Tales of the Past; of Prior Peoples, Pioneers, Pride & Prejudice
Magaliesburg the village nestles unperturbed in a sheltered, wooded valley on the banks of the Magalies River*, cloistered by the Witwatersberg and gazing upon the ageless splendour of the Magaliesberg to the north, these ranges half the age of Planet Earth, one hundred times older than the Himalayas. That the site of the present village was known as Jennings Junction reflects its strategic position, a gateway to all four points of the compass, in the past settled and traversed by peoples as varied as the landscape, who’s myths, legends and tales tend to become lost in the mists of antiquity.
Magaliesburg is surrounded by diverse eco-systems, and has been populated and visited by equally diverse peoples. To the north, along the old Hunters Road to the “Far Interior” lies the Bushvelt Igneous Complex, Big 5 Game Country, with the sunken volcanic lopolith epicentre at Pilansberg: to the east the Oorie or Crocodile River meandering through The Cradle of Humankind and Gauteng, the place of gold: to the west Tswana ethnic settlements, alluvial diamond deposits and the encroaching ka Lahari: to the south; the sombre Highvelt, where the Mooi River delves underground, through caves and grottos that inspired Rider Haggard to pen his classic novel, King Solomon’s Mines.
‘Tis little wonder that T.V.Bulpin** romantically muses in his prelude to Lost Trails of the Transvaal: “The infinite patience and artistry of that old craftsman, Mother Nature, have wrought upon the face of Earth some wondrous scenes and changes. With the irresistible erosion of the elements as the principal tool, all manner of strange shapes have been ingeniously contrived…. That segment of the complex face of Africa lying between the Vaal and Limpopo Rivers has known in full measure the sublime cycle of restless creation. Of the whole continent of Africa, in fact, there is no section possessing a greater variety of scenic marvels, a more complex geological history, or a richer endowment bequeathed to it from the mineral treasure chest of Providence.”
John Buchan reflected in 1901 when he camped where the dam wall of Hartebeetpoort is today; “I had expected a brawling torrent; instead I found a long dark lagoon sleeping between the sheer sides. In the profound silence the place had the air of some underground world. The black waters seemed to have drowsed there since creation, unfathomly deep - a witch’s cauldron, where the savage spirits of the hills might show their faces.”
“Even as we gazed the moon came over the crest.....the Magaliesberg.” * The source of the Magalies River is an eruption of up to a million litres of water an hour through a quartzite outcrop in the underlying dolomite at Maloney’s Eye, three kilometres south of the village. The river meanders northwards through Hartley’s Poort to Zeekooeihoek [Hippopotamus Bend], then flowing westwards to create a confluence with the Crocodile River in Hartebeestpoort Dam. During the 1830s the River was known as the eMvubu [Hippopotamus] or baGobone by the local Tswana inhabitants. Kgosi Mohale wa Mohale, paramount chief of the baPho, called the river nKgakhotse.
**Lost Trails of the Transvaal. T.V.Bulpin. Published by Books of Africa [Pty] Ltd. in conjunction with Southern Book Publishers [Pty] Ltd. 1st Edition 1956.
*** The Vaal River [Lekwe] was called ‘Gij ‘Gariep by the maSarwa, or baTwa [Bushmen], meaning muddy.
**** The Limpopo River in nDebele was illiMphopho, a river of waterfalls, in Tswana, Noka e ya Udi, a river of steep banks. The Crocodile River, sometimes called the Upper Limpopo, was the Odi.
The Witwatersrand Super Group of gold-rich sedimentary rock derives its name from the Ridge, originally called Wit Watters Rant, where the Main Reef of gold bearing quartzite was discovered in 1886. A discovery of gold was made at Magaliesburg on the farms Zuikerboschfontein and Blaaubank in 1874, which proved disappointing, but was later shown to be the western extremity of the Main Reef. The present village of Magaliesburg is situated on a portion of the farm Blaauwbank.
The geological history of our immediate area, in extent and time, is unparalleled anywhere on earth, likewise the evolution of living matter from primitive anaerobic unicellular bacteria into plant and animal form, to develop into reptilian and later diverse mammalian species, which in turn derived into proto-man and Homo sapiens sapiens. Fossilized remnants of these timeless changes are to be seen in our area today, a chronicled legacy of the past, witness to a heritage of immeasurable significance, guiding a nation of equally diverse ethnic and cultural values into the future.
A more recent praise-song in SeSotho:
Ha re samayeng mmoho, Let us walk together,
Mme ha re boela re hopolo tse fetileng, and reflecting on the past,
Re howa ka dithapelo, call out in peace,
Ho baholo holo ba rona, ba baTsho ba to our ancestors, black, brown, and
BaSootha, le ba baSweu, white,
Raohang ka motlotlo ba bahale ba naha! Stand proudly you heroes!
Raohang ka motlotlo bahale ba naha ya rona. Stand proudly heroes of our land.
Prior to this immediate area acquiring the name Magaliesburg, or -berg, it was known by the early Tswana speaking peoples as “Diloka,” this word pertaining to a thatching grass. Diloka is the Tswana name given to a non-invasive endemic grass, Hetropogen contortus, more commonly known as Spear Grass or Assegaigras, which produces a seed with barbs, so attaching itself to passersby to be distributed elsewhere. A game of children is to remove the long barbed seed casing and throw it at their playmates, the barbs adhering the seedpod to the intended victim, as did the spears of their warrior fore-fathers. A legend from a different source in the vicinity concurs that the original name of the Magaliesburg district was Diloka, a thatching grass cut only after the first frosts, which prolongs its longevity over the same grass cut in the growth stage. It has also been told of the original site of Rustenburg being called Thlabani, the place of spears, which might have been a reference to spear grass; also NaMuneng, the place of oranges.
MaGwassie, to the north of the Magaliesberg, is said to have derived its name from the San or Bushman word for the wild medicinal bush prolific in that area; Lavender croton, or fever-berry – maquassie [San or bushman] – croton gratissimus, nat. list no.328, common on rocky outcrops between Pilansberg and the Magaliesberg, that area taking the name. The bark is used to relieve fever, bleeding gums, rheumatism, chest complaints, indigestion and oedema or dropsy. The powdered leaves are pleasantly aromatic and were used as a perfume. Several species of croton contain toxic compounds and should be treated with care.
The first recorded existence of the Magaliesberg and Witwatersberg mountain ranges was on a map by the explorer Sir John Barrow in 1802 with the remark “Gold Bearing,” contained in his narrative on “Travels in the Interior.”
The first explorers and missionaries in the early 1800s named the area the Cashan or Kashan Mountains, in respect to the paramount chief of the baKwena Mmatau,* KwaShane, whose tribal lands encompassed the western regions of the range. His main settlements were at Molekwane and Ho Bupye, about Oliphantsnek, where they were a group of considerable standing because of their control of the trade route through the mountains. KwaShane was killed fleeing the marauding warriors of uMzilikazi in 1828.
*A brief history of the advent of the Tswana speaking peoples who were to become the bulk of the ethnic groupings of the Magaliesberg. The nDebele peoples are represented under “The Ethnic Group that gave its name to the Magaliesberg.”
The seTswana speaking people, baTswana, or singularly moTswana, are one of the three major divisions classified as Sotho groups of baNtu speaking races inhabiting central South Africa.
The Dighoya or Leghoya were a very early semi-primitive Tswana speaking people, of whom no trace now exists. The explorers and ethnologists Arbousset and Daumas recorded them in 1834, Sir William Cornwallis Harris during 1836, and Frederic Courtney Selous may have met a small clan of Lehoya in the Far Interior during the 1870s. Since then there has been no contact, only the remains of their curious semi-spherical stone structures, pertaining to an African Igloo built of rock, but much smaller. These dwellings were 1.5 metres in diameter and 1.35 metres high, with a stone slab, 300m.m. by 450m.m. as a door. They should probably be classed as stone-age peoples, a “missing link” between the amaSarwa or Bushmen, and early agro-pastorialists. The Dighoya were followed by the Kgalagadi, who are classified as a fourth member of the Sotho-Tswana language groups, who settled in the more arid regions of Botswana and inter-acted with the amaSarwa who had already been there for very many centuries. The Kgalagadi were referred to rather derogatorily by the early Colonialists as “Degenerate Tswana.”
The baMasilo were the first true Tswana to settle in the western region during the 14th century, then into the upper reaches of the Molopo River in the latter stages of that century. The baRolong were renowned metal workers, their ancestral chief MoRolong being revered as “the Blacksmith.” Tau baRolong was the last chief to head a united ancestral tribal entity. He was a strong and ruthless ruler circa 1750, who had four equally zealous sons who all seceded to form their own tribes, circa 1780; their dissipation was as follows….
The Rratlau baRolong who settled about present-day Lichtenburg then at Ganyesa near Vryburg.
Rrapulana baRolong who settled to the south-west of the Molopo Plain, their chief settlement being Lotlhakane.
The Tshidi baRolong who settled first the upper Molopo River, their later capital being KwaMolema, Mahikeng, then MaFikeng, the Place of Stones. Modiboa was the 8th chief of the Tshidi-baRolong whose head settlement was MaFikeng. This tribe was named “Baga rungoana leBogale,” meaning “they who are uplifted and fierce;” Tshidi legend saying that they were “supernaturally inspired.”
The Seleka-Rolong who settled at Thaba Nchu and Francistown in boTswana.
The Tlhaping or Fish People seceded from the Tau-baRolong circa 1790, as did the Maida and the Phudututswana, just before 1800, both groups settling about Taungs.
The Kaa seceded to settle at Machudi in Botswana, the Kubung seceding west to settle around the future Ventersdorp.
The third group to arrive were the ancestors of those peoples who make up most of the other Sotho-Tswana tribes, settling in the central south-western regions of today's North-West Province. These migrants rapidly split into three important clusters, the baHurutshe, the baKwena and the baKghatla. It is difficult to date with any accuracy these three migrations, but it is known that the latter Tswana were inhabiting the eastern regions by 1600 A.D. and some were in all probability in the western area at least two hundred years before that.
The baKwena had seceded and moved to the north-east into the western area of the Magaliesberg range. The baKgatla broke away from the baRolong in the 15th century, being the first important Tswana tribe settling to the north of the Magaliesberg, a group seceding to form the Tlokwa, migrating to the south-west. A headman Tulane of the Maroteng clan seceded from the baKghatla and went east to establish the baPedi. The modern baHurutshe split into the Manyana, Mokhubidu, Gopane, Moilwa, Khuhutshe and Tlharo, basically remaining in their original settled area to the north-west.
The baKwena were at their pinnacle of power during the 18th century when they came into conflict with the baHurutshe living to the west, where they split into two distinct geographical groups. The Ngwaketse, under Chief Moteta (1770-1790), broke away to settle in eastern boTswana, building large stonewalled capitals, first at Seoke then later at Kanye, but were always in conflict with the baHurutshe. The Ngwato, under Chief Mathiba, came into early conflict with their baKwena overlords and war broke out in 1780. The Ngwato were defeated, fleeing north to Shoshong in eastern boTswana. In 1790 Tawana broke away from the Ngwato, taking his followers north-east to create a new kingdom in Ngamiland. The Fokeng, Mmanamela, Modimosana, Mmatau, Mogopa, Maake, Mathlaka, Nameng and the Phalane all settling around Rustenburg and eastwards. A section of the Mogopa had seceded earlier and moved westwards in circa 1720 to become known as the baKwena baSechele, they being the first important Tswana tribe to settle in boTswana.
Four important groups of Tswana had seceded from the legendary baKwena Chief Modimosana.
Mogopa, the son of Modimosana and his great wife seceded and moved into the area between the ‘Pyramid’ kopjes north of Tshwane, becoming known as the baKwena baMogopa. Mmatau, the son of a lesser wife of Modimosana seceded and settled in the region extending from Magatosnek to Maanhaarrand, on the south side of the Magaliesberg and northern slopes of the Witwatersberg and the valley between the ranges, calling themselves the baKwena Mmatau. They had by the early 1800s built extensive stonewalled settlements, Ho-Bubye at Oliphantsnek probably being the capital, also at Molokwane, their geographical position allowing them to control the trade routes. Maake, another son of a sub-wife of Modimosana settled to the west of the Magaliesberg, near Magatosnek. The fourth son, Mathlaka settled to the south-west of the Magaliesberg, between the Maake and the Mmatau, calling themselves the baKwena Matlaka.
The Rise and fall of uMzilikazi.
The Difaquane [Tswana], or Mfecane [Zulu] about the Magaliesberg; the subjugation of ancestral chiefdoms of the baTswana and surrounding tribes of the Magaliesberg, 1820-1837.
The early nineteenth century was to see dramatic changes to the normal petty squabbles and inter tribal raids, which had not unduly disrupted the daily life of the Tswana peoples and the Ndebele immigrants to the east in the Magaliesberg. Coenraad de Buis, known to all from the Fish River to the Limpopo as Kadishe, was a 213-centimeter tall displaced frontiersman and adventurer of Heugenot stock, who had been referred to by Landdrost Maynier of Graaf-Rienet as, “The moving cause of all unpleasantness with the natives. He was an intriguer, without a single friend, who had been a good-for-nothing since his earliest youth and had always been a firebrand and persecutor among Christians as well as the blacks. He was intelligent, but very dangerous.” About 1817 he had pillaged and bespoiled his way in the west, raiding the SeTswana in company with the Griquas, then through the baRolong and baKwena territories, on his way to finally settle his motley family and displaced followers at Letshoyang, a salt pan at the western end of the Venda country. His devoted, sole remaining wife of mixed blood had died; unlike him he was bereaved. There he told his band to stay, Buis himself disappearing, alone, never to be seen again: his family and followers named this place Mara (Tears), his descendants living there to this day. If Buis ruffled the Tswana, the storm was about to break about them with a vengeance.
The horrific disturbances and turmoil perpetrated on the populations of the Magaliesberg and surroundings were a direct result of the "Mfecane" in what was to become Zululand, initiated by the brutal rise to power of Shaka, king of the Zulus. The Mthethwa chiefdom under Dingiswayo, because of improvements in the mode of war, the use of the assegai and the establishment of age-group regiments, allowed them to embark on a policy of expansionism by military domination. Shaka, who had served prominently in the army of Dingiswayo adapted and improved the military system, and by 1820 controlled all the land north of the Tukela River. His modus operandi was to overwhelm by force and subjugate the various surrounding chiefdoms into one "state", which was then surrounded by a buffer zone of de-populated lands. This was to make the remaining chiefdoms of Nguni, Sotho and Tswana even more vulnerable to usurpation because of their fragmentary nature and bellicose attitude towards each other, which appears to have been endemic.
The effective start of the "mfecane" was the breaking away of the Ndwandwe petty chiefs Shoshangwane (Manukuza) and Zwangendaba after their defeat by Shaka. These two outcasts fled separately with some followers into Mozambique in 1821, making for themselves no small degree of notoriety. Soshangane was again attacked by Shaka in Mozambique, fled north across the Zambezi to settle in the Songea district of Tanzania. There he founded the Kingdom of Gaza, of the Shangane people. Zwangendaba was then overcome by Shoshangane, fleeing west with his followers and defeating the Rozwi of the Zimbabwe Empire, crossing the Zambezi on the 19th November 1825 during an eclipse of the sun, to establish the Ngoni Kingdom between Lakes Tangyanika and Nyasa.
During 1822 Shaka's impis devastated the lands south of the Thukela. The Thembu chiefdom fled south, attacking the chief Faku, who temporarily pledged loyalty to Shaka. Other groups such as the Bhaca, under Madicane, the Hlubi, the Zizi and the Bhele fled further south, settling amongst the Xhosa, and were called the "amaFengu", (from the word ukuFenguza, meaning to wander about seeking shelter). Meanwhile the emaNgwaneni, under Matiwane, were attacked and forced to flee, in turn overcoming the Hlubi. The Hlubi under Mpangazita, second son and brother to the murdered chief and heir, fled, crossed the Drakensberg, and attacked the Sotho tribes south of the Vaal River. The baSia and the baTlokwa were the first victims. The baTlokwa, or Wild Cat People, were Tswana speaking, having originated in the western Magaliesberg under moKhatla, seceding during the eighteenth century and moving south, over the Vaal river, so creating their own chiefdom. At this time the baTlokwa were ruled by a legendary queen regent, Manthatisi, whose royal birthright was of a neighbouring tribe the Basia.
