University of South Africa, Pretoria
|The Fred Alexander Public Lecture
University of Western Australia - July 2000
After decades of estrangement during the apartheid era, the links between South Africa and Australia have again become close and academic interaction has been restored. Earlier exchanges included Professor Fred Alexander himself, 'a titan of the Perth cultural scene' and member of the UWA History Department from 1924 to 1965. Alexander spent five months in southern Africa from December 1949 to April 1950, meeting academics and politicians, giving lectures and speaking on the radio. He became fascinated by comparisons between Australia and South Africa and as an intelligent and observant outsider, assessed many of the then current issues dispassionately and incisively. At the time of his visit, he confessed to finding the 'Afrikaner viewpoint difficult to understand', and concluded that the armed strength of the white minority would make the likelihood of 'an early racial explosion' remote. He was, of course, correct.
In recent years many South Africans have immigrated to Australia. However, in 1899 - the year that Fred Alexander was born - the South African War (the Anglo-Boer War or Boer War) started, and one hundred years ago the flow was in the other direction, as more than 15 000 Australian volunteers contributed to the war effort in South Africa. That war is being commemorated in various ways in different localities in South Africa, the overall tenor of which can be summarised as an 'Historical Carnival of Reconciliation', a phrase taken from a brochure which advertises festivities in the Dundee area of KwaZulu-Natal, which was a military focus early in the war. This paper reflects on two of these commemoration ceremonies, using them to compare and elucidate aspects of colonial nationalism in Australia and South Africa one hundred years ago.
|The siege of Elands River|
In the middle of August, a group of prominent Australians will meet at Swartruggens, a small town in the western Transvaal (now the North West Province) on the main road between Pretoria and Mafikeng, about 70km west of Rustenburg. The dignitaries will be there to commemorate the 13-day siege of Elands River. In the wintry bushveld, the air is dry and full of dust. The days remain sunny and warm, but during the clear star-filled nights the temperature drops sharply and it is often frosty. A New South Wales Bushman who was there in 1900 referred to it as 'the coldest place I have ever known'. In commemoration, the Australian group will unveil a plaque, raise the Australian flag and sing the national anthem in tribute to what Arthur Conan Doyle in The Great Boer War called 'the dashing warriors from the Antipodes'. Some 500 men were involved on the British side at Elands River, all of them colonials - 350 Australians and 150 Rhodesians. Elands River was a small engagement but one of the most courageous defences of a position in the entire South African War. At the time, Conan Doyle believed that 'amid the scattered nationals who came from the same home there is not one with a more fiery courage and a higher sense of martial duty than the men from the great island continent'.
The circumstances of the siege were that Pretoria, capital of the Transvaal Republic, had fallen to the advancing British forces early in June 1900 and President Paul Kruger had fled. Many people thought that the war had ended and war correspondents (and others) began to leave South Africa. In fact, the war was far from over: it had run but a third of its eventual course. The protracted guerilla phase was just beginning and Elands River took place on the cusp of this transition from conventional to guerilla warfare. The reason for establishing the garrisoned post at Brakfontein on the Elands River was to guard the road from Mafikeng to Pretoria and make sure it was safe for convoys, for this was the vital supply line from the west into the central Transvaal. The post was well sited on a low plateau straddling the road. Visibility was good and a strong defensive perimeter had not been thought necessary. One disadvantage was that the only water for men and horses was available from the Elands River almost 500m away. Another was that the camp was encircled by higher lying hills, two to three kilometres distant, some of which had to be manned by troops outside the post to ensure safe access to the river.
Early in August 1900 as Boer morale returned and the commandos began to regroup, British High Command decided to evacuate some of the smaller and more isolated posts in the western area which would be vulnerable to Boer guerilla raiders. Elands River was one of those which was to close, but prior to being broken up, the camp was augmented by additional men and horses. The plan was that this larger force would be escorted to Rustenburg under the strong cover of eight guns and 1,000 men (some of whom were also Australians) led by General Frederick Carrington.
But before this could happen, on the night of 3-4 August, some 3,000 Boers under General J.H. 'Koos' de la Rey, 'the lion of the west', and according to Jan Smuts 'one of the most brilliant men in the field, a military mind without parallel', surrounded the post. Early next morning they opened fire from some of the higher ground with four large guns. Almost immediately there were 32 casualties on the British side and most of the 1,500 horses and mules were killed outright. When night fell, trenches were dug, shelters were constructed and many of the dead animals moved away from the camp. Matters should have improved almost at once, for Carrington was on his way. But Carrington was ignominiously routed by a tiny Boer contingent a mere 30 strong and, in a complete panic, he and his 1,000 men retreated to Mafikeng, chased on their way by the Boers. There was more confusion to follow because it was assumed - without any proper evidence - that the Elands River post had capitulated to the Boers and so Colonel Robert Baden-Powell, who had set out from Rustenburg to help, turned back.
