The South African War Part 3: Black People’s Involvement
Not a ‘White Man’s War’ • Black people were employed in a wide variety of roles, as trench diggers, scouts, despatch runners, cattle-raiders, drivers, labourers and trackers, and they were used in the construction of forts, the transportation of balloons that were used for reconnaissance work, and also as agterryers and auxiliaries. • Est. 100,000 black people employed by British, 10,000 by Boers during the war.
Black Guards defending a British blockhouse Source: http://samilitaryhistory.org/vol113nn.html
Why did Black people volunteer support the British? • Most Black people believed that they would receive better treatment under British rule. - Lord Milner told a group of coloured people in Cape Town he ‘thoroughly agreed that it was not race or colour, but civilization which was the test of a man’s capacity for political rights’. • In the British controlled Cape there was a ‘colour free’ franchise which was based on education and property - so some black men could vote. • Asians hoped that by showing loyalty to British empire they might gain independence for India.
Agterryers (Out riders) • Agterryers were either conscripted by the Boers or joined the commandos voluntarily. • The Boers utilized agterryers for guarding spare ammunition, looking after the horses, cooking, collecting firewood and loading firearms. • Some photographs of Boer commandos and their agterryers prove that auxiliaries were armed during the war. • Estimates suggest about 15,000 black agterryers.
Where are the bodies of the black soldiers? Constable James Kobe Madlaila of Steytlerville was one of the few scouts who had a tombstone over his grave with his name clearly inscribed on it. Most were buried in unmarked graves. And Black soldiers were not issues medals British.
Black people in Concentration Camps • Black farm labourers removed from land as part of ‘Scorched Earth Policy.’ • The blacks had to be cleared from the land to prevent the Boers from obtaining assistance, supplies and labour from them. • no material available with which to build proper housing, lack of water and sanitation • At least 15,000 people died in camps • By end of war (1902) 29 camps in OFS, 37 camps in Transvaal for black people.
Administration of Camps • In OFS a contractor employed to provide rations for camp inmates: 3½d black child, 4½d black adult, 8½ white inmates. • No official provision for supplying rations to black inmates in Transvaal. (women supposed to live off wages of black men employed by British army) • 1901 agreed scheme to allow black people to grow their own crops in camps (sites of camps moved to more suitable locations)
Black people in Concentration Camps Who took this picture? Why did they take it? Why is this mother covering her child’s face?