John Tengo Jabavu to Frederick Chesson, 6 March 1887

John Tengo Jabavu to Frederick Chesson, 6 March 1887

Archive location: Bodleian Libraries, MSS. Brit. Emp. s. 18 / C139 – 9

Author(s): John Tengo Jabavu

Recipient(s): Frederick Chesson

Sent from: Cape Colony

Date: 6 March 1887

Native Opinion Office
King Wms Town
Cape Colony
6th March 1887

My dear Mr Chesson,

I am very thankful to you for keeping me informed with respect to the lamentable death of our mutal friend John I Irving. The information you have been good enough to send me I have taken the liberty to make public in the columns of Native Opinion and it has been greatly appreciated by his friends and family. When the news was received in this country by cable I devoted much space to a notice of Mr Irving’s valuable life and concluded it by reproducing all the comments of the colonial …. I trust you duly received your copy of the paper with that notice. Mr Irving’s funeral took place yesterday. I am pleased to say that my countrymen came from distant parts of the country to attend it and thus testify to the high esteem and affection in which they held their noble friend and spokesman. I fear there is no hope of anyone coming forward at present to take up the good work death has compelled him to lay down. In him I have personally lost an enthusiastic supporter. He made himself personally responsible for any risks that might attend the preliminary stages of the start of Native Opinion, and his advice on many questions was always invaluable.

I am still struggling with my little journal which now, I am pleased to say, exerts a powerful influence in the affairs of the country. My only regret now is that present support does not permit of its being enlarge. I am in the habit of sending copies of it to certain members of the House of Commons with a view to enlist their sympathies in the cause of the natives of this country and to have them well informed as to what is taking place here so that they may be in a position to make use of the information thus required in the house….You would do me a service if you can manage sometimes to ascertain from them whether they do get the paper and if it in any way interests them. Any assistance from them with a view to make it more valuable – by enlarging and putting into it more information for English readers would be most appreciated.

I trust you will not fail to watch the shabby treatment of the Zulus by the governor of Natal who has sanctioned the handing over of a large tract of Zululand to the freebooters who call themselves burghers of the New Republic, who are, however, emissaries of the Transvaal. That territory is now to be annexed to the Transvaal. The handing off of the territory has been done against the earnest solicitations of the Zulus. Mr Stanhope gave is sanction to the arrangement, but this should not prevent Sir H Holland from listening to the representations of the Zulu people.

I am pleased to say Pondoland has been settled. I am urging the chiefs by private communications to ask that the imperial government may take them over in the same way that they have taken the Basutos.

The affairs in our colony proper are somewhat …. There is a movement, however, that I should earnestly impress upon you to watch. The enemies of native rights in the Colony who have supreme authority over the government are loudly calling for the readjustment of the franchise with the sole object of depriving the natives of their rights. Now, the privilege is greatly used by the natives, who feel that it places them in a position of being men – a position they prized in their new state – as they were wont to sit round their chiefs and discuss affairs of state all day long.

Serious discontent would result from “unmanning” them by shitting them out of the franchise. I trust therefore you won’t fail to ascertain Sir H Holland’s opinion on the subject. The arguments the Society made use of to Mr Stanhope a little while ago were very powerful.

Wishing you well,
I remain, my dear Mr Chesson,
Faithfully yours,
J. Tengo Jabavu


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