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  • The African e-Journals Project has digitized full text of articles of eleven social science and humanities journals.   This item is from the digital archive maintained by Michigan State University Library. Find more at: http://digital.lib.msu.edu/projects/africanjournals/

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  • Colonization by Concession. CapitalistExpansion in the BechuanalandProtectorate. 1885-1950.

    O. SelolwaneINTRODUCTION

    The spread of capitalism from Europe in the19th century to 'Third World' countries had a tremendoueimpact on the history of these countries. Technological~more advanced, the Europeans were able to coloniee anddominate the peoples of the Third World countries and toimpose upon them an advanced level of commodity produc-tion. The reactions of these people to the colonizationand domination have also been of significant influence inthe shaping of their history viz a viz the new force.Imperialism has thus received considerable attention fromcontemporary scholars, and it is not the intention ofthis paper to dwell on the various interpretations of whatis meant by imperialism.

    This paper seeks to examine the character ofcapitalist expansion into Southern Africa from 1885 to1950 but with specific reference to the southern portionof what used to be called the Bechuanaland Protectorate(now Botswana). Since this is a study of a particularepoch in history, an epoch that can never reccur, imperi-alism is taken to mean basically the expansion of capita-lism from one geographical confine (in this case, Europe)


  • iato another (in this case Southern Africa). This expan-sion occured through the moyement of Europeans intoAfrica and the do.ination of the Africans by these people,as veIl as the incorporation of the pre-capitalist econo-aies into an internationally spread division of labourand coamodity production. The colonization of theAfricans occured through conquest, concessions or throughboth and vas influenced by economic potential and/or thestrategic value of the particular territory.

    The Bechuanaland Protectorate vas economic-alll unattractive and did not invite wholesale dominationby the Europeans. Also her colonization vas mainlythrough concession rather than conquest. Concession inthis context is taken to mean an agreement between twoparties actual or alleged, written or spoken. In theearlier period of colonization the country was visited byagents of coamercial companies seeking signatures fromthe chiefs which could be used as 'proof' that the chiefshad given the holder certain rights in their territory.The i.perial govern.ent later took complete control overthe territory not merely by means of the original'agreement' of protection against 'civilized nations' orthat of concessions acquired by the companies but overand above these 'agreements,' and as dictated by theeconomic and political transformations in SouthernAfrica. Since the Protectorate came to be colonizedthrough concessions acqUired by companies and a180through Batswana 'consent' to British overule the pro-ceS8 of concession-granting has been given special empha-sis as a minor agency of imperialism. Co~mercial compa-nies as major agents of capitalist expansion constitutedprivate rather than public imperialism. They are thusalso given specific attention in this paper. Howeverit must be made clear from the beginning that althoughthere were significant differences between public andprivate imperialism these differences were merely super-ficial and demonstrate the competitive character of capi-t l'a 1sm where the state represents the interests of


  • certain powerful monopoly capitalists and not others. Aclose scrutiny of the structure of any capitalist statewould reveal the intricate links between the state and thestock-market which make it i.possible to clearly demarcatethe two.

    In Southern Africa too. a closer look at thestructure of government reveals the link between the colo-nial officials and the stock-market. Sir Hercules Robinsonfor instance became the High Commissioner for South Africain 1895 and the Bechuanaland Protectorate was under him.He was a substantial shareholder in some of the dominantcompanies in the region. In October 1889 he was recordedas holding 250 shares in Central Search. a company whoseshares formed the core of the British South Africa Company(B.S.A.) In 1890 he was registered as holding some 2 500shares in the United Concessions while by January 1892 hisshares had increased to 6 256. Before he became HighCommissioner. Robinson as a petty imperial official inMatebeleland had infact helped the agents of what came tobe the B.S.A. Company to obtain the necessary concessionfrom King Lobengula (see Gallbraith. Crown and Charter.p. 67). Robinson eventually became director of De BeersConsolidated Mines. Sir Sidney Shippard. ResidentCommissioner for Bechuanaland, was also involved in com~cial companies and was appointed director of the B.S.A.Company in 1896 when he resigned from the imperial service.

    The grasp of these intricate links between thepolity and the stock-market serve to reveal the economicmotives behind capitalist expansion. This does not,however, mean that every imperial official had some comme-rcial interests in the colonies because by the verynature of capitalist production are the means of produc-tion owned by a few. and the rest are simply agents whomay have other motives like 'prestige' and 'power', butwho nevertheless serve the interests of capitalism. Thiswill help us to understand how powerful monopoly capital-ists were able to use state power to further their ownends and even to have greater bargaining power over their


  • ri~als. To this end this paper has been divided intothree major sections. The first part deals withconcession-hunting (by companies>, as a minor agency ofimperialism; the second treats imperialism in theProtectorate from the initial company colonization to thelater stage of state dominance or public imperialism.The last section covers an analysis of the impact of thisexpansion on Tswana society.CONCESSION-HUNTING AS A MINOR AGENCY OF CAPITALISTEXPANSION THE SCRAMBLE AND CONCESSION-GRABBING:1885-1893

    In the late nineteenth century European capi-talists descended on Southern Africa to exploit the mine-ral wealth rumoured to abound in the region. Thisscramble was precipitated by the discovery of gold in 1866in Griqualand and gained momentum with more discoveriesin the Witwatersrand (1885/6> and in Kimberly.

    The industrial revolution had completed itscycle in Europe; capitalism had developed from theearlier stage or 'primitive accumulation' (whose supplyof labour and capital had been obtained through the ex-propriation of the peasantry and the formation conse-quently or a wage labour force from those dispossessed,and also by the plunder and robbery of newly discoveredcolonial territories)l to that of capitalist accumulationmarked by the merging of industrial capital with bankcapital and the creation t~ereof of finance capital


    giant capitalist Oligarchies. A very important featureof capitalism at this stage was that privately-ownedcapital, rather than commodities, could now be exportedand invested in the colonies where, with capital-intensive ventures like mining, large profits could beprocured. The amalgamation of capital into giant finan-cial oligarchies gave the resultant combines substantialbargaining power, by which they were able to monopolizeresources and markets. Their expansion into colonialterritories in search of new markets gave rise to thedevelopment of an international division of labour; thU8


  • between themselves the capitalists share the worldresources and markets. This imperialist expansion wa.accompanied and reinforced by direct rule of the novterritories in order to safeguard the investments as wellaa procure necessary cheap labour from the indigens.'

    Concesaion-acquisition came to play an impor-tant role in the expansion of monopoly capitalism. Oftenthe metropolitan government, due to financial constraint.,vas reluctant to acquire new territories for her empire.4Therefore, a royal charter would be granted to a companywhich undertook the exploitation a8 well as the administ-ration of the colonies. Individual companies would thenspearhead expansion either through conquest or by acquir-ing concessions from the colonial people and thenimmediately hoist up the metropolitan government's flagin the territory to keep out other imperial rivals. Con-cessions were also important among competing companiesbecause by finding a foothold in a new territory through'agreement' with the indegenous rulers before other rivalscould come in, the particular monopoly, with its greatbargaining power, firmly established itself. When othercompanies later came into the territory, the concession-holder was entitled to an owner's share in the profitssubsequently acrued in his concession area. Onceacquired, a concession was valueless until and unless itcould be taken over by a company with substantial capitalbacking. Concession-hunting, therefore, acted as a minoragency of capitalist expansion. In Southern Africa, in-ternational capital gave rise to, and, unlike anywhereelse in Africa, combined with, an indigenous capital toproduce a formidable indigenous capitalist oligarchy whichmanifested itself in combinos such as the CharteredBritish South Africa Company (B.S.A. Co.),5 De BeersConsolidated Mines and Gold Fields Consolidated. Thefortunes of these indigenous c~pitalist giants werelargely responsible for the successful penetration ofBritish imperialism into the interior of Southern Africa.

