Cetywayo and His White Neighbours

Cetywayo and His White Neighbours

CETYWAYO AND HIS WHITE NEIGHBOURS H. RIDER HAGGARD "I am told that these men (the Boers) are told to keep on agitating in this way for a change of Government in England may give them again the old order of things. Nothing can show greater ignorance of English politics than such an idea. I tell you there is no Government--Whig or Tory Liberal Conservative or Radical--who would dare under any circumstances to give back this country (the Transvaal). They would not dare because the English people would not allow them."--(/Extract from Speech of Sir Garnet Wolseley delivered at a Public Banquet in Pretoria on the 17th December 1879./) "There was a still stronger reason than that for not receding (from the Transvaal); it was impossible to say what calamities such a step as receding might not cause. . . . For such a risk he could not make himself responsible. . . . Difficulties with the Zulu and the frontier tribes would again arise and looking as they must to South Africa as a whole the Government after a careful consideration of the question came to the conclusion that we could not relinquish the Transvaal."--(/Extract from Speech of Lord Kimberley in the House of Lords 24th May 1880. H. P. D. vol. cclii. p. 208./) PREPARER'S NOTE This text was prepared from an 1882 edition published by Trubner & Co. Ludgate Hill London. INTRODUCTION The writer on Colonial Affairs is naturally to some extent discouraged by the knowledge that the subject is an unattractive one to a large proportion of the reading public. It is difficult to get up anything beyond a transient interest in the affairs of our Colonial dependencies; indeed I believe that the mind of the British public was more profoundly moved by the exodus of Jumbo than it would be were one of them to become the scene of some startling catastrophe. This is the more curious inasmuch as putting aside all sentimental considerations which indeed seem to be out of harmony with the age we live in: the trade done even with such comparatively insignificant colonies as our South African possessions amounts to a value of many millions of pounds sterling per annum. Now as the preachers of the new gospel that hails from Birmingham and Northampton have frequently told us trade is the life-blood of England and must be fostered at any price. It is therefore surprising that looking on them in the light of a commercial speculation in which aspect (saith the preacher) they are alone worthy of notice a keener interest is not taken in the well-being and development of the Colonies. We have only to reflect to see how great are the advantages that the Mother Country derives from the possession of her Colonial Empire; including as they do a home for her surplus children a vast and varied market for her productions and a wealth of old-fashioned loyalty and deep attachment to the Old Country--"home" as it is always called--which even if it is out of date might prove useful on emergency. It seems therefore almost a pity that some Right Honourable Gentlemen and their followers should adopt the tone they do with reference to the Colonies. After all there is an odd shuffling of the cards going on now in England; and great as she is her future looks by no means sunny. Events in these latter days develop themselves very quickly; and though the idea may at the present moment seem absurd surely it is possible that what between the rapid spread of Radical ideas the enmity of Ireland the importation of foreign produce and the competition of foreign trade to say nothing of all the unforeseen accidents and risks of the future the Englishmen of say two generations hence may not find their country in her present proud position. Perhaps and stranger things have happened in the history of the world she may by that time be under the protection of those very Colonies for which their forefathers had such small affection. The position of South Africa with reference to the Mother Country is somewhat different to that of her sister Colonies in that she is regarded not so much with apathy tinged with dislike as with downright disgust. This feeling has its foundation in the many troubles and expenses in which this country has been recently involved through local complications in the Cape Zululand and the Transvaal: and indeed is little to be wondered at. But whilst a large portion of the press has united with a powerful party of politicians in directing a continuous stream of abuse on to the heads of the white inhabitants of South Africa whom they do not scruple to accuse of having created the recent disturbances in order to reap a money profit from them: it does not appear to have struck anybody that the real root of this crop of troubles might after all be growing nearer home. The truth of the matter is that native and other problems in South Africa have till quite lately been left to take their chance and solve themselves as best they might; except when they have in a casual manner been made the /corpus vile/ of some political experiment. It was during this long period of inaction when each difficulty--such as the native question in Natal--was staved off to be dealt with by the next Government that the seed was sown of which we are at present reaping the fruit. In addition to this matters have recently been complicated by the elevation of South African affairs to the dignity of an English party question. Thus the Transvaal Annexation was made use of as a war-cry in the last general election a Boer rebellion was thereby encouraged which resulted in a complete reversal of our previous policy. Now if there is any country dependent on England that requires the application to the conduct of its affairs of a firm considered and consistent policy that country is South Africa. Boers and Natives are quite incapable of realising the political necessities of any of our parties or of understanding why