This left the garrison abandoned to withstand prolonged investment by a far superior force in numbers and guns. Daily, the camp was bombarded. Nightly, defences were rebuilt and trenches deepened, medical attention dispensed and water collected by intrepid sorties. Reluctant to sacrifice burgher lives, De la Rey never made a direct assault, but on 9 August, believing that despair must have prevailed among the colonials, he offered terms of surrender. To his surprise - and his admiration - these were rejected out of hand by the commanding officers, Colonel C.O. Hore, in charge of the Bechuanaland and Rhodesian forces and Major W.H. Tunbridge of the Third Queensland Mounted Infantry. More anxious days passed and it was not until a message from De la Rey to General Christiaan de Wet was accidentally intercepted, that the British military authorities realised that Elands River was still holding out. Lord Kitchener himself set out to relieve it. Hearing of this on 16 August, De la Rey's commandos melted away into the khaki-coloured veld. In all, there had been 26 deaths - 22 colonials and four Republicans.
Conan Doyle was so impressed by the events at Elands River that he commented, 'When ballad makers of Australia seek for a subject, let them turn to Elands River, for there was no finer fighting in the war'. His suggestion was heeded, and there is a ballad by George Essex Evans:
De la Rey and his comrades generally despised colonial volunteers as 'callous soldiers of fortune', mercenaries who had chosen to fight a war in which they had no direct interest. The Australians, on the other hand, recognised that the Boers were struggling for the survival of their homeland. Banjo Paterson put it well:
|The relief of Mafikeng|
The other centenary celebration which is appropriate to dissect is the relief of Mafikeng on 17 May. At the time of the war, this was a total triumph and Colonel Robert Baden-Powell became an international hero. In many ways the defence of Mafikeng, 'came to symbolize and to embody the highest moral qualities of the British national character'. When Mafikeng was relieved after a siege of 217 days, London went wild with celebration. Melbourne and other Australian cities also became 'caught up in a Saturnalia' as Manning Clark expressed it, in order to provide a 'glowing demonstration of the glory of Australia in the pride of the British race'. But in contrast to the imperial jubilation at the time of the relief, the Mafikeng commemoration of 2000 was a more sombre festival. For it is now known that 'there was no greater contrast between myth and reality than during the siege of Mafeking'. Far from being a military hero, Baden-Powell was a liar and an extremely incompetent soldier. He had numerous opportunities to end the siege and deliberately took none of them. He antagonised the White residents of Mafikeng and caused them unnecessary hardship. His cruelty to the Black people who were his military allies, scouts and labourers, probably classes him as a war criminal.
Mafikeng was actually the siege of two towns: the 'White' town of Mafeking and the Tshidi Barolong settlement of Mafikeng close by. There is abundant testimony that these Africans played an enormous role in defending the town and also made sorties into the surrounding countryside to harass the Boers, to obtain useful military information and also to procure supplies of grain. At Mafikeng in particular therefore, Black people were active participants and not the 'animated geographical background' in Donald Denoon's memorable phrase. But in spite of their immense contribution, Baden-Powell kept the Africans on such short food rations (for which he made them pay) that starvation and deaths were common. There are many eye-witness accounts of Africans being 'found dead on the veld', or succumbing to hunger on the streets or in hospital. In order to conserve supplies, Baden-Powell also forced many of the Barolong and those who had taken refuge with them to leave Mafikeng. They were thus given 'no choice but that of two deaths, one being shot by Dutchmen, or that of staying here to slowly starve to death', as a contemporary commented. At that same time, White civilians and soldiers in Mafikeng (particularly the staff officers) continued to eat extremely well. Because of these events, the word Mafikeng (spelt as 'Mafficking'), once destined to be incorporated into the English language as an alternative to 'riotous exultation', has come to symbolise a particularly vicious form of racism.
|What are the celebrations about?|
Despite being described as 'as clear an arena as ever brave men defended against odds', Elands River was 'not a great victory or a great defeat ... It did not produce a great leader or a great hero, and it did not increase Australia's independence or add to the liberties of its citizens.' It was a 'cheeky siege', rather than a famous one like Ladysmith or Mafikeng (only a very few South Africans have ever heard of it) and it did nothing to change the course of the war. In an article about the 'Boer War' in The Australian in October 1999, Robert Murray observed that some wars, like World War II, can, with hindsight, easily be justified. Others are clearly mistakes. Some fall into a more difficult category of 'righteousness', and from an Australian point of view, the South African War and Vietnam are examples of these. As Ken Inglis puts it, 'There may have been heroes in South Africa, but South Africa was never itself a heroic scene. The plot of the imperial story had become too thick'. The question can therefore be asked why Australians are celebrating their involvement in the South African War. Do they really wish to be aligned with the war aims of the British Empire at that time? The imperial goal involved crushing an emergent White 'nation', much like Australia was then, by burning farms, destroying crops and livestock, forcing Afrikaner and African civilians into concentration camps, lacing the veld with barbed wire and blockhouses and facilitating the emergence later of a racist state. Obviously the August ceremony is not a celebration of these aspects, but will commemorate what today symbolically binds Australians together, the idea of 'mateship' and of surviving against the odds. The plaque at Elands River celebrates a notion of 'Australia', which in 1900 was developing 'a sense of nationhood and beginning to find its own way in the world' and which has now matured. There will be no formal commemoration of the Australians who were with Carrington's force and who fled in panic back to Mafikeng, the first Australian Victoria Cross, won on 24 July 1900 by Neville Howse for helping a wounded trumpeter to safety, nor the darker side of the resourceful Australian Bushman, as epitomised by murderer Breaker Morant, or those Australians who mutinied against General Beatson in June 1901, for these would not serve the purpose of the contemporary Australian vision.