Manthatisi was a daughter of the royal family of the Basia, whose husband, the paramount chief of the baTlokwa, had died in 1813, leaving a juvenile son Sikonyela under the guidance of his mother, acting as Regent and ruling with supreme authority. Manthatisi was a woman of many assets, early explorers said of her, “she was of outstanding intelligence, tall, straight and lean: she was lighter in complexion than most of her subjects, and her expression of countenance was sweet and agreeable. She was also utterly callous to human suffering.” Early missionaries saw her as, “astute and vigilant, and being of dignified deportment.” Her reign had been subject to jealous aspirations, internal squabbles, strife and civil war, which with ruthless authority she had overcome, having a burning desire to see her minor son, Sikonyela, on the throne when he attained his majority. Manthatisi would later be revered and also venerated by the royal house of the baTlokwa who had plotted to kill her. The surrounding tribes and chiefdoms held her in awe, saying she had three eyes, because of a bright stone worn in a band around her forehead.
The name "Mantatees" was given to the Tlokwa by the early Dutch colonials, a corruption of Manthatisi. This name was erroneously applied to all marauding hordes wandering over the northern Free State and western Transvaal during the "Difaquane", which is misleading, Manthatisi herself never having crossed the Vaal River.
The Tlokwa or Wild Cat People were caught unaware by the attack of Mpangazitha and his Hlubi horde, abandoned the Royal kraal and fled to the protection of the Basia. Manthatisi did not tarry long with the Basia, fearing further attacks by the Zulus. She went west with her followers and attacked the southern baFokeng, the mist people.
The start of the Difequane in the Magaliesberg. The baPedi invasion, 1822.
The baPedi had originated in the Magaliesberg, being a faction who broke away from the Kghatla under a headman Tabane, travelling east to settle in the Leulu Mountains, subjugating the waMbezi. In 1819 they returned, led by Maleleku, son of Sekwati, on their mission of plunder being joined by various nDebele mercenaries. They first attacked the baKwena baMogopa north of present day Tshwane, near Ondersterpoort in the northern foothills of the Magaliesberg, who sustained serious losses but repulsed the baPedi invaders. They then went west attacking the baPho at Tobong, a quartzite koppie on the northern slopes of the mid-Magaliesberg range, an area today known as Wolhuterskop. The baPedi were beaten off, but took many women and children, also large herds of cattle as loot. The young heir to the baPho chiefdom Mohale wa Mohale was hidden in the Phato cave in the Magaliesberg range by his grandparents, Moerane and his wife, so as a young man avoiding capture for the first time. The baPo warriors under Moerane followed the baPedi, ambushing them at Montana in the foothills of the Magaliesberg, after many casualties on both sides the baPo recaptured their cattle and returned home.
Further along the range the baPedi attacked the baFokeng under Nameng on the banks of the maTsukubyane (Hex) river. The Fokeng were defeated, losing many men, women and children, also herds of cattle were looted. The baPho now turned on the depleted baFokeng, killing chief Nameng. His brother, Noge, became chief of the baFokeng, attacking the Kwena Mmatau, forcing Thethe to flee south. Some baPedi mercenaries attempted to settle in Kwena territory but were driven away.
Inter tribal skirmishing became rife, so depleting the tribes as any token of force. Remnants of this turmoil wandering south were brought together under the leadership of Moshweshwe, so creating the baSotho nation.
UMzilikazi - the abstainer. 1798-1868. Tswana – Moselekatze, also known as "The great bull elephant" and "The lion's paw".
The rise and fall of the maTabele in the Magaliesberg 1827-37.
Nguni groups migrated across the Drakensberg many generations before the advent of the Mfecane in Zululand, or the Difequane in the old Transvaal. These peoples were called maTebele, as it would appear were Matiwane and Mthimkhulu's followers in the south. The origin and meaning of the name is clouded in mystery and so is open to conjecture. The name has been variously translated, rather romantically, as "those who disappear behind long shields", or a root, “something that cannot be seen": also "strangers from the east", one translation into Zulu of stranger is "Ohambele". Ndebele is Zulu, maTebele is Sotho-Tswana, yet those peoples assimilated into the Sotho-Tswana culture call themselves Ndebele and conversely the followers of uMzilikazi call themselves maTebele. During the early rule of uMzilikazi his followers referred to themselves as Khumalos, Nguni or even Zulus, reflecting their east coast origins. Many generations after the death of uMzilikazi migrant mineworkers from Zimbabwe called themselves "Aba kwa uMzilikazi". Another group of Nguni who in earlier times settled around present day Mokopane or Potgietersrus call themselves "Black Ndebele", and do so to this day.
About 1820, uMzilikazi was a rising star in the Zulu army of Shaka, being commander of his own impi. He was sent out on a cattle-rustling exercise to bolster the already ample Royal Zulu herds. Unfortunately, as it turned out for uMzilikazi, he kept half the loot for himself. Shaka had eyes in the back of his head, and dispatched emissaries to advise uMzilikazi of his errant ways. The emissaries had the feathers cut from their headdress, and were sent back empty handed, vowing Shaka would wreak vengeance on this young upstart.
In the early winter of 1823 uMzilikazi crossed the Drakensberg and entered Sotho country, moving north into the Ermelo district. The previous year Shaka had for the second time attacked the Khumalo stronghold at Entubeni; uMzilikazi having fled with just 300 followers. UMzilikazi was at this time in his late twenties: he was the son of Mashobane, an uncle of the chief of the Khumalo tribe, whose kraal was around the headwaters of the Black Umflozi river. Once in the Transvaal, uMzilikazi, thinking he had put enough distance between himself and Shaka's impis, began to overcome the resident Sotho tribes, incorporating the captives to serve under his protection. A temporary headquarters was erected called Ekuphumuleni, near the source of the Oliphants river in the region of present day Bethel. From Ekuphumuleni marauding bands were sent out in all directions, conquering the likes of the amaPhuting, the Koni and to the north-east the baPedi. These peoples, like so many others, had originated from the Magaliesberg, being able to trace their ancestry back to moRolong, of the baRolong, hereditary metal-workers; and so to moKghatla of the Kghatla, from whom a head-man Tabane split, wandering off to the east and crossing the Leulu mountains. On the summit they found a porcupine quill, which they took as a mystical omen, using it as a totem for the tribe. In the mountains they subjugated a clan of the Karanga people, also metalworkers from Great Zimbabwe, known as the waMbedzi. The new settlers not only took over the clan, but also usurped their name, which they changed to baPedi, the Tswana form of the old Karanga, waMbedzi, sometimes called the Eastern Tswana.
The baPedi were routed, uMzilikazi scattering the remaining warriors, taking the women captive and rounding up many cattle; of the ruling hut only Sekwati survived, fleeing north to find sanctuary with the Buis people at Mara, under whom it was said he studied banditry studiously.
The missionary Robert Moffat reported that the Sotho-Tswana made few distinctions between the marauding bands from the coastal belt, merely saying, "They have been driven from their country by a tribe they call the maTebele". He was also to remark that in the thirty years he visited the maTebele he saw a marked difference in their facial characteristics, due to the fusion of diverse cultures. UMzilikazi had entered the interior with merely three hundred Zulus, the vast majority of the future maTebele nation being made up of indented Sotho-Tswana stock. It was in 1827, when uMzilikazi moved into the Magaliesberg that his people ceased to be mere marauders and began to assume the mantle of a new nation.
With the Magaliesberg range as a natural rampart he felt more secure, but always kept a de-populated no-man's-land surrounding the settlements. As he explained to a visiting hunter, “All his warfare was purely defensive. To that end he conquered and exterminated...he excused his wholesale massacres in the Transvaal as an act of policy.” He said, "I was like a blind man feeling my way with a stick. We had heard tales of great impis that suddenly popped up from under-ground or swept down on you from high mountains...and we had a dread of the Korannas, mounted and armed with thunder sticks. I had to keep open ground around me. Had I been attacked every one of them would have been a spy and a recruit for my enemies".
Fellow Nguni were considered the best recruits; they were better fighters, a constant supply finding their way over the Drakensberg from Shaka's wars. In 1825 the long awaited clash between Matiwane and the Hlubi took place, the latter being routed. A Hlubi survivor, Madubangwe, describes how he was captured wandering in the velt by the maTebele and gradually incorporated into the nation: "I was one of a party which wandered far after Matiwane scattered us, and the maTebele captured us. One raised his spear and said, "Let us kill the jackals". But the leader said "No, we want boys to help us in driving the cattle". They gave us food and we followed them to uMzilikazi's kraal. UMzilikazi loved to see dancing, so I was kept at the great place. After a time I was given a spear and shield. Then I got a wife, a woman captured from the baNgwaketse".
Another conflict in 1826 sent more refugees to the maTebele. The Ndwandwe of uMzilikazi's old overlord Zwide, now led by his son Sikhunyana, moved down from the east where they had fled after the battle of Mhlatuze in 1819 and tried to regain their old lands from Shaka. In the northern foothills of the Drakensberg they were smashed once and for all. The survivors scattered, some refugees fleeing to the "sanctuary" of uMzilikazi. Many of these displaced people joined the maTebele as lower class menial workers, being afforded protection and a chance to better themselves. Other entire chiefdoms submitted to uMzilikazi's authority, remaining basically intact, but having to pay tribute. Again some vassal chiefdoms supplied their own regiments, joining maTebele campaigns, and "lived under the shadow of the Bull Elephant's shield".
The Nguni military system of like-age regiments was the basis of the army's formation. The maTebele kingdom was geographically arranged to give ample warning of an enemy's approach, with lightly populated cattle-posts on the perimeter, more densely populated and garrisoned settlements nearer to the royal kraals. Authority of the King (nKosi) was paramount. He was politically advised by a close inner circle of izinDuna, called the Mpakathi (inside), of which uMcumbata, son of Zingali the Hunter of Zululand was inHloko (prime-minister, head); also a wider gathering of chiefs from within the nation called the iBandla (the council). In order not to alienate the indented menials the iBandla acted as a limited uPhathwa umLomo (political mouth), an outlet for public opinion.
It is doubtful if there were much more than a thousand warriors on "alert" at any one time, although many more could be assembled speedily.
MaTebele warriors of uMzilikazi, their dress and weapons.
In the maTebele order of things all males were warriors. They used three types of spear or assegai; one for stabbing, with a blade of about twelve inches and a short shaft up to thirty-six inches long. The second had a shorter blade and a somewhat longer shaft, up to forty-eight inches long, also used as a stabbing weapon. Then there was the throwing spear with a small blade of six inches in length on an iron tang of eight inches or more. The "iSika" stabbing spear was most effective in close combat, known also as the "King's spear", as it had to be returned to the King by the warrior's comrades should he be killed. The blades were made to a strict Zulu pattern at various iron-workings.
Another weapon used for throwing and clubbing was a stout stick with a knob, an "induka". The shield was more of an item of dress, made of ox-hide, never cowhide. It was oval, up to five feet high and two feet wide, the hairy side outwards, with a stick inside topped with the tail of a wild cat. The shield was carried by the left hand, the lower part striking the knee, different regiments using different colours, the most honoured being white with a little brown or black, with an etched pattern along the grasping stick. Dress was entirely of animal skins except for the headdress, which was usually a pom-pom of a mass of ostrich and guinea fowl feathers. The colour and type of feather had a special significance, that of the blue-crane being reserved for officers. UMzilikazi wore the long deep-blue tail-feathers of the lilac-breasted roller. Only certain regiments wore a looped appendage hanging from the headdress. Over the shoulders there was a cape of ostrich feathers or jackal-skin. Armlets of cow-tail were worn above the elbows. Their heads were close-shaven. The kilts were made from monkey and cat tails, in three rows, reaching down to the knees, attached to a broad waistband. The penis, the maTebele not practicing circumcision, was covered by a sheath, the genitals by a small apron underneath the kilt. Garters of cow-tails were worn just below the knee and upper arm. Sandals of buffalo hide were worn on raiding expeditions, tied by a thong around the ankle. The truer blood warriors were taller, better muscled and lighter-skinned and in full battle-dress made an impressive sight. The maTebele standing army numbered fifty-six regiments.
UMzilikazi arrives in the Magaliesberg.
During 1827 UMzilikazi's maTebele attacked the baKwena baMogopa at Kutatu, (Commandonek and Silikaatsnek), from the south. Kutatu in Nguni means three, and may have referred to the three passes through the Magaliesberg, previously called umPhane’s Pass.
Robert Schoon. A Scots trader in baHurutsi-land. 1827.
Schoon was a trader from Grahamstown, an open-air fellow; who preferred the solitude of the bush, a tented wagon and a campfire to the trappings of civilization. He had recently acquired a license to trade and hunt to the north of the Orange river, choosing to follow John Campbell's route into the interior, northwards, to the lands of the "baHurutsi". His barter goods consisted of beads, tobacco, calico-lengths and trinkets. At the Marico River he turned back with some of his wagons loaded with skins and ostrich feathers, more with elephant tusks he had bartered, others he had shot. Upon his successful return to Grahamstown, another journey was planned.
MaTebele spies had reported to uMzilikazi the visit of Schoon to the baHurutsi, that the white man was friendly, wishing only to trade and hunt, and had promised to return the next harvest-time. UMzilikazi would invite this white man to the land of the maTebele, to learn from him the secrets of their weapons of thunder. He surmised these were the thunder-sticks that had been used to great effect in the defeat of Sebitoane of the baKwena.
The Great Nxwala – the ceremony of the first fruits.
The moon was full, it was December 1827, and the maTebele were gathered for the most solemn occasion of the year, the Nxwala, the tasting of the first fruits, when the King became the medium for direct communication with the royal ancestors of the tribe. Potent brews were prepared by the medicine men; sacrifices, accompanied by prayers, hymns, offerings and dances were dedicated to the spirits, and the ritual of the cleansing of the tribe. Only at the closing of the ceremony were the maTabele allowed to eat the ripening harvest, to appease the ancestors and satisfy the spirits, to gain good fortune and prosperity in the future. The Nxwala was the most important ceremony of the maTebele calendar, having had its origin with the Zulu nation.
The year 1828 would see the murder of Shaka, the mantle of King of the Zulus resting on Dingane's shoulders: a change, which would not benefit uMzilikazi in the least. During early 1829 a group of baRolong emissaries arrived at enKungwini to report to uMzilikazi that the Lion People of Chief moLetswane had turned hostile towards them, also warning him of their intention to overthrow the maTebele occupation of the north-western Magaliesberg.The baRolong also pleaded with uMzilikazi to forgive them for joining Jan Bloem's Griqua army against the maTebele, and to support them in a war against a common enemy, the Lion People. For three years uMzilikazi had tried to capture moLetswane; he agreed to support them, telling the emissaries to assure their Chief that as soon as the Lion People attacked the baRolong settlements the maTebele army would arrive to crush them.
The first white men to visit uMzilikazi. Schoon and McLuckie 1829.
Two full moons after the ceremony of Nxwala, during February, uMzilikazi chose a small group of his most trusted "indunas" to find and meet the white man Schoon, who had visited the baHurutsi, promising to return to them the following harvest-time. These emissaries were warned if the mission were unsuccessful, they would be executed. They were told to take with them the best oxen as gifts from the King of the maTebele. Meanwhile in Grahamstown, Robert Schoon was preparing for a further trading and hunting expedition into the interior, with no intention of penetrating the domains of a ruthless despot. On this journey he would be accompanied by a friend, William McLuckie, a fellow Scot who had decided to forsake life as a tranquil shopkeeper in Grahamstown to that of an itinerant trader in the far interior. As the induna emissaries left enKungwini (the place of mist), Schoon and McLuckie were travelling northwards, in the region of the Great Fish River. Their wagons were laden with barter goods, arms, ammunition, and all those bare requirements for extended outdoor living. In early June they crossed the Orange River, then on to Campbell, an outpost of the London Missionary Society, past Danielskuil to reach Boetsap, the rundown settlement of Barend Barends, the Griqua captain. On 12th July they came to a saltpan where a small party of baKwena were stalking game with their hunting dogs; eleven days later, in baRolong country, they reached the Molopo River.
Whilst watering their oxen at the Molopo River a stranger arrived, dressed in a girdle of monkey-tails, feathers on his head, his upper body naked, and carrying a large oxhide shield with some assegais. He was driving before him four oxen; the traders recognized him as being a maTebele warrior. He told Schoon he had been sent by his King, to meet them and offer an invitation to trade and hunt in the land of the maTebele, and as a token of friendship had brought a gift of four royal oxen. They travelled north-east for two days when they were met by another warrior, this time an induna, who said he had waited four months for their wagons to appear. The induna gave them six white royal oxen, asking them to accompany him to visit the Bull Elephant of the maTebele. The traders agreed to do this, dispatching a messenger with a large quantity of beads, and to tell the King it would not be long before they arrived at enKungwini.
