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History of South Africa podcast

History of South Africa podcast

Podcast History of South Africa podcast
Podcast History of South Africa podcast

History of South Africa podcast

Desmond Latham
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A series that seeks to tell the story of the South Africa in some depth. Presented by experienced broadcaster/podcaster Des Latham and updated weekly, the episo... More
A series that seeks to tell the story of the South Africa in some depth. Presented by experienced broadcaster/podcaster Des Latham and updated weekly, the episo... More

Available Episodes

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  • Episode 121 - Lans Hans Janse Van Rensburg’s fatal ivory obsession and the peho slippery snake
    Moshoeshoe’s elder sons were now at a site that was to be named Moriah, 24 miles south of Maseru, chosen by the two French missionaries Arbousset and Casalis for its beauty - and the fact that it was uninhabited. But before we return to what was going on there, we need to swing around southern Africa for a little update about what else was happening circa 1835 and 1836. The Voortrekkers were coming. Dingane was marauding - or more accurately - impis representing Dingane were marauding. Port Natal traders were conniving. The Koranna and the Griqua were expanding. The British were conquering. By now Moshoeshoe of the BaSotho was facing influx after influx, including word that more than 8 000 and possibly as many as 12 000 people mostly of the Rolong chief Moseme had arrived at Thaba Bosiu, his mountain redoubt. But there were also Griqua under Barend Barends amongst these, and Bastaards under Carolus Baatje. He welcomed these immigrants hoping for some protection against the Kora people, brigands who were operating with virtual impunity across the Orange River, predating on African groups as far as Ndebele territory along the Vaal. But the Kora heyday was over, by 1835 Moshoeshoe’s sons Letsie and Molapo were bent on proving their manhood and planned on attacked Kora villages seeking bigger herds and more women. Moshoeshoe got wind of the plan and stopped them, fearing they’d both die in the attempt. And yet, their attitude was a precursor to the Kora’s final comeuppance. Moshoeshoe was an expert at avoiding trouble if he could. He was going to need all his diplomatic skills because his territory was facing buffeting. At the beginning of 1836 as the Voortrekkers were beginning to appear and the Kora who had been strengthened by some Xhosa refugees from the Sixth Frontier War who’d scattered seeking a new home. These Xhosa settled at Qethoane under chief Mjaluza, joining the Kora people living along the Riet River - just west of where Kimberley is today. Soon Moshoeshoe was hearing reports that Mjaluza was demanding a kind of travel and protection toll from BaSotho trying to return to Lesotho from the Cape colony. Mjaluza was also seizing their cattle. A short while later he was informed two of his son Letsie’s councillors had been killed by Mjaluza. That was that for the bandit Xhosa chief. Rumbling along slowly, at 5 miles a day - about 8 kilometers on average, were two main leaders we heard about and will hear about again. Louis Trichardt and Lang Hans Janse van Rensburg passed Suikerbosrand which had been the scene of a recent battle between the Zulu and the Ndebele, then turned towards the Olifants River and descended down the valley through a mountain range they named Sekwati Poort after the Bapedi Chief Sekwadi. He welcomed the travellers, they were passing through after all and he had nothing to fear from the Boers. Travelling so closely however, was proving a problem for Van Rensburg and Trichardt. The Boer leadership had always been prone to infighting and their relationship was no different. The conflict was sparked over Trichardts advice, which as actually good advice in retrospect, that Van Rensburg should stop killing so many elephants. His wagons were now groaning with ivory, wiping out entire herds, and expending a vast quantity of gunpowder. He’d need that to fight off rampaging hordes said Trichardt.
    2023/06/04
    20:09
  • Episode 120 - Ploughs in the Platberg, the BaSotho, the MaBuru, MaNyesemane and the BaKhothu
    We join Moshoeshoe just before the arrival of the trekkers, as he sought to build his political power once the Ngwane and other roving bands had been defeated. Mzilikazi was attacking the area which would become known as Lesotho, from his headquarters on the Apies River north of modern Pretoria. His regiments were praying on the Shona people across the Limpopo and all the way down to the southern Basotho throughout the mid 1820s into the 1830s. Moshoeshoe was at great pains to avoid fighting the Ndebele impis, and in 1828, he had delivered oxen to Mzilikazi with the message that “Moshesh salutes you, supposing that hunger has brought you into this country, he sends you these cattle, that you may eat them on your way home…” Later Moshoeshoe would send cattle to the British governor Sir George Cathcart in a similar attempt at placating a threatening power. That would not work out - but it did work with Mzilikazi, who did not send another attack on Moshoeshoe, although he continued predating on neighbour Sekhonyela. Mzilikazi had also found it easier