1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Rhodesia
|←Rhodes||1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 23
|See also Southern Rhodesia and Northern Rhodesia on Wikipedia, and our 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica disclaimer.|
Rhodesia (so named after Cecil Rhodes), an inland country and British possession in South Central Africa, bounded S. and S.W. by the Transvaal, the Bechuanaland Protectorate and German South-West Africa; W. by Portuguese West Africa; N.W. by Belgian Congo; N.E. by German East Africa; E. by the British Nyasaland Protectorate and Portuguese East Africa. It covers an area of about 450,000 sq. m., being larger than France, Germany and the Low Countries combined. It is divided into two parts of unequal size by the middle course of the Zambezi.
Southern Rhodesia, with an area of 148,575 sq. m., consists of Matabeleland and Mashonaland, the Western and eastern provinces, while the trans-Zambezi regions are divided into North-Western Rhodesia (or Barotseland) and North-Eastern Rhodesia.
Physical Features. — Rhodesia forms part of the high tableland which constitutes the interior of Africa.south of the Congo basin. Hydrographically the greater part of the country belongs to the basin of the Zambezi (q.v.), but in the N.E. it includes the eastern head streams of the Congo, and in the S. and S.E. it is drained by the tributaries of the Limpopo, the Sabi and the Pungwe. The Limpopo forms the boundary between Southern Rhodesia and the Transvaal. The northwestern regions, drained by the upper Zambezi and its affluents, are described under Barotseland, and North-Eastern Rhodesia, together with the adjacent Nyasaland Protectorate, under British Central Africa. The highest portion of the tableland of Southern Rhodesia runs from the S.W. to the N .E. and forms a broad watershed between the tributaries of the Zambezi flowing north and the rivers flowing south and east. It is along this high plateau that the railway runs from Bulawayo to Salisbury and onwards to Portuguese East Africa. The elevation of the railway varies from 4500 ft. to 5500 ft. There is a gradual sloping away of the plateau to the N.W. and S.E., so that only a small portion of Southern Rhodesia is under 3000 ft. The eastern boundary, along Portuguese East Africa, forms the edge of the tableland; the height of the edge is accentuated by a series of ridges, so that the country here assumes a mountainous appearance, the grass-clad heights being reminiscent of the Cheviot Hills of Scotland or the lower Alps of Switzerland.
Geology. — The geology of this region is very imperfectly known. Metamorphic rocks extend over immense areas, but these and the other formations are to a great extent hidden beneath superficial deposits. Conglomerates and banded ironstone rocks are found in the metamorphic areas around Bulawayo and the borders of Katanga; but to what extent these represent the different formations older than the Karroo and newer than the Swaziland schists (see Transvaal) has not been satisfactorily determined. Certain gold-bearing conglomerates, are regarded as the equivalents of the Witwatersrand series, but the main sources of gold are the veins of quartz and igneous rocks developed in the metamorphic series. The Karroo formation is well represented, and covers extensive areas in the Zambezi basin. The Dwyka conglomerate appears to be developed in the Tuli district. The coal-bearing strata of Tuli and Wankies are certainly of Karroo age. They have yielded the fossil remains of fishes Acrolepis molyneuxi, the fresh-water mollusc Palaeomutela, a few reptilian bones, and species of Glossopteris among plants.
The age of a widely distributed series of red-white sandstones, named by Molyneux the Forest Sandstone, remains uncertain. Molyneux considers them Tertiary, but it is not improbable that sandstones of various ages from Karroo to those of Recent date are represented. They contain numerous interbedded sheets of basalt, but it is doubtful if any of these are of so recent a date as Tertiary. Rocks of Karroo age occur round Lake Bangweulu, and contain numerous fossil plants and a few small shells. The age of the wide, thick sheet of basalt, through which the Zambezi has cut the Batoka gorge between the Victoria Falls and Wankies, remains uncertain.
Climate. — As Southern Rhodesia extends between 16° S. and 22° S., and is thus within the tropics, it might be expected that the climate would be trying for Europeans, but owing to the elevation of the country the temperature is rarely too high for comfort. Another factor that renders the climate equable is that the rainy season coincides with the summer months, and the winter months are dry. The nights are always cool, so that the climate approximates to the ideal. On the high tableland which forms the great proportion of the country the temperature in the shade rarely reaches 100° and there is just sufficient frost in the winter to be useful to farmers. The winter months are June, July and August, and the hottest months are the spring months of September, October and November, just before the rains begin. A temperature of 110° is sometimes reached in the low-lying district of Tuli (elevation 1890 ft.) and in the Zambezi valley. There is a striking difference between the minimum temperatures on the ground and those registered 4 ft. from the ground. The latter rarely reach freezing-point, but the ground temperature is sometimes as low as 24°. Hoar frost is most noticeable in the vleis and low-lying areas. The period known as the rainy season extends from September to March, but the greatest amount falls in the last three months of that period. The mean annual rainfall for various stations in the eastern half of Rhodesia ranges from 24 to 44 in., the greatest rainfall being along the eastern border. For the western half the mean ranges from 19 to 27 in., but in the south-west corner it is much drier, the rainfall so far recorded never reaching 18 in. There is a sufficiency of rain for all summer crops, but winter crops, such as wheat, must be assisted by irrigation. Malaria is prevalent in certain districts during the wet season, but this is now preventable and the country is very healthy, children, especially in towns and on the high veld, growing sturdily. The death-rate amongst Europeans is only about 15 per 1000.
Fauna. — Rhodesia is rich in the larger gramivorous animals, especially in antelope, which number about twenty-five varieties, including kudu, eland, hartebeeste, roan, sable, wildebeeste and impala. The most common are the duiker, the steenbok and the rietbok. Other herbivorous animals found in the country are the buffalo, giraffe, zebra, elephant, hippopotamus, rhinoceros (black and white), warthog, and various baboons and monkeys. The buffalo is now rare, having been almost exterminated by the rinderpest in 1896. The carnivora include the lion, leopard, cheetah, and various wild cats, foxes, wolves, jackals and dogs. There are at least five varieties of the mongoose. Amongst the rodents are squirrels, dormice, rats (eleven kinds), the porcupine, the Cape hare and the rock hare. Of insectivora the ant-eater, the ant-bear, the hedgehog and various shrews may be mentioned. Bats number eleven varieties. Snakes are numerous, the most important being the python, the puff-adder and the cobra. Crocodiles and iguanas are found in most of the rivers, and chameleons and lizards are very common. Rhodesia abounds in beetles, butterflies and moths, and new varieties are frequently discovered in the wet season. Mention ought to be made of white ants (termites) and locusts. The ants are a serious pest, attacking all cut timber resting in or on the ground. They gradually envelop the dead wood in a mound of earth and, consume it wholly, so that all poles and house-timber have to be carefully protected either by chemical preparations or by raising them clear from contact with the earth. The mounds which the white ants erect often reach a height of many feet. There are several kinds, the black-headed nipper ant, chiefly found in the west, being the most destructive. Locusts are particularly dreaded in their wingless state, when they clean off every green leaf, every bit of vegetation, as they march on in their hundreds of thousands. The rivers are not very plentiful in fish, but occasional sport is afforded by barbel, bream and tiger-fish.
Birds to the number of about 400 varieties have been found in Rhodesia. The largest of these are the ostrich, the secretary-bird, the paauw, the koorhaan, cranes (three varieties), storks (four), vultures (six) and eagles (eight). The chief birds that attract sportsmen, besides the paauw and the koorhaan already mentioned, are the guinea-fowl (three kinds), partridge and francolin (seven kinds), wild goose, duck and teal. Some of the most interesting birds are the weaver-birds (eighteen), the ox-peckers, which find their food on the backs of cattle, the kingfishers (eight), the hornbills (five), the parrots, lovebirds, the polygamous widow birds — whose females are of insignificant appearance, but whose males develop a brilliant plumage and lengthy tails during the breeding season, when they are on guard over their harems of from ten to fifteen wives — the sunbirds, with their long curved beaks that search out the nectar of flowers, and the honey-guides, which, with their agitated “chuck, chuck,” lead the wayfarer to bees’ nests with expectation of joining in the plunder. The small birds of Rhodesia are usually very brilliantly coloured, the most distinguished being what is known as the blue jay, with its bright, iridescent, light blue plumage.
