The South African War
Part 4: Aftermath
Why did the SA War end?
- Boers prolonged the war but could not win it.
- British had larger numbers of soldiers in the field,
superior weapons and resources.
- Boer farms were devastated by British Scorched
Earth Policy
- Loss of lives in concentration camps → Fear that
entire Afrikaner volk (people) would die out.
- Concern that Africans were reclaiming land in the
republics they had lost to Boers (NB: Zulu attack
on a commando at Holkrantz in 1902).
- Many Boers had surrendered (hensoppers)
although a hard core of bittereinders (bitter
enders) were fought until the very end.
Treaty of Vereeninging - 1902
• 1901 peace negotiations at Middelburg broke
down – war dragged on another 13 months
• May 1902: 60 Boer representatives (voted for
by the commandos) met with British at
• Generals Botha and Smuts played key role in
• 31 May 1902 peace treaty was signed (54 of
the 60 Boer representatives agreed to the
Treaty of Vereeniging - 1902
• Boers were forced to accept British rule but
British agreed to the following conditions:
– Protection of Dutch language
– Protection of Boer property rights
– Promise of eventual self-government
– Agreement that no rights would be given to blacks
until self-government was set up
– The British would pay 3 million towards
settlement of Boer war debts. (The war had
already cost the British over £200 million)
Signing the Treaty of Vereeniging at
Melrose House 31 May 1902
Accessed at:
Human Cost of the South African War
Military casualties
22,000 British soldiers died (35% in action 65% of disease)
(Did you know? 80% of British men presenting for service
in the Boer War were found by the Army Medical Corps to
be physically unfit to fight.)
4,000 – 7,000 Boer soldiers died (estimates vary)
Unknown how many black soldiers and agterryers died
Civilian casualties:
• 27,927 Boer civilians died in concentration camps
• At least 15,00 Black people died in camps.
Did the South African War cause
the rise of Afrikaner nationalism
in the 20 century?
Afrikaner Nationalism
• Some historians, such as G H L Le May, below
have argued that the war gave rise to Afrikaner
“In the event, the memory of the war, carefully
nurtured as it was, did more to unite
Afrikanerdom than Kruger had ever succeeded
in doing. The war gave to Afrikaners
throughout South Africa common victims to
mourn, common injuries upon which to brood,
a common cause in the restoration of
(S.B. Spies, Methods of Barbarism, p.337)
Afrikaner Nationalism
Other historians disagree:
‘…In the early years after of the century,
Afrikaners were fratricidally divided [brother
against brother]. The war and its settlement
were not an automatic forcing ground for
Afrikaner nationalism…the need to create a new
‘imagined’ community arose at the moment of
greatest external challenge and internal
(S.Marks, Cambridge History of South Africa
(2012) p.181)
Some Boers did not see the end of the
war as a British victory.
The author Stuart Cloete’s main character in his romance Rags of Glory,
Louis van den Berg, says to himself on returning home after the war:
“The British were of no importance now. They could do nothing
more to him, these well-fed, red-faced Tommies, the smart officers
on their fat, well-groomed horses. Victorious, yes. But he knew,
and they knew that the Boers had never been properly beaten, had
not been brought to their knees. Millions had been spent to bring
about an unconditional surrender, but it had not been
unconditional. There had been conditions, as there had to be with
so many Boers still in the field at the end of it.”
(Quote in J. GrobellerJ. Memories of a Lost Cause. Comparing remembrance of the
Civil War by Southerners to the Anglo-Boer War by Afrikaners , Historia 52, 2, Nov
2006, pp 199-226. 199-226.
While the South African War
was being fought….
What happened to the Boer
Republics after the British
captured Bloemfontein and
Pretoria in 1900?
British control of the Republics:
• 1900: British military governor (Colin
Mackenzie) took control of Transvaal. He was
supported by the Uitlanders.
• Lord Milner (Governor of the Cape and British
High Commissioner of southern Africa) took
control of former Boer republics late 1900.
• His administration, which included a group of
young, Oxford educated men was known as
Milner’s ‘Kindergarten’.
Milner’s administration supported
and protected the mining industry
• Production and profit declined during War (see next
• Milner wanted to get the mining industry up and
running as it was ‘South Africa’s one substantial,
taxable asset’.
• Mine owners had slashed wages (from 52s to 30s) so it
was difficult to attract labour.
• 1901: Milner revised and strengthened the pass and
liquor laws which existed in the Boer Republics
• Negotiated with Portuguese for access to African
labour in Mozambique.
• 1904-07: 60,000 Chinese indentured labourers were
imported to work on mines.