The South African government's celebrations at Mafikeng are different. Here the carnival atmosphere was muted, for no Victorian derring-do was being commemorated. It was the suffering Baden-Powell caused the local African communities, and by extension, the suffering of Blacks generally in the war. In creating a racially reconciled South Africa (a contemporary political necessity), the point of Mafikeng 2000 was to show how both Black and White South Africans had suffered equally at British hands. In that suffering was a shared past which is useful to the new unified nation as the way forward. In order for this to work, however, all Whites have to be in one group and all Blacks in the other and this has been done by conflating 'White' with 'Boer' or Afrikaner, as victims of concentration camps, of the scorched earth policy, and victims also of rapacious imperialism. In this way, the more recent experience of Africans under apartheid and a distinctively Afrikaner nationalist government is minimised. For these reasons also, the commemorations need to be about suffering rather than about Black activism in the war. Consequently, Black military victories over Boers such as at Derdepoort (which is close to Mafikeng) have not been given media attention, for this might invite the reawakening of the divisive shades of Soweto 1986. Thus Baden-Powell the British imperialist has been vilified, but similar Boer cruelty has been overlooked. Of Jan Smuts's commando, a leading British missionary wrote: they 'captured this post last month and when afterwards a column visited the place they found the bodies of all the Kaffirs murdered and unburied. I should be sorry to say anything that is unfair about the Boers. They look upon the Kaffirs as dogs and the killing of them as hardly a crime.'
What is being done in these centennial commemorations, therefore, is to minimise division and manipulate reconciliation. This is the first 'heritage' commemoration in South Africa since the new government came to power in 1994, and in keeping with the consensus which has driven the country in the 1990s, it has to be non-controversial. There is a national committee organising the 'Historical Carnival of Reconciliation' and its mission has been expressed as follows: 'The centenary is an opportunity ... to reconstruct South African history and to promote nation-building and reconciliation.' South Africa is to be positioned as an 'anti-war, anti-conflict society ...'
If this is the case, it is worth investigating why it is that there is no celebrating those people who held these values a century ago, those who did not want war, who tried to avoid it, and who laboured hard to find another, more constructive, way out of the political dilemma of southern Africa at that time. There was a similar dilemma more recently and South Africa's future might well have been decided by outright, country=wide civil war. Instead, the country was - some say miraculously - blessed with individuals of great stature, and interest groups and communities who were prepared to make sacrifices and compromises to create a successful 'rainbow' nation. But the collective memory does not choose to recall that before the South African War there were comparable people, particularly in the Cape Colony, who were also prepared to make the longer-term interests of the sub-continent their priority. In the 'Historical Carnival of Reconciliation' they are neglected.
Any 'national identity' rests on a story about the past. Such a story is a conscious effort to create a distinct culture, one that can be shared by people who inhabit the same geo-political space. Sometimes that story includes an experience in war which provides a visible, international platform for identity. For Australia, this is the significance of the South African War, and more importantly of Gallipoli and the First World War. South Africa is constructing a new national story, and commemorating the South African War feeds into this process. A meta=narrative of reconciliation is required because South Africa has had two civil wars: the South African War of 1899-1902 and the 'Struggle' - the real South African War - from the 1960s until the 1990s. In the interests of future political and economic benefit, their legacies have to be overcome. What is evident in the commemorations of the South African War is the reconstruction of the past in a manner appropriate for contemporary South Africa. Another Imagined Community, a new identity with a 'shared' past, historically appropriate for our time is under construction.
In fact, of course, the South African War ended as a British victory, but the price was the return of independence to the two former Boer republics just a few years later and the eventual freedom to advance their own political and racial agenda. In the famous words of A.J.P. Taylor in the Manchester Guardian on 11 October 1949, fifty years after the outbreak of war:
|Australia at the start of the war|
But there was an avenue towards a better future which might have been followed in South Africa. In 1899 there was no category of 'South Africans'. There were colonists of the Cape and Natal under British hegemony and burghers of the independent republics of the Orange Free State and the Transvaal. Although being drawn into the mineral revolution, Africans were still strongly attached to their traditional rural groupings. There were schisms of origin, language, class, life experience, imperial or political affiliation, cultural background and economic sector. But there were also no 'Australians', there were colonists of Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales or Tasmania. Although the divisions in Australian society did not run as deep because most whites had an Anglo-Celtic background and the Aboriginal population was so much smaller, the various states squabbled with each other. Yet the country managed to federate successfully without violence.