to plunder the Shona across the Limpopo anyway. From 1831 the Ndebele chief was also defending himself from attacks by the Zulu because Dingane ordered his impis into the highveld at times. Of course, the Griqua to the south were also of some concern to Moshoeshoe, but the Kora were a much bigger problem. Nothing was quiet in this part of southern Africa in the third decade of the 19th Century. In June 1833, what we know as LeSotho came into being for the first time and their creation was observed by French missionaries who wrote down everything they saw. French Protestants reached Thaba Bosiu from Cape Town via Philippolis, and of these, Thomas Arbousset was probably the most eloquent. On the 29th June 1833 he wrote that Moshoeshoe, “… has a Roman head, an oval face, an aquiline nose .. a long chin, and a prominent forehead, his eye is lively, his speech animated, and his voice harsh….” Later Arbousset’s fellow missionary Eugene Casalis would jot down a few thoughts in his memoirs, and his notes were more exaggerated and flowery “…I felt at once that I had to do with a superior man, trained to think, to command others, and above all himself. ..” And thus, in1833 the two French missionaries arrived, Eugene Casalis and Thomas Arbousset, along with a third Frenchman called Constant Grosselin, Remarkably, because they were tough back in 1834, Arbousset was a Huegenot of only 23, and Casalis was just 20. Grosselin was 33, a Catholic who converted to Protestantism, a mason, a tough subordinate. Krotz the freed slave guided them to Thaba Bosiu and this is where the first proper descriptions were noted about the bones scattered on the veld — and they saw the signs of the devastation that had been visited up these people, it was clear that many battles had been fought along the Caledon valley.
    2023/05/28
    22:09
  • Episode 119 - The saga of Moshoeshoe, how his grandfather was eaten, and mystical advisor Tsapi
    The story of south Africa is incomplete without scrutinising the kingdom of Lesotho, not only because geographic location means the mountains are part of our tale, but also because the entire region is intertwined like lovers, or wrestlers, or snakes that are hell bent on eating each other. Sorry about the graphic description there, but by the time you’ve finished listening to this episode, I’m sure you’ll agree with the somewhat over the top analogy. We must step back in time, from where we left off last episode, 1835, beginning of 1836 just to understand who King Moshoeshoe was, and what he means today. During his dramatic youth, events among the northern Nguni people who lived below the mountain escarpment, were going to impact the people who we now called the Basotho. Before these sudden surges of people and the destruction caused by the Ndebele and the Ngwane, the people of the Caledon valley and into the hills above lived in small segmentary chiefdoms - where the chiefs made political decisions after consulting councillors and headmen. The wars of Zwide, Dingiswayo, Senzangakhona and Shaka, then Dingane after him, had profound repercussions throughout the entire region as you’ve heard. For some on the high veld, the effects were catastrophic, Matiwane of the Ngwane had fled north as Shaka expanded his control, leaving his home along the Umfolozi River and attacking the Hlubi, who lived at the source of the Tugela River on the highlands. Some of these defeated Hlubi made it to Hintsa as you’ve heard, and by 1835 had marched into the Albany District seeking refuge, and being used as labourers. Small world they say. It was into this fractured society that Moshoeshoe had been born. Isolated and conservative, their culture had been utterly disrupted. Fields were not being cultivated and entire ruling family lines had been destroyed, vanished into the African air. Virtually every MoSotho had been driven from their homes, subjected to suffering and deprivation, human remains littered the landscape - and would be found for another decade. Crunch Crunch went the oxwagons in 1836.
    2023/05/21
    20:09
  • Episode 118 - Voortrekkers cross the Orange River carrying ancestral blood from the orient
    Hark! What sound breaks the inscrutable silence of the immense African veld? Dozens of wagons, which would become hundreds. Trundling along at about 5 miles a day, the Voortrekkers were leaving the Cape for their promised lands - albeit yet unidentified. This was a case of being pushed out at least in their minds - culturally, ideologically, fundamentally, they felt they did not belong in the Cape and the Karoo, they had been alienated in the land of their birth by the dreaded English. These initial trundling wagons were the first major parties of Boers under Andries Hendrik Potgieter and Charl Celliers - aka Sarel. We’re going to travel with these men and women, and also join African leaders like Moshoeshoe, Mzilikazi and Dingane, as they watched the approach of heavily armed and well organised settlers. Some of these regents saw the Boers as a threat, others as an opportunity. Andries Hendrik Potgieter was a resolute and single-minded farmer from the Cradock District in the Eastern Cape who had decided to leave with a group of extended family, neighbours and friends - 40 men and boys, about the same number of women and girls, more than a hundred Khoesan slaves all aboard more