Flora. — The vegetation of the territory is luxurious and mainly subtropical, but in the lower valleys the flora assumes a tropical aspect. The country is well wooded and in this respect differs from the high tablelands farther south. The trees as a rule attain no greater height than about 20 ft., but in some districts, such as South Melsetter and Wankies, there are remains of forests of large timber. The small growth of the trees is said to be due to the annual veld fires, and it is noticeable that native trees that are protected attain a much greater height. As a rule the wood is either very hard or very soft, so that timber for building has still to be imported, although the existing timber is useful for mining purposes. One of the hardest woods is the so-called Rhodesian teak (native Ikusi), which is about 50% harder than real teak (Tectona grandis). The trees most commonly met with are mapane, used for poles; umkamba, resembling mahogany; m’lanji cedar, chiefly found along the eastern border; umsasa, used for firewood; impachla, the native wisteria. Among other trees are the baobab with enormous very soft trunk, the fruit being a large nut containing citrate of magnesia, which natives use to make a cooling drink; the umvagaz — or blood-wood — which issues a blood-coloured juice when cut, and the umkuna, or hissing tree, which hisses when an incision is made. The barks of the umsasa, the umhondo, and the umgosa are much used by natives for binding fibres in making huts and are also used for tanning. The bark of the baobab yields a fine fibre which natives use in making excellent game nets and fishing nets. The native fruit-bearing trees are the fig (many varieties), the mahobohobo or umjanje, resembling the loquat, the Kaffir plum, very sour and totally different from the Kaffir plum of Cape Colony, and the Kaffir orange. Among the shrubs the proteas, or sugar bushes, with their nectar-stored flowers, are the most frequent. The mimosa thorn, although more of the nature of a tree, grows in dense masses, chiefly in the western province.
The period of the year when flowers begin to bloom is rather remarkable. After the long spell of dry weather, lasting from five to seven months, and before any rain has fallen, blooms appear all over the veld. Most of such flowers are those of bulbous plants or plants with large roots that have been stored with nourishment during the previous growing wet season. The flowers are sustained by this stock of food until the rains appear again to replenish the roots. Even grass sprouts green over the earth before the rains appear, and the hard-baked veld is pierced by the shoots of the gladiolus, the orchid, the asparagus, the solanum, the convolvulus and many other flowers. When the rains are far advanced, the annuals shoot rapidly and make a second show of bloom. A peculiarity of the early spring shoots on trees and shrubs is that they have not the green tints of the colder regions, but are all shades of brown and orange and red and yellow.
One of the chief features of Rhodesia is the vast stretches of grass-covered veld, the grasses varying from a few inches to 15 ft. in height and numbering about 100 different varieties. Along the rivers are to be found palms, tree ferns, bananas, dracaenas and other hot climate plants. Rubber, indigo and cotton are indigenous and there are groves of lemon trees, but these were most probably introduced by early settlers. Tobacco, which grows luxuriantly, may also have been introduced.
Inhabitants. — In Southern Rhodesia about half the European population, which in 1909 was approximately 16,500, is British born or born of British parents, and about one-third is South African born. There are about 11,500 males and 5000 females, and the population is equally divided between the urban and rural areas. In rural areas the chief occupations are mining and agriculture. Industrial pursuits, including mining, engage about 25% of the population, 8% are employed in agriculture, and 15% in commerce. Mashonaland has 7500 white inhabitants, and Matabeleland 9000. There are about 2000 Asiatics in Southern Rhodesia.
The Natives of Rhodesia belong to the Bantu-Negro stock and are roughly divisible into two groups; those long settled in the country, and the Amazulu, who during the 19th century left Zululand and, passing through the more southern regions, overran Rhodesia and settled in Matabeleland. The Barotse (q.v.) are mainly settled in North-West Rhodesia. In Southern Rhodesia, in spite of incursions from Portuguese territory and from the north, the natives can be still clearly divided into Mashona and Matabele, living in the eastern and western provinces respectively. The name Mashona is not used by the natives but is useful as distinguishing the allied tribes of the eastern division from the Matabele in the west. The languages of the Mashona tribes are allied and are distinct from that of the Matabele (or Zulu), but it is uncertain whether these Mashona tongues should be regarded merely as different dialects, or languages as different as those of the various nations of Europe (but see Bantu Languages). The tribes round Salisbury and extending as far as Marondella in the east and about 100 m. north are clearly branches of the Vasezuru people, that is, the people from “higher up,” the “higher up” being a region in the south-east. Their history can be traced from about the beginning of the 18th century; but there is a great lack of tradition amongst this class of native, which is distinctly inferior in type to the Matabele in the west.
Farther north there are the Makorikori and the Mabudja or Mabushla. It would appear that the country in which these people now dwell was formerly in the possession of the Barotse, and some of the present chiefs obtained their positions by permission of the Barotse. Previously, according to Portuguese documents of the 16th and 17th centuries, the Makaranga or Makalanga now located in the south round about Victoria had possession of the country as far north as the Zambezi. Their language is allied to that of the present inhabitants, but in many respects is widely different and of late has become more so owing to intercourse with the Matabele. Along the eastern border two more tribes can be differentiated, namely, Umtasa’s people in the north and those speaking the Chindawo language in the south. Their languages are merely variants of the language spoken in the Salisbury and Mazoe districts.
All the tribes in the eastern province have very similar habits and customs. Their huts are circular with a wall a foot or two high, made of poles and daga (mud) surmounted by a conical thatched roof. They thus differ from the beehive huts of the Zulus. They are built indiscriminately together and are not surrounded by stockades. The whole family dwells in the same hut along with dogs, goats and fowls, and sometimes even with cattle, though there are usually separate kraals for their cattle. The kraals are as a rule filthy, but the inside of the hut is kept clean. There is a special place for a fire, and a raised portion of the mud floor on which to sleep, but no furniture. Their mealie fields are usually some distance from the place of abode, but their tobacco gardens are near their huts. Their main object in life seems to be to grow sufficient grain for food and beer. The grain they store in granaries, resembling small huts, placed on rocks or on stakes, out of the reach of white ants and secure from the depredations of animals. They amuse themselves occasionally by making earthenware pots which are very soft and easily broken, or by engaging in iron-work or brass-wire work for ornamentation. In the south they are quite clever in making watertight baskets from rushes grown by the Sabi river. In their religious beliefs spirits play a great part. Above all there is a wague idea of a Supreme Being whom they call Mwari. They have a fixed belief in the spirits of their ancestors, the spirits of the witch-doctors, the spirits of the Matabele, the spirits of old women, the spirits of the foolish, the spirits of baboons, &c. Every occurrence is attributed to the influence of a spirit, and if the occurrence is an evil one a feast and dance of propitiation are held. Feasts of thanksgiving are also held on such occasions as the gathering of the first-fruits, the harvest festival, or on the return from a long and dangerous journey. Of the tribes already mentioned the most advanced are Umtasa’s people and the Makaranga. The probable connexion of the tribes now inhabiting Mashonaland with the architects of the ancient stone buildings which are scattered over the country is discussed in the section Archaeology. Of these ruins the most extensive are situated near Victoria and are known as Zimbabwe (q.v.).
In the western province the Matabele, or rather Amandabele, are the descendants of the Zulus who trekked under the leadership of the famous Mosilikatze up through the Transvaal, whence they were driven by the Boers. Mosilikatze died in 1868, and his son Lobengula, after a fight with a brother, assumed sway in 1870. His people were divided into three main sections: the Abezansi (who were the aristocrats), the Abenhla and the Amaholi. The Amaholi or Holi were the inhabitants of the land at the time of the invasion and thereafter were practically in the position of bondsmen and rarely allowed to possess cattle. The great spirit of the Holis was the Mlimo, who was practically the spirit of the nation. Among the Holi tribes are the Abashangwe, the Abanyai, the Batonke (near the Zambezi), the Abananzwa of the Wankie district, the Ababiro of the Tuli district, and the Abasili, a nomadic tribe chiefly subsisting on game. There is a small tribe in the Belingwe district called the Abalemba, which would appear to have been in touch with the Arabs in early times. Their customs include circumcision and the rejection of pork as food.
The natives in Southern Rhodesia number about 700,000, and of these 10,000 work on the mines and 20,000 are engaged in farm, railway and household work under Europeans.
