THERE is the prospect of Zud Afrika becoming one of the most cosmopolitan parts of the world. In addition to the Hollander aristocracy—the descendants of Andries Pretorius, Jacobus Burger, Michael Van Breda, Joubert, Kruger, and such like, and the families of Huguenot origin—De Villiers, Du Toits, Du Plessis, Jourdans, Fouch6s, Le Granges, &c, there is a good sprinkling of Germans, and the British are spreading from the coast and the mines to the principal towns of the conquered States. And just as "French" scarcely survived the third generation at the Cape, so the " Dutch" tongue is bound to give place to English throughout the new, as it has done in the old, colonies.
The new government will displace the Landdrost (magistrate) and Cornet (or bailiff) with his commandeering proclivities, and the courts of law will have a new code whereby to adjust the relations of blacks and whites. Great complaints have been made as to the treatment of blacks in the Kimberley compounds. The magistrates will be subject to public opinion and a representative administration, which will protect free labour. But for the present, as Crown Colonies, the districts will be under military commissioners, who are being appointed.
One of the first results of English garrisons will be a stimulus to trade, and a consequent growth in the populations of the garrison towns. With this expansion and new social relationships, the various missionary societies, foreign and colonial, will promptly deal, in the interests of morality and religion.
It is understood that a considerable number of the Colonial and Volunteer troops will be encouraged to settle in the new colonies in such occupations as may be open to them, with a view of securing them as a Militia Force, and also to help in the loyal vote required for a progressive Colonial Parliament.
To prevent any calamity that might arise from too great an inrush of immigrants, Sir A. Milner has pointed out that there is only work enough at present, for a limited number of skilled mechanics who are waiting at the Cape, to return to Johannesburg chiefly.
But what as to farming? That is entirely a question of capital and enterprise. There are pessimists who say—
We saw as we went flowers without scent,
And dongas are streams without water;
The women are plain, if strong and square,
And the men without sense of honour.
While large tracks of land are a waste howling wilderness
Your view of these matters depend upon circumstance.
Here are a few facts.
The average sea level height of the new colonies renders them healthy. At the capital of Natal the average temperature is 64 deg.
The "five months drought of winter" can be met by reservoirs, lakes, tanks, and irrigation, as in Natal and the Cape; and there is some rain in winter. Our army 'when on the march was often watered by artesian wells. By tapping the sands water is got at the depth of a few feet very often.
Even the karroo—the wildest, stoniest, sandiest desert —is amenable to water and tillage—as the Mormons have shown at Utah; but there are stretches of fentile clay and loam land, and if it is mostly occupied by Boers, the Government can facilitate its transfer. Mr. Kruger has, it is said, a hundred farms. If they are not forfeit by his action as the chief cause of the war, they may be marketable.
Ostrich rearing is very remunerative, and is an industry capable of expansion.
Government loans for irrigation and the planting of trees would help make the wilderness to blossom as the rose.
The diamond and gold mines will take a leap forward under the new conditions, and require more skilled labour. The diamonds produced from 1867 to 1893 were worth £70,000,000.
An obstacle is sometimes made of white labour competing with black. For manual purposes, the native is the cheaper, but there is plenty of work the black man cannot do until he has gone to school.
Among the productions in Natal, and suited to the new colonies, are—sugar, tea, coffee, tobacco, arrowroot, cayenne pepper, and nearly all tropical and sub-tropical fruits and vegetables. Nearly everything grown in England will thrive there, somewhere.
Coal mines are being worked in several districts, and marble quarries opened.
For export the railways are available in many parts, and these are sure to be extended shortly.
Basutoland, the " Switzerland and granary of South Africa," is awaiting occupation.
The chief towns of the Orange River Colony, are mainly occupied by Englishmen, and all prosperous. Bloemfontein, Harrismith, and Boshof are sanatoriums; Winburg, in its centre, stands on grain, sheep, and cattle, Bethlehem, the land of plenty, trading with Durban; Rouxville, rich in cattle farms; and of Smithfield, and Fauresmith, and Ladybrand, we may say ditto.
