Page:EB1911 - Volume 23.djvu/283

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266
Rhodesia

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.[1] 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

  1. 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.