Mqikela to Frederick Chesson, 12 July 1884

Mqikela to Frederick Chesson, 12 July 1884

Archive location: Bodleian Libraries, MSS. Brit. Emp. s. 18 / C149 – 105

Author(s): Mqikela

Recipient(s): Frederick Chesson

Sent from: Pondoland

Date: 12 July 1884

Great Place,
12th July 1884

F.W. Chesson Esq
Aborigines Protection Society


Capt McNicholas has read to me your letter of the 27th March by which I see Mr Oxland has made some very gross misrepresentations to the Colonial Office in reference to myself and people. I am not however much astonished at this, I and my people have been victims of his misrepresentation ever since his appointment to the office of British resident, and it was owning to his misrepresentations and perversions that I decided on the 20 Act 83 upon refusing to recognize him as British resident. I enclose copies of my letter to Mr Oxland and Mr Brownlee informing them of my decision in this respect. With regard to his statements, which you quote from the copy of his letter which you received from the colonial office, allow me to inform you they are utterly untrue, and so Capt McNicholas wrote you fully in my name, by last post, and as I am writing by this post to the High Commissioner at Cape Town (copy enclosed) on the same subject I do not think there is any occasion for me to now write at any length on the matter, but think it necessary for Capt McNicholas’s honor, which is impinged by Mr Oxland’s statement, to inform you that Capt McNicholas never told me that “he held a pledge that the Aborigines Protection Society would compel the Queen’s ministers to receive the Pondo deputation.” Nor has he ever said anything, which would lead me to imagine, that he had any kind of promise or pledge from your Society, as the mentioned by Mr Oxland. I therefore trust you will be good enough to inform Lord Derby of this, as well as my denial of every thing contained in the copy of letter you have quoted from. I have come to the sad conclusion that my friends are few, and my enemies many, and powerful, and I am sorry think, the from the tone of your letter, which Capt McNicholas has read to me, you have been biased by Mr Oxland’s false statements, and it seems to me that I shall have to give way, as my enemies are evidently too strong for me and that I am only maintaining a futile struggle. I was led to believe that your Society was a friend to poor and oppressed native, and that I could safely rely upon your good offices. What am I to do? I have laid my case before your Society, I have written to the imperial government and to the Cape government until I am tired, all my friends tell me I have been very unjustly treated and the Cape government have also acknowledge that a great wrong has been done to my people, yet they still keep my Port (St John’s River Mouth) and part of my country – that occupied by the Xesibis – complaints come in daily of petty disturbances and thefts on my borders, which I am powerless to prevent. I cannot help asking myself what have I gained by all the writing that has been done for me. I have been told that “the pen is more powerful than the sword” but I do not think it has been so in my case. Mr Welborne was here the other day and read me a lot of letters from people in England who he said were my friends, and had been working to get justice for myself and people, he also gave me an account of his own labours on my behalf; and yet for all this I am in a worse position today than I was six years ago, when they took my Port from me. Again I ask myself, of what use is all this writing and talking – I was advised to get money for the purpose of sending a deputation to England, by means of which I was told I would be certain to have my greivances redressed, and while I was trying hard to get sufficient money for this purpose, I am informed that the Queen’s government will not receive any deputation from me, do not therefore be surprised if I say, I quite despair of ever obtaining my rights by peaceful means.

Your obedient servant
His mark
Paramount chief of all Pondoland

Witnesses to Umqikela’s mark
Fox Williams
William Barnabas