. By means of this self-constituted intelligence bureau
the garrison learnt of the surrender of Cronje -- a happy consummation
of the battle of Paardeberg -- shortly after the good news
reached their besiegers; and when official confirmation came from the Cape,
more than a week later, Chief Saane's messengers were there again
with fresh news of the surrender of Bloemfontein. This news,
as might be well supposed, was glad tidings to the besieged people.
They were in fact the truths that King Solomon thus sets forth:
"As cold water is to the weary soul, so is good news from a far country,"
for, in those days, before the invention of aeroplanes and Marconigrams,
no country in this wide world was further than a besieged garrison.
Among the first civilian bodies raised in Mafeking for
purposes of garrison defence was the "Cape Boy Contingent",
a company of mixed classes in varying degrees of complexions.
Sergt.-Major Taylor, a coloured bricklayer, who led the contingent
and directed the crack snipers of that company, was killed
during the fourth month of the siege, by a fragment of a huge shell
in the outer trenches.
His funeral was attended by General Baden-Powell and other staff officers,
and was probably the only funeral of a coloured person
in the South African war that was accorded such distinguished
The language of the Cape coloured or mixed people is the same
as that of the Boers, viz., the Cape Dutch. At times during the siege
our advance lines and those of the Boers used to be less than 100 yards apart,
and when the wily snipers of both sides saw nothing to snipe at,
they used to exchange pleasantries at the expense of one another,
from the safety of their entrenchments. Sometimes these wordy compliments
made the opponents decidedly "chummy", to borrow a trench phrase.
In that mood, they would now and again wax derisive or become amusing,
bespeaking the fates of one another or the eventual outcome of the war.
Whoever got the worst of the argument used to cut off communication
with an unpleasant remark; but when it was mutually amusing,
both sides enjoyed an advantage and each joined heartily
in the resulting merriment. On more than one occasion a convivial Dutchman
momentarily forgot the martial aspect of the mutual hilarity and complied with
an equally convivial coloured man's exclamation to "kyk hier, jong"
(look here, old fellow), and directly he "kyked" the snipers did to him
that which from the enemy's point of view would amount to "devil's work".
The reader of these reminiscences will perhaps permit us to pay a tribute
to the Dutch Burghers who, under General Snyman, besieged Mafeking.
Whatever we may say against them, in other ways, this much must be said
in their favour, namely, that they left us entirely alone on Sundays.
Such an opportunity gave the Mafeking people a chance to get about,
to have a thorough wash-up, and to keep the Sabbath holy.
Snipers put down their rifles on Sunday mornings, declared a day's peace
among the contending forces between the opposing trenches,
and pointed out to one another landmarks beyond which the opposing sentries
might not cross, since to wander past these beacons would mean
a sudden resumption of hostilities. But as the landmarks
were religiously respected there seldom was any occasion
to desecrate the Sabbath by the clash of arms. We had thus
a whole day's recreation, when the trenchmen used to visit
their families in the women's camp and make all-round preparations
for another week's bombardment.
The "Cape Boys" fought with distinction and maintained their reputation
right up to the end of the siege. Visitors to Mafeking may now see
near the obelisk in front of the pretty town hall of the famous siege town,
a five-pounder gun "captured by the Cape Police during the siege".
This gun was seized by the coloured Sergeant Bell and two other
subalterns of the "Cape Boys" contingent; their contingent was then
under the command of Lieutenant Currey of the Cape Police.
Besides the brave coloured men who fell during the defence of Mafeking,
one painful effect of the siege, in connexion with this contingent,
was that of Mr. Swartz, who was blinded by an exploding Boer shell
and has never been able to regain his eyesight.
Ukude, ukude Tipperary,
'Kude mpela ku hamba,
Ukude, ukude Tipperary,
Nentombi 'nhle ng' asiyo.
Hlala kahle, Piccadilly
Nawe Leicester Square
Ikude lendlhela yase Tipperary
Kona 'po nhliziyo yami.
"Tipperary" in Zulu.
Two other small companies who filled their posts without reproach
were the Fingo contingent and the Black Watch, so-called, presumably,
from the jet-black colour of the members. The "Black Watch" included
Mozambique and Zambesi boys, Shangaans and others from among
the blackest races of South Africa. The greatest disaster
sustained by this company was when a party of thirty-three of them
dashed into the Boer lines on an ill-starred attempt to loot cattle
from the enemy's herds. After their night's dash out of the garrison
they got to a hiding place for the day, but they were followed there
and were surrounded by a Boer commando, which peppered them
with a maxim and a big gun. They fought up to the last cartridge,
but were helplessly outnumbered and outranged by the Boers,
who killed them to a man.
Cattle-raiding was a dangerous business in which the crafty Barolong,
who belonged to the country, alone were well versed. A subtle warrior
among the Barolong, named Mathakgong, was a regular expert in this business.
He led the occasional Barolong dashes into the Boer lines in search of beef
and he invariably managed to rush his loot into Mafeking.
He did this throughout the seven months' siege with the loss of only two men.
The only misadventure of this intrepid looter was when he attempted
to rush in an unusually large drove of cattle which Colonel Plumer had been
buying and collecting at his Sefikile camp about forty miles north of Mafeking
for the besieged garrison. Dutchmen tell us that for days they had learnt
that Colonel Plumer was arranging to send cattle into Mafeking.
They even knew the exact number -- 100 head -- and so they sent scouts
to the north every day to watch the roads and warn the besiegers of the event.
