History of South Africa podcast

A series that seeks to tell the story of the South Africa in some depth. Presented by experienced broadcaster/podcaster Des Latham and updated weekly, the episodes will take a listener through the various epochs that have made up the story of South Africa.

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04
FEB

Episode 104 - Matiwane’s Ngwane massacred at Mbholompo and Hintsa's ama-Bulu

South Africa’s history is peppered with chaos and warfare, perhaps more so than is apparent in the modern period. It is fairly difficult to explain how our past intermeshes with the present without focusing on moments of extreme violence, these incidents are part of our psychological make-up without most of us being aware of just how we were forged out of
the sound of gunfire and the smell of blood.

With that slightly theatrical introduction, let’s delve into one of these moments during the period of the Mfecane - a battle that has taken on various forms in the telling based on what your political persuasion may be.

This is the battle of Mbholompo.

The battle of what? many listeners would muse.

Yes folks, this rumpled sounding clash, the word conjuring up images of wordplay, Mbholompo, has as its main player a man called Matiwane of the Ngwane.

We have met him in passing but now we’ll spend time telling at his tale and he has some significant storytellers backing him up. One is Albert Hlongwane who published a book in 1938 called “history of Matiwane and the amaNgwane Tribe, as told by Mzebenzi to his Kinsman, Albert Hlongwane”.

Landdrost of Albany, Major WB Dundas, was growing more concerned. Drawing on his experience he first led a commando against Matiwane which was to end in bloodshed - but his main reason to head off into the Transkei was to secure labourers for the settlers of Albany.
The British soldiers and Khoekhoe gunmen were joined by the Thembu warriors who then moved east of Mbashe surrounding the Ngwane before dawn on the 27th August 1828.
29
JAN

Episode 103 - Barend Barends battered and the men in black on the frontier

Last episode we heard how Jan Bloem and Kora leader Haip had launched a raid on Mzilikazi’s Ndebele people arraigned along the southern reaches of the Vaal River in 1830 - and Mzilikazi’s bloody response where he not only recovered his cattle but killed 50 Kora.

This was the first of a series of incidents which convinced Griqua captain Barend Barends to put together a massive commando and deal with the Ndebele once and for all.

Barends is regarded as the founder of Griqualand, he settled north of the Orange River early in the 19th Century - and was the first Griqua to do this. He was also more adventurous than his fellow people, and was a profoundly focused Griqua nationalist.

His spirit still moves the people of Griqualand today - it is a fiercely independent folk who live around Kuruman, to Upington, Kimberley. The land there is fierce as well - only the hardiest people can take the splendid isolation of the searing summer temperates and the freezing winds in winter.

Barend Barends had left the Cape because he disliked the Dutch and the colonists generally - and he refused to cooperate with authorities when they demanded he hand back escaped slaves. He was far away from their centre of power - who was going to try and stop him?

He became known as a protector of runaway slaves, a man whose name was whispered amongst the slave community of Cape Town, his towns a place for the so-called Hottentots to reach if they could across the barren Namaqua wastes - and past the unfriendly Dutch farms.

Barends was also a staunch paternalist when it came to the Tswana around him presuming that his people were a cut above - he was condescending at times. And he was luke-warm about Jan Bloem’s first plan to raid Mzilikazi.
Mzilikazi attacked Griqua hunting parties north of the Molopo River. Barends himself had hunted there, and he’d traded with the Hurutshe folk who by now had been turned into one of the Ndebele vassal peoples.

Mzilikazi is also reported to have told Barend and his Griquas to steer clear of the Ndebele land which the Griqua had regarded as their ivory hunting grounds. This was not acceptable to the Griqua view of themselves as superiors to the Tswana, the Sotho, the Ndebele.

By early 1831 Barend Barends began to talk in messianic terms - that he was sent by God to sweep Mzilikazi and his “gang of blood thirsty warriors from the fine pastures and glens of the Bakone country…” as Robert Moffat the missionary wrote in his book “Missionary Labours”.

The Bakone country was the highveld just fyi.

Barend said he wanted to emancipate the people of the region from Mzilikazi’s thrall.
I’ll return to what Mzilikazi was up to by 1833 and it will be a story of blood, gore, pain and suffering, raiding, raping, pillaging and other inappropriate activities because now allow our gaze to swing south once more.

