Chapter Seven
The Queen's Protection

IN spite of the failure of his plan Warren had succeeded in confirming and emphasizing the goodwill which already existed between the British and Chief Kgama in the north. With the other chiefs, relations were not so cordial, but a basis was laid for the growth of confidence, which, in spite of one or two setbacks, was to find full expression ten years later.

Three years after the Warren expedition there occurred the Grobler incident, which caused some tension between the Transvaal (or South African Republic), and the British Government, brought down on Kgama the ire of President Kruger, and threatened to involve the Ngwato in a war with the vengeful burghers.

P. G. Grobler had for some time traded in the Ngwato country and had engaged in some transactions which Kgama deemed to be dishonest and from which the chief had certainly emerged the loser.

After leaving the Ngwato country as an 'absconding debtor of Khama's',1 Grobler was sent to Lobengula as consul for the South African Republic, and instructed to negotiate a treaty with the Matebele chief. The result of his efforts was a document which was subsequently repudiated by Lobengula.2 On his way to Bulawayo he placed a pontoon across the Crocodile River in order to enable him to ferry his wagons across, and instead of going through Shoshong, which in the circumstances of his previous business with Kgama he could hardly do, he proceeded to use the area between the Motloutsi and Shashi rivers, 'disputed territory' which was claimed by both Kgama and Lobengula, as a short cut. Returning from Bulawayo accompanied by a small party, Grobler arrived at the Metsemashokane River, a tributary of the Motloutsi, on 8 July 1888.

Some time before these events, two traders named Francis and Clark had been expelled by Kgama from the Ngwato country for offences against his liquor laws. Shortly after the expulsion of the firm from Shoshong, Edward Chapman and one J. G. Wood came to Shoshong to ask Kgama for permission to prospect for gold on the Shashi and also for permission to pass through to Matebeleland. Kgama refused permission to prospect but allowed right of way to Matebeleland. Chapman told Kgama that if Lobengula refused to

____________________
1
So described by the High Commissioner, Blue Book C. 5918, p. 29. Most of the information about the Grobler incident is from this Blue Book.
2
The authenticity of this treaty is discussed by Marshall Hole, The Passing of the Black Kings, pp. 187-8.

-60-

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