Linchwe 1 and the Kgatla campaign in the South African war, 1899-1902
PublisherCambridge University Press http://www.jstor.org./stable/181722
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During the South African War of I899-I902 the Kgatla people and their leader, Linchwe I, became deeply involved in fighting on Britain's side against the Boers, and the history of their campaign helps in many ways to explain why some blacks chose to take part in the white man's war'. In contrast to recent studies which deal generally with black participation in the war, the account that follows examines the role of one specific African group and explains, in detail, how one black leader weighed his options, took deliberate action and tried to direct events in which he and his regiments were involved. Special attention is also focused on the Kgatla choice between Boer and Briton, their expectations when entering the war, their actual role in the fighting and their gains from participation balanced against the cost. Linchwe's Kgatla provide a particularly instructive case study, because in the years preceding the war part of his people were resident in the Bechuanaland Protectorate under British administration, while the other part lived in the western Transvaal under the rule of the Zuid Afrikanische Republiek (ZAR). The fact that they straddled two colonial worlds, which between I899 and I902 collided in war, was a major factor in Kgatla actions and deliberations. As 'partitioned Africans', directly familiar with and affected by both white colonial combatants, the Kgatla and their experience suggest many possible reasons why other Africans were involved in the fighting, whether against Boer or Briton. For decades scholars and amateur historians have noted Kgatla participation in the South African War, but only recently has research begun to reveal the extent and significance of the Kgatla (and African) role in the conflict. The research of Schapera, Ellenberger, Hickman, Teichler and Truschel has yielded much evidence related to Kgatla military activity beginning with the battle of Derdepoort (25 November 1899).