Here the relationship between the missionaries, the amaXhosa and the settlers was growing more and more complex. The missionaries thought amaXhosa were living in sin and cursed by damnation, the amaXhosa thought the missionaries were borderline insane and I’ll explain why - although its nicely summed up by one young woman quoted by the Scots missionaries of the time.

“I am young, and in health, I have a husband and we possess corn, and cattle and milk. Why should I not be happy? Why do I need more?”

Such disregard for the soul horrified the poor missionaries, so did just about everything about the amaXhosa, their nudity, the circumcision dances, and missionaries reporting that their land

“… is filled with fornication, whoredom, and all uncleanness, witchcraft, their doctors, polygamy, conversations full of frivolousness and filth…”
22
JAN

Episode 102 - Tales of the Trans Vaal and how Magaliesberg got its name

It’s time to delve deeply into the other Ndebele, then what happened when Mzilikazi arrived in the area known as the Trans Vaal - across the Vaal, with his hungry wolves.

The development of the highveld to the late 1820s is quite a tale, with the first Tswana people made their way here by the 1100s, although much of the high ground was avoided.

However, by the late 1600s, people had moved onto hilltop defensive locations through the region.

Rooikrans for example, a small stone-walled Sotho, Tswana and Pedi site on the Waterberg plateau north west of the Witwatersrand. There was also a similar development at Bruma on the Linksfield Ridge right in the heart of Johannesburg. I used to walk up that slope from the back of my house and the original stone settlements had been frittered away by Boer and British defenders during the Anglo Boer war who used the 500 year-old Tswana stone to build Sangars and trenches.

So over hundreds of years, the original peoples of the highveld moved about a great deal, sometimes living on hilltops, sometimes in the valleys depending on how politically stable it was. Oral tradition points out the Hurutshe founded the hill-top village of Chuenyane - also called Witkoppies, which is near Zeerust by the early 1500s. By the 17th Century, there was significant Tswana state growth in the west where it is warmer than around Johannesburg, with the rise of the Kwena and Kgatla dynasties, but these shattered in the 18th Century as trading power shifted north.

If you’ve followed the series to this point, you’ll remember the descriptions of the trading routes from Delagoa Bay and how they criss-crossed central southern Africa. There were even traders who arrived here from the West Coast, modern day Angola. By the end of the 17th Century, the transvaal Ndebele began to emerge - and by the 18th Century they were regarded as a separate people by the Sotho, Tswana and Pedi speakers.
They became known as the Matabele, and they lived on the steepest hills where they built fortifications around the Waterberg plateau. The southern Trans Vaal Ndebele were spread over the Witwatersrand high veld adjoining the Drakensberg, up to where Pretoria is today and they were in this region by the end of the 17th Century. They all trace their history to a man known as Busi, and the dating of this man is around 1630-1670.

Busi’s son was called Tshwane, and that’s why we know Pretoria area today as Tshwane - because that was its first name. Oral stories are a bit more murky when it comes to the northern trans vaal Ndebele, who settled west of the Waterberg Plateau in the 1500s.
Some headed further west across the Limpopo to the Tswapong hills in eastern Botswana. While they were migrating north west, the other transvaal Ndebele called the LAka aka, Langa, and the Hwaduba, remained behind in the WAterberg plateau. These people clung onto their linguistic identity, they spoke an Nguni language, whereas the others to the west became Tswana, Sotho, and Pedi speakers.

One man by the name of Mogale refused to dilute his language, and it is his name that morphed into the Magaliesberg - that wonderful and imposing steep and craggy range of mountains the west of Johannesburg. The very phrase sounds Afrikaans - Magalies, but it is actually an early Ndebele word from the 1500s.

By Mzilikazi’s time in the mid-1820s, there was significant jostling for territory and ascendancy around inland southern Africa. A series of small wars amongst the Tswana which have become known as the ivory and cattle and fur wars, and some known as the Wives wars, were on the go around this time.
15
JAN

Episode 101 - Mnkabayi dresses like a man and Dingane drowns his brother

Port Natal was steeped in fear and loathing in late 1828 follow in Shaka’s assassination on the 24th September 1828 which had thrown the traders into a panic.

