top of page


The Bushmen of the Zuurveld.


Under this title we shall notice the groups along the more northern portion of the eastern frontier, of which any recollection has been preserved. We have already mentioned those of the Bamboesberg and the Tarka and the old Tambuki tribe of Bushmen which once occupied the valley of the Tsomo and the land farther to the eastward ; those of the Great Winterberg and the Konap we shall have occasion to treat of in a later portion of our investigation. Most of the names of the great captains of these tribes, who were certainly the patriotic defenders of their country, have long since been lost sight of. Even in the traditions which have survived of a few, most of them are known only by the names given to them by the Boers, and the writer could only discover two or three whose native names have been preserved.

One of the former class was Lynx, the chief of the Bamboesberg. Another was Koegel-man, alias Koegel-been, who had his headquarters among the rocky ledges of a hill in the Queenstown district, now named Koegel-been's Kop after him ; and it was in defending this stronghold that he received the wound — a bullet lodging in his leg, from which it could not be extracted — which gave him the name he subsequently bore. Little is now known of him, except that he offered a desperate resistance to the Abatembu and Boers who invaded his country.

Another captain who rendered himself conspicuous was called Windvogel. He was chief of the Bushmen around the mountain which was named Windvogelberg after him, in the same district. His territory extended from the Wa'cu, or Wa-'ku, to the Thorn river on the Bontebok flats.

Of the numerous and powerful tribes which once inhabited the Stormberg and neighbouring ranges, the writer was not able to discover the trace of a single name having survived, although in their day they were as determined and daring in their resistance to the encroachments of the stronger races as their co-patriots who were spread over the territory now forming the Free State and the basin of the Orange river and its tributaries, with regard to whom a number of traditions might be obtained, could some of the ancient survivors be questioned upon the subject.

Mada'kane, one whose native name has escaped oblivion, was chief of the Bushman tribe inhabiting the country from the Zwart Kei Poort below Tylden to the Gwatyu and Indwe, and along the valley of the 'Neiba, or Lower Zwart Kei, to a little below its junction with the 'Ca'cadu or White Kei. This and the one under Madura, of which we shall speak presently, were considered to be, at one time, the most powerful tribes in this part of South Africa.

The last retreat and stronghold of Mada'kane was in an almost inaccessible glen, still bearing his name, about the junction of the two Keis. The surrounding country is of the most difficult character. One footpath leading to it, along which the writer rode when he visited the spot in 1869, was along a kind of elevated backbone, nearly half a mile long and from one hundred and fifty to two hundred yards in width, above a precipice of some five hundred feet on the one hand, while one, of at least eight hundred feet, with the 'Neiba rushing over the rocks at its foot, was on the other.

An old brother of Mada'kane, with two of his wives and their children, and one or two followers, still hid themselves among the precipices, and although several messengers were sent to them, nothing would induce the old man to grant the visitor an interview. One of his excuses was that if he did so, the man in the leather jacket (the writer), who visited all their houses and copied their paintings, would be asking him questions, when the questioner would become as wise as himself.

The resident Kaffirs of these deep glens were, to add to the difficulties of the journey, angry with the writer's Kaffir guides for bringing a white man to examine the secret recesses of their fastnesses, which they termed their hidden war-paths, that during the wars of 1835, 1846, and 1850 had afforded a secure retreat for all their women, children, and captured cattle, and that no colonial force had ever attempted to enter, declaring that the writer was the first European who had ventured to penetrate so far into this mysterious region.

Every obstacle was thrown in the way of the exploring party, almost impassable roads were pointed out to them. They had to camp out under a rock-shelter, the sides of which were barricaded with fallen trees, and lest the horses should be seized in the night by the irate natives, who had threatened to dismount the unwelcome intruders, they were securely fastened. Two great fires were made in front, and with the aid of a watchful and faithful dog, which had fortunately accompanied them, they passed the night without further molestation, although the loud voices of the Kaffirs in a kraal, about a quarter of a mile distant, were heard the greater part of it. Early the next morning they were again in the saddle, and after climbing, and occasionally driving the horses in front of them for several hours, they arrived at Mada'kane's last retreat. Here he died, amid his native rocky glens, but whether of wounds or of old age, as he must have been a very old man at the time, the writer was not able to learn.

His brother 'Gcu-wa, the old Bushman already mentioned, was the painter of the family, and in 1869 still carried two or three of his horn paint-pots swung at his belt. He was the artist who painted the representation of a Boer commando, which adorned the wall of his brother's rock-shelter, and it was said that it was intended to commemorate the first attack the Boers ever made upon their tribe.

