Chapter 10.

Arrival of the Voortrekkers.

Ra-Thaga, after a long stay at Mamuse, received some news concerning the Barolong. According to it, the Seleka branch of the tribe had removed from Motlhana'pitse under the guidance of their Chief Moroka-a-Sehunelo, to Thaba Ncho in the land of the Basuto. As for Ra-Tshidi — Ra-Thaga's own people — he learned that hardly a family had in its entirety escaped the slaughter. Many fleeing mothers with their children on their backs, were overtaken and slain. Those of the fugitives, that escaped the assegais, joined their chief, Tauana, who sought and obtained an asylum among the Selekas; he had gathered together the remnants of his scattered tribe and followed his cousin, Moroka, to Thaba Ncho, where they had been slowly recovering from the frightful experiences and the shock occasioned by the sacking of their town.

The reports enlarged upon the phenomenal recovery made by the refugees at Thaba Ncho and their wonderful progress in agriculture and husbandry. The chiefs held court, the women brewed beer, and the men ploughed and hunted very much as they did in the halcyon days at Kunana. The little children, so violently unsettled by the raid and subsequent flight, had long since recovered from their nasty experience, and adversity seemed to have quickened their growth; so Ra-Thaga and Mhudi made up their minds to leave Mamuse, proceed East and join their own people in the land of plenty.

The journey was not undertaken until seven months after Mhudi had presented him with their second boy.

page 79
Then he bade good-bye to the hospitable Qorannas and took his departure eastwards. Two young men were ordered to accompany Ra-Thaga and his wife and help to drive their stock along, and to return later with news about everything of interest for the information of Chief Massouw and the Qoranna tribes at Mamuse.

After nearly a month of travel, which included resting, straying, and enquiring the way, our little party, their hearts beating high with expectation, reached the outskirts of the town of Thaba Ncho in the land of hope and promise. They had little difficulty in following the main road leading to the Chief's headquarters in quest of information as to whether any of their relatives were alive.

Having passed several houses without being questioned, they noticed crossing the road in front of them a young woman balancing a pail of water on her head. This woman — who was none other than Baile, Mhudi's cousin — turned round to look at the travellers. The look became a stare as she recognised her cousin, Mhudi. So profound was her surprise at a meeting which was entirely unexpected that, in the excitement the earthware vessel on her head, fell off, was smashed, and its contents spilt. Baile was wild with joy, for Mhudi (like her husband) had been given up by her people as among the victims of the great massacre.

Now, good health and a sound pair of lungs go hand in hand, and a Chuana woman in moments of excitement can generally give full play to these organs. This Baile did, and in leaping to embrace her cousin she shouted “Barolong! what have I seen? Have the graves of our fathers opened and yielded their contents? Maiyo! Has death become so tame that one who has been in his jaws can return to earth and live again? Surely this is the

page 80
dead daughter of my uncle, returned to us in life. Maiyo! Maiyo!”

News of the sensational meeting of the cousins spread from hut to hut, and while the two women stood clasped in each other's arms shedding tears of gladness, a crowd was collecting round them. More and still more women, and children, were hurrying to the scene to see the apparition and witness a real resurrection; and this is what they heard.

    Baile:    “O, my cousin, is it indeed you — alive! — and without a scratch?”
    Mhudi:    “My own cousin; and where are dear uncle and — ?”
    Baile:    “Dead, everyone.”
    Mhudi:    “And where is auntie, and —?”
    Baile:    “All killed.”
    Both:    (weeping) “Iyo —— Iyo — Iyo!”
    Mhudi:    “And these blotches — these scars on your —?”
    Baile:    “Traces of Matebele spears.”
    Mhudi:    “After seven years?”
    Both:    “Curse those Khonkhobes.”
    Baile:    (between sobs) “And you escaped wholly unscathed?”
    Mhudi:    (also sobbing) “Yes, thanks to my husband.”
    Baile:    “Where did my unmaidenly cousin find a husband!”
    Mhudi:    “He rescued me from alarming adventures in the wilderness.:
    Baile:    “These little boys are your children?”
    Mhudi:    “And his.”
    Baile:    (sobbing again) “My uncle's own daughter!”
    Mhudi:    (Ditto) “My own auntie's child.”
    Both:    (weeping) “Woe — woe — woe — Iyo!”
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    Mhudi:    “A poor dying woman told me you were stabbed to death.:
    Baile:    “I got picked up and was saved.”
    Mhudi:    “So, I am not wholly orphaned?”
    Baile:    “And I am not the only one left, after all.”