When the South African War began, Australia was well into the process of becoming a federation. Certainly there were parochial interests and Western Australia, for example, was not keen to join. But on 1 January 1901 federation became a reality and Whites in Australia began to weld themselves into a nation of 'Australians'. (Aboriginal Australians were not citizens and were excluded from mainstream politics). Why did Australians volunteer to fight in South Africa? Among the suggested reasons have been that the newly independent nation wished to show its allegiance to Britain and pride in the Empire, secure in the belief that Britain would reciprocate were Australia ever to be threatened. The Cape sea route was important to Australia's economy. But there was a sense of nationalism too, and in 1905 Richard Jebb argued that the impending federation had 'kindled a spirit of national adventure', that the 'new-born nation [was] eager to show its mettle, and to play a part in the drama of world-events'. South Africa was a particularly appropriate arena for this, for the South African landscape and the South African lifestyle were so similar to those of Australia. There was also the sense of adventure, 'to test the proposition that the outback Bushman was not only our distinctive contribution to the human race but a superb potential soldier'. Banjo Paterson, balladeer and war correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald during the war, put these sentiments into his verse. There was a more direct interest as well, for there were many Australians in the South African mining industry who sympathised with the Uitlanders - indeed they were Uitlanders. Walter 'Karri' Davies, was one such person, who felt so strongly about Transvaal politics that he had been a leading member of the Reform Committee which supported the infamous Jameson Raid in 1895/6 and was imprisoned by President Kruger.
But not all Australians thought that the South African War was a proud 'early defining moment in national history'. Some were ashamed that federation 'began its life with its citizens serving as mercenaries in two foreign locations where they sought to crush resistance of British control from nationalist patriots'. Regarding the enemy as 'the far-off foreign farmers, fighting fiercely to be free', Henry Lawrson said 'the cause seems crook to me'. The Irishman H.B. Higgins lost his seat in Parliament because he was worried that not enough was being asked about the morality of entering a war in which Australia had no voice and no control. It was Manning Clark's opinion that if questioned about the justice of the war, most Australians would have responded, 'We do not want to know'. Loyalty was more important. But George Arnold Wood, Challis Professor of History at the University of Sydney since 1891, did want to know. He rightly concluded that 'savagery and barbarism were stalking the Karoo of South Africa'. For making such statements, he was booed and bullied.
|The Cape Colony at the time of the war|
The issue of comparative colonial cultures has attracted little analysis despite being brought sharply into focus by the South African War. Inglis writes of the relationship between Colony and Empire, making the distinctions among Australians about dying for the Empire, not for England. It has been argued that at the turn of the 20th century Australians had what might be called an 'integrated nationalism', regarding themselves first as British and then as citizens of the different colonies (or states as they were soon to be). But at this time there was a strong group, particularly in the Cape Colony, which thought of themselves as 'South Africans' first and put other attachments in second place.
Even before war broke out, one can identify in a generalised way three streams of 'nationalism' in southern Africa. The first was related to Boer republicanism and pro-Boers firmly supported this cause because in many respects it was a just one. The Boers were, after all, fighting to retain legal control of their own Republics, whose independence from Britain had been hard won over many decades. Republicanism was admired in addition because Boers were the underdog, the David with the temerity to stand up to the Goliath of the powerful British Empire. They were also, of course, supported in Europe by the enemies of Britain and by people within Britain and Europe who were anti-capitalist, who abhorred the economic greed of the Empire and the imperial pact with the mining magnates of the Witwatersrand. Another group believed that right was on the Boer side only because it seemed so obvious that the Uitlanders had selfishly manipulated the situation. In the Cape there were strong ties of blood and background among the large Dutch population in the colony, themselves sometimes chafing under their colonial yoke and understanding so well the aspirations of their brothers and sisters to the north. There were Blacks who supported the Boers too, servants and auxiliaries who did so out of loyalty but also because they could see practical economic gain from it.
The second ideology was expressed by those entirely in tune with the British Empire, the 'jingoes'. Both within and outside southern Africa they were convinced of the superiority and prestige of Britain, the benefits of a global world power, one which stood for modernisation, particularly economic modernisation. Along with this attitude went the belief that international power required the acquisition of colonies and it appeared to them that the continued existence of the agricultural and economically 'backward' independent republics of the Orange Free State and the Transvaal frustrated this aim. As was so often said, the map of Africa had to be red from Cape to Cairo. Many Black Africans in southern Africa either fought on the side of Britain or were its allies. For them the choices involved local issues of land and human rights, both of which they were given to believe that they could expect more if they aided Britain in winning the war.
But there was also a third way, one exemplified by those in South Africa who were able to appreciate that justice and power were complex issues, not simple ones, and that they were regional, neither global nor parochial. They were people for whom rebellion was repugnant and who did not seek a republic, but who had learnt the hard way, through the treachery of Cecil Rhodes and Joseph Chamberlain at the time of the Jameson Raid, that the imperial route was no less reprehensible. For Rhodes had been the Prime Minister of the Cape Colony at the time of the Raid and his part in the plot toppled the uneasy alliance between Dutch and English colonists which had taken so long and so much effort to nurture. But despite the disillusionment with British justice and fair play which the Raid brought about, W.P. Schreiner, Premier of the Cape after 1898, and his Cabinet of English and Dutch-speakers worked extremely hard to avert war. Behind much of the thinking in the Cape was a pan-South Africanism which had been developing for some years. It might be summarised as a type of inclusive federalism or a sub-national imperialism.