than 50 wagons. It was December 1835 when they crossed the Orange River, joined in a while by Charl Celliers’ trek party which included 25 men, attenuated by the arrival of Caspar Kruger’s small section - the one in which a very young Paul Kruger travelled. These two parties had crossed the Orange River separately, and it wasn’t a crossing for the faint hearted - the river was flooding and the horses and oxen swam to the northern bank as the wagons and the trekkers and their other goods managed to float across on rafts made of the willow trees that grow along the banks. As the women stepped onto the northern side, they began to sing hymns, here they were arriving on the hallowed land that they’d been hearing about for years. They had left the hated English behind, anything was better than that. More fuel was thrown on the fire of bitterness when word filtered through to the frontier Boers that the English had fibbed about the compensation that was going to be paid to former slave owners after emancipation - less than half of the 3.4 million pounds worldwide was now available, and the British had put a price of 73.9 shillings on each slave. 73.9 shillings and 11 pence to be precise. That’s about 10 rand in today’s currency - a lot of money in 1835 - but almost insulting isn’t it? Ten bucks for a human. The Boers thought so too - they regarded their slaves as far more valuable than a measly 73.9 shillings and 11 pence and were outraged. So no compensation for the war, then what of their slaves? Slavery was banned in December 1834 as you heard, and the slave owners were supposed to be compensated but here was London, reneging on another promise. The British government said that all compensation would only be paid out in England - and Glenelg rejected an appeal from the Cape that payments be made locally. How was that going to work, most of the Boers never travelled to Cape Town, let alone to London? They were brought to the Cape from the first days of the VOC back in 1652. Most were southeast Asian Catholic converts from the island of Ambon, and soon this phrase, Merdeka, came to mean any creole mixed race person, or free black. Just to add a layer of irony here because this is South African history, the first known Merdeka to the Cape was Anthony de Later van Japan who was actually from Japan, and eventually freed along with his wife Groot Cathrijn van Bengale. She was from a region of modern day Bangladesh. Anthony de Later van Japan’s foster parents were Japanese slave owners Johan van Nagasaki and Johanna van Hirado. Anthony it is thought was a child surrendered as debt bondage back in Japan.
    2023/05/14
    25:01
  • Episode 117 - The Sixth Frontier War ends in a draw and Trekboers like Louis Trichardt seek the promised land
    There was a great exodus of some people, the movement of the people into the interior of South Africa - a moment that was going to reverberate all the way to the present. The Great Trek as its known had begun by mid-1835, and to be honest, was a medium sized Trek already. It had been a steady flow across the Orange River for decades, led by the trekboers, traders and hunters steadily rolling their wagons inland. They were following the trailblazers, the Kora, Bastaards, Oorlam, Kora. Some of the traders didn’t come back, and not because they died out there on the distant veld. Now, they liked what they saw along the Orange River, across the Klein and main Karoo, over the Drakensburg mountains all the way to Marico, pushing onwards through the Kalahari, into what is now southern Angola, across the Soutpansberg. This episode we’ll hear about the early travellers, the outliers, the adventurers, the dreamers. Humans are naturally motivated to see what’s over the next hill or river, to quench a curiosity thirst, to seek a greener grass. But first, we need to end this Sixth Frontier War, a guerrilla war where the British had been outfoxed across the Kei ravines and Amatola fastnesses by the amaXhosa. The Colonial Office was counting the cost and it was expensive to keep thousands of troops on the move, and to keep paying the Khoekhoe solders. 455 farms had been burned and the losses to the Colonial treasury was already 300 000 pounds, more than one hundred settlers and soldiers had died. Hundreds of xhosa warriors and civilians had been killed, thousands of head of cattle eaten by both sides as they relied on food on the hoof in these times of chaos. Hintsa’s son Sarhili was now Xhosa regent following the shooting of Hintsa. The unpleasant truth for Colonel Harry Smith to accept was that the British army and its auxiliaries were in a bad way. While the Xhosa continued to move about the territory, the British could not. Colonel Henry Somerset was swanning about in Grahamstown, well fed and clothed, but many frontier posts were running out of food and uniforms that had turned to rags. Provisioning was inadequate worsened by disorganisation.
    2023/05/07
    21:15

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About History of South Africa podcast

A series that seeks to tell the story of the South Africa in some depth. Presented by experienced broadcaster/podcaster Des Latham and updated weekly, the episodes will take a listener through the various epochs that have made up the story of South Africa.
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