Chief Towns. — Salisbury, which lies 4880 ft. above the sea, is the capital of Southern Rhodesia, being the seat of government, and is situated in the eastern province (Mashonaland). There are about 1700 white inhabitants and 3000 natives. It is the commercial centre for an extensive mining and farming district. The principal buildings include churches, public library, hospital, schools, banks, post office and numerous hotels. There are a considerable number of government offices, and the administrator and resident commissioner live here. The only industries are a brewery and a tobacco factory for grading and packing the tobaccos of the local growers.
Bulawayo (q.v.), situated 4469 ft. above the sea, is the largest town and is in the western province, Matabeleland. It is 301 m. by rail S.W. of Salisbury, and 1362 m. N.E. of Cape Town. The population is some 4000 Europeans and about the same number of natives. The town has the advantage of a good pipe water supply and a service of electric light. It was the ancient capital of the Matabele king, Lobengula. There is a Government house which is occasionally occupied, and was the residence of Cecil Rhodes. It is from Bulawayo that the World’s View, the burial-place of Rhodes in the Matopo Hills, is usually visited.
The other towns are Umtali, on the eastern border, pop. 800 whites, railway works, centre for numerous large and small gold mines; Gwelo, the central town, about midway between Salisbury and Bulawayo, 370 whites; Victoria and Melsetter in the south, centres of farming districts. Victoria, near which are the famous Zimbabwe ruins, is reached by mail cart (80 m.) from Selukwe, and Melsetter by mail cart (93 m.) from Umtali. There are also small townships at Hartley, Selukwe, Enkeldoorn and Gwanda. Bulawayo and Salisbury are managed by town councils, the other towns have sanitary boards.
Communications. — The Rhodesian railway system connects the chief towns and mining centres with one another and all the other South African countries. The main line is a continuation of the railway from Cape Town through Kimberley and Mafeking. It runs from Mafeking in a general N.E. direction to Bulawayo, whence it goes N.W. to the Zambezi, which is crossed a little below the Victoria Falls. The bridging of the river was completed in April 1905. Thence the railway is continued N.E. (92 m.) to Kalomo, Barotseland, and onward to the Katanga district of Belgian Congo. The section from Kalomo to Broken Hill (261 m.) was completed in 1907, and the extension to the frontier of Belgian Congo (126 m.) in 1909. This main line forms the southern link in the Cape to Cairo railway and steamboat service. From Bulawayo a line goes N.E. by Gwelo to Salisbury and thence S.E. to the Portuguese port of Beira. From Bulawayo another line (120 m. long) runs S.E. to the West Nicholson Mine. From Gwelo a railway (40 m.) goes S.E. to Yankee Doodle, and from this there branches a line (50 m. long) in an easterly direction to Blinkwater. From Salisbury a line runs N.W. to Lomagundi (84 m.). The last-named has a 2 ft. gauge. The other railways are of the standard gauge of South Africa — 3 ft. 6 in. The distances from Bulawayo to the following places are: — Gwelo, 113 m.; Salisbury, 301 m.; Umtali, 471 m.; Beira, 675 m.; Mafeking, 490 m.; Kimberley, 713 m.; Cape Town, 1362 m.; Port Elizabeth, 1199 m.; East London, 1260 m.; Bloemfontein, 800 m.; Johannesburg, 931 m.; Pretoria, 977 m.; Lourenço Marques, 1307 m.; Durban, 1238 m. (the last four places all via Fourteen Streams, a junction 48 m. N. of Kimberley), and Victoria Falls, 282 m.
About 4000 m. of roads have been built and are maintained by government. The telegraph and telephone system is very complete, there being for the whole of Rhodesia about 8000 m. of wires. This total includes the police telephone wires and part of the African Transcontinental system, and is served by about ninety telegraph offices. In Southern Rhodesia there are about eighty post offices. A post office savings bank was brought into operation on the 1st of January 1305. Over 2,500,000 letters, post-cards and parcels are despatched annually.
Agriculture. — The country is well adapted for agriculture. Chief attention has been paid by farmers to the growing of maize, the annual produce being about half a million bushels. It is a very easily grown cereal, especially in such a fertile country as Rhodesia, and is extensively grown by natives, but the improved methods of the whites easily secure a yield of from twice to eight times that of the native. The average yield by European farmers is about eight bags of 200 lb per acre, but ten to fifteen bags is quite a common crop. Wheat, barley and oats are grown with success under irrigation in the winter time, but the moisture with attendant rust is too excessive for these crops in summer. Tobacco promises to be a great source of wealth to the territory. Both the Turkish and Virginian tobaccos have been raised and cured and put on the market, where they were easily disposed of. They are of better quality than those grown elsewhere in South Africa. In 1908 only about 500 acres were under cultivation, but there are large tracts of land suitable for this industry.
Fruits of very extensive variety thrive in Rhodesia; they include plums, bananas, grapes, guavas, paupaus, figs, loquats, pine-apples, Cape gooseberries, mulberries, tree tomatoes, rosellas, granadillas, all kinds of citrus fruits. The most flourishing are the citrus fruits and the Japanese plums, but in the higher altitudes pears and apples are also very successful. Vegetables of nearly all kinds can be grown, especially potatoes, tomatoes, asparagus, sweet potatoes, yams, &c. Coffee produces as much as 4 lb of beans to the shrub in certain parts.
Cattle thrive well in Rhodesia, and stock-raising promises to be the chief agricultural industry of the future. During the early period of European occupation rinderpest and at a later date East Coast fever decimated the country, but the prevention of these diseases is now thoroughly understood and, since the rinderpest of 1896 swept away large herds, cattle have been increasing rapidly in number. There is hardly any portion of the territory which is not suitable for cattle, and the rapid natural increase indicates a speedy prosperity in cattle ranching. Goats and woolless sheep number about 800,000 in the territory. Donkeys and mules thrive, but horses are very liable to horse-sickness towards the end of the rainy season.
Mining. — When Rhodesia was first opened up to European occupation, attention was immediately called to the large number of gold workings made by unknown former inhabitants of the country. These workings were only carried on to a limited extent, being stopped probably by the presence of water and the lack of suitable machinery. European enterprise has resulted in the discovery of a large number of mines situated in widely scattered areas. The chief mines are the Globe and Phoenix, the Selukwe and the Wanderer in the Gwelo district; the Giant in the Hartley district; the Jumbo in the Mazoe district; the Ayrshire in the Lomagundi district; the Penhalonga and the Rezende in the Umtali district, while there are numerous smaller mines in the Gwanda, Insiza, Gwelo, Hartley and Umtali districts. The output of gold increased in value from £308,000 in 1900 to £2,623,000 in 1909, about one-third of this being produced by small workers whose individual output is not over 1500 oz. a month. As efforts have been restricted mainly to extracting the ore indicated by ancient workings, it is probable that many gold reefs still await discovery. The mineral wealth of Rhodesia is very varied and includes silver, of which 262,000 oz. were produced in 1909; coal, 170,000 tons (1909), and lead, 965 tons. Extensive discoveries of chrome iron have been made in the Selukwe district. There is a steady export of this metal, of which the output in 1909 was over 25,000 tons. Besides these, small quantities of copper, wolframite and diamonds have been exported, while scheelite and asbestos have been discovered in payable quantities.
Commerce. — Taking the average for a series of years ending 1908, the total imports amounted to about £1,500,000 per annum, 55% of which were manufactured articles, including £250,000 textile goods and wearing apparel, and £120,000 machinery. Imports of food and drink amounted to £330,000. In 1909 the imports amounted to £2,214,000, the chief items being food and drink (£122,000), machinery, animals and cotton goods. Exports consist almost entirely of minerals. In 1909 they were valued at £3,178,000. Included in the total is £342,000 goods imported and re-exported.
Administration. — The administration of Rhodesia is carried on by the British South Africa Company under an order in council of 1898, amended by orders in council of 1903 and 1905. The company is called upon to appoint for Southern Rhodesia an administrator or administrators. The company also appoints an executive council of not fewer than four members to advise the administrator upon all matters of importance in administration. An order in council of 1903 provided for a legislative council consisting of the administrator, who presides, seven nominees of the company approved by the secretary of state, and seven members elected by registered voters (the number of registered voters in 1908 was 5291). In 1907 it was agreed to reduce the company’s nominees by one, so that the elected members should form the majority of the council. The secretary of state appoints a resident commissioner, who sits on both executive and legislative councils without vote. The duty of the resident commissioner is to report to the high commissioner upon all matters of importance. Ordinances passed by the legislative council are submitted to the high commissioner for consent or otherwise, but may be disallowed by the secretary of state.
