King Sekhukhune Of The Marota Empire Who Was Known As The British Nightmare
July 05, 2021 1917
Sekhukhune was the King of the Marota
people (often known as Bapedi), who descended from the Bakgatla of the Western
Transvaal and were originally from the Bakgatla. Similarly to the Moshoeshoe
King of the Basotho people, Sekhukhune was an illegitimate ruler who rose to
power by the use of armed force. The upshot was that his half-brother, Mampuru,
who was also the legitimate heir, was compelled to flee the Kingdom. In order
to overcome his lack of legitimacy, he expanded his kingdom by diplomatic
alliances with various royal families, the incorporation of other societies
into his empire, and the use of military force to conquer territory. This
helped to broaden his base of support and establish his legitimacy.
Aiming to keep Europe at bay, Sekhukhune dispatched young men under the control of 'designated' headmen to labor on white farms and in diamond mines around his dominion. At addition to being taxed, the money they received from these employments was used to purchase firearms from the Portuguese in Delegoa Bay as well as animals, which helped to augment the prosperity of the Marota people. By the middle of the nineteenth century, the Marota empire had grown to the point where it was able to combine all of the disparate populations in the area under a single ruling family.
The Marota were a group of people who lived in the area between the Vaal and Limpopo rivers. They considered this land to be their country, and they welcomed or denied entry to people from all over the world. It goes without saying that the political scene has changed dramatically since those long-ago days. Upon the death of Sekhukhune, Pretoria divided Sekhukhuneland into small "tribe" divisions that owed loyalty not to a single central Marota Authority, but rather to a group of "Native Commissioners." The Marota Empire was effectively annihilated as a result of this. Subsequently, the Bapedi people were compelled to seek work as migratory laborers on white-owned farms, in manufacturing plants, and in mines. The migratory labor system that the Bapedi had relied on to construct their dominion had now been skewed in their direction. Sekhukhune's prophecy of December 1879, that no other chief would be able to stand up to Pretoria after him since they would all be its tools, was fulfilled in a strange sense by this.
Wars Of Resistance
It was his father, Sekhukhune's father, Sekwati (1775-1861), who stood up to Hendrick Potgieter and the Voortrekkers when they first arrived in the Marota Empire in the late nineteenth century. At Phiring in 1838, Sekwati defeated the Voortrekkers with the simple approach of establishing his stronghold on an impassable hill, a strategy that has been legendary since. In the meanwhile, however, Phiring was insecure, and Sekwati relocated his headquarters to Thaba Mosega (the fighting koppie) in the Lulu Mountains of the Eastern Transvaal, from whence his people were only finally driven out by a string of bloody battles which culminated in December 1879.
According to the Boers, they had purchased the property from the Swazis in 1846 and were attempting to remove the Marota from the region east of the Tubatse River (the so-called Steelpoort River). They were turned down. According to Sekwati and later by Sekhukhune, Rev. Dr. Alexander Merensky (1837-1917), Superintendent of the Berlin Missionary Society, who had been welcomed among the Marota first by Sekwati and later by Sekhukhune, was expelled in 1865 for activities that were deemed subversive of Sekwati's authority and favorable to the Pretoria Boers, was expelled from the Marota. He sought safety at Botshabelo, a small town near Middleburg, where he built a mission station and a school of the same name, which are still in operation today. Sekhukhune continued to play a double game, hunting with the hounds and racing with the hares, until the Boers rewarded him (Merensky) by handing him land in Maandagshoek, from which he went on his dubious activities under the guise of religion until he was killed in 1879.
In the beginning, Johannes Dinkoanyane, Sekhukhune's half-brother, backed Merensky, but later turned against him and became a Lutheran. His time at Botshabelo was brief, and he was soon back with his followers in the Spekboom Hills, in the Tubatse Valley, where he had begun his journey. He adopted a confident and self-sufficient air, which Sekhukhune did not find disconcerting. When Dinkoanyane stopped a wagonload of wood belonging to a Boer farmer who had trespassed into his land to harvest wood on March 7, 1876, he was a hero in Dinkoanyane's eyes. At the same time, false rumors of livestock theft spread, as did false rumors that Dinkoanyane had set fire to Rev. Nachtigal's German mission, which were also incorrect.
