Mankoroane to John Mackenzie, 4 September 1884, C142/20a

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MSS. Brit. Emp. S. 18 / C142-20


Taung September 4 1884

To Mr Mackenzie,

My Teacher,

I write to you with a very sore heart and with great grief (weeping). My town has been attacked by small pox, which has taken away many people, and it is accompanied by famine – as you saw the famine here. But my grief has been increased very much by the men who came from thence. One is he whom you met on this side of Vryburg who was accompanied by Mr Thompson’s son: another came after your departure: his name is Mr Brown.

As to these three man their coming has been to kill the children of this town, and to cut the throats of the widows of this town that they might not live. When they went past they said nothing to us; when they came back then they spoke with me. But it was not to enter into any conversation with me save to say ‘we have been giving the Boers the country: as for you, you have nothing.’

Therefore I write to you Mr Mackenzie, and ask you to lay this letter before the Queen’s advisors at the Cape, and then send it to those who sent you, that they may know my grief. Be it known that I have nothing to do with the government of the Cape, if the men who have come here are known (recognized by) the Cape government. I ask, how do they enter into this affair? Have I negotiated something with them on account of which they wish to kill me? Be it known that I the Chief Mankoroane am aware the I asked help from the Queen: I requested to be represented by Mr Mackenzie, because I knew him and trusted him. When I saw Mr Mackenzie come I was glad: I said the Queen has listened to me: she has received me (taken me over): I said further I shall now live, and my children. I believed also that the Queen would take care of the orphans. And truly my teacher left me still hoping to live through the words with which he was sent.

But now I am on the point of being led astray of these men: I have been thinking are there two Queens, as I see that these men are not like you. They cause on their own path: to kill some, to give others life. Although they passed one (my town) they said nothing whilst they were on their way to my enemies’ camp to give to them my country, and to make boundaries unknown to me, known only to them and the Boers. After they had divided my country, then they told me saying the boundary line is …. They talked to me merely whilst on their way and without stopping.

Be it known that I fought with the Boers during the year 1882: and it is true that while fighting I was unable to plough. In the year 1883 I ploughed all my fields, as also in 1884 I ploughed all my land – nothing hindering me from doing so.

Therefore I say, let Mr Makenzie come, so that I may hear whether it is indeed the Queen who sent these two, rather many men. Those who save and those who kill. I wish to know if they are sent all of them by one Queen. I shall be silent towards the Queen when I hear the words of him whom she sent to me, who came with the words of the Queen in a treaty. I have no connection with the government of the Cape. If the government of the Cape would help me, it would have done so long ago, before Mr Mackenzie came.

Be it known that I had an agent, Mr Donocan. After I had received the representative of the Queen Mr Mackenzie, I put my agent out of his work. I said now I have the Queen – I shall live by her. If I had known that the Queen had no power I should not have put away my agent. But I cast him off through confidence that as the Queen had received me, I was protected by a power not needing to be added to by agents. Now here I am: shall my confidence leave me? I know not. For today I look all round on every side being alone in the veldt. I know not where to look for my life. I see plenty of Boer agents, who … one land, and who make capital out of us among the Boers.

Nevertheless I still trust in the Queen: I say to Mr Mackenzie I have still hope – seeing you have never told me that the work has bested you. The Ballaping still expect you. If you do not appear soon, you will find the Ballaping scattered by famine – those who, through god’s help survive the small pox. Therefore we say make haste; for these men have denied us ploughing: they say all our gardens will be peopled by the Boers. Therefore I say make haste, teacher; whither shall we go (to plough)? For indeed the Queen does not tell us where we can go (to plough). Be it know that Mr Thompson’s son – Mr Rhodes friend – the two men who come from the Boers, are both of them the friends of the Boers. As to Mr Thompson, he is also a relative of Rachwene; and I say, you found me also with a friend Mr Donovan; but when you came I threw away my friend through trust in you: but now you have left me and I am alone. You said I should put away Donovan, and I did so seeing that I had you: but now I find you have thrown me away. Now I am alone. I have no one with whom I can speak.

But be greeted my friend, with affection.

(Signed) Mankoroane Molehabangwe
His x mark
Kasiwyane his x mark

As witnesses
Yakoh Mitsimang his x mark
Gontse his x mark
Kgatehue his x mark
Tabi his x mark
Matsau Motshisi

Translated from the Sechuana by John Mackenzie
Cape Town 29 Sept 1884