For the administration of justice there is a High Court with two judges having civil and criminal jurisdiction. There are seven magistrates’ courts throughout the territory. For the administration of native affairs there are appointed a secretary for native affairs, two chief native commissioners, twenty-eight native commissioners and six assistant native commissioners. Natives suffer no disabilities or restrictions which do not equally apply to Europeans except in respect of the supply of arms, ammunition and liquor. Native commissioners may exercise jurisdiction in native affairs not exceeding that exercisable by magistrates. The company has to provide land, usually termed Native Reserves, sufficient and suitable for occupation by natives and for their agricultural and industrial requirements.
Revenue. — The administrative revenue of Southern Rhodesia was at first much less than the cost of administration. The figures for 1899–1900 were: revenue, £325,000; expenditure, £702,000. Since that date revenue has increased and expenditure decreased, and from 1905–6 (in which year the revenue exceeded £500,000) the cost of administration has been met out of revenue. For 1909–10 the revenue was approximately £600,000, the two main items being customs duty, £190,000, an native tax, £200,000. The native tax is £1 per head for every adult male and 10s. for every wife after the first.
Education. — Besides a few private schools, there were in 1909 34 schools for Europeans, 26 of which were wholly financed by government, the remainder being aided. The aided schools are as a rule connected with some religious body, and aid is given to the extent of half the salaries of the teachers and half the cost of school requisites. Loans are also given to assist in school building. A system of boarding grants has been instituted to enable children in the outlying districts to attend school. Education is not free except for poor children, but the fees in government schools do not exceed £6 a year. In 1910 several schools had reached the stage of preparing pupils for matriculation at the Cape University and similar examinations. The number of pupils in 1909 in European schools was 1212, being more than double what it had been four years previously. The education of natives is in the hands of various religious bodies, but financial aid is given by government to native schools which comply with certain easy conditions. In 1909, 80 native schools with an enrolment of 7622 pupils earned grants.
Military Forces. — The military force in Southern Rhodesia is styled the British South African Police, and numbers about 40 officers, 400 non-commissioned officers and men, and 550 native police. The force is under a commandant-general, who, with the subordinate officers, is appointed by the secretary of state, and is under the direct control and authority of the high commissioner. The commandant-general is paid by the British parliament. The offices of commandant-general and resident commissioner were combined in 1905.
The Southern Rhodesia Volunteers, in two divisions, eastern and western, under command of colonels, number altogether 86 officers and 1700 non-commissioned officers and men.
Medical. — There are, including cottage hospitals, ten hospitals in towns and townships, and thirteen district surgeries have been established.
Archaeology. — Between the Zambezi and the Limpopo, and extending from the coast to at least 27° E., may be found the traces of a large population which inhabited Southern Rhodesia and Portuguese East Africa in bygone times. Apart from numerous mines, some of which are being successfully reworked at the present day, ruins of stone buildings have been found in several hundred distinct places. Few of these have been explored systematically, but investigations in 1905, though confined to a small number of sites, determined at least the main questions of date and origin. The fanciful theories of popular writers, who had ascribed these buildings to a remote antiquity, and had even been so audacious as to identify their founders with the subjects of King Solomon or of his contemporary the queen of Sheba, are now seen to be untenable. J. T. Bent’s Ruined Cities of Mashonaland (1892) is now interesting only for its illustrations, and his theories are obsolete. Positive archaeological evidence demonstrates that the “Great Zimbabwe” itself, the most famous and the most imposing of the misnamed “Ruined Cities,” was not built before medieval times, and that the earliest date which can be assigned to any of the sites explored is subsequent to the 11th century A.D. Moreover, the complete identity of custom, revealed no less by the details of the dwellings than by the type of the articles found within them, proves that the tribe that built these structures was one closely akin to if not actually identical with the present Bantu inhabitants of the country.
These ruins, even when stripped of their false romance, are of extreme interest; but their nature and appearance have been much misunderstood, and the skill and intelligence required for their erection have been grossly overestimated. It should be clearly stated, therefore, that the methods of the old Rhodesians evince their complete ignorance of all the devices employed in the architecture of civilized peoples. They have not attempted to solve the problems of supporting weight and pressure by the use of pillar, arch or beam; the ingenuity of the builders goes no further than the dexterous heaping up of stones. Indeed, their most finished and elaborate work must be compared with nothing more ambitious than the dry-built walls which serve to enclose the fields in certain parts of England. The material is the local granite or diorite obtainable in the immediate neighbourhood. Stone-hewing has not been practised; and was unnecessary, since the natural flaking of the boulders provides an abundance of ready-made slabs which need only be detached from the parent rock and broken to the required size. At most the blocks thus obtained have been very roughly trimmed with one or two blows, and any apparent regularity in the fitting has been obtained merely by judicious selection. Mortar has seldom been used; the courses are never laid with any approach to exactness; walls merely abut on one another without being bonded, and the same line often varies greatly in thickness at different parts.
The main principle of the ground plan is invariably circular or elliptical, though it is carried out with a conspicuous lack of symmetry or exactness. Straight lines are unknown, and even accidental approximations to an angle are rare. This is eminently characteristic of the Bantu, whose huts are commonly built in circular form. Indeed, it is the round Bantu hut which has been the original model for even the finest of these stone constructions. The connexion between the two, however, goes beyond mere resemblance. The stone walls are always accompanied by huts; they are mere partitions or ring-fences enclosing and structurally inseparable from platforms of clay or cement on which stand the remains of precisely the same dwellings that the Makalanga make at the present day. Buildings such as those at Dhlo Dhlo, Nanatali and Khami in Matabeleland, or at Zimbabwe in southern Mashonaland, are merely fortified kraals; remarkable indeed as the work of an African people, but essentially native African in every detail, not excepting the ornamentation.
The best-known and the most attractive of the Rhodesian ruins are those situated in the more central and southern region. In the north-east, however, the remains are even more numerous, though the single units are less remarkable. Over the whole of Inyanga and the Mazoe region are distributed hill-forts, pit-dwellings and entrenchments which are more primitive in character though of the same generic type as those found farther south. The inhabitants of these northern districts were occupied more in agriculture than in gold-mining, and one of the most striking features of their settlements is the irrigation system. There are no aqueducts such as Europeans or Arabs might have built, but water furrows have been carried on admirably calculated gradients for miles along the hill-sides. The amount of labour which has been expended on the great villages between Inyanga and the Zambezi is astounding. On one site, the Niekerk Ruins, an area of fully 50 sq. m. is covered with uninterrupted lines of walls; It is an interesting question which may be solved by future explorations whether these settlements do not extend north of the Zambezi. Intrenchments like those of the Niekerk Ruins have been reported from the south-east of Victoria Nyanza, and Major Powell Cotton has published a photograph from the Nandi country which exhibits a structure precisely similar to the hill forts of Inyanga. (See also Zimbabwe; Monomotapa.)
See D. Randall-MacIver, Mediaeval Rhodesia (London, 1906); R. N. Hall and W. G. Neal, The Ancient Ruins of Rhodesia (London, 1902); Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, 1875 and 1876; Journal of the R.G.S., 1890, 1893, 1899, 1906; Journal of Anthropl. Inst., vols. xxxi., xxxv.
History. — There is evidence that from the 10th or 11th centuries onward the lands now forming Rhodesia were inhabited by Bantu-negroes who had made some progress in civilization and who traded with the Arab settlements at Sofala and elsewhere on the east coast (see Archaeology above). From the 15th century, if not earlier, until about the close of the 18th century, a considerable part of this area was ruled by a hereditary monarch known as the Monomotapa, whose zimbabwe (capital) was, in the earlier part of the period indicated, in what is now Mashonaland. Some of the Monomotapas during the 16th and 17th centuries entered into political and commercial relations with the Portuguese (see Monomotapa and Zimbabwe). The Monomotapa “empire” included many vassal states, and probably fell to pieces through intertribal fighting, which greatly reduced the number of inhabitants. In the early years of the 19th century the tribes appear to have lost all cohesion. The people were mainly agriculturists, but the working of the gold-mines, whence the Monomotapas had obtained much of their wealth, was not wholly abandoned.