Lorenzo Marques, June 18.—On Sunday evening, (June 17) a pier of a bridge between Hector Spruit and Malalane Stations was blown up with dynamite. Next morning as a goods train was crossing the framework collapsed, with the result that the engine and several trucks were precipitated to the bottom of the spruit. The driver and a Kaffir were killed, and two white men were injured. The bridge measured about forty feet. Passengers were therefore transferred to trains waiting on the other side. The Netherlands Railway Company notified that in consequence of the disaster all goods traffic to Lorenzo Marques would be suspended. The Boers alleged that the destruction was the work of three escaped British prisoners. As they were unable properly to look after the prisoners at Nooitgedrecht, the Boers were seriously considering the advisability of expelling 927 men and five officers.
Zeerust, June 18.—Burghers returning from the front report that the Boer commandoes have gone east and are dwindling away. It is significant that limited numbers of trustworthy burghers have been supplied with Martini Henry rifles for protection against the natives. Several pf the latter have been caught stock-lifting. Those who offered armed resistance were shot down.
Till Johannesburg sprang up, the Transvaal was verging on bankruptcy because the Boers are only easygoing farmers, with no idea of developing the mineral and other resources of a country; yet what has been done in cultivation shows how the sandy plains can be turned into gardens, and the buried treasures can create golcondas.
Then there is Rhodesia, the territory won from the Matabele in 1893, by the chartered company—a country awaiting occupation also, with Sir Fred. Carrington's troops at its little capital of Bulawayo, Lobengula's former kraal, on a railway connecting it with the Cape and Natal.
In a country extending from the Cape to 600 miles beyond the Zambesi, to the southern shores of Lake Tanganyika, you may travel hundreds of miles without meeting with a human being. Towards that wonderful lake a railway is to penetrate; and those who have read the travels of Stanley, Gordon Cumming, Speke, Grant, Livingstone, and others, whose narratives are now illustrated by photogravures, will not need to be told of the magnificence of the landscape, with mountains, valleys, and rivers, or the luxuriance of its primeval forests.
Some 3,000 Britishers were required to take charge of the railways, as the Hollander employes were cashiered as unreliable for such work, on Lord Roberts arranging to take possession of the lines for the Government; and in consequence of this that number of persons, including wives and children, left for Holland, via East London Port, in the third week of June. They had refused to do British military transport work. The railways outside the States had belonged to our Government before.
Then there were all the Government Offices under the military commissioners and magistrates, such as the police, postal, and telegraph, to be manned by Britons. There was an exodus of Hollander officials both from Johannesburg and Pretoria, as soon as the military governors could arrange suitable appointments; and some of the leading Republicans, not official, chose to expatriate themselves rather than become British subjects. There was one newspaper in Pretoria which still preached resistance, and, as in the annexed State there was a threat of punishment for rebels, so, when the Transvaal was proclaimed a British possession, no revolutionary doctrine would be tolerated in the press or upon the platform which tended to foment bitter racial animosity.
This journalistic defiance of the conquering power was but the dying scream of an effete Dutch autocracy, and another Press was soon to be established which would teach Dutchmen higher morals and purer democratic principles.
To contend for a Republic which would not give equal rights to black and white, Dutch and foreigner, was a poor cause. To ask Dutchmen to accept a representative government under which their fellow countrymen in Natal and the Cape were happy and prosperous, was an easier and more promising task.
Some printers' type in Pretoria had been cast into shots. The English pressman's vocation was to fire the shots of truth, and to show that whereas the Republics had been reared on " slimness," craftiness, and oppression of the weak, the new Power would stand on the impregnable rock of justice.
The lesson of this war, as of that in China, which now broke out, was that " the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof;" that whatever race possesses a portion of it holds it in trust for God and the rest of mankind, who must be free to occupy it on equal terms; that there cannot be a selfish proprietorship of any soil, seeing that land, as air and water, is essential to the existence of human life.
Is there a man with soul so dead, That hath not to himself thus said— This is my own, my native land?
Yes, that is a most excellent sentiment, and should lead to Paradise, but it is the nobler attribute of love which welcomes others to share our cherished estate.