On the 29th July they came to Tshwenyane, the baHurutsi capital, since 1823 in ruins. Here two more indunas met them; saying uMzilikazi had not heard any news and was becoming impatient. Whilst Schoon and McLuckie were at the Tshwenyane the baRolong were attacked by the Lion People of Chief moLetsane. When uMzilikazi heard this he dispatched a thousand warriors as promised; the Lion People were caught from behind by the maTebele and slaughtered; some muskets were found on the dead warriors, which would be taken to enKungwini. Schoon and McLuckie, in company with the indunas, left Tshwenyane and travelled east coming across a disused baHurutsi mine, a series of deep trenches where seams of copper lay embedded in soft black clay. There were also alluvial deposits of iron ore, so rich that only heating and limited beating was necessary to produce iron bars.
At the end of July, on the banks of the Marico River Robert Schoon shot a sixteen-foot crocodile which they cut open, finding inside the remains of a local tribesman, a pair of sandals, a thong for tethering cattle and a dog which had been bitten in two. They now came into maTebele country, crossing the Elands River to the toe of the Magaliesberg range, following the curves of the mountains east. The further they progressed the more impressed they were with the variety of game to be found, “grazing in fertile surroundings”. They were now entering the devastated territory of the baKwena, barely five years before this was one of the most densely populated areas in Southern Africa; now not a living soul could be seen. Evidence of the massacre of the baKwena could be seen in the ruined villages, scattered with the remains of untold numbers of skeletons, a trail of sun-bleached bones traced the desperate flight from the stabbing spears of the maTebele raiders, men, women, and children, none were spared.
After journeying a few more days they came upon a group of timid baKwena tribe’s people, the first they had seen for many days, who had escaped the massacre, now existing in abject poverty near a pan of water. Predatory lions and scavengers had become bold amongst such easy pickings, consequently these people had become tree-dwellers, building small, hemispherical huts on platforms secured to the branches of a mimosa tree. This observation was described to A.Stedman, an early compiler of travels into the interior. “They spoke of the devastation and fear of the countryside and inhabitants. Close to a water-place they came across a tree upon the branches of which were perched seventeen small, conical huts. Their description of these dwellings was; these are used as dormitories, beyond the reach of lions which, since the incursion of the Mantatees, when so many thousands of persons were massacred, have become very numerous in their neighbourhood, and destructive to human life. The branches of these trees are supported by forked sticks or poles, and there are three tiers or platforms on which the huts are constructed. The lowest is nine feet from the ground and holds ten huts, the second, about eight feet above has three huts, the upper story, if it may be so called contains four. The ascent to these is made by cutting notches in the supporting poles, and the huts are built with twigs thatched with straw, and will contain two people comfortably.” Other huts were built atop stakes in the ground. (This tree may well be the "inhabited tree" attributed to Moffat. It was re-discovered by Eve Palmer, near Makwassie, identified as a red-leaved rock fig, not normally growing to such a large size).
Twenty miles further along the Magaliesberg they came to the first cattle outposts of the maTebele, a circle of beehive huts “surrounded by fertile cornfields and verdant wooded grazing, with springs and streams in abundance”. Compared to the impoverished baKwena tree-dwellers, the maTebele feasted on the sorghum stored in their grain-pits, on pumpkins, melons, beans and sugar-cane; they had fresh and curdled milk from the three thousand head of cattle in the pallisaded fold. Here the traders were given a milch cow, and treated with the utmost courtesy Schoon decided to hold a feast, so he shot the cow. The loud report of the gun and the sudden death of the cow so terrified the maTebele they fled, later speaking of nothing but the magic of the thunder-stick and the prestige of the traders.
They journeyed for two days in the country to the west of the Crocodile River, where they met a large army, estimated by Schoon to be between four and five thousand strong, led by maTebele regiments, the majority being baRolong, returning from their victory over Chief moLetsane's Lion People. The wagons were now escorted eastwards by the army, passing many cattle posts, the out-lying ones being smaller than those nearer enKungwini, which were garrisoned by forty to fifty hand picked warriors. On the 12th August the traders arrived outside enKungwini, out spanning where the indunas told them, to await the summons of uMzilikazi, as protocol determined.
A group of indunas was sent to the visitors with a gift of four oxen, but no hint of an audience with uMzilikazi, tribal custom extending to keeping guests to the royal kraal waiting. The next morning a head induna summoned Schoon and McLuckie to the royal kraal. They entered the kraal through the main gateway, past lines of beehive huts, into the cattle kraal where uMzilikazi sat with his regimental officers, councilors, courtiers and servants. Much to their surprise, rather than what they expected of such a despot, they found uMzilikazi jovial and dignified, young and handsome, of medium height and excellent physical proportions; the traders felt at ease.
Schoon thought uMzilikazi a man of exceptional intelligence, absorbing every detail of what was said, and when jested with laughed heartily. A feast was prepared in honour of the guests, and the regiments summoned to dance, the "Bull Elephant" joining them to lead the dancing, the feet of the warriors stamping the rhythm of a war dance on the dry earth. A royal taster ate small portions of meat from the royal bowls before the King and his visitors partook of the feast. During their stay at enKungwini, Schoon and McLuckie would be guests of honour at other regimental ceremonies. The visitors noted the absolute authority uMzilikazi had over his subjects, the royal salute "Bayete" being hailed throughout the day, subjects grovelling on the ground and speaking in muted tones. UMzilikazi sometimes sat alone, brooding, steeped in thought.
In the tribal court no one dared challenge the decisions of uMzilikazi, transgressors offered no defence and when sentenced thanked the King for his wisdom and gratitude for the sentence passed on them. Although feeling at times “the cold atmosphere of despotism", the traders appreciated the courtesy, hospitality, and co-operation they received. UMzilikazi had sole right and ownership of all harvests reaped, all spoils of war, and all booty collected from neighbouring tribes between the Magaliesberg and the Limpopo. His herds of cattle were larger than any Schoon had seen anywhere, and his seraglio contained between fifty and sixty women. He also showed the traders huge stores of ivory, a commodity to barter for later. Schoon was invited to hunt elephants along the Magaliesberg range and to collect as many tusks as he wished, then return to enKungwini in order to display the barter goods they had brought from the Colony. Unfortunately the hunt along the Magaliesberg was not recorded, but it is known that they returned with at least one wagon full of ivory. After more feasts, dancing and regimental displays it was time to bring out the barter goods, the object of Schoon and McLuckie's journey into the interior. Upon seeing the colourful beads Schoon placed before him on a box, uMzilikazi was in ecstacy, saying the quality and colour of his English merchandise was far superior to that traded with the Portuguese from the east coast. In future he would have no dealings with these "Long-haired, tawny-skinned half-castes from Sofala", he would regale his harem women, his councilors, and his warriors with the produce Schoon would bring on his next journey. In return for these wares uMzilikazi traded ivory, ostrich feathers, hides and pelts. When trading closed Schoon and McLuckie had goods valued in their estimation at one thousand, eight hundred Pounds Sterling, in their opinion a very profitable transaction.
Their stay at enKungwini had lasted six weeks; it was time to return before the summer rains made the journey impossible. Bidding farewell to the King at the main gates of the kraal, uMzilikazi asked Schoon to show him the secrets of their thunder-sticks, as he had not ventured far from enKungwini and had no personal knowledge of the Bergenaars, the Lion People or the Boers, and had never seen a musket fired. Schoon was told that whilst they were hunting in the Magaliesberg a marauding band of Griqua, under Jan Bloem, had pillaged some of the outlying maTebele cattle-posts. Many of the "banditti" had been ambushed by the maTebele regiments, and the muskets of those killed had been brought to enKungwini and stored in a special hut, which housed the war-shields of the regiments. Schoon was shown a stack of muskets recently taken from Jan Bloem's horsemen, and moLetsane's Lion People. Near the hedge palisade surrounding enKungwini, uMzilikazi selected a large stone as a target for Schoon. A Hottentot servant was told to load a musket, "the Bull Elephant" studying every detail of the operation intently. For two summers he had awaited this moment to learn the mysteries of the "sticks of thunder and fire". At Schoon's command the servant raised the musket, aimed at the stone and fired. The ball, partly lead and partly pewter, splashed on the target, leaving a blue mark. UMzilikazi, examining the stone closely was not impressed, saying if he had merely breathed on the stone it would have had the same effect. A bullock due to be slaughtered that day for uMzilikazi's meal was led out and Schoon was asked to kill the beast. He loaded and fired, hitting the beast behind the ear. “The animal collapsed to the ground with a thud, the forelegs trembling in its death throes. With the crack of the explosion still drumming in his ears, uMzilikazi glared incredulously, first at Schoon and then at the weapon that smoked in his hands. No matter how he tried to conceal his bewilderment, he failed, for as if in a trance he strode backwards towards the gates of the royal kraal and then hurried moodily to his hut".
As Schoon and McLuckie rumbled laboriously west through the bush alongside the Magaliesberg range, replete in their good fortune and strange experiences, uMzilikazi must have mused he was as ignorant as ever about the workings of thunder-sticks. UMzilikazi had asked Schoon to encourage other white people to visit enKungwini; his wish was to foster good relations between them and his own people, coveting their influence and power. He had also asked the traders to conduct two of his most trusted indunas, one by the name uMncumbata being "Prime minister" of the maTebele, to the white settlements in the south to meet the missionaries about whom the baHurutsi spoke, especially those living in a place to the south called Kuruman. The emissaries were instructed to remain a short time with the missionaries learning about their customs, and most importantly to assure them the Bull Elephant of the maTebele wished to live in peace in the territory between the Magaliesberg and the Limpopo. Upon the return of Schoon and McLuckie to the Cape they lectured to the members of the first local scientific body, the South African Institution, on their "Recent visit to the Countries to the rear of the Portuguese Settlement at Delagoa Bay".
The Reverend James Archbell and David Hume, a visit to enKungwini 1829-30.
Having crossed the arid regions south of the Molopo River, Schoon and McLuckie arrived at Platberg, the new mission station of the Reverend James Archbell, a Wesleyan missionary. Here the traders were well received by Archbell and his family, recounting their story of the trading visit to enKungwini, and the respect and kindness they had experienced from uMzilikazi. What the two traders told Archbell astounded him, he thinking the maTebele were a horde of marauding savages led by a deranged tyrannical despot, bespoiling all before them. He listened attentively when told of uMzilikazi's wish to have white men visit him, and his interest in the missionaries at Kuruman. This convinced Archbell he could establish a field for Weslyan missionary labour in maTebeleland, and decided to immediately travel to the Magaliesberg.
The wagons of Schoon and McLuckie had hardly disappeared when Archbell told his wife Elizabeth to pack the family luggage, and he hastened off to see old Barend Barends to persuade him and a commando of Griqua horsemen to act as escort for the missionary wagons. He also acquired the services of an experienced explorer-trader David Hume, whose first two loves were the Far Interior and elephant tusks. This motley mixture of evangelical intent set forth headed for Makwassie during November 1829, crossing the Vaal River near present day Parys and continuing north towards the Witwatersberg, where they "descended into the undulating and wooded country approaching the Magaliesberg". Archbell was confident he would be well received; he was to be sorely disillusioned when he entered the land of the maTebele. The Wesleyan mission meandered in a north-westerly direction, up the valley south of the Magaliesberg range, crossing the mountains at present day Oliphants Nek, and turning north-east towards the Crocodile River. Some few years previously in 1822, at Makwassie (wild spearmint) just north of this area, two Wesleyan missionaries, Hodgson and Broadbent had set up their station amongst the baRolong; it would be pillaged during the Difequane in 1824. At the Crocodile River Archbell and Hume travelled on towards enKungwini, leaving Barends and his Griquas hunting on the slopes of the Magaliesberg. At this point Robert Moffat, on his way to visit uMzilikazi by invitation, chanced on his old friend Barends hunting near the Crocodile River. Barends told Moffat of Archbell's intentions, and that he had left three days earlier to visit enKungwini, but news had been received that the prospect of making friends with uMzilikazi appeared remote. The King was furious about the presence of uninvited Griqua horsemen within his borders, the Bull Elephant refusing to see Archbell before the indunas arrived from Kuruman with the white missionary. Moffat pressed foreward, eventually arriving at Archbell's camp, still some way from enKungwini.
Moffat listened to his fellow-missionary's story, he was told of the King's aloofness, of his blatant refusal to meet Archbell and Hume, and how they were so riled by this rebuff that they were about to return home when Moffat appeared. Moffat persuaded Archbell not to turn back, but to follow him to enKungwini, winding through the bush on the fringe of the Magaliesberg range. After a day and a half, uMncumbata pointed out to Moffat a range of low hills immediately ahead, with a barely discernible maTebele kraal hidden in the bush. "There,” said uMncumbata pointing to the settlement "there dwells the Great King of the Heavens, the Bull Elephant of the maTebele, the Great Lion”.
During Archbell's short stay at enKungwini he was virtually ignored, having breached protocol by arriving uninvited, and bringing Griqua horsemen with him. He despaired of establishing a mission, no hope for these people who revered their potentate as a God. There was nothing Archbell admired in uMzilikazi except his physique and authority, he despised everything he heard and saw at enKungwini, deciding to return to Platberg immediately. Upon his departure, Archbell asked uMzilikazi if he would welcome a missionary settlement in maTebeleland. The Bull Elephant replied with calculated charm, he would welcome white settlement in his land not only because they would bring the word of God, but also because of the horses they would bring for the maTebele. Archbell, not amused, left, never to return
Moffat and uMzilikazi, a strange but lasting relationship, 1829-1859.
At the beginning of November 1829, the Reverend Robert Moffat welcomed the traders Robert Schoon and William McLuckie accompanied by uMncumbata with the other maTebele induna and the "aides-de-camp" to his home and the settlement of the London Missionary Society at Kuruman. The wishes and aspirations of uMzilikazi were explained to Moffat, who was surprised but not unduly concerned with the role he would be playing in this unexpected turn of events. This would be the start of the most unusual and endearing friendship to emerge out of the whole history of "Darkest Africa". Moffat treated the indunas with courtesy and respect, as befitted them being noblemen of their tribe. UMncumbata, the most senior induna of the maTebele tribe, was the son of Mzingeli, "the hunter of Zululand". Their paucity of attire disturbed Moffat, but he had never encountered such politeness and dignity emanating from these maTebele noblemen in any other tribe.
The reason why and function of the irrigation canal Moffat had constructed to the mission gardens from the Eye of Kuruman was explained to the indunas, and he taught them “the rudiments of enlightened farming methods and instructed them in the art of masonry.” They were amazed upon seeing themselves in a mirror, as when they were shown the black-smiths shop, the forge and bellows with such a variety of tools, also the implements for gardening. UMncumbata likened themselves to children when compared to white men, adding the Great Bull Elephant must learn the secrets of the wonders they had seen at Kuruman.
Less than a week had passed when uMncumbata announced they must return to the Magaliesberg, rejecting the arrangements of Schoon that they be escorted by Hottentots. The head induna requested a private interview with Moffat, saying he had information that the baKwena would ambush the party and annihilate them. If this happened Moffat knew the maTebele army would wreak plunder and destruction not only on the tribes to the north but the Thlaping Fish People around Kuruman. Moffat consulted his wife, Mary, and the mission handy-man Hamilton, agreeing to accompany the indunas to Mosega, the chief settlement of the baHurutsi. On the 9 November 1829 the party set off north, in company with two ox wagons, arriving at Mosega ten days later, in the land of the baHurutshi.
MoKgatla was at this time acting as regent of the baHurutsi tribe, and it was into his care Moffat wished to place the indunas, to which uMncumbata objected, pleading with the missionary not to desert them now. MoKgatla well knew the fate which would befall them if any harm came to the indunas; he begged Moffat to escort them to maTebeleland, if the white teacher refused he would call the baHurutsi together and flee. Moffat's dilemma was solved by his Christian spirit; he would accompany them to the first maTebele cattle outposts, there he must take leave of them. Moffat was surprised that moKgatla intended going along with them.
Traveling east alongside the Magaliesberg range they came upon some isolated settlements of baKwena people living in rudimentary grass shelters, perched on poles, out of reach of scavengers: also the tree-dwellers Schoon and McLuckie had visited some months earlier. It grieved Moffat to see the misery that had been inflicted on these people; he was overcome with anguish at the sight of “the charred ruins of the baKwena villages, the debris of huts strewn with heaps of bones and grinning skulls.” He plodded onwards “with heavy steps and heart, steeped in morbid reverie.”