    The history of imperialist penetration intothe Bechuanaland Prot~torate can be meaningfully

  • analysed only within the context of the character of capi-talism in the Southern African region as a whole. Theemergence of an indigenous capitalist oligarchy in theCape Colony and the economic transformations that followedreTerberated into and shaped the socio-economic structuresof the neighbouring territories. Without this contextthe historian might be led to make analystically uselessassertions like '•••the history of Bechuanaland Protecto-rate is a series of accidents.,6

    As John S. Galbraith correctly states, 'Inthe 18808 any African people in possession of riches, orreputed riches were destined for early European domina-tion; the question was not whether but when and by whom.JThe early colonization of the Protectorate was not sOmuch influenced by the territory's reputation of posse-ssion of mineral wealth as by its strategic position be-tween territories possessing, or rumoured to possess,great mineral wealth. To the south lay the Witwatersrandand its wealth resources while to the north lay the landsof Mashona and Matebele, territories rumoured to harbouras much wealth as the Rand, and coveted by giant capita-lists. Although it was regarded as essentially poor inmineral wealth, a myth that continued up to the nineteen-sixties, the Protectorete was an important corridor forBritish imperialists because it provided an inlet to thelegendary wealthsof Hatebeleland/Shonaland. It also pro-vided a buffer zone for other imperialist rivals whohovered to the east and west of the coveted area.British imperialists feared concerted competition againstthem from imperial Germany in South West Africa (Namibia)and ~anyika, imperial Portugal in Angola andMozambique, and also from the rebellious Boer republic ofthe Transvaal. In 1885 Britain proceeded to declare aProtectorate over Bechuanaland both as a buffer zoneagainst her rivals as well as a stepping-stone into theinterior.

    Unlike the earlier small groups of Europeantraders, hunters, travellers and missionaries, theEuropeans of the late nineteenth century gold rush in

  • the Rand who spilled over into the Protectorate were moreinterested in mineral exploitation than in quick-profitventures. Mineral concessions were therefore .ore impor-tant than land grants per see The types of concessionsthat these Europeans grabbed from Protectorate chiefsranged from rights of establishing and maintaining lawcourts, banks, communication systems, houses ot accomoda-tion, farms and trading rights as well as rigbts toextract minerals. Altogether, these concessions confer-red upon their European holders the right to dominateBatswana legally, politically and economically: thusensuring the establishment of a permanent Europeansettlement.

    To illustrate how the concession-grantingprocess usually occured the following examples have beenchosen from three different chieftaincies in thesouthern Protectorate. On 28 August and on 9 September1889, and again on 29 January and 16 June 1890, StephenA. C. K. Allaway, a European trader living in Kanye(Bangwaketse capital) obtained from the chief of Bakwena,where he was trading, four grants for Sidney Morrie.Having come to the country only in 1889 Allaway had toget the assistance of another trader, Henry Boyne, tointerpret his requests to the chief. These two tradershad interests in the companies for which they were obtai-ning the concessions,8 and from which they hoped to getcapital to expand their trading. The rights they obtai-ned in the name of Sidney Morris were later ceded to theSecheleland Concessions Syndicate and Allaway became itsmanager in Molepolole where he later (18 April 1893) pro-ceeded to procure a land grant of 6 000 morgen from thechief.9 In this he waS still assisted by Henry Boyne.The four concessions conferred upon their holders notonly a monopoly to mineral rights but also a monopoly toconstruct railways, telegraphs, tramways, bridges, etc.,and also to build trading stores, hotels and houses ofaccommodation, as well as a monopoly for making ordinances,and establishing courts of justice and a police force.lO


  • In Bangwaketse territory Gregor RiesleJames Nicholls and John Wooley acquired from Chief Bathoena .ineral concession dated 13 October 1887. Beforecoming to Ngwaketse country the three men had firstobtained a letter of recommendation from the Administratorof Bechuanaland, Sydney Shippard, vhich they gave to thechief.ll Tbey had also obtained from Shippard's office adraft of the concessioR for vhich they sought the chief'ssignature, and vhich vas translated for the chief byReverend James Good, a missionary vho had been living inlanye for the past twenty-five years. The missionary'sfluency in Setswana vas acknovledged by the chief althoughit vas subsequently proved that neither him (i.e. thechief) nor any of his councillors had grasped the purportof the documents. It vas a normal practice for theAdministrator to give concession-seekers letters ofreference to the Protectorate chiefs,l2 a practice throughvhich it vas hoped that concession-hunters would bescreened before they entered the Protectorate. Thismethod vas not altogether foolproof however and was quiteopen to abuse by concession-hunters. Not all concession-seekers vent through the Administrator's office, and eventhose who vent through it did not guarantee that theywould not give away their references to colleagues.Besides the colonial government was not particularlyinterested in the Protectorate and thus tended to be laxin its dealings with the Territory.

    Charles Riley, another trader from Mochudi,the capital of Bakgatla, obtained for his company, alsOwith references from Sydney Shippard, a monopoly(999 years) for trading and manufacturing in Bathoen'scountry. Together with his partners, J. PotIer Ablettand R. Fenton Riley, he obtain a land lease (200 squaremiles) and a concession to construct railways, electrictelegraphs and telephones or electric lights for 99 years.Riley, in obtaining those grants had laid a lot ofemphasis on the creatiGn of stores. The chief and hispeople were given to understand that Riley would first

  • erect ten cheap-.elling stores for them and that anotherten vould be erected if gold vas diaco.ered in theircountry. Consequently the chief vho was eager to ha.etrading .tores from which, as he had been informed, hispeople would buy more cheaply than they had done before,consented to these well phrased demands. He laterclaimed hove.er, that although he consented to the erec-tion of the stores he did not intend that the tradingrights should include sole rights to waters and ploughinggrounds that might be included in the areas to be markedoff for the stores. When he signed the document prof-fered by Riley, he understood it to be 'merely to shovwhere the store was to be erected. They told me it repre-sented the land they would mark out.,13 Bathoen's head-men also testified that they were brought to belie.e thatRiley's interest was primarily to erect stores for them.The Reyerend Good also translated the documents.

    Another interesting claim along this line vasone acquired by Edward Wilkinson on 7 January, 1891 fromLetlogile, a de jure but not de facto chief of thewestern Barolong. Wilkinson gave Letlogile and his peopleto understand that he was interested in digging vells andfinding water for them. Once water had been found,Letlogile was informed, Wilkinson could come and makefresh agreement with him whereby he would hire some ofBarolong land. When Letlogile si~ned the concession docu-ment he thought he was merely giving Wilkinson right ofway through his territory down to the Molopo River wherethe concession-hunter would look for suitable ground tosink wells, and if he struck water he would come andinform the ROIOng.14 According to Wilkinson's concessioDdocuments, Letlogile had granted him a land lease of200 000 morgen with rights to wood, minerals and waterand an option at the end of 1894 of purchasing another200 000 morgen at quitrent of five shillings per 1 000morgen and payment of £10 per annum.15

    The manner in which concession-seekers oftengot their grants was to give the chiefs the impressionthat the Europeans were doing them some great services


  • which it would be folly not to accept. By emphas~zingmuch needed servicea like trading stores and wells theconceasion-hunters were able to win the confidence of thechiefs who learned only later that the documents theysigned contained wider, more subtle and sinister implica-tiona than they had realised at the time of signing. Ina number of ease. money was proffered at the 'signing' ofthe documents without the chiefs being clearly toldexactly what it was for and thereby obfuscating the issue.Map. were also often attached to the documents; evidencethat the concession-hunter had already deliminated thearea he wanted, as in the example of the Wilkinson-Letlogile grant.

