Chapter 06: Drums of Despair

Introduction to Bacon & the Art of Living

The story of bacon is set in the late 1800s and early 1900s when most of the important developments in bacon took place. The plotline takes place in the 2000s with each character referring to a real person and actual events. The theme is a kind of “steampunk” where modern mannerisms, speech, clothes and practices are superimposed on a historical setting.  Modern people interact with old historical figures with all the historical and cultural bias that goes with this.

Drums of Despair

Johannesburg, December 1889

In 1889 my life was carefree! I was fully fascinated by the world I was born into. Riding transport between the Colony and Johannesburg allowed me to forge a bond with the disappearing natural world and my interactions with the people of the land allowed me to study the human condition up close. Both nature and the human mind were possible pathways to connect with the eternal. Nature is an obvious point of connection. It is our culture that carries our religion and since it is the primary human connection with the divine I wanted to learn more about it. Its up-close and intimate study was the unintended benefits of my first profession as a transport rider. When I later chose to take up meat curing as a profession it was this exact same drive that caused in me the desire to understand it completely.

I found that when I considered myself and life around me, I understood everything, including myself, to be temporal. My mind, however, perceived the eternal. Despite the fleeting nature of life and its ever-changing cycles, I continually searched for that which is permanent. The grandeur of Africa, I could see with my own eyes, to be very impermanent. A consideration of the human mind, likewise, did not bring me any closer to what is eternal. My experience at the Shambles brought about grave doubts if the human mind, despite the noblest mental inventions of language, writing and the evolution of constructs such as tribe, nation and religion, could stop humans from wandering into the most ghastly cruelty. It rather seemed to me that the exact same mechanics that build the mental worlds of algebra and trigonometry, language, nationhood and marriage, created cruel systems of torture and horror.

I kept on searching, but before I could make real progress, I had to understand the evolution of thought much better. In particular, I needed to see the mental devices of our enormous brains at work. It was when I looked into this that I, on the one hand, identified only turmoil and strife for our land’s future. The mind, I saw, give us the ability to build a complex set of assumptions that we aproach life with. The natural world is unaware of our tribal affiliations or our systems of faith. Without humans, these notions disappear completely. The biggest impact of our culture on nature is where culture leads to our manipulation of nature and, as is mostly the case, our destruction of it.

On the other hand, I saw that despite the evolution of thought, even the notions of gods and demons, heaven and hell, are unable to align the human condition with what is eternal and fixed. I saw that if anything, these concepts brought about greater strife on earth and increased our cruelty to one another and a continual destruction of nature. So overwhelming was the evidence of this that I completely gave up on it at a very young age. I later abandoned my quest to touch the eternal and fixed for practical reasons of earning a living. It was then that I ventured into meat curing. What follows is the final lessons I had to learn to become thoroughly disellusioned with our mental world and any notions of a peaceful future for southern Africa. It was the simple, age-old disciplines of the art of curing and the wonderful complexity of the mechanics underlying it which became the tool that took me by the hand and brought me to the answer of permanency in a temporary existence. The rest of my story gives the account how this unfolded.

Reports from the Church

Inquisitiveness was in my blood and at 20 I was eager to know what forces are crafting our world. I had to consider if riding transport, which allowed me to study nature and the cultures of our land, would bring me any closer to the answers I was looking for. Daniel Jacobs whom I had the pleasure to host at my campsite was a dedicated student of history.  He was an author and a historian with a special interest in church and family history. He always travelled with his books. To him, they were his closest companions and it allowed him to read the most fascinating quotes to me. I became obsessed with tracing a story back to the very beginning and the first contact of Europeans with the people of southern Africa fascinated me.