When word of the incident reached Pretoria, President Thomas Francois Burgers became outraged and decided to personally deal with the "Sekhukhune scourge." Burgers created the largest army the Republic had ever seen in a short period of time. In 1876, he marched to Thaba Mosega with seven-pounder Krupp guns in tow, and he arrived there on August 1, 1876. He was backed by African troops who hoped that if Sekhukhune was beaten, the territory that had been under Sekhukhune's control would be returned to them. Although Dinkoanyane himself was slain in action, Sekhukhune managed to inflict a humiliating defeat on the Boers and President Burgers by rescuing Dinkoanyane from certain death. This setback cost him his post, which he relinquished to Paul Kruger as a result of the defeat.
In response to President Burgers' humiliating defeat, the Boers raised a mercenary army and sent them to fight against the British (sometimes called the falstaffian gang of filibusters or free booters). The Lydenburg Volunteer Corps was given this name. It was Conrad Hans von Schlieckmann, a German ex-officer and soldier of fortune who was closely associated with the German establishment and who had fought under Otto von Bismarck during the Franco-German War of 1870-71, who served as the group's commander. Gunn of Gunn, Alfred Aylward, Knapp, Woodford, Rubus, Adolf Kuhneisen, Dr. James Edward Ashton, Otto von Streitencron, George Eckersley, Bailey, Captain Reidel, and others from America, Britain, Ireland, France, Germany, Austria, and other European countries were among the mercenaries who fought in the battle of the Somme. They were responsible for the most heinous crimes against humanity in the Tubatse Valley. All of these individuals behaved in complete contempt of the British Foreign Enlistment Act, 1870; the American Neutrality or Foreign Enlistment Act, 1818; and other similar laws and regulations.
They also acted with the knowledge and consent of their respective governments. Many of these soldiers of fortune were recruited from the diamond diggings in Kimberley, South Africa, where they had spent their time searching in vain for precious stones. The Lydenburg area drew their attention because it was rumored to have vast reserves of gold, diamonds, and other precious minerals, among other things. As a result, when Pretoria founded the Lydenburg Volunteers Corps, von Schlieckmann's troops were quick to take advantage of it. They fought valiantly from behind the ramparts in order to avenge President Burgers' defeat. They were defeated, and Von Schlieckmann himself was killed in battle on November 17, 1876, leaving Alfred Aylward, an Irishman, to take over as commander. However, this was not the end of the war, but rather the conclusion of a fight, albeit a significant one.
The Battle Between Sekhukhune And The British
Sir Theophilus Shepstone annexed the Transvaal on April 12, 1877, under the pretense, among other things, that a Boer Republic that failed to "pacify" the Bapedi posed a threat to the British territories of the Cape and Natal simply by virtue of its existence and impotence. In the years leading up to 1877, the British "backed"' Sekhukhune's stance toward the Boers.
He believed that his Empire fell outside of the jurisdiction of Pretoria; that the land between the Vaal and Limpopo rivers belonged to him; and that, while he would never accept Boer rule, he might, as Moshoeshoe had done, accept Protectorate status under the British Crown as a last resort as a last resort.
However, following the British annexation of the Transvaal (in April 1877), opinions in the United Kingdom shifted. "... the view taken by our government was that Sekhukhune was not a real rebel against the Transvaal, in-asmuch as his territory formed no part of that dominion (Transvaal Republic), and that the war waged against him was an unjustified aggression against an independent ruler; however, when the Transvaal was annexed in 1877, Sekhukhune's country was included with the rest of the Transvaal." James Grant, a Briton
Sekhukhune sneered at the new British position, which he found insulting. By March 1878, the drums of battle were once again ringing in Sekhukhuneland, this time in retaliation for the British invasion. Sekhukhune's forces were routed and Captain Clarke just escaped with his life at Magnet Heights, where he had been dispatched to subjugate the enemy. An army of 1,800 troops under Colonel Rowlands launched a second attempt to capture Sekhukhune immediately following the first British failure to do so in August 1878. This effort lasted from August to October of that year. The expedition failed (again, with significant loss of life on both sides) and had to be abandoned on October 6, 1878, according to the official report.