Suddenly they were approached by a group of maTebele warriors who, on seeing uMncumbata and the other indunas stood motionless in obeisance, nearby was their kraal, the first one they had seen. Moffat here said he could now turn back for home but uMncumbata was incredulous, laying his hand on Moffat's shoulder saying “Father, you have been our guardian, and we yours. You love us, but will you leave us now,” and pointing to a distant range of hills, said “There lives the great uMzilikazi, save us, for when we have told him our news he will ask why our conduct gave you pain to cause you to return; and, before the sun descends, we shall be ordered out for execution because you are not with us. Look at us, tell us that you will not go, for then we would choose to die here, rather than in the sight of our people. It remains with you to save our lives; you alone can prevent the sorrow our executions will cause to our wives and children.” That was enough, Moffat would go to enKungwini. An electric storm delayed them, the black sticky soil clogging the wheels of the wagons and the oxen's hooves, causing many stoppages.
Crossing the Crocodile River and into a ravine they found Barend Barends, an old Griqua friend of Moffat who had travelled up with Archbell the Wesleyan missionary, whom they met camped a little further on, travelling in company with him to enKungwini.
The Pebane River was between the visitors and enKungwini, so Moffat and Archbell rode across on horseback, the wagons fording the river further upstream. The missionaries upon reaching the kraal gates were ushered into the royal cattle-fold, an immense pallisaded enclosure Moffat estimated could hold ten thousand head of cattle. They were surrounded by eight hundred maTebele warriors, “thick-set men, dressed in kilts of monkey-skin tails, grouped according to the colour and design of their heavy ox-hide shields, their superbly proportioned bodies, the profusion of ostrich feathers adorning their heads and the tufts of ox-tail hair hanging about their arms and legs.”
On either side of the gates Moffat noticed two groups of warriors concealed behind a tall fence. The missionaries were told to dismount, and upon doing so the warriors burst through the gates, charging towards them with shields and weapons held aloft, yelling a hideous war-hoop and looking menacing. In the centre of the arena, where the visitors stood transfixed holding their frightened horses reins, the warriors swung to the left and right, joining the others lining the palisade. For ten long minutes silence pervaded the royal kraal, as the warriors stood rigidly behind their shields, not uttering a word. “Suddenly, as if he intended the whole Magaliesberg and surrounding bushvelt to hear, a regimental captain raised his face to the skies and bellowed a command. Immediately the floor of the cattle-fold thundered beneath the stamping feet of the warriors, and the surroundings vibrated with the voices of a thousand maTebele, some singing in harmony, others hissing, and others imitating the groans of dying enemies. This was followed by a brief period of silence.”
“Bayete! Bayete, nKosi enkulu!” The cattle-fold reverberated: uMzilikazi entered the dusty arena to the hysterical eulogizing of his followers.
UMzilikazi recognized Moffat at once, greeting him with a hearty handshake, and assisted by an interpreter told the bewildered visitors he honoured their presence in the royal kraal. He told a group of servants who had followed him bearing clay pots and baskets on their heads, to offer beer and food to the visitors.
Moffat studied uMzilikazi closely: this dreaded despot who had destroyed the lives and settlements of tens of thousands of Sotho-speaking peoples from the Drakensberg to the Kalahari. He admired uMzilikazi's “friendly disposition, his vigorous personality and his scarred yet handsome features: far from a surly and arrogant savage he was soft-spoken, with a bearing far more dignified than any other chief or potentate yet met.” UMzilikazi saw the missionary's “moving houses” arriving at the kraal gates, and linking arms with Moffat went to inspect them, marvelling at their bulk, but was most fascinated with the wheels and the bands of iron surrounding the felloes. He was heard to mutter, “Wonders of this kind were only possible with the aid of the most potent muti.” Moffat asked where they could out span the wagons, the king saying, “The land is yours, you have come to visit uMzilikazi, your son, and therefore you must sleep where you please.” Singing and dancing started in the late afternoon, Moffat having to endure the monotonous rhythm of the drums, the whistling and chanting almost the whole night.
The next day meat, grain, milk and sorghum beer in abundance was delivered to the camp; uMzilikazi determined his guests have the best of maTebele hospitality. Messages were sent out to villages, summoning the maTebele to enKungwini the next day. Many thousands of people gathered in a large clearing alongside the kraal the next day as scores of oxen were slaughtered to feed them. UMzilikazi arrived surrounded by a horde of doting attendants and dignitaries; his body smeared in fat was draped in beads reaching down to his ankles. An otter-skin, stuffed to form a roll was pressed firmly on his head, punctuated with bundles of the beautiful plumes of the blue jay, uMzilikazi's favourite bird. (Lilac-breasted roller - caracias caudata - no, 447, was for some time called “Mzilikazi's roller,” the feathers of this bird were reserved exclusively for him, no one else was allowed to wear them). He wore a kilt of multi-coloured beads, a lion-skin shield and carried a butcher's knife which Moffat had given him: this celebration, the war dance of the regiments, the missionary referred to as “the public ball.”
Moffat was not impressed with the celebrations, his dour outlook not on par with the frenzied activities of the warriors led by uMzilikazi, “Whom his people worshipped, not God but a mere mortal, a brutal heathen despot. In the middle of the festivities thirty of the royal harem women shuffled backwards and forewards in an aimless show of nothingness,” Moffat gazed disapprovingly, “on so futile and un-Christian an amusement, his heart overflowed with compassion for them.”
A great feast began. Meat was distributed and beer flowed from earthenware pots, the missionaries declining a delicacy intended exclusively for the privileged warriors, blood. Moffat wished to return to Kuruman, but uMzilikazi had no intention to let him go after so short a sojourn, he had developed an almost child-like devotion for Moffat, a sincere and deep-rooted respect. Visiting the wagons uMzilikazi confessed his love for Moffat, bestowing the name “Mashobane” on him, his father, “As both these men had fed him when he was hungry, clothed him when he was naked and covered him with their shields when he needed protection.” Pointing to the envoys that sat beside him he said, “These are great men, and uMncumbata is my right hand. When I sent them from my presence to see the land of the white men, I sent my ears, my eyes, and my mouth. What they heard, I heard; what they saw, I saw, and what they said, it was uMzilikazi who said it. You fed them, you clothed them, and when they were to be slain, you were their shield. You did it for me. You did it for uMzilikazi, the son of Mashobane.” Moffat was deeply moved, not expecting these words from a despot with his reputation. In a moment of sanguine reverie he forgot his reserve, telling the king he had important news, “News of God, the God of the universe who loved all people.” UMzilikazi's eyes were on a large herd of cattle, his thoughts on them: rising, he bowed politely and strode off, through the gates to the royal kraal.
Moffat was not disheartened, his faith rewarded soon by the reappearance of UMzilikazi at the wagons, he sat on the grass next to the missionary saying, “I am come to sit at your feet, I am King, it is true, but you must now talk to me as if I were a child.” Moffat smiled, he could not but secretly admire this authorative plunderer, one moment he was in the role of a tyrant, the next a modest, soft-spoken, feeling host. The missionary took this chance to spare no words in reprimanding him for the atrocities committed by himself and his bloodthirsty warriors. “Your country mourns, and the bones of your victims call to heaven for vengeance. God, the Supreme Being, would demand an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth from those who chose to exterminate peace-loving people.” UMzilikazi interrupted saying he was not responsible for the annihilation of the baKwena people, it was Mantatisi, the witch-like Queen of the Thlokwa, the Wild Cat people, who had done these horrific deeds. He wished to avoid war, admitting to capturing many of the remnants of the devastation, bringing them under his shield for protection, also to stop the cannibalism some of them had turned to.
At their next discussion Moffat explained some of the first principals of Christian religion, in particular the immortality of the soul, and the resurrection of the dead. “Shall we all rise from the dead?” asked the King, concerned. “Yes,” replied Moffat, “all the dust of human bodies scattered by the winds and all the scattered bones that bespangle your dominions will rise to life and be judged by the Son of God.” UMzilikazi had much to muse on in his reflective moments.
On the first Saturday of his stay at enKungwini, Moffat asked to be left entirely alone on the next day, the Sabbath, to which the King agreed. During Sunday morning Moffat noticed the regiments had gathered to dance, sing and feast: also in the place of meeting the tribal court was in session, hearing the case of an induna who had been caught in the act of committing adultery with one of the royal harem women. It pleased Moffat to hear that uMzilikazi would spare the life of the induna, because the missionary from Kuruman was averse to killing, instead, the accused would be divested of his headring, shield and weapons; his rank would be reduced to the lowest in the land, and he would be banished. The induna pleaded that as a nobleman of the royal kraal he should be spared the humiliation of living amongst commoners, he had served the King loyally in battle and he now chose to die for his betrayal like a warrior.
The inDuna’s wish was granted: his hands were bound above his head and he was led out of the gates, past Moffat's wagons, to a high bank overhanging a deep pool in the Pebane River. Here he was flung into the jaws of waiting crocodiles. Later in the day the miserable harem woman was led out, taken to a nearby hill and dispatched with knob-headed clubs. These events had, of course, deeply disturbed Moffat, particularly taking place on the Sabbath; further he learnt from the aides-de-camp that the King had been lenient, usually sentencing such transgressors to slow and painful death by skewering. UMzilikazi had several forms of execution apart from the crocodiles, clubbing and skewering: decapitation, neck twisting, genital amputation, impalement, stabbing and drowning were other options.
Moffat prepared to leave but was again delayed several days by uMzilikazi. He had noticed that the King was becoming more attached to him, calling him “Father,” and “Mashobane,” accepting his rebukes and asking advice on spiritual and other matters. UMzilikazi pried into the missionary's background, asking many differing questions, some leading to amusing debate. He could not believe that King George IV was as great a monarch as he; when Moffat told him of the large population, the size of the cities and the vast numbers of cattle slaughtered daily he was astounded. “Your nation must be terrible in battle, tell your King I wish to live in peace.” They spoke of the fate awaiting all tyrants, recalling the fall of Shaka, even the Bull Elephant of the maTebele: Moffat concluded with the words from Genesis IX 6, “Whoso sheddeth man's blood; by man shall his blood be shed.” In constant danger uMzilikazi would survive them all, living to a ripe old age.
UMzilikazi spoke to Moffat about firearms, fearing an attack by Dingane: he wished to arm the regiments, also fortify the approach to enKungwini with cannon, and a musket for his own use. Moffat replied that as a man of God he could not condone the use of fire-arms, in fact the use of all weapons in war: he would also be violating the laws of the Cape Colony if he supplied arms to any tribe in the interior. This explanation satisfied uMzilikazi, and although repeating his fear of Dingane never mentioned the subject again.
After eight days at enKungwini Moffat in spanned his wagons, and went to bid farewell to uMzilikazi. To his surprise the King had decided to accompany him on the first part of the journey through maTebele country; his first ride in a "House on wheels". UMzilikazi climbed onto the wagon, seating himself next to Mashobane. An impi of warriors plus women carrying food and other essentials followed the convoy, across the Pebane and then the Crocodile River and meandered alongside the Magaliesberg range and bushvelt. It was a balmy day and about mid-morning the King felt drowsy, slipping from his seat he flopped onto Mashobane's bed and promptly fell asleep. Upon awakening he complimented the missionary on the comfort of his bed. and invited Moffat to join him. Moffat declined saying he preferred to study the beautiful scenery, the many species of game and the maTebele cattle-posts that lay to the right and left of the trail. As twilight fell they reached one of uMzilikazi's royal kraals. Thousands of warriors, women and children came running out of the bush shouting “Bayete, Bayete, nKhosi enkulu,” and welcoming them to the settlement. UMzilikazi and Mashobane separated for the night, meeting the next morning when a herd of no less than six thousand head of cattle were driven out of the gates. Whilst the two talked the wagons were filled with gifts and a variety of foodstuffs. The wagons pulled slowly away, beside them walked Mashobane with his crestfallen and doting friend the Bull Elephant. As the royal kraal became hazy, uMzilikazi turned, taking Moffat's hand. “Mashobane, my father, your visit appears as a dream; my heart will follow you. Hamba kahle. Go well to Kuruman and return soon with your wife, MaMary. Tell your white King I wish to live in friendship, and let the road to Kuruman remain always open. Take with you uMncumbata, my right hand, and let him guide you safely out of my country, and onto the road that leads to your home.”
“I shall never forget you,” Moffat replied, “and I shall pray for you and your people. Perhaps one day God will send teachers to instruct you in wise and happy ways.”
By 1828 the cattle herds of uMzilikazi numbered many thousands; covetous eyes of greedy intent were cast over the Magaliesberg. The Griqua leader Jan Bloem made an alliance with moLetswane, chief of the baTaung (lion people) to combine in a cattle looting raid on some of uMzilikazi's out-lying posts in the Magaliesberg. In July several hundred Griqua with some thousand baTaung crossed the passes in the mountains to the west, taking the maTebele by surprise, as the main impi were away on their own raid. They killed the herdsmen, rounded up the cattle together with some women and retreated back across the mountain. MoLetsane prudently took his share of the loot, returning to his own territory as quickly as possible. The Griqua were too complacent at the ease of the raid, and in no hurry to return home. A maTebele woman captive warned them of the danger of a counter-attack, the Griqua taking no notice. Haip, a Griqua survivor recounted the result…. “The third night arrived without any direct evidence of danger. The party proceeded to slaughter and feast upon part of the cattle they had secured and in that congenial occupation they passed the greater part of the night.....they betook themselves to rest just as the sun was descending below the horizon. With the appearance of morning, the prophecy of the woman was to be fulfilled. When the approaching day could be discerned and the revellers were buried in sleep the maTebele rushed to the charge, and, as would be expected ... flight rather than defence was immediately resorted to by the attacked.” All save a few were slaughtered, most in their sleep; the maTebele warriors rounded up the cattle and turned for home.
In April 1830 the Zulus made a tentative raid on the foothills of the Magaliesberg, looting some cattle from out-lying posts, not pressing home any major offensive, merely using the operation to test the strength of uMzilikazi. The previous year uMzilikazi had confided to Moffat about his worry of an impending attack by Dingane. He well knew that if Dingane threw the whole weight of the Zulu impi against the maTebele they would have no chance. It is ironic that the missionary Robert Moffat would in 1823 be responsible for summoning a band of armed mercenaries to help him overcome the Wild Cat People, and in 1829 preach to uMzilikazi it was against his Christian convictions to help him obtain arms for his own defence.
Prosper Lemue and Samuel Rollard of the French Evangelical Mission, in May 1831, arranged with Chief Khatla of the Hurutshe to establish a station at Sendelingspos, about ten miles south of present day Zeerust. In February 1832, Lemue, Rollard and Jean-Paul Pellissier erected a five-roomed house and an irrigated garden. Pellissier visited uMzilikazi and secured his permission to establish a Mission Station in maTebele territory at Mosega.
During July 1832, the Zulu army attacked the enKungini royal kraal, overcame the maTebele army, destroyed the settlements and looted the herds of cattle, uMzilikazi fleeing with his survivors. Six maTebele warriors were then sent to the baHurutshe to consult the French missionaries. The emissaries were killed as spies, and in the resulting turmoil the missionaries retired to safety at Kuruman. In August, uMzilikazi attacked and destroyed the baHurutshe and erected a series of kraals at Silikaatskop, naming his new capital eGabeni. This new royal settlement consisted of more than fifteen different villages, a military stronghold.
On the recommendation of Robert Moffat, Daniel Lindley and Henry Venables went to see uMzilikazi in February, 1832, and were granted permission to rebuild the Mosega Station, and were later joined by Alexander Wilson and their families.
The lost heir to the mantle of uMzilikazi, King of the maTebele.
During 1869, as uMzilikazi lay partially paralyzed on his deathbed, so began the struggle for the Chieftainship of the vast maTebele nation. That spring, the renowned elephant hunter Henry Hartley, “Keeper of the King’s elephants”, had visited uMzilikazi and received the ritual pot of sorghum beer, but was unable to have an audience because of the critical condition of the monarch. UMzilikazi wished his good friend well, but said he thought it would be the last time they would communicate. The next day, as Hartley trundled south with 160 elephant tusks, uMzilikazi died, throwing the maTebele nation into a succession turmoil.
About 1819, uMzilikazi, then a junior member of the Zulu royal kraal of the nDwandwe tribe had fled the wrath of the Zulu king Chaka, and settled in various places on the Highvelt. Latterly in 1927 the emerging maTebele nation moved to the Magaliesberg, about Wonderboompoort, then called enKungwini, later, after being routed by the Zulus, moving to enGabeni, to the west of the Magaliesberg. It was from here that the maTebele were decimated and chased north into Zimbabwe by a group of Voortrekkers, Griquas, Korranna and local baRolong under Hendrik Potgieter in 1837.