They anticipated that Shaka’s death would lead to a civil war, and that they’d be targeted in the coming political storm. Most fled their homesteads and clambered aboard the schooner Elizabeth and Susan to depart for Algoa Bay.

On the 28th September, word was sent by Shaka’s murderers, his brothers Dingane and Mhlangana, that the traders were assured of friendship and protection - and Dingane in particular had asked them not to leave.

However, the traders had seen what happened when the Zulu fought over succession, and understood the power of the regiments so they let caution eclipse valour and most sailed away on the Elizabeth and Susan on December 1st.

They returned to Port Elizabeth, but not before Dingane’s messenger arrived - both he and Mhlangana sought the support of Cape officials and with that ringing in his ears, Francis Farewell scarpered.

Meanwhile Shaka’s Bhalule imp was still away on campaign, so the abantwana wanted to avoid more conflict with the amaMpondo, the Bhaca, and other neighbours. If the colonists left, and without their powerful army, perhaps these other smaller nations would try and seize cattle or attack the outlying Zulu homesteads.

Before he was murdered, Shaka had been raising an entirely new regiment of youths called the iziNyosi the bees - and Dingane and Mhlangana added weight to this young ibutho by forming another called uHlomendlini, the Home Guard.
Dingane and Mhlangana began to circle each other like angry lions, mistrust and antagonism developing literally by the day. It had been all very well in killing Shaka, a bit like the moment Caesar was stabbed. Now what? Who is numero uno, and who isn’t?

At first, they worked in concert, sending a joint force of the uHlomendlini and iziNyosi under Mbopha’s tight command to deal with Nandi’s other son and Shaka’s half brother - Ngwadi kaNgendeyana.
It was in late November when this dispute was brought before the royal house and the nobles of the realm.

The main interrogator was Ngqengelele kaMvulana, Shaka’s protege who’d been appointed induna of the Buthelezi people. Sitting near Ngqengelele was Noncoba, Shaka’s half-sister - Nandi’s daughter.

Also present, and apparently the person who took control, was aunty Mnkabayi - Nandi’s sister. It is said by the oral storytellers that despite all these powerful men hanging about, it was Mnkabayi who really ran the show.
It must have been quite a sight on that day because Mnkabayi arrived at this most symbolic of Zulu gatherings dressed as a man.
07
JAN

Episode 100 - Ordinance 50 shock, Dr John’s mission and Wesleyans vs polygamy

For my listeners who’ve lasted a century of podcasts, thank you folks! The series has far exceeded my expectation when it was launched I thought perhaps a few people would respond and that would be that.

But no! This series has managed to climb 6 places on Apple’s South African podcast top 20, we’re at 16 on the hit parade and passed 500 000 listens!

Sorry, this sounds self-serving, and probably is, it’s just so exciting to see how many people are interested in this unique place called South Africa, with its crazy paving history and characters that Edgar Allan Poe wouldn’t dream up in a thousand years.

So with that self-important note - let’s head on back to 1828.

Lord Charles Somerset’s perfidious tenure had ended, that period of post Napoleonic nepotism. In Liverpool, the centre of the trading world in the first half of the 19th Century, laissez-fire oceanic liberalism was raising its genteel bewigged head. The principle of free trade was growing. And in conjunction with this new economic free trade a new kind of radical liberalism was surging it was the time of a new philosophy of the rights of the human individual.

This is no small matter, as Adam Smith would agree.

You could argue that if it wasn’t for Doctor John Philip, with two p’s, one L and no S, South African history would be quite different. By the second half of the 1820s the majority of the Khoekhoe had no other employment than as farm labourers, mainly for the trekboers.

Dr John had summed up the situation in the Cape and his grim memorandum had led to the establishment of a commission of inquiry. He was fighting for what he called “the emancipation of the wretched aborigines of South Africa…”

If you remember an earlier podcast, Dr John Philip had single-handedly convinced Sir Rufane Donkin the acting governor to take action to protect the Khoekhoe labourers from abuse suffered on farms.

Dr John had returned to England by mid-1820s, and was a force of nature, persuading the public there that they should enjoin him in the mission to ensure that all men and women living in southern Africa should be regarded as equal.
Andries Stockenstrom was no longer the landdrost of Graaff-Reinet, the British had given him a new title. He was the Commissioner General of the frontier, and his new seat was in Uitenhage. This Afrikaner was one of two colonists appointed to the new Advisory Council which helped govern the colony. He was in his middle thirties and during Dr John Philip’s great trek around the Cape, they’d both spent many days arguing and debating about the rights of the Khoekhoe.

