Adolphe Mabille to Frederick Chesson, 1 December 1883, C134/5

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Mabille, Adolphe









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MSS. Brit. Emp. S. 18 / C134-5


Morija, Basutoland
1 December 1883

F.W. Chesson Esq
Secretary to the Aborigines Protection Society

Dear Sir,

It is a very long time I have not addressed you on the subject of the Basutos. In facts since my return to Basutoland, after my trip to Europe, I have been too much busy, in all kinds of ways to be able to do much more than my most necessary correspondence. Besides, as we were still in the hands of the Colonial government, it was not much use trying to appeal to you for behalf of the Basutos. But now, things have changed, and I have time to lay before you and your Society the present situation of Basutoland.

We are, it seems to me, on the verge of ruin and destruction. Proposals from the Imperial government have on the 29th ult. been laid before a national meeting of the Basutos, chief and people. But the obstinacious and hard headed Masuphu would not come. There were three proposals laid before the people all of which were accepted by the chiefs and people present with the utmost harmony and sincerity. They were:

1. Do you wish to remain British subjects?
2. Will you obey the laws laid down by the High Commissioner or his officers?
3. Will you pay the hut tax of 10/?

I repeat that they were accepted without reservations of any kind and … in the presence of Captain Blyth, the present governor’s agent. [Maphale?] and several missionaries, a paper was drawn embodying the acceptance of these proposals and signed by the chief Letsie, his sons Lerotholi, Bereud, Theko, Maama, Malere, Nkuebe, Moyola, Sepirare, and other chiefs and important men of the tribe present, to the number of 35. Letsie begged that Masupha might get till the evening of the next day to think about it, and this was granted. But I don’t believe the old wily fox will consent to affix his signature to the document. In fact, what the Imperial government says at the end of their proposals is just playing Masupha’s game. The representative of the Queen affirms that the Queen must have the unanimous consent of the tribe and will not accept of a divided people. Such words ought never to have been spoken out. On the contrary, the Government ought to have said that they would keep Basutoland at all risks, and then Masupha’s oppostion, I am sure, would have been broken down months ago. He wants to be independent, and therefore everything wich seems to lean toward his way of thinking, whether directly or indirectly, helps him to keep up his prestige before the people.

He is almost alone, and in the event of the Imperial government saying to him: we will force you into obedience, I surely believe his people would forsake him and