These points of first contact showcased the different cultures and would uncover the true nature of human inventions to me, whether physical or mental images. I was too young to have been an eye witness to the first contacts but fortunately there exist many first-hand accounts from others. It was Daniel Jacobs. for example, who told me about the early years of the Cape Colony from the perspective of the Dutch Reformed Church. This was important since the Dutch Reformed Church became the dominant church in South Africa for many years and since it was the most important Boer church, its voice would be, if anything, biased to the Boer settlers. If it, therefore, paints the early colonists in an unfavourable light in its relation to the indigenous tribes, there is a great deal of credibility to the report. The night when we camped together, he read me some of his own poetry and when we spoke about the early history of the Colony, he fetched a book on the Dutch Reformed Church and read me sections from it. I was fascinated by an entry from 1795.

The DRC recorded how it saw the history, that “the colonists had been gradually spreading over the lands occupied by the Hottentot (1) and Bushman(1) tribes. These, too weak to make resistance, looked with no satisfaction on the arrival of the whites in their midst. As the latter were taking their lands, they retaliated by driving off cattle, and the Boers, taking up their long-barrelled hunting guns, exacted bloody and cruel revenge. The colonists ground down and oppressed by those in authority, spread themselves thus, heedless of the threats and admonitions of their government. That they did not spread more widely to the north and east was owing to the fact, that along their northern line the arid deserts skirting the Orange River offered little temptation to transgress the boundary, while at the eastern extremity they were fronted by the warlike and independent Amakoze Kaffirs (1), who, far from allowing any inroad into their territory, commenced a system of aggression upon the colonists.”

The “matter-of-fact” commentary by the Dutch church in Africa startled me. It was the stories about this eastern frontier that my dad would later tell me in great detail, that convinced me that the Dutch church was wrong in painting the indigenous tribes as the aggressor. The real aggressor was the white people, as he was in the rest of the land. What I started to discover was not the facts of what happened. These are very well documented. I started to understand the thinking that was driving the action.

“The farms, particularly in the east, lay very remote from one another, and between them lived the Hottentots (1) in their miserable kraals and smoky huts,” Daniel continued. “They still went unclothed, only covered with a kaross. The governor had forbidden, under pain of severe punishment, that any Hottentot (1) should be enslaved. Still, it was frequently done, as slaves proper were dear to purchase. Many Hottentots (1) and slaves ran away from their masters, particularly if badly used, and formed themselves into bands to rob and murder, and make the outlying farms unsafe.” (M’Cater, 1869)

My own experience informed me that the church was right. So completely devoid of respect were the colonists of the African people that hunters could, in later years apply on hunting permits for animals to kill Khoi or Bushman. The level of brutality by invading Europeans towards the people, beasts and places of this land is hard to fathom or put in words. Not only the Dutch Boers, but the English also partook heartily in the orgy of violence. They shared in the most savage treatment of the Southern African tribes. My dad told me about the wars in the Eastern Frontier.

The Frontier in the East

The savagery of the English knew no bounds! I always stop myself when I say this to add that many English were fierce opponents of slavery and brutality towards indigenous peoples, motivated by the English Church. Oom Stefanus Jordaan who’s farm I once visited told me that the continuation of the practice of slavery in the Transvaal was the spiritual motivation for the English to annex it and for the Anglo-Boer war of 1880 and 1881. (2) From the same parliament in London, not only unspeakable evil emanated but also good!

Even in my lifetime, visiting Boer farms in the Transvaal left me with a bitter-sweet taste in my mouth and I could see that the attitudes of the farmers were steeped in a long tradition of oppression and destruction.  On the one hand, these people were the warmest and heartiest people I knew. Rugged, industrious and hard working with a faith that almost moved mountains. On the other hand, I was angry to see the little black kids, indentured by people like the Jordaan’s on account of the fact that they were caught on their farms or captured when the Boers raided native villages or bought as “black ivory” on auctions like you would trade cattle. Slavery was alive and well in the independent Boer republics even after the Anglo Boer War and the treatment of black people in this way was a source of great anguish for me. It was and could never be right that any person treats another with such cruelty and disdain. This knowledge was one of my earliest childhood memories, the horror I felt when I saw people being mistreated.