And so it was, in April 1828, four months after being installed as Commissioner General, Stockenstrom sent a memorandum to Major General Bourke about the Khoekhoe, and recommended precisely what Dr John Philip had been suggesting. A law that would sweep away all restrictions on the Khoekhoin, and put them on an equal footing with the colonists.

Gasp.
01
JAN

Episode 99 – Shaka assassinated by muddle-headed brothers Dingane and Mhlangana

First we pick up the point where James Saunders King made his way back to Port Natal following his failed diplomacy on Shaka’s behalf – the result would be catastrophic for Shaka.
It provided added incentive for Shaka’s enemies inside the Zulu to move against him, the members of the Royal house were conspiring to kill him and had been for at least four years.

Remember in early 1828 Shaka had sent the impi to raid the amaMpondo in an attempt at wiping away the tears of his mother Nandi’s death, and also to keep his army on the move which is often the best option when there is treason in the wind.
Once the army had returned from their raiding along the Umtata River, they had no break – Shaka sent them away once more, in the opposite direction.

The failed embassy led by James Saunders King returned to Port Natal on 17th August 1828. Sothobe who was Shaka’s emissary bluntly laid the blame for the fiasco in the Cape on King, and Shaka was humiliated.

King returned with Isaacs on two ships, the Helicon and the Elizabeth and Susan, and when they hove off Port Natal on 17th August 1828, King was pale and sick. Isaacs had to carry King to his residence at Mount Pleasant.

On 19th August Isaacs broke open the boxes supposedly for Shaka which contained a few sheets of copper, a piece of red broadcloth, a few medicines, knives and trinkets.

King had added a mirror or looking glass as it was known – and it was also an expensive luxury back in 1928. He also tossed in a few beads.

When Isaacs arrived at kwaBulawayo with the presents, Shaka was contemptuous of the gifts and suspicious of the seals being broken.

Shaka demanded that each gift be described, and when he was shown the ointments, Isaacs explained they were for healing wounds and the Zulu king exclaimed

“do you think we are such scabby fellows as you are…”

Later Shaka asked for the medicine that changed the colour of hair, the black oil, otherwise he was totally underwhelmed by the gifts.

“…these are of no use to my subjects, they are not troubled with the disorders you mention, the best medicine for them is beef…”

While all of this diplomacy was going on, the Zulu king had sent his army to Soshangane kaZikode of the Gaza Kingdom north of Delagoa Bay. This latest impi was going to take a very long trek, heading to the high ground 130 kilometers north west of Delagoa Bay. It overlooked the malaria and tsetse fly infested country of the bushveld around the Olifants .. the Lepelle River – which the Zulu called the Bhalule.

This was to be known as the Bhalule expedition, and was Shaka’s last.
25
DEC
2022

Episode 98 – Nandi dies, Zulu diplomats in the Cape & Shaka raids the amaMpondo

With the defeat of the Ndwandwe Shaka had moved to KwaDukuza near the Mvoti River, about 80km from Port Natal – a day and a half’s journey – or two if you were taking it fairly easy. It was a large ikhanda, containing about 1500 huts and accommodating around 3000 amabuthu warriors.

The isigodlo where his women lived was vast, built on elevated ground overlooking the entire ikhanda it was 360 meters long and 35 meters wide and housed probably 200 women in about fifty huts.

Each hut was of large and kept extremely neat and tidy as was the wont of the women of the king. They were arranged around a series of enclosures of different shapes, oval, circular, triangular – the floors hardened earth and compressed cow dung which turns a kind of dark green and smell’s fresh which is kind of hard for people to believe who’ve never lived in a home comprised of this material.

The reason why it was so hard was the earth was from anthills squeezed together with dung – then dried and polished to a glass like consistency that shines like a mirror. It feels like marble, cool to the touch in the shade away from the blazing Zululand sun. It sets as hard as concrete.

