National Geographic : 1896 May
AFRICA SINCE 1888 by the English; these have in the main been absorbed by the Boers. Between 1820 and 1830 slavery was abolished by Great Brit ain. The Dutch, who were engaged in trade and agriculture, freed their slaves and remained in Cape Colony, mingling more and more with the English; those engaged in the raising of cat tle, dissatisfied with the compensation offered, moved north ward, though still under British dominion. The English and the Boers were engaged in continual conflict with the natives, but the home government was unwilling to defend the settlers. The Boers were therefore compelled to defend themselves, and thereby gradually became independent, roaming with their families and cattle, crushing out or enslav ing the natives, until they reached the Orange river, in the country now called the Orange Free State. Between 1835 and 1838 they settled beyond the river Vaal, in the Transvaal. Here scattered over a vast area each family occupies as many acres as it desires. There is no means of intercommunication, save by ox wagons, traveling only twelve miles a day. The people are with out near neighbors, and there are very few towns or villages. In such a community education is necessarily neglected. Inter mingling with English, Germans, and Kaffirs they speak a dialect unlike either the pure Dutch or the Dutch spoken in Cape Town. They live in perfect social equality, with a strong sense of personal dignity-proud, independent, neither rich nor poor, but shrewd and self-willed. Mr Gladstone has described them as " Protestants in religion, Hollanders in origin, vigorous, obstinate, and tenacious in character, even as we are." In time of drought they move with their families and cattle from place to place for pasturage, returning after the rains to their homes. The hunting of game is an absolute necessity, not only for the protection of the cattle from wild animals, but for food, clothing, and trade. In consequence, the elephant, lion, rhinoceros, ostrich, and zebra have been almost entirely driven to the north. When they are gone the Boer will probably lose his remarkable skill with the rifle. When the Boers receive a summons to arms from the president they take their provisions, rifles, and ammunition, mount their horses, and are off, the best sharpshooters and guerillas in the world, as the English have frequently learned to their cost, especially in the battle of Majuba hill, where, though strongly entrenched, they were defeated with great loss.