The palace cave of the Python, on the bank of the 'Neiba, belonged to a minor chief named Madolo, who acknowledged the supremacy of Mada'kane. Madolo was a name given to this chief by the invading Kaffirs, and signified Knees. Up to the last days of the undisturbed rule of the Bushmen, all the deep pools of the surrounding rivers swarmed with hippopotami. The Kaffirs not only drove out the greater number of the Bushmen from the more open country, but soon exterminated the great pachyderms which had lived in the rivers.

The last hippopotamus of the 'Neiba was killed in the large pool opposite Madolo's cave. The once powerful and formidable tribe of Mada'kane, attacked on the one hand by the intruding Abatembu and Amaxosa Kaffirs, and subsequently by Boer commandos on the other, was at last reduced to a miserable remnant, consisting of the old man 'Gcu-wa, the brother of Mada'kane, a younger man, a nephew of the same chief, three women, and about five little children. These unfortunates never ventured into the open country, but always remained in the wildest parts of the river valleys, migrating from spot to spot, according to the seasons, sustaining a precarious subsistence by eel-fishing, digging roots, and obtaining honey from the various krantz nests, inaccessible to any men less nimble than themselves.

Even after they had been conquered and nearly destroyed by the intruding Kaffirs, the survivors looked upon these rock nests as their peculiar and rightful property, and not only jealously guarded any interference with them, but promptly revenged themselves upon the kraals of those who were suspected of tampering with their contents. So certain was retaliation to follow any such misdemeanour that the Kaffirs at last looked upon these nests with considerable dread, and would neither touch them themselves nor allow any one else to do so upon any pretext whatever.

Madura, or Madoor as he was styled by the colonists, to whom we have before alluded, was the chief of the second powerful tribe living on this portion of the border. He was the great chief of the Bushman clans in the country around the Klipplaats and Upper Zwart Kei rivers. His great cave was originally a few miles from the present village of Whittlesea, in the Division of Queenstown. Here he was living when he was visited by Dr. Van der Kemp ; and there was at one time a painting in it, which Madura used to state was the likeness of this zealous but eccentric missionary. It had the figure of a 'Nadro close behind it, looking very much like the mediaeval conception of the devil, which made some of the colonists believe that Madura's artist had attempted to depict not only the worthy missionary, but also the evil being whom he had attempted to introduce to their notice.

About the time of, or shortly after, the Kaffir war of 1835 he retired from the more immediate border, and located himself near the spot afterwards called Bushman school, near Glen Grey, in the same division. Here, about 1839, a mission was established, and hence the name of Bushman school. When visited by Mr. Backhouse, he said that he had been brought up among the mountains, that he had not seen his mother for a long time, although he hoped that she was still living, if she had not been devoured by the great serpent, or by the tigers of the mountains. That the reptile to which Madura alluded was not a mythical idea of the native mind is certain, and it is equally certain that at no distant period pythons of considerable size were not uncommon in the valley of the 'Neiba, or Zwart Kei, as is proved not only by the traditions of the natives respecting them, but by the accurate Bushman drawing in the cave of the Python ; and as a coincidence there is a representation of this great serpent, some seven feet long, in one of Madura's rock-shelters on the Klipplaats.

The great serpent spoken of by the natives of South Africa is supposed by some to have been extinct in the Cape Colony for a long period, but thirty or forty years ago the Kaffirs declared that it was then to be met with in some of the rocky and woody glens towards the coast, and in 1849 the writer himself saw one some seven or eight miles from Grahamstown, near Broekhuisen's Poort, which was from fifteen to eighteen feet in length, and much thicker than a man's arm. There are several other well-authenticated instances of this reptile having been met with since 1820, the date of the arrival of the British settlers. Not only had the Kaffirs of the coast tribes a superstitious reverence for it, allowing no one to kill it under pain of death, but some of the old Hottentots also imagined that it possessed miraculous and magic powers.

In 1849 Madura's station consisted of a few huts and a small chapel. In the war of 1846 he took part with the government against the Abatembu and Amaxosa Kaffirs. In 1849 he had still about three hundred men under his jurisdiction, including Bushmen, Hottentots, Fingos, and several others who had fled to him for an asylum from adjacent tribes, on account of charges of witchcraft brought against them by their own people. There were still occasional invasions and occupations of his country by the tribes in his vicinity, for the sake of the grass and water found there. He then appeared to be about sixty years of age, and would consequently have been born about 1789. His people all cut off the first joint of the third finger of the right hand.