Hence, although they had left Mafeking unobserved, when Mathakgong's party
approached Mafeking on the return trip with the cattle, a strong Dutch force
was waylaying him and waiting to give him and Colonel Plumer's cattle
a hot reception. They opened a rattling fusillade upon the cattle drivers,
which could be heard from Mafeking. Over half of the cattle
were killed in the ensuing fight, and the remainder,
like the fat carcases of the dead bullocks, fell into the hands of the Boers.
The drivers escaped with only two wounded out of the party of twelve.
They said that they owed their escape almost entirely
to the carcases of dead cattle, which they used as ramparts.
When Mathakgong heard subsequently how the Boers had planned
to annihilate him and his small party, he became very indignant
at what he called "the clumsy European method of always revealing
their intentions to the enemy."
Away out in Basutoland, "the Switzerland of South Africa",
the Paramount Chief Lerothodi offered to send an army on Bloemfontein
while the "Free" Staters were engaged in the British Colonies
of Natal and the Cape, which they had invaded. Lord Milner strongly
forbade him from taking that step, and it was all that Sir Godfrey Lagden,
the British Resident in Basutoland, could do to restrain the Basuto warriors
from swooping down upon the Orange "Free" State.
On one occasion, however, the Basuto mountaineers were quickly mobilized.
Word reached Maseru that General De Wet, whose guerrilla career
was then at the height of its fame, was seriously harassed by Imperial troops
in the "Free" State, and that it was feared he would escape
through Basuto territory. In such a case it was ruled that the Basuto
would be justified in opening fire upon the trespassing commandoes,
but not until the Boers actually set foot upon Basuto territory.
Therefore the Basutos, in anticipation of this violation of their territory,
under the leadership of Councillor Philip Modise, made a record turn-out
in one night, in a mountainous country, without telegraphic communication,
and where all the orders were conveyed by word of mouth
by men mounted on the sure-footed Basuto ponies; so that at daybreak
as the Boers at the frontier near Wepener awoke, they found the Basuto border
to be one mass of black humanity. The Basutos made strong appeals to Maseru
for permission to cross the border and rush the Boers, and again
they were forbidden. At length General De Wet, amid a rain of British shells,
withdrew his commando and carried his operations elsewhere.
General De Wet, in his book on the South African War, admits that
he was once hopelessly cornered and that then his only safe way of escape
lay through the territory of the Basuto. He next proceeds to give his reason
for not violating Basuto territory: it is that the Basutos
showed no hostility towards the Boers, and that he had no wish
to provoke them. No mention is made that armed Basutos barred his way,
but if General De Wet's restraint were voluntary it would be
the first instance in history that a Boer general had shown any regard
concerning the rights or feelings of the Natives.
General Botha has on several occasions mentioned the loyal assistance
rendered to the Transvaal Burghers by the Natives of the Transvaal.
We may also mention the case of Chief Mokgothu, of the Western Transvaal,
who with his headmen was detained at Mafeking after the siege.
In fact that chief died in the Mafeking prison where he was interned
with the Republican political prisoners for participating in the war
on the side of the Republic.
On another occasion General Botha (obviously referring to Natives
other than those around Mafeking) unwittingly paid a tribute
to the valour of British Natives during the South African war.
Speaking in the Nieuwe Kerk, at Middelburg, Holland, the General said: --
The Kaffirs turned against us and we not only had to fight
against the English but against the Natives as well
. . . when the attacks of the Kaffirs increased, our cause became
dark and black. . . . All these facts taken collectively
compelled us to discuss terms of peace.*
* "De Boerengeneraals in Zeeland", p. 29.
The southern defences of Montsioastad were maintained by the Barolong,
under their own chief Lekoko, in their own way and with their own
rations and rifles. These were only supplemented by supplies of ammunition,
of which there was not too much in the garrison. And the only instructions
which Major Godley and Captain Marsh gave the defenders
was to "sit tight and don't shoot until the enemy is quite close."
The rest of the native population in the besieged town
was under the fatherly care of Mr. C. G. H. Bell, the civil magistrate.
And the harmonious relation between white and black as a prevailing
characteristic of the population of the garrison throughout the siege
was largely due to the tactful management of Major Lord Edward Cecil, D.S.O.,
Colonel Baden-Powell's chief of Staff. At the end of the siege,
Lord Roberts sent General Sir Chas. Parsons to thank the Barolong
for the creditable manner in which they defended their homes
throughout the siege. The veteran soldier evidently thought
that he had not done enough in the matter, so later on he sent
Major the Hon. Hanbury Tracey from Pretoria with a framed address
to the Barolong chiefs, written in gilt letters.
Colonel C. B. Vyvyan, who was escorted to Montsioastad
by a squadron of the 4th Bedfordshire Regiment, headed by
their band playing patriotic airs, presented the address
in the presence of a large gathering of Barolongs and European visitors.
The ceremony was described by the `Mafeking Mail' as follows: --
Within the square, seated on chairs and stools, were the Barolong men,
whilst the women, attired in their brightest dresses,
took up positions wherever they could get a view of the proceedings.
On the arrival of the Base Commandant (Lieut.-Colonel Vyvyan)
and the Resident Magistrate (Mr. C. G. H. Bell), a Union Jack was hoisted
to the accompaniment of a general cheer. A large number of civilians
and several military officers witnessed the ceremony, among them being
the Mayor (Mr. A. H. Friend), Mr. W. H. Surmon (Acting Commissioner),
Lieut.-Colonel Newbury (Field Paymaster), Major the Hon. Hanbury Tracey
(the officer who brought the address from Pretoria), and Major Panzera.
Mr. Bell, addressing the assembled Natives, said: To-day is an historical one
in the history of the Barolongs as represented by Montsioa's people.