The amaXhosa

In few other places in our land did the savagery of the English find a greater expression than in the eastern frontiers of the Cape Colony. The indigenous people they encountered here was the amaXhosa. The Xhosa nation never adopted the monarch as a powerful, centralizing figure such as the Zulus from Natal. In the Xhosa tradition, he was always viewed as the figurehead of the nation. The king, for example, do not appoint the chiefs. They are appointed by the people. When new chiefs secured the support of his people, the king would formally appoint them. In the same way, even the kingship itself was secured after a struggle between the possible heirs of the throne. The monarch would settle disputes and declare wars. The king ruled by the council of his chiefs.

The Xhosa developed a system called segmentation which allowed for the chiefs more aggressive and ambitious sons to depart and carve out an existence away from the ruler’s house, called the Great House. This was often the case with eldest sons from the Right Hand House which was a Xhosa invention to give status to the second favourite wife’s children, referred to as the right-hand wife and the accompanying Right Hand House. In this way, sons could splinter off their father’s house and establish new chiefdoms and still remain part of the amaXhosa.

The Colonial expansion to the east came in direct conflict with the Xhosa kingdom. The shadowy figure of Phalo set his Great Place from where the tribe would be ruled up to the west of the Kei River. The struggle for dominance between his sons would set the stage for another brutal war against the Cape Colony on its Eastward Expansion.

A short introduction to some of the key players in the drama is in order to set the stage. Gcaleka inherited the Phalo’s Great House with Rharhabe as his Right Hand son. When Phalo passed away in around 1775, Gcaleka was the heir of Phalo’s Great House. Rharhabe was his right hand son. In an ensuing battle for the throne, Rharhabe lost to Gcaleka and the former moved west of the Kei with his followers. The white Colonists would later call this region Ciskei. The region where Phalo resided with Gcalekas Great House later became known as Transkei.

Two dominant tribes now emerged. To the west of the Kei river was the amaRharhabe and to the east, amaGcaleka. This is important only to Xhosa people. As far as foreigners are concerned, they are all part of the amaXhosa. When Phalo died, Khwawuta succeeded him. West of the Kei, Rharhabe was killed in battle in around 1782 along with his heir, Mlawu. Mlawu’s son, Ngqika became hair apparent but since he was still underage, his uncle, Ndlambe was appointed till Ngqika would be old enough to rule. Ndlambe was the second son of Rarhabes Great House and Mlawu’s full brother.

Back to the east of the Kei River, Khawuta died in 1794. The heir in line as chief of the amaGcaleka was his son Hintsa who was also to be the ruler of the amaXhosa. Councellors would rule in his place till he come of age. This means that both houses to the east and west of the Kei were ruled by minors. As the minors grew up old scores had to be settled with other chiefs and more importantly, with the Cape Colony.

The Reply of the amaXhosa

It would be the stories of the frontier wars in the East of the Colony that would provide me with the clearest picture of what the invasion by the colonists did to the psyche of the locals. It became my most vivid example of the development of the mental landscape in the minds of people, called religion.

I spoke to my dad about the Jordaans’ and what I learned from Daniel. He told me that the Boers religion gave them the justification in their eyes to “leave” the Colony where they felt marginalised and treated unfairly and trek to the promised lands where they had, according to the belief of many, the right to dispossess the heathens (as they saw them) who occupy it. It seemed as if they had their religious beliefs forever, but here, in the case of the amaXhosa, I could see the progression of a god concept and how it morphed almost in front of my eyes. It was the actions of the Boers and the English in particular which caused the development of a theology among native tribes which does not bode well for the future. Like the Jews developed their Messianic theology in slavery and the Apostle John penned the book of Revelations under intense persecution by the Romans, so the soul of the black African, desperately trying to make sense of the rape of his culture and the persistent onslaught upon his existence, found solace in their deep spirituality which was progressed to bring hope. In so doing, the drums of desperation and despair would be heard for generations to come in this magnificent land.