The regulations enforced upon this chief certainly tended, in no inconsiderable degree, to accelerate the extinction of his tribe, and to prevent, by the imposition of a most unreasonable impost, any chance of their improvement.

His country was proclaimed to be within the bounds of the Cape Colony. He pleaded that the land belonged to his forefathers, and that the Tembus were intruders who had forcibly taken possession of a large portion of it. His remonstrances were unavailing, his country was absorbed, without the slightest reservation being made for the ancient owners, and instead of encouragement to induce them to settle down to the peaceful occupations of quiet citizens, a demand of one pound a year was made upon the head of each family as a quitrent ! They were not a conquered people, they were living in a country which, as Madura said, had belonged to Bushmen from time immemorial. They had not made war upon the Colony as the frontier tribes of Kaffirs had done, on the contrary they had done good service in defence of colonial territory and in retaking cattle and other stock which had been captured by the enemy, and now they were rewarded for those services, in what way let the old chief Madura describe. He said the land was the land of his fathers, and that now, although he and his people had served the government for three years, they were told they must pay for living upon it ! Where was the money to come from ?

Such a thing, if forced upon them, must entirely ruin them. These reasonable representations met with no response, and this wrong certainly formed the first step towards the final expulsion of himself and his people from a territory which had descended to them from their remote ancestors. Madura's case appears a particularly hard one. A demand was made, for the miserable allotment of land marked out for himself and his followers, of a sum which was equivalent to three hundred pounds per annum, being at the rate of one pound for each of his male followers. Had the same quantity of land been granted to a farmer, the sum would not have exceeded fifty pounds.

About the time of the Kaffir war of 1850 he retreated from the Glen Grey portion of the country to a great cave on the banks of the 'Ca'cadu or White Kei, opposite the site of the present St. Mark's mission station. It might well have been termed the cave of the Springbok, from its symbolic painting, which consisted of a troop of about one hundred and fifty beautifully painted springboks. Here he was living when Archdeacon White established the mission at St. Mark's. In 1856, when the chief was about eighty years old, he again fell back with the shattered wreck of his once powerful tribe towards the fastnesses of the Drakensberg, since which time he has been lost sight of, and his ultimate fate is buried in oblivion.

The Bushmen of the Zuurveld.

Before the first Dutch elephant hunters crossed the mountains that bound the long kloof, the inhabitants of the tract of country which they called the Zuurveld were numerous Bushman tribes, a number of clans of a mixed race called Ghonaqua, whose various sections showed different grades of intermixture according as the Kaffir, Hottentot, or Bushman element predominated, and a few straggling parties of fugitive Kaffirs, who seemed generally to fraternize with one or other of the different hordes of Ghonaquas. As we proceed with our investigation these points will be made perfectly clear, especially when we treat of the eastern advance of the early Dutch settlers, when we shall be able to clear up the mystery of the origin of the Ghonaquas.

All the travellers of the last century are unanimous in stating that after passing the Gamtoos no other people were met with than Bushmen, Ghonaqua, and wandering or emigrant Kaffirs. If numerous Hottentot tribes ever existed there they had certainly most mysteriously disappeared before these travellers visited the country, without the aid of either Dutch oppression on the one hand or Kaffir intrusion on the other. Lieutenant Paterson, who travelled through it in 1779, is explicit on the subject, as he informs us that the Zuurveld was then called Bushmanland. He says that when at the Zwartkops, he was overtaken by a Boer, an old German named Kock, who was on his way to this portion of Bushmanland, and who was well acquainted with the country and the manners of the natives. He therefore became a welcome companion, as the place where he lived lay in their way. Near the Koega they were visited by two Kaffirs, who very seldom ventured so far out of their own country.

Several Boers had already in 1779 squatted near the Sunday river ; they were possessed of numerous herds of cattle, but seldom troubled themselves either to build houses or cultivate land. Jan Kock lived on a place called Sand Flat. This was then a portion of Bushmanland.

When Sparrman travelled through the country a few years previously, no Boers had attempted to settle in it, with the exception of one Gert Scheepers, who had located himself on the site of the present town of Uitenhage. The only Europeans who then visited it came for the ostensible purpose of elephant hunting, and also, according to the evidence obtained by Sparrman, to indulge in their old and favourite amusement of kidnapping Bushman children whenever a favourable opportunity offered.