The successor to the “Bull Elephant, the Lion’s Paw”, the choice of uMzilikazi himself, was his favourite son who had been named in honour of maShobane, my father, the Missionary Robert Moffat. This favourite son had been named nKulumane, the maTebele way of saying Kuruman, the dwelling place of the dour Scots missionary upon whom the King doted. Moffat had first visited uMzilikazi at his royal kraal enKungwini, on the banks of the Pebane River [Apies] during 1829, he being led there by uMncumbata, the king’s head inDuna, “His eyes and ears”, at the behest of the trader explorers Schoon and McLuckie. The missionary would visit the royal kraal at Bulawayo in 1852, being guided there by “Far Interior” Sam Edwards, son of the erstwhile missionary Roger Edwards.
Upon the death of uMzilikazi in 1869 the maTebele nation was engulfed in turmoil, as various factions struggled to have their choice as King sitting on the throne. The favourite son nKulumane was missing; some thinking he had been killed on the orders of his father, for having an illicit affair with a member of the royal seraglio, but of this there was no proof. Lobengula, the strongest remaining son, exerted his authority over the tribe by having the head inDunas of the Zwagendaba executed. No hunters were allowed into the territory for a year, whilst the succession was settled, until finally Lobengula was invested, nKulumani remained missing.
Henry Hartley had been hunting and trading up north for many years, about the Drakensberg Escarpment in mid 1846, then on the Limpopo, also around Lake Ngami. Later he ventured into the territory of the maTebele, where he established a central outpost at the base of three hills, which became known as Hartley Hills, the end of the Hunters Road to the Far Interior. One of these outcrops became known as Stump Tail Hill, as it was here that Hartley shot an elephant with a stump tail, and accidentally found gold in the quartzite rock. It was to here that he guided the geologist Karl Mauch and the artist-explorer Thomas Baines.
The family of James Jennings had in 1864 settled on the farm Blaauwbank, where today is situated the village of Magaliesburg, originally called Blaauwbank Juntion. The Hartleys residing on Thorndale and Vaalbank were their neighbours, and the two families would go on hunting expeditions together, up the Hunters Road to the far interior. The two families would later become related through marriage.
Some time in the late 1860’s, as the Jennings were returning after a hunting trip to Hartley Hills, they paid the customary courtesy visit on uMzilikazi at Bulawayo. Here James Jennings was approached by a son of the monarch who pleaded to be spirited away to safety. He and a young, pretty wife of his father had fallen hopelessly in love, a situation if found out would have meant instant death for both of them. This son was afterwards referred to as “Mangwan”, and the eloping couple were hidden in an ox wagon, and brought south to first settle on the Blaauwbank farm, where they lived for a number of years. After the Jennings had bought the farm Nooitgedacht, the elderly James and his wife moved from Blaauwbank to the new farm, and Mangwan settled there with them. It was said that Mangwan retained his regal bearing as a member of royal blood, and did not do any menial tasks as was required of the local Tswanas. He lived his life out at Nooitgedacht, and the ruins of his kraal can be seen not far from the old homestead of James Jennings.
So ended the story of the missing son of uMzilikazi.
It was during the early 1840s that the Boer Trekkers headed by Chief-Commandant Andries H.Potgieter, named the range after the paramount chief of the baPho, Mohale wa Mohale, whose followers had fought with them and the baRolong to rid the region of the despot maTebele monarch uMzilikazi in November 1837.
The first recorded use of the name Magaliesberg was on October 9th 1845, when a document was issued stating, “I, the undersigned, A.H.Potgieter, Chief Commandant, appoint Mr.Gert Joseph Kruger, under Commandant, with full powers in my name, to act in all matters in the districts of Mooi River and Magaliesberg [Mooi Rivier en Magalies Bergh]….
On June 19th 1846, a notice was issued to “Every true and upright emigrant,” [Waare en opregte emigrant], among the inhabitants of the “Magalies gebergte,” again signed by Chief Commandant A.H.Potgieter.
Also during 1846, Landrost J.H.Grobler, one of the first Trek Settlers in the Magaliesberg Valley, wrote to J.J.Burger concerning a case in the district “Gewest van Magaliesberg,” a party in the said case being Field Cornet Gert Kruger, settled on the farm Hekpoort and the elder brother of the future President Paul Kruger.
The first documented use of the name Magaliesburg, as to be distinct from Magaliesberg, was in a letter to the Friend of the Sovereignty Newspaper during 1854, which mentioned the village as being named after a chief of that area, Mohale wa Mohale. This letter, written by “A tourist to Magaliesburg,” mentions the “Substantial” house of William Robinson, and the “Genteel” house of Henry Hartley, situated some few miles from the source of the Magalies River. The house of Robinson was in the region of Wagenpadsdrift, that of Hartley on Thorndale in the Hekpoort Valley, both some distance from the present village. These two 1820 Settler families arrived here about 1848, Hartley having met Chief Commandant A.H.Potgieter in Andries-Ohrigstad during June 1846. Hartley was treated as an “Uitlander” there by the authoritarian Boers, much to Potgieter’s chagrin, who advised the hunter-trader to go to the “Magalies gebergte,” near to where his brother, Hermanus Potgieter had earlier settled on the farm Nooitgedacht. Chief-Commandant A.H.Potgieter himself had settled at Phokeng, in the region of present day Rustenburg. Hermanus Potgieter with his group of Trekkers were murdered by the warriors of Makophane to the north during 1854, their flayed bodies being found there by William Robinson, the Magaliesberg trader, hunter, latter day politician and presidential candidate.
Paul Kruger recorded in his memoirs, “When I was sixteen years old, I was entitled to choose two farms, one as a grazing place, and the other for sowing crops.” He had first settled about Lydenburg, but later moved back to Hekpoort. “Fever, cattle sickness and other evils determined us to return to the Magaliesberg, where I acquired several farms by barter. Here in January 1846, I had the misfortune to lose my wife, [Maria du Plessis], and the little baby to whom she had given birth. God gave me another lifelong companion in Gezina Susannah Frederika Wilhelmina du Plessis.” He would later acquire Boekenhoutfontein in the Magaliesberg, his lifelong “real” home, today a national monument.
The Ethnic Group that gave its name to the Magaliesberg.
The baPho ba Mohale wa Mohale.
The bulk of information forming the backbone of this narrative is taken from Breutz P.L. 1953. “The Tribes of Rustenberg and Pilansberg districts.” Ethnological Publication No. 28. Pretoria. Government Printer.
Other sources are defined by an asteryx *.
Those peoples who claim affinity to the baPho, sometimes baPo, are able to trace their ancestry back to an offshoot of the Nguni people’s migration down the eastern coastal regions of Southern Africa during the 17th century, which gave rise to the Zulu and Xhosa nations. BaPho is the Sotho-Tswana form of the Zulu abaMbo, or the Xhosa abaseMbo. This offshoot broke away from the main group and travelled west, it is said from “Natal,” finally settling in the Magaliesberg around present-day Wonderboompoort under a chief named umZi, or sometimes Musi. In Zulu, the baPho language of origin, umuZi means variously, “to establish, a family, a home, a kraal, a place or a residence and hence could be construed as a settler.” The oral legends of these migrants relate that the father of umZi is said to have been maHlanga, the Zulu word for a reed, the “a“ ending the name perhaps having been changed from “u“ because of his wish to be hidden, not to be recognized as the original, or perhaps to have come from the Swazi.
The Southern Ndebele in the mid-1900s comprised a single senior ethnic group the Manala, and a junior group the Ndundza, the latter having fissipated in the late 18th century into more than half a dozen sub-sections. The Northern Ndebele, sometimes called the Black Ndebele, are said to have arrived in their settled area about Mokophane from the East independently of the Southern Group. They are composed of the Ndebele of Langa, in Sotho Laka, again meaning a reed, and are represented by various sections; also the Maune or Letwaba likewise in the same area.
These east coast Nguni migrants were named nDebele by the resident endemic Tswana, which has been variously translated as, “Those who hide behind large shields; or a root, something not seen; even a refugee,” but these translations are at best romantically vague. These first Ndebele peoples are not to be confused or associated with the maTebele nation, initiated by a later forced migration of Zulus under uMzilikazi who invaded, subjected and settled the Magaliesberg in 1827.
The baPho peoples in the main adopted the language* and customs of the resident Eastern Tswana peoples, “To such an extent that their nDebele origin is all but effaced.” **
The baPho are considered to be of the Mahlangu Ndebele of the Southern Transvaal Ndebele who adopted the Thlou, or Elephant as their totem. They are sometimes referred to as “The people of the Blue Cattle.” Petrus Mahlangu, a Southern Transvaal Ndebele at present residing at kwaNdebele, north of Tshwane, informs that the correct pronunciation of baPho is with the Ph inflected as F.
According to oral history recounted by present descendants of the original baPho resident at Bapong, their traditional lands were near the ancestral hill Tlhogokgolo,*** a distinctive conical outcrop of quartzite on baPho owned lands, the farm Boschfontein 381, nowadays more commonly known as Wolhuterskop, rather blandly named after a latter-day big-game hunter who helped decimate the region of big game. Situated on this sacred hill is a rock containing a natural spring, kgo ya Bodimo, **** a “Repository of Sacred Water.” Should this spring of water diminish it is replenished, to appease the spirits of the ancestors.
* The only figures available on language use are in the 1946 population census. The population of Mohale-Lokasie, or the ancestral lands, was 2,416 peoples, of whom 1084 were male, and 1,332 female; there were a further 594 peoples on adjoining farms, made up of 326 males and 268 females. The vast majority spoke seTswana, 262 or 11% of the total speaking other languages. These comprised; 111 Shangane or 4.5%; 36 Zulu or 1.4%; 17 South-Sotho or 0.7%; 12 North-Sotho or 0.5%; 8 Venda or 0.33%, plus a minimal of others. Government Census Publication, 1946.
** Van Warmelo, N.J. 1930. “Transvaal Ndebele Texts”. Ethnological Pub. Govt. Chief Ethnologist.
*** In Zulu uKhokhologo means ancestor, and as the deities are always referred to in the plural, abaKhokhologo relates to the Place of the Ancestors. It is interesting to note that the Royal Kraal of uMzilikazi in maTebeleland during the mid-1800s was called abaHlokohlolo.
**** Kgo ya Bodimo, the place of the ancestors. Throughout Southern Africa are to be found natural springs and wells which are revered by the local populace as repositories of sacred power, often inhabited by a mystic serpent or snake. Colloquially Bodimo means God, dimo having its origin in the sky.
The first paramount chief of the baPho was Lotsane, who is said to have fissipated from the nDebele settlement at Wonderboompoort in the 17th. century, about the same time as the baTlhako of maBeskraal had seceded. Upon his passing Lotsane was succeeded by his eldest son Majaka. It is thought that the baPho at this time had settled on or near the Odi or Crocodile River, somewhere south of present-day Brits. South-west of Brits, within the vicinity of the ancestral lands of the baPho is a small kraal directly south of Bapong or the New Town, at a distance of some three kilometres, called Majakaneni, the place of Majaka.
The eldest son of the first hut of Majaka was Tshwene, who was born some time between 1665 and 1720, who duly succeeded his father to the Chieftainship. Tshwene’s eldest son of the first hut was Maje, who died before his father, though not having been able to take up the role of the Chieftainship he is by tradition considered to have been a Chief.
Upon the demise of Tshwene, he was succeeded by his eldest grandson Mekhise Ramfikwana of the first hut of his deceased son Maje.
Mekhise Ramfikwana ruled for only a short time, and having no issue was in turn succeeded by Tshwene’s eldest son of the second hut called Maruatona, who also died as a young man. The eldest son of the first hut of Maruatona was called Tsiepe, who is thought to have also ruled for only a very short time, in his issue having a son of the first hut called Moerane. After the death of Maruatona, his great wife Mapulane married Maimane, brother of her late husband and third son of Tshwene. After the death of Tsiepe, Maimane acted as regent for his brother’s minor son Moerane. At this time the baPho were resident at Mokolokwe, a settlement some little distance north of Bapong. There is a memorial gravesite to the north-west.
When Moerane attained his majority, a pitso was called by the elders and it was decided that Maimane be requested to hand over the Chieftainship to Moerane. This Maimane refused to do, saying that he could only be succeeded after his death. The resultant stalemate in this situation, during the early 1860s, duly led to faction fighting in which Maimane was defeated. Moerane offered Maimane 100 head of cattle if he would agree to leave the lands of the baPho with his surviving followers. Maimane accepted this compromise and Moerane was installed as Chief of the baPho. Maimane then left the lands of the baPho to seek sanctuary with the baKwena ba Mogopa, to whom he had earlier given lands to the north of the Crocodile River after they had been defeated and fled from the baKghatla ba moSetlha. The ba Mogopa would not give Maimane sanctuary unless he gave his daughter Malijiyo to their Chief Sekane More as tribute. This Maimane refused to accede to, and was duly asked to leave baMogopa territory. Maimane then went to the baKghatla ba ga Kgafela, then under Chief Phetwe, where he was also asked to surrender Malijiyo. Again Maimane refused and moved on westwards, to settle near Phokeng under the protection of Chief MoKghata, where he remained until his death; his faithful followers then dissipated amongst neighbouring Tswana groups, mostly the baFokeng. Moerane now moved south to Tobong, the “Old Town” on the farm Boschfontein 381, which is situated on the northern slopes of Tlhogokgolo. The remains of the stone walls that enclosed the main cattle-kraal can still be seen, measuring about 150 metres in diameter, with five sub-sections for young cattle and smaller stock. There is also a stone platform higher up on which Chief Moerane held court.
As a final twist of irony, Malijiyo, daughter of exiled regent Maimane, became great wife of the first hut of Chief Moerane, this issue producing two sons, the eldest being Masite, whose younger brother was Manakana. The eldest son of the issue of the second hut was Semetsa Botloka, whilst from the issue of a lower hut was Radikeledi, whose eldest son was Moruri. In the issue produced of the great wife of the first hut of Masite was the eldest son Mohale wa Mohale, who it is thought was born about 1810, yet others say 1799. During the time of Moerane, between 1795-1822, the baPho were engaged in a prolonged war with the baKwena ba Mogopa in a dispute over the possession of Mantabole, the settlement of the eastern ba Kwena ba Mogopa, which had been given to them by Regent Maimane. The ba Mogopa finally crossed the Crocodile River, and were engaged in a major battle with the baPho at Morulaneng, seven kilometres east of Tobong, on the farm Zandfontein 54. The baKwena ba Mogopa were defeated and their Chief Sekane More killed.
After this battle the baFokeng then raided the peripheral outposts of the weakened baPho and took away all their cattle, but were followed by the baPho warriors who managed to retrieve their stock. During this skirmish the baFokeng Chief Sekete lost four of his sons, Nameng, Thageng, Sedietso and Letlhakwane. [The grave of Nameng is known]. The baFokeng were driven west over the Gwatle [Sterkstroom] River pursued by the baPho warriors, where the attackers regrouped, defeating the baPho and driving them back with many casualties. Hostilities between the baPho and the baKwena ba Mogopa and the baFokeng continued throughout the reign of Moerane.
The baPedi invasion of the Magaliesberg.
About 1820, the baPedi under Malekutu, eldest brother of the Pedi Chief Sekwati, raided the tribes in the eastern Magaliesberg; it is said at the behest of the new baFokeng Chief Thete. The baPedi attacked the baKwena ba Mogopa about present day Ondersterpoort, and after an intense struggle, with many casualties on both sides, the baPedi withdrew. Maleleku then went west-wards and raided the baPho kraals, setting off eastwards for home with their booty of cattle. The baPho ambushed the baPedi at Mongana, on Modderspruit 697, and after a bloody conflict further south on Groenkloof 418, in which there were many casualties on both sides, the baPho managed to recapture their cattle. As Maleleku retreated north he abducted many women and children from the unprotected baPho kraals, but refrained from burning the homesteads.
