Mqikela to Hercules Robinson, 12 July 1884

Mqikela to Hercules Robinson, 12 July 1884

Archive location: Bodleian Libraries, MSS. Brit. Emp. s. 18 / C149 – 106

Author(s): Mqikela

Recipient(s): Hercules Robinson

Sent from: Pondoland

Date: 12 July 1884

Correct copy
Hamilton McNicholas

Great Place,
12th July 1884

To the
High Commissioner
Cape Town


I wish to bring to your notice certain statements made by the Rev Olley Oxland as under Blue Book C3855 – 1855 Continuation of C3708 and 3717 July 1883, contains telegram from Mr Oxland to Secretary Native Affairs, dated June 5 83 in which the following passage occurs.

“At a meeting of Pondos just held at the Great Place it was decided to send a deputation of Pondos to England to protest against action of Cape Colonial Government in matter of Xesibi country and St John’s Territory, at this meeting three choice white rascals of the Welborne type were present advising and encouraging Umqikelo to resist the Colonial government, the Pondos have also been told that the government had really nothing to do with the matter of selecting a boundary between Pondos and Xesibis, but that Brownlee, Oxland, Stathan, Blyth, and Elliot have made the matter up between them. I would recommend therefore, that Umqikela be informed by government as soon as possible of the particulars of the boundary selected with reference to the first part of this telegram.”

Will you be good enough to furnish me with the names of the three choice white rascals mentioned in Mr Oxland’s telegram, as I am not aware of any white rascal that attended the meeting in question; only two gentleman attended by my express invitation, viz. Captain McNicholas – late commandant Kokstad mounted volunteers – and Mr Playdell Bouverie – these two gentleman I venture to assert can compare favourably as regards respectability even with the Rev Oxley Oxland, and as they have both appealed to me in reference to this telegram. I trust you will be good enough to inform me, if the abovementioned gentlemen are two of the three white rascals mentioned by Mr Oxland, and if so, upon what grounds does Mr Oxland base his right to call them choice white rascals of the Welborne type?

I have always in my official correspondence with government abstained from calling any of the government officials or advisors names derogatory to their character, but should such license be accorded by the government to their officials, in writing of my advisors, I am afraid it will not tend to improve the tone of my future correspondence with government, as for instance I do not entertain a very exalted opinion of Mr Oxland’s character or veracity, as exemplified during his turn of office as British resident, and yet I had not called Mr Oxland any strong names, although it can be proved by Blue Books that while Mr Oxland was expressing the warmest friendship and sympathy for me and people and promising to do all in his power to get their grievances redressed, he was writing to my detriment. With regard to the concluding portion of his telegram I wish to inform you it is utterly untrue, as the Pondos and myself were well aware that the selection of a boundary between Pondos and Xesibis was done in accordance with instructions received from the government and at the meeting to which Mr Oxland refers in his telegram, the whole of the correspondence relative thereto, was read and interpreted to me and my people assembled at the Great Place, and Mr Oxland’s telegram in the Blue Book is the first I heard of such a report. In a letter received from Mr Chesson dated London march March the 27th 84 I am informed that a letter has been received at the Colonial Office from Mr Oxland in which makes the following statement.

“Capt McNicholas has assured the Paramount Chief Umqikela and Umhlangasu that the refusal of Her Majesty’s government to receive a deputation from Umqikela would not make the slightest difference in his plans, that he was determined to send a deputation of Pondos to England as he held a pledge that the Aborigines Protection Society would compel the Queen’s ministers to receive the Pondo deputation and further that many influential chiefs had refused point to contribute to the fund, and Umqikela himself is merely a passive agent in the hands of two persons.”

Mr Oxland also refers to a great feast which was held a few days prior to his last visit to the Great Place, and he states that the headmen of many influential clans were absent from it. I may briefly state that Capt McNicholas never gave any such assurance as mentioned by Mr Oxland, neither has he ever stated to me or Umhlangasu that he held a pledge that the Aborigines Protection Society would compel the Queen’s ministers to receive the Pondo deputation. And mr Oxland’s statement that many influential chiefs refused point blank to contribute to the deputation fund, is untrue, as not a single chief has refused to contribute and as to being a passive agent in the hands of one or two, should the government be inclined to attach any importance of this part of Mr Oxland’s letter, they can easily satisfy themselves as to the untruth of it by sending a trustworthy official to the Great Place. With regard to Mr Oxland’s statement about a certain feast at the Great Place which took place a few days before his visit, it is too absurd to attach any importance to it. In conclusion I sincerely trust government will by their action in this matter show that they are opposed to misrepresentation (to use the mildest term) on the part of an official whose position gives him a wide scope for causing trouble if so inclined.

I have the honor to be
Your obedient servant
His mark
Paramount chief

Witnesses to Umqikela’s mark
Fox Williams
William Barnabas

Correct Copy
Hamilton McNicholas