Thus at the Lower Sunday river, or t'Nuka-t’Kamma, i.e. Grassy Water, three old Bushmen came to visit the travellers ; they distinguished themselves by the name " good Bushmen," probably from the circumstance of their grazing a few cattle and not living by rapine like others of their countrymen. They complained of the Boers having been with them, and having carried off all their young people, so that now they were left alone in their old age to look after themselves and their cattle. Sparrman also tells us that when other food failed these Zuurveld Bushmen, they lived on the gum arable from the mimosa for many days together.

In those days all the rivers and other watering places had Bushman names. Pitfalls excavated by them were frequently met with, while Sparrman procured Bushman guides at t'Nuka t 'Kamma to take him through the country. He gives us a number of names of various localities now known only by their modem colonial designations ; thus, 'Kensi 'kunni aati (let not the ugly drink here !) was that of the Little Bushman's river.

After passing the Bushman's river, they came to Muishond Kloof, near which was a valley with good water called t’Kur- t’keija-t’kei-t’kasibina ; leaving Assagai Bush and crossing Nieuwjaars Drift, they came to t’Kurekoi-t'Ku ; two hours from this they arrived at 'Quamma’ dacka, then passed the Little Fish river, and afterwards the t’Kau t'kay or Great Fish river.

The Zuurveld Bushmen in Sparrman's time appear from some cause to have congregated along the course of this last river, and especially towards its mouth, or the portion now called Lower Albany ; and thus formed a cordon of so formidable a character that the Kaffirs for a considerable time could not break through it in any large numbers. The gathering along this particular line may have been occasioned by a desire to remove as far as possible from the Boers on the west, with their kidnapping propensities, and from the Kaffirs, who were steadily crossing the Kei and occupying the country between that river and the Keiskama.

The last Bushman captain who ruled over this portion of the country was named 'Kohla, who was termed by the colonists Ruyter. In 1775 he had his great kraal near the mouth of the Great Fish river. Sparrman during his visit was able to collect a considerable amount of information about him, from which we are able to extract the following outline of the history of this chief. What his fathers were, whether he was one of their hereditary chiefs or a patriot leader who rose by his own energy and enterprise, is now lost, none of his earlier history having been recorded. He was at one time in the service of a farmer in the Roggeveld, where, having a quarrel with a companion, he killed him, and then, apprehensive of the consequences, as according to the laws of the colony his certain fate would be the gallows, he fled from justice.

After a variety of adventures he arrived at length in the country near the Bushman's river. His principal home there-after was between this river and the t’Kau-t’Kay, or Great Fish river. Here, by his intrepidity, he was raised to the chieftainship of a horde of Bushmen. The cave paintings near Salem are probably the productions of the artists of this tribe. At the head of these people he subdued several other tribes, and afterwards made them take arms against the Kaffirs. He inspired his adherents with such confidence in his leadership that they never questioned any order which he issued, while the conquests he made supplied them with plunder.

The respective methods of fighting of the Kaffirs and Bushmen differed considerably. The Kaffirs used assagais, which they could not employ with any certain effect at a greater distance than twenty or thirty paces. Of these weapons they did not carry into the field more than three or four, so that they were soon disarmed in case their antagonists were bold and nimble enough to pick up these weapons as soon as the Kaffirs had hurled them. They used a shield of ox hide large enough to cover their bodies completely, on shrinking themselves into a smaller compass. When they were in actual engagement they shifted their bodies continually from one side to the other, so that they could not easily be hit, taking care all the time to keep their assagais in readiness to throw at any unguarded part of their antagonists.

The Bushmen, on the other hand, who were without shields, were more than a match for the Kaffirs in the open country as long as they could keep at a good distance by reason of their bows and poisoned arrows, which, although they did not immediately make so painful a wound as the assagai, were more dangerous in the end, and it was in consequence of this circumstance that 'Kohla's Bushmen beat the Kaffirs for so long a time.

While his daring rendered him formidable to the Kaffirs, he took care, by inflicting the punishment of death on his subjects for the least fault, or even on the suspicion of a fault, to exact, and for a considerable period to enjoy, the most servile submission and implicit obedience from the simple uncultivated mortals he had gathered together. He used frequently with his own hand to put to death one or more of these slavish vassals, and would immediately throw his javelin through the body of any of his attendants that hesitated, at his nod, to dispatch the man whom he had marked out as the victim of his revengeful and cruel disposition. When the Christians reproached him with his barbarity and bloodthirstiness, he replied, " It was in a lucky hour when I conveyed myself out of your authority. You would have hanged me for having killed an antagonist, as if I had committed a crime, whereas to kill an enemy is reckoned a laudable and manly action."