During the summer and fall of 1879, the British attempted a third attempt to subdue Sekhukhune, this time under the direction of Colonel Lanyon. This, too, was a failure. With colonial wars raging in the Eastern Cape Colony, the Colony of Natal, Lesotho (the Gun war), Ashanti (Ghana), Afghanistan, and Cyprus on their hands, the British were powerless to intervene. Military logic dictated that they wait until the conclusion of these wars before engaging Sekhukhune once more on his own turf. This stage was achieved with the Battle of Ulundi and the exile of King Cetshwayo to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Following that, Sir Garnet Wolseley mobilized his disparate army of Britons, Boers, and Africans (including 10,000 Swazi warriors) to overthrow Sekhukhune. This was the fourth time the British had attempted to subdue Sekhukhune through coercion. Wolseley chose the month of November 1879 as the date for his relocation. It was a big military operation on a grand scale. To get to Thaba Mosega, Sir Wolseley's forces moved in a pincer maneuver from several points in South Africa, including Fort Kruger, Fort MacMac, Fort Weeber and Jane Furse, as well as Bebo, Schoonoord, Lydenburg, Mphablele, Nkoana, Steelpoort, and Nchabeleng, Swaziland - literally from all directions. From November 28th until December 2nd, 1879, the fight raged with ferocity. Muskets were obtained from Lesotho, where Sekhukhune had royal support and French missionaries as friends; from the Kimberley Diamond fields, where his people worked; and from Delagoa Bay (Mozambique), with which he had close trade and other connections.
The British employed Mausers, which were more modern than the Germans. A great deal of life was lost. Moroanoche, Sekhukhune's son and heir, as well as fourteen other members of his immediate family, died in the attack on him. Sekhukhune was taken completely by surprise when 10,000 Swazi forces serving with the British launched a surprise attack from behind on him while the conflict was still raging. These individuals had been recruited on direct British instructions by Captain MacLeod of Macleod (a British political agent in Swaziland) and his Lieutenant Alister Campbell, R.N. (Royal Navy), who served as a British political agent in Swaziland. The war was effectively brought to an end by this unexpected attack.
Taking refuge in Mamatarnageng, a cave on Grootvygenboom (high up in the Lulu Mountain), some 15 kilometers from Thaba, Mosega, Sekhukhune was able to flee to safety. He was shut off from all sources of food and water while he was there. As a result, when Captain Clarke and Commandant Ferreira were carried to the cave on December 2, 1879, and called him out, Sekhukhune had no choice but to comply with their request. Mphahle (a Swazi national) and a few attendants followed him together with his wife and children, his half-brother, Nkwemasogana, Makoropetse, and Mphahle (a Swazi national). Searches were conducted rigorously, but Commandant Ferreira, who was infatuated with the idea that Sekhukhune held vast sums of gold and jewels, came up empty-handed.
As a result, the colonial war against Sekhukhune came to an end. In Pretoria, on December 9, 1879, Sekhukhune (at the time 65 years old), his wife, a child, Nkwemasogana, Mphahle, Makoropetse, and a few other generals were taken to prison by a group of soldiers. After the first South African War, he remained at Pretoria until the Pretoria Convention, signed on August 3, 1881, ended the conflict between Britain and the Boers. The First Boer War of Independence was referred to as such by the Boers because they had never acknowledged the British occupation of the Transvaal. Sekhukhune was to be set free and returned to his home under the terms of Article 23 of the Convention. The only area he could return to was Thaba Mosega, which had been destroyed during the war and had new military associations, so he settled in a neighboring town called Manoge instead.