I am sure it must be most satisfactory to you all who have so bravely assisted
in the defence of Mafeking to have this honour conferred upon you,
which is unprecedented in the annals of the history of the native tribes
in this country. The Field-Marshal commanding Her Majesty's troops
in South Africa has expressed in the address which is about to be
presented to you his thanks for the services you rendered during the siege --
an honour which I am sure you will appreciate at its full value, and which
I can assure you is fully recognized by the Europeans who took part with you
in the defence of the town. On many occasions bravery was displayed
by both Europeans and Natives. We have fought and risked our lives together;
we have undergone privations; we have eaten horses and various other animals
of a like character; we have seen our friends fall, shattered by shells;
and we have endured hardships and trials which very few men endure
more than once in a lifetime. We have fought together for one common object.
We have attained that object, and it is now impossible for us to do otherwise
than experience a feeling of fellowship which is accentuated
by the proceedings of to-day. You Barolongs at the commencement of the siege
declared your determination to be loyal to the Queen,
and when we had a meeting here shortly before war broke out
you were assured by General Baden-Powell that if you did remain loyal
your services would not be forgotten, and the Field-Marshal
has endeavoured to-day to convince you of the truth of that statement.
There are certain names mentioned on the address; but I cannot help,
while talking to you now, mentioning the names of other persons
who were of great assistance to us during the siege. It was
altogether impossible to include the names of everybody on the address,
and some of you may think that your names are not there
because you have been overlooked, but that is not so. I will just mention
the names of a few which, had there been room, might have appeared.
First, there is Saane, who remained outside and assisted our dispatch runners,
and who when he heard news sent it to us. It is only those
who suffered from news hunger at the time can understand the pleasure
we experienced at the assistance continually rendered to us by Saane.
Then there is Badirile, who so bravely commanded his young men
on the western outposts, and who on many occasions went through
determined encounters with the enemy. Then again there is Joshua Molema,
Motshegare and Mathakgong, all of whom did good service.
Then there was Dinku, who on the day Eloff came in and when the enemy
was behind him, stuck to his little fort, and who during the attack
was wounded by a shell, which has since caused his death.
His memory will not fade away amongst you Barolongs, as he was well known
as a brave man.
Colonel Vyvyan then stepped forward and said: Chief Wessels and men
of the Barolong nation, -- Lord Roberts, Commander-in-Chief of
the British Army in South Africa, has sent a special officer from Pretoria
to bring you his greeting and to deliver to you a mark of his approval
and the approval which he expresses on behalf of the Queen.
Gathered here to-day are subjects of the Queen from various parts
of her wide dominions -- men who have come overseas from England,
from Australia, from Canada, and from India -- and they are here
this afternoon to meet her native subjects of the Barolong tribe;
whilst we, the officers and soldiers of the Queen who fought in Mafeking,
wish to show what we think of our friends and neighbours
down here in the stadt. You have done your duty well. You will remember
that some time ago an officer was sent by Lieut.-General Baden-Powell
to thank you for your services, and now the greatest General of all
has sent you a special mark of his esteem in the form of this letter,
which I shall read to you:
V [ Crest of Queen Victoria ] R.
"The Chief Wessels, Lekoko, and the Barolong of Mafeking.
"I, Frederick Sleigh Baron Roberts, K.P., G.C.S.I., G.C.I.E., V.C.,
of Kandahar and Waterford, hereby testify my approbation of the loyalty
to H.M. Queen Victoria, and the good behaviour of the Barolongs
under the leadership of Wessels, Lekoko, and the headmen
Silas Molema and Paul Montsioa, throughout the long and trying
investment of Mafeking by the Boers, from October 13, 1899, to May 17, 1900,
and I desire to congratulate these leaders and their people on
the successful issue of their courageous defence of their homes and property
against the invasion of the enemy.
"Pretoria, July 1, 1900."
Addressing Chief Wessels, and at the same time handing him
the letter, the Colonel concluded: I give you this
on behalf of Lord Roberts and the Queen. You are to accept it
on behalf of your nation. You are to keep it and show it to your children
and tell them why it was given to you and that they are to be proud of it.
The Colonel held out his hand, which Wessels gripped very cordially.
The band played the National Anthem, and the Barolongs joined
in one of their native cheers.
Wessels then rose, and taking off his white helmet,
replied on behalf of his tribe.
Replying to the address and speeches Chief Wessels Montsioa asked the officers
to convey to Lord Roberts the gratitude of the Barolong
for the relief of Mafeking, adding: "I have gone to extremes
into which my forefathers scarcely ever went in defending their homes.
I have eaten horseflesh, donkey and mule flesh, and had the relief column
not come when it did, I was going to eat dog flesh, if by that means
I would have been enabled to hold up a gun and keep the enemy out of doors,
until Lord Roberts sent relief."
Mr. Chamberlain, who visited Mafeking two years later,
inspected the old siege position and addressed the largest meetings
we had ever seen in Mafeking. He said to the thousands
of assembled Barolongs: "You ask in your addresses that the conditions
secured to you, when you were transferred from the Imperial Government
to the Colonial Government should remain as they are. I do not think
that Sir Gordon Sprigg or any one who may succeed him will alter them
in any respect, and should any one attempt to alter these conditions,
you will have your appeal to His Majesty's Government."
This was said in the presence of Sir Gordon Sprigg,
the Cape Premier of the day, Mr. Thomas L. Graham,
the Cape Attorney-General (now Judge of the Supreme Court at Grahamstown),
and Sir Walter F. Hely-Hutchinson, Governor of the Cape Colony.
But what must be the feelings of these people, and what must be
the effect of these assurances upon them now that it is decreed
that their sons and daughters can no longer settle in the Union
except as serfs; that they no longer have any claim to the country
for which they bled, and that when they appeal to the Imperial authorities
for redress of these grievances, they are told that there is no appeal?