Impact of War on Gold Production
Gold Production on the Witwatersrand
1898 to 1905
2010 value
4,295,608 £15,141,376 £6,910,000,000
1899 (Jan–Oct)
3,946,545 £14,046,686 £6,300,000,000
1899 (Nov- 1901 Apr)
574,043 £2,024,278
1901 (May–Dec)
238,994 £1,014,687
1,690,100 £7,179,074 £3,090,000,000
2,859,482 £12,146,307 £5,220,000,000
3,658,241 £15,539,219 £6,640,000,000
4,706,433 £19,991,658 £8,490,000,000
No. of Gold output
Mines (fine ounces)
Milner’s Imperial Policy
Lord Alfred Milner (Governor of British colonies
of Cape, Natal, Orange River and Transvaal) tried
to Anglicise (make more British) the old Boer
Republics. He said:
‘The British population should be so increased
and British interests, British ideas, British
education, should gain ground to such an extent
that the natural leaning of any federal selfgovernment of the future would be towards
Great Britain and the Imperial Connection’
Milner’s Attitude to the Black
Population in post-war South Africa
“The white man must rule, because he is
elevated by many, many steps above the black
man; steps which it will take the latter centuries
to climb, and it is quite possible that the vast
bulk of the black population many never be able
to climb at all”
(Milner quoted by Marks in Cambridge History
of South Africa (2012) p.175)
• NB: Unlike the Boers, Black farmers whose
farms had been destroyed received no
compensation after the war.
The British re-establish White : Black
power relations in ex-Boer Republics
• After 1902 Africans were disarmed by British
• British used negotiation, and if necessary
force, to re-settle Boers on land and reestablish labour relations between white
landowners and black tenant labourers.
“The land belongs to the Boers as before the
war” A British Native Commissioner told the
• By early 1903 taxes were being collected
How has the South Africa War been
memorialised? (+ separate ppt)
• This is part of the memorial to the Boer
women and children to died in the British
concentration camps during the South African
Post-war Afrikaner Politics
• 1905: Leading Boer generals established the
Transvaal based Het Volk (the people): Jan
Smuts was the leader
• Het Volk demanded self-government (granted
in 1906)
• Won the support of English as well as
Afrikaans speaking whites by promising job
creation for all poor whites.
• 1904-06 Oranje Unie (Orange Union) founded
with JBM Hertzog as leader
Post War opposition to the treatment
of Black population.
- Many Black people had supported the British.
- They believed that political rights for Black
people would be extended if they won.
- Black people were disappointed when they
realised that the British were more interested
in creating a united white South Africa.
- British wanted to reconcile with Boers.
- New black parties established:
eg: 1902 – African Political Organisation
Steps towards Union of South Africa
• 1906: Former Boer republics were granted
‘responsible government’ within British
Empire (only whites could vote)
• 1909: The Act of Union was passed.
• 1910: The country of South Africa was created
- South Africa had four provinces: Cape of Good
Hope, Natal, Orange Free State and Transvaal.
- Louis Botha became the first Prime Minister
with Jan Smuts as his deputy. Both men were
former Boer generals and both believed in unity
and rencilliation between English and Afrikaners
Post War opposition to Union (1909).
• South African Native Convention Called by J.Dube,
JT Jabavu, W. Rubusnana in Bloemfontein.
- Demanded the vote for all men regardless of colour
and an end to racial discrimination.
• Rubusana (with Abdurahman) led an unsuccessful
delegation to London to protest against the colour
bar and the planned Act of Union.
• Ghandi also led a unsuccessful delegation to
London to give Indian the population’s view of
What happened to Black people
after the Union of South Africa?
‘Segregation was the cement of the
new white South Africa’
• 1911: Mines and Works Act (reserved skilled and
semi-skilled jobs for whites only)
• 1913: Land Act (Only 7% land reserved for black
people – this increased to 13% in 1936)
• 1923: Urban Areas Act (black people required to
live in segregated urban ‘locations’)
• 1924: ‘Civilised Labour Policy’ government
encouraged the employment for white labour in
public sector at a higher wage level.
• 1936: Blacks people in Cape removed from
common voters rolls.
The Native Land Act, 1913
The terms of the Land Act:
- 93% of south African land was reserved for
white ownership and occupation.
- Black people (70% of the population) could
own 7% of the land.
- Black people could only stay in white south
Africa if they were legally employed.
Who signed this Act?
- The all-white South African Parliament.
Impact of the 1913 Land Act
• The Act made sharecropping illegal.
• The Land Act was unevenly applied across
South Africa
• Many black people (especially in Orange Free
State) were forced off land and into ‘native
• Overcrowding, soil erosions, malnutrition in
• Further loss of independence for African
peasant farmers (some of whom were
economically competing with white farmers)
Black people’s response
to the 1913 Land Act.
1912: South African Native National Congress
(Later became the ANC) founded
1919: SANNC sent a delegation to London to
protest against the Land Act and pass laws. The
British government refused to interfere in SA
affairs but Prime Minister Lloyd George wrote to
“If they [black people] have no effective mode of
expression, it is obvious that sooner or later
results must come … The colour question is now
a world question…”

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