“The Cape of Good Hope”

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The Cape of Good Hope.


We have received files of papers from the Cape of Good Hope to the 1st of November inclusive.

The Friend of the Free State publishes the following report of a conference between the President, J. N. Boshoff, Esq., and the Basuta Chief, Moshesh, his Excellency Sir George Grey being present. It took place on the 5th of October last :—

"The President.—I am very glad to see Moshesh here in the presence of his Excellency Sir G. Grey, on the first official opportunity we have had of meeting in the Free State. I think it well that we should often meet, as personal visits are always much more satisfactory than correspondence by letter. As we meet now personally we had better speak of business. I have often heard that Moshesh is a man of peace and is desirous of holding peace with the whites. I am also a man of peace, and now in the presence of his chief men I wish to show him on what terms we may make peace and friendship continue. As the best mode t o do so my view is that, as I am chosen on one side, and Moshesh on the other, to see that peace is not interrupted, we should, in case any disturbances occur, let each other know our minds freely. I shall therefore tell him at once that I have, on my arrival, been very sorry to hear of many thefts having been committed within our boundary by wicked people from the other side. I would be glad to convince him that such things must be put a stop to, or the consequences will be that they will put the country in a blaze, and do great harm to all. These are all the complaints I know of as yet. Mr. Ford has already represented the case to him, and he has promised to punish the thieves, and put a stop to the stealing. I have no doubt that he will prove himself a man of his word, and make his chiefs help him to carry out his promises.

"Moshesh.—Peace is the mother of all. I admire what your Honour has mentioned. I would be glad to hear any remarks of Mr. Ford's in confirmation.

"President.—We will await your answer.

"Moshesh.—If no one else speaks it may appear as if these were the words of only two people.

"President.—I am the representative of all my people, and my word is theirs also. I wish to hear the mind of Moshesh's people through him as their chief.

"Moshesh.—May the things we speak of ascend to heaven! My mind looks on the two personages present as the first fruits of a new year. I do not mind faults being mentioned, but I understood this to be a meeting of friendship. I met Mr. Ford about the faults now brought forward. I do not deny that some of the things have gone in our direction. I do not know the best means of stopping these things. What has the Governor come for? Has he been sent by his master? Is there not a word of advice and wisdom? I cannot bear the weight of all. You come from the land of Chaka. If you have not seen him, you may have seen prints of him. He was ruined by his relations. You have wisdom to build beautiful houses of clay. We got all we have from the whites ; can we not make some plan by which we can enjoy what we have and keep peace? Dr. Philip wrote to the English Government when we were in trouble, and it assisted us. The complaints have not been sufficiently established. If you can show me the cause of dissatisfaction let me know. There I end.

"President.—I will take him up at the last word. The cause he must know, but the way is this,—his people come in and steal. The missionaries have been long enough in the country for them to know that stealing is wrong. I believe that Moshesh has enough good men among his people to help him to put down the wicked men who steal. I am glad to hear that he wishes to get advice. I want it also. If we can both get advice, I, for my part, am ready to take it, and be guided by it. If he is willing to take advice from his Excellency, I am also. I will state the cause of complaint, and if he has any. I hope that he will state any he may have, and then if I can I will remove it. I will tell him clearly in as few words as possible what we complain of. The thefts commnitted in Mr. Ford's district within two years, as carefully collected by him from the field-cornets, amount to 297 head of breeding cattle.

"Moshesh.—I have already agreed with Mr. Ford that I was convinced that some cattle had been stolen, and I have made him promises. Can you not give me some advice?

"President.—If Moshesh will listen I will just tell him the numbers.

"Moshesh.—It is just what I wanted.