The modern history of the country begins with its invasion by the Matabele, an offshoot of the Zulus. Mosilikatze, their first chief, was a warrior and leader who served under the Zulu despot Chaka. Being condemned to death by Chaka, Mosilikatze fled, with a large division of the Zulu army. About 1817 he settled in territories north of the Vaal, not far from the site of Pretoria; and in 1836 a treaty of friendship was entered into with him by the governor of Cape Colony. In the same year a number of the “trek Boers” had crossed the Vaal river, and came in contact with the Matabele, who attacked and defeated them, capturing a large number of Boer cattle and sheep. In November 1837 the Boers felt themselves strong enough to assail Mosilikatze, and they drove him and his tribe north of the Limpopo, where they settled and occupied the country subsequently known as Matabeleland, In 1868 Mosilikatze died. Kuruman, son and recognized heir of the old chieftain, had disappeared years before, and though a Matabele who claimed to be the missing heir was brought from Natal he was not acknowledged by the leading indunas, who in January 1870 invested Lobengula, the next heir, with the chieftainship. Those Matabele who favoured the supposed Kuruman were defeated in one decisive battle, and thereafter Lobengula, whose kraal was at Bulawayo, reigned unchallenged. At this time the Matabele power extended north to the Zambezi, and eastward over the land occupied by the Mashona and other Makalanga tribes. North of the Zambezi the western districts were ruled by the Barotse (q.v.), while the eastern portion had been overrun by other tribes of Zulu-Xosa origin, among whom the Agoni were the most powerful. The explorations of David Livingstone, Thomas Baines (1822–1875), Karl Mauch, and other travellers, had made known to Europe the general character of the country and the existence of great mineral wealth. Lobengula was approached by several “prospectors” for the grant of concessions; among them two Englishmen, Baines in, 1871 and Sir John Swinburne in 1872, obtained cessions of mineral rights, but little effort was made to put them in force. In 1882 President Kruger, who was then bent on extending the boundaries of the Transvaal in every direction, endeavoured to make a treaty with Lobengula, but without success. The Warren expedition of 1884 to Bechuanaland (q.v.), while it checked for a time the encroachments of the Transvaal Boers, and preserved to Great Britain the highway to the north through Bechuanaland, also served to encourage colonists to speculate as to the future of the interior. At this time, too, the struggle between the nations of western Europe for the unappropriated portions of Africa had begun, and while the Boers, foiled in Matabeleland, endeavoured to get a footing in Mashonaland, both Portuguese and Germans were anxious to secure for their countries as much of this region as they could. In 1887 a map was laid before the Portuguese cortes showing the territories in Africa claimed by Portugal. They stretched across the continent from sea to sea, and included almost the whole of what is now Rhodesia, as well as the British settlements on Lake Nyasa. To the claim of a transcontinental domain Portugal had succeeded in gaining the assent of Germany and France, though Germany, which had secured a footing in south-west Africa, still dreamed of extending her sway over Matabeleland. By the instructions of Lord Salisbury, then foreign secretary, the British representative at Lisbon informed the Portuguese government that except on the seacoast and on portions of the Zambezi river there was not a sign of Portuguese authority or jurisdiction in the districts claimed by them, and that the British government could not recognize Portuguese sovereignty in territory not effectively occupied by her.
This protest, so far as southern Rhodesia is concerned, might have been ineffective save for the foresight, energy and determination of Cecil Rhodes, who had been instrumental in saving Bechuanaland from the Boers, and who as early as 1878 had conceived the idea of extending British influence over central Africa. At this time gold prospecting was being feverishly undertaken all over South Africa as a result of the discoveries at Barberton and on the Rand, and Lobengula was besieged for all sorts of concessions by both Portuguese and Boers, as well as by other adventurers from all parts of the world. The country secured for Great Britain.If the country was to be secured for Britain immediate action was necessary. Sir Sidney Shippard, who had succeeded Rhodes as commissioner in Bechuanaland and who shared his views, kept up a friendly correspondence with Lobengula, while at Bulawayo Mr J. S. Moffat was British resident. At the end of 1887 Sir Sidney urged the high commissioner, Lord Rosmead (then Sir Hercules Robinson), to allow him to conclude a treaty with Lobengula, but unavailingly, until Rhodes, by taking upon himself all pecuniary responsibility, succeeded in obtaining the required sanction. On the 11th of February 1888, Moffat and Lobengula signed an agreement, whereby the Matabele ruler agreed that he would refrain from entering into any correspondence or treaty with any foreign state or power without the previous knowledge and sanction of the British high commissioner for South Africa. Shortly after the conclusion of this treaty, representatives of influential syndicates directed by Rhodes, in which Alfred Beit and C. D. Rudd were large holders, were sent, with the knowledge of the British government and the high commissioner, to negotiate with Lobengula, and on the 30th of October of the same yearhe concluded an arrangement with Messrs Rudd, Rochfort Maguire and F.R. Thomson, by which, in return for the payment of £100 a month, together with 1000 Martini-Henry rifles and 100,000 rounds of ammunition, he gave the syndicate complete control over all the metals and minerals in his kingdom, with power to exclude from his dominions “all persons seeking land, metals, minerals or mining rights therein,” in which action, if necessary, he promised to render them assistance. The position of the envoys was one of considerable danger, as Lobengula had around him many white advisers strongly antagonistic to Rhodes’s scheme. The arrival at Bulawayo of Dr L. S. Jameson, who had previously attended Lobengula professionally, and who strongly supported Rudd and his companions, appears to have been the factor which decided Lobengula to sign the concession. This concession once obtained, Rhodes proceeded with rapidity to prosecute his great enterprise. He extinguished the claims of earlier concessionaires by purchase (giving, for instance, £10,046 for the Baines and Swinburne grants), and united all interests in the British South Africa. Company, with a share capital of £1,000,000.
Following the example of Sir George Goldie in West Africa and of Sir William Maekinnon in East Africa, Rhodes determined to apply to the British government for a charter for the newly formed company, whose original directors were, in addition to Rhodes and Beit, the duke of Abercorn, the duke of Fife, Lord Gifford, Albert (afterwards 4th earl) Grey and George Cawston. In applying for a charter (in April 1889) the founders of the company stated their objects to be the following: (1) To extend northwards the railway and telegraph systems in the direction of the Zambezi; (2) to encourage emigration and colonization; (3) to promote trade and commerce; (4) to develop and work minerals and other concessions under the management of one powerful organization, thereby obviating conflicts and complications between the various interests that had been acquired within these regions, and securing to the native chiefs and their subjects the rights reserved to them under the several concessions. In making this application the boundaries in which they proposed to work were purposely left somewhat vague. The B.S.A. Co.’s charter.They were described to be the region of South Africa lying immediately north of British Bechuanaland, north and west of the South African Republic, and west of the Portuguese dominions on the east coast. The government, having ascertained the substantial nature of the company’s resources and the composition of the proposed directorate, and also that they were prepared to begin immediately the development of the country, granted the charter, dated the 29th of October 1889. From this date onward the company was commonly known as “the Chartered Company.”
A few points in the charter itself deserve to be noted. In the first place, it gave considerable extension to the terms of the original concessions by Lobengula. In short, it transformed the rights of working minerals and metals, and preventing others from doing so, into rights practically sovereign over the regions in which the company’s activity was to be employed. These rights the crown granted directly itself, not merely confirming a previous grant from another source. By Article X. the company was empowered to make ordinances (to be approved by the secretary of state), and to establish and maintain a force of police. A strict supervision was provided for, to be exercised by the secretary of state over the relations between the company and the natives. The British government reserved to itself entire power to repeal the charter at any time that it did not consider the company was fulfilling its obligations or endeavouring duly to carry out the objects for which the charter was granted. The sphere of operations of the company was not stated with any greater precision than had been indicated in the application for the charter; but by agreements concluded with Germany in 1900, with Portugal in 1891 and with the Congo State in 1894, the international boundaries were at length defined (see Africa, § 5). The agreements, while they took the British sphere north to Lake Tanganyika, disappointed Rhodes in that they prevented the realization of the scheme he had formed by the time the charter was granted, namely, for securing a continuous strip of British territory from the Cape to Egypt — a scheme which was but an enlargement of his original conception as formulated in 1878.