    Traders and missionaries played a very impor-tant role during the concession-granting process asinterpreters and advisers to the chiefs. The misaionaries,although they often cautioned the chiefs against acceptingaoniea proffered by the concession-seekers, were nonethe-lea. eager to aee European expansion into the territory.They thus often helped their fellow Europeans to acquirethe necesaary documents. The traders in turn werealmost always interested in the companies and wereusually the ones who actually obtained the chiefs' signa-ture for the documents. Boyne for instance had interestsin the Kanye Concessions Company for which he helpedobtain the concessions which were Bought by Riesle,Nicholls and Wooley (his partners). Such interpreterswho had vested interests in the concessions they helpedto translate, were inevitably biased and therefore madethe best representations for their companies. Due to thealien nature of the conceptions that had to be translatedto the chiefs, the interpretation could not always beaecurate; it was virtually impossible even for the inter-preters, Europeans as they were, to translate some of theconceptions into the African language since there wereno equivalents. In order to appreciate the behaviour ofboth Europeans and Batswana during the process ofconcession-granting, it is necessary that they both be

  • placed within the perspective of their respective culturalorientation and their differing levels of material pro-duction.

    Among Batswana whose economy was still essen-tially pre-capitalist, cattle were a major source ofwealth as well as a major medium of eXChange:16 they wereowned by a few notably the chiefs and other importanttraditional fami1ies.1? A considerable number of thesepeople who did not own any cattle managed to live bylooking after other people's !!!i!! cattle and/or byselling their labour to cattle-owners in exchange forcrops or drought-power during the ploughing seasons.Land, on the other hand, was communally owned, even thoughin practice the chiefs and the headmen occupied the bestportions of the available arable lands and pa.tures.Land had no exchange value among Batswana and thereforecould not be permanently alienated as private propertyfor any individual.18 Cattle and other livestock whichwere individually owned could be easily traded in by theindividual owner. With land the individual, especiallystrangers or refugees, had to seek the permission of theheadmen or the chiefs before they could settle on anyportion in a particular chieftaincy's territory. Eventhe indigens had to ask permission from their rulersbefore they could settle on any new and unclaimed land.In the case of land claimed by someone, witnesaes withinthe family or in the neighbourhood had to be called ifthe individual wanted to lend his land to someone else;land transactions were made without any form ofrecompense.19

    Not surprisingly when European-concession-hunters came with legal documents for the chiefs to sign,the Africans could not conceivably have grasped the im-plications of what they were signing, especially in thecase of grants pertaining to land rights: Their cultureorientation did not encompass private ownership of land,let alone the alienation thereof as a commodity. When,for instance, Letlogile of Barolong signed documents

  • proffered hi. b~ Edward Wilkinson. he thought he wasgiving hi. the right of way to pass through his countrydown to the Molopo river: Neyer realising that the docu-.ents the~ signed and the money they received alienatedtheir land peraanently according to European law andinfact prepared them for colonial domination. the chiefsactually perceived themselves as having the power andauthority to grant co.plete rights of usufruct and stillhave the last say as for the ownership of the land. TheLete chief. lkaneng. granted two clashing monopolies totwo different companies. but when questioned about thishe simply stated that 'I want both these concessionscarried out. I did not stop Mr. De Beers (one of theclaiaant.) from prospecting by granting Mr. Smith aconcession ••• After I had signed this document I thoughtaI still had the power to grant similar rights to others!Lacking in the comprehension of the powers they were upagainst. the chiefs when they found that they had beencaught up in legal niceties with concessionaires, simplyoffered to return the monies they had been offered. Theydiscovered. often too late, that the monies they receivedlegally and permanently alienated the concessions areas.

    Within the European capitalist economy, onthe other hand, la~d was an essential commodity and hadbeen ro as far back as the Middle Ages (i.e., the pre-capitalist mode of production). Like cattle and othercommodities, it could be pr-iyately owned and was conceivedas permanently exchangeable: it not only containedvaluable minerals but it could also be used for commercialagriculture. Thus, when concession-eeekers came into theProtectorate the majority of their concessions either per-tained to surface land rights or mineral rightS. Judgingfrom the percentage of land grants and leases acquired byEuropeans in the southern Protectorate it is evident thatland was relative qUite important. More than 50% of theClaims brought before the concessions commission of 1893were land grants, while mineral concessions formed aquarter of the total number and the rest pertained totrading, infrustructure, establishment of law courts,

  • banks, etc. The quantity of land acquired (2 000 to6 000 morgen) also suggests that the European settlersenvisaged living by agricultural farming and ranChing.22Because of the sandy layers covering the Protectorateterritory, especially the western and southern regiona,and also the lack of sophisticated mining technology forsuch terrains,23 mineral conceseions were.not very impor-tant in the Territory. Mineral exploitation would havebeen very difficult with the level of technology at thattime. This, however, did not deter fortune-eeekere fromacquiring mining concessions in the southern Protectorate.The activities of these concession-hunters in fact cameto cause considerable concern to the Colonial government,since the southern chiefs seemed to prefer treating withthe small individual concessionaires, than with govern-ment itself or with the Chartered British South AfricaCompany. These chiefs were especially noted for theirlack of co-operation with the B.S.A. Company's attemptsto build a communication system through their country.24

    While some official observers noted thatsouthern Protectorate chiefs were totally in the hands ofsmall syndicates who offered them substantial sums ofmoney, other colonial officers noted also that even weregovernment to offer the chiefs money they still would nottreat with Government as they did with the smallercompanies.25 Clearly it was not simply money whichattracted these chiefs to private syndicates. Althoughno figures for monies the Crown might have offered thechiefs are available to compare to those offered by thesmall companies, there is abundant evidence to show thatthe chiefs were afraid of losing their sovereignity.When for instance, the Crown questioned their wisdom inindiscriminately granting exclusive monopolies to compan-ies, the chiefs interpreted this as interference in theirsovereign rights. Sebele, most notably, complainedbitterly about the Crown's interference with his terri-tory. He protested that he had never recognised theright of the British Government to his country or overhis people beyond a 'protecting power as against foreign


  • povers or civilized nations;' that he had never been con-quered by the British nor made treaty with them nor cededhis sovereign rights 'to any government or civilizedpover'. He also pointed out that he had never heard ofany proclamation or notice giving sovereign rights overhis country or his people to the British government. Norhe went on, had he been informed of any Royal Charter toany company nor was he even asked to recognise suchcompany's rights. Lastly he pointed out that as thesovereign of the land or soil he had full rights to makegrants and give concessions without his action being

    . d 26quest10ne •When the Protectorate chiefs realized they

    vere going to be handed over to the B.S.A. Company foradministration they went in a delegation to England, wherethey vehemently protested against such ~ possibility.For a compromise, however, they were asked to cede partsof their land to the Crown for company use, and to retainthe rest of the land where they would rule as their tradi-tion dictated. While the government's and the B.S.A.Company's threat to their sovereignity was overtlyapparent to the chiefs, not 50 the threat from smallercompanies, the chiefs thought they had unlimited power togrant concessions to whichever small company came asking,without realizing that granting exclusive monopolieEautomatically limited and curbed their rights to grantmore concessions. The chiefs'ignorance of the powersthey were dealing with is borne out by their very rela-tions with Concessions viz a viz t~eir inter-chieftaincyrelationships. For petty chiefs like Ikaneng of Balete,the act of grantln, a concession was interpreted as adeclaration of lncependent sovereignity from the para-mouncy of chief Eathoen of Bangwaketse: Although Ikanenghad fought and defeated him, Bathoen still claimed his

    2?paramouncy over Balete.' So in glvlng away concessions,IkanenE saw this as an ascertion of his equality to theNgwaketse chief. Linchwe's Bakgatla were also regardedas subordinate to Bakwena, but by their being able to

  • grant concessions independently of Seche1e or Sebe1e theyasserted their autonomy.