Thus, for a second time, their dramatic arrival provided a fruitful subject for fire-side conversation in and around Thaba Ncho. For months after, the women never tired of discussing their romantic story at home, or at work in the corn-fields. Men whiled away their evenings spinning yarns about them, or in the daytime when engaged in braying skins or sewing karosses in the shade. People came long distances to see them and they brought them many presents. Indeed it seemed that heir “resurrection” was going to be an abiding conversational topic to the exclusion of all other questions until it was eclipsed one fine day by the arrival at Thaba Ncho of a party of white men.

They were mounted and each carried a rifle. It was a travel-stained party, and the faces of the older men bore traces of anxiety. Apart from that they were well-fed on the whole, as the open air of a sunny country had impressed health, vigour, and energy on their well-clothed bodies, especially the younger men of the party. The spokesman of the riders was their leader, a Boer named Sarel Siljay, who headed a large band of Dutch emigrants from Cape Colony. They were travelling with their families in hooded waggons, and driving with their caravan their wealth of livestock into the hinterland in search of some unoccupied territory to colonize and to worship God in peace.

“But,” asked Chief Moroka, “could you not worship God on the South of the Orange River?”

page 82

“We could,” replied Siljay, “but oppression is not conducive to piety. We are after freedom. The English laws of the Cape are not fair to us.”

“We Barolong have always heard that, since David and Solomon, no king has ruled so justly as King George of England.”

“It may be so,” replied the Boer leader, “but there are always two points of view. The point of view of the ruler is not always the view point of the ruled. We Boers are tired of foreign kings and rulers. We only want one ruler and that is God, our Creator. No man or woman can rule another.”

“Yours must be a very strange people,” said several chiefs simultaneously. “The Bible says when the children of Israel had only God as their ruler, they gave Him no rest until He anointed a king for them. We are just like them. There are two persons that we Barolongs can never do without; these are a wife to mind the home and a king to call us to order, settle our disputes and lead us into battle.”

“Perhaps you are right,” said Sarel, “but the English may soon have a woman for a king and you must admit that a woman could not lead an army.”

Then changing the subject abruptly, he asked them about the condition of the country to the North. Answering his questions, the Barolongs informed the Boers that the country round about was wide and there was plenty of land for all. There were, they said, plenty of lions and tigers, and smaller species of carnivora, all yielding valuable skins. They might now and then kill a cow or two, but with so many guns in hand the Boers need not be troubled by their presence.

“And what a lot of guns!” exclaimed one chief.

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“Why, with so many rifles you would hardly want to kill any of your sheep or oxen for food. There are too many eland and zebra and wildebeest, and such antelopes as hartebeest, gemsbuck, blesbuck, and if you went a little further afield, you will find giraffe, buffalo and elephant, while the plains and woods are alive with huge and tasty birds of every plume!”

“Yes,” said the Boer, “we have seen herds and herds of game of every kind along our trek from the South. Could you tell me, how are the Basutos?”

“Not unlike ourselves,” replied Chief Moroka. “Often inordinately fond of meat, but one can always get even with them for they have a fine old king.”

“Yes,” agreed Sarel Siljay, “far down in the Colony we have heard of Moshueshue's reputation. He is noted for his fair dealing and sound judgement.”

“Quite true,” proceeded the Chief, “ it is a pity that men are not like cattle or Moshueshue would be set apart to propagate noble rulers much the same as we do with good bulls. This country is all right,” he went on, “it has only one serious nuisance and that is, it is infested by Mzilikazi and his ferocious impis. If you helped us to rid the country of this pest, we could make of it the happiest land under the sun. if that came about, I, too, would turn a Christian, wouldn't you, Taunana?”

