11 NOVEMBER 1899
The British Press is endeavouring to restrain the Bantu from rising against the Boers. That humane and enlightened Press is deeply affected by the wrongs the unfortunate natives have suffered at the hands of the brutal Dutchman. To prevent any further suffering it is glad to know that the Basutos are arming, and that the British agent in Basutoland has reminded the natives of the injuries done them by the Free Staters, and implored them not to rise against the Free State burghers. What a truly Christian nation the English are!
While I was in Africa I became deeply impressed with the humanity with which the Englishman treated the Kafir. He taught him the Bible; he taught him that he was a man and a brother, and he treated him like a dog. He taxed him, he compelled him to labour for him, he whipped him—all to keep his soul humble and meek.
Olive Schreiner’s work, ‘Trooper Peter Halkett,’ shocked every civilised human being, outside South Africa and England, who read it. It shocked nobody in Africa. Everyone dwelling between the Zambesi and the Cape knew that, courageous as the gifted lady is, she dared not tell a tithe of the truth about the atrocities committed by the English in Rhodesia. Her picture of the infamies perpetrated in that region is to the reality
Like moonlight unto sunlight,
Like water unto wine.
To quote the late unlamented Bishop Moriarty—‘Hell is not how enough for eternity long enough’ to punish the white devils led by Rhodes, Jameson, and Rochfort Maguire, who seized Lo Ben’s territory.
Maguire was the man who cleared the way. He visited Lo Ben, ate his salt, and secured from the foolish king permission for the white men to enter his country and search for gold.
The ‘pioneers,’ under the command of Frank Johnson and Selous the hunter, then marched into the country. Some of these pioneers were decent fellows enough, but the majority of them were cutthroats and wastrels. For a year or so they dwelt in comparative peace with the Matabili till Jameson came on the scene. From the moment he arrived he endeavoured to provoke the natives into acts of hostility. The white men assumed a domineering attitude; rape and murder were frequent. But not until the English forcibly prevented Lo Ben from collecting his annual tribute from the subject Mashona tribe did war break out. The war did not last long; the brave, but ill-armed Matabili, were no match for the maxim guns of Jameson. They were slaughtered and their country taken from them.
I cannot describe the horrors of that war in the columns of a paper. For a couple of years the beaten Matabili submitted—when they rose a second time against the English they rose at the passionate appeal of their women. Every man can readily guess why that appeal was made.
The second war was bloodier and fiercer than the first. The English were almost overpowered. Urged on by their women and children, the poor Kafirs fought madly against the race which had defiled them. The Imperial troops eventually went to the aid of the Rhodesians and saved them from annihilation.
I have listened time after time to stories of murder and outrage which made me shudder for humanity, told boastingly by troopers of the Chartered Company. No newspaper in the world could possibly publish anything like a true account of how the English ‘pacified’ Rhodesia—murder of the wounded on the battlefield, mutilation of the bodies of the dead, torturing of the prisoners before execution—these are simple and pious things to other deeds of the standard-bearers of civilisation. As to how the English treated the women of their foemen, let Irishmen remember the doings of the Ancient Britons in Wexford a century ago, and they will gather a faint idea of how the British troops acted in Rhodesia.
I am making no assertion that I do not know to be true; let any officer of the Chartered Company deny that the company’s troopers tied prisoners to their horses’ tails and galloped them till they mostly fell battered to death—let him deny that prisoners in Buluwayo were compelled to run the gauntlet of armed men till they fell dead pierced with bullets, and that bets were made as to how many yards the wretched creatures could cover before they were killed; let him deny that mutilation of the dead was freely practised by the troopers; let him deny that the troopers were commanded to kill the wounded Kafir; let him deny that the one British officer who protested against the treatment of the Matabili was made away with. Honour to that brave and generous soldier, although he was an Englishman. His soul revolted against the atrocities he witnessed, and he fearlessly raised his voice against the gang of unspeakable scoundrels who surrounded him. They stampeded his horse one lonely night across the veldt, and he never again beheld the face of man. Somewhere in the wilds of Rhodesia the bones of the one Englishman who raised his voice against the murder and torture of the Kafir lie clean picked by the jackal and the aasvogel. His souls is with the heroes. Let all these things be denied and still, as surely as God’s sun shines in the Heavens, they are true. Still shed your tears, O, Christian England, for the ‘cruel treatment of the natives by the Boers.’