Schreiner's personal thinking and his family connections provide an example of these kaleidoscopic complex influences. His father was a German missionary, his mother was English. Schreiner was married to Fanny Reitz, a sister of F.W Reitz who was President of the Orange Free State from 1889 to 1895 and Paul Kruger's Secretary of State during the South African War. His sister was the famous author Olive Schreiner, a pro-Boer with a fierce hatred of capitalism and imperialism. Another sister, Henrietta Stakesby-Lewis and his brother, Theo Schreiner, were actively pro-British because of the Boer treatment of Africans. Schreiner studied law in England, became involved in the mining industry in Kimberley where he became friendly with Cecil Rhodes and acted as legal adviser to De Beers, the diamond mining house. A stint as parliamentary draughtsman in the Cape gave him an insight into politics, as did a period before the Jameson Raid when he was Premier Rhodes's Attorney-General. He broke with Rhodes after the Raid, feeling betrayed.
After the Raid had polarised communities and increased bitterness in the Cape, moderation was more difficult to sustain. But Schreiner's ministry, which came into power in 1898, was moderate and 'one of compromise and conciliation', appreciating that war would destroy South Africa's future, did everything possible to avert it. At the time, Banjo Paterson commented that 'Schreiner and his ministry - in fact most of the Cape people - were bitterly opposed to the war and Schreiner was calling every day to show that he was "always ... willing to oblige", in case Milner wished to change his mind'. The Premier himself was described as a man who 'really loves this country'. Fully appreciating that 'war could only bring calamity to South Africa', Schreiner and his Cabinet attempted to deflect British High Commissioner Sir Alfred Milner from his deliberate warpath. While they tried to avoid direct confrontation, Milner actively 'craved' it. While they tried to operate democratically, the authoritarian Milner would have none of it. At the Bloemfontein Conference held to attempt a last-ditch stand against hostilities Schreiner, against all odds, mediated productively and obtained concessions from President Paul Kruger on the Uitlander franchise (a five-year retrospective franchise), going ever further than Britain demanded. Milner's reaction was merely to increase his demands. Once war had been declared, Schreiner was successful in preventing the Cape Colony from joining the Republics outright, but he was not able to prevent pockets of rebellion from welling up in the Dutch controlled country districts. Once these were brought under control, the Cape government was split on the question of how these rebels would be punished and Schreiner was obliged to resign in June 1900. Before his resignation, he received the following letter dated 26 March 1900 from Hobart, Tasmania:
However one interprets the South African War, it was fought over the vision for South Africa in the 20th century. Unlike Australia, South Africa became a union in 1910, not a federation. Schreiner and other Cape liberals continued to advocate federation in preference, but a union suited Afrikaner interests best. In 1907, in what some regarded as negating all the South African War had been fought for, Afrikaner parties had come to power in the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony. When, in February 1908, a similar political dispensation obtained in the Cape Colony, the way was clear for negotiations to begin. It is appropriate to consider that while it had taken Australia ten years to federate and Canada three, it took South Africa less than one year to decide on Union, a time-frame which seems remarkable, given the bitter civil war less than a decade earlier. It might be regarded as a pity that the National Convention which met in Durban to negotiate the new constitution did so little research into how the Australian federal system was operating. Instead of taking the trouble to obtain authoritative first-hand information, delegates preferred instead to believe sensationalist articles in newspapers about public dissatisfaction with Australian federation and intrastate animosity. This drove them further along the path of unionism. Contentious matters such as siting the capital city, the powers of the provinces and the judiciary all found solutions, but the most tricky aspect of Union was how the African franchise was handled. For decades the Cape Colony had had a colour-blind male-qualified franchise and the Cape delegates wanted this extended to the other provinces - so, of course, did educated Africans. Debate on this issue was so vehement that it threatened to wreck the convention. The two former Boer republics refused utterly to compromise on the issue; on full adult White male suffrage and Black exclusion they were adamant. Such was the demand for White reconciliation after the war that there was no place for considering alternatives. At the time the Convention met, Schreiner, deeply committed to an alternative - federation and a liberal franchise - was defending Dinuzulu, the Zulu chief accused by the Natal government of treason and was thus unable to attend. In any event, it is not at all certain that his presence would have altered the outcome on this issue which was that each colony would maintain its own system until altered by a two-thirds majority in the new central government. But when the draft constitution went to Britain for ratification, Schreiner's court case was over. He joined a delegation to London, which was led by prominent African political figures, Dr Abdurahman, J.T. Jabavu and W. Rubusana, to petition the British parliament to ratify the draft constitution only with suitable Back franchise amendment. A rival 'Native Convention' had been held in Bloemfontein in March 1909 to protest about what the National Convention was hatching in Durban, but their appeals fell on deaf ears. Part of the petition to Britain, which Schreiner had helped to write, reads:
While wary of amending a constitution agreed to by responsible colonial governments, this had been done in the case of Australia, there was a precedent which might be followed. There was some support in Britain and even among Liberal, Irish Nationalist and Labour members, but Prime Minister Asquith's view dominated: 'Any control or interference from outside ... is in the very worst interests of the natives themselves'. So another constitutional precedent set by Australia was followed instead: that of having a similar restriction against Black indigenous people taking seats in parliament. Until his death in 1919, Schreiner continued to champion the inclusion of Africans in the political dispensation of South Africa, campaigning against the Natives Land Act of 1913.