The Cruelty of the English and the Faith of the amaXhosa

My dad loved telling stories. A story, as I learned, must have a beginning, middle and end. My dad’s story began with the arrival of a new leader for the Colony at the Cape of Good Hope in Lord Charles Somerset, the second son of the fifth Duke of Beaufort, a direct descendant of King Edward III of England. He arrived in Cape Town on 6 April 1814 as the new governor. Emotions ran high on the eastern front of the Colony preceded by 4 bloody wars with the amaXhosa as the Colony expanded and continued to dispossess amaXhosa land. As Summerset arrived, war was again looming on the eastern front.  To stabilise it, he first sorted out matters with the Boers. After a small Boer uprising was put down and the ringleaders dealt with, believing that he firmly entrenched English supremacy and their new rule over the Dutch, by 1816 he turned his attention to the amaXhosa.

In Summerset’s estimation, he had two options in dealing with them. He could either completely conquer the amaXhosa and rule over them as subjects of the Colony or they had to be driven out beyond its borders.  The amaXhosa continued to raid farms into areas that previously belong to them. Somerset, from his English- and Eurocentric perspective, believed he could “civilize” them. He looked towards the missionaries to teach them improved agriculture and a more peaceful Christian existence. My dad told me that Somerset remarked to Earl Bathurst that through these interactions “civilization and its consequences may be introduced into countries hitherto barbarous and unexplored.” My dad, as a follower of Alexander von Humboldt, did not share Somerset’s English and Euro-centric view of the superiority of their culture and had great respect for the sophistication of the indigenous peoples and their technology which, according to him, was above all, more in balance with the natural laws governing our world.

In the end, Somerset chose intimidation as his first direct engagement with the amaXhosa as he tried to end their cross border raids. He arranged an audience with the chiefs who ruled to the west of the Kei River, Ngqika and Ndlambe with some minor chiefs. So I became familiar with two iconic figures in the life of the amaXhosa in King Ngqika and Prince Ndlambe. Somerset incorrectly assumed that they speak for the entire amaXhosa nation who were ruled by two houses since the time of Phalo, the son of Tshiwo, the son of Ngconde, son of Sikhomo, son of Nkosiyamutu, son of king Xhosa. Since the time of Phalo, there has been a Great House under his son Gcaleka and a right-hand house under his son Rharabe.  It was Rharhabe who crossed the Kei River with a number of followers who fought a bitter war against the Khoi in the area over land and cattle and eventually killed their king Hinsati. He negotiated the sale of land for his tribe from the Queen, Hobo, between the Keiskamma and Buffalo rivers.

Like a complete fool, Summerset staged the meeting with Ngqika and Ndlambe as a theatre-like production intended to intimidate. Summerset was present with his soldiers in full arms while the chiefs had to leave their soldiers behind. Somerset sat on a chair while the amaXhosas had to squad on the floor. Ngqika was the senior chief present. Ngqika was the grandson of Rahrabe or the son of his great house. This gave him the rightful claim to the amaXhosa throne!, Still, in the Xhosa tradition, he could not make binding agreements on behalf of the other amaRharhabe chiefs. Ngqika tried to explain this to him but Somerset wanted none of it. He lost his temper and with gifts and threats coerced Ngqika into an agreement that the chief could not enforce. Confident that he solved the problems of the Eastern Frontier, Somerset returned to Cape Town.

There was another reason why Ngqika was the wrong horse to back in peace negotiations. In 1794 he attacked the great house of Gcaleka to the east of the Kei River. Hintsa, who was only 5 when his father died in 1794 was imprisoned by Ngqika, had by this time come of age and turned out to be a good and popular leader. Under his leadership, the Great House of the amaXhosa reestablished itself and was now intent on asserting control over the chiefdoms west of the Kei. Of course, this meant settling a score he had with Ngqika and he naturally supported Ndlambe as the chief of the amaRharhabe. This support from Hintsa and the new support he received from his powerful son, Mdushane gave Ndlambe great courage. The other encouragement he received was the support he got from a powerful war doctor, Nxele. In a sense, everything I told you about so far is only background information to set the context of this remarkable man who would have a profound influence on the religious life of the amaXhosa. It would be the gifted and spiritual Nxele that would become my eyewitness account of the development of religion and the mental images that binds cultures together.