    While petty concessions were being grabbedindiscriminately in the Protectorate, elsewhere inSouthern Africa giant capitalists were also competing forconcessions in more wealthy regions. The colonization ofthe much coveted territories of Hashona1and andHatebe1eland could only be successfully achieved withconsiderable capital backing which only the Rand wascapable of producing. The most powerful British capita-lists contending for this coveted area were Cecil JohnRhodes, on the one hand, and Lord Gilford-George Cawston(of the Bechuanaland Exploration Company) on the other.However, they resolved their conflict by amalgamatingtheir interests and acquiring a royal charter for whatcame to be known as the British South Africa Company.28

    It was largely in order to safeguard thechartered company's interests on whom was laid the obliga-tion to colonise territories up to the 22nd line oflatitude, that the British Rovernment Bet up a concession8commission in 1893. A land commission had been set up in1888 but due to its half-hearted efforts it had beenlargely a failure in resolving the problem of conflictingconcessions: some of the claims invalidated in thatcommission continued into 1893.


    For British imperialists in the late ninetee-nth century, Southern Africa, a reliable communicationlink between the Cape Colony and Rhodesia through theProtectorate became a very urgent need. European settle-ment in Rhodesia was threatened by African wars of resis-tance which stretched from 1893 to 1897, and by theravages of rindepest epidemic of 1896 which not only deci-mated their livestock but made former means of transportvery costly.29 Under the unsympathetic government ofPresident Kruger, economic ventures in the Transvaal werebeing throttled,30 makinv some capitalists like CecilJohn Rhodes turn more and more towards Rhodesia.

  • Furthermore, although it might have been more profitablefor the railway to go through the European-settledTransvaal republic, the intrigues of the Boers made itimperative that the line pass through the Protectorate; alargely Tswana reserve and therefore easily manipulable.

    In order to construct the desired railway linethrough the Protectorate, the B.S.A. Company had first torid the territory of a number of concessions held by pettycompanies which might otherwise hinder their objective.It was highly unlikely, however, that with the sizeablefinancial obligations in Rhodesia the B.S.A. Company couldinvest any significant capital on small and unprofitablemineral concessions in the southern Protectorate. In1893 a commission was set up to clear all concessions inthe Territory which might be at variance with the positionof the chartered company as a future candidate for theadministration of the region. Furthermore, officialpolicy was that prospectors should all be given a fairchance to prospect at their own expenses, but that whenthey struck wealth they had to pay taxes and other divi-dends to government;31 for government this was an in-expensive bargain with commercial companies. In thesouthern Protectorate, only twenty-one claims werebrought before the commission. Lach claim comprised fromone to four or five concessions or grants, the majorityof which pertained to land (i.e., surface land ri~ht8):a quarter of the total were mineral concessions whileanother quarter covered other rights and about half ofthe total was taken up by land grants. The procedurefollowed by the Commission was to set up a court wherethe claimants and witnesses were sworn under oath beforethey gave their testimony. Traders played a significantrole in this court as witnesses since they not only hadclaims in which they backed one another, but they had, ina number of cases, interpreted the concessions to thechiefs and thereby helped in the acquisition of suchclaims: especially concessions of companies in which theyhad some interests. Henry Boyne, a trader in Gaberonesand Molepolole, had interpreted for Sebele requests by

  • Gregor Riesle and James Nicholls for land lease in histerritory.32 He also translated these men's requests forconcessions from Bathoen in Kanye and actually assistedin interpreting it favourably to the chief. During thecommission's court he testified that on both accounts thechief knew e~actly what was purported by the concessiondocuments since he had seen to it himself. He also testi-fied to the validity of claims made by the SechelelandConcessions Syndicate of which company S. A. C. K. Allaway,another trader, was the local agent. Boyne's company wasthe Kanye Exploration Company to which was ceded theRiesle-Nicholls-Wooley concessions. Although it cannever be known exactly how men like Boyne interpretedconcepts like 'perpetual lease' or 'concession' to theTswana chiefs, it seems reasonable to suppose from hisinvolvements with the companies he interpreted for thathe made the best representations in order to procure thegrants. Even the commissioners themselves often sawthrough this alliance and pronounced that the documentshad not been properly interpreted and that they weretherefore not a genuine reflection of the chiefs' intents.On the whole, witnesses who had acted as interpreterswere usually closely related to the concerns for whichthey testified, 50 that there was always a bias in theirtestimony. However, there were a couple of instanceswhere such witnesses asserted they were professionalinterpreters and had no interests in the claim; as in thegrants claimed by Edward Wilkinson in western Barolong(Letlogile's) territory. Even then these interpreterswere in the pay of the concession-hunters and weretherefore not impartial •

    In making recommendations for the claims, thecommissioners were not only influenced by the validity ofthe concessions but also by the expenses already incurredin cases where such validity was questionable. JuliusWeil, a trader in Mochudi, brought before the Commissiontwo concessions dated 25 August, 1890. The one was atrading monopoly by which the holder had rights lasting999 years with, initially, twenty trading stations of


  • one square mile each. The other was a mineral concessionconferring upon its holder the right to prospect over anarea of 400 square miles in aggregate. Weil had alreadyexpended £3 00033 in the erection of trading stations atPalla (Phala), Mochudi and Sikwane. Because of theirmonopolistic tendencies both concessions were not accord-ing to the terms of reference for the commission, open torecognition. However, seeing that Weil had already expen-ded a considerable sum of money on the trading grant histrading concession was recommended for modification andrecognition while the mining claim was invalidated. Twoother mining concessions were modified by the commissionwhich would otherwise have been rendered invalid. Thesewere the Secheleland Concessions Syndicate grant of28 August 1889, originally granted to Sidney Morris bySebele, and Eclipse Gold Mining Syndicate's claim of4 February 1888 and originally granted Edgar Rowland byMontshioa. These concessions conferred upon their holdersexclusive prospecting rights for between thirty-three andfifty years in their (Eclipse Gold Mining Syndicate) torespective concessions territories, and on an area notexceeding 400 square miles in aggregate. The commissionrecommended that they be modified to a five year durationfrom a date to be fixed and on an area not exceeding ahundred square miles in aggregate.

    When the commission finally folded up therewere several outstanding concessions whose business hadnot been finalized. These included the two mineral con-cessions recommended for modification and for recognitionby the Secretary of State, and several land grants whosevalidity had been outrightly not reco~nised by thecommission but which because of their nature as smallholdings could be validated according to the commission'sterms of reference on such grants. To circumvent thisproblem the colonial government had decided as far backas 1892 that, since southern Protectorate chiefs did notreadily acquiesce in giving away their land to the Crowns,all land claims by Europeans should as much as possiblebe recognised and the claimants informed that they held


  • from government. This decision was made during consulta-tion between the Governor of the Cape, the Administratorof the Protectorate, as well as Reverend Moffat andW. H. Surmon34 (Surmon presided over the concessionscommission) in 1891. By 1894, the railway line hadreached Mafeking and was about to be continued into theProtectorate. By Proclamation No. 22? BB-1895, the HighCommissioner for South Africa conferred upon the RhodesiaRailways Limited, a branch of the B.S.A. Company, ahundred yards wide strip of land as right of way throughthe Territory.35 This strip coincided with the landgrants that the 1893 commission had recommended forconsideration by the Secretary of State. By clearing outmonopolies in the Protectorate, the commission of 1893paved the way for the domination of the Territory by asingle administrative and commercial monopoly company: away which it had started to pave with the 1891 Proclamatbnby which the chiefs of the Protectorate were relieved ofseveral executive and judicial powers and indeed, gradu-ally lost their rights to grant concessions independentlyof the Resident Commissioner.36

    Since the southern chiefs had been resentfulof Crown interference with the concession-granting pro-cess, it was feared that they might be even more resen~of interference with their income which by virtue of theinvalidation of the monopolies, had to be discontinued.Therefore the B.S.A. Company undertook to provide theaffected chiefs with some compensatory allowance to buytheir peace.3? The allowances were as fo11ows:-

    £225 per annum to Sebele, chief of Bakwena£150 per annum to Bathoen, chief of Bangwaketse£ 50 per annum to Ikaneng, chief of Balete£ 10 per annum to Linchwe, chief of Bakgatla

    The Bakgatla allowance was withdrawn by the imperialgovernment as unnecessary since Julius Weil, the onlyclaimant in the Kgatla region still paid some concessionsmoney albeit modified, for his trading rights. He waslater, in 1898, allowed to obtain another mineral con-cession in the area.