Fred Alexander commented in his 1934 school textbook From Empire to Commonwealth, that Union 'was the only hope for peace and prosperity in South Africa'. He, too, prioritised the amalgamation of the White races over consideration for the position of Blacks. Olive Schreiner accurately predicted the consequences of the particular form of union constitution which South Africa negotiated at that time. She wrote to a friend:
The point of recounting this history is to reinforce the irony of the centenary celebrations of the South African War. Because the present commemoration revolves around what the future of South Africa should be in the years to come, it is ironic that those who advocated an ideology that might possibly have set South Africa on this journey a hundred years ago are completely ignored, while those who caused so much Black suffering after the war are actively courted.
 This paper was presented as the Fred Alexander Public Lecture, 25 July 2000. I am deeply indebted to the Department of History and the Institute of Advanced Studies of the University of Western Australia for awarding me the Fred Alexander Fellowship for 2000.
 P. Limb. 'An Australian historian at the dawn of apartheid: Fred Alexander in South Africa, 1949-1950', The Electronic Journal of Australian and New Zealand History. I am very grateful to Peter Limb for this most apposite reference. See also F. Alexander, The Commonwealth Story (Nottingham, etc., n.d.) in which Alexander gives credit to Jan Smuts for the formation of the Commonwealth, 'whose imagination and firm grasp of the situation made him a natural leader of this progressive movement'. This book (pp.41-44) gives a short summary of South African history. So does F. Alexander and H.B. Feilman, From Empire to Commonwealth (Perth, 1934) in Chapter 4, a school text. Alexander's memoirs contain reference to his visit to South Africa, On Campus and Off: Reminiscences and Reflections of the First Professor of Modern History in The University of Western Australia, 1916-1986 (Perth, 1987), pp.66-74.
 R. L. Wallace, The Australians at the Boer War (Canberra, 1976), p.39. There were 16,175 Australian volunteers, 6,513 New Zealanders, 6,500 Canadians and 535 from India and Ceylon. Some 40,000 Australian horses were also imported into South Africa for the war. There were 60,000 colonial troops from within southern Africa. Other publications which deal with Australia and the South African War are L.M. Field's The Forgotten War: Australian Involvement in the South African Conflict, 1899-1902 (Carlton, Vic., 1979) and J. Gray, A Military History of Australia, 1870-1901 (Cambridge, 1990). The most readable popular account of the war generally remains Thomas Pakenham, The Boer War (London, 1979) and later editions. A useful shorter general book which takes recent scholarship into account is Bill Nasson's, The South African War, 1899-1902 (London etc., 1999).
 For discussion on centenaries generally see Roland Quinault, 'The cult of the centenary, c.1784-1914', Historical Research, Vol. 17, No. 176, October 1998.
 R.L. Wallace. Australians at the Boer War, p.258.
 S.B. Spies and G. Nattrass, eds.. Jan Smuts Memoirs of the Boer War (Johannesburg, 1994), p.95.
 According to Lionel Wulfsohn, Rustenburg at War (Rustenburg, 1987), p.77, the full contingent at Elands River was: 4 Protectorate Regiment, 8 British South African Police, 63 Mashonaland Squadron Rhodesia Regiment, 145 Queensland Mounted Infantry, 51 Victoria Bushmen, 111 New South Wales Bushmen, 22 Rhodesia Regiment and 101 Southern Rhodesia Volunteers. Wulfsohn argues that Elands River was extremely important because during the bungling over it, General C.R. de Wet and his Orange Free State army (and its president) were enabled to pass through the Magaliesberg mountain range and thus gain access to the central Transvaal.
 A. Conan Doyle. The Great Boer War (London, 1900), p.244.
 Accounts of the siege can be found in many contemporary and later publications. For details, see in particular Wallace, Australians at the Boer War.
 Johannes Meintjes, De la Rey: Lion of the West (Johannesburg, 1966), pp.182-183.
 For another aspect of Tunbridge's South African War experience, see David Dorward, 'Major Tunbridge's Boer War album: An Australian construction of the other', Kunapipi 21(3), 1999.
 Conan Doyle, Great Boer War, p.482.
 Quoted in Wallace, Australians at the Boer War, p.274. See also Malvern Van Wyk Smith, Drummer Hodge: The Poetry of the Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902 (Oxford 1978). George Essex Evans was a journalist on the Queenslander. He also wrote:
I've seen an army moving out a hundred thousand strong,
I've felt the thrill of battle and the smart,
But I'd barter all the glory for a day at Dandenong,
With the cool hand of the Bush upon my heart.
 Field, The Forgotten War, p.180.