The Gospel According to Nxele

Nxele was “spiritual”, even as a child. The great scholar, Tisani, a friend of my dad, says about Nxele that he “was a solitary, mysterious child, often wandering off by himself. When he grew older Nxele went to live in the bush for extended periods. He fasted there and on occasional visits home he refused food because, he claimed, it had become unclean during preparation through the sins of his people.” (Tisani, 1987) Early on in his life, he was already recognised as a diviner who called out the sin of his people.

He led the mourning ceremony after Chief Rharhabe and his son Mlawu passed away. Long before he learned about Christianity, he was a spiritual leader, at least in the same league as the Missionaries he would later encounter. His creativity would prove him to be not only on the same level but superior to them in his natural ability and perception of the power of the divine narrative.

These innovations of Nxele came in the context of a bitter war with the Colony. He experienced the treat of the Colony to his people on many levels. He started to meet the men whom Somerset relied on to bring about a peaceful British takeover, the English missionaries. He stayed with Chief Ngquika at Joseph Williams’s mission station for a week where he was exposed to elements of Christianity and its messengers. From the start, there was tension between Nxele and the missionaries.

Nxele was able to see through the intentions of the missionaries and still, to taker the good out of their message. He started to use concepts that he was exposed to by the missionaries and so he preached against witchcraft, theft, adultery and blood-shedding, decidedly Christian themes. At one point he chastised Chief Ndlambe for having more than one wife. He was not opposed to the total teachings of the missionaries and as a result of his influence, the missionaries were accepted among the amaXhosa.

Chief Maqoma. South African History Online. March 7, 2013.

He was able to identify the fault lines, not only in the Christian system of belief, but also the inconsistencies in the lives of its evangelists. At the heart of the missions of the whites was a belief that they were “better”. Their message, their God, their culture, their language, their music, their laws were in their mind “better” and in their view, the African was inherently inferior.

It disappointed Nxele greatly! Where he respected them for their spirituality and their pursuit of the good in humans, they did not reciprocate in attitude. The missionaries saw him as inferior to them. The “we alone are right” and “we are better” attitude of many Christians is something that I find odd to this day contrary to the heart of their message. Nxele’s respect for the Christian message and his disappointment in the messengers is something that I would experience myself in the years to follow. His profound disappointment resonates with me.

He correctly saw the Missionaries as equally zealous to proselytise the amaXhosa to the English culture and customs as much as to the gospel of Jesus Christ. In a direct response to the desperate plight of the amaXhosa in the face of the brutality of the English and the Boer, Nxele expanded on the belief system of the amaXhosa. From his deep spirituality, and no doubt, in an effort to give hope to the afflicted and to try and make sense of the brutality perpetrated against them, he progressed their theology and taught that there were two Gods being Thixo and Ndaliphu. According to his teachings, Thixo is the God of the Whites and Mdalidiphu, the God of Blacks. Mdalidiphu is superior to Thixo and the world was the battleground between the two – the age-old struggle between good and evil.

Nxele’s theology taught that Mdalidiphu would prevail against Thixo and punish him and his sinful followers. Nxele’s next progression reminds me of the sermon on the mount of Jesus when he said, “you have heard it taught of old, but I say to you. . .” In other words, I now give a new law thereby becoming a lawgiver myself as the son of God. Nxele did something similar when he said to the amaXhosa, “you have heard it said of old, but I say to you. . .” He too became a lawgiver. According to him, Tayi was the son of God and in an extraordinary move, like Jesus, he proclaimed himself as the son of God when he taught that he is the brother of Tayi. According to him, Tayi was killed by the white people and for this, they were thrown into the sea. They emerged from the sea in search of land, the abantu abasemanzi. Nxele was, therefore, the agent of Mdalidiphu and his son and it was he who would drive the white man back into the sea. His teachings were remarkable and powerful to a nation where the fabric of its society was being assailed on all sides.