A promise of a farm was made to the Fingo and Kafir contingent,
but that promise still remains unfulfilled.
When His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught visited Mafeking in 1906,
he was touched by the grateful references which Chief Lekoko made
to the benign rule of His Royal Highness's late illustrious mother.
And he assured the assembled Natives, in the name of His late Majesty
King Edward VII, that the death of their beloved Queen
would "not alter their status in any manner whatsoever as His Majesty took
the same deep interest in the welfare of the native population
as the late Queen did." In view of this statement by His Royal Highness,
Chief Lekoko congratulated his people on having had the honour of receiving
"assurances of Imperial protection, not from an Imperial official,
but from the lips of His Majesty's own brother, and in the King's English,"
the Barolong felt that they were reclining on a veritable rock of ages.
Since the inauguration and meeting of the first Union Parliament,
laws have been enacted which threaten to annul all this.
As far as the Barolongs are concerned, the Colonial Government
is not the only aggressor.
In the early 'nineties a British Boundary Commission awarded
the territory of Mokgomana to a northern tribe. The award caused
great dissatisfaction amongst the Barolong; accordingly they sent a deputation
to the High Commissioner about the award. It was only after they announced
their unalterable intention to assert their claim to that territory
by means of the sword, that the Imperial authorities,
in the name of the Queen, re-considered the former decision,
and that Sir Hamilton Goold Adams restored that land to the Barolong,
under date March 11, 1896. But the Colonial Office, completely ignoring
Sir Hamilton Goold Adams's signature on behalf of the Queen,
and without referring the matter to the native inhabitants in any way,
lately confiscated that territory and declared it the property of the Crown.
In consequence of this high-handed proceeding there is much bad blood
among the Barolong.
It might be said in support of this act of the Colonial Office
that strangers will not be settled in the territory,
but Sir Garnet Wolseley once declared that "as long as the sun
shines in the heavens, Zululand shall remain the property of the Zulus."
The sun is still shining in the heavens, and right up to the time
of the outbreak of the European War in 1914, the Union Government
were very busy cutting up Zululand and parcelling it out to white settlers
under the Land Settlement Act of the Union (for white men only),
parcels of land to survey which black taxpayers are forced to pay,
but which under the Natives' Land Act no black man can buy;
and what is true in regard to Zululand, British Kaffraria,
East Griqualand and other native territories, is equally so
in regard to Bechuanaland.
Chapter XX The South African Races and the European War
Oh! the Battle-bow is strung,
The Banner is outflung:
From lowlands and from valley,
From mountain-tops, they rally!
L. J. Coppin.
Africa is a land of prophets and prophetesses. In the course of
our tour of observation on the ravages of the Land Act,
we reached Vereeniging in August, 1913, and found the little village astir
because the local pastor, Rev. S. H. Senamela, was returning from
a certain funeral service. To many of the people of the place
the event seemed to be a momentous one, affecting as it appeared more people
than would be ordinarily the case. The person whose death and funeral
caused all this stir was a black seeress of Vereeniging, of whom it was said
that in her lifetime she prophesied the Anglo-Boer War and some such situation
as that created by the Natives' Land Act. Before breathing her last,
this interesting lady (whose sayings carried great weight
among the surrounding native peasants and the Dutch neighbours
on the farms of that neighbourhood) had, it was said,
uttered her last prophecy. It was to the effect that a great war
would take place in the near future, amongst the white peoples of the country,
that there would be much bloodshed, but that the survivors
would live very peacefully with the native population. We are sorry now
that we did not care to listen to the whole story when it was related,
and we very much wish that we had remained to interrogate the narrator
as to whether the black population that would thus remain to share life
with the white survivors in South Africa would be a contented one, or whether
they would be living in chains, of which the thraldom of coming events
appears to be casting its shadow before. But at the time
it sounded parlous to think that anything could interrupt
the calm of the tolerant British colonists and egg them against
their Dutch rulers, who call them foreign adventurers.
Nor could we conceive of any reason why the Boers, who have now more freedom
than they ever dreamt of possessing under their own flag, including the right
to partially enslave the blacks, should suddenly rise up against the English,
whose money and brains are ever at the beck and call of the Dutch!
Here, however, is the war, predicted by the late native seeress,
and evidently we have to make the best of it.
The writer was in London at the end of July, 1914, when there were
many disquieting reports about the activities of suffragettes,
and when there were still more serious reports about
the unlawful mobilization of volunteer armies in Ireland.
It was in this exciting period that attention was at once transferred
from Ireland to the Continent of Europe. There it seemed
that every moment was ticking to drive us towards the greatest war
that the world ever saw. And though matters grew hourly more serious,
it did not then occur to the writer, a stranger then of only
six weeks in London, that after seeing the capital of the Empire
under conditions of peace, he was soon to see it under a war cloud
filled with all the horrors of the approaching war storm and all the signs
of patriotic enthusiasm. We were about to see Mafeking over again,
but through the biggest magnifying glass.
To walk along Oxford Street of an afternoon and see
the multitudes of well-dressed women pouring into the streets
from the underground stations (the "Tube" and the "Met", as they are called
in the vernacular), round Charing Cross and Piccadilly, and see them
walking up and down the thoroughfares and looking at the wares displayed
in the dazzling shop windows; or to come down Bishopsgate of a morning
and see the stupendous swarms of white men rushing to and fro
along the pavements of Threadneedle Street, crowding the motor-buses
round the Mansion House, St. Paul's and Ludgate Circus --
yet all this throng so well regulated by the City Police that nobody seems
to be in the other's way -- the disproportion of men and women
in the East and West respectively forming a partial segregation
between the sexes: to see these myriads of humanity gave one the impression
that if the Garden of Eden (whose whereabouts has not yet been defined)
was not actually in London, then some very fertile human germ
imported from the Garden must have been planted somewhere
in the vicinity of Trafalgar Square, or the Elephant and Castle.