“Most decidedly,” replied the latter, “who so wicked as not to become a Christian in sheer gratitude if the Matebele were blotted out?”

“What kind of people are the Matebele?” asked Siljay further.

“They are nearly all much blacker than ourselves. Their men go about stark naked even in the presence of their children. The women are well-dressed just like

page 84
ours. But the men! Even in winter, they scarely ever cloak themselves against the cold winds. Winter cloaks are the luxury of a few of their nobility. But in the summer months no Matebele every puts on anything. They only carry spears and shields; for the rest they walk about just like children!”

“Oh,” said an elderly Boer, “they are the kaal-*******.”  1 

“No, no,” said the Chief, who didn't know Dutch, “I mean the Matebele, Mzilikazi's people. Travelling in the country you will easily distinguish their footmarks from ours: unless the ground be very damp most of our men wear sandals, but not the Matebele. They nearly always go bare-footed. Again, if you examine individual foot-prints, you will find that the Matebele feet are much shorter, yet half as stout again as Barolong feet. When they kill cattle or game they leave only the dung. They will eat up every bit of the animal, including the offal. When they kill men, you will notice by the dead bodies that they are impartial in their killing. Old men, young women, boys, girls and babies — everybody is speared without discrimination.”

Addressing Siljay again, Chief Moroka said: “Tauana here has good reason to feel bitter against Mzilikazi. When his city, Kunana, was destroyed, the Matebele killed all the noble women of his tribe; and Montsioa, his son and hear, could not find a suitable maiden to marry as the future queen of his tribe. Chieftain Montsioa in consequence was obliged to marry his own father's daughter from another house.”

“Have patience,” said Siljay, “I will pay Mzilikazi

page 85
back for all the Barolong women killed by his army.”

The Barolong regaled the Boers with meat and milk and corn-mash. Sarel and the elder Boers being entertained by the Chiefs, they invited Mr. Archbell, their Minister, to confer with and pray for the strangers; and Siljay and his men when returning to their waggons, had a royal send-off, many of the young men running alongside their horses for a long distance until they were well out of Thaba Ncho.

page 86

Chapter 10.

Arrival of the Voortrekkers.

Ra-Thaga, after a long stay at Mamuse, received some news concerning the Barolong. According to it, the Seleka branch of the tribe had removed from Motlhana'pitse under the guidance of their Chief Moroka-a-Sehunelo, to Thaba Ncho in the land of the Basuto. As for Ra-Tshidi — Ra-Thaga's own people — he learned that hardly a family had in its entirety escaped the slaughter. Many fleeing mothers with their children on their backs, were overtaken and slain. Those of the fugitives, that escaped the assegais, joined their chief, Tauana, who sought and obtained an asylum among the Selekas; he had gathered together the remnants of his scattered tribe and followed his cousin, Moroka, to Thaba Ncho, where they had been slowly recovering from the frightful experiences and the shock occasioned by the sacking of their town.

The reports enlarged upon the phenomenal recovery made by the refugees at Thaba Ncho and their wonderful progress in agriculture and husbandry. The chiefs held court, the women brewed beer, and the men ploughed and hunted very much as they did in the halcyon days at Kunana. The little children, so violently unsettled by the raid and subsequent flight, had long since recovered from their nasty experience, and adversity seemed to have quickened their growth; so Ra-Thaga and Mhudi made up their minds to leave Mamuse, proceed East and join their own people in the land of plenty.

The journey was not undertaken until seven months after Mhudi had presented him with their second boy. Then he bade good-bye to the hospitable Qorannas and took his departure eastwards. Two young men were ordered to accompany Ra-Thaga and his wife and help to drive their stock along, and to return later with news about everything of interest for the information of Chief Massouw and the Qoranna tribes at Mamuse.

After nearly a month of travel, which included resting, straying, and enquiring the way, our little party, their hearts beating high with expectation, reached the outskirts of the town of Thaba Ncho in the land of hope and promise. They had little difficulty in following the main road leading to the Chief's headquarters in quest of information as to whether any of their relatives were alive.