Shaka knew that the white traders at Port Natal offered him a form of protection and they represented a form of the future, as contradictory as this sounds to us today. He moved away from the north, away from where the Ndwandwe had predated, away from the Portuguese centre of Delagoa Bay, and closer to Grahamstown, which he knew about, also Port Elizabeth which had been described to him, and Cape Town which had been featuring in Zulu stories for some time.

Along the Thukela, a few kilometers north of Mvoti, lived the Cele, and his favourite induna Magaye kaDibandlela. But something was bothering this Zulu king – it was the ongoing feud between the traders, King and Farewell which I mentioned last podcast.
James King was also showing signs of illness. Farewell and King had by now become part of Shaka’s chiefdoms, he allowed them to develop their own herds, along with Ogle, and Fynn.

This was how it was in Shaka’s time.

He wanted to send a delegation of his induna to visit the British in the Cape and to discuss future ties.The timing, however, wasn’t great. That’s because it was only a few weeks after they were told of this diplomatic mission that Shaka’s mother Nandi died.

This changed everything. She had been managing the zulu king’s domestic arrangements and was central in his life.

She passed away in October 1827, although some report it was August – at eMkhindini umuzi which is part of the kwaBulawayo group of umuzi near Eshowe. It’s about five kilometers from the main homestead.

Still, the important fact is not the exact spot, the what happened afterwards. Nandi was of the Langeni people, and the descendents have many stories of what he did afterwards.
So too do the traders like Fynn and the youngers, Nathanial Isaacs.

Each appears to try to outdo the other in the stories of murder and mayhem.
18
DEC
2022

Episode 97 – Shaka shifts South, Mzilikazi raids West and Fynn becomes Zulu

We kick off this episode with Henry Francis Fynn, the trader who’d made his home in Port Natal and was part of a group of Englishmen who’d fought with Shaka against Sikhunyane of the Ndwande.

By 1826 Fynn had been living basically as a Zulu at Mpendwini, near the Mbokodwe stream which is close to Isipingo south of Durban.

Last week I explained how Shaka had donated three herds of cattle to Fynn so he could set up his important Umuzi. One of the herds was payment for helping defeat the Ndwandwe. Fynn by now was given a Zulu name, Mbuyazi – which means long-tailed finch, a bird, of the bay. One of his praise songs was all about the Finch, a fiscal shrike, which is particularly vicious in how it hunts – by impaling insects on thorns.

Fynn was Shaka’s favourite mercenary, a killer, and one of the few that Shaka allowed to kill people without his direct permission. Later Fynn’s descendents would become known as iziNkumbi, the locusts.

By 1826 Fynn had four, possibly five, Zulu wives. We don’t know their names because these were never passed down in the usual Zulu oral tradition, not even his great wife. But we know quite about about his children.

A son called Mpahlwa was born while Fynn was off fighting the NDwandwe, so he was conceived around December 1825. That was a few months after Fynn’s umuzi had been setup.

He adopted the Zulu custom of living, and would send for one of his wives every night, who would come to his hut at nightfall. Only poor men would creep around at dusk to visit their wives. Fynn had thrown off all pretenses of living like a European – unlike some of the other traders such as Maclean the youngster, or Farewell.
So by 1826, Shaka was watching these traders with their guns and ships carefully. In the same year, the Zulu king decided to move his entire main umuzi closer to Port Natal – building his new residency on the site of an Umuzi long abandoned by the Cele chieftan Dibhandlela.
We’ll come back to what happened there next episode, right now lets swing to the north west deeper– because our old friend – who was actually still quite young by the name of, Mzilikazi of the Khumalo had been a very very busy young man.

The remnants of Sikhuyane’s Ndwandwe, shattered by Shaka, joined up with him in the area around the upper reaches of the Vaal River by the end of 1826. The erosion of power of the Buhurutshe people was taking place, the Mzilikazi was also incorporating refugees from the Tswana and Sotho chiefdoms as the area to the south and West of the Vaal became more unstable.

The Pedi had also been defeated earlier by Zwide’s Ndwandwe and now Mzilikazi was busy taking advantage of their defeat to raid their old stomping ground. The Khumalo people had become an agglomeration of their original clan from Zululand and the Tswana called them the Matabele – Nguni speakers called them the amaNdebele.

amaNdebele means the Marauders. They were indeed, amaNdebele.
11
DEC
2022

Episode 96 – A “bipolar” Shaka hunts down and exterminates Sikhunyane’s Ndwandwe

We’re dealing with the period 1826 to 1828 and southern Africa was a rich patchwork of expanding trekboers, Shaka setting up his empire in Zululand, the Khoe and basters traveling and raiding along the Orange River, and the amaNdebele on the move into the highveld.