 Quoted in Van Wyk Smith, Drummer Hodge, p.87.
 Brian Willan. 'The siege of Mafeking', in Peter Warwick and S.B. Spies, eds.. The South African War: The Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902 (Harlow, Essex, 1980), p.139. See also Hopkins, The Boy.... Peter Warwick, Black People and the South African War, 1899-1902 (Johannesburg, 1983), and Donald Denoon, 'Participation in the "Boer War": People's war, people's non-war or non-people's war?' in B.A. Ogot, ed., War and Society in Africa (London, 1972).
 C.M.H. Clark, A History of Australia, Vol. V, The People Make Laws (Carlton, Vic., 1981), p.175.
 Willan, 'Siege of Mafeking', in Warwick and Spies, The South African War, p.150.
 Denoon. 'Participation in the "Boer War"', in Ogot, War and Society in Africa, p.112.
 Denoon. 'Participation in the "Boer War"', in Ogot, War and Society in Africa, p.111.
 John Carroll, ed.. Intruders in the Bush: The Australian Quest for Identity (Oxford etc., 1992), p.57.
 Nasson, South African War, p.187.
 I thank Christopher Vernon of the University of Western Australia for this and other newspaper references.
 K.S. Inglis, Sacred Places: War Memorials in the Australian Landscape (Carlton, Vic, 1998), pp.62-63.
 Of which Perth's memorial to the troops of Western Australia by James White in King's Park is an example: Michael Hedger, Public Sculpture in Australia (Roseville East, NSW, 1995), p.26.
 The Australian, Monday 11 October 1999, 'A new brand of Sahib' by Craig Wilcox.
 Howse was born in England in 1863. He qualified as a medical doctor and then emigrated to New South Wales in 1889 because of ill-health. When war began in South Africa in 1899 he joined the New South Wales Medical Corps. On 24 July, in the Orange Free State (by one of those historic ironies Howse had set up his medical practice in Orange, NSW and was twice to be the mayor of that town) at Vredefort, Howse 'went out under heavy crossfire and picked up a wounded man and carried him to a place of shelter'. Howse was an outstanding surgeon and apparently responsible for significant advances in Australian defence and civilian medical services, being in command of the medical services for the Australian Imperial Force at Gallipoli and member of the Dardanelles Commission. In the 1920s he became a prominent politician, holding two cabinet portfolios and representing Australia at the League of Nations. He was knighted in 1919 and died in 1930. By all accounts a forceful and ambitious person of high principle, the Australian Dictionary of Biography describes him also as 'an Englishman who expressed the nascent Australian nationalism vigorously and directly'. For full biographical details on Howse and an outline of his career, see Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 9: 1891-1939 (Melbourne, 1983) pp.385-6 and R.L. Wallace, Australia at the Boer War, p.276. The first colonial to be awarded the Victoria Cross was the Tasmanian-born Private John Bisdee, who saved the life of Major Eardley Brooke near Warmbaths on 1 September 1900. See Sir O'Moore Creagh and E.M. Humphris, eds., The Victoria Cross, 1856-1920 (Polstead, Suffolk, 1920), p.120. There were six Australian Victoria Cross awards for services during the South African War, all for rescuing comrades in danger. The career of Breaker Morant is better known than that of Howse and there have been a considerable number of books about his controversial career. The most comprehensive overview of the events and the historiography is Arthur Davey, ed., Breaker Morant and the Bushveld Carbineers, Van Riebeeck Society Second Series No. 18 (Cape Town, 1987). The Breaker Morant story and the Beatson incident appear in Field, The Forgotten War and Wallace, Australians at the Boer War.
 Bill Nasson, 'The war one hundred years on', paper presented at the Unisa Library Conference 'Re-thinking the South African War', Pretoria, August 1998.
 Pakenham, Boer War, p.573.
 Documents from Dr. Dione Prinsloo of the Gauteng Committee.
 Robert McKim and Jeff McMahon, eds.. The Morality of Nationalism (New York, 1997), pp.22-25.
 Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London, 1983).
 A.J.P. Taylor. From the Boer War to the Cold War: Essays on 20th Century Europe (London, 1995), p.38. During his visit to South Africa at around this time - 50 years after war had broken out - he was struck at how these issues remained alive. See Limb, 'Australian historian at the dawn of apartheid'.
 Amery, ed.. Times History, Vol. III, p.28. Amery stresses that Australians volunteered to defend the Empire, 'that ideal whose preciousness they hardly knew till its realization was thus imperilled'.
 Richard Jebb, Studies in Colonial Nationalism (London, 1905), p.108.
 Van Wyk Smith. Drummer Hodge, p.87; E. Boehmer, 'A war of white savages, and other stories: Introduction', Kunapipi Vol. XXI, No. 3, 1999, p.viii; Shirley Walker, 'The Boer War: Paterson, Abbott, Brennan, Miles Franklin and Morant', Australian Literary Studies 12(2), 1985, pp.207-222.
 Nasson. South African War, pp.7-8, p.280.
 F.C. Clarke, Australia: A Concise Political and Social History (Sydney, 1992), p.181; I. Grant, A Dictionary of Australian Military History (Sydney, 1992), p.51.
