Harold Stephens to Frederick Chesson, 21 September 1883, C148/77

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Stephens, Harold








Cape Colony

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MSS. Brit. Emp. S. 18 / C148-77


Kimberley, S. Africa
Sept 21st 1883
Dear Sir,

Long before you get this Mapoch or Niabel and some of the lesser chiefs will have been tried but I do not trust the English government will do something on their behalf. Technically they are not guilty, because the tribe of Mapoch has always been independent of the Boers and in defending their homes and property from Boer spoliation they have been doing what is the recognized duty of every nation or tribe. The more I see out here the more convinced I am that if white people only treated the natives fairly there would be no wars. A government that acted with justice and humanity would find no opposition made by the natives to come under their rule, on the contrary they would find help and cooperation. But when they act as the Boers do what can they expect. No people with a spark of spirit can submit to be trodden on and reduced to the position of little better than slaves without striking one blow for liberty. The idea that it is necessary to go to war with the natives to civilize them, and which obtains in some quarters, is altogether ridiculous. Many of the kaffir tribes are quite as civilized as the Boers in spite of the difficulties placed in their way and are far more just and straightforward in their dealings. The object of the Boers however is not to civilize them, but to take everything they possess from them.

Another thing. If the natives were allowed to buy arms we should hear very little of Boer oppression or wars but their being badly armed is a standing invitation to attack to the unscrupulous.

I am glad to see that the government have refused to allow the Boers to extend their territory on their western and SW border. At the same time the Boers have done so already in as much as they have organized the Republics of Stellaland and Goschen and the government (English) take no steps on the matter.

You will see by the extract enclosed that the troubles in Zululand are caused by white people. This I was convinced was the case all along. It was never intended that Cetchwayo should be left in peace. Placed in the country by the imperial government and not allowed to raise an army. While intriguers found no difficulty in raising enemies against him.

On the one hand if Cetchwayo attempted to raise an army in his defence it was immediately said that he had broken his promises to the home government. If he remained passive and was defeated he is left ot his own resources. Every difficulty seems to be thrown in his way while no one blames Usebepu that aggressor! Then again the news that comes from Zululand is mostly altogether unreliable and interested. Cetchwayo was deeply affected at hearing of the death of Colenso; for three days he ate nothing and yet some people with the object of making him appear ungrateful spread the report that he didn’t feel it. I feel very indignant when I think that the false news sent home should be credited by the English people. If the truth were published it would be seen that Cetchwayo is an dhas been true to the backbone and is moreover the victim of unprincipled people out here. I am sending a letter to the Standard re:Mapoch is it asking you too much to forward me a copy of the paper in which it appears.

In haste,
Faithfully yours,
H Stephens