Of course 1826 was not a great year if you were Lord Charles Somerset, who was hastened home after his administration been scrutinized with an intense scrute, to quote Spike Milligan.

Lord Bathurst had setup the Advisory Council in Cape Town, a kind of forerunner to a cabinet, and the days of the Governor merely printing his edicts as law were over.

The council then approached a rather thorny problem of creating a separate council for the Eastern districts, the Eastern cape so to speak. But they held off for the meantime – at least until after slavery was abolished.

The new lieutenant Governor replacing Somerset was Bourke who waved Lord Charles off in March 1826 to the relative peace at Brighton back in England. The need for a resident authority further east, along the frontier, was met in a while by a compromise. That was when Dutch speaking Andries Stockenstrom landdrost of Graaff-Reinet, was appointed Commissioner-General at Grahamstown, and was to report on all the affairs of the eastern districts .. including Beaufort West in the Karoo.
Farewell along with Henry Francis Fynn Fynn who had taken a liking to Shaka. They spent months hunting elephants, and had bagged a fortune in ivory. Life was hard for the settlers here in the early days of Natal, but the rewards were vast.

James Saunders King had rented the Mary, which he’d now managed to wreck, but he was not alone on that humid beach in October. Swimming alongside him were Nathanial Isaacs and Charles Rawden Maclean.

Isaacs is an entire podcast series himself, and I said we’d be hearing a lot more from him and here he is. Nathanial Isaacs’ stories about Shaka would form the core narrative of the Shaka mythology, and some of his comments actually still appear in school text books. It’s been a long road to weed out this teenager’s overwritten memories from our consciousness. But he was quite an interesting chap nevertheless.
04
DEC
2022

Episode 95 – Sunset for Somerset and Maqoma eyes guns and horses in 1825

We’re going to join one of the biweekly market gatherings held at Fort Willshire in 1825 where amaXhosa, English settlers, trekboers and khoekhoe met to exchange goods. Then we bid Cape Governor Lord Charles Somerset adieu.

The fair that had been established by Sir Rufane Donkin on the banks of the Keiskamma River was flourishing by 1825. Boxes of beads, brass goods, buttons, coils or wire, looking glasses alias spectacles, scissors, cotton textiles, European clothing and shoes, were exchanged for ivory, gum and cattle hides brought by the amaXhosa and khoekhoe.

As the traders travelled to the fair, they would pass elephant that could still be seen roving in the area in great numbers, although the British settlers like the Boers before had taken to shooting these pachyderms down by the dozen so they could also benefit from selling ivory.

The great herds were being shot out of the eastern Cape although they could be found until 1919. That’s when the government passed an extermination order and after the blood letting, elephants could only be found deep in the Knysna forests and in Addo.

The settlers’ mouthpiece publication called the Grahamstown Journal was now publishing, edited by Robert Godlonton, and called for more English expansion into Xhosa country, and the complete subjugation and dispossession of the amaXhosa. They were also railing against a new Ordanance 9 issued by the British, which regulated the right of colonists to open fire on vagrants, trespassers, deserters and escaped convicts spotted on their land. The settlers were now uncertain about what was lawful if they tried to defend their farms – and the trekboers blamed the English – adding to the bitterness they already felt towards these red coated self serving high and mightier imperialists.

Colonel Henry Somerset had served with the Cape Corps as their commander, and fought in the last stage of the Fifth Frontier War, but by 1823 he was installed as CIC of the entire eastern Front. You’ve heard how Governor Charles was facing criticism for his nepotism and spendthrift ways, so we are not surprised by what was going to happen next. The merchants were in his ear, do something, we can’t have these Kosas causing chaos.
27
NOV
2022

