The Politics of a South African Frontier
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This book publishes Martin Legassick's influential doctoral thesis on the preindustrial South African frontier zone of Transorangia. The impressive formation of the Griqua states in the first half of the nineteenth century outside the borders of the Cape Colony and their relations with Sotho-Tswana polities, frontiersmen, missionaries and the British administration of the Cape take centre stage in the analysis. The Griqua, of mixed settler and indigenous descent, secured hegemony in a frontier of complex partnerships and power struggles. The author's subsequent critique of the "frontier tradition" in South African historiography drew on the insights he had gained in writing this dissertation. It served to initiate the debate about the importance of the precolonial frontier situation in South Africa for the establishment of ideas of race, the development of racial prejudice and, implicitly, the creation of segregationist and apartheid systems. Today, the constructed histories of "Griqua" and other categories of indigeneity have re emerged in South Africa as influential tools of political mobilisation and claims on resources.



Publié par
Date de parution 29 décembre 2010
Nombre de lectures 4
EAN13 9783905758559
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 14 Mo

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,1425€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


Te Politics of a South African FrontierMartin Chatfield Legassick
Introduction by Robert Ross
Te Politics of a South African Frontier
Te Griqua, the Sotho-Tswana
and the Missionaries, 1780–1840
Basler Afrika Bibliographien 2010This book publishes the dissertation by Martin Legassick, originally submitted to the University of California
at Los Angeles in 1969.
©2010 Te authors
©2010 Basler Afrika Bibliographien
Basler Afrika Bibliographien
Namibia Resource Centre & Southern Africa Library
Klosterberg 23
P O Box 2037
CH-4051 Basel
All rights reserved. Every efort was made to trace the copyright holders of material used in this publication.
Basic Cover Design: Hot Designs, Windhoek, Namibia
Adapted Cover Design: Petra Kerckhof
Cover Illustration: Te cover illustration, a contemporary watercolour painting by Charles Bell, depicts
African travellers on a bullock wagon in the Cape Colony during the early 19th century. Te painting is held
in the collection of the John and Charles Bell Heritage Trust, and housed in the Special Collections section
of the University of Cape Town Libraries. Reproduced with kind permission from the John and Charles Bell
Heritage Trust.
Printed by John Meinert Printing (PTY) Ltd., Windhoek, Namibia
Printed on “triple green” paper: sixty percent sugar cane fbre, chlorine-free, sustainable aforestation
ISBN Switzerland: 978-3-905758-14-6Contents
Preface VIII
Note on this Edition X
Martin Legassick, Te Griqua and South Africa’s historiographical revival:
an appreciation XI
An Introduction by Robert Ross XI
Acknowledgements XXII
Introduction 1
Te Concept of the ‘Frontier Zone’ 3
Te Present Study: Focus, Sources and Methods 10
1 Te Sotho-Tswana Peoples before 1800 15
Te Dispersal of the Kwena and Kgatla Lineage-Clusters 19
Te Rolong, the Tlhaping and the Kora, 1700 – 1800 29
2 Te Evolution of a Frontier Society, 1700 – 1775 36
Te Evolution of a New Society in the Interior, 1700 – 1775 40
Te Northern Frontier Society in the Eighteenth Century 50
3 Te Frontier Zone and Colonial Policy, c. 1770 – 1815 61
Te Frontier Zone in the North, 1700 – 1800: Trade, Warfare, and Acculturation 62
Te Colonial Government, the Northern Frontier and the Missionaries,
1800 – 1815 75
4 Te Development of the Griqua State, 1800 – 1820 84
Te ‘Hartenaar’ Rebellion 99
Te Demise of the Traditional Chiefs at Griquatown 102
Fission Among the Griqua 105
5 Te Frontier Zone in Transorangia, 1800 – 1820 111
Te Extension of the Frontier Society in Transorangia, 1800 – 1820 119
Te Tlhaping ‘Confederation’ and the Frontier Zone, 1790 – 1820 123
V6 Te Griqua and the Colonial Government, 1815 – 1826 139
Te Bergenaar Rebellion 147
7 Dislocation in Transorangia, 1820 – 1826 162
Te Difaqane in Transorangia, 1822 – 1825 162
Te Bergenaars in Transorangia, 1822 – 1826 170
Te Difaqane, the Bergenaars, and the Kora, 1822 – 1826 176
Te Dergenaars, and the Southern Sotho-Tswana, 1824 – 1828 178
8 Te New Balance of Power, 1826 – 1832 189
Te First Years of the Philippolis and Boetsap States:
Te ‘Old’ Chiefs, Missionaries, and Government, 1826 – 1832 191
Andries Waterboer at Griquatown, 1826 – 1832 203
Te Infuence of Mzilikazi on the Transorangia Power Balance, 1829 – 1832 210
9 John Philip, Robert Moffat, and the Griqua, 1819 – 1832 217
Te Evolution of LMS Policy Towards the Griqua, 1819 – 1832 223
10 Griqua Expansionism, I: Andries Waterboer in Transorangia, 1832 – 1836 240
Waterboer and the Southern Sotho-Tswana, 1832 – 1835 244
Waterboer, Cornelius Kok II and Berend Berends, 1832 – 1836:
Regrouping along the Harts and Vaal 251
Waterboer and the Philippolis State, 1830 – 1837 259
Conclusion 264
11 Griqua Expansionism, II: Church and State
at Griquatown and Philippolis, 1836 – 1842 266
Christianity and the Southern Sotho-Tswana:
Te Church in Griqua Expansionism, 1834 – 1838 267