Much, however, had happened before the boundaries of the British sphere were fixed. While the railway from Cape Town was being continued northward as rapidly as possible, the determination was taken to occupy immediately part of the sphere assigned to the company, and Mashonaland was selected as not being in actual occupation by the Matabele but the home of more peaceful tribes. A pioneer force was sent up in June 1890 under Colonel Pennefather, consisting of five hundred mounted police and a few hundred pioneers. Accompanying this force as guide was the well-known traveller, F. C. Selous. The work of transport was attended with considerable difficulty, and roads had to be cut as the expedition advanced. Nevertheless, in a few months the expedition, without firing a shot, had reached the site of what is now the town of Salisbury, and had also established on the line of march small forts at Tuli, Victoria and Charter. Archibald Ross Colquhoun was chosen as the first administrator. He had not long been in office when, in May 1891, difficulties arose with the Portuguese on their north-west frontier, both parties claiming a tract of territory in which a Portuguese trading station had been established. Mashonaland occupied — A Boer trek prevented.The result was a skirmish, in which a small company of British South Africa police were victorious. In 1891 Dr Jameson, who had joined the pioneer force, was appointed administrator in succession to Colquhoun. The Boers for several years had been planning a settlement north of the Limpopo, and they now determined, in spite of the Moffat treaty and the British occupation, to carry out their object. An expedition known as the Banyailand Trek was organized under the leadership of Colonel Ferreira, and two large parties of Boers proceeded to the banks of the Limpopo. Information of the intended trek had been conveyed to Cape Town, and Sir Henry (afterwards Lord) Loch (the high commissioner) at once sent a strong protest to President Kruger, informing him that any attempt to invade the Chartered Company’s territories would be an act of hostility against the British Crown; and Kruger issued a proclamation forbidding the trekkers to proceed. Meanwhile, however, a party had already reached the Limpopo, where they were met by Jameson in command of the British South Africa Company’s forces. He told them that they would not be allowed to proceed except as private individuals, who might obtain farms on application to the Chartered Company. Colonel Ferreira was arrested and detained for a few days, and the expedition then broke up and dispersed.
The pioneers, who were granted farms and mining claims, having been settled in Mashonaland, Rhodes recognized the extreme importance of giving the country a port nearer than that provided by Cape Town. On his initiative proposals were made to Portugal, and the treaty concluded in 1891 between Great Britain and Portugal provided that a railway might be built from Beira in Portuguese territory to Salisbury, on condition that Portugal received a duty not exceeding 3% on the value of the goods imported. The treaty further stipulated for the free navigation of the Zambezi and the construction of telegraphs. Prospecting operations were at once started, and various gold mines were discovered containing traces of old workings. Fresh gold reefs were also opened up. The prospects of the country seemed promising, and although a good deal of fever occurred in the low-lying valleys under the conditions of camp life, the health of the community soon improved as more suitable habitations were erected. In two years a white population of 3000 people had settled in the newly opened country.
Though the company was now free from international rivalry it was soon faced by serious native trouble. The first pioneers had deliberately chosen Mashonaland as their place of settlement. Ever since the advent of Mosilikatze north of the Limpopo the unfortunate Mashonas had been the prey of the Matabele; they therefore, readily accepted the British occupation. The Matabele, however, were loth to abandon their predatory excursions among the Mashonas, and in July 1893 a large impi (native force) was sent into Mashonaland, and entered not only native kraals, but also the streets of the new township of Victoria. An attempt was made to preserve the peace, but it was evident from the attitude taken by the Matabele that nothing short of the authority which only superior force could command would settle the question. The Matabele were a proud and fearless race of warriors; the men of that generation had never come in conflict with Europeans, and had never been defeated in their conflicts with native foes. Jameson’s forces were slender, and Rhodes, on being consulted, urged him by telegram to “Read Luke fourteen, thirty-one.” On obtaining a Bible, Jameson read the words: “Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?” He telegraphed in reply: “All right. I have read Luke fourteen, thirty-one.” The position, though dangerous, admitted of no delay, and Jameson determined to risk an expedition with the forces at his command. His success on this occasion doubtless weighed. with him on another and less fortunate one. The force available consisted of about 700 volunteers and 225 British Bechuanaland police, with some 700 natives. Jameson determined to march to Bulawayo, the headquarters of Lobengula and the capital of Matabeleland. The force was divided into two columns, and was to be met by a further column of Bechuanas marching from the south under Khama, the most influential of the Bechuan chiefs and a loyal friend of the British. The first engagement took place on the Shangani river, where the two columns which had started from Fort Charter and Fort Victoria were both engaged. Majors Forbes and Allan Wilson commanded in these engagements; and after a hot contest with between 4000 and 5000 Matabele, the latter were repulsed, machine guns being used with terrible effect upon the enemy. On the 1st of November a second fight occurred on the high ground in which it was estimated that 7000 of the Matabele attacked the laager of the two columns. The oldest and most tried regiments of Lobengula dashed right up to the muzzles of the guns, but were swept down before the modern rifles and machine guns with which the invaders were armed. Meanwhile the column of Khama’s men from the south had reached the Tati, and won a victory on the Singuesi river on the 2nd of November. On the 3rd of November Bulawayo was reached, and the columns from Mashonaland, accompanied by Jameson and Sir John Willoughby, entered the town, Lobengula, and his followers being in full flight towards the Zambezi. Matabeleland conquered.An endeavour was made to induce Lobengula to surrender; but, as no replies were received to the messages, Major Forbes, on the 13th of November, organized a column and started in pursuit. The pursuing party were delayed by difficult roads and heavy rains, and did not come up with Lobengula until the 3rd of December. Major Allan Wilson, in command of thirty-four troopers, crossed the Shangani river in advance, and bivouacked close to Lobengulas quarters. In the night the river rose, and reinforcements were unable to join him. During the early morning the Matabele surrounded the little band, and after fighting most gallantly to the last, Major Allan Wilson and all his followers, with the exception of three messengers, who had been sent back, were killed.
In January 1894 Lobengula died — from fever, or as the result of a wound, accounts differ — at a spot about forty miles south of the Zambezi. After his death his indunas submitted to the Chartered Company’s forces, and the war, which cost the company over one hundred lives and £110,000, was thus ended. An order in council of the 18th of July following defined the administrative power of the company over Matabeleland. Charges were made against the company of having provoked the Matabele in order to bring on the war and thus secure their territory, but after inquiry the company was expressly exonerated from the charge by Lord Ripon, then colonial secretary. With the close of the war the Matabele appeared to be crushed, and for over two years there was no serious trouble with the natives. The country was at once thrown open to white settlers. Close to the site of Lobengula’s kraal the new town of Bulawayo was founded, and rapidly grew in importance. Among the new settlers were many Dutch farmers. The Roman-Dutch law was chosen as that of the new colony, a land commission was established and commissioners appointed to look after the interests of the natives.
Considerable development in the part of the company’s territory north of the Zambezi had meantime taken place. Between 1889 and 1891 a large number of tribes in the region between lakes Nyasa and Tanganyika and the Zambezi had entered into treaty relations with the company, and a settlement named Abercorn had been founded at the south end of Tanganyika. This work was undertaken in part to forestall German action, as before the signature of the agreement of July 1890 German agents entertained the design of penetrating west of Lake Nyasa to the Congo State frontier. The company further acquired the property of the African Lakes Company — which had done much to secure British predominance in the Nyasa region — and on the organization of Nyasaland as an imperial protectorate the South Africa Company contributed £16,000 a year for three years (1891–92–93) towards the cost of the administration, the imperial commissioner during this period acting as administrator for the adjacent territories belonging to the company (see British Central Africa). Farther west, Lewanika, the king of the Barotse, signed, on the 27th of June 1890, a treaty placing his country under the protection of the Chartered Company, which, while obtaining all mineral rights, undertook not to interfere in the internal administration of Barotseland. In securing a position thus early in Barotseland, Rhodes’s aim was to prevent the farther extension eastward of the Portuguese province of Angola. The subsequent development of Barotseland had little direct connexion with the events in other parts of Rhodesia (see Barotse and Lewanika). The growth of territory and the outlay on Matabeleland led to a great increase of expenditure, and the capital of the company was raised to £2,000,000 in November 1893, and to £2,500,000 in July 1895.
