Page:EB1911 - Volume 05.djvu/253

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Cape Colony

and, through a heavy fire of the enemy, rode to King William's Town—a distance of 12 m. Meantime, a new enemy appeared. Some 900 of the Kat river Hottentots, who had in former wars been firm allies of the British, threw in their lot with their hereditary enemies—the Kaffirs. They were not without excuses. They complained that while doing burgher duty in former wars—the Cape Mounted Rifles consisted largely of Hottentot levies—they had not received the same treatment as others serving in defence of the colony, that they got no compensation for the losses they had sustained, and that they were in various ways made to feel they were a wronged and injured race. A secret combination was formed with the Kaffirs to take up arms to sweep the Europeans away and establish a Hottentot republic. Within a fortnight of the attack on Colonel Mackinnon the Kat river Hottentots were also in arms. Their revolt was followed by that of the Hottentots at other missionary stations; and part of the Hottentots of the Cape Mounted Rifles followed their example, including the very men who had escorted the governor from Fort Cox. But numbers of Hottentots remained loyal and the Fingo Kaffirs likewise sided with the British.

After the confusion caused by the sudden outbreak had subsided, and preparations had been made, Sir Harry Smith and his gallant force turned the tide of war against the Kaffirs. The Amatola mountains were stormed; and the paramount chief Kreli, who all along covertly assisted the Gaikas, was severely punished. In April 1852 Sir Harry Smith was recalled by Earl Grey, who accused him—unjustly, in the opinion of the duke of Wellington—of a want of energy and judgment in conducting the war, and he was succeeded by Lieutenant-General Cathcart. Kreli was again attacked and reduced to submission. The Amatolas were finally cleared of the Kaffirs, and small forts erected among them to prevent their reoccupation. The British commanders were hampered throughout by the insufficiency of their forces, and it was not till March 1853 that this most sanguinary of Kaffir wars was brought to a conclusion, after a loss of many hundred British soldiers. Shortly afterwards, British Kaffraria was made a crown colony. The Hottentot settlement at Kat river remained, but the Hottentot power within the colony was now finally crushed.

The Great Amaxosa Delusion.—From 1853 the Kaffir tribes on the east gave little trouble to the colony. This was due, in large measure, to an extraordinary delusion which arose among the Amaxosa in 1856, and led in 1857 to the death of some 50,000 persons. This incident is one of the most remarkable instances of misplaced faith recorded in history. The Amaxosa had not accepted their defeat in 1853 as decisive and were preparing to renew the struggle with the white men. At this juncture, May 1856, a girl named Nongkwase told her father that on going to draw water from a stream she had met strangers of commanding aspect. The father, Mhlakza, went to see the men, who told him that they were spirits of the dead, who had come, if their behests were obeyed, to aid the Kaffirs with their invincible power to drive the white man from the land. Mhlakza repeated the message to his chief, Sarili, one of the most powerful Kafiir rulers. Sarili ordered the commands of the spirits to be obeyed. These orders were, at first, that the Amaxosa were to destroy their fat cattle. The girl Nongkwase, standing in the river where the spirits had first appeared, heard unearthly noises, interpreted by her father as orders to kill more and more cattle. At length the spirits commanded that not an animal of all their herds was to be left alive, and every grain of corn was to be destroyed. If that were done, on a given date myriads of cattle more beautiful than those destroyed would issue from the earth, while great fields of corn, ripe and ready for harvest, would instantly appear. The dead would rise, trouble and sickness vanish, and youth and beauty come to all alike. Unbelievers and the hated white man would on that day utterly perish. The people heard and obeyed. Sarili is believed by many persons to have been the instigator of the prophecies. Certainly some of the principal chiefs regarded all that was done simply as the preparation for a last struggle with the whites, their plan being to throw the whole Amaxosa nation fully armed and in a famishing condition upon the colony. There were those who neither believed the predictions nor looked for success in war, but destroyed their last particle of food in unquestioning obedience to their chief's command. Either in faith that reached the sublime, or in obedience equally great, vast numbers of the people acted. Great kraals were also prepared for the promised cattle, and huge skin sacks to hold the milk that was soon to be more plentiful than water. At length the day dawned which, according to the prophecies, was to usher in the terrestrial paradise. The sun rose and sank, but the expected miracle did not come to pass. The chiefs who had planned to hurl the famishéd warrior host upon the colony had committed an incredible blunder in neglecting to call the nation together under pretext of witnessing the resurrection. This error they realized too late, and endeavoured by fixing the resurrection for another day to gather the clans, but blank despair had taken the place of hope and faith, and it was only as starving suppliants that the Amaxosa sought the British. The colonists did what they could to save life, but thousands perished miserably. In their extremity many of the Kaffirs turned cannibals, and one instance of parents eating their own child is authenticated. Among the survivors was the girl Nongkwase; her father perished. A vivid narrative of the whole incident will be found in G. M. Theal's History and Geography of South Africa (3rd ed., London, 1878), from which this account is condensed. The country depopulated as the result of this delusion was afterwards peopled by European settlers, among whom were members of the German legion which had served with the British army in the Crimea, and some 2000 industrious North German emigrants, who proved a valuable acquisition to the colony.

Sir George Grey's Governorship.—In 1854 Sir George Grey became governor of the Cape, and the colony owed much to his wise administration. The policy, imposed by the home government, of abandoning responsibility beyond the Orange river, was, he perceived, a mistaken one, and the scheme he prepared in 1858 for a confederation of all South Africa (q.v.) was rejected by Great Britain. By his energetic action, however, in support of the missionaries Moffat and Livingstone, Sir George kept open for the British the road through Bechuanaland to the far interior. To Sir George was also due the first attempt, missionary effort apart, to educate the Kaffirs and to establish British authority firmly among them, a result which the self-destruction of the Amaxosa rendered easy. Beyond the Kei the natives were left to their own devices. Sir George Grey left the Cape in 1861. During his governorship the resources of the colony had been increased by the opening up of the copper mines in Little Namaqualand, the mohair wool industry had been established and Natal made a separate colony. The opening, in November 1863, of the railway from Cape Town to Wellington, begun in 1859, and the construction in 1860 of the great breakwater in Table Bay, long needed on that perilous coast, marked the beginning in the colony of public works on a large scale. They were the more or less direct result of the granting to the colony of a large share in its own government. In 1865 the province of British Kaffraria was incorporated with the colony, under the title of the Electoral Divisions of King William's Town and East London. The transfer was marked by the removal of the prohibition of the sale of alcoholic liquors to the natives, and the free trade in intoxicants which followed had most deplorable results among the Kaffir tribes. A severe drought, affecting almost the entire colony for several years, caused great depression of trade, and many farmers suffered severely. It was at this period (1869) that ostrich-farming was successfully established as a separate industry.

Whether by or against the wish of the home government, the limits of British authority continued to extend. The Basutos, who dwelt in the upper valleys of the Orange river, had subsisted under a semi-protectorate of the British government from 1843 to 1854; but having been left to their own resources on the abandonment of the Orange sovereignty, they fell into a long exhaustive warfare with the Boers of the Free State. On the urgent petition of their chief Moshesh, they were proclaimed British subjects in 1868, and their territory became part of the