To the colonists he always behaved as a true and faithful ally, and in return for the tobacco and other articles which they presented to him, used to help them to make slaves of such straggling Bushmen as did not live under his jurisdiction. By keeping the Kaffirs at a proper distance, he not only served his own turn, but was likewise extremely useful to the colonists. But, however cautious he was to maintain peace with his more powerful neighbours the Christians, yet when he was in the meridian of life and at the zenith of his power he received them with an uncommon degree of pride and arrogance, which they could not easily brook from a man they looked upon as a vagabond. He succeeded, however, in keeping up his importance with them as well as with his own people for many years.

But ultimately the despotic conduct and daring that had been the stepping stones by which he had made himself so famous and for some time so powerful and so much feared, led to his downfall. His subjects, weary of the ambition and severe discipline of their chief, took an opportunity of deserting him at a time when he was gallantly marching at their head against the Kaffirs. He was deserted almost in the very face of his enemies. Being no longer so swift of foot as he had been in his youth, he was not able to make his escape, and was consequently taken prisoner, but being recognised as a chief, his life, according to Kaffir custom, was spared, and he was sent back to his people, yet not without menaces of having his eyes put out if he should rise against them in arms in future.

This misfortune and the salutary lesson given to him by his enemies were not so efficacious however as to divert his hostile intentions against the Kaffirs, as soon as he had collected together a number of his people. The recollection of the days of his former victories, when he had pushed his attacks upon them to the east- ward of the 'Kaisi-kamma, still inspired him. In 1776 he endeavoured to incite another petty Bushman chief against them, and had received from him promises of assistance as soon as he could get iron to head his arrows with and make the other necessary preparations. Notwithstanding this proof of his indomitable resolution, many were apprehensive, and not without reason, that the old warrior and tyrant would meet his death in this expedition, which, tired of himself and his adverse fortune, he seemed to be in search of.

The tract of country situated near the mouth of the t’Kau- t'kay, or Great Fish river, was the situation which he preferred for his principal residence. In 1776, at the time of Sparrman's visit, he was old and infirm, and barely a director of some two hundred people. He was wont, at this time, to receive his Christian acquaintances in the most friendly manner, and with tears in his eyes to ask for tobacco, no longer by way of tribute, but as a present which he was willing to receive from their bounty.

In 1779 the old Bushman chief had fallen back from the advanced position he held near the mouth of the Great Fish river, in Sparrman's time, to near the Bushman's river, where Paterson found him. The fire of the old warrior was not yet altogether extinguished, he had still some two hundred Bushmen and Kaffirs in his service, and a few hours before Paterson's arrival he had fought against a number of Kaffirs, beaten them off the field, and taken a number of their cattle. The exact date of his death is not known. According to custom he had appointed the youngest of his three sons to be heir to his possessions and chieftainship. None of them, however, inherited the father's talents and abilities in a sufficient degree to enable him to establish himself in the succession at his father's death.

In 1813 Mr. Campbell was visited during his stay at Bethelsdorp by Benedictus Platje Ruyter, who said that he lived a day's journey off. He was dressed in a short blue jacket and white trousers, and had a white lace epaulette on his right shoulder. He held in his hand a formidable staff, about six feet long, with a brass head on which were His Majesty's arms, presented to him by Government. He said that all that country and also the Zuurveld belonged to his grandfather, but they had been deprived of it by the Boers and Kaffirs. He complained bitterly also of the Boers for the cruelties they had perpetrated upon his countrymen.

The decline of the power of the Bushman chief 'Kohla most decidedly marks an epoch in South African history with regard to the intrusion of the stronger races. With all his faults, he must ever be looked upon as the last great chief of the Coast Bushmen, the one who made the last expiring effort to maintain the independence of his race in that part of the ancient hunting grounds of his forefathers which bordered on the sea-coast ; and his name, as a consequence, is worthy of preservation in the history of the country.

True, he was a savage ; true, he committed many atrocities and lavishly shed the blood of his own people ; but for a time he strenuously endeavoured, and successfully, to beat back the wave of barbarism which on several occasions, since he gave up the struggle, has threatened to sweep the entire country from the Umzimvubu to the Cape. It was only when he disappeared from the scene that another and more terrible feature was given to the struggle which followed.