Masite and other sons of Moerane’s great wife Malijiyo were killed in this conflict, but Manakana survived, so Masite could not have acted as Chief, but as according to tradition is considered to have been one. The young heir apparent Mohale wa Mohale was hidden in the Phato Cave on Kranskloof 81 in the Magaliesberg by his grandparents Moerane and Malijiyo, and so escaped being captured by the baPedi. Moerane returned with his grandson to Bapong where he died two years later in about 1821-22. As heir apparent to the chieftainship Mohale wa Mohale was still a minor, so Semetsa Botloka, eldest son of the second hut of Moerane acted as regent. During 1823 or 1824 the baTlhakwane* under Ramabutsetsa invaded baPho territory with the intention of looting cattle. The baTlhakwane came from the south of the baRolong about the Molopo River who were renowned cattle rustlers, so to appease Ramabutsetsa the baPho Regent Semetsa Botloka offered his daughter Matladi as a peace settlement which was accepted. This situation did not suit Matladi who duly fled back home. She was followed by the baTlhakwane who were repulsed by the baPho and driven to Morali. Some time later the baTlhakwane made a surprise night-time attack on the baPho kraals and captured women, children and cattle, fleeing with their loot to Lokwane, on the farm Leeukop 501. Here the baTlhakwane were attacked by the baPho warriors under the command of Manakana, brother of the dead Chief Masite and uncle of Mohale wa Mohale, who managed to rescue the women and children. After a final battle in the deserted outlying baPho kraals the enemy left with most of the cattle.
In the mid 1820s the emergence of uMzilikazi as a threat to the western Tswana prompted a peace emissary to the baPho in the persons of Sebetwane from baSotholand and Ratsebe from Mokolami, situated in the present day Kroonstad area. A peace agreement was agreed upon to face the anticipated depredations of uMzilikazi.
During 1827 uMzilikazi and his maTebele invaded the Magaliesberg, advancing through mPhanes Nek [Commandonek] to attack the ba Kwena ba Mogopa at Kutatu [Silikaatsnek]. After overwhelming the ba Kwena ba Mogopa the maTebele turned west to attack the baPho. When Semetsa Botloka realized the strength of the invaders he deserted his allies and fled to Rantsekwane, where he was put to death by his own people, who accused him of being responsible for the demise of his own brothers to enable him to usurp the chieftainship. The baPho were decimated and scattered by the maTebele, and the heir apparent Mohale wa Mohale was captured and taken away. Whilst a captive of uMzilikazi, the young baPho heir had his ears pierced, which was a Zulu tradition.
* The baTlhakwane were said to have been Mantatees, but were more likely of baTaung origin. Mantatees was a misnomer for maNthathisi, Queen Regent of the baThlokoa, the Wild Cat people, a Tswana group who had seceded from the baKghatla in the Magaliesberg during the late 18th century, finally settling in the Wilge River valley about Harrismith. MaNthathisi acted as Regent for her minor son Sikonyela, and was held in awe by other groups who considered her to be a mystic ogre. She was a daughter of the Royal House of the baSia and was said to have had three eyes, because of a sparkling stone worn in a bandana over her forehead, and to feed her warriors on her own milk before leading them into battle. “She was a woman of outstanding intelligence. Tall, straight and lean, she was lighter in complexion than most of her subjects and her expression of countenance was sweet and agreeable.” [Arbousset and Daumas]. Early missionaries described her as astute and vigilant, being of dignified deportment. [Bekker P. Path of Blood]. It was said her rule was ruthless and she was utterly callous to human suffering. [G.M.Theal].
At the time of his capture it is said Mohale wa Mohale already had three wives, which may have some indication on his date of birth. If he was born in 1810, he would have been 17 years old when captured, perhaps too young to be married three times, and not according to tradition. Were he born in 1799 he would have been 28 years of age, old enough to be married three times, but also old enough to assume the Chieftainship, which had not happened. As it was said that when he died in 1969 he was between 70 and 80 years of age, an earlier birth date appears more likely.
One night, some indeterminate time after his capture, a number of baPho warriors surprised and killed the maTebele guarding Mohale wa Mohale and spirited him away into the Magaliesberg. Mohale wa Mohale was not yet of age to succeed to the Chieftainship so his nephew Moruri, who had acted as guardian since the death of his father became regent. Moruri was the eldest son of the first hut of Radikeledi, half brother of Masite and Semetsa Botloka.
From 1827 to 1837 uMzilikazi settled first on the Pebane [Apies] River at enKungwini, the Place of Mist, where the suburb of Roseville, Tshwane is today. During this period the baPho were hidden away on a hillock they called Thejane* or Sejane on the Ngakhotse River** in the Hekpoort Valley.
Mohale wa Mohale was to have twelve wives, all of them having full status, ten of them known being: Mabau, great wife of the first hut: Mmamoitume, Matswaile, Matalle, Makgarepe, Masetulwe, Mapuleng, Dimakatswa, Dikilane and Mmamitsabanyane. Four of his sons would become of status within the baPho: Frederik Maruatona of the first hut; Gert Thejane of the second hut: George Rangena of the third hut and Diederik Moirane of the fourth hut.
Sometime about 1841, a group of maTebele dissidents under an inDuna Gozane, who were ostensibly returning to Zululand, attacked the baPho and were beaten off. The baPho warriors under Mohale wa Mohale, with the assistance of some Boers, pursued the maTebele and found them treating their wounded. Gozane was put to death and his surviving followers taken captive. It was at this time that the first of the Boer Trekkers began to settle the area, which they claimed because of their conquest of uMzilikazi earlier. Hendrik Potgieter is said to have been of the first, settling initially at Phokeng, or Magato Stad. In his memoirs Paul Kruger relates that when he was with Hendrik Potgieter on a mission to rid the region of Mzilikazi, they found Chief Magato hiding in a kloof with a few of his followers.
It was during 1845 that the first recorded use of the name Magalies appears. That the Boers bestowed the name of Mohale wa Mohale on the region must reflect the degree of respect they had for the Chief of the baPho, which has been recorded as them having found him trustworthy.
By 1846, when the missionary and explorer David Livingstone visited the Magaliesberg, he recorded that, “They [the Boer Trekkers] have taken possession of nearly all the fountains and the natives live in the country only on sufferance. Each Chief when called upon is obliged to furnish the emigrants with as many men as any piece of work will require…. Labour is exacted as an equivalent for being allowed to live in the land of their forefathers”. [D. Livingstone, Missionary Travels, also from Carruthers V. The Magaliesberg, Southern Book Publishers, 1990].
About 1847 the Boer Authorities were informed that Mohale wa Mohale had a cache of guns hidden away in a cave. The informer was Rautiegabo Moerane, perhaps a close relative of Mohale wa Mohale, as he had the same family name as the Chief’s grandfather. When the Boers arrived to investigate the arms cache they found nothing, Mohale wa Mohale denying that there had ever been guns hidden away. Some time later a Boer was shot at Mokhopane, where it was said the guns had been sent to. As a consequence of this Mohale wa Mohale was summoned to appear before veldkornets Gert Kruger and Hans van Aswegen for questioning, but he ignored the summons and fled into the mountains with his wives and some of his councillors. Frederik Maruatona Mohale, the eldest son of the first hut of Mohale wa Mohale’s great wife had sided with the Boers in the campaign against Makapane. ***
* Thejane or Sejane is an extensive shallow sloping hillock extending longitudinally between the Magaliesberg and the Witwatersberg on the farm Nooitgedacht 121, later noted for a battle which took place there on 13th December 1900 during the Anglo-Boer War. The hillock is variously called Vaalkop, Groenkop or Yeomanry Hill, the latter after the British regiment the Imperial Yeomanry who took part in the battle.
** The river has also had various names, firstly the Mvubu [Hippopotamus], then Ngakotse and finally the Magalies River.
*** Frederik Maruatona Mohale was born “about 1840-1844,” which would have meant he was only seven or eight years old if the date, c1847, of the Makopane campaign is correct. There was a campaign against Makapane in 1854, in which Pieter Potgieter was shot in front of the cave of siege.
Mohale wa Mohale then withdrew into baSutholand to the sanctuary of Chief Mosheshwe, leaving behind his wives and offspring, in fact all his possessions, including 1,000 head of cattle. With their Paramount Chief in self-imposed exile many of the baPho became assimilated into the baFokeng, the baKghatla and the eastern baMogopa, yet others settled on European owned farms to the south of the Witwatersberg, so fissipating the ethnicity of the group over a wide area. A more loyal group of baPho followed Mohale wa Mohale to baSutholand, and it was decided to send messengers to the Magaliesberg to bring Frederik Maruatona Mohale and the Chief’s wives to baSutholand. The veldcornets Kruger and Aswegen would not allow the wives of the Chief to leave, so messengers were sent to President Pretorius with a letter from Chief Mosheshwe asking for permission, and the wives were duly allowed to depart. Mohale wa Mohale’s wives, Frederik Maruatona Mohale and some baPho families went to baSutholand, but all their cattle were confiscated by the Boers.
Some indeterminate time during this period, the ancestral lands of the baPho to the north of the Magaliesberg about Bapong and Tlhokgoholo had been acquired by a person by the name of Orsmond, this baPho territory acquiring the name Boschfontein. Orsmond had irrigated the lands and planted trees, perhaps coffee, because on an old map the area is marked as Orsmond Stad and Coffee Cultivation.
Mohale wa Mohale is said to have remained in baSutholand for about fifteen years, and to have taken part in the Senekal and Sequiti wars, his eldest son Frederik Maruatona Mohale leading the Mankwe mephato [age-group regiment] in the Sequiti War.
After the Sequiti War, a pitso was held at Thaba Bosiu in 1858 to discuss boundries and the question of the confiscated cattle of Mohale wa Mohale. These matters must have come to the attention of President Pretorius, because he gave an undertaking that if Chief Mohale wa Mohale were to return to the Magaliesberg he would have all his possessions returned. A letter to this effect was delivered to Mohale wa Mohale, and it is said that because the Chief could not read, the contents remained unknown to him, a situation which would appear not to be credible. It was shortly after this contact that Mohale wa Mohale made it known that he wished to return to the Magaliesberg, and as a gesture of his sincerity sent a present of four horses to Veldcornet Gert Kruger at Hekpoort, who assured the Chief he wished to see him personally. Mohale wa Mohale went to the Magaliesberg, the night before his meeting with Veldcornet Kruger praying to his ancestors in the royal cattle kraal, leKghotla. After the meeting, Mohale wa Mohale returned to baSutholand, where he remained for a further three years.
Mohale wa Mohale wished to buy back the baPho ancestral lands from Orsmond, President Pretorius offering in substitute lands at Heidelburg and Oliphantsnek, which the Chief declined to accept. Finally, in about 1862, Mohale wa Mohale bought the ancestral lands from Orsmond for 499 head of cattle. Chief Mohale wa Mohale returned to live there up to his death in 1869, when he was said to be between 70 to 80 years of age.
The Return of the Zulus to Diloka, or Magaliesburg.
Contained in an oral legend handed down amongst the Tswana peoples settled on Steenekoppies they identify a kraal, “Le Kghotla” as being a mystical revered place, “to where the Zulus came back from the south.” Steenekoppies borders in the west onto Blaauwbank, on which is situated the village of Magaliesburg. At the time of this story Blaauwbank was the farm of Joseph de Beer, a few years later in 1863 to be aquired by James Jennings, the present site of the village later being called Blaauwbank or Jennings Junction; this is where the wagon trails from Pretoria, Rustenburg, Potchefstroom and the Western territory converged.
The Zulus are said to have “camped” at le Kghotla on their way back to the Ngakhotse [Hekpoort] Valley. These ruins of le Kghotla contain a fireplace and a graveyard, also a well nearby, Kgo ya Modimo, a repository of sacred water and power. Kgo ya Modimo pertains to a sacred site, literally “A place of God,” where communication is made with the ancestors. There are many of these sites around Magaliesburg, the best known being the sulphur spring lower down on Kreitfontein where Paul Kruger is reputed to have bathed to relieve his aches and pains. The legend also relates that the “Madoda” or old men stayed at le Kghotla, and that the site should have been called “Diloka.”
A further legend from over the Witwatersberg on Doringbosch in the Ngakhotse Valley tells of old people, “The maDoda,” living on the hill in the vicinity of “le Kghotla,” this place having unusual rocks, these peoples being very ancient or ancestral.
Throughout his exile Mohale wa Mohale appears to have been in contact with the Boer Trekkers who had usurped his lands, this situation in particular concerning
Field-Cornet Gert Kruger, elder brother of the future president of the Zuid Afrikaanse Republiek, Paul Kruger. It was due to a letter from Chief Mosheshwe to the then President, M.W.Pretorius, that an invitation was extended to Mohale wa Mohale to attend a meeting with Field-Cornet Gert Kruger in the Ngakhotse Valley to discuss mutual grievances, the Boers intimating that they wished the Chief to return. The ancestral lands of the baPho about Tlhogokgolo to the north of the mid-Magaliesberg had in the meantime been aquired by a European settler named Orsmond who was farming the lands using the remnants of the baPho peoples as indented labour on their own ground.
About 1860 Chief Mohale wa Mohale returned to the district for the meeting with Gert Kruger, having sent ahead a present of two black stallions for the Field-Cornet. He would have travelled from the south and as the meeting was to be held at the farm of Gert Kruger, which is present day Hekpoort, would have arrived the previous day in the region of Magaliesburg from the south. It is said that the night before the meeting, Chief Mohale wa Mohale prayed to his ancestors in the Kghotla before descending into the Ngathlotse Valley. He would not have been able to return to Bapong and the ancestral hill Tlhogokgolo because these lands were then possessed and occupied by Orsmond, which was the main grievance of the Chief.
It is also unlikely that Mohale wa Mohale would have bypassed the homestead of Gert Kruger to go to Sejane or Thejane, now Yeomanry Hill, as this settlement was then on or near the Field-Cornet's farm, or on the farm Nooitgedacht, then belonging to either Potgieter or Boschoff.
The meeting between Chief Mohale wa Mohale and Field-Cornet Gert Kruger would appear to have had positive results, but the Chief rejected an offer of land about Heidelburg in compensation for the ancestral lands occupied by Orsmond. Sometime during 1862 Chief Mohale wa Mohale was able to buy back Boschfontein from Orsmond for 499 head of cattle, but the latter continued to cultivate and harvest crops from the ground, claiming that this was part of the agreement with the baPho Chief.
Mohale wa Mohale died in 1869 at the age of seventy, and the mantle of paramount chief passed on to his eldest son of the first hut, Frederick Maruatona Mogale, who had been born in 1840. It would appear that Maruatona was strong willed, because he immediately applied his full attention to the matter of Orsmond's occupancy of the ancestral lands. The dispute was brought to court at Rustenburg, then referred to Potchefstroom, where Orsmond was ordered to vacate the property, but in the meantime Orsmond had sold portions of the lands to various Europeans and to the baKwena ba Mogopa.
Over time, the baPho were able to reclaim or buy back most of their original lands, which today lie to the north of the Platinum Highway between Brits and Rustenburg.
Frederik Maruatona Mohale, who was born between 1840 and 1844, succeeded to the Chieftainship of the baPho in 1869 and had the following wives and issue:
1st Hut. Maria Mollowabadimo, great wife, being the daughter of a baFokeng Chief.
A. Madiro, a daughter married to a member of the baPho.
B. Mogale, a son who died young.
C. Darius Mogalenyane, born 1865, the eldest surviving son, married Rosina, a daughter of the baFokeng royal family.
D. Radikobonyane Kobus Emmeas, a son.
E. Maiphiri, a daughter, married a baPho commoner.
F. Mojaki, a daughter, married a baPho commoner.
G. Maribana, a daughter who died young.
2nd Hut. Sethano, a baPho member.
A. Matshediso, a daughter who died young.
3rd Hut. Mmamoitume Mapo, of the baKghatla ba Mosetlha.
A. Moithume, a daughter, married to a baPho member.
B. Filius Rakghatla, a son, married Amalia Metsefedile.
C. Medupe Ngaiza Lucas, a son, marriage unknown.
4th Hut. Jogo Peta Madikeleni, a baPho member.
A. Matlhapane, a daughter, married to a baKghatla of Saulspoort.
B. Daniel Busang was still alive in 1953.
5th Hut. Masepopi, a baPho member.
A. Metseyabanyana, a daughter, married a member of the baPho.
Chief Frederik Maruatona Mohale was immediately in conflict over the occupancy of the ancestral lands by Orsmond, who said his agreement with Mohale wa Mohale had been to have use of all irrigable lands, crops and fruit trees until transfer had been confirmed by the government. Contained in an old map, circa 1840s, the disputed area is marked “Orsmondestad,” and “coffee cultivation.”