  • Swaziland commission is often used for comparison.attributed

    The success of the Commission is usuallyto the Commission itself and the failure of


    closer scrutiny of the economic potentials of both theProtectorate and Swaziland brings up some fundamentalevidence that throws a different light on the question.Why was it that the concessions commission failed inSwaziland and yet made commendable successes in theProtectorate~ Was it because the terms of reference forthe Protectorate commission were more adequate than thosefor the Swaziland one~

    It is important to note that the Protectorateoccupied a geographically strategic and economic positionvital for British imperialist expansion into the interior,since it was sandwiched between the Rand the covetedregions of Rhodesia, while at the same time on the othersides hovered other rival imperialists who were alsocovetous of Rhodesia. Although poor itself, theProtectorate offered a Suez Canal into the land of Ophir.

    Swaziland had good arable land ideally suitedfor European settlement: by concession these lands werevirtually all ceded away to Boer farmers of the Transvaalrepublic. But beyond or within, there were no alluringmineral deposits to attract giant capitalists as was thecase with the Protectorate. Therefore, although Swazilandhad attractive pastures and good arable land, it was notcoveted by any powerful capitalist like the B.S.A. Companywhile the Protectorate, a largely barren territory, wasvery important as a stepping-stone into the interior.The combination of the Territory's poverty on the onehand, and its strategic importance on the other, resultedin the relative ease with which petty concessions werebrushed aside in favour of the B.S.A. Company. InSwaziland, however, the land which was given away toconcessionaires carneto play a singularly important partin the rise of Swazi nationalism.38 In Rhodesia, too,where the myth of abounding wealth soon exploded thegood arable lands were taken away by the B.S.A. Companyand given to European settlers, while the Africans were

  • dispossessed.39 The Protectorate never experiencedwholesale land dispossession, and therefore the rise ofTswana nationalism was non-violent and largely influencedby regional or sub-continental circumstances.40


    Since commercial companies and syndicateswere the ones directly involved in the actual process ofcapitalist accumulation they were the major agents ofimperialism. Because their major goal was profit-makingthe companies largely determined where capital should beinvested and where it should not. In Southern Africawhere the development of an indigenous capitalist oli-garchy gave the companies a very strong political voice,government usually acquiesced in the companies' decisions.In the Protectorate the ~eological structure of theterritory, coupled with the lack of advanced mining tech-nOlogy41 for sandy terrains led to the impoverishment ofthe companies enga~ed in prospecting since no mineralswere discovered. Therefore the structure of economicunderdevelopment in the Territory was influenced byactivities of companies outside rather than inside theregion, and also by the Crown's attitude toward theterritory. After the 1893 commission, the only remainingcompanies in the southern Protectorate were the CharteredB.S.A. Company and Balkis Consolidated Limited, a London-based syndicate which came to dominate all mining conce-ssions in the south. The B.S.A. Company held preferen-tial rights to minerals and land which, initially, it wasnot too keen to exploit due to its heavy financial commit-ments in Rhodesia. The capital-backing enjoyed by theB.S.A. Company came from the diamond fields of Kimberleyas well as from the gold fields of the Rand:42 it istherefore within the light of these financial ties thatthe activities of the company in the Protectorate can bemeaningfully analysed. By an informal agreement, thecompany was to take over the administration of theProtectorate. In 1895/6 there occurred several incidents


  • that were to influence the companies' activities in thed 1 .. 43region. First the technique of eep-leve m1n1ng was

    i.troduced in the Rand, which made profit-making muchmore easier and quicker than before, thus making availablemore capital for imperial expansion into the interior.

    Kruger's unsympathetic government in theTransvaal throttled the company's capitalist pursuits inthe Boer republic, thus antagonising the British capita-lists. Cecil Rhodes and others organised a conspiracy tooverthrow Kruger and replace him with someone more sympa-thetic.44 The need was made even more urgent by the dis-couraging economic conditions of Rhodesia which werecaused by the rinderpest epidemic of 1895/6, the Africanrebellions and the failure to realise the 'Second Rand'.The notorious Jameson Raid (December 1895) was a disas-trous failure. For the people of the Protectorate,however, it was godsent in that it put an end to anyfurther negotiations for handing their country over toCompany rule. The availability of capital from Kimberlyand the Rand for the B.S.A. Company made it possible forthe company successfully to put down the African rebel-lions first in 1893 and then in 1896/7 in Rhodesia. Italso helped the Europeans to withstand the ravages of therinderpest epidemic which threatened their settlement.For the Protectorate, all these occurrences (i.e. thefailure of the Jameson Raid as well a6 that of theMatebele/Shona uprisings) meant that she continued toprovide the necessary link between the Cape Colony andRhodesia. In 1896/7 the railway link running throughthe Territory was successfully completed.

    When prospects of administrative transfer ofthe Protectorate to the B.S.A. Company fell through, theCompany's rights to Crown lands also lapsed. Its pref-ferential rights remained intact, however, and usingthem, the Company was able to procure a new Concession inthe Bakgatla country in 1898 for its subsidiary, theLinchwe Concession Company. Julius Weil, a trader whohad previously lost all his mining rights in 1893,obtained the necessary concession for the Linchwe


  • Company. The B.S.A. Company also obtained anothermineral concession from the Secheleland ConcessionsSyndicate. When the B.S.A. Company realised they hadlost ownership rights to all the land in the Protectoratedue to the Jameson Raid, they strongly protested to theCrown that their rights should not be impaired by theactions of some of their members. However, they werereminded that ownership rights in any colony went withadministrative obligations as they would have done if thecompany had not been relieved of such duties. The HighCommissioner's declaration that concessions subsequentlyto the charter would not be recognised had only been aguide to the concessions commissioners in 1893 and wastherefore not a guide for policies regarding laterconcessions.45 However, they were informed that theirpreferential rights were not impaired. The Company wasnow required by the Crown to buy certain land grants fromother companies as a pre-condition for receiving certaincrown lands. From the Secheleland Concessione Syndicate,the B.S.A. Company purchased for £12 000 the Riesle-Nicholls 800 square mile landlease of 4 February 1893,and from the Kanye Exploration Company they acquired sometwo-hundred square miles of land in exchange for land inRhodesia. By 1901, the B.S.A. Company possessed thefollowing amount of land in the southern Protectorate:Two large tracts of land handed over by the Crown andknown as the Lobatsi and Gaberones Blocks - the Lobatsiblock, containing an area of about a hundred and fiftysquare miles, said to have been ceded in 1895 to theCrown by chief Gaseitsiwe, and the Gaberones block,comprised of eighteen farms of 3 000 morgen each whichwere ceded by chief Sechele to the Crown. There werealso the two land leases from the Secheleland and KanyeExploration Companies which were 800 square miles and200 square miles respectively.46

    The failure to discover the 'Second Rand' inRhodesia had resulted in the mining companies turning toland and land speCUlation in a bid to recoup the lossesincurred from overcapitalization of the mines. The B.S.A.


