[Sidenote: Murder of Piet Retief.]

The second trek was equally unfortunate. Piet Retief had duly paid for and obtained possession from Dingaan, chief of the Zulus, of that tract of territory now known as Natal, the latter, incited by some Englishmen, treacherously murdered him and his party on the 6th February, 1838; 66 Boers and 30 of their followers perished. The Great Trek thus lost its most courageous and noble-minded leader. [9] Dingaan then sent two of his armies, and they overcame the women and children and the aged at Boesmans River (Blaauw-krantz), where the village of Weenen now stands; 282 white people and 252 servants were massacred.

Towards the end of the year we entered the land of this criminal with a small commando of 464 men, and on the 16th December, 1838 - since known as "Dingaan's Day," the proudest in our history - we overthrew the military might of the Zulus, consisting of 10,000 warriors, and burnt Dingaan's chief kraal.

[Sidenote: No extension of British territory.]

[10] After that we settled down peaceably in Natal, and established a new Republic. The territory had been purchased with our money and baptised with our blood. But the Republic was not permitted to remain in peace for long. The Colonial Office was in pursuit. The Government first of all decided upon a military occupation of Natal, for, as Governor Napier wrote to Lord Russell on the 22nd June, 1840, "it was apparently the fixed determination of Her Majesty's Government not to extend Her Colonial possessions in this quarter of the Globe." The only object of the military occupation was to crush the Boers, as the Governor, Sir George Napier, undisguisedly admitted in his despatch to Lord Glenelg, of the 16th January, 1838. The Boers were to be prevented from obtaining ammunition, and to be forbidden to establish an independent Republic. By these means he hoped to put a stop to the emigration. Lord Stanley instructed Governor Napier on the 10th April, 1842, to cut the emigrant Boers off from all communication, and to inform them that the British Government would assist the savages against them, and would treat them as rebels.

Twice we successfully withstood the military occupation; more English perished while in flight from drowning than fell by our bullets.

Commissioner Cloete was sent later to annex the young Republic as a reward for having redeemed it for civilisation.

[Sidenote: Protest of Natal]

[11] Annexation, however, only took place under strong protest. On the 21st February, 1842, the Volksraad of Maritzburg, under the chairmanship of Joachim Prinsloo, addressed the following letter to Governor Napier: -

We know that there is a God, who is the Ruler of heaven and earth, and who has power, and is willing to protect the injured, though weaker, against oppressors. In Him we put our trust, and in the justice of our cause; and should it be His will that total destruction be brought upon us, our wives and children, and everything we possess, we will with due submission acknowledge to have deserved from Him, but not from men. We are aware of the power of Great Britain, and it is not our object to defy that power; but at the same time we cannot allow that might instead of right shall triumph, without having employed all our means to oppose it.

[Sidenote: The Boer women]

[12] The Boer women of Maritzburg informed the British Commissioner that, sooner than subject themselves again to British sway, they would walk barefoot over the Drakensberg to freedom or to death. [13] And they were true to their word, as the following incident proves. Andries Pretorius, our brave leader, had ridden through to Grahamstown, hundreds of miles distant, in order to represent the true facts of our case to Governor Pottinger. He was unsuccessful, for he was obliged to return without a hearing from the Governor, who excused himself under the pretext that he had no time to receive Pretorius. When the latter reached the Drakensberg, on his return, he found nearly the whole population trekking over the mountains away from Natal and away from British sway. His wife was lying ill in the waggon, and his daughter had been severely hurt by the oxen which she was forced to lead.

[Sidenote: Suffering in Natal]

Sir Harry Smith, who succeeded Pottinger, thus described the condition of the emigrant Boers: - "They were exposed to a state of misery which he had never before seen equalled, except in Massena's invasion of Portugal. The scene was truly heart-rending."

This is what we had to suffer at the hands of the British Government in connection with Natal.

We trekked back over the Drakensberg to the Free State, where some remained, but others wandered northwards over the Vaal River.


[Footnote 9: Theal, pages 104 - 130.]
[Footnote 10: Theal, 169.]
[Footnote 11: Theal, 155.]
[Footnote 12: Theal, 179.]
[Footnote 13: Theal, 244.]


The Orange Free State

[Sidenote: Boomplaats]

[14] Giving effect to Law 6 and 7, William IV., ch. 57, the English appointed a Resident in the Free State. Pretorius, however, gave him 48 hours' notice to quit the Republic. Thereupon Sir Harry Smith mobilised an army, chiefly consisting of blacks, against us white people, and fought us at Boomplaats, on the 29th August, 1848. After an obstinate struggle a Boer named Thomas Dreyer was caught by the blacks of Smith's army, and to the shame of English reputation, was killed by the English Governor for no other crime than that he was once, though years before, a British subject, and had now dared to fight against Her Majesty's Flag.

Another murder and deed of shame in South Africa's account with England!

[Sidenote: Annexation of the Orange Free State]

In the meantime Sir Harry Smith had annexed the Free State as the "Orange River Sovereignty," on the pretext that four-fifths of the inhabitants favoured British dominion, and were only intimidated by the power of Pretorius from manifesting their wishes.

[Sidenote: Moshesh]

But the British Resident soon came into collision with Moshesh, the great and crafty head chieftain of the Basutos.

