Chapter Nine
The Boer War

WHILE the Bechaunaland Protectorate was settling down under its new administration, South Africa, on the other hand, was destined to suffer a great upheaval. The melancholy events of the Boer War did not, however, greatly disturb the Protectorate. The chiefs were told that this war was no concern of theirs. It was only on the eastern side of the Protectorate, and particularly round Mochudi and Gaberones, that the effects of the struggle were felt at all.

An eyewitness of these events, Lieut.-Col. J. E. Ellenberger, C.M.G., I.S.O., later Resident Commissioner, has been good enough to write the story of what he saw. His account is so lively and vivid that no apology is made for reproducing much of it as he wrote it:

When it became clear that war between the Boer Republics and Great Britain was inevitable, the chiefs of the Bechuanaland Protectorate were warned, on instructions from Sir Alfred Milner (later Lord Milner), that if hostilities did break out, the conflict would be one between white races only, one in which they must take no part, but that, should the enemy invade their reserves, it would be their duty, as loyal subjects of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, to assist in repelling the attack.

Sir Alfred Milner was Her Majesty's High Commissioner for South Africa and the Resident Commissioner of the Bechuanaland Protectorate was Colonel Hamilton Goold-Adams (later Sir Hamilton Goold-Adams, Governor of Queensland).

The Territory was divided into two districts for administrative purposes, each with an Assistant Commissioner responsible to the Resident Commissioner. The boundaries of these two districts had been fixed by proclamation and they were known as the Northern and Southern districts respectively. The Assistant Commissioner for the Northern district was Mr. John Anchitel Ashburnham, who had previously held the office of Secretary to the Administration of the Crown Colony of British Bechuanaland (annexed to the Cape Colony on 15 November 1895). The Assistant Commissioner for the Southern district was Mr. William Henry Surmon, who had previously served in Basutoland and had a sound knowledge of native affairs. I was at the time serving under him as Assistant Resident Magistrate. We were stationed at Gaberones and Ashburnham at Palapye, and the headquarters of the Administration were in Mafeking.

-89-

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