  • dated

    Company was responsible for fostering the emergence of awhite rural bourgeoisie in Southern Rhodesia.47 Agricul-ture came to dominate the capitalist sector of that eco-nomy. The success of the rural bourgeoisie may haveinfluenced the Company's policies in the Protectoratebecause by the 1920s, and after a considerably long periodof apparent neglect, it was clamouring to be allowed toexploit and develop its rights (viz. the lands ceded tothe Crown, the Kanye Exploration Company and theSecheleland Concessions Syndicate) and two mining conce-ssions possibly with a view of fostering an agriculturalindustry based on a white rural bourgeoisie as it had donein Southern Rhodesia.

    In a memorandum to the Secretary of State482 January 1925 the B.S.A. Company argued that:

    'The whole history of British SouthAfrica suggests the answer that if whatis aimed at be, as assuredly it must be,the advancement of the natives in civi-lization and in wealth, such advancementmust come about through increased produc-tion from the country in which they live.Such increased production is not likelyto come about otherwise than throughEuropean enterprise.'

    The Company was protesting against the Crow~.view that mining operations by concessionaires in 'nativereserves' was undesirable in the 'interests' of the'natives.' It was also against the idea of framing apolicy to give effect to this view. Company Directorspointed out that:

    'If the natives in what is now the Unionof South Africa have made remarkableprogress in the desired direction, asundoubtedly they have ••• it is becausethey have had their share of the wealthflowing from the great material produc-tion which has taken place ••• Thishas been primarily mineral production •••Not only have the natives shared directlyin this wealth, it has enabled theirgovernment to make a degree of provisionfor the extension of the railway system,for the preservation of peace and orderamong natives ••• It is submitted thRtthese results could not have been obtainedif mining operations had not been carried


  • 'on by white "concessionaires" in theseterritories - "concessionaires" being infact persons possessing mining rights.'

    The Directors went at length to show how theCrown's closure of the Protectorate to 'European enter-prise' had led to negligible 'progress among the nativesin civilization and material well-being.'

    Being the most influential of all the compa-nies in the Protectorate, the B.B.A. Company, althoughspeaking mainly for its own interests, was voicing thefears of other companies, and for whom the Crown hadeither refused to allow extension of the period of pros-pecting, or had entertained the ideas of, in the case ofthe Balkies Company handing over their rights to other

    Af' 49companies in South r1ca.It is very important at this juncture to note

    the differences between the companies and the Crownbecause they affected the Territory's structure of under-development. The initial capital which was employed inthe process of profit-mRking in Southern Africa had beenimported from the British metropole,50 and it was metro-politan shareholders' directors who decided where theircapital should be invested. In the sub-continent, accu-mulation came to be based on the super exploitation andexpropriation of surplus created by cheap African labourand it was this surplus that made possible further impe-rialist penetration into the interior of ~outhern Africa.Since the imperial government represented largely theinterests of the metropolitan capitalists, rather thanlocal South African magnates, these often came into con-flict with local shareholders like Cecil Rhodes andothers.51 In a bid to rid themselves of the imperialgovernment the companies, notably the B.S.A. Company,moved further into the interior away from Crown dominance.Therefore, although most of its ca~ital-backing came fromthe south, the B.S.A. Company's in:erests lay in Rhodesia.Interests of the Imperial government remained in thesouth, especially 1n the '/Iitwatersranu. ''':'1ilethe compa~was trying to recoup its losses brour,ht about by the


  • failure to discover the 'Second Rand', it encounteredgovernment resistance in the Protectorate from where camea considerable amount of cheap migratory labour for SouthAfrican industries - especially the southern regions ofthe Protectorate. The imperial government hid itsinterests behind the cover of 'protecting native inte-rests', even while it drew revenue from these same'natives', through the hut tax which was used primarilyby white settlers.52 The Crown systematically discouragedmining companies from operating on a large scale in theProtectorate, because in the first place, the territorydid not seem to have any worthwhile mineral resources towarrant deviation of capital from the Rand. Secondly ifother companies like the B.S.A. Company concentrated acti-Tities in the region they might offset the flow of migra-tory labour into the fast developing mining industries ofthe south. The number of southern and central Protecto-rate Batswana working in South African mines (i.e. thoserecruited by the Native Recruiting Company) rose fromabout 2 000 in 1913 to 5 000 in 1933 and 12 000 in 1940?3Having dismissed the company as a possible candidate fortaking over the administration of the Territory, theimperial government was now systematically engaged inpreparing the region for incorporation into the Union ofSouth Africa. Therefore, company activities had to becontrolled and geared towards this objective.

    From 1902 the Protectorate companies had beenrequesting the Crown to issue mining laws which would pro-tect their prospecting ventures and thereby encouragecapital to flow in for the development of the m~n~ngindustry. But the Crown dragged its feet for twenty-nineyears before such ordinances were issued and even then,after curtailing the activities of companies in theregion. This delay affected the flow of capital into theTerritory to such an extent that very few companies ven-tured into the region, and even the few that existed,predominantly the B.S.A. Company and Balkis did notchoose to exploit the Protectorate directly, but insteadleased out their rights to other smaller syndicates. The


  • ay.te. of leaaing out optiona to aeyeral companie. wa.beneficial to the conceasion holder in that the financialrisks were shared, and the monopoly holder waa entitledto an owner's share in the eyent of profit .aterisli~in«.The B.S.A. Compsny, for inatance, was entitled to 5~share of the profits made by companies working within it.concession territory. Balkis' lea.ee subsidiariea wereentitled to only 33% of the profits. Leasee companieswere in turn at liberty to lease out their options toothera. Richard kowlsnd, for example, obtained somemininp, options from Balkis Consolidated and proceeded to~rant eome of these to Mend of a Johanne8burg company.Mond in turn aold part of his intereata to Solomon ofanother Johanneaburg .yndicate, whereby the shareholderaof thie last m~r.tioned formed a workinK company calledthe Kanye AcbeetoB Company, to continue the developmentof ABbestos propertlea eitultted ten miles we at of Kanye~

    The le•• ee nystem wns often wlde open toabuno alnce it WAn clear neither to the Crown nor to thechief" who wea pronpectln~ for whom and under whnt con-ceaSlon. In a number of cnsoa, individuals questionedof thelr prospectln, rl~hta aimply atated that thoy wereworking under Salkis but could not produce credentinlu toprove their atory.

    Although several attempts at prospectlng werecarried out by different companies in the southernFrotectorate, they yielded no mineral discoveriea. Bythe mid-nineteen-twentiee it was quite obviou6 that nogold would be atruck in the region: The corr-ranie6weresufferlng losses. This lack of fiuccea6 was finallydriven home by the failure of out6tandjn~ comparoiee likeDe 5eer6 Consoliaated to C1Bcover mineral depoBlts. A~~few asbestos ceposits were fou~d around Yany. in 1927//but z:nlnr r,oved unprof:table because 0: l~ck ofmark~ta n,.~ th~ smnll quantitlee of th~ mlneral. Theywere consequently abandoned. By the late nlneteen-twentles, Protectorate concesa:ona c0rnp8niee had lostthe pOBsibility of ever developlng minin~ industriesenough to compete with the fReter developing neighbours


  • in the Union Of South Africa. Batevana, firmly engrainedinto the capitalist economy, became wholly dependent on.igrant labour to pay taxes when the 1929 world economic