"President.—Oxen and breeding cattle together, 363; horses, 294 ; sheep, 112. I was not satisfied with the simple returns of the field-cornets, and have instructed Mr. Ford to get statements on oath from the owners of stolen cattle. This is not yet completed, but is considerable. Since the numbers in the statement of the field-cornets have been ascertained many more cattle have been stolen. When the full amount is ascertained I will let Moshesh know. I do not want to do anything unjust. I will examine the list myself, and find out those for which Moshesh is answerable, and when this number has been ascertained I will tell Moshesh. I have now ordered the Landdrosts to send in monthly returns of stolen cattle, with all the particulars of the theft, instead of allowing the list to accumulate for two years. I will tell him also that it is not only from Mr. Ford's district that complaints are made. I have received reports also from Mr. Orpen that thefts of horses are committed on the Winburg border. Some of the horses have been found with Molitsani, and some have been given up ; others he refuses to return, unless the owners come to fetch them. This must not be. My people cannot be put to such expenses. He ought to have sent the stolen horses and thieves to Winburg, where they would have been punished by us. Stealing will never cease, unless the thieves are punished. Retaking stolen cattle from the thief is no punishment. He ought also to be fined or receive corporal punishment. If the chief refuses to give up the thief he makes himself responsible. We put thieves in prison, and punish them when convicted. If he did so we would not have any more stealing. He need not tell me that he has no power to punish those who do wrong, for if they can retake the stolen cattle they can punish the thief also. It is complained that Molitsani harbours Bushmen and other thieves ; also, that Letsela occupies the lands of the farmers and makes gardens there. These are the very people whom Moshesh promised Hoffman to remove last January. Molapa's people have also encroached, and Molapa, though he has promised to remove them, has not done so. I mention these things to show that they give rise to quarrels. My people will not submit to it any longer. Now, as he has asked my advice, I say that if his people will not obey him he must make them. He must take his people against them. Those things that they should not wish us to do he must not do. He would not be satisfied if I said I could not help such things, if committed by my people. I know that they can do it, because sometimes for months long no thefts were committed ; so, if they could stop the thieving once, they could do so again, and there are other chiefs who never steal. I conclude, therefore, that those chiefs who will exercise their power can stop stealing.

"Moshesh.—Can the names of those chiefs not be given?

"President.—Moroko, Jan Bloem, Lepui, Adam Kok, and Waterboer.

"Moshesh.—You mention those things, his Excellency being present. We must remember that we are on a friendly visit. Your honour must remember that you have been only a short time in the country. The Landdrost and I, who have long lived here, know better. The sword of the mouth is grievous. We had better not speak so, but separate in peace, as we have met in peace.

"President.—I think the best way to secure peace is that friends meet and speak their minds. I have stated all I have to say, and I want Moshesh to state any grievances he has to speak about.

"Moshesh.—Not to-day.

"President.—Very good ; I shall always be happy to hear from him about anything that is done wrong by my people, as war would only break us all down ; but if there is any other thing, as his Excellency is present, of which he feels aggrieved, I should be glad to hear it.

"Moshesh.—Not to-day. Let us go home. We can correspond by letter.

"President.—Would he like his Excellency to give us some advice?

"Moshesh.—It is not the proper day. His Excellency is not here to hear difficulties. We can correspond by letter.

"President.—I thought Moshesh would wish it.

"Moshesh.—Advice to a chief ought to be given in private, and not in public.

"President.—When occasion is urgent we seize the first opportunity of meeting, and, if Moshesh postpones the conference on these urgent matters, some accident may occur, for which we may be sorry before we meet again. It may be long before we can meet again ; it may not be easy for us to do so. We can write, but we may not understand each other so well as by conversing. I have therefore spoken to him in his Excellency's presence, in order that he might give us some advice, and that we might profit by it ; and it would be a satisfaction to go home with the mutual conviction of having come to an understanding to correct what has been wrong.

"Moshesh.—I did not expect that the matters already settled with Mr. Ford, and to whom I have already given an answer, would be touched upon ; and I have also given a paper to Mr. Venter, that people suffering from thefts should be sent to me. I am ready to hear advice.

"President.—I know nothing of Mr. Venter's arrangement. He had no right to make one. I was then in the country. Such a proposal as yours, that we should go into your country and search for our property, could never be entertained. Mr. Venter was appointed with three others. The directions given by all to Mr. Ford were good, and ought not to have been broken by one. If I was to send my people in that way into your country, it would only make disputes, and break our friendships.

"Mosheh,—I did not come to speak of business.

"There seemed to be some misinterpretation of the Chief's meaning in this last sentence, which had been interpreted in English by Nehemiah, Moshesh's son.

"His Excellency Sir George Grey then asked the Rev. Mr. Arbousset, who was acting as interpreter, whether he thought Moshesh would like to hear what he thought he ought to do.

