John Tengo Jabavu to Frederick Chesson, 18 August 1884

John Tengo Jabavu to Frederick Chesson, 18 August 1884,

Archive location: Bodleian Libraries, MSS. Brit. Emp. s. 18 / C139 – 5

Author(s): John Tengo Jabavu

Recipient(s): Frederick Chesson

Sent from: Cape Colony

Date: 18 August 1884

Lovedale, Victoria East
18th Augst 1884

My dear Mr Chesson,

It is now a very long time since I heard from you or of you. I am anxious that my connection with the good old body of the friends of the native should not be severed by anything. As you will see from the testimony I send herewith I succeeded, happily, in scraping my way through the matriculation exam last year. I have since been very busy in advancing the interests of my countrymen through the columns of the Isigidimi of which I have now been editor for three years. I took a very active part during the late elections in the return of friendly members. We succeeded in every contest we interested ourselves in. I worked very hard in the interests of Mr Innes a young man around whom revolve the hopes of the natives of this colony. We see in our advocate Innes one upon whom the mantle of our regretted friend Mr Saul Solomon, has fallen. I have never heard Mr Solomon since he left for England.

Sir Thomas …’s administration has fallen a victim to the unreasoning anti British party in parliament. I dare say you have heard of the existence of the Africander Bond in this colony, an association composed mainly of those who are devoutly wishing that the colony should become a Dutch republic, and which is now doing all in its power to compass that end by creating a deadlock in the government of this country. This party has in Parliament affected a modus vivendi with the remnants of the old Sprigg party, and unwilling itself to assume the responsibilities of office has agreed to maintain Mr Sprigg in power till it can see better. Already we hear of the preparations for the enforcement of the old vexatious measures which signalized the rule of Mr Sprigg in 1880. The eyes of the Society, at any rate, one of its eyes, must needs be kept upon the movements of our present ministry in which we have not the smallest confidence.

If the ‘Aborigines’ Friend’ is still in existence, I should like to say I have never received a copy since July 1883. If there have been any numbers of the series published since I should be very glad to get them.

I have made arrangements to leave this at the end of September for King William’s Town, Kaffraia, where I am going to edit a newspaper in the Kafir language to be called Native Opinion, the first issue of which appears on the last week in October next. The leading articles, and some notes, will be rendered also in English, so as to afford those who understand that language only an opportunity of seeing themselves as others see them. I am to be publisher as well. It is still very difficult to say what its pecuniary success will be. As, however, to a certain extent I am going to create, rather than meet, a want, I am afraid it will be some uphill work at the beginning. If some friends of the cause in England are anxious for the success of the scheme I shall feel obliged for any small contribution. You might forward me for the purpose of supporting the venture. I cannot look for much encouragement among the colonists, and doubtless they will do all to discourage us. If the new journal succeeds in opening the eyes of the natives of their rights, it will have greatly relieved the anxiety of the Aborigines Protection Society in this part of the world. I shall be very pleased to hear from you soon on this subject after the 30th Sept whn my address is

Imvo Office
King William’s Town
Cape Colony

I shall expect to hear from you soon

Believe me
My dear Mr Chesson
Yours very truly
J. Tengo Jabavu


I send you per Bk Post circulars for distribution among friends likely to take an interest in the undertaking. J.T.J.