1887

n Historia - "They are depriving us of our Chieftainship". The decline and fall of the traditional Xhosa aristocracy (1846-1857)

USD

 

Abstract


Dwarsdeur die vroeë tot middel negentiende eeu het invallers vanaf die Kaapkolonie sistematies die onafhanklike Xhosa gemeenskappe van hul grond, vee en onderdane beroof. Aangesien die stamhoofde afhanklik was van 'n stelsel van landelike beskermheerskap om beheer oor hulle samelewing te behou, het die proses van onteiening die tradisionele gesag ondermyn. Met die koloniale verowering van die Ciskeise Xhosa in 1847 het wette gekom wat die stamhoofde verhinder het om geleende vee weer in besit te neem en andersdenkendes vir heksery tereg te stel. Toornige onderdane het hulle woede vir die mislukte leiers gedemonstreer deur die profeet Mlanjeni te volg en die koninklike kudde dood te maak. Gevolglik het die Ngqika stamhoofde in 1850 gerebelleer ten einde hul tanende mag en legitimiteit te herstel. Hulle was gedeeltelik suksesvol. Teen die middel van die vyftigerjare het gefrustreerde onderdane binne die Gqunukhwebe, Ndlambe en Transkeise Gcaleka gemeenskappe - waar die tradisionele artistokrate óf met die blankes saamgewerk het óf gedurende die rebellie neutraal gebly het - egter begin om die koninklike kudde dood te maak uit protes teen die mislukte politieke elite. In 1855 het 'n longsiekte op episoötiese wyse 'n groot persentasie van die stamhoofde se kuddes afgemaai en die aftakeling van aristokratiese invloed verhaas. Die eerlose Xhosa veeslagting van 1856-57 was nie 'n irrasionele duisendjarige beweging nie, maar 'n burgeroorlog tussen koninklikes en diegene wat die gediskrediteerde stamhoofde omver wou werp. Sonder twyfel het die oorsaak van hierdie katastrofe gelê in die koloniale aggressie en inmenging in die Xhosa samelewing. Na die agteruitgang en val van hulle tradisionele aristokrasie, het die Xhosa begin uitkyk vir nuwe en meer doeltreffende metodes om teen Europese oorheersing weerstand te bied.

Throughout the early to mid nineteenth century, raiders from the Cape Colony systematically deprived the independent Xhosa chiefdoms of their land, cattle and subjects. Since the chiefs had depended upon a system of pastoral patronage to maintain control over their society, this process of dispossession weakened traditional authority. With the colonial conquest of the Ciskeian Xhosa in 1847 came laws which prevented the chiefs from repossessing loan cattle and executing dissidents for witchcraft. Enraged commoners demonstrated their anger with the failed rulers by following the prophet Mlanjeni and slaughtering royal stock. Consequently, the Ngqika chiefs rebelled in 1850 in order to regain their fading power and legitimacy. They were partially successful. However, by the mid-1850's frustrated commoners within the Gqunukhwebe, Ndlambe and transkeian Gcaleka chiefdoms - where the traditional aristocrats had either collaborated with the whites or remained neutral during the rebellion - began slaughtering royal cattle as a protest against the failed political elites. In 1855 a lungsickness epizootic eradicated a large percentage of the chiefs' herds and accelerated the destruction of aristocratic influence. The infamous Xhosa Cattle-Killing of 1856-57 was not an irrational millenarian movement but a civil war between royalists and those who wanted to overthrow the discredited chiefs. Without doubt, the cause of this catastrophe lay in colonial aggression and interference in Xhosa society. After the decline and fall of their traditional aristocracy, Xhosa people began to look for new and more effective methods of resisting European hegemony.

Loading

Article metrics loading...

/content/hist/38/2/EJC37795
1993-11-01
2016-12-06
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error