Adam Kok III at Philippolis and Griqua Expansionism, 1837 – 1840 275
Tlhaping Reaction to Griqua Expansionism, 1838 – 1842 281
John Philip in Transorangia in 1842 288
12 Te Decline of Griqua Hegemony 292
John Philip and Robert Mofat, 1837 – 1843 292
VITe Decline of Griquatown and Philippolis 306
Te Rise of Mahura 313
13 Conclusion 318
Political Leadership in the Frontier Zone 318
Trade, Property Rights, and Land Tenure in the Frontier Zone 326
Te Missionaries, the Griqua, and the Sotho-Tswana 331
Lists of Maps and Tables 336
Appendix: Maps and Tables 337
Bibliography 353
Index 372
In 2005, the year that Martin Legassick retired from formal academic life, the University
of the Western Cape (UWC) convened a workshop at what is now the Centre for
Humanities Research. During this event, Gary Minkley, Noor Nieftagodien and Tozama
April spoke appreciatively about the signifcance of Legassick’s work as a scholar, activist
and educator over a period spanning half a century. Te presentations recalled Legassick’s
enormous contributions to historiographic innovation on such matters as the frontier,
liberalism, racial and social formation, and the peculiarities of capitalist development
in South Africa. Te speakers refected on the connections between this scholarship and
Legassick’s political activism during and after exile, and especially on the relationships
between trade unions and politics, and Marxism and the national movement. Tey also
referred to Legassick’s work as an educator and mentor in Britain in the 1970s, in South
Africa at UWC after his return, and in the setting of the South African Democracy
Education Trust project, where he supervised and tracked the work being conducted by young
researchers on the resistance to apartheid. Te addresses by Minkley, Nieftagodien and
April (together with an appreciation by Bill Freund) were published the following year in
the South African Historical Journal, alongside a wide-ranging interview with Legassick
conducted by Ciraj Rassool, his UWC colleague and member of the journal’s editorial
Te interview, with the title ‘History Anchored in Politics’, focused on Martin
Legassick’s development as a historian, his work as a political activist, and their
interconnections. During the interview, Legassick described the origins of what became his doctoral
In 1966-67, I went to Britain to do my [PhD] research, which started on the Tswana.
However, what happened next shows that you have to listen to what primary sources say
and be prepared to rethink what you are doing as a result of what you discover. I went to
look at the London Missionary Society records and these start before the Bamangwato,
which I thought I would get to. I began to see how much the Griqua and the creation
of Griqua society had afected this area and how one couldn’t understand the southern
Tswana, especially the Tlaping and the Rolong, without understanding the role of the
Griqua. It is an omission from the Comarofs’ studyof the missionaries and the Tswana:
they do not take account of the role of the Griqua. My thesis turned into a study of the
1 Te contributions and interview were published as a feature, ‘Martin Legassick, Marxist, Historian and
Activist: A celebration’, in South African Historical Journal, 56, 2006, 1-42.
VIIIGriqua, the Sotho-Tswana and the missionaries and never got as far as the Bamangwato. It
2stopped in about 1840.
Submitted to the University of California at Los Angeles in 1969 under the title ‘Te
Griqua, the Sotho-Tswana and the Missionaries, 1780–1840: the politics of a frontier zone’,
the dissertation immediately became an infuential study and can be regarded as one of
the most widely cited dissertations in Southern African historiography. Forty years later,
it remains, as Robert Ross points out in his introduction in this book, ‘by far the best
account of what is a crucial, and fascinating, episode in Southern African history.’ Not only
does it provide a magisterial history of the Northern Cape frontier, it is also a powerful
3study of the making of race and ethnicity.
However, the dissertation was never published. As Legassick explains in the interview:
I sent the manuscript to Clarendon Press [Oxford University] at Leonard Tompson’s
[Legassick’s supervisor] recommendation and they sent it to a reader. Te reader came
back to them and said that it was insufcient as it did not consult the German sources. I
thought this was absolutely incredible. I suspect the person it was sent to was Isaac
Schapera who didn’t like somebody treading on his territory of the Tswana. He played an
academic gamesmanship thing and one-upped me and said I hadn’t consulted the German
sources. Did they expect me to learn German in order to make the changes? As far as I was
concerned, the manuscript stood on its own. Tim Keegan used it quite extensively in his
book and it has stood the test of time. Because I had shifted my interests back to
development and underdevelopment in South Africa, and the Communist Party and so on, I didn’t
send it to any other press. I felt that I didn’t want to put in the work that was necessary to
4meet the Clarendon Press’s standard.
Publication of the dissertation was superseded by other work and writing Legassick was

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