oa Historia - 12 April 1877 : 'n paar stukkies van die legkaart

Volume 32, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0018-229X



12 April 1877: a few pieces of the jigsaw puzzle. The annexation of the South African Republic for Britain on 12 April 1877 by Sir Theophilus Shepstone, special commissioner sent for this purpose from Natal with only a small personal staff and 25 regular troops without any show of resistance other than a written protest is one of the enigmas of South African history, In the existing literature very little is to be found about the dramatic events of that day, The emphasis is nearly always placed on the political background, the consequences and the significance of the events in terms of the awakening of Afrikaner nationalism while the dramatic nature of the proceedings receives little attention. The participants in the drama are also often not properly identified. Here the members of Shepstone's staff are identified in terms of their careers before and after the annexation, their respective roles in the execution of the annexation are sketched and an attempt is made to capture something of the tension and the dramatic atmosphere on that day by looking at the personal and other correspondence of the participants and of persons close to them, at the only existing newspaper report and the few memoirs in both the British and Transvaal camps. A picture thus emerges of the tension below the surface on that day, constituting a cameo of the social history of one particular day.

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