Preface

South African literature has hitherto been almost exclusively European, so that a foreword seems necessary to give reasons for a Native venture.

In all the tales of battle I have ever read, or heard of, the cause of the war is invariably ascribed to the other side. Similarly, we have been taught almost from childhood to fear the Matabele – a fierce nation – so unreasoning in its ferocity that it will attack any individual or tribe, at sight, without the slightest provocation. Their destruction of our people, we were told, had no justification in fact or in reason ; they were actuated by sheer lust for human blood.

By the merest accident, while collecting stray scraps of tribal history, later in life, the writer incidentally heard of “the day Mzilikazi's tax collectors were killed.” Tracing this bit of information further back, he elicited from old people that the slaying of Bhoya and his companion, about the year 1830, constituted the casus belli which unleashed the war dogs and precipitated the Barolong nation headlong into the horrors described in these pages.

This book should have been published over ten years ago, but circumstances beyond the control of the writer delayed its appearance. If, however, the objects can be attained, it will have come not a moment too soon.

This book has been written with two objects in view, viz., (a) to interpret to the reading public, one phase of “the back of the Native mind”; and (b), with the readers' money, to collect and print (for Bantu Schools) Sechuana folk-tales, which, with the spread of European ideas, are fast being forgotten. It is thus hoped to arrest this process by cultivating a love for art and literature in the Vernacular. The latter object interests not missionaries alone, but also eminent scholars like Dr. C.T. Loram, Dr. C.M. Doke and other Professors of the University of the Witwatersrand, not to mention commercial men of the stamp of Mr. J. W. Mushet, Chairman of the Capetown Chamber of Commerce.

The last time I wrote a booklet, it was to pay my way through the United States. It was a disquisition on a delicate social problem known to Europeans in South Africa as the Black Peril and to the Bantu as the White Peril. I called it, The Mote and the Beam. It more than fulfilled its purpose, for, by the time I left the States, over 18,000 copies had been sold and helped to pay my research journeys through several farms and cities of nineteen different States; and it is the author's sincere hope that the objects of this book will likewise be fulfilled.

In conclusion, I have to thank Rev. R. H. W. Shepherd, Chaplain of Lovedale, and Mr. M. R. Van Reenen, Principal of the Coloured Public School, Beaconsfield, for helping to correct the proofs.

SOL. T. PLAATJE.

32 Angel Street,
Kimberley,
August 1930.

Preface

South African literature has hitherto been almost exclusively European, so that a foreword seems necessary to give reasons for a Native venture.

In all the tales of battle I have ever read, or heard of, the cause of the war is invariably ascribed to the other side. Similarly, we have been taught almost from childhood to fear the Matabele – a fierce nation – so unreasoning in its ferocity that it will attack any individual or tribe, at sight, without the slightest provocation. Their destruction of our people, we were told, had no justification in fact or in reason ; they were actuated by sheer lust for human blood.

By the merest accident, while collecting stray scraps of tribal history, later in life, the writer incidentally heard of “the day Mzilikazi's tax collectors were killed.” Tracing this bit of information further back, he elicited from old people that the slaying of Bhoya and his companion, about the year 1830, constituted the casus belli which unleashed the war dogs and precipitated the Barolong nation headlong into the horrors described in these pages.

This book should have been published over ten years ago, but circumstances beyond the control of the writer delayed its appearance. If, however, the objects can be attained, it will have come not a moment too soon.

This book has been written with two objects in view, viz., (a) to interpret to the reading public, one phase of “the back of the Native mind”; and (b), with the readers' money, to collect and print (for Bantu Schools) Sechuana folk-tales, which, with the spread of European ideas, are fast being forgotten. It is thus hoped to arrest this process by cultivating a love for art and literature in the Vernacular. The latter object interests not missionaries alone, but also eminent scholars like Dr. C.T. Loram, Dr. C.M. Doke and other Professors of the University of the Witwatersrand, not to mention commercial men of the stamp of Mr. J. W. Mushet, Chairman of the Capetown Chamber of Commerce.

The last time I wrote a booklet, it was to pay my way through the United States. It was a disquisition on a delicate social problem known to Europeans in South Africa as the Black Peril and to the Bantu as the White Peril. I called it, The Mote and the Beam. It more than fulfilled its purpose, for, by the time I left the States, over 18,000 copies had been sold and helped to pay my research journeys through several farms and cities of nineteen different States; and it is the author's sincere hope that the objects of this book will likewise be fulfilled.

In conclusion, I have to thank Rev. R. H. W. Shepherd, Chaplain of Lovedale, and Mr. M. R. Van Reenen, Principal of the Coloured Public School, Beaconsfield, for helping to correct the proofs.

SOL. T. PLAATJE.

32 Angel Street,
Kimberley,
August 1930.