"Mr. Arbousset replying in the affirmative, His Excellency addressed Moshesh as follows:—You say that we are wise people in being able to build beautiful houses of clay ; a man who does that is respected by others, but a man who raises barbarians in the scale of civilization is admired by ages. You are now the builder. You have collected some barbarians and made a kind of nation. The question now is whether you are to succeed or fail. Not only is South Africa looking on, but many other parts of the world too. Every good man is willing to assist ; no one more so than the President. I have had an opportunity of hearing his views, and I am sure he is anxious to help Mosheh to succeed. It is impossible that a civilized nation can allow a nation of thieves to remain on their boundary. The President and I are ready to put them down. I would be glad to see you more cordial to accept the President's offers than you have seemed to be ; and, as I am now going away for a considerable time, I should be glad to be certain that I would devise some plan for the future. In such a plan I will assist as far as the Cape colonial boundary is concerned. It must be greatly owing to your own energy that you have raised yourself to the position you now hold, and I would advise you to trust to that energy in future, and not to bad advisers. I trust that before I leave you will give some proofs that you will put down stealing, and allow your tribe to prosper. I am sure the President's remarks will be appreciated ; I have been particularly struck with their justness. I hope before I leave that you will promise to put an end to such practices as those that have been carried on.

"Moshesh.—We ought to praise his Excellency for his words, though we were not aware, when called to visit, that such things would have been brought forward.

"President.—If he is not prepared to speak on business, will he appoint another meeting, or will he go home and consider, and acquaint me with the result, and in the meantime try with his chiefs to put a stop to stealing? or otherwise consequences may ensue that we may all deplore.

"Moshesh.—When I met Mr. Ford at Sefali's I made an agreement with him that he should make a list of stolen cattle, with the particulars of theft, in order that I could call on the guilty chiefs, and show them the accusations against them.

"Mr. Ford explained that the list was in the course of formation.

"Moshesh expressed himself satisfied, and said that the measures adopted to settle the thefts on the list would go towards stopping any future thefts.

"President.—Will the chief give me some promise that he and his chiefs will endeavour to put a stop to any future thieving, or else the lists will only continue to in crease?

"Moshesh.—I cannot bind myself to say that there will be no more stealing ; thieves do not tell me when they come in or go out. Did I not at the meeting with Ford, at Sefali's, tell my people they must not even steal a goat? You must give me time. I have eaten the Governor's meat, and it will be easy for me to vomit it up, but it is not so easy to make thieves disgorge what they have stolen.

"Presdent.—I praise Moshesh for the manner in which he met Mr. Ford.

"Moshesh.—The sooner the papers are ready the better. I will make my report on them as soon as possible.

"President.—I will now go away satisfied. I shall always be very glad, with him, to remove all difficulties, as long as we remain in the same situations.

"Moshesh.—I feel as you do. I came to bring some words to my people. Peace and tranquillity by all means! They are the only things to be relied on. It must be the wishes of both. We must by patience overcome evil.

"President.—I am very glad to hear what he says, and I will remember his words.

"His Excellency the Governor.—Work away building this house."

We have also received additional files of papers from the Cape of Good Hope to the 25th of November. Everything was going on prosperously at the colony.

Item Details

Author(s) & contributor(s): Anonymous; Jacobus Nicolaas Boshoff; Moshoeshoe I; Nehemiah Sekhonyana Moshoeshoe; Thomas Arbousset; George Grey

Date(s): 5 October 1855; 22 January 1856

Form & transmission history: Discussions with Dutch South African interlocutor and a British colonial official, as translated by a French interpreter and as edited and published in a British periodical.

Original publication details: The Times (22 January 1856): 5

Digital edition & date: One More Voice, 2020

Critical editing & encoding: Heather F. Ball, Adrian S. Wisnicki

Cite this digital edition (MLA): Anonymous; Jacobus Nicolaas Boshoff; Moshoeshoe I; Nehemiah Sekhonyana Moshoeshoe; Thomas Arbousset; George Grey. “'The Cape of Good Hope'” (5 October 1855; 22 January 1856). Heather F. Ball, Adrian S. Wisnicki, eds. One More Voice, site launch edition, 2020, https://onemorevoice.org/html/transcriptions/liv_020045_TEI.html.

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

Explore complete/original item: The Times Digital Archive

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