Having passed several houses without being questioned, they noticed crossing the road in front of them a young woman balancing a pail of water on her head. This woman — who was none other than Baile, Mhudi's cousin — turned round to look at the travellers. The look became a stare as she recognised her cousin, Mhudi. So profound was her surprise at a meeting which was entirely unexpected that, in the excitement the earthware vessel on her head, fell off, was smashed, and its contents spilt. Baile was wild with joy, for Mhudi (like her husband) had been given up by her people as among the victims of the great massacre.

Now, good health and a sound pair of lungs go hand in hand, and a Chuana woman in moments of excitement can generally give full play to these organs. This Baile did, and in leaping to embrace her cousin she shouted “Barolong! what have I seen? Have the graves of our fathers opened and yielded their contents? Maiyo! Has death become so tame that one who has been in his jaws can return to earth and live again? Surely this is the dead daughter of my uncle, returned to us in life. Maiyo! Maiyo!”

News of the sensational meeting of the cousins spread from hut to hut, and while the two women stood clasped in each other's arms shedding tears of gladness, a crowd was collecting round them. More and still more women, and children, were hurrying to the scene to see the apparition and witness a real resurrection; and this is what they heard.

    Baile:    “O, my cousin, is it indeed you — alive! — and without a scratch?”
    Mhudi:    “My own cousin; and where are dear uncle and — ?”
    Baile:    “Dead, everyone.”
    Mhudi:    “And where is auntie, and —?”
    Baile:    “All killed.”
    Both:    (weeping) “Iyo —— Iyo — Iyo!”
    Mhudi:    “And these blotches — these scars on your —?”
    Baile:    “Traces of Matebele spears.”
    Mhudi:    “After seven years?”
    Both:    “Curse those Khonkhobes.”
    Baile:    (between sobs) “And you escaped wholly unscathed?”
    Mhudi:    (also sobbing) “Yes, thanks to my husband.”
    Baile:    “Where did my unmaidenly cousin find a husband!”
    Mhudi:    “He rescued me from alarming adventures in the wilderness.:
    Baile:    “These little boys are your children?”
    Mhudi:    “And his.”
    Baile:    (sobbing again) “My uncle's own daughter!”
    Mhudi:    (Ditto) “My own auntie's child.”
    Both:    (weeping) “Woe — woe — woe — Iyo!”
    Mhudi:    “A poor dying woman told me you were stabbed to death.:
    Baile:    “I got picked up and was saved.”
    Mhudi:    “So, I am not wholly orphaned?”
    Baile:    “And I am not the only one left, after all.”

Thus, for a second time, their dramatic arrival provided a fruitful subject for fire-side conversation in and around Thaba Ncho. For months after, the women never tired of discussing their romantic story at home, or at work in the corn-fields. Men whiled away their evenings spinning yarns about them, or in the daytime when engaged in braying skins or sewing karosses in the shade. People came long distances to see them and they brought them many presents. Indeed it seemed that heir “resurrection” was going to be an abiding conversational topic to the exclusion of all other questions until it was eclipsed one fine day by the arrival at Thaba Ncho of a party of white men.

They were mounted and each carried a rifle. It was a travel-stained party, and the faces of the older men bore traces of anxiety. Apart from that they were well-fed on the whole, as the open air of a sunny country had impressed health, vigour, and energy on their well-clothed bodies, especially the younger men of the party. The spokesman of the riders was their leader, a Boer named Sarel Siljay, who headed a large band of Dutch emigrants from Cape Colony. They were travelling with their families in hooded waggons, and driving with their caravan their wealth of livestock into the hinterland in search of some unoccupied territory to colonize and to worship God in peace.

“But,” asked Chief Moroka, “could you not worship God on the South of the Orange River?”

“We could,” replied Siljay, “but oppression is not conducive to piety. We are after freedom. The English laws of the Cape are not fair to us.”

“We Barolong have always heard that, since David and Solomon, no king has ruled so justly as King George of England.”

“It may be so,” replied the Boer leader, “but there are always two points of view. The point of view of the ruler is not always the view point of the ruled. We Boers are tired of foreign kings and rulers. We only want one ruler and that is God, our Creator. No man or woman can rule another.”