How Sekhukhune Was Been Murdered
Mampuru, Sekhukhune's half-brother, assassinated him in Marota on the night of August 13, 1882. He claimed that he was the legitimate king of the Marota and that Sekhukhune had taken the kingdom on Sep. 21, 1861, when their father Sekwati died. Afterwards, Mampuri fled, fearing imprisonment, and sought refuge first with Chief Marishane (Masemola) and afterwards with Nyabela, the monarch of the Ndebeles, who later became his protector.
The Pretoria Boers approached Nyabela and demanded that she hand over Mampuru for prosecution on a murder accusation. In response, Nyabela asserted that Mampuru was lodged in his (Nyabela's) stomach. As a result, another conflict erupted between Nyabela and the Boers. Almost a year passed before it was finally put down - nine months to be exact. At the conclusion of the day, Nyabela surrendered and handed over Mampuru to the Boers of Pretoria. It was the Pretoria Supreme Court that heard the case of Marishane, Nyabela, and Mampuru. For having provided Mampuru with temporary refuge and for "creating an uproar," Marishane was condemned to seven years imprisonment on January 23, 1884, by the court of law. He then returned to his home hamlet of Marishane (Mooifontein), where he died a short time later.
On September 22, 1883, Nyabela was found guilty and sentenced to death (which was later converted to life imprisonment). Mampuru was found guilty of murder and rebellion and sentenced to death. He was hanged in Pretoria prison on November 22, 1883.
Thus came to a close one of the most turbulent political-military careers in the history of our country. As a result, the Marota Empire came to an end. In the face of overwhelming odds, it had been defended valiantly: the death of Sekhukhune was not taken lightly. His death was reported to the world on August 30, 1882, by the London Times, which also paid hesitant tribute to him in a lengthy editorial: "
"...As of now, there is no sign of a lasting peace between the indigenous races of South Africa. We received word this morning from Durban of the death of Chief Sekhukhune, who was considered to be one of our most courageous former adversaries. He was assassinated along with his son and fourteen of his followers... The news transports us back in time to a time when the name of Sekhukhune was a name of dread, first among the Dutch colonists of the Transvaal and Natal, and subsequently among the English colonists of the same province... Indeed, it was the threat posed by the presence of this fearsome chief in the vicinity that ultimately resulted in the annexation of the Transvaal by England. When war was proclaimed against the Zulu monarch, an operation was launched against Sekhukhune at the same time, and his fortress was besieged in the early months of 1879... The Chief was humiliated when Sir Garnet Wolseley invaded the Transvaal after Ulundi, as a result of the obstacles that stood in the way of his actions.
Sekhukhune, on the other hand, was safe in his invincible mountain castle, as he had assumed, and he scornfully refused the terms made by the British General. It became necessary to launch a full-scale assault on him. A coordinated maneuver of columns, consisting of 2,000 English and 10,000 Swazis and other native troops, was planned and executed with great dexterity, and the kraal was captured by assault on the 28th of November, 1879. Still, the Chief and a large number of his warriors held the "koppie," and from the caves and fractures in the rock, they rained a barrage of arrows down on their pursuers from every direction. At long last, the summit was reached, and the enemy was defeated after a desperate and bloody battle. Sekhukhune, on the other hand, like Cetswayo, was successful in escaping and was only apprehended a few days afterward. The Zulu way of land settlement was followed in some ways by the treatment he received as a state prisoner for a while... In any case, if the death of Sekhukhune portends anything, it is that the displaced Chiefs in these wild and warlike territories still have some authority and that they are occasionally capable of rising up and defeating the man who has supplanted them..."
This tribute, however reluctantly paid, is notable for the fact that it was paid at all - in the nineteenth century, the London Times was not in the habit of dedicating columns of editorial space to the passing of African kings, as was the case today.
The 100th anniversary of King Sekhukhune's death in 1882 was commemorated on August 13, 1982, marking the 100th anniversary of his death.