These great masses of people when the war broke out were swept over,
as already indicated, by a wave of patriotism, and sections of them reinforced
by a regular inflow from the provinces, and foreign tourists
-- Americans, Scandinavians, Orientals and Colonials -- rushing back
from the danger zone on the Continent, stranded in London
with their pockets bulging with useless credit notes, all these joined
the buzzing groups in Fleet Street in scanning the latest telegrams
posted at the windows of the newspaper offices, or, going to Hyde Park,
they listened to the open-air speeches delivered there.
In this gamut of personalities and nationalities there were, at first,
faint murmurs by some of the English against their country joining the strife
and in favour of her remaining neutral and leaving the Continentals
to "stew in their own juice". But when German seamen laid mines
in the English Channel, and capped their deeds by sinking
the `Amphion' and the `Pathfinder', with hundreds of officers and men,
the "protestants" found that their efforts were out of date
and that their arguments could have held water in the good old days,
before the declaration of war, but not after. For the silent determination
of the London crowds, of both sexes and all colours, was so emphatic
that one could almost read it in their thoughts, and see it,
as it were, percolating through every fibre of their systems.
If the weaker races of the world -- (and which race is weaker
than the coloured?) -- are ever to enjoy rest, then the great Powers
must avenge the violation of the neutrality of Belgium.
Early in August, we left London to visit the Scottish capital,
and as far as the swiftness of the North British Railway
would allow a glimpse, the country towns and villages of the north
appeared to be swarming with Territorials in khaki. A painful sight
at some of the stations was the number of restive horses
forced into the railway trucks by troopers -- beautiful, well-fed animals
whose sleek appearance showed that they were unaccustomed to the rough life
to which the Tommies were leading them. Further, it was sad to think
that these noble creatures by their size were to be rendered easy targets
for the marksmen of the enemy's forces, and that they would in addition
be subjected to the severity of inclement weather conditions,
to which they likewise were unaccustomed.
At Edinburgh, the Cameron Highlanders marched along some of the streets
in their battalions, flinging the Highland kilt like the plaited reeds
of so many thousands of Bojale* girls. Handsome young Scotchmen, all of them,
and it was shocking to think that these fine young fellows
in the flower of their youth were going to be fired at with a set purpose
to kill them as if they were a flock of springbuck on a South African veld.
Surely it is time that civilization evolved a less brutal and less savage
form of warfare! On Sunday evening we attended divine service
at St. Giles's Cathedral, and the critical political situation
permeated the entire service. This feeling was not lessened
by the announcement that one of the gallant boys who sank with the `Amphion'
was a son of one of the sidesmen of St. Giles's. It was war as unmistakable
as it was grim.
* Bechuana circumcision rites.
After the declaration of war between Great Britain and Germany,
the Irish tension at once died away. The self-constituted
opposing armies of Dublin and Belfast, or rather Ireland and Ulster,
came forward and offered themselves and their arms to
the Imperial authorities. They were anxious to proceed at once
to the Continent and assert British prestige on the battlefield;
the suffragettes likewise at the outbreak of the war
declared a truce and offered their humble services to the Empire.
"More power to their hatpins!" But how about South Africa,
the baby-member of the British family? Where does she come in?
Within a week after the outbreak, Mr. Harcourt sent the following dispatch
to the Governors-General of Canada, Australia and New Zealand: --
Please communicate to your Ministers the following message from His Majesty
and publish: "I desire to express to my people of the overseas Dominions
with what appreciation and pride I have received the messages
from their respective Governments during the past few days.
The spontaneous assurance of their fullest support recalls to me
the generous self-sacrificing help given by them in the past
to the Mother Country. I shall be strengthened in the discharge
of the great responsibilities which rest upon me by the confident belief
that in this time of trial my Empire will stand united, calm, resolute,
trusting in God. -- George R.I."
More offers of men and money came from the Dominions;
and when such well-deserved Royal encomiums are showered
on the already laurelled heads of other dominions, a self-respecting
South African like ourselves walked the streets with a drooping head.
And when our kinsmen in West Africa under the leadership of British officers,
annexed German Togoland rather early in the campaign, we found these questions
reverting in our thoughts: What is our Government doing? When is it going
to move? Surely our Prime Minister, who is also Minister of Native Affairs,
should now postpone the constant pampering of the back-velders,
hang colour prejudice for a more peaceful time, call out the loyal legions
-- British, Boer, and Black -- and annex German South Africa without delay!
As a British General and Minister of Native Affairs, he should himself
lead the black contingents and leave the whites to be led
by their regular officers.
At the beginning of August, a special meeting of the South African
Native Congress was called at Bloemfontein, first to express
its disappointment at the cold reception given to the native deputation
by the Imperial Government; and secondly, to express its thanks
to the British public for the kind reception given to the deputation;
and thirdly, to devise ways and means for the deputation
to tour the United Kingdom on a mission, revealing to the British people
the manner in which the Colonial Government discharges its trust
to the coloured people.
Many of the delegates to the Congress had travelled long distances
by rail and road, but on their arrival at Bloemfontein it was only to learn
that war had broken out between Great Britain and Germany.
