Page:EB1911 - Volume 23.djvu/284

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267
Rhodesia

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