Mankoroane to John Mackenzie, 16 April 1885, C142/21

Additional information




Indigenous person







Download original image


Bodleian Libraries

Call number

MSS. Brit. Emp. S. 18 / C142-21


April 16 1885

Revd J. Mackenzie,

My teacher,

I write to tell you how affairs are with me. I am now just the same as when you left me, but I am in the midst of a famine greater than that of last year.

Now, teacher, I ask you one thing, it is this. I left this place Taung for the Cape to get the help of Her Majesty the Queen. I was in difficulties and I said when I left for the Cape where I am baffled the Queen will help me. I was baffled by the Boers at Vryburg, because of hunger. They did not conquer me, I was conquered by famine, and I said if I get food I will try them again.

When you came you found the Boers at Vryburg, they did not fill the whole country as they do now, and of course a man who is hungry as I am ploughs before the usual time for ploughing. Now I ask you teacher where am I to plough if my cultivated lands are only sufficient for the Boers? For the ploughing time draws near. It is known I had famine in the past, because I was unable to plough my lands, and it is not Boers who prevented me from ploughing, but those who say they are subjects of the Queen like myself. Afterwards I saw the Boers fill the country. I often asked Major Lowe to allow me to stop the Boers, he always refused saying, wait till the army came and then he would remove them.

And now teacher, it appears as though we shall press upon each other, so I say, No! My chiefs, let me hear something, do not maintain a dead silence. If it is my fault tell me, that I may see that my journey to call the Queen was just labor lost. Of course I do not speak of Vryburg. I speak of the cultivated lands, now occupied by the Boers, now they are beginning to build houses and I know nothing of it. I say please inform me, my teachers, that I may know that which is known to you. A man cannot remain like a fool, he would do mischief, because he says ‘I know’ and really knows nothing, he goes and does foolish things.

Let me know, teacher.

I hear it is said that I gave the Boers the country. If I gave it to them, what did I go to the Cape for? I do not know that I divided the country. Certainly I did not want the Boers to have my country. If I had such a thought I should have given it to them long ago. I did not like Boers. I liked the Queen. Now chiefs inform me, do not let me remain in ignorance.

You know I put my trust in you Mr Mackenzie, although you do not now come alone as you did I still rely upon you and my haste now is caused by the Boers filling the whole country without my knowledge. I do not deny what you know, but I wish to know.

Chiefs do not let me remain in distress. Those who are hungry cannot be told to wait.

Also I write to inform you that our horses are being taken away daily. We have no horses left.

One word more teacher which I wish you to tell Sir Charles Warren. When you came I had made an argument with a white man named Thompson living at Klien Boetsap I give him oxen to buy a cart for me. He took the oxen to his place. After a time he came and said the cattle were not worth much, he could only get a cart but without harness for them. I was satisfied and said very well I will buy harness, let the cart come. Afterwards I heard that the oxen were lost and were not found again. It remained so. Now I asked Thompson to give me a cart. The oxen which were lost were his, not mine, because I gave him the cattle. Mr Edward Chapman knows them, he was here, he also said I was to them to him and he would buy for me but I was afraid because of the length of the journey as I wanted the cart speedily. And I ask Thompson at Klien Boetsap for the cattle, that I may hear the news about my oxen.

Greetings teacher to you and to the General also much greeting.

I am,
(signed) Mankoroane Molehabengu

Translations: Wright