The 100 Year War of Resistance by Xhosa Against Boer and British.
The South African landscape is drenched in blood. From the time of its inception when the coast was navigated by European nations – Portuguese, Dutch, French and English – repeated violence has been visited upon its inhabitants. At first, the Cape was seen simply as a refreshment station by the various marine enterprises. Later it was understood that the port played a vital role in controlling the trade route on which it lay.
It became increasingly clear that to occupy the Cape meant being involved in the interior, and indeed occupying that as well. So, after the violent settling of the Cape and the rapid expansion of settlers into the interior, these clashes, which resulted in the genocide against the San and Khoi, were encountered by the Xhosa of the now eastern-Cape. This clash of civilisations was to result in an armed conflict lasting one hundred years.
From 1779 to 1879 the Xhosa people were subjected to nine wars of aggression, first by the Afrikaner settlers and then British colonial and settler forces intent on conquering their territory.
The enormity of this event is still seemingly lost on South Africans. In our popular imagination we see the Zulu as the epitome of the African warrior, when it is the San, Khoi and particularly the Xhosa that are more deserving of the title. Any nation that could stave off the admittedly superior arms technology of the British for a period of one hundred years deserves recognition.
The horrors that were inflicted on these brave patriots who fiercely resisted domination are almost unimaginable to us today. The tactics such as scorched earth policies, banishments, massacres, and divisionary strategies that they experienced would go on to be employed throughout the dominated regions of empire.
This essay looks at the land, which was occupied, desired, defended, lost, and won. In it we see its current uses and conditions, both for the victors and the vanquished. We are able to imagine the heroism and misery of its population as people chose to either defend or attack. We see, too, how little of this memory is commemorated or honoured. We see the smug conquerors and their victims. We see the continuing collaborations, which have always been necessary to maintain the status quo. We see the beauty, which stirred the souls of the inhabitants and the lust of the invaders.
Through revisiting this painful past in the contemporary scenes of today, this work attempts to place the present in its factual context of dispossession and conquest, We begin to understand the troubled nature of a people vanquished through open warfare and every divisionary trick in the book.
Cedric Nunn, 2014.