Bloemfontein, May 6.—It has been somewhat difficult to put things into shape in writing you before respecting trade in South Africa from the hardwareman's point of view (says a correspondent), and you will understand that as a yeoman I am so tied down by military duties as to have but few opportunities of going into commercial matters on my own account. I have, however, seen most of the principals or managers of the large hardware firms in Cape Town, and there is only one opinion on the subject. In fact, I had to rub my eyes to see if I had not inadvertently walked out of one department into another of the same firm, so general are the remarks " that trade is good and likely to remain so when the country is once opened up again." Of course the business doing at present is almost exclusively confined to military articles of all kinds, certain goods in fact—("303 rifles, for instance) —not being procurable.
The value of land in Cape Town has considerably advanced, and this has had the effect of stopping building operations, although the northern contractors driven south by the war are doing a little speculating in the building line; but I am told on good authority that if the contracts are not finished by the time the country is settled they are prepared to throw up the work done even at a loss and go north again. The present great difficulty which has to be contended with is transport. One firm had no fewer than five steamers lying in the bay waiting for dock-room and means of shifting goods from the dock. It is ajmost impossible to procure horses and waggons, as everything is taken up by the military.
The expense of carriage to the Cape of such goods as stoves is very great, taking into consideration the large amount of breakage which occurs in transit, while naturally the purchasers are the losers. So much is this the case that I believe one foundry depends entirely upon this source of supply for its materials. Sometimes nearly 30 per cent, of a consignment reaches the colony in a broken condition. Naturally castings made from such scrap are indifferent, because no pig iron is used with them. Another difficulty with which the ironmonger has to contend is the large stock that has to be held owing to the time occupied in obtaining supplies from Europe. No doubt large profits have been made lately by the holders of stocks, as the war has still further delayed the coming forward of goods.
I have just done what a good many have not done, and that is ridden from Norvals Pont on the Orange River to Bloemfontein, about 130 miles, and I have interviewed on the way everyone whom I thought might furnish me with a little information likely to be of interest to your readers. A farm, from a Free Stater's point of view, has a definite value. It has a house with water-supply and so many acres, but whatever the value of the house, and whether the water is good or bad, £i per acre is the selling-price. A farm averages from 3,000 to 4,000 acres, and the arable land, which must be watered and is generally about 50 acres in extent, is said to be better than all the rest put together. Windmills are largely used in the southern portion of Cape Colony, but in the Free State dams seem to be more common. By their means large stocks of water are collected during the rainy season. The best parts of the farms are fenced with about five galvanised wires, the top one being barbed. The cost of this galvanising is estimated at about £30 per mile.
Wood is very scarce. I have not seen a tree for the 130 miles' ride which I have just completed except those just round the farms, which have been planted more as ornaments and for shade than for timber. A difficulty naturally arises with reference to posts for these fences, and I was surprised not to find more use made of the light iron posts which our manufacturers make. It is estimated that 3 acres of land will keep a sheep, and 15 acres a bullock; therefore if farmers settle they require to spend a large amount of money on materials of interest to the readers of " The Ironmonger." Wire, pumps, mills, and corrugated sheets for roofing are important items. The last named is very largely used in Cape Town, and as I work north I find it practically holds the field against everything, and certainly the effect is more pleasing than I expected. Corrugated iron at home is looked upon as only fit for chicken-houses and sheds, but one hears a very different story about it here. The Government House at Bloemfontein is a fine building, for instance, but the roof is exclusively made of corrugated iron.
Trade at Bloemfontein is very good, and one man told me that he was literally run off his legs, while if one could only get supplies fortunes could soon be made. At this place ironmongers' assistants wanted £35 a month, and it is believed that as soon as the northern towns are opened £40 would easily be obtained by a good man.
At present I am writing in a trench 30 miles short of Bloemfontein. We can hear the guns booming, and with glasses see the shells burst.
Meanwhile Lord Roberts, the genial victor, and the English officials he appointed set themselves in every way to disarm the opposition of sullen and resentful burghers, and to win their affection and esteem. By slow degrees it dawned upon the poorly educated though often wealthy citizens of Dutch extraction, that the Anglo-Saxon race was not all bad; in fact, that they could love and die for honour and justice, and so it came about, as the anxious weeks wore on, that the faces and the demeanour of the burghers became happier, and the sentiment of society generally showed reconciliation with the new and better regime. The God on whom they called to fight for them had surely been on the other side, and they must after all be in the wrong. They must make the best of the inevitable, and especially as they could make more money under the English supremacy than under the Dutch!