Hence the Native Congress, in view of the situation, resolving itself at once
into a patriotic demonstration, decided to hang up native grievances against
the South African Parliament till a better time and to tender the authorities
Mr. Dube, the president of the Congress, who had just returned from England
in time for the conference, proceeded direct to Pretoria with the Executive,
to lay at the feet of the Government this offer of service
made by the Native Congress. Offers of service poured into
the administrative capital from native chiefs and people
in all parts of the country. Magistrates who held meetings in their districts
on the instructions of the Government to explain the situation to the Natives
received similar offers. And besides all these, offers of service also came
from the Zulu chiefs and headmen, from Chief Dalindyebo of the Tembus,
Marelana of the Pondos, and from Griffiths of Basutoland.
In Bechuanaland, the veteran Chief Khama and other Bechuana chiefs
offered the services of native warriors as scouts in German South West Africa,
and the Swazi princes offered a Swazi impi, besides undertaking to help
in any other manner, as they did in the campaign against Sekukuni
in the 'seventies. The members of the native deputation in England
were longing to catch the first steamer back to South Africa
to join their countrymen and proceed to the front. But while
all these offers were gratefully acknowledged, none were
definitely accepted. Surely there must be something wrong.
Is it that the wretched South African colour prejudice is exerting itself
even in these critical times?
At Pretoria, Captain W. Allan King, the popular Native Commissioner
of the Pretoria District, held a meeting of Transvaal Natives,
which amongst others was attended by His Worship the Mayor
of the Union capital; and there again native offers of service were tendered.
Mr. Makgatho, the chairman, in his denial of the report
that appeared in the newspapers to the effect that "South Africa
could not take the field as she had a native menace to watch",
voiced the prevailing feeling of the Natives. Captain King, however,
assured the Natives that no such slanders were uttered by the Government.
He further reminded them that the Imperial Government
was face to face with the biggest struggle that ever took place
since the foundation of the world; and that there would be fighting
on land, in the air, on the water and under the water.
He urged the Natives to go to work as usual and see to it that there was
no slackening of industries. He also made a plea for the abiding respect
of the Natives to the German missionaries of the Transvaal,
having regard to what those good men had done in bygone years
for the evangelization of the Natives of that Province.
How little did any one dream at the time that he was thus pleading for others,
that Captain King would be among the victims of the war;
and that he would fall, not from a German bullet, but from one fired
by one of the Dutch traitors, in a brisk fight to quell
the recent Boer rebellion.
Ku mugama e Tipperary,
Ku mugama e Tipperary,
Kwe sona standwa sam.
Sala, Leicester Square,
Kude le-le-le, e Tipperary
'Ntliziyo yam ikona.
"Tipperary" in Xosa.
White men wrote to the newspapers that as France, our great Ally,
was using Native African troops, there could be no objection
against England doing the same -- as if England had rejected
the assistance of her coloured subjects pending a decision by France.
A well-known Natal campaigner wrote to the authorities
offering to raise a crack Zulu regiment composed of men
who had formerly fought for the old flag against their own people.
He said he felt certain that those Zulus could give as good
an account of themselves against any regiment in the field as any force
yet mobilized; but there was no definite acceptance of these offers
by the Government. The native uncertainty that arose from
this attitude of the South African Government went on until October,
when our colleagues of the native deputation returned home from England
and threw themselves into the vortex of the martial enthusiasm
that was then sweeping through the country, and as no offers were accepted
by the Government, Dr. Rubusana made to it the following further offer: --
The Right Hon. the Minister of Native Affairs, Pretoria, Transvaal.
Sir, -- Coming as I do so near from the scene of operations in Europe,
I feel that something more practical than mere lip-loyalty is required
from those who boast of the fact that they are British subjects, and are loyal
to the British Crown, more especially during this present crisis.
That being so, I am prepared to raise, if you deem it necessary,
a native levy of 5,000 able-bodied men to proceed to German South-West Africa,
provided the Government is prepared to fully equip this force for the front.
I should, of course, be prepared to accompany them.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
W. B. Rubusana.
Union of South Africa,
Department of Defence,
November 2, 1914.
Sir, -- With reference to your letter of the 20th ultimo, I am directed
to state that the Union Government greatly appreciates the loyal sentiments
which are being expressed by the native citizens of the Union.
I am, however, to refer you to the provisions of Section 7
of the South Africa Defence Act, 1912, and to state that the Government
does not desire to avail itself of the services, in a combatant capacity,
of citizens not of European descent in the present hostilities.
Apart from other considerations the present war is one which has its origin
among the white people of Europe and the Government are anxious to avoid
the employment of its native citizens in a warfare against whites.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
H. B. M. Bourne,
Secretary for Defence.
Dr. W. B. Rubusana,
East London, C.P.
General Botha was once confronted with a definite request
to reconcile two conflicting declarations of policies
enunciated by two members of his Cabinet, and in reply to that request
he gave the following highly diplomatic explanation: "The one Minister
has said things which should not have been said, and the other Minister
had said things which should have been said in a different way."
If there is one document which contains things that should not
have been penned, or that should have been differently worded, surely it
is the document we have just quoted. Fancy refusing native assistance
in the present world's war on the ground of colour! For weeks before
Dr. Rubusana sailed from Europe the Turcos and Algerian and Moroccan troops
had been doing wondrous deeds on the Continent for the cause of the Allies.
These coloured troops also included a regiment of wealthy Natives
from North Africa who had come to fight for France entirely
at their own expense -- a striking evidence of what the Empire is losing
through the South African policy of restricting native wages
to one shilling a day, in a country where the cost of living
is about the highest in the world. The Union Government
rejected the native offer a week after Lord Roberts laid down his life,
having delivered the appreciation of a grateful Empire
to the gallant Indian regiments who with distinction were participating
in the same war; and a month after the first German General Freise
was captured in the course of a daring charge by North African Natives
from the French Colonies; ten days after the Germans at Tsiengtau
had surrendered to the British and Japanese forces; and nearly three weeks
after the Germans had successfully involved Turkey in the strife;
and while the Canadian troops on Salisbury Plain included Red Indians.