The dispute was referred to the court in Rustenburg, and then moved to Potcheftroom, the verdict passed down being that Orsmond was ordered to vacate the farm. Various portions of the lands had been sold by Orsmond to European settlers and to the baKwena ba Mogopa. In 1874, during the reign of Frederik Maruatona Mohale, the Hermannsberg Lutheran Mission were granted permission to establish a Station at Ebenezer.
Frederik Maruatona Mohale died around 1880. His eldest son Mohale of his great wife had pre-deceased him and as Darius Mohalenyane was fifteen years old and not yet old enough to succeed to the Chieftainship, his uncle George Rangena Mohale acted as regent from c1880 to 1893. George Rangena Mohale was the eldest son of the third hut of Mohale wa Mohale and Matswaile, he himself having two sons, Julius Mohale of the first hut and Finias Ramusi Mohale of the second hut.
Darius Mogalenyane Mohale became Chief in 1893, shortly thereafter marrying by Christian rites Rosina, a daughter of the baFokeng Royal Family. Of this union the following issue was produced:
A. Edward Mohale, eldest son born in 1895, married Maria Mantshipi, a member of the baPho.
B. Henry Nkwane Schoeman Mohale, a son born in 1899.
C. Mamakwa Anna, a daughter, born in 1901.
D. Maki Semakaleng, a daughter, who married the baHurutshe Chief Manyane.
In 1896 a serious dispute arose between Chief Darius Mohalenyane Mohale and his uncle, Diederik Moerane Mohale, eldest son of the fourth hut of Mohale wa Mohale, who was supported by a substantial following of baPho members. As a result of this dispute, Diederik Moerane Mohale withdrew from baPho territory with many of his loyal supporters to Bokfontein 328, finally settling permanently on Bultfontein 714 in the Pilansberg district. The baPho members remaining with Chief Darius Mohalenyane Mohale became so dissatisfied with his conduct that the government were asked to intercede; the result being that in December 1908 the Chief was deposed and sent with some of his family into exile to the Heidelberg district, where he remained until c1940, only then being allowed to return to baPho territory.
The heir to the Chieftainship was Edward Darius Mohalenyane Mohale, the minor son of the deposed Chief who was then resident in Heidelberg, so Filius Rakghatla Mohale, younger brother of Ex-Chief Darius Mohalenyane Mohale of the second hut of Frederik Maruatona Mohale was appointed Regent, a popular choice. Regent Filius Rakghatla Mohale had married Amalia Metsefedile, having this issue:
A. Anna, a daughter.
B. Fred Segotlhane Mohale, an eldest son, born 15th August, 1915.
C. Dower, a son.
Filius Rakghatla Mohale fell ill in February and died in May, 1936. He was succeeded as Regent by his younger half-brother of the fourth hut, Daniel Busang Mohale, who had been acting as Chief since the illness of Filius Rakghatla Mohale.
A pitso of baPho members then chose the true heir, Edward Darius Mohalenyane Mohale, who had lived in exile with his deposed father and was not well known. He had two elder daughters with one Mamosa, they being Masetusa Elizabeth and Motlalepule, but was married to Maria Matshipi, a member of the baPho. He assumed the Chieftainship on 25th February, 1837, but fell into ill health in 1940, as a result of which baPho administrative affairs were neglected and he was deposed on 23rd November 1949. His uncle, Daniel Busang Mohale again became Regent, acting in this capacity from 1949 to 1951.
The government then appointed Fred Segotlhane Mohale as Chief on 1st February 1952, with civil and criminal jurisdiction. He was the eldest son of Filius Rakghatla Mohale, being married to Jane Flaga in 1947 by civil rites, having the following issue:
A. Lucas Nkeishen, a son, born in 1939.
B. Josephina, a daughter, born in 1941.
C. Filius Rakghatla, a son, born in 1944.
D. Johanna Mmamoitume, a daughter, born in 1946.
E. Eva Mathaga, a daughter, born in 1948.
F. Sela Magape, a daughter, born in 1950.
It was at this time, 1953, that the family name would be changed from Mohale to Maruatona.
Due to various causes mentioned above, the scattering or fissipation of members of the baPho peoples diluted the ethnicity of the group, the only bapho seceding to create a separate ethnic group were those who seceded with Diederik Moerane Mohale and settled on Bultfontein 714 in the Pilansberg district at the turn of the 20th Century. In 1953 they were living under Chief Frank Moxale.
Strife and Warring Factions affecting Magaliesburg.
The Republican Civil War. 1860 - 1864.
Marthinus Wessels Pretorius had in 1860 been elected to the Presidency of the Orange Free State, a position he held concurrently with the Presidency of the South African Republic. Factional issues developed over this state of affairs, leading to a mass meeting in Rustenburg, called by Stephanus Schoeman and Andries Pretorius. The partisan crowd agreed that the acting President of the South African Republic, J.H.Gobbelaar be dismissed from office, that M.W.Pretorius be allowed to continue in the office of the Free State, but during any absences on such duties Stephanus Schoeman should act as his deputy in the Transvaal. This proposal was strongly objected to by Paul Kruger, who was supported by his close friend William Robinson. Matters came to such a head in 1862 that the historian Theal said, "For several months there were two acting Presidents and two rival governments in the Republic of South Africa".
Paul Kruger described how, when on his way from Rustenburg to a meeting of the Volksraad in Pretoria, he was stopped by General Schoeman, and after "violent bickering" he was forced to turn back. "Having in spanned to return to Rustenburg I called out on passing through Schoeman's men, 'Once I have crossed the Magaliesberg, you must look upon me as an enemy'." At that point President Pretorius arrived from Pretoria, back from the Free State, and rode up to his wagons to persuade him to go no further. "Schoeman's followers now declared they would sooner throw away their guns than allow them to be the cause of strife. They were also willing that I should make a proposal to be submitted to the vote of the Volksraad. I therefore out spanned again and suggested that Pretorius and Proes, the State Attorney, and myself elaborate a proposal. This met with universal assent...."
Kruger in spanned once more, returning to Pretoria, where he was instrumental in the pacification, for the time being, of the opposing factions. In 1863 hostilities were still continuing, and Kruger was elected Commandant-General; the Magaliesberg then became involved in the squabble when Commandant-General Kruger was on a visit to the Free State. Commandant Jan Viljoen of Marico started his own uprising in October 1864, his three hundred followers calling themselves "Die Volksleger, the Army of the People", which actually comprised more than twice the force Kruger had at his disposal. The Government officials in Pretoria had fled to Rustenburg some time before, and now the Volksleger began a march from the capital to the west along the southern Magaliesberg. Upon learning that Commandant-General Kruger had hastened back and was collecting his force together, Commandant Viljoen halted and formed a strong laager on the Crocodile River, near Zwartkopje.
Kruger recounts his return from the Free State, “Hurrying on through the night I rode to my farm, called Waterkloof, in the Rustenburg district.... After my arrival I rested until Sunday, but that night I rushed on to Zwartkopje, where President van Rensburg, with part of his burghers, was encamped....” Kruger's call for volunteers had rallied nearly nine hundred burghers to his aid. “The enemy seemed intent on occupying Zwartkopje, but my men hurried to outstrip them....Now began a race on both sides for this kopje, and both sides came into collision at the top. As he got off his horse, Enslin was already prepared to fire, when somebody from the enemy's rank called: 'don’t shoot, let us talk: Why need we kill each other?' So Enslin lowered his gun, but as he did, he received a bullet and fell dead in my arms. The general engagement which ensued had barely lasted half an hour, when the enemy made for their horses and fled in the direction of Pretoria”. Casualties at this battle of Zwartkopje on Kruger's side were two killed and six or eight wounded, those on Viljoen's were five dead and thirty wounded.
Kruger's reaction to this skirmish, in Eric Rosenthal's words, “Offers a striking instance of his inborn sense of statesmanship.” Kruger related, “As my burghers mounted their horses to pursue the enemy, I stopped them, pointing out that they had not to do with enemies, but with brothers. As I did so, Field-Cornet Eloff came up with fifty men wanting to continue the fight. But I would not let him, and, though dissatisfied, he listened to my arguments. Van Rensburg greatly appreciated this conduct on my part and, when the enemy burghers saw that they were not being pursued, they turned back to bring their wagons to a safe place, encamping on a group of kopjes a few thousand paces from my men. In the evening I sent Eloff with some men to keep watch. The enemy were so close their voices could be heard as they positioned their artillery by lantern light. That night ex-President Pretorius sent a message to me asking for a conference to discuss the terms of peace and, as I had entertained the same plan, I readily agreed”. So ended a bitter and protracted altercation. Both sides recognised the existing Government, a new Presidential election was planned, and an Arbitration Court appointed to settle outstanding disputes. The rebel leader retired to his farm, Kafferskraal, on the Witwatersberg above Hekpoort, the epitaph on his grave a reflection of his ambitions, “Weledele Heer Willem Cornelis Janse van Rensburg, vroeger President van die Suit (sic) A.Republiek.”
Early news shakes Magaliesberg and the non-existent legal profession.
Rustenburg first hit the news as far away as Cape Town on April 18th, 1863, when an earthquake shook the village, causing the “Cape Argus” to report eight days later there was “Injury to the Reverend Postma's Church.”
A petition with thirty signatures was presented at a meeting of the Volksraad in Rustenburg on January 25th, 1866, asking, “That Notaries and Agents be put under a proper law and a tariff of costs drawn up to prevent all extortion and unjustified demands for payment...” The petition also made a plea that all paper money issued by the Republic should be accepted as legal tender and that, “Anyone who should under any pretext refuse to accept it be deprived of their citizenship.” It was also suggested that restriction be applied to the influx of foreigners, “Who should be obliged to produce evidence of good character, failing which they should forfeit any right to a trading license or to hold public office.”
This session of the Volksraad saw a new member representing Rustenburg, William Robinson, who had been a child of an 1820 Settler family, and had already distinguished himself in the infant Republic. He was a close friend of Paul Kruger and Henry Hartley, “And seems to have been more at home in Dutch than English and who, in debates, displayed an impressive degree of common sense.” He was responsible for the resolution, “That a Commission be appointed, with instructions to prepare a Law Book, in which all the laws of this Republic....shall be set down....” This proposal was only carried out in 1887, when “De Wetten der Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek” was published in Pretoria, running to one thousand six hundred pages.
Another first concerned the District Attorney for Rustenburg, Julius Franck, who set the authorities back on their heels when on the 13th August, 1866, he informed them he "Intends shortly to undertake a journey to France, where important business and duties call him, leaving behind his wife and children, to whom he hopes to return in a few months. It is, however, his desire to depart as an honest man and for this reason he, “Asks that Your Honors may provide him with a Foreign Passport, so that one can see who and what he is....” It was his intention to start an immigration scheme to the Magaliesberg region for French families, “Who will find room in a country in which there are so many people of French decent.”
For these reasons the Undersigned asks:
(1) That the right be granted to him to sell, in France, Government land in the Republic.
(2) That the price of such farms be indicated.
(3) That a proper document be provided, bearing the Government's Seal and the
Coat of Arms of the South African Republic....
A draft constitution was duly approved by the Volksraad.
A group of German “tourists” visited Magaliesberg in 1868 and the recollections of Herr Mohr reveal interesting comments: “Among our German countrymen who visited our camp I must particularly mention Captain Diedrich, who implored us to visit him on his farm Morgenzon". The visitors "spent a delightful time with him, and learnt that Captain Diedrich, who came from Saxony, had in 1848 been attached to the Black Chasseurs in Leipzig. In the street fighting in Dresden during that year of revolution, he had distinguished himself by his courage. He immigrated to South Africa in 1863 accompanied by his wife from Mecklenburg.” On the farm they saw “Agricultural operations, chiefly sheep and cattle breeding, though maize and oranges also flourished. The house is built solidly of brick, has a flat roof and a wide veranda in front, the white columns of which are visible faraway to the passer-by as a friendly sign of civilization.”
The Magaliesberg featured in various other snippets of news. The Colesberg Advertiser of the 15th December, 1868, reported, “a severe storm blew off the roof of Mr.Wagner's house.” In the same year the King William's Town Gazette reported on crime: “Jan du Plessis of Zoutpansberg notoriety is on a farm twenty five miles from Rustenburg, where he defies the authorities and has collected round him fifteen to twenty armed followers. Ten men have been commandeered at Rustenburg and Commandant van der Walt of Swartruggens has received orders to muster his burghers.” The outcome of the sortie was unfortunately not recorded.
The Rustenburg Agricultural Society was established on the 22nd June, 1867, and a committee formed. It was intended to hold an Agricultural Exhibition on the 15th January, 1868, but a rising in the Zoutpansberg shelved this happening. The first Agricultural Show in the Transvaal then took place in Potchefstroom in 1868, the organisers including five Magaliesbergers: Landdrost van Staden, H.Jeppe, W.Robinson, C.Pistorius and Captain Diedrich. The Transvaal Argus told of, “A long table in the middle of the room, partly occupied with samples of sugar, coffee, chicory, etc. from Ras' farm in the Magaliesberg. There was a small exhibition of tobacco, one of our principal products.” Among other exhibits from the district were specimens of flax and silk and a 25lb bag of Transvaal coffee, produced by H.Ras of Magaliesberg.
Hermanus Ras, gaining first prize for his coffee, received a gun to the value of twenty-five Pounds, whilst President M.W.Pretorius was awarded three Pounds for a crop grown on his property near Rustenburg Kloof. Ras also received a silver cup for another display of coffee, his sugar receiving honorable mention. Another first for the Magaliesberg district was a collection of diverse minerals found in the area, which won first prize of five pounds for Carl Mauch, the geologist-explorer. "The rainy season is over, and the oranges begin to get yellow skins. The cotton, although very luxuriant, will not be ready for plucking before the end of next month, or May...."
Later that year Magaliesberg featured in various periodicals when it was reported that Henry Hartley, the hunter and tobacco pioneer had been instrumental in discovering the Northern Goldfields, which caused a rush of prospectors up north. As far away as Cape Town the “Cape Mercantile Advertiser” of the 2nd July, 1869, was promoting the Magaliesberg with a quotation from the Transvaal Advocate that, “In spite of frosts and cold winds from the Drakensberg on the 25th and 26th of May, the coffee trees are doing well, also the sugar cane.”
The Jennings and Heckford Tale.
The Jennens or Jennings of Magaliesburg.
This pioneering family was to create its own intrigue and factual encounters of happenings over three centuries that are normally reserved for fables and fairy-tales.
The turn of the eighteenth century in England was no sanctuary for the faint hearted; the feudal system had not yet decayed; was not yet ploughed under the sod. This tale begins with James Jennens, 1708-1798, residing and being buried at Longbridge Deverill, Wiltshire, for those times an extremely wealthy individual of an undetermined background, who died intestate, there was no will, causing many would be beneficiaries to lodge false claims, even altering tombstones to facilitate their avarice.
Perhaps the only accepted fact concerning James Jennens is that he had a son, Robert, and a daughter Rebecca, from whom the family lineage evolved in Longbridge Deverill, Wiltshire, England, and whom it would appear in no way benefited from their father’s wealth.
James Jennens lived to a ripe age, nearly ninety, pre-deceasing his son Robert by merely a few years, who died at sixty-seven. Of Robert Jennens there is no record of his wife, or other children except a son Thomas and daughter. Unfortunately for his son and daughter, and other obscure aspiring contenders, James Jennens died intestate; there was no will to be found, this situation causing no little consternation. Much intrigue and subsequent controversy surrounds the life of James Jennens and would continue to do so for over a hundred years after his death. Charles Dickens in his celebrated novel “Bleak House,” refers to, the court case concerning the Jennens will, and mentions, “The absurdity of the archaic court system,” in dealing with the case of the Jennens will, “The Lawyers have twisted it into such a state of bedevilment that the original merits of the case have long disappeared from the face of the earth. It was about a will, but is now nothing but costs.” In his preface, Dickens writes that in August, 1853, “A suit before the court which was commenced nearly twenty years ago; in which from thirty to forty council have been known to appear at one time; in which costs have been incurred to the amount of seventy thousand pounds; which is a friendly suit; and which is no nearer to it's termination now than when it was begun. There is another well-known suit in chancery, not yet decided, which was commenced before the close of the last century, and which more than double the amount of seventy thousand pounds has been swallowed up.”
Dickens further writes that, “The lawyers have twisted it into such a state of bedevilment that the original merits of the case have long disappeared from the face of the earth. It's about a will, and the trusts under a will – or it was once. It's about nothing but costs, now. We are always appearing and disappearing, and swearing, and interrogating, and filing, and cross-filing, and arguing, and sealing, and motioning, and referring, and reporting, and revolving about the Lord Chancellor and his sattelites, and equitably waltzing ourselves off to dusty death, about costs. That's the great question. All the rest by some extraordinary means has melted away.”