their true interests should be sacrificed in order to minister to those necessities. It is our wavering and uncertain policy as applied to peoples who look upon every hesitating step as a sign of fear and failing dominion that in conjunction with previous postponement and neglect has really caused our troubles in South Africa. For so long as the affairs of that country are influenced by amateurs and sentimentalists who have no real interest in it and whose knowledge of its circumstances and conditions of life is gleaned from a few blue-books superficially got up to enable the reader to indite theoretical articles to the "Nineteenth Century" or deliver inaccurate speeches in the House of Commons--for so long will those troubles continue. If I may venture to make a suggestion the affairs of South Africa should be controlled by a Board or Council like that which formerly governed India composed of moderate members of both parties with an admixture of men possessing practical knowledge of the country. I do not know if any such arrangement would be possible under our constitution but the present system of government by which the control of savage races fluctuates in obedience of every variation of English party politics is most mischievous in its results. The public however is somewhat tired of South Africa and the reader may perhaps wonder why he should be troubled with more literature on the subject. I can assure him that these pages are not written in order to give me an opportunity of airing my individual experiences or ideas. Their object is shortly--(1.) To give a true history of the events attendant on the Annexation of the Transvaal which act has so frequently been assigned to the most unworthy motives and has never yet been fairly described by any one who was in a position to know the facts; (2.) To throw as much publicity as possible on the present disgraceful state of Zululand resulting from our recent settlement in that country; (3.) To show all interested in the Kafir races what has been the character of our recent surrender in the Transvaal and what its effect will be on our abandoned native subjects living in that country. It may perhaps seem an odd statement considering that I have lived in various parts of South Africa for about six years and have perhaps enjoyed exceptional advantage in forming my opinions when I say that my chief fear in publishing the present volume is lest my knowledge of my subject in all its bearings should not be really equal to the task. It is I know the fashion to treat South African difficulties as being simple of solution. Thus it only took Sir Garnet Wolseley a few weeks to understand the whole position of Zulu affairs and to execute his memorable settlement of that country: whilst eminent writers appear to be able in scampering from Durban /via/ Kimberley to Cape Town in a post-cart to form decided opinions upon every important question in South Africa. The power of thus rapidly assimilating intricate knowledge and of seeing straight through a wall whilst ordinary individuals are still criticising the bricks is no doubt one of the peculiar privileges of genius--which is perhaps fortunately for South Africa--rare. To the common run of mind however the difficulty of forming a sound and accurate judgment on the interlacing problems that disclose themselves to the student of the politics of South-Eastern Africa is exceedingly great and the work of years. But although it is by no means perfect I think that my knowledge of these problems and of their imminent issues is sufficiently intimate to justify me in making a prophecy--namely that unless the native and other questions of South-Eastern Africa are treated with more honest intelligence and on a more settled plan than it has hitherto been thought necessary to apply to them the British taxpayer will find that he has /by no means/ heard the last of that country and its wars. There is one more point to which although it hardly comes within the scope of this volume I have made some allusion and which I venture to suggest deserves the consideration of thinking Englishmen. I refer to the question of the desirability of allowing the Dutch in South Africa who are already numerically the strongest to continue to advance with such rapid strides towards political supremacy. That the object of this party is to reduce Englishmen and English ideas to a subordinate position in the State if not actually to rid itself of our rule and establish a republic there is no manner of doubt. Indeed there exists a powerful organisation the Africander Bond which has its headquarters in the Cape and openly devotes its energies to forwarding these ends by offering a sturdy opposition to the introduction of English emigrants and the use of the English language whilst striving in every way to excite class prejudices and embitter the already strained relations between Englishman and Boer. In considering this question it is as well not to lose sight of the fact that the Dutch are as a body at heart hostile to our rule chiefly because they cannot tolerate our lenient behaviour to the native races. Should they by any chance cease to be the subjects of England they will I believe become her open enemies. This of itself would be comparatively unimportant were it not for the fact that in the event of the blocking of the Suez Canal it would be to say the least inconvenient that the Cape should be in the hands of a hostile population. In conclusion I wish to state that this book is not written for any party purpose. I have tried to describe a state of affairs which has for the most part come under my own observation and events in which I have been interested and at times engaged. That the naked truths of such a business as the Transvaal surrender or of the present condition of Zululand are unpleasant reading for an Englishman there is no doubt; but so far as these pages are concerned they owe none of their ugliness to undue colouring or political bias. Windham Club St. James' Square June 1882. CETYWAYO AND HIS WHITE NEIGHBOURS CETYWAYO AND THE ZULU SETTLEMENT Claims of affairs of Zululand to attention--Proposed visit of Cetywayo to England--Chaka--His method of government--His death-- Dingaan--Panda--Battle of the Tugela--John Dunn--Nomination of Cetywayo--His coronation--His lady advocates--Their attacks on officials--Was Cetywayo bloodthirsty?