Where, then, is the wisdom of telling Dr. Rubusana, who knows all these facts,
that the Government's rejection of the native offer is due to the fact
that the present struggle is an all-white one? The truth of the matter
is that the South African Government worships an idol, which was
best described by Sir Gordon Sprigg as "the demon of ignorance and prejudice",
and the claims of this fetish in South Africa precedes those of the Empire.
Under the old Republics we had a law which since the Union has become
the unwritten law of South Africa. In this law it is laid down
that a coloured policeman shall not lay his black hands on a white man
even if he found him red-handed in the commitment of a crime.
The duty of a coloured policeman in such circumstances would be
to look around for a white constable and report the misdemeanour to him.
Rather than suffer the humiliation of a black official
taking a white criminal into custody white South Africa
would prefer to have the country overrun with white criminals,
ergo, if the safety of the Crown is at stake and it could be saved
only by employing black men, we would much rather let the Crown go
than suffer the humiliation of seeing black warriors resisting a white enemy.
If there is one point upon which white South Africa is agreed, it is that
the claims of South Africa come first and those of the Empire afterwards.
The "bitter-enders" go further: they say that "the Empire comes handy
only in so far as it is useful to us, but when we have sucked it dry,
like an orange, it must be thrown away."* It may be that the blacks have
their reasons for objecting to these creeds: they would prefer Imperial lines
all the time, for Imperial lines are benevolent while South African lines
are cruel; consisting largely of repression and slavery.
* General Botha's reply to General Hertzog on the Ministerial crisis of 1912.
There is a talk in South Africa, which unhappily is not confined
to Dutch-speaking South Africans. It advocates the elimination
of the Imperial factor, because that factor is said to interfere
with colonial liberties, among which is the right to "correct" a Native
in a manner that a colonial deems fit. Thus, under the inconvenience
of the "pestilential Imperial factor", a colonial Magistrate
was forced to fine General De Wet the sum of 5s. on his pleading guilty
to having horse-whipped a Native. Under German rule, which threatened
the Union, the liberty of chastising the Native according to colonial ideas
would be extended, for the German method is that of the old "Free" State,
where a Native used to be tied to a wagon-wheel and whipped.
If he dies in consequence of the beating, his death was but a nominal offence.
This state of things explains the determination of the native races
to fight for the retention of the Imperial factor, or for what vestige of it
still remains in the country.
A native clergyman sends us the following letter. We are not quite certain
if the reverend gentleman desired to enlist as a private or as a chaplain;
anyway, this is what he says:
Can it be really true that we, too, belong to the British Empire?
This war is growing in such dimensions that it is even affecting
the King's household. The Prince of Wales has gone to the front,
and His Majesty the King has also gone, yet we are told that we are not worthy
on account of our colour to fight for our King and Empire.
White men only must defend the King's Dominions while we remain behind
with the women and children. Surely it cannot be the wish of the loyal Boers
that we must not defend our Empire; it is only the wish of the rebels,
and it seems that our Government will continue to study their feelings
even while they are engaged in shooting down loyal people.
It would seem that the South African Government is so deeply
in love with the Natives that they are scrupulously careful
lest the Natives should singe so much as a hair in the present struggle,
and that white men alone may shoot and kill one another.
But, in point of fact, black men ARE required by the Union Government
to proceed to the front as Government wagon drivers,
driving provisions and ammunition wagons, and acting as orderlies
to the white burghers. In these capacities they are exposed
to all the risks and horrors of the war, yet even if they are shot,
they must not, under any circumstances, be mentioned in the casualty lists,
nor must they carry arms, lest their behaviour should merit recognition;
their heroic deeds and acts of valour must, on account of their colour,
not be recorded. These native drivers are classed with the transport mules,
with this difference, that while the owner of a mule receives
monetary compensation for each animal that falls on the battlefield,
or is captured by the enemy, the Government's interest in the black driver
ceases when he is killed.
Suppose the services of these muleteers were recognized
in a combatant capacity, some one might get it into his head to ask:
"Why should loyal fighting taxpayers be debarred from
the rights of the franchise that are liberally bestowed
on white rebels and their relations, some of whom are said
to contribute nothing towards the upkeep of the State?"
So then to refuse these Natives the right to carry arms
in defence of the Empire, and to send them to the front without arms,
is to deprive such inquirers of this and similar arguments.
On St. Patrick's Day, the `Westminster Gazette' appeared
with a leading article, from which we make the following extract: --
It will be impossible, when we have had the assistance of the Indian Army
in Europe, to restrict the promotion of its officers in the manner
laid down hitherto. It will also be impossible to restrict Natives of India
WHO HAVE PROVED THEIR ABILITY AND EXPERIENCE BY LONG SERVICE
in their own country TO POSITIONS IN WHICH THEY ARE SUBORDINATE TO THE RAWEST
NEW ARRIVAL FROM THE COVENANTED SERVICE. All these discriminations
which rest simply on race and are justified by no natural disability
will have to be swept away, and new and more generous conditions laid down
for the whole Indian public service.
Surely what is true in regard to the Indian public service
is equally so in regard to that infallible South African taxing machine,
the adjunct of the Union Civil Service, which is officially called
the Native Affairs Department. There, raw recruits serve their apprenticeship
while lording it over Natives who have proved their ability and experience
by a quarter of a century's service in their own country.