Robert Jennens junior, son of old James, married Alice Pain, or Rain, this union producing five children; James, Robert, Grace, Benjamin and Hannah. There may have been a sixth child Sarah. James Jennens married Mary Butcher, who had been born in 1790, having three children, Ephraim, born 1813, Joseph born 1814 and James, the latter being born on 19th November, 1817. Due to social and economic conditions in England in those days, this family decided to immigrate to the Cape Colony of South Africa, under a British scheme which came to be known as the1820 Settlers. This scheme was initiated to populate and farm the Eastern Cape border, as a deterrent to the incursions of the local belligerent Xhosa tribes.
The first son James [1792-1819] married Mary Butcher [1790-?], producing three children; Ephriam, Joseph and James. This family decided to emigrate to the Eastern Cape Colony under a British government scheme to populate the region which became known as the 1820 Settlers. The Jennens family was part of a group of forty-two people who made up the party of E.Ford from Wiltshire. The cost of this passage was twenty-four pounds ten shillings and three pence per passenger, and they were allocated with a ration of oats, biscuits and meat, water being restricted to three quarts a day for all purposes. This group boarded the Store-ship H.M.S.Weymouth, docked at Portsmouth during late December 1819, but the weather was so inclement the ship was unable to leave port. James Jennens senior was taken seriously ill whilst the ship was still in port and was disembarked to the Haslar Naval Hospital where he died the following day. Meanwhile the Weymouth set sail on the 7th January, 1820, without Mary Jennens and her family knowing of the demise of husband and father. The Weymouth anchored in Algoa Bay on 15th May, 1820, the Ford party being moved twice before finally settling on the East bank of the Lynedoch River where the Jennens family was granted two erven of ground. It was during this time that Mary Jennens was informed of the death of her husband, this having taken place four and a half months before.
Young James grew up near Grahamstown and in 1837 married Sarah Sanders who had been born on 4.11.1821, in Bathurst, near Grahamstown: this union was destined to produce eleven children; Jeremiah, Alfred Earnest, William James, John Henry, Sarah Fanny, George Edwin, Walter Joseph, Mary Elizabeth, Thelma Louise, Alice Maud and lastly Ada, who was born on the Blaauwbank Farm, Magaliesburg.
This Jennens family became part of E.Ford’s group of 42 emigrant settlers from Wiltshire, England, at a cost of twenty four pounds, ten shillings and three pence per person. Each emigrant was issued with a ration of oats, biscuits and salted meat; water was rationed to three quarts [two pints] a day for all purposes. They embarked aboard the H.M.Store Ship Weymouth over New Year from Portsmouth, but due to inclement weather were not able to put to sea. James Jennens was taken severely ill, and it was decided to remove him from the ship to the Haslar Naval Hospital for treatment, where he died the following day. The stormy weather did not allow Mary and the children to be taken ashore, the Weymouth setting sail on the 7th January, 1820, without the family knowing of the demise of the husband and father. The first few days of the voyage were an excruciating experience in the face of a severe storm, some of the ships barely escaping being wrecked.
The H.M.S.S.Weymouth weighed anchor in Algoa Bay on the 15th May, 1820, where Mary and family were informed of the death of James, some four and a half months after his demise. The party were moved twice, before finally being settled on the right bank of the Lynedoch River. These 1820 Settlers suffered many hardships, marauding tribes destroying their crops, stealing cattle and sheep; having their houses burnt down three times, forcing the family to later move to Grahamstown. They were to experience and take part in the border wars of 1834-5, 1846-7 and 1850-1.
James Jennens grew up near Grahamstown and married Sarah Sanders in 1837, who had been born at Bathurst on the 4th November, 1821, she also being the daughter of 1820 Settlers. It is thought that at this time the surname changed from Jennens to Jennings, but there have over time been other spellings, such as Jennins and Jennengs. James and Sarah were to have a family of eleven children, they were as follows:-
Jeremiah, born 25th July, 1840.
James William, born 13th September, 1842.
John Henry, born 4th October, 1844.
Sarah Fanny, born 7th June, 1847.
George E. born 20th September, 1849.
Walter Joseph, born 5th February, 1852.
Mary Elizabeth, born 21st November, 1854.
Emma, born 4th November, 1857.
Alfred Ernest, born 5th November, 1860.
Alice Maud, born 35th September, 1862.
Ada, born 4th June, 1866, at Blaaubank, Magaliesburg.
In 1863 James and Sarah Jennings and family, then ten children, trekked to the Transvaal, buying the farm Blaaubank from Joseph de Beer, to become neighbours of the Hartleys on Vaalbank and Thorndale. Sarah Jennings would marry Frederick Henry Hartley at Blaauwbank in 1865. Henry Hartley, the father of Frederick, had also arrived in the Cape Colony as a four year-old 1820 Settler with the Calton group, settling at Bathurst with his parents, who built an Inn, the Pig and Whistle, later adding on a blacksmith’s forge. Henry Hartley trekked to the Transvaal in 1846 as a hunter-trader, settling on the farm he called Thorndale, after his place of birth in Lincolshire, England. Henry became a renowned elephant hunter in the far interior, in the 1860s taking with him the Jennings family of men folk. These two families would start the well known and respected fruit and tobacco farming estates, and the first agricultural tobacco co-operative in the Transvaal.
About the time of “The Absurdity of the Court System,” there was also consternation in Ireland over the genealogy of a wealthy, landed, Anglo-Irish family who traced their ancestry back to Goff the Regicide, a Major-General in Cromwell’s new model army. Goff the Regicide had been one of the jurors who had condemned Charles 1st. to death, reaping benefits accrued by having married Cromwell’s cousin.
Joseph Fade Goff, Governor of the Bank of Ireland and great-grandson of Goff the Regicide, had married Hannah Clibborn, his cousin. Hannah’s brother John Clibborn had a daughter Mary. Joseph Goff’s fourth son, William, astounded all by announcing that he wished to marry Mary Clibborn, they being doubly related cousins. It was said that William was obstinate whilst Mary was tearful to family objections, but they were finally betrothed in Dublin during 1833, by special license. This union was to produce three girls, Jane, Anne and Sarah Maud, the last born being delivered on June 30th, 1839. Sarah Maud Goff would become governess to the Jennens or Jennings family at Nooitgedacht, in the Magaliesberg, South Africa; also, she was destined to be “A Lady Trader in the Transvaal.”
In 1842 William Goff left Ireland with his wife and young family and removed to Dresden in Germany. There is no recorded reason for this move but Sarah Maud, “Appears to have inherited a grudge against the country of her birth!” She never returned.
William and Mary were a devoted couple, but tragedy would strike twice, when suddenly in 1845, mother Mary died, to be followed a few weeks later by the passing on of the eldest daughter Jane. Father William became a recluse, bringing his spinster sister-in-law Abigail Clibborn out to Germany to look after the children.
William Goff was unable to continue living in Dresden amongst bitter memories and moved to Switzerland in 1846, along with Aunt Abigail and his two remaining daughters, again moving in 1848, this time to Paris. Their arrival in Paris coincided with the revolution which prompted King Louis Philippe to scamper across the Channel to find sanctuary in London; William Goff, Aunt Abigail, Anne and Sarah Maud prudently followed.
Life in London appeared settled, when shortly after Sarah’s ninth birthday on June 30th, 1839, William Goff suddenly went back to Dresden, alone. A few days later he was found dead, sitting on Jane’s grave: suicide was assumed.
Following on this latest tragedy Sarah Maud fell seriously ill, a severe infection, probably tuberculosis. She would later record, “I fell dangerously ill and woke up from delirium to find myself despaired of by the best physicians at first, and then doomed to be lame for life.” She was also inflicted with a small lump on her right shoulder and was for a long time unable to lead a normal life. Sarah was to say in 1888, “I think that this gave me a concentration to my thoughts and feelings which they would not otherwise have had. I am not so lame that I cannot walk or ride a horse, but too lame to run.” It is interesting to note here that the celebrated hunter-trader Henry Hartley of Magaliesburg, had died in 1876 of injuries received from an irate rhinoceros just before Sarah arrived here; he was born with two clubbed feet, which, like Sarah, does not appear to have inhibited his wanderings either.
Between her illness and Aunt Abigail’s death, when Sarah was twenty years old, the family was placed into the care of bachelor Uncle Captain Robert Goff, who introduced Sarah to music and art, a lifetime passion and pastime. At twenty-one she inherited fifteen thousand pounds sterling from her father’s estate; “I may say that at two and twenty I found myself possessed of a good fortune and absolutely my own mistress.”
Uncle Captain Robert Goff died in March, 1866; this was the year, far away in South Africa, that James and Sarah Jennens and family had trekked into the old Transvaal and bought the Blaauwbank farm from Joseph de Beer.
London at this time was in the throes of a cholera epidemic; Sarah’s parochial attitude prompting her dearest wish to become a doctor, such an occupation then for a woman highly frowned upon by society and family. To this end she offered her services as, a “Lady Nurse,” and was gratefully accepted at the Wapping Hospital in East London.
On her first day as a lady nurse at the hospital Sarah met Doctor Nathaniel Heckford, a meeting that would have far reaching effects on them both, also upon others within their aura. They saw a need for a children’s hospital in the East End of London, “We must do that and nothing else,” also a need for each other; they were married on January 28th, 1867.
At this time, no hospital in the United Kingdom admitted ill children under two years of age; the search for a property began, which proved difficult. They were despondent, when suddenly, “A dissenting Minister Benn informed them of two old empty warehouses, one with a sail-loft, in Butcher Row, Ratcliff Cross, close to the river Thames. The asking price was two thousand Pounds, “exorbitant!”
Sarah paid, also advancing four thousand pounds to get the project started; the East London Hospital opened on January 28th, 1868, their first wedding anniversary.
Charles Dickens visited the East London Hospital in Butcher Row during latter 1868, prompting the cook, “A stout party, who hid herself and peered at the great man from her concealment, she had a dread of being ‘took off’ by the famous novelist.” Subsequent to his visit, Dickens wrote an article in his magazine, “All the Year Round,” alluding to the hospital as, “A Small Star in the East,” published on December 19th, 1868. He wrote, “I found the children’s hospital established in an old sail-loft or store house of the roughest nature, and on the simplest means. But I found it airy, sweet and clean. A young husband and wife have bought and fitted up this building for its present noble use. They live in the hospital itself….sitting at their dinner table….could hear the cry of one of the children in pain. The lady’s piano, drawing materials, books and other such evidence of refinement, are as much a part of the rough place as the seven and thirty iron bedsteads of the little patients. Trotting among the beds, on familiar terms with all the patients, was a comical dog, called poodles. Quite a tonic himself, found characteristically starving at the door was taken in and fed. An admirer of his mental endowments presented a collar…. “Judge not poodles by external appearance,’ merrily wagging his tail on a boy’s pillow.”
Dickens further wrote, “No romancer I know of has had the boldness to prefigure the life and home of this young husband and wife in the children’s hospital in East London.” Charles Dickens’ articles did much to promote monetary assistance for the venture. He became a close friend of the young Hekfords and his death in June, 1870, was a distressing blow to Sarah and Nathaniel.
Dickens had been asked by a wealthy American lady, Mrs. Johnson, if he knew of a pleasant, trustworthy girl to act as maid and companion to her small daughter on a tour through France, Italy and Switzerland. He introduced Mrs. Johnson to the Heckfords and they proposed she take Margarite, a seventeen year old trainee maid, a consumptive girl whose declining health was a worry to them. This was agreed upon, and in the following months Sarah was surprised that the correspondence she received from Margarite was so well written, and showed such development, when compared to her days at the cholera hospital. Upon the return of Mrs. Johnson, the child and Margarite through London, Sarah was startled at the change in the young lady who approached her down the station platform. “It was our Margarite, and yet not our Margarite, there was something about her….a lady….every turn of her face and figure, every action, every word, even the intonation of her voice. Transformation from slum child to a lady,” vindication of their whole philosophy…they were as delighted as Professor Higgins. Vivien Allen substantially puts forward in Lady Trader, “The intriguing possibility that Charles Bernard Shaw may have read the reprint of, ‘The Story of the East London Hospital,’ in 1904, and found in Margarite the seed for the idea that flowered as Eliza Dolittle, Mary Poppins.
Sarah Hekford, in her book, “A Lady Trader in the Transvaal,” changed the names of people to protect them: William Jennings of Noitgedacht is called Mr. Higgins. Yet again coincidence; on the 13th December, 1901, during the Battle of Nooitgedacht, Deneys Reitz had wounded two British soldiers who were busy attending to their own wounds when he approached them. They asked him why the Boers were continuing the struggle against all odds. He replied, “We are like Mr. Macawber, waiting for something to come along.” The one replied, “Didn’t I tell you this is a funny war. Now here’s your typical young Boer quoting Dickens.”
Tragedy was to haunt Sarah Maud Heckford yet again. Her beloved husband, Nathaniel, died after a prolonged illness on December 14th, 1871, aged just twenty nine years; Sarah was thirty-two. Between December 1871 and December 1878, Sarah immersed herself in various and varied activities. She remained visiting Governor of the East London Hospital, and published a book, “The Life of Christ, and its bearing on the doctrines of Communism.” She said the book was written to show how Christ’s teachings can be applied “in dealing with the social problems of the present age….society is divided into the working class and the idle class….earn your own living, honestly and conscientiously.”
In January 1876 she was in Italy, in 1878 at the Zenana Mission in Calcutta, India, returning to England in the middle of that year. The Transvaal Republic in South Africa had been annexed to the British Crown in April 1877; in England it was said of this newest Colony that trade had boomed, land speculators had moved in to tap the potential wealth and the climate was conducive to invalids, also farming was the backbone of the Colony. Sarah bought a hundred shares in the Transvaal Farming, Mining and Trading Association, arriving in Port Natal, South Africa in December 1878. She was the only woman in a party of twelve men; their destination Rustenburg. The trek took three weeks from the coast to Pretoria, then five days from the Capital to Rustenburg, during the journey of sixty miles and six days, the wagon got stuck twice and the disselboom broke three times, an ominous warning of things to come.
Sarah’s first impression of Rustenburg was, “The village….from which one can see the last place inhabited by white people….through the streets numbers of kaffir men and kaffir women troop daily, dressed in skins, and adorned with barbaric ornaments; appeared to me to be a sort of Ultima Thule*. Everything looked as if it was just winking between two sleeps.”
*Ultima-latin-meaning last, Thule-latin-a remote northern region.
There was an Inn, kept by an Englishman Mr.Brown and his “big jolly boer wife, the cheeriest, heartiest, and most kind-hearted and sturdiest of housewives.” Mrs.Brown took Sarah straight to her heart and was welcomed to the inn as into the bosom of the family. The Inn was a farmhouse with a few outside rooms tacked on. After a few days the Transvaal Farming Scheme was shown to be non-existent, if it ever had; Sarah needed to do something.
Sarah’s dilemma was saved by the Reverend Mr.Richardson, to whom she had a letter of introduction from the Rector of Pretoria. The Reverend Richardson had been approached by a farmer who lived about thirty-five miles away, on the southern slopes of the central Magaliesberg, to endeavour to find a governess for the home based education of his two daughters. This farmer was William Jennings, who owned the farm Nooitgedacht, and when Sarah enquired in the town concerning his reputation was well satisfied with the reports; his farmhouse was deemed to be of the finest in the Transvaal. Sarah then told the Reverend Richardson she would accept the position, and a message was duly sent to James Jennings, this taking some time as the post only went out once per week. Sarah spent this waiting time writing a novel, which could well have been “Excelsior.”
In due course, one balmy evening, a handsome man with a sunburnt face, blue eyes and a reddish-brown beard, wearing riding clothes and the inevitable wide-awake hat approached her and said, “Mrs.Heckford I think, I’m Jennings.” The date was February11th, 1879. “Everything was settled in five minutes;” five pounds per month with washing, and she may take in additional children on her own terms. They would leave for Nooitgedacht the following morning.
During the late afternoon of the following day William and Sarah, “Drove up the lane between thorn trees, then round the wooded spur of a hill to a solid brick house with a long veranda, looking out over rolling farmlands and orchards to the line of the Witwatersberg….a beautiful setting.” Mrs. Mary Jennings and the girls came out to meet them, dressed in black in mourning for the youngest child, Edie, who had died of diphtheria not long before, aged two years.
A thatched cottage, then used as a store, the original house built by the first European settler on Nooitgedacht, Hermanus Potgieter.