Native Tribes in the Transvaal Refuse to Pay Boer Taxes

From the Camperdown Chronicle for :

Affairs in the Transvaal

The native tribes in the west of the Transvaal refuse to submit to the taxation imposed upon them by the Boers, and are offering an armed resistance to the tax collectors. The Boers are mobilising their forces, with a view to coercing the tribes, and hostilities are imminent.

Not long before this, the Boers had launched their own war of independence against the British Empire — the First Boer War — with some tax resistance of their own. , the Launceston Examiner published a somewhat longer piece that alluded to this:

We are not sufficiently acquainted with the tribal distribution of South Africa to distinguish the people over whom the Chief Mordsiva, referred to in our telegrams from Durban, exercises his sway. Whoever they may be they must evidently be both brave and numerous to have inflicted two crushing defeats on the forces sent by the Boers to raid its territory. That the Boers can fight has been too satisfactorily proved when they met and defeated British troops, and when they in their turn have to submit to the superiority of their foe these recent opponents must be a powerful body. Recent intelligence from the Transvaal was to the effect that the native tribes in the west of that country refused to yield to the taxation imposed on them by the Boers, and were offering an armed resistance to the tax collectors. Thereupon the Boers began to mobilise their forces with a view of coercing the tribes and enforcing the tax. Under these circumstances it was no wonder to find it added that hostilities were imminent. It can hardly be doubted that the later information has reference to the proceedings which arose out of the state of things then disclosed. At the same time there are few who would have been prepared to hear of the defeat of the Boers who evidently were not inclined to accept their first reverse as irremediable and therefore again marched against the recalcitrant tax paying nations. The second defeat cannot fail to have taught the Boers that they have no insignificant antagonists to deal with, and may lead them to reconsider the wisdom of trying to collect taxes from such are unwilling and powerful people. It is scarcely possible that the Boers will let matters rest at their present stage, and that a further effort will be made to enforce the collection of the tax, so that we may not have long to wait to hear that further hostilities have taken place.

I had a devil of a time tracking down information about “Chief Mordsiva.” Other sources from the period refer to a “Montsima,” or “Montisba Lonza,” or “Montisba Longa,” or “Montsioa,” or “Montshiwa.” One paper identifies him as specifically a Zulu chief, and says he was killed in one of the skirmishes in . Another book says he was a chief of the Baralongs, and was still alive after the war.

Another chief, Mampuru, was refusing the hut tax around the same time, and this led to battles sometimes called the “Mapoch War,” but I think that is distinct from what was being reported above.

After early victories by the resisters, the Boers and their allies beat back Montshiwa and his allies, and distributed the conquered territories as spoils among the soldiers. These became Stellaland and Goshen, and were, , independent republics. There is more about this in The Transvaal and Bechuanaland by Gavin Brown Clark, but note that the Boer and English versions of what took place are often very different, and the Borolong version is rarely seen at all.