One can see the comfort that his message brought to people, dispossessed from their lands and brutalised in every way possible. The hope that it inspired in the hearts of young and old reminds me of the hope the Messianic prophecies brought to Israel in exile in the land of Babylon. The fact that one people could inflict such suffering on another to precipitate a shift in theology stands as a testament to the cruelty of humans and at the same time, the resilience of the human spirit which is able to carve out hope amidst the most desperate situations! It speaks to the brilliance of Nxele! It also showcases a cultural device that oppressed people used, probably from the earliest time when the first cognitive and conscious humans roamed Africa, in which the human mind develops mythology to gives hope amid desperate circumstances. It connects us with the universal consciousness and allows us to look beyond our immediate circumstances. This is the exact same device that sprang Christianity itself and still, at this junction in the east of southern Africa, it was Christianity who brought about this unspeakable opression.

A Gospel of Peace or Eternal Struggle

If we now juxtapose the position of Pretorius and the fundamental Calvinism of the Boers who saw the land before them as a gift of God to be taken and from which all who do not serve their God must be driven with the teachings of Nxele, the clouds of war which I saw from the actions of the Boer and the Brit, becomes drums of war which declare the certainty of a bloody future. Locked up in the beating of the drums was a plea for recognition and humanity.

My dad did not have contact with tribes from the north and could not know their theological leanings, but he told me that he would not be surprised if the same fundamental religious developments were taking place in the black consciousness across the region as proud owners of the land, setting them up, in the most fundamental way against the colonial people and their drive to disposes the African tribes politically, culturally and in terms of land. Whenever I brought up the history of brutal attacks of Voortrekkers venturing into the interior by local tribes, my dad’s response was always the same. “What did they expect? How would they respond to invaders into their own lands?” My dad had only harsh words to Voortrekker icons, but reserved his harshest criticism for people like Summerseat and later Rhodes as the enemy of humanity itself and examples of the most wicked of humans.

The supernatural world had failed to deliver and the amaXhosa was faced with two options. Either they had to rise up against the white invaders with the help of the divine or they had to submit themselves to the new order as preached by the missionaries who laboured among them.

Two Roads

In the world of the amaXhosa, Ndlambe was recognised as the leader of the chiefs to the East of the Kai River and he had the support of the powerful Nxele. Each Rharhabe chief, however, had the freedom to choose his own spiritual counsellors and in reality, they did not all agree with Nxele. Chiefs chose councillors who mirrored what path they themselves favoured. This was nothing sinister or to be frowned upon. It was custom, and truth be told, in line with how these matters were being handled in Europe. Not that this matter as some kind of a higher standard, but it must be said for Europeans who would frown on this, forgetting their own history! It was the practice that the spiritual counsellor would limit his dialogue between the chief and the supernatural to what the chief was willing to accept.

King Sandile, Nienaber, C and Hutten, (2008) L. The Grave of King Mgolombane Sandile Ngqika: Revisiting the legend, The South African Archaeological Bulletin

The two rivals Ngqika and Ndlambe represented two opposing choices to the nation. Ngqika appointed Ntsikana as counsellor who was a Christian convert. His message was one of peaceful coexistence with Europeans through submission. Ndlambe, on the other hand, had the independent-minded Nxele who did not see himself as subservient to the Christian Missionaries; who was longing to see the awakening of black identity and prophesied that the amaXhosa would prevail against the white man. These notions were fundamentally part of the being of Nxele as we have seen from the theology he preached.

Nxele, patronised by Ndlambe grew in political power and wealth. He encouraged his adherents to, as it were, “go forth, multiply and fill the earth.” It is interesting that Boer leaders in later years would likewise encourage their people to have many children to strengthen the Boer numbers. Nxele taught that he would bring back to life the black people who had died and their cattle. He prophesied about a long and prosperous future for his people, built upon resisting the white invaders of their land!

Nxele served a useful purpose to Ndlambe in building support from other chiefs against Ngqika. Ngqika was married to Thuthula, Ndlambe’s wife whom he abducted and Nxele preached against him as an adulterer and their marriage as an incestuous relationship. This served the purpose of Ndlambe well.

