The Matabele War, Part II

J.V. Woolford describes how the defeat of the Matabele in 1893 led to the direct rule of Southern Rhodesia by the British South Africa Company.

Jameson in 1893 had to find an excuse to attack the Matabele. He had to persuade Loch, the Governor in Capetown, to give him permission to go to war, and Loch had to persuade the British government. It is possible to see here the germ of later Rhodesian resentment against British interference, coupled with fierce loyalty to British expansion. To this day, if you scratch a Rhodesian you will find an Englishman- with a difference.

We know from Major Leonard that Jameson supported Irish Home Rule, as did Rhodes. There is still a suburb of Salisbury called Avondale after the Irish estate of Charles Parnell, who supported Rhodes’s quest for the charter for the British South Africa Company, and Home Rule for Ireland agreed with the Rhodes-Jameson vision of a British Empire of allied and self-governing states under the British crown.

Republicanism had no place in their thoughts; but they were ahead of their time in urging something very like sovereign independence for the separate jewels in the Crown of Britain. Jameson and Rhodes ended in 1893 in having British forces as their allies, as they did in 1896 during the rebellions, and as in 1896 they were only too glad to get rid of them, so in 1893 they could not get them out of Rhodesia fast enough. But for a short time they could not manage without them.

Sir Henry Loch, a paragon of Imperial bureaucrats, had told the Colonial Secretary, Lord Knutsford, in November 1890 that ‘If the mining population learn that they are not subject to any lawful authority, the place (Mashonaland) will become an Alsatia and a disgrace to Civilisation.’ Knutsford, not wanting the expense of running the new country, gave Loch an Order-in-Council on May 9th, 1891, that enabled him to veto undesirable officers who might be appointed by the Company.

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