In every step taken by the company the guiding hand was that of Cecil Rhodes, a fact which received recognition when, by a proclamation of the 3rd of May 1895, the company’s territory received officially the name of “Rhodesia.” During this year there was great activity in exploiting Matabeleland. “Stands” or plots were sold at extraordinary prices in Bulawayo; 539 fetched a total of £153,312, about £285 a stand. In within nine months Bulawayo had a population of 1900 whites, and in the various goldfields there were over 2000 prospectors. The construction of telegraphs proceeded with rapidity and by the end of 1895, 500 m. of new lines had been constructed, making about 1500 in all. A new company, the African Transcontinental Company, had been founded under the auspices of Rhodes, with the ultimate purpose of connecting the Cape with Cairo. By the end of 1895, 133 m. of these lines had been laid. At this time too, the railway from Cape Town had passed Mafeking and was approaching the Rhodesian frontier, while on the east coast the line to connect Salisbury with Beira was under construction.
In November 1895 the crown colony of British Bechuanaland was annexed to Cape Colony, and the Chartered Company desired to take over the administration of the Bechuanaland protectorate, which stretched between the newly annexed portion of Cape Colony and Matabeleland, and through which the railway to Bulawayo had to pass. The British government consented, and arrangements were made for the transfer. The company’s police were moved down to a camp in the protectorate at Pitsani Potlogo. It was from this place that on the 29th of December Jameson crossed the Transvaal border and marched on Johannesburg, in his disastrous attempt to upset President Kruger’s administration. The “Jameson Raid” put an end to the proposed transfer of the protectorate to the Chartered Company, and caused a serious crisis in its affairs. Rhodes resigned his position as managing director, and Alfred Beit retired from the directorate in London. Jameson was, on the 9th of January 1896, officially removed from his office of administrator of the company’s territories, and was succeeded by Earl Grey. Just at this time rinderpest made its appearance in southern Rhodesia, carrying off large herds of cattle, and this was followed in March 1896 by a revolt of the Matabele, while in June the Mashona also rebelled. The occasion, but not the cause, of the Matabele rising was the withdrawal of the greater part of the company’s force to take part in the Jameson Raid. The Matabele had various grievances, chiefly that after the war of 1893 they were treated as a conquered people. All able-bodied young men were required to work for the white farmers and miners a certain number of months per annum at a fixed rate of pay — a most irksome regulation, enforced, on occasions, by the native police in a tyrannical fashion. Another grievance was the seizure by the company, after the death of Lobengula, of the cattle of the Matabele — their chief source of wealth. Not only was there a first confiscation after the war, but subsequently there was a periodical taking away of cattle in small numbers — the company acting under the belief that nearly all the cattle in Matabeleland belonged to the king and were therefore lawfully theirs. However, before the end of 1895 the company had settled the question in agreement with the indunas, two-fifths of the cattle to go to the company and the remainder to become the absolute property of the natives. But it was neither the action of the company in the confiscation of cattle, nor the labour regulations, that induced the mass of the people to rebel; they were induced to act by chiefs who chafed under their loss of power and position and imagined themselves strong enough to throw off the yoke of the conquerors. The rebellions of 1896.In the manner customary among savages the Matabele began hostilities by the murder of defenceless white settlers — men, women and children. Bulawayo was threatened, and soon all the country south of the Zambezi was in a state of rebellion. Imperial troops under Sir Frederick Carrington were hurried up to the assistance of such police as the British South Africa Company still had at its command. Volunteers were enrolled, and much fierce fighting followed. Rhodes hastened to Bulawayo, and after conferences with the military and other authorities he determined to go, with Dr Hans Sauer and Mr J. Colenbrander, a well-known hunter and pioneer intimately acquainted with the natives, and interview the chiefs. They went (September 1896) unarmed into the heart of the Matoppo Hills, and there arranged terms of peace with the indunas. The interview involved grave danger to the emissaries, and depended for its success entirely upon Rhodes’s personality and influence over the native races, but it terminated what promised to be a long and disastrous native war. The Matabele, whose legitimate grievances were acknowledged and met, ceased the war after the indaba with Rhodes; the Mashona revolt continued, and was not nnally crushed until October 1897, though all danger to settlers was over six months previously. At this time the rinderpest had carried off nearly all the cattle in the country — a disaster which, together with the destruction of grain during the war, had brought the natives almost to starvation — and steps had to be taken to supply their needs. Many of the white settlers too were reduced to sore straits and required assistance. The rebellions had cost the company fully £2,500,000, and to meet the debt incurred an additional capital of £1,500,000 was raised in 1898. At the meeting of the company in April 1898, at which this step was taken, Rhodes was re-elected a director.
The events of 1896 — the Jameson Raid and the rebellions — caused the imperial government to remodel the constitution of Rhodesia. The armed forces of the company had already been placed under the direct control of the crown, and on the 20th of October 1898 an order in council was passed providing for the future regulation of the country. An imperial resident commissioner was appointed, who was also to be ex officio a member of the executive and legislative councils; and there was to be a legislative council, consisting of five nominated and four elected members. The first meeting of the newly appointed council took place at Salisbury on the 15th of May 1899. Other changes, in the direction of giving more power to the non-official element, were made subsequently (see above, Administration).
While these political changes were being made the company and the settlers set to work to repair the losses by war and plague. In particular the policy of railway development was pushed forward, and in November 1897 the line from Cape Town reached Bulawayo. The Mashonaland railway connecting Salisbury with Beira was completed in May 1899. In the same year gold-mining on a considerable scale began, the output for the year being over 65,000 oz. In the early part of 1899 Rhodes visited London and Berlin in furtherance of his schemes for the transcontinental telegraph extension from Cape Town to Cairo, and the transcontinental railway. He endeavoured to obtain from the British Government the guarantee of a loan for extending the railway, to be raised at 3%, but was unsuccessful. He received, however, the support of various companies in Rhodesia, who amongst them subscribed £252,800 at 3% for the immediate extension of the railway for 150 miles; and in May he stated, at a meeting of the Chartered Company, that the Rhodesia Railways Limited would raise another £3,000,000 at 4%, to be guaranteed by the Chartered Company. In this way he hoped that the remaining 1050 miles of railway from Bulawayo to the frontier of German East Africa might be constructed. In Berlin, Rhodes had an interview with the German Emperor, when arrangements were arrived at for the passage of telegraph lines over German territory, and also in certain contingencies for the continuation of the transcontinental railway through German East Africa.
In many respects the country recovered rapidly from the disasters of 1896, one of the most important measures taken being the compulsory inoculation for rinderpest, which finally stamped out the disease in 1898–99. By the last balance sheet issued by the company previous to the outbreak of the Boer War it would appear that the revenue of Rhodesia for the year ending the 31st of March 1898 amounted to £260,516 net, of which amount the sale of land plots accounts for £63,628; stamps and licences, £69,658; and posts and telegraphs, £46,745; so that the machinery of civilized life was already in full activity where eight years previously the only white inhabitants had been a few missionaries, hunters and traders. The government buildings were estimated in March 1898 to be worth £165,672, and the assessed value of the town property at Bulawayo was £2,045,000 and that at Salisbury £750,000. (Both those towns had been granted municipal government in 1897.) Education was arranged under the supervision of government inspectors, and various religious communities were also engaged in educational work. The country appeared indeed in 1899 to be starting on the road to industrial and agricultural prosperity, but an almost complete stop to progress resulted from the outbreak of the Boer War in October of that year. The company could point with satisfaction to the fact that Rhodesia contributed nearly 1500 men to the forces serving in the war, 12½% of the European population. Rhodesia itself was not subjected to invasion, but the withdrawal of so large a number of able bodied men seriously interfered with the development of the country, the war not ending until June 1902. Throughout this period the natives, with few exceptions, remained peaceful and gave the administration no serious trouble.
