The Founding of Rhodesia
L ET us see how this Cape to Cairo scheme sprung into being by the founding of Rhodesia by Rhodes.
The Transvaal State emerged from its war of independence penniless, but the old arrangements were soon set to work again, and the new President formed plans for enlarging his boundaries. Bands of Boer raiders entered the neighbouring territory of Bechuanaland to the west, and established themselves around Vryburg to the north of Kimberley and Griqualand West. This country was the open door to Central Africa discovered by Livingstone. If the Transvaal established a protectorate over Bechuanaland, what would become of Cecil Rhodes' dream of a great northern empire, stretching to the Zambesi and beyond? He now raised his voice and cried to his country to act at once.
"Soon, soon it may be too late!" he cried in tones that demanded attention.
England listened, and in 1885 proclaimed her protectorate over Bechuanaland. The road to the interior was now open.
Stretching away northwards, beyond the Limpopo or Crocodile river, which forms the northern
boundary of the Transvaal, is a vast country, which now forms part of the British Empire, under the name of its
founder, Rhodesia. It was little known at this time. A few explorers and hunters had brought back glowing
accounts of healthy uplands,
One day in the year 1888, three adventurous young Englishmen visited him at his royal kraal at Buluwayo. They came to obtain his leave for the sole right to search for the minerals within his territory. With some difficulty they obtained it, and carried the joyful news back to Cape Colony. Preparations went forward, and a band of pioneers was soon ready to advance into the new country of Mashonaland.
In olden days the march of the Ten Thousand
thrilled the ancients with admiration. In modern times no more heroic march has been performed than this by the
Mashonaland Pioneers, who cut their way through a thousand miles of roadless country inhabited by a warlike and
powerful race of savage tribes. Dressed in brown corduroy tunics and trousers, with leather leggings and
"Buffalo Bill" hats, they started off in the summer of 1890. By May they had reached and crossed the Limpopo,
and were in the country of the Matabilis. Every
precaution was taken in case of attack from these savage warriors. The long train of waggons, each drawn by
sixteen oxen, was led by mounted troopers. At night a laager was made of waggons, with a maxim gun at each
corner, while an electric
Under the Chartered Company, which resembled the old East India Company, colonisation went on apace, under the
administration of Rhodes' old friend,
A party of 300 men, under Major Forbes, was at once sent in pursuit of the king. The success of the capture
depended on speed. So on
The night was dark, and rain was falling fast. There was no sleep for the men of Wilson's patrol in the midst
of foes, no sleep either for Forbes with preparations for an early start forwards. But at daybreak it was
discovered that the Shangani had risen in the night and it was impossible to
cross. Further, a large force of Matabili now attacked the men in camp, and all hopes of joining Wilson had to
be given up. The little patrol party must be left to their fate. That fate was learnt later from the Matabili
warriors. At dawn, Wilson had made a dash for the king's person, but a tremendous fire had suddenly opened upon
the little party, from a band of Matabili hidden in the bush. The handful of Englishmen fell back on a large
mound. Here they dismounted and formed a ring with their horses, behind which they took shelter. There was no
request for quarter, no thought of surrender. With "iron calmness" the men fought on for two long hours, till
their ammunition gave out. As soon as the supreme moment came, those who were yet able to rise, stood shoulder
to shoulder and lifted their hats. Then, said the Matabili afterwards—then they joined in a
song—the missionaries sang to the natives—probably "God save the Queen," and singing, died. Still
one man was left, upright, hopeful, brave to the last. Alone he stood in the midst of the dead bodies of his
comrades, a hero among heroes, and single-handed he fought the foe, till he too fell dead at the last. The
desperate bravery of Wilson's heroic band struck the natives with awe and reverence.
Soon after this Lobengula died, the Matabili submitted, and the British flag waved over Buluwayo. The new country was won and named after the man, who had not only dreamed of a northern empire, but made it possible for his country to conquer and colonise it.