It is to prevent the application to South Africa of broad-minded views
like those expressed by the `Westminster Gazette' that native Africans
must not serve against the Germans. Therefore it seems
to have occurred to the authorities that the best course
is to engage the Natives in a capacity in which their participation
will demand no recognition. These statements are not mere empty phrases,
for the writer recently caused inquiries to be made through
the Department of Native Affairs in South Africa as to whether there were
any Coloured People who had been killed or wounded while on active service
at the front. And the result was a long list of killed, wounded, and captured
up to the end of October, 1914, among Natives and Coloured People
who had not been mentioned in the casualty lists.*
* When the enemy airmen attacked the British camp at Garub (G.S.W.A.),
on March 27, 1915, and dropped bombs on General Botha's guns,
Reuter says, "only one Native was slightly wounded."
This deference to South African prejudice would at least seem reasonable
if the King's enemies also had colour scruples. But so far from that
being the case, Natives living far away from defended centres
are always the first to suffer when a white man's war breaks out.
In fact they are always subjected to indignities from which
they would be immune if they had arms. One of the first steps taken
by the "Free" State rebels under General De Wet during the recent rebellion
was to dash for the nearest native owner of horses and annex their mounts.
The unarmed proprietor's recourse in that case was to take to his heels
and leave the rebels to plunder his stock. Any hesitation to run away
has involved some unfortunate Native in the danger of being horsewhipped
into the service of the King's enemies, and if he took the first opportunity
to escape from the rebel commando, a detection of his act
would positively have meant a bullet behind his neck.
The late Dean Green of Natal, writing years ago, said: --
"Every chief should have his own militia and police. Our common human nature
tells us that it is the duty of every one capable of bearing arms
to fit himself to be able to defend his country and Government.
Were the Government to refuse permission to the chief to enrol his young men,
it would inflict a wrong on them, against which their manliness would revolt.
Our Government, however, is not established to alienate from us
the native races, but to attach them to us by giving them full freedom
to exercise under restraints of Christianity all those instincts and desires
which are proper to their manhood.
"The Houssas and Soudanese on the north, the negro tribes on the west,
form part of the Imperial forces, and have shown themselves
true, brave, and useful troops. On no possible ground of justice
can the loyal Bantu tribes be placed under a ban, and refused
to serve in the ranks for the defence of the Empire. A youth debarred
from the legitimate opportunities of exercising his manly energies will become
riotous and unruly, and addict himself, for the sake of excitement,
to sheep-stealing, etc."
The `Christian Express', which has always acted as the mediator
between the overbearing section of Colonial opinion
on the one hand and the subject races on the other, tried to allay
the disappointment of our people with the excuse that the Government
refused the native offer on the ground that it desired to use men
from the more advanced races who are capable of being more easily trained.*
In the face of historical records, however, this argument
will not hold a drop of water. British archives are overloaded with instances
of the valour and tractability of the aboriginal races of South Africa
no less than those of their nephews, the Cape Coloured People.
Not having enough space to enumerate them at length we may only refer
to two instances of recent date.
* The `Express' is now advocating the raising of an army of 100,000 Natives.
During the South African war, the writer was asked by the military authorities
to recruit twelve young Natives to act as scouts in the Western Transvaal.
The young fellows were handed to Sergt. Clemens of the Cape Police
for training. Three days after they were enrolled we met the Sergeant,
who was highly pleased with his "raw recruits". He told us
with evident satisfaction that, after he had given them oral instructions
in the handling and use of firearms, he took them to the range
to try them at shooting; and all but two of them hit the bull's eye
with the first attempt. This is but one isolated instance
which is typical of the rest.
It is doubtful if any white man is a greater authority
on the character of the Zulus than Mr. R. C. Samuelson of Natal.
Writing on the outbreak of the European war and the advisability of raising
native levies, he said: --
During the late rebellion I was captain and adjutant of 350 men
composed of men, half of whom were Christians and the other half
heathens of the Amangwane, a section of the Amabomyu tribe,
who at the beginning of the rebellion were raw recruits,
but who, after three months' drill and manoeuvring, were as expert
in their drill and use of the rifle and riding as any corps in the field.
In all my dealings with all these men and many more, I found them
most attentive, most orderly, most careful about their arms,
most alert on duty, perfectly reliable, and in and out loyal
to the Government and those they were under. Having been a volunteer
for many years, and a cadet at college in the Cape, I can safely say
that I never found our people as a body so easy to manage and train
in the military art, and so orderly and attentive as these natives were.
I had the honour to be called upon to summon 50 of the Zulu war and Boer war
heroes to be reviewed by the Duke of Connaught; many of these
had the Zulu war medal on, which the Duke took special notice of,
but the Boer war medal was not there. These people were highly complimented
by the Duke, and afterwards gave a free concert to the Royal party
in the Maritzburg Town Hall, which was attended by immense crowds,
the chief song of the evening being a Zulu song specially prepared
by these men, and set to music by them, in honour of the Royal party,
which was also embossed and presented to the Royal party.
The Royal party expressed their appreciation by sending forward to me
one of the officers in waiting on them to thank the singers.
"Izwe Lakiti" Aug. 12, 1914.
The writer has received several letters expressing the native resentment
of the idea that they should fold their arms and cogitate
while other British subjects, irrespective of colour,
are sacrificing their lives for the defence of the Empire in this,
the darkest period of His Majesty's reign. Our reply to each of these letters
was that the natives should subscribe, according to their small means,
to the several war funds; and our latest information
is that they are subscribing to the Prince of Wales' Fund,
the Governor-General's and the Belgian Relief Fund.
When we last heard from home the Basutos had given 2,700 Pounds
to the National Relief Fund, the list being headed by Chief Griffiths
with a donation of 100 Pounds. Chief Khama of Bechuanaland gave 800 Pounds,
Chief Lewanika of Barotseland 200 Pounds, Chief Lekoko and two other Chiefs,