Richard Murray to Frederick Chesson, 5 March 1878
Archive location: Bodleian Libraries, MSS. Brit. Emp. s. 18 / C143 – 143
Author(s): Richard Murray
Recipient(s): Frederick Chesson
Sent from: Griqualand West
Date: 5 March 1878
Kimberly Diamond Fields, S. Africa
March 5th 1878
To the President
Aborigines Protection Society
I venture although not a member of your society to enlist your sympathies on behalf of native tribes on the border of this province of Griqualand West who in my opinion are not receiving the justice from the administer of British Rule here which all true Englishmen desire shall be extended to those who are too weak to assert themselves.
I do not send you this letter for publication, indeed the publication of it would do more harm than good but knowing the vast means your society has of bringing influence to bear upon the colored races and on their behalf I desire to attract the attention of its directors to the natives upon our border who I think are bring badly used by the government here.
It will be within your knowledge that the province of Griqualand was created by the British Governmt after the discovery of immense diamond mines on the territory of the Griquas. That territory was transferred to the British Governmt in 1871 by Captn Nicholas Waterboer and his councillors. Sir Henry Barkly at that time being Her Majesty’s High Commissioner in South Africa and Governor of the Cape Colony, His Excellency took over the country upon certain conditions, none of which were fulfilled for six whole years and all of which have not been fulfilled to this day. I consider that Waterboer has been most shamefully used, indeed I may say that the cruel treatment he has received at the hands of the representatives of the Crown has completely demoralized him but it is not of him now that I desire to address you. Should you hereafter desire that I should write you an account of the treatment to which that chief has been subjected I shall be most ready to do so as I have been in the country since the first discovery of diamonds and have been mixed up in the public life of the province from its first settlement.
What is of most immediate concern now is the treatment of the natives residing Poquane, chiefly Batlapins Baralongs and crosses between the people of [Jantjie’s?] tribe Koronnas and the tribes I first mentions. Poquane is about three days from this in a wagon, about two days on horseback. The people there are not numerous, say about [blank]. They surround a petty chief named Gasibme and the paramount chief acknowledged by the British governmt is Mankoroane. Poquane was given to the natives under the Keate award. Gasibme is a most restless and unrestrainable man and is character contrasts badly with that of Mankoroane who is well behaved intelligent and well disposed towards the British Crown. Gasibme has for a long time … that he ought to be the paramount chief and as [unfortunately?] the boundary line between this country and that in which he resides has never been well defined he has concluded that … farms given out by the British is in his territory. He has been in the habit of riding into this territory with an armed body guard and demanding black mail of the subjects of Her Majesty. I do not deny that it was desirably that this should be put to a stop and even his own people to whom he behaves badly would gladly see him punished. To do this I hold that it was impolitic and unjust for the administrator of this province to proceed against him with an armed force of about 400 men as they did without the sanction of the paramount chief of the country first had and obtained.
Major [Lanyon?] our administrator did this. He called for volunteers, took the mounted police and a large body of Zulus and went out to make war upon Gasibme. I am much afriad that there was an idea on the part of the Major that he could acquire some distinction by this. However when the force which was commanded by Major Lanyon in person neared Poquane the agent of Gasibone came to meet him and said that Gasibone would come and see the Major and get matter set right. This offer was rejected by Major Lanyon who insisted upon going to Poquane and intimated that he would only consent to meet and settle with Gasibone at his own place Poquane. With this indisposition to be conciliated Major Lanyon and his 400 men … on and by the time they had arrived Gasibone had driven off all his own cattle and had also gone off himself leaving a number of his people and their cattle behind.
When Major Lanyon found that Gasibone had given him the slip he ordered the Zulus he had taken with him to drive in all the cattle they could find and about 600 head were driven in and 500 and odd were scoured as spoil ostensibly to punish Gasibone these cattle were brought into the Diamond Fields and sold and the proceeds were placed into the treasury.
I should here mention that Major Lanyon sent before leaving Kimberly to Mankoroane asking that chief to meet him at Poquane. Mankoroane at once complied to meet shows show ready he is to be subservient to the representatives of the British Crown.
When Major Lanyon first met Mankoroane the cattle had been already taken. Mankoroane’s first words were ‘why had you not done all this through me.’ The Major herein presented the Chief with a very handsome bribe and talked to him the chief at last said so long as you don’t take any cattle belonging to me I don’t care. You must know that Mankoroane and Gasibone are enemies and have been since Gasibone aspired to be paramount chief. Mankoroane would be therefore glad to have Gasibone punished and I must say that Gasibone deserved to be punished but he has not been. He had made off. The cattle taken belonged to people (natives) whose only means of support they were. These people have been living on milk for a long time: through the dreadful drought that has visited the country all their grain crops have failed them and starve they must unless something is done to assist them.
The Revd Mr [Bevau?] M A of … Mission Poquane and the Revd Mr Ashton the … missionary of the London Missionary Society have been bringing all the influence they can to bear upon Major Lanyon and his governmt but the purpose of the governmt and the Major now seems to be to bring the public to believe that these men are telling falsehoods and the Revd Mr Bevau has been treated as I consider most … and unbecomingly for his manliness in speaking out for these poor people. They are as innocent of all offense as children.
I have said I think as much as necessary to guide you in that matter. I will by next post send you the papers with all the correspondence on the subject which I am unable to do now and then I will give you another case in which I consider a gross prostitution of law and injustice is done to other natives. The natives in this part of the world need the attention of those who believe in their mission to watch over the welfare of the colored classes.
In order that you may ascertain that credence is to be put in my statements and opinions, I beg to refer you to Mr James Anthony Froude, Col [Cropman?] or to Mr Macdonald and Messers Blaine Macdonald …, 2 Suffolk Lane Cannon Street London.
I may add that I am the editor of the Diamond News and was a member of the Legislative Council just dissolved and have been requested to become one of the Council about to be elected.
I have the honour to be
Your Obed Sert
Richard W Murray