--Cause of the Zulu war--Zulu military system--States of feeling amongst the Zulus previous to the war--Cetywayo's position--His enemies--His intentions on the Transvaal--Their frustration by Sir T. Shepstone--Cetywayo's interview with Mr. Fynney--His opinion of the Boers--The annexation in connection with the Zulu war--The Natal colonists and the Zulu war--Sir Bartle Frere--The Zulu war--Cetywayo's half- heartedness--Sir Garnet Wolseley's settlement--Careless selection of chiefs--The Sitimela plot--Chief John Dunn--Appointment of Mr. Osborn as British Resident--His difficult position--Folly and cruelty of our settlement--Disappointment of the Zulus--Object and result of settlement--Slaughter in Zululand--Cetywayo's son-- Necessity of proper settlement of Zululand--Should Cetywayo be restored? Zululand and the Zulu settlement still continue to receive some attention from the home public partly because those responsible for the conduct of affairs are not quite at ease about it and partly because of the agitation in this country for the restoration of Cetywayo. There is no doubt that the present state of affairs in Zululand is a subject worthy of close consideration not only by those officially connected with them but by the public at large. Nobody either at home or in the colonies wishes to see another Zulu war or anything approaching to it. Unless however the affairs of Zululand receive a little more attention and are superintended with a little more humanity and intelligence than they are at present the public will sooner or later be startled by some fresh catastrophe. Then will follow the usual outcry and the disturbance will be attributed to every cause under the sun except the right one--want of common precautions. The Zulu question is a very large one and I only propose discussing so much of it as necessary to the proper consideration of the proposed restoration of Cetywayo to his throne. The king is now coming to England[*] where he will doubtless make a very good impression since his appearance is dignified and his manners as is common among Zulus of high rank are those of a gentleman. It is probable that his visit will lead to a popular agitation in his favour and very possibly to an attempt on the part of the English Government to reinstate him in his kingdom. Already Lady Florence Dixie waves his banner and informs the public through the columns of the newspapers how good how big and how beautiful he is and "F. W. G. X." describes in enthusiastic terms his pearl-like teeth. But as there are interests involved in the question of his reinstatement which are I think more important than Cetywayo's personal proportions of mind or body and as the results of such a step would necessarily be very marked and far-reaching it is as well to try and understand the matter in all its bearing before anything is done. [*] Since the above was written the Government have at the last moment decided to postpone Cetywayo's visit to this country chiefly on account of the political capital which was being made out of the event by agitators in Zululand. The project of bringing the king to England does not however appear to have been abandoned. There has been a great deal of special pleading about Cetywayo. Some writers swayed by sentiment and that spirit of partisanship that the sight of royalty in distress always excites whitewash him in such a persistent manner that their readers are left under the impression that the ex-king is a model of injured innocence and virtue. Others again for political reasons paint him very black and predict that his restoration would result in the destruction or at the least disorganisation of our South African empire. The truth in this as in the majority of political controversies lies somewhere between these two extremes though it is difficult to say exactly where. To understand the position of Cetywayo both with reference to his subjects and the English Government it will be necessary to touch though briefly on the history of Zululand since it became a nation and also on the principal events of the ex-king's reign. Chaka Cetywayo's great uncle was the first Zulu king and doubtless one of the most remarkable men that has ever filled a throne since the days of the Pharaohs. When he came to his chieftainship about 1813 the Zulu people consisted of a single small tribe; when his throne became vacant in 1828 their name had become a living terror and they were the greatest Black power in South Africa. The invincible armies of this African Attila had swept north and south east and west had slaughtered more than a million human beings and added vast tracts of country to his dominions. Wherever his warriors went the blood of men women and children was poured out without stay or stint; indeed he reigned like a visible Death the presiding genius of a saturnalia of slaughter. His methods of government and warfare were peculiar and somewhat drastic but most effective. As he conquered a tribe he enrolled its remnants in his army so that they might in their turn help to conquer others. He armed his regiments with the short stabbing assegai instead of the throwing assegai which they had been accustomed to use and kept them subject to an iron discipline. If a man was observed to show the slightest hesitation about coming to close quarters with the enemy he was executed as soon as the fight was over. If a regiment had the misfortune to be defeated whether by its own fault or not it would on its return to headquarters