It was no longer a struggle between the advancing Kaffirs and the repelling Bushmen, for the latter, at least those of the Zuurveld, were numbered among the men of the past. The two great rival races, the black and the white, met for the first time in that portion of South Africa face to face, and from that moment it became, with little intermission, a continuous struggle between the bullet and the assagai, which even in the present day is not decided.

Along the coast the Bushmen were crushed ; and the Kaffir clans, after one or two weak and unsuccessful attempts to penetrate to the north-west, in the direction of De Bruyn's Hoogte, poured over the Great Fish river, when the Zuurveld became for upwards of a generation the battle-ground of the two intruding races. By some it has been asserted that the country above described was a portion of the possessions of the Hottentot race from time immemorial. This assertion is purely mythical. The Hottentot was not an aborigine. It is true that broken tribes of them were found scattered through many parts of the eastern districts at the commencement of the present century, when they were first visited by missionaries, but they were driven there by the emigrant Boers. It is also true that a considerable number of them, who had managed to evade the thraldom of their hard taskmasters, were roaming over some portions of the country towards the close of the last century, leading the same kind of unsettled, nomadic, life as they and their forefathers had before done in the western districts, and as was their wont, not only plundering one another when occasion offered and making depredations upon the Dutch colonists who were gradually filling up the country and obtaining farms by the usual method of self- appropriation, but also making raids upon such of the Kaffirs as they thought they might be able to relieve of a few head of cattle with the least risk to themselves.

That the Hottentots were treated with great cruelty by many of the old colonists few will be prepared to deny, outrage begat outrage, and atrocity atrocity, but on the other hand many abhorred the treatment which these miserable people received, and did what was in their power to ameliorate the condition of compulsory servitude to which all those who lived within the pale of the law were reduced. It was thus that a considerable exodus of them occurred as soon as a door of escape was opened for them, but this was not until after the Bushmen of the Long Kloof mountains were subdued, many clans of them exterminated, and the remnant enslaved.

In 1775 Kabeljauw river was the last place to the eastward where Christians were permanently established, near the Gamtoos was a small kraal of natives under a captain named 'Kees ; but it seems open to question whether these were of pure Hottentot blood or not. In 1776 a small society of Gunjeman Hottentots was found on the Zwartkops, either on or in the immediate neighbourhood of the farm of Gert Scheepers. The ancestors of these Hottentots at the time the Dutch first invaded this part of the continent inhabited the tract of country about Table Bay, and therefore in all probability were nearly connected with the 'Koraquas, the progenitors of the present Koranas. They were without any chief or captain, and lived on friendly terms with the farmer and most likely were in a state of semi-vassalage under him.

From this point to the banks of the t'Kau-t'Kay, or Fish river, as before pointed out, there were a few scattered kraals of Ghonaqua and Bushmen, and thus it seems certain that in the middle of last century no large Hottentot tribes existed in the country. Had this been the case, such close and accurate observers as Sparrman, who passed through it twice, and Paterson, who followed him, would doubtlessly have recorded the fact.

In favour of an earlier Hottentot occupation, it has been advanced that these natives make a sort of general declaration that the country was theirs. Such claims were afterwards set up for Waterboer, Moshesh, and others, to the exclusion of the aboriginal Bushman owners. Another argument brought forward has been that some of the leading captains being able to trace their lineage back several generations, they have been in possession of the land they occupy for at least that length of time. The same reasoning has been adopted by some writers with regard to the proprietorship of areas of country occupied by some of the Kaffir and Basutu chiefs, but to state that because a man has a lengthened pedigree his remotest known ancestors must have been the owners of the soil occupied by him is an absurdity too transparent to need serious refutation. The writer, when he first entered upon this enquiry thirty years ago, never met an old Hottentot who did not assert that his forefathers came from the west, or the Cape.

In the year 1776 Baron Van Plettenberg, governor of the Cape Settlement, rescinded the order forbidding the inhabitants settling in portions of the country east of the Kabeljauw, and several Boers in consequence removed to the Sunday river in order to settle there, while some farmers trekked with their wives, children, and cattle into the 'Krake-kamma, on account of the government having given them permission to do so. Thus it was that the two streams of migration were already commencing to overlap. A small kraal of Kaffirs, the forerunners of the great host which was to follow, had even at this early stage penetrated as far to the west as the Zwartkops, and established themselves a short distance from Gert Scheepers.

The elements of future strife were therefore gathering, which at no distant period were to burst into a flame, whose violence caused for many years an immense amount of misery and suffering.

bottom of page