Before the war ended, Cecil Rhodes, whose chief work during the period since the Raid had been the building up of the country which bore his name, was dead (26th of March 1902). Agitation for self-government.Alfred Beit, who had in 1898 refused to rejoin the directorate, now consented (June 1902) to return to the board of the Chartered Company, on which he remained until his death in July 1906. The loss of Rhodes’s guiding mind and inspiring personality was, however, manifest, and among the Rhodesians there arose a feeling of discontent at the company’s conduct of affairs. The company was willing on proper terms to hand over the administration to the colonists, and they secured the services of Sir George Goldie to examine the situation and report on what terms the transfer could be made. Sir George visited Rhodesia in 1903–4, and drew up a scheme which included the taking over by Rhodesia of the administrative liabilities incurred by the company, which would thus become a public debt. After consultation between leading Rhodesians and the directors of the company the scheme was abandoned, the Rhodesians considering the financial burden proposed too great for an infant colony. The company therefore continued the administration, devoting attention to the development of agriculture and mining. The two railway systems were linked together by a line from Bulawayo to Salisbury, and several short lines to mining properties were built. From Bulawayo the main line was continued to the Wankie coalfields, thence to the Zambezi, bridged in 1905 just below the Victoria Falls. From the Zambezi the line went north-east, so as to render accessible the mineral wealth of Barotseland and that of Katanga on the Rhodesian–Congo frontier. Although Rhodesia was affected by the commercial depression which prevailed in South Africa for some years after the close of the war, its industries showed considerable vitality. In 1906 the gold output exceeded 500,000 oz., and in the financial year 1905–6 the revenue of Southern Rhodesia slightly exceeded the expenditure.
Only once (1895–96) in the first fifteen years following the settlement of the country had the company’s annual revenue exceeded the amount expended in the same period. As a commercial undertaking, the company therefore was during this period of no pecuniary advantage to the shareholders. This was due in part to unforeseen and unavoidable causes, but it is also true that the founders of the company had other than commercial aims. Rhodes’s chief ambition was to secure the country for Britain and to open it up to the energies of her peoples, and he succeeded in this aim. He acted more quickly, and in many ways more effectively, than the imperial government would have been able to act had it at the outset taken over the country. To the sturdy colonists Rhodes made available a land rich not only in gold, but in coal and other minerals, and with very great agricultural and pastoral resources, and all this was done without the cost of a penny to the imperial exchequer. Despite all drawbacks, an area (reckoning Southern Rhodesia only) considerably larger than that of the United Kingdom had in less than twenty years been endowed with all the adjuncts of civilization and made the home of thousands of settlers.
The progress made by the country in the five years 1906–10 demonstrated that the faith Rhodes and his colleagues had placed in it was not ill-founded. Although the white population increased but slowly, in all other respects healthy development took place, the element of speculation which had characterized many of the first attempts to exploit the land being largely eliminated. In 1906 Lord Selborne (the high commissioner) visited Rhodesia. He inquired into the various grievances of the settlers against the Chartered Company; held an indaba with Matabele indunas in the Matoppo Hills, and at Bulawayo had a conference with Lewanika, the paramount chief of the Barotse. In 1907 Dr Jameson and other directors of the Chartered Company travelled through Rhodesia, and the result was to clear up some of the matters in dispute between the settlers and the company. Southern Rhodesia had become self-supporting, and the essentially temporary nature of the existing system of government was recognized. But the company held that the time was not yet ripe for Southern Rhodesia to become a self-governing colony. The directors, however, adopted a more liberal land policy, the increased attention given to agriculture being a marked and satisfactory feature of the situation. Mining and railway development were also pushed on vigorously.
The movement for the closer union of the British South African colonies excited lively interest in Southern Rhodesia. The territory, not possessing self-government, could not take part in the national convention which met at Durban in October 1908 on equal terms with the delegates of the Cape, &c. It was, however, represented by three delegates on the understanding that Rhodesia would not, for the time being at least, be included in any agreement which might be reached. The convention resulted in the union (on the 31st of May 1910) under one government of the Cape, Transvaal, Natal and Orange River colonies. The position of Rhodesia with respect to the Union was set forth in the South Africa Act 1909. It provides that “the king, with the advice of the Privy Council, may on addresses from the Houses of Parliament of the Union admit into the Union the territories administered by the British South Africa Company on such terms and conditions as to representation and otherwise in each case as are expressed in the addresses and approved by the king.”
In Rhodesia itself at this time there was a widespread feeling that there was no urgency as to the territory joining the Union, and the opinion was held by many that a separate existence as a self-governing community would be preferable. A section of the settlers were content for the present to remain under the government of the Chartered Company.
Bibliography. — 1. Works dealing with the country before the establishment of British authority: David Livingstone, Missionary Travels (1857); T. Baines, The Gold Regions of S.E. Africa (1877); R. Gordon Cumming, Five Years of a Hunter’s Life in … S.A. (1850); K. Mauch, Reisen im Inneren von Süd-Afrika, 1865–72 (Gotha, 1874); E. Holub, Seven Years in South Africa (1881); E. Mohr, To the Victoria Falls of the Zambesi (1876); F. C. Selous, A Hunter’s Wanderings in Africa (1881), and Travel and Adventure in S.E. Africa (1893); T. M. Thomas, Eleven Years in Central South Africa (N.D. ); L. P. Bowler, Facts about the Matabele, Mashona, &c. (Pretoria, 1889); Rev. D. Carnegie, Among the Matabele (1894).
2. Since the British occupation: Bishop Knight-Bruce, Memories of Mashonaland (1895); J. C. Chadwick, Three Years with Lobengula (1894); D. C. de Waal, With Rhodes in Mashonaland (trans. from Dutch, 1896); W. A. Wells and L. T. Collingridge, The Downfall of Lobengula (1894); A. R. Colquhoun, Matabeleland (N.D. ); C. H. Donovan, With Wilson in Matabeleland (1894); A. G. Lenard, How we made Rhodesia (1896); Lord R. Churchill, Men, Mines and Minerals in S.A. (1895); E. Foa, La Traversée de l'Afrique, (Paris, 1900); F. C. Selous, Sunshine and Storm in Rhodesia (the Matabele rising) (1896); R. S. S. Baden-Powell, The Matabele Campaign, 1896 (1897); E. A. H. Alderson, With the Mounted Infantry (in Mashonaland) (1898); S. J. du Toit, Rhodesia Past and Present (1897); H. Hensman, History of Rhodesia (1900); H. P. N. Muller, De Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek en Rhodesia (The Hague, 1896); W. H. Brown, On the South African Frontier (1899).
3. Economics, &c.: P. F. Hone, Southern Rhodesia (1909); the Annual Reports of the British S.A. Co.; C. T. Roberts, The Future of Gold Mining in Mashonaland (Salisbury, Rhodesia, 1898); Southern Rhodesia: Information for Settlers (1907); D. E. Hutchins, Report … on Trees in Rhodesia (Cape Town, 1903); Handbook for Tourists and Sportsmen (1907); A. H. Keane, The Gold of Ophir (1901); C. Peters, The Eldorado of the Ancients (1902); E. de Renty, La Rhodesia (Paris, 1907); Proceedings of the Rhodesian Scientific Association (1899– ) (1st vol., Bulawayo, 1903); The Rhodesian Agricultural Journal (1st vol., Salisbury, Rhodesia, 1903). All treaties, &c., respecting Rhodesia will be found in Hertslett’s Map of Africa by Treaty (1909 ed.). For Blue Books concerning Rhodesia consult the Colonial Office List (annually). The best general map of S. Rhodesia is that published by the administration in 1909–10 (7 sheets on the 1:500000 scale).
- For geology see F. H. Hatch, “Notes on the Geology of Mashonaland and Matabeleland,” Geol. Mag., 1895; A. J. C. Molyneux, “The Sedimentary Deposits of Rhodesia,” Quart. Journ. Geol. Soc., vol. lix. (1903); F. P. Mennel, “Geology of Rhodesia,” British Association Handbook (Cape Town, 1905); G. W. Lamplugh, British Assoc. Rep., South African Meeting, 1905.
- See article “Bechuanaland” by Sir Henry Shippard in British Africa (London, 1899).
- Lobengula had in fact sent to the Forbes patrol gold dust worth about £1000, and intimated his desire to surrender; but two troopers to whom the gold and message were entrusted kept the gold and suppressed the message. Their crime was afterwards discovered and the troopers sentenced to fourteen years’ penal servitude.
- Unless otherwise stated, the place of publication is London.