Episode 94 – White and black ants in Botswana and Eastern Cape secession

Port Natal and Delagoa Bay are far away from Cape Town and appeared even further in the early 1820s. The Cape Governor was inevitably more concerned with what lay immediately beyond the colonial frontiers than in these distant ports.
Much of what concerned Lord Charles Somerset – and had concerned his predecessors – already lay along the frontiers. The colony had thrown out an ever increasing fringe of loose cannons, skirmishers, traders, trek-boers, escaped slaves, and even rebellious missionaries.
The flood of missionaries turned into a tsunami by the mid-1820s, the London Missionary Society was already at work as you know, and by now they were established along both sides of the Orange River and into the eastern Frontier.
The Moravians had arrived and were carving out new parishers even further east, while the Wesleyans were already amongst the far-distant amaPondo people. The Zulu had been raiding these people from Shaka’s centre of power as you know.
There were a number of Scots from Glasgow who found living amongst the amaXhosa to their liking, and even missionaries from Germany showed up, particularly from Berlin, and they began living amongst the amaXhosa too.
The Rhenish and Paris Evangelicals arrived too, one to work within the colony and the other headed north into Bechuanaland, and then to the Basutho.
The LMS and Paris Evangelicals were moving along the first stage of what became known as the Missionary Road which led all the way from the Cape into Central Africa.
By now the chiefdoms of the Caledon Valley and the open plains north of the Orange River had been squeezed between three expanding zones of instability and conflict.
From the south and south west parties of Griqua, Kora and Boers were raiding for cattle and cheap labour. To the northwest, the rivalries of Batswana chiefdoms were spilling across the Vaal River. To the East, the fighting that had seen the AmaZulu and amaNdwandwe at war, as well as the amaMthethwa, had displaced groups as you’ve heard and some had headed across the Drakensberg.
Then Lord Bathurst the Secretary of State set up an Advisory Council in Cape Town which consisted of the Governor, muttering under his bewigged breath, the Chief Justice, the colonial Secretary, the Officer commanding, the Deputy-Quartermaster-General, the Auditor General and the Treasurer.
The Council was to deal with quite an interesting proposal, and this was allowing the Eastern Cape to be represented by their own council, by some kind of representative assembly. They fired the first round in what was to become a long-sustained but ultimately unsuccessful battle for separation by Eastern Capers.
20
NOV
2022

Episode 93 –Shaka survives an assassination attempt and Farewell gets Port Natal

Shaka met Henry Francis Fynn and Lieutenant Francis George Farewell in August 1824 and the traders were seeking his permission to live and work at Port Natal. Cape Governor Lord Charles Somerset had rejected Farewell’s request he annex the region, so that was the only option left for the traders.

In episode 92 I explained how the amazulu reacted to Fynn and Farewell, how their horses in particular were a shock.

The dress code was also a surprise, although their skin colour seemed less of a surprise. These Englishmen by now had been burnt brown by months in the African sun, so there was not much made of their skin colour by the oral history tellers, they were more interested in what the Europeans were wearing.

And as you heard, Shaka was able to talk to these traders because of the amaXhosa convict Jacot Msimbithi who was translating. The only problem was, he was not very good at his job.

Hlambamanzi as he was known to the Zulu, Swim the Seas, mangled English meaning.

However Shaka immediately grasped a few important facts from Msimbithi as they conversed in isiZulu – which is similar to isiXhosa. Firstly, he knew that the traders carried guns and these weapons would be useful. The visitors were also part of a much broader trading powerhouse, Shaka understood that too.

He had heard of the power of the British and wanted to approach the empire, he was not into going to war against them although from his comments, we know he believed his warriors would defeat British soldiers anyway.

And yet, Shaka quickly realized that using the settlers guns, he could overcome some of the chiefdoms that were still refusing to Khonza him.

He welcomed the traders, conferring on them the title of abakwethu, or people of our house, kinsmen, trusted and close confidents.

Then someone tried to stab Shaka to death with a spear. He survived the assassination attempt.

Farewell rushed to Shaka’s side upon hearing of the incident, along with the master of his sloop the Julia, a man by the name of WH Davis. Somehow, at this point, Farewell managed to convince the Zulu king to grant him a sale of land, which he wrote as “in full possession and perpetuity” for the sole use of Farewell and his heirs.

It was signed by Shaka in a huge scrawl, dated both 7th and 8th of August 1824 – pre-dated in other words and witnessed by Hlambamanzi Msimbithi the translator advisor, Shaka’s uncle Mbikwana and two other high ranking members of his counsel.

But did the document grant Farewell ownership or guardianship?

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