    . 56depress10n decreased the price of cattle. The Crown,on the other hand had, in anticipation of incorporatingthe Territory into the Union taken the first step towardsthis goal by tying it into an economic partnership withthe Union through the Customs Union of 1910. TheProtectorate came to be totally dependent on the economyof South Africa, the development of which did Dot as hadbeen anticipated, cause any capital to overflow into itsdependent. South African capitalists 80 jealously guardedtheir markets that not only could Protectorate goods notpenetrate these markets but the Territory's infant indus-tries were deatroyed in order that it may depend on SouthAfrican products.57

    The Promulgation in 1932 of Mining Ordinancesbrought about a new stage in the history of concessioncompanies and mining in the Territory. Formerly thecompanies had not been required to register as there hadbeen no laws governing mining activities. Also there hadbeen no time limit to the duration of prospecting andmining so that most concessions were of an indefinitecharacter. The new mining laws provided for protectionof property against damage during prospecting therebymaking conditions easier for mining companies. By thenthe only mining concessions in the southern Protectoratestill operative were the two held by the Balkis coveringthe Bangwaketse Reserve and the Lobatsi Block, one heldby the B.S.A. Company in the Bakwena Reserve, and anotherby the Linchwe Concessions Company in the BakgatlaR 58 H .. deserve. aV1ng reg1stere under the 1932 MiningOrdinances, the B.S.A. Company was obliged to pay £750per annum to government for their prospecting rights aswell as £180 payable to the Bakwena Tribal Fund.59Balkis Company were not yet registered and thereforewere not obliged to pay such monies. Meantime, theB.S.A. Company had transferred their diamond prospectingrights to De Beers Consolidated which now sought to

  • register in its own right and acquire a grant to prospectover areas not already held under concession by the B.B.A.Company. It therefore came to own diamond rights overthe Gaberones (and Tuli) Block(s) in perpetuity.60

    The interest that the imperial government wasbeginning to take in mining activities in the Protectoratein the 1920s was due partly to the experience of the twoWorld Wars 1914-18 and 1939-45. Unlike the companieswhich prospected for particular minerals the governmentlearnt from the war that it was important to have a soundknowledge of all mineral resources in its e~ire, espe-cially metals, which might be useful not only for indus-trial and economic development but also for production of

    d "t. 61arms an ammun1 10n.In 1919 a Bureau had been set up in Britain

    whose duty was to collect information regarding mineralresources and the metal requirements of the Britishempire. This Imperial Mineral Resources Bureau had fromtime to time to advice the variouB British colonialgovernments and the companies on the action to take toenable the development of mineral resources to meet therequirements of the Empire. Geologists were sent todifferent corners of the empire, and although theirgeological surveys were not so well equipped as those ofthe mining companies, they enjoyed better opportunitiesfor finding minerals since they were interested in all. t 62m1neral subs ances.

    The mining companies, unlike the imperialgovernment's geological survey, had/their shareholders toconsider and these were mainly interested in profitableminerals which could find a ready market. Their exploi-tation of minerals was largely determined by the marketand market conditions. After the high production ofminerals and ensuring high prices of 1930 there followeda period of depression so severe that mining of minerals(except gold) became unprofitable.63 The Kanye asbestosmine, for instance, closed for lack of market.64 Thefailure of De Beers' competent prospectors to find work-able minerals created a very pessimistic attitude among


  • companies towards prospecting in the Territory. VictoriaProspecting Company, a Rhodesian subsidiary of the B.S.A.Company, did more prospecting than any other company whichworked in the Protectorate, but they too found no mineraldeposits worth working under the economic circumstancesof the Great Depression. They did remark however, thatcopper might warrant developing if and when its pricerose again.65 Prospecting grounded to a halt until 1959when companies once again resumed serious activity. LThiswas pointed out by Dr. David Gould, a geologist in theBotswana Geological Survey in Botswana~

    While the companies receded from the forefrontas forces of colonization, the imperial government becameincreasingly dominant. Initially it had been content tolet the chiefs rule their people as dictated by theirtraditions and the changing economic situation. The com-panies had been the major agents of imperial expansion,as they had had the capital with which to venture intonew territories and exploit the minerals there. As theterritories of the Rand area became relatively economi-cally independent, those areas sought responsible setof government and finally total political indepenrlencefrom Britain which, however, continued to invest heavilyin the industries there. Having been relieved of poli-tical responsibilities in the southern colonies by theAct of Union of 1909 and with its investments secure, theCrown gradually shifted its attention to the Protectorate,whose colonial status had been rather amorphous.

    The first few years after the declaration ofthe Protectorate (1885) had seen very little imperialgovernment presence. In 1891 a Proclamation placed theterritory under the Hir,h Commissioner for South Africa,66and also curtailed the powers of the chiefs to make conce-ssions of mineral rights.67 In 1899 the Crown haddelimited the Tribal Reserves as well as imposed theNative Poll Tax to make the Protectorate pay for its ownexpenses: and between 1912/13-1932/33 and again between1941/42-1955/56 the Protectorate met its recurrentexpenditure from its domestic revenue.


  • Between the 1920s and 1930s Britain began toformulate very clear policy regarding government of theProtectorate. First a commission was set up in 1930 tolook into the financial and economic position of theTerritory. Its report of 1933 wae followed in 1934 byProclamations numbers 74 and 75 on 'Native Adminietration'and 'Native Tribunal,69 respectively. These Proclamationswere designed to control the powers of the chiefs whichhitherto had been given substantial backing againet othertraditional authorities, but which had not been given anyclear-cut legal standing vis a vis the European govern-ment. These proclamatione were subsequently modified in1943.

    The administration of the Protectorate drewthe biggest portion of its revenue from the Africansthrough the Native hut tax which formed about 40% of thegeneral revenue. Customs and excise also brought inabout 30% income. ,The system of indirect rule practicedin the Protectorate was such that a European administra-tion was imposed over a traditional Tswana organisation,thus duplicating staff to some extent as well as expen-diture. The European administrative bureaucracy drainedsubstantial revenue collected within the Territory, somuch that the expenditure involved could not be metwithin the available resources. Needless to say theAfricans bore the burden but gained very little themeelveasince the biggest portions of the revenue was used in theinterests of the European settlement community.70 Withthe 'natives' now firmly under control and the miningcompanies also brought to heel by the Mining Ordinanceof 1932, the imperial government was now firmly entrenchedinto the political and economic developments of colonialrule in the Protectorate. Not only was Tswana labourflowing into the industries of South Africa where theimperial government had vested interests but Tswana mencould and were act~ally used to fi~ht Britain's wars.They were recruited into the British armies abroad. Inthe 1930s when I. Schapera was studyin~ the effects of


  • migrant labour in the Protectorate, he discovered thatabout 11% of the male population was abroad in theBritish army.?l

    Although the Imperial Mineral ResourcesBureau had not yet discovered any mineral resources inthe Protectorate, the prospecting activities in the terri-tory soon revealed that in time the area might yield sig-nificant quantities of minerals like copper, diamond,coal and others. The importance of British colonies tothe metropole may be summed up by a quotation from areport (1949) by a prominent British geologist, E. J.Wayland, who worked in the Protectorate for some time:

    The long dreamt of days of global peaceare far ahead. They may never come.Meanwhile, war is more than possible. Inthe 'old days' a nation could prepareafter war had started. In the future,surely to be unprepared will be to courtdisaster. In the mineral sphere, wesuffered by unpreparedness in both wars;particularly World War I; and even in theSecond World War Germany, through lack offoresight (preparation) blundered badlymore than once. As in the second of theseappalling tragedies almost from the startGermany was short of tungston and, to myfirsthand knowledge, in 1941 she was buyingwolfram (the more important of the two oresof the metal) from Portugal at the incredibleprice of £5 500 a ton. Finally, because ofthe dollar-sterling position it has becomenecessary to find, if possible, within theBritish Empire, deposits of minerals whichhitherto we were content to buy fromAmerica.72

    Competition among imperialist powers whichhad culminated in the two World Wars, induced Britain to

    search more diligently within her empire for mineralswhich, if they were not known then to possess any econo-mic value might in the long run prove useful. In SouthernAfrica conflict and competition between the Boers andthe British imperialists culminated in the Anglo-Boer warof 1899 and had led Britain to grant full political inde-pendence to the South African colonies and republics;Britain could now shift her attention to emcompass theProtectorate.



