Statement and Attestations; “Statement of Sechele, Paramount Chief of the Bakwaina”; “The Attack on Sechele”

Please turn your mobile device to landscape or widen your browser window for optimal viewing of this archival document.



I have heard that the Boers say Livingstone
sold me guns. they tell falsehoods. he never sold
me any nor yet lent me any.

I was never under Mosilikatse's rule. he made
war upon and beat me but I did not submit
to him. I went to the Kalagare where he was
not able to follow me

                                The Boers also say that
that I became their servant and thay I made
a treaty with them. I never made a treaty
with them nor yet submited to be ruled
by them. The only instance in wich I requested
their assistance was when the Matabele
attacked me at Shokwane. this they
refused saying the Matabele have ^ attacked you
and not us. This was long after the Matabele
had been driven out of the country by
Dingaan. When they attacked me they
were on their way to attack Sebegue who had
not long before returned from the Kalagare
wither he had fled a long while before with
all his people and cattle to escape Mosilikatse
Mosilikatse hearing of his return had sent an army
against him

Translated from Sechele's statement Secele
    by me in his presence             Samuel Edwards
                                Cape Town May 1853.


Statements made by
the Bakwain chief
Sechele, in Cape
, 7th May 1853,
and confirmed by him,
on the 11th May 1853,
in the presence of
    Wm. Thomson,
    Samuel Edwards

I have to the best of my ability translated to Sechele
the Chief of the Bakwaina the above paper from
the Cape Town Mail of 26th April 1853 entitled "The
Story of the Black Pot" alias. "The Story of Selling
the Gun" and he affirms the statement it contains
to be correct.
                                        Samuel Edwards

The above statement, Mr Edwards acting as Interpreter, was
confirmed in my presence -
                                                            Wm. Thompson-
11th 1853-

The statement made by Sechele with reference to the attack,
upon him by the Boers, and published in the "Cape Town Mail"
a copy of which is appended, is confirmed this day, 11th May
1853, Mr Edwards acting as Interpreter, in my presence.
                                                        William Thompson-

Cape Town
11th May 1853.


"Cape T. Mail", 30th April 1853–

The following statement, made and signed by the Bakwaina Chief Sechele, now in Cape Town, on his way to England, has been forwarded to us for publication :—

Statement of Sechele, Paramount Chief of the Bakwaina

I am Sechele, son of Motchuazele, chief of the Bakuena. My father died while I was still young. After his death the Matabele under Mosilikatsi made war upon my country, and destroyed my town. I fled with my people to another part of our country near the desert. The Matabele afterwards came out against us several times; but we always escaped from them by going into the Kalagare desert, where they could not follow us, because they did not know where water was to be found, and again returning when our enemies had gone back. We were living at a place called Kopong, when we heard that Mosilikatsi had been attached by the Boers. Fearing that the Matabele in flying from the Boers might fall upon us, we removed to another part of our country, to a place called Lopepe. We lived there some time when we heard that Dingaan had attached the Matabele, and driven them out of the country. We then removed back to Shakwane, the site of one of our former towns. About five years afterwards I was again attacked by the Matabele. Hearing that some Boers were hunting on the Mariqua, I went to them and requested their assistance against my enemies. They answered me, "the Matabele have not attacked our country, therefore we cannot interfere." These were the first Boers I had ever seen. I then went back and collected my people together, and removed with them to a place called Chonuane, in the Bakhatla country, near the Mariqua, on account of the game which was there in large numbers. At this place I was visited by some of Potgieter's people. They had brought cattle for sale, these I purchased for ivory. I also allowed them to hire some of my people to go and work for them. About three years after this, Livingstone came to live with me, and to preach the Word of God. After a while, a message came by some of Mokhatla's men from the Boers to say I must give up all my guns. Livingstone then went to the Boers to ask them why they wished to take away my guns. They said it was because I had come into their country. Some of these guns I had purchased from Boers, others from Griquas and English traders. About one year after this, I removed to Kolobeng in my own country. The boers now sent me repeated orders to say I must stop the English from travelling into my country, and also to say that they were the masters of the land. I always refused to comply with their demands. They, however, contined sending letters to me threatening me with war, if I did not obey them. I refused to comply with any of their orders. I told them I would sooner die than become their slave. The English I said were my friends; I received everything from them. I also told them I was not at Chonuane any longer, which they said was their country. Another reason why I refused to submit to their rule was, I knew they ill-treated those tribes already under them, taking away their cattle and children without cause. I had heard also from some of my people who had been working for the boers of the manner in which they had treated Mangkopane and Mokopane, two chiefs to the eastward of the Mariqua, how they had attacked these chiefs without cause, and taken numbers of cattle and children from them, and that maby of these children were sold. Things went on in this manner till the time that the English made a treaty with Pretorius. After that, the boers called upon all the chiefs to attend a meeting. I refused to attend, because I did not consider myself under them. I learnt, however, from those who did attend, that they called upon us all to submit to their laws, and if we refused they would make war upon us. The boers said that the country had been given to them by the English, and that they had also been given them leave to do as they pleased with the black people. About five months after this, Moselele, chief of the Bakhatla, came to my place, he said, he was flying from the boers who were coming in a large body to attack us. I told him I was glad he had come to me, we could now fight together, as I also was determined not to become a slave. I also called upon Senthue and Segostsane to join me that we might be able to make a stand against the boers. They each sent a number of men, and these I supplied with powder and lead. They came on a Saturday, and sent me an order to give up Moselele; I told them that Moselele was my father's son, and therefore I could not give him up. I sent them word that the next day was God's day, I wished therefore they would defer saying anything till Monday, when I would speak to them. On Monday morning, they sent one of my own men whom they had taken prisoner, to say I must send all the women and children out of the place, as they intended to fight. I sent back a message to them saying, we had better speak first. They said there is no tome to speak now, if you are afraid to fight give up all your guns, all your oxen, all your sheep, all your goats, and all your childdren; also your corn, which we want for our horses. I said, my children and my guns I cannot give you. These can only be taken when I am dead. They commenced the attack, my people tried to fight, but they could not fight with boers. The tribes whom I had called to my assistance fled at the first fire. I was surrounded on a hill, with only a few men, by the boers. I fought till it was dark, and retreated to another hill. The boers took, I think, one thousand children from my town, two hundred women, burnt my town, took all the things belonging to the English, which had been left in my charge, most of the cattle, sheep, and goats, belonging to myself and people. Eighty-nine of my men fell in the fight. I retreated with my people (those I had left), to the borders of the Kalagare. The boers have since sent to me desiring peace. I told them I wanted my children back, and those of my people,-- and then I would make peace. They said, they could not give them back. I now determined to go to the English, and request them to reprimand the boers, and restore peace to my country. If the English do not assist me, I am a dead man. I do not know where to go. The boers will not allow us to live any longer. What grieves me very much also is, that I shall not be able to hear the word of God any longer, the missionarries being also driven out of the country.