In contrast to this was the theology of Ntsikana. He was driven by a vision he had to preach the Christian message in isiXhosa using Xhosa imagery and traditional forms of music. He used the image of God as a cloak that protects all true believers and the way to peace was by submitting to his will. Initially, he approached Ndlambe to be his patron, who wanted none of it. It was after this that he turned to Ngqika. Ngqika never converted to Christianity and never had a sizable following. Still, Ngqika saw his teachings in line with his own view of cooperation with the white colonists and appointed him as a counsellor. Ntsikana, in line with his theology, encouraged him to seek an alliance with the British. Ntsikana passed away in 1821 and his small group of followers were entrusted to the care of the British Missionaries.

This was the setting for another bitter war on the eastern frontier, the first where Somerset would be involved. So it happened that I was able to see the development of theology from the stories of my dad.

I discovered that not all good stories need to have a beginning, middle and end. That it really depends on what you want from the story and if you have what you wanted, sometimes it’s good to leave it there. So it is with this story. My intention is not to re-tell the story of the war. It is the development of the Black contentiousness in response to the colonial aggression which was the point my dad wanted to convey and the fact which informed my decisions about my future. It also taught me the valuable lesson that our religion exists only in our minds. It is our own creation. and as much part of our culture as our language and our technology. Without us, it does not exist. As such, it has no perminancy. It is not fixed, but ebbs and flows with the tide of human affairs.

Seeds of War on African Soil

Seeds of war were germinating in the soil of Africa. The exploits of the invader and the resister alike were being calcified through their religious belief systems and in a world where neither the white colonists nor the black people would disappear or annihilate the other, it signalled a long and bitter future of deep mistrust, hatred and bloodshed. I projected that true peace would not come as long as the traditional Afrikaans church represented the majority of the white population. That the time would have to come where a new religion must take hold which is not focussed on annihilating and dispossessing and killing, but where a positive message of hope and possibilities would prevail. I could well imagine a time when many will turn their back on a religion based on differences and what it is “against”. When others will not be demonised for being different and when respect would be mutual. This would signal the start of a true reconciled future where both black and white would live together as humans and will recognise the power in unity and freedom for all, represented by a new faith!

My Time to Play was Over

I knew my time was up to criss-cross this vast land and I had to seek out other opportunities. Apart from the nature of mental constructs and culture, I started to see science as a particular cultural development but built upon a completely different set uf presuppositions and an altogether more productive world view.

I am very comfortable with the image of science as many rivers feeding into the ocean of truth running down many different hills. These hills are African, Chinese, American, European. In fact, fevery culture on earth contributed to science. Science is the new religion that many turn to and as much as it is also a construct of the human mind, the outcomes of the entire enterprise is “better.” The one aspect of culture that I could wholehartedly ascribe to was science. So began one of the most thrilling adventures of discovery!

One day I embarked on another trip to the Transvaal from Cape Town. This would be the trip where a most fortuitous event would occur.  A problem that would lead to a meeting that would lead to a plan that would result in the rest of my life. On this trip, I met the most interesting Boer from Potchefstroom, Oscar Klynveld.

Photo Credit:  Hilton, T., Flickr


  1. The words “Hottentot”, “Bushaman” and “Kaffirs” were used in the original publication and is repeated for the sake of accuracy. Today they are recognized as derogatory terms and the use of the term Kaffir are prohibited by legislation.
  2. An article, setting out the case for the First Anglo-Boer War of 1880/ 1881 and the continued annexation of the Transvaal; published in The Times (London, Greater London, England), 22 Feb 1881, page 9.


Laband, J. 2020. The Land Wars. The Dispossession of the Khoisan and AmaXhosa in the Cape Colony. Penguin Randon House.

M’Cater, J..  1869. Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa. With Notice of the other Denominations. A historical Sketch.  Ladysmith, Natal. W & C Inglis.


(c) eben van tonder

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