find that a goodly proportion of the wives and children belonging to it had been beaten to death by Chaka's orders and that he was waiting their arrival to complete his vengeance by dashing out their brains. The result was that though Chaka's armies were occasionally annihilated they were rarely defeated and they never ran away. I will not enter in the history of his numerous cruelties and indeed they are not edifying. Amongst other things like Nero he killed his own mother and then caused several persons to be executed because they did not show sufficient sorrow at her death. At length in 1828 he too suffered the fate he had meted out to so many and was killed by his brothers Dingaan and Umhlangan by the hands of one Umbopa. He was murdered in his hut and as his life passed out of him he is reported to have addressed these words to his brothers who were watching his end: "What! do you stab me my brothers dogs of mine own house whom I have fed? You hope to be kings; but though you do kill me think not that your line shall reign for long. I tell you that I hear the sound of the feet of the great white people and that this land shall be trodden by them." He then expired but his last words have always been looked upon as a prophecy by the Zulus and indeed they have been partly fulfilled. Having in his turn killed Umhlangan his brother by blood and in crime Dingaan took possession of the throne. He was less pronounced than Chaka in his foreign policy though he seems to have kept up the family reputation as regards domestic affairs. It was he who influenced perhaps by Chaka's dying prophecy about white men massacred Retief the Boer leader and his fifty followers in the most treacherous manner and then falling on the emigrant Boers in Natal murdered men women and children to the number of nearly six hundred. There seems however to have been but little love lost between any of the sons of Usengangacona (the father of Chaka Dingaan Umhlangan and Panda) for in due course Panda his brother conspired with the Boers against Dingaan and overthrew him with their assistance. Dingaan fled and was shortly afterwards murdered in Swaziland and Panda ascended the throne in 1840. Panda was a man of different character to the remainder of his race and seems to have been well content to reign in peace only killing enough people to keep up his authority. Two of his sons Umbelazi and Cetywayo of whom Umbelazi was the elder and Panda's favourite began as their father grew old to quarrel about the succession to the crown. On the question being referred to Panda he is reported to have remarked that when two young cocks quarrelled the best thing they could do was to fight it out. Acting on this hint each prince collected his forces Panda sending down one of his favourite regiments to help Umbelazi. The fight took place in 1856 on the banks of the Tugela. A friend of the writer happening to be on the Natal side of the river the day before the battle and knowing it was going to take place swam his horse across in the darkness taking his chance of the alligators and hid in some bush on a hillock commanding the battlefield. It was a hazardous proceeding but the sight repaid the risk though he describes it as very awful more especially when the regiment of veterans sent by Panda joined in the fray. It came up at the charge between two and three thousand strong and was met near his hiding-place by one of Cetywayo's young regiments. The noise of the clash of their shields was like the roar of the sea but the old regiment after a struggle in which men fell thick and fast annihilated the other and passed on with thinned ranks. Another of Cetywayo's regiments took the place of the one that had been destroyed and this time the combat was fierce and long till victory again declared for the veterans' spears. But they had brought it dear and were in no position to continue their charge; so the leaders of that brave battalion formed its remnants into a ring and like the Scotch at Flodden-- "The stubborn spearmen still made good The dark impenetrable wood; Each stepping where his comrade stood The instant that he fell" till there were none left to fall. The ground around them was piled with dead. But this gallant charge availed Umbelazi but little and by degrees Cetywayo's forces pressed his men back to the banks of the Tugela and finally into it. Thousands fell upon the field and thousands perished in the river. When my friend swam back that night he had nothing to fear from the alligators: they were too well fed. Umbelazi died on the battlefield of a broken heart at least it is said that no wound could be found on his person. He probably expired in a fit brought on by anxiety of mind and fatigue. A curious story is told of Cetywayo with reference to his brother's death. After the battle was over a Zulu from one of his own regiments presented himself before him with many salutations saying "O prince! now canst thou sleep in peace for Umbelazi is dead." "How knowest thou that he is dead?" said Cetywayo. "Because I slew him with my own hand" replied the Zulu. "Thou dog!" said the prince "thou hast dared to lift thy hand against the blood royal and now thou makest it a matter of boasting. Wast thou not afraid? By Chaka's head thou shalt have thy reward. Lead him away." And the Zulu who was but lying after all having possessed himself of the bracelets off the dead prince's body was instantly executed. The probability is that Cetywayo acted thus more from motives of policy than from affection to his brother whom indeed he hoped to destroy. It did not do to make too light of the death of an important prince: Umbelazi's fate to-day might be Cetywayo's fate to-morrow. This story bears a really remarkable resemblance to that of the young man who slew Saul the Lord's anointed and suffered death on account thereof at the hands of David. This battle is also memorable as being the occasion of the first ...