The Boers were called up to assist, but only 75 responded out of the 1,000 who were called up. The English had then to eat the leek. The Resident informed his Government that the fate of the Orange River Sovereignty depended upon Andries Pretorius, the very man on whose head Sir Harry Smith had put a price of L2,000. Earl Grey censured and abandoned both Sir Harry Smith and the Resident, Major Warden, saying in his despatch to the Governor dated 15th December, 1851, that the British Government had annexed the country on the understanding that the inhabitants had generally desired it. But if they would not support the British Government, which had only been established in their interests, and if they wished to be freed from that authority, there was no longer any use in continuing it.

[Sidenote: The Orange Sovereignty once more a Republic.]

The Governor was clearly given to understand by the British Government that there was in future to be no interference in any of the wars which might take place between the different tribes and the inhabitants of independent states beyond the Colonial boundaries, no matter how sanguinary such wars might happen to be.

In other words, as Froude says, [15] "In 1852 we had discovered that wars with the Natives and wars with the Dutch were expensive and useless, that sending troops out and killing thousands of Natives was an odd way of protecting them. We resolved then to keep within our own territories, to meddle no more beyond the Orange River, and to leave the Dutch and the Natives to settle their differences among themselves."

And again: [16] "Grown sick at last of enterprises which led neither to honour nor peace, we resolved, in 1852, to leave Boers, Kaffirs, Basutos, and Zulus to themselves, and make the Orange River the boundary of British responsibilities. We made formal treaties with the two Dutch States, binding ourselves to interfere no more between them and the Natives, and to leave them either to establish themselves as a barrier between ourselves and the interior of Africa, or to sink, as was considered most likely, in an unequal struggle with warlike tribes, by whom they were infinitely outnumbered."

The administration of the Free State cost the British taxpayer too much. There was an idea, too, that if enough rope were given to the Boer he would hang himself.

A new Governor, Sir George Cathcart, was sent out with two Special Commissioners to give effect to the new policy. A new Treaty between England and the Free State was signed, by which full independence was guaranteed to the Republic, the British Government undertaking at the same time not to interfere with any of the Native tribes north of the Orange River.

As Cathcart remarked in his letters - the Sovereignty bubble had burst, and the silly Sovereignty farce was played out.

[Sidenote: The Diamond Fields]

[17] It must not be forgotten that as long as the Free State was English territory it was supposed to include that strip of ground now known as Kimberley and the Diamond Fields; English title deeds had been issued during the Orange River Sovereignty in respect of the ground in question, which was considered to belong to the Sovereignty, and to be under the jurisdiction of one of the Sovereignty Magistrates. At the reestablishment of the Free State it consequently became a part of the Orange Free State.

[Sidenote: The Basutos.]

Not fifteen years had elapsed since the Convention between England and the Free State before it was broken by the English. It had been solemnly stipulated that England would not interfere in Native affairs north of the Orange River. The Basutos had murdered the Freestaters, plundered them, ravished their wives, and committed endless acts of violence. After a bitter struggle of three years, the Freestaters had succeeded in inflicting a well-merited chastisement on the Basutos, when the British intervened in 1869 in favour of the Natives, notwithstanding the fact that they had reiterated their declaration of non-interference in the Aliwal Convention.

[Sidenote: The Diamond Fields.]

[18] To return to the Diamond Fields, as Froude remarks: "The ink on the Treaty of Aliwal was scarcely dry when diamonds were discovered in large quantities in a district which we had ourselves treated as part of the Orange Territory." Instead of honestly saying that the British Government relied on its superior strength, and on this ground demanded the territory in question, which contained the richest diamond fields in the world, it hypocritically pretended that the real reason of its depriving the Free State of the Diamond Fields was that they belonged to a Native, notwithstanding the fact that this contention was falsified by the judgment of the English Courts. [19] "There was a notion also," says Froude, "that the finest diamond mine in the world ought not to be lost to the British Empire."

The ground was thereupon taken from the Boers, and "from that day no Boer in South Africa has been able to trust to English promises."

Later, when Brand went to England, the British Government acknowledged its guilt and paid L90,000 for the richest diamond fields in the world, a sum which scarcely represents the daily output of the mines.

But notwithstanding the Free State Convention, notwithstanding the renewed promises of the Aliwal Convention[20] - the Free State was forced to suffer a third breach of the Convention at the hands of the English. Ten thousand rifles were imported into Kimberley through the Cape Colony, and sold there to the natives who encircled and menaced the two Dutch Republics.[21] General Sir Arthur Cunynghame, the British Commander-in-Chief in South Africa, admits that 400,000 guns were sold to Kaffirs during his term of office. Protests from the Transvaal and the Free State were of no avail.[22] And when the Free State in the exercise of its just rights stopped waggons laden with guns on their way through its territory, it was forced to pay compensation to the British Government.

"The Free State," says the historian Froude, "paid the money, but paid it under protest, with an old-fashioned appeal to the God of Righteousness, whom, strange to say, they believed to be a reality."

It seems thus that there is no place for the God of Righteousness in English policy.

So far we have considered our Exodus from the Cape Colony, and the way in which we were deprived of Natal and the Free State by England. Now for the case of the Transvaal.


[Footnote 14: Theal, 256-64. Hofstede.]
[Footnote 15: Oceana, page 31.]
[Footnote 16: Oceana, page 36.]
[Footnote 17: Froude, Oceana. Hofstede.]
[Footnote 18: Oceana, page 41.]
[Footnote 19: Oceana, page 40.]
[Footnote 20: Oceana, page 42.]
[Footnote 21: Cunynghame, page XI.]
[Footnote 22: Oceana, page 42.]