Samuel Moroka to Frederick Chesson, Feb 7 1884, C143/68

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Moroka, Samuel


Indigenous person







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MSS. Brit. Emp. S. 18 / C143-68


On the death of my father Moroka, three years ago, Sepmare and John Cameron called me and some of my stepbrothers and uncle together, to sign a document for Supremacy, and he stated he received a letter from President Brand, wishing to see Sepmare in preference to me, Samuel Moroka, and that after signing the document he would call in the headmen to do the same. I replied at once I do not understand such treatment as I am the only son and heir and in my own rights nobody is above me in my fathers country. Although … by Sepmare to sign the paper, my friends all objected and wanted that all the Baralongs of Thaba-nchu and in the Transvaal should be called together to decide the point, but Sepmare objected. After an lapse of two days I wrote to President Brand and the following chiefs: Letzie, Moshoete, Moloka, and acquainted them of my father’s death, but by the connivance of Arthur Cameron the postmaster of Thaba-nchu my letters were intercepted and given to Sepmare. I went immediately to Sepmare to get my letter back, but he refused and declined to give a …. Thereupon Sepmare wrote to President Brand and a meeting was called together, and I wrote to my people in Baralong to meet me there; when Sepmare saw a large number of my adherents together, he tried to disperse them by men who were in his pay, and failing to do so, he commenced to shoot them, but without effect, but fearing the loss of some of my people, I interfered and Sepmare sent two policemen to Mr Brand; thereupon Mr Brand sent his messenger Mr Raff to me advising me not to fight, as many of Sepmare’s friends were laying in ambush, ready to fight, and that the Free State would probably attack me also, as Sepmare had invited president Brand to come and decide the case. I replied that the president should send an independent officer who was willing to listen to the wishes of my people and not the president, as he may be prejudiced against me by the letters and messages he had received from Sapmare, but he would not listen to me, as Sepmare had requested him to come to Thaba-nche and I should consent also. For the sake of peace I at last agreed, but with this understanding, as my case was a native affair and did not come under the control of white people, I should on my part call several of my chiefs from Basutoland and the Transvaal, but the president and Sepmare refused, eventually the president would allow that my friends should select somebody to judge my case, but as I had no dispute with Sepmare, I told him all the Baralongs should be called together and give their advise, but Sepmare declined wanted the case to be decided by the president. I told Mr Brand as Sepmare is not a descendant of the Baralongs he is afraid, at which he took offence and told me I must give permission for him to arbitrate, and told me if he finds anybody of my people buying arms and attack each other, he would shoot me; at last feeling worried and crushed I gave my consent, but sent some messengers to the chiefs in the Transvaal to be present at the meeting, but on their arrival they found already that Sepmare had been before me and told them if they dare to come that the Boers would lay in ambush along the Vaal River, and would be killed, consequently they were afraid to come and sent letters, but the president would not receive evidence by letters; only five chiefs came, namely Moluba, Mpoloke, Mottabane, Leishmo and Mokobore, but the president refused to hear them, but when I looked round the meeting which was held in a tent, I observed an advocate or advisor of Sepmare named Mr Matthy, a member of the Volksraad. I pointed out to the president why this whiteman is allowed to be there, as it is only a native affair, but the president replied that he was only an ordinary man and was allowed to stop and give his advice. The night before the decision Sepmare gave to president Brand all the monies which he fraudulently obtained during my father’s illness and after his death to Mr Brand, and told the president that if I should become chief, I would hand my country over to England. The next day president Brand gave judgement in Sepmare’s favor, and it was done in such a hurry, that he ordered his conveyance to be held ready for fear of interception. But I refused to accept such a judgement as I considered Sepmare not my chief to my chieftaincy; he was only an assistant to my father, and all my people called out, ‘No! no! Sepmare is not our chief, he will kill us!’ But the president would not listen and before departing he told me to keep quiet and advise my people to go away in peace, and soon after some volunteers were sent from Blomfontein to Thaba-nchu, under disguise that they were going to Macera. During that week a child of my people died and the parents informed the Reverend John Daniels a Weslyan Minister of the event, and as soon as Mr Daniels received the report, the communicated at once with Sepmare and told him it is a fortunate thing, as he can take in custody all these headmen at the funeral who are against him, and when the body was carried to the grave and the minister was still praying some volunteers came and took to prison some of my headmen, namely Mezekiah, Mokalaka, Johannes, and Thomas. I informed the president of the affair, but took no notice of it. But I was informed afterwards that it was done by the advise of the Reverend Mr Daniels. The same evening the same white men attacked another of my villages and killed three men and wounded three. I informed again the president, with similar success, and early the next morning they attacked me and killed thirteen – besides the three above mentioned – and wounded many. I fled at once to Bloemfontein and ask the president why he did send those volunteers to my territory to kill my people, but he denied any knowledge of the affair. During the time I was at Bloemfontein Sepmare expelled from my country all the Baralongs and confiscated all their good. When I told the president of these, he said Sepmare must give back all the people’s goods, because he acts against my commands and when I asked how shall my people live, when they are to be scattered all over the Free State, he replied that I could hire a farm about 8 days from the town of Bulfontein, belonging to Mr E. Cox. I was there two years waiting and asking to have my case reheard, but was always put off and asked to wait. Thence I moved to a farm near Modder River of Mr Henegar and engaged an advocate at Bloemfontein named J.J. de Villiers, who brought my case before the Volksraad, who declared me the chief by the overwhelmed testimony of the native chiefs and further declared that if any thing can be pointed out against me, I should be properly punished, but not be deprived of my rightful title and possession, and the Volksraad furthermore promised to see me and my people back to Thaba-nchu. On my proceeding thither, the president was communicated with by Sepmare, asking to assist him as I was coming with many followers to fight him; the president at once sent some agents to find out the cause, but seeing there was no sign of any hostilities on my part, they told Sepmare that I was not coming to fight, but establish myself with my people at Thaba-nchu, and were accompanied by three members of the Volksraad messrs: P.J. Blignant, C. Vander Watts, and M. Stein. Sepmare told those gentleman that I and my followers deceived them, that I was my intention to kill him and disturb the whole country, that I buy ammunition and arms from private sources, go back and tell the president and the volksraad of the same and he would pay for their troubles. As Sepmare commanded those gentlemen to tell Mr Brand of the case, the president sent directly two men to me, Mr Paperfus and Mr Stein and stated whereas the president has been informed that my motives were of a warlike character and wished to be personally informed of my intention, they declared that they have nothing seen which has the slightest resemblance of war and will report that ‘with their own eyes have seen nothing to cause fears, but unfortunatly they believed different at Bloemfontein and sent an other man named Koos Prince a field cornet, who informed me that I must move away and that any delay would endanger my life and was not allowed to go to Thaba-nche; after him an other man came Mr J.J. Venter all to the same effect. A week after I heard some volunteers arrived at Thaba-nchu from Wepenner threatening to come by night to kill me the commander being Mr Raff. Thereupon I fled directly and come to appeal to H. M. Government and my friends to get their support and interest in my troubles and to assist me to regain that position in my country to which I am entitled to as my father’s only son and rightful heir. When I think the friendship my father enjoyed from the English government during the time – as an independent chief – of major warren, General Smith, General Cathcart, Sir George Gray, and Sir Philip Woodhouse. I sincerely hope the same feeling will be extended to your obedient and faithful servant.

Samuel Moroka

London Feb 7 1884