(Signed)         Secele.  

Translated from Sechele's statement by me, in his presence, Samuel Edwards.    

Cape Town, April 21, 1853.

The Attack on Sechele.

Extract of a letter taken from the G. T. Journal,

Colesberg, Dec. 1st. 1852.    

"I have this day seen in your paper an account of the attack of the Emigrant Boers on Sechele's kraal, and having just returned from the interior, am able to confirm it in every respect. On our road back we outspanned on the site of Sechele's kraal, which we found burnt down, and about twenty skeletons lying on and about the hill. The Boers took fifty five of our oxen, and nearly all the loose cattle belonging to the English now in the interior. The Kafirs report that the Boers have also sent a strong commando to attach the travellers at the Lake. The Boers are forming another commando to attack Mahura, chief of the Batlapis, and in order to veil their proceedings they represent that they are going to revenge a massacre which they allege to have been recently committed by Moselekatse. As we were hunting all this year on the borders of his country, far beyond the Boers, I can confidently state that none of the Boers have been within one hundred and fifty miles of any of his people. It is quite true about their ransacking Dr. Livingstone and Mr. Edward's houses, and also about their taking the latter gentleman and Mr. Inglis to Mahalisberg. The Kafirs we met on our road were starving, and Santonay, one of the chiefs, told us, that in the event of continued attacks, his and the other tribes intended to seek refuge under the British Government in the Colony.

W. F. Webb.                

late of the 17th Lancers.["]    

Item Details

Author(s) & contributor(s): Sechele I; Samuel Edwards; William Thompson; Anonymous; William F. Webb

Date(s): 7 May 1853; 11 May 1853; 11 May 1853; 11 May 1853; 21 April 1853; 30 April 1853; 1 December 1852

Place(s) of creation: Cape Town; Cape Town; Colesberg

Form & transmission history: Statement with two original signatures, as translated and written down by a British individual and as attested by another British individual; also appended: published version of same statement with an additional letter from a British hunter provided for context.

Object description: Blue two-sided letter with significant discoloration, in three hands in dark brown ink. Single-column newspaper article on yellowed paper, with annotation with one hand in brown ink.

Repository: University of London. School of Oriental and African Studies (London, United Kingdom)

Shelfmark / Identifier: CWM/LMS/South Africa/Incoming Correspondence/Box 28/File 2/Jacket C

Digital edition & date: One More Voice, 2020

Critical editing & encoding: Justin D. Livingstone, Mary Borgo Ton, Adrian S. Wisnicki

Cite this digital edition (MLA): Sechele I; Samuel Edwards; William Thompson; Anonymous; William F. Webb. “Statement and Attestations; ‘Statement of Sechele, Paramount Chief of the Bakwaina’; ‘The Attack on Sechele’” (7 May 1853; 11 May 1853; 11 May 1853; 11 May 1853; 21 April 1853; 30 April 1853; 1 December 1852). Justin D. Livingstone, Mary Borgo Ton, Adrian S. Wisnicki, eds. One More Voice, site launch edition, 2020,

Rights: Critically-edited text copyright One More Voice. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International

Accessibility: One More Voice digital facsimiles approximate the textual, structural, and material features of original documents. However, because such features may reduce accessibility, each facsimile allows users to toggle such features on and off as needed.

Production note: The editors produced this edition through a rigorous process that involved transcribing and encoding the text directly from images of the original document using the One More Voice coding guidelines (PDF). Users, however, are encouraged to consult the original document if possible.