“Yours must be a very strange people,” said several chiefs simultaneously. “The Bible says when the children of Israel had only God as their ruler, they gave Him no rest until He anointed a king for them. We are just like them. There are two persons that we Barolongs can never do without; these are a wife to mind the home and a king to call us to order, settle our disputes and lead us into battle.”

“Perhaps you are right,” said Sarel, “but the English may soon have a woman for a king and you must admit that a woman could not lead an army.”

Then changing the subject abruptly, he asked them about the condition of the country to the North. Answering his questions, the Barolongs informed the Boers that the country round about was wide and there was plenty of land for all. There were, they said, plenty of lions and tigers, and smaller species of carnivora, all yielding valuable skins. They might now and then kill a cow or two, but with so many guns in hand the Boers need not be troubled by their presence.

“And what a lot of guns!” exclaimed one chief. “Why, with so many rifles you would hardly want to kill any of your sheep or oxen for food. There are too many eland and zebra and wildebeest, and such antelopes as hartebeest, gemsbuck, blesbuck, and if you went a little further afield, you will find giraffe, buffalo and elephant, while the plains and woods are alive with huge and tasty birds of every plume!”

“Yes,” said the Boer, “we have seen herds and herds of game of every kind along our trek from the South. Could you tell me, how are the Basutos?”

“Not unlike ourselves,” replied Chief Moroka. “Often inordinately fond of meat, but one can always get even with them for they have a fine old king.”

“Yes,” agreed Sarel Siljay, “far down in the Colony we have heard of Moshueshue's reputation. He is noted for his fair dealing and sound judgement.”

“Quite true,” proceeded the Chief, “ it is a pity that men are not like cattle or Moshueshue would be set apart to propagate noble rulers much the same as we do with good bulls. This country is all right,” he went on, “it has only one serious nuisance and that is, it is infested by Mzilikazi and his ferocious impis. If you helped us to rid the country of this pest, we could make of it the happiest land under the sun. if that came about, I, too, would turn a Christian, wouldn't you, Taunana?”

“Most decidedly,” replied the latter, “who so wicked as not to become a Christian in sheer gratitude if the Matebele were blotted out?”

“What kind of people are the Matebele?” asked Siljay further.

“They are nearly all much blacker than ourselves. Their men go about stark naked even in the presence of their children. The women are well-dressed just like ours. But the men! Even in winter, they scarely ever cloak themselves against the cold winds. Winter cloaks are the luxury of a few of their nobility. But in the summer months no Matebele every puts on anything. They only carry spears and shields; for the rest they walk about just like children!”

“Oh,” said an elderly Boer, “they are the kaal-*******.”  1 

“No, no,” said the Chief, who didn't know Dutch, “I mean the Matebele, Mzilikazi's people. Travelling in the country you will easily distinguish their footmarks from ours: unless the ground be very damp most of our men wear sandals, but not the Matebele. They nearly always go bare-footed. Again, if you examine individual foot-prints, you will find that the Matebele feet are much shorter, yet half as stout again as Barolong feet. When they kill cattle or game they leave only the dung. They will eat up every bit of the animal, including the offal. When they kill men, you will notice by the dead bodies that they are impartial in their killing. Old men, young women, boys, girls and babies — everybody is speared without discrimination.”

Addressing Siljay again, Chief Moroka said: “Tauana here has good reason to feel bitter against Mzilikazi. When his city, Kunana, was destroyed, the Matebele killed all the noble women of his tribe; and Montsioa, his son and hear, could not find a suitable maiden to marry as the future queen of his tribe. Chieftain Montsioa in consequence was obliged to marry his own father's daughter from another house.”

“Have patience,” said Siljay, “I will pay Mzilikazi back for all the Barolong women killed by his army.”

The Barolong regaled the Boers with meat and milk and corn-mash. Sarel and the elder Boers being entertained by the Chiefs, they invited Mr. Archbell, their Minister, to confer with and pray for the strangers; and Siljay and his men when returning to their waggons, had a royal send-off, many of the young men running alongside their horses for a long distance until they were well out of Thaba Ncho.


Footnotes & References

#NoteDescription
1Kaal-*******Nude ******