Mmegi Blogs :: Ghanzi In History (Part 7) - Indigenous Resistance
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Monday 24 September 2018, 12:02 pm.
Ghanzi In History (Part 7) - Indigenous Resistance

As we saw in our last instalment by the 1930s Rhode’s marketing dream of creating a white settler colony in Ghanzi had become a financial and social challenger for the impoverished Bechuanaland Protectorate administration.
By Jeff Ramsay Mon 13 Aug 2018, 14:41 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Blogs :: Ghanzi In History (Part 7) - Indigenous Resistance

As the frustrated Resident Commissioner Charles Rey noted: “They can’t see that if they don’t start new industries they will starve, as there is no market for their cattle and the government can’t go on feeding them. As it is we are feeding 90% of the Ghanzi [European] population.”

Notwithstanding their own impoverishment the white farmers also looked to Mahikeng’s support to bring in more settlers, while helping them turn the Ghanzi Crownland’s local Khoe [Basarwa] as landless farm labourers.

From a 1920 petition forwarded to the Resident Commissioner: “We also further respectfully beg to draw the attention of Your Excellency to the fact that there are hundreds and hundreds of farms lying waste there and only overrun by game and useless wild Bushmen, who will not work and therefore are of no use or benefit to us or themselves.

As these lands belong to the Crown, they may well be apportioned out to our sailors and soldiers (those who desire so) who not only fought our battles but also for our national existence and they surely have a better claim thereto than wild Bushmen.”

Protesting that there was only one white policeman posted at Ghanzi Camp [in command of a mostly Basotho mounted detachment], the petitioners also complained: “He therefore has no time to look out for our interests, or even arrest wild Bushmen who are constantly marauding, setting fire to grass and stealing and slaughtering our stock, and even when we have a complaint against a Native or servant we have to go to a place called Maun where the nearest Magistrate is found or we have to take the law in our own hands, which no one can blame us for one of our neighbours has already lost about half his stock from stealing by Bushmen and for him to complain is hopeless.”

While the settlers wished the colonial regime to exert firm control over the Khoe/Basarwa, they also called for it to remove the District’s other indigenous residents, i.e. Bakgalagari, Nama, Ovambanderu and Ovaherero.

In this, their leading advocate was for many decades Tom Hardbattle [not to be confused with John Hardbattle], who in 1936 protested: “I have heard a rumour to the effect that certain natives have been, or are seeking permission to squat elsewhere here in the Ghanzi District, amongst the European farms.

I beg to point out to you that this is an old grievance of the Ghanzi farmers, & in the past has caused trouble during the past 25



The Ghanzi farmers have petitioned the Administration several times to remove the natives out of the Ghanzi District altogether, as according to the agreement made with the original settlers no natives were allowed to be settled anywhere in the District.”

T. Hardbattle’s vision of Ghanzi as a homeland of settlers and subservient Basarwa was embraced by a generation of colonial officials and anthropologists.

In 1954 he drafted a historical account for the Mahikeng authorities entitled “How non-Europeans came to settle in the Ghanzi District”. Its opening paragraph: “When the first settlers came to Ghanzi the late Colonel Panzera came up with them as Special Commissioner.

And the settlers made certain conditions, one of them was to the effect that all Africans should be moved out of the Ghanzi District and no other Africans should be allowed to settle therein but should be reserved for European settlement and all Africans were removed to the Batawana Reserve. Only the Bushmen should be allowed to remain.” But, as he lamented, the Africans kept “drifting back.” The determination of most of Ghanzi’s impoverished white settlers to enlist the colonial regime in their efforts to subordinate local Basarwa as farm workers, while removing other Africans from the District gave rise to resentment and unrest.

By 1922 indigenous became associated with both reaction to a Khoe uprising and the global “Africa for the Africans” movement of Marcus Garvey.

The uprising began across the border in the Gobabis District of then South African occupied South West Africa (Namibia) as a local feud between a Khoe named Samkoa [known to the Mahikeng authorities as Zamekou] and a German family named Bullik. Samkoa’s band lived as “squatters” on the Bullik’s farm.

Relations between Samkoa and the Bulliks deteriorated after the 1921 death of Mr. Bullik. His widow began complaining to the local authorities of stock theft and intimidation by her farm’s erstwhile “bossboy”.

In July 1922 a camel patrol sent out to apprehend Samkoa was ambushed and repulsed. Samkoa gained lasting notoriety a few days later when his bands, which were estimated to number up to 300, once more clashed with the police, resulting in the death of the Gobabis Magistrate F.J. van Ryneveld.

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To subjugated Khoe in Botswana, as well as Namibia, Samkoa was a hero. His following swelled in August 1922 when he raided a Roman Catholic mission station at Epukiro, whose labourers then joined his rebellion.

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