 Quoted in Van Wyk Smith, Drummer Hodge, p.81; Clark, History of Australia, Vol. 5,.. quoting Henry Lawson 'though the cause seems crook to me'. p.171.
 Clark, History of Australia, pp.208-211.
 Inglis, Sacred Places, pp.46-47.
 John Eddy, 'What are the origins of Australia's national identity', in Frances G. Castles, ed., Australia Compared: People, Policies and Politics (Sydney, 1991), p.26.
 Some new research into this subject includes the following papers presented at the Unisa Library Conference: 'Re-thinking the South African War', Pretoria, August 1998; Manelisi Genge, 'The role of the EmaSwati in the South African War'; John Lambert, '"Loyalty is its own reward": The South African War experience of Natal's loyal Africans'; Jabulani Maphala, 'The Zulu people and the Anglo-Boer War'; Bernard Mbenga, 'The Bakgatla's role in the South African War and its impact on the Pilanesberg, 1899-1903'; Andrew Manson, 'The South African War and the reshaping of Hurutshe society, 1899-1907'.  The best account of this period remains E. Van Heyningen, The Relations between Sir Alfred Milner and W.P. Schreiner's Ministry, 1898-1900. Archives Year Book for South African History. (Pretoria, 1976). For this quotation see p.211. For an analysis of Rhodes's political career in the Cape, Mordechai Tamarkin's, Cecil Rhodes and the Cape Afrikaners: The Imperial Colossus and the Colonial Parish Pump (Johannesburg, 1996) is extremely useful.
 A.B. (Banjo) Paterson, Happy Despatches; Journalistic Pieces from Banjo Paterson's Days as a War Correspondent (Sydney, 1980), p.39.
 Eric A. Walker, W.P. Schreiner: A South African (Oxford, 1937), p.214.
 Van Heyningen, Milner and W.P. Schreiner's Ministry, p.220.
 Nasson, South African War, p.33.
 K. Schoeman, ed., Witness to War: Personal Documents of the Anglo-Boer War from the Collections of the South African Library. (Cape Town, 1998), p.24.
 T.R.H. Davenport, South Africa: A Modern History, 4th ed. (London, 1991), p.225.
 In 1880, there were 12,000 'Native' voters in the Cape. By 1900 they comprised 6% of all voters, while 'Coloureds' comprised 10%.
 L.M. Thompson. The Unification of South Africa, 1902-1910 (Oxford, 1960), p.385-386.
 Wilson and Thompson, eds.. Oxford History of South Africa, Vol. 2, p.357.
 Thompson. Unification, pp.417-420.
 Alexander and Feilman. From Empire to Commonwealth, p.97.
 Ruth First and Ann Scott. Olive Schreiner (London, 1980), p.260.
 The following are recommended for explorations of the meaning of the South African War commemorations: Nasson, South African War; Graham Dominy '"Is there anything to celebrate?" 'Paradoxes of policy: An examination of the state's approach to commemorating South Africa's most ambiguous struggle', paper presented to the Unisa Library Conference, 'Rethinking the South African War', August 1998; Leslie Witz, et al., 'Who speaks for South African pasts?', unpublished paper, History Department, University of the Western Cape, 1998; John Matshikiza, 'A white man's war', The Settler, Summer 1999/2000, pp.2-3.
Dr. Jane Carruthers is Senior Lecturer in the Department of History at the University of South Africa, Pretoria. She has been a consultant to various South African government departments and non-governmental organisations on land claims and other historical issues. Her principal field of research is on historical linkages between nationalism and the conservation of aspects of the natural environment. This work also includes modern issues of community conservation (or people and parks) and thus encompasses aspects of rural community development and land restitution issues. She is also involved in aspects of comparative research between South Africa and Australia where the links between land and identity have similar resonances. Other areas of interest are colonial exploration, in particular the role of the traveller/artist and aspects of the South African War (1899-1902), especially war art. In 1999 Dr. Carruthers was Visiting Fellow in the History Program, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University Canberra and in 2000, was awarded the the Fred Alexander Fellowship by the University of Western Australia.
Her publications include: Melton Prior: War Artist in South Africa, 1895-1900,, Johannesburg: Brenthurst Press, 1987; "Creating a national park, 1910-1926", Journal of Southern African Studies Vol. 15, No. 2, 1989, pp.188-216; Thomas Baines Eastern Cape Sketches 1848-1852, Johannesburg: Brenthurst Press, 1990; "Dissecting the myth: Paul Kruger and the Kruger National Park", Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol. 20, No. 2, 1994, pp.263-284; The Life and Work of Thomas Baines (with Marion Arnold), Cape Town: Fernwood Press, 1995; The Kruger National Park: A Social and Political History, Pietermaritzburg: University of Natal Press, 1995; The Jameson Raid: A Centennial Retrospective, (editor), Johannesburg: Brenthurst Press, 1996; Ecology and Empire; Environmental History of Settler Societies, (contributor; Tom Griffiths and Libby Robin, eds.) Edinburgh: Keele University Press, 1996.