    The nature of colonial impact on pre-capitalsocieties has been determined by the socio-economic aswell as other conditions peculiar to the particular terri-tory. Nowhere in Africa has colonization been as directas it has been in Southern Africa, where a permanentsettler community came to be entrenched to the extent ofintransigence. The subcontinent came to be vital to capi-talist expansion both for strategic as well as economicreasons.

    It was (and still is) very important for theexpansion of trade from western Europe to the Last sincenot all big ships could pass through the Suez Canal inEgypt. Secondly, the gold deposits of South Africa andother mineral Bubstances were themselves very importantfor capitalist accumulation. By and larr,e the climatewas also conducive to European settlement and commercialagriculture. Once well established in South Africa, theimperialists began to look further inland in search ofmore new mineral resources and markets. The BechuanalandProtectorate came to acquire stratevic importance becauseof imperialist rivalry for areas of influence furtherinland, especially in Matebeleland and Mashonaland(Rhodesia). It must be made clear that the nAture ofcolonization was not consciously pre-determined by theimperial powers, but was influenced by the economic con-ditions. It was not due to any conscious effort or planon the part of Britain that in Southern Africa direct orindirect rule should prevail.

    It has been said before and it cannot beemphasized enough that Bechuanaland Protectorate wasnever climatically or economically attractive toEuropean capitalists. Therefore the colonization of thisTerritory never beca~e as vicious as say in Rhodesiawhere not only the land but the minerals were coveted byE ' t' 73 IS' I 74 1uropean cap~ al~sts. n waz~ and, a so, the arablelands attracted settler colonists from across theTransvaal, who used them for grazing purposes. In South


  • Atrica75 too, aining companies and settlers were attrac-ted by the wealth of the country. In fact, South Africaattracted giant capitalists and multinational corporationsas well as a formidable settler community.

    The few settlers who ventured into theProtectorate were doomed to failure and poverty and weretoo small in number to poise a threat to the availablearable land and water resources. The Territory thereforenever witnessed, as did South Africa, Rhodesia and Namibia,wholesale bitter Afro-European confrontations. Between1893 and 1897 ,he indigens of Rhodesia revolted againstthe settler domination and exploitation, but were effec-tively repressed. South Africa, too, witnessed itsBambata rebellion and other 'Kaffir Wars'. Namibia wit-nessed the heroic battles of the Nama and the Hereroagainst the Germans before they were subsequently annihi-lated and handed over to the Union of South Africa.76

    Even the Portuguese territories, saw their peasantsrevolts, which culminated into the Barue rebellion of1904-1917.77 All these African armed resistance move-ments failed to check colonial expansion, mainly becausethe Africans lacked a common identity and also becausethey were technologically backward, fighting powerfulinternationally linked capitalist forces. Nonetheless,they serve to expose how economic considerations on thepart of imperial forces determined the degree of vicious-ness of the colonization of the indigenous people.

    The different conceptions of property rela-tions have been alluded to before as an important factorin explaining the understanding of both African andEuropean in the transactions they engaged in during theprocess of concession-granting. It must, however, beagain emphasised that the nature of imperialism, especi-ally the economic interests which are 60 fundamental tocapitalism, eluded the Africans. They no doubt may haveperceived the political aspect of imperialism which,however, merely forms the superstructure of society: thusfor instance the south P t t .ern ro ec orate ch~efs preferredto treat with small concession companies rather than the


  • imperial government or the B.S.A. Company, which theyregarded as an organ of the colonial government. Not.also how Batswana generally preferred British rule toBoer settler domination. Given their inferior level ofcommodity production they could not have clearly graspedthe economic force of imperialism.

    By the late nineteenth century the Tswanasocieties, like all other pre-capitalist societies inSouthern African, had begun to be gradually incorporatedinto the world market and international capital throughbarter trade with European settlers, concessions moneyand companies, migrant labour, hut tax and, later, thecustoms union with the more industrialised Union of SouthAfrica. All these contacts eroded the pre-capitalisteconomy to such an extent that capitalism came to domi-nate the economy and Batswana came to be increasinglydependent on the world market; with the inevitable resultthat as dependence strengthened a structure of under-

    78development emerged. European traders, hunters andmissionaries had constituted the initial step toward thecolonization of the Territory. From the 1830s79 whenthey made contact with Batswana the hunters and traderswere mainly interested in makin£ quick profits by bar-tering their goods. However, the Europeans who came inthe late nineteenth century were interested in profit-making through capitalist accumulation and were in factlured by the discovery of minerals to look for conce-ssions in Southern Africa by which they could establishtheir interests.

    In the initial period of concession-acquiSition in the Protectorate the Europeans were dealingwith illiterate African rulers. Since no records werekept that might throw some light on these illiterates'perception of concessions, it is difficult to ascertainhow they interpreted the concession money v.iven them bythe Europeans. In some Tswana tribes, like Bakgatla,trading transactions with strangers or foreigners couldnot take place before the aliens had offered gifts to


  • the chief as 'gate-openers' or 'mouth-openers' (go bula80kgoro). It may therefore not be far fetched to say that

    such chiefs may have perceived concessions money which inmany cases was offered during or just before negotiationsfor concessions as 'gate-openers'.

    Anyway, the Tswana chiefs were offered consi-derable sums of money by the concessionaires, which foundits way into their personal bank accounts. By 1898, forinstance, chief Sebele was reported as having in hisaccount in the Mafeking branch of the Standard Bank a sumof £14 00081 paid him by John Riesle and his partners forthe land lease he granted them. By 1925, the B.S.A.Company alone had made the following payments to theProtectorate chiefs:



    Bakwena Sebele compensator, £225 I: 6 500BangwaketsE Bathoen compensator~ 150 2 500Bamalete Seboko compensator ....2Q 1 500

    TOTAL 1:485 1:12500Bamangwato Sekgoma MineralConcession £300 £, 2 500Bakgatla "Successor Mineral 100 2 500to Linchwe ConcessionBakwena Sebele Mineral 180Concession 7 500Bat.wana Mineral 300 000Concession 10

    TOTAL £880 £32 500

    +The Bakgatla payment for the mineral concession wasmade by the Linchwe Concession Company. Thereforeby 1925 the B.S.A. Company had paid approximately£32 500 to the Protectorate of which 1:20000 waspaid to the southerners alone, plus the £2 500 paidto Bakgatla by the Linchwe Company. Here again norecords have been kept on how tribal funds wereused: whether the chief took the concessions moneyas his personal income or not.


  • The earliest records on the handling oftribal monies by chiefs only date back to the nineteen-thirties, with the establishment of tribal treasuries.These records reveal that there was no demarcationbetween the chiefs' personal income and tribal revenue.83

    The chiefs simply made withdrawals from revenue collectednot only from concessions but also from stand rents andother levies. For example, an amount of £220 payable asstand rent in the Bangwaketse Reserve went into Bathoen'spocket.84 Whichever way it may have been it is clear thatthe chiefs and other tribal authorities had at their dis-posal ready cash which enhanced their financial positionin the new economy vis i vis other members of the tribes.They were thus in a better position to buy more herds ofcattle for themselves, send their children to school andopen up businesses like trading stores. Some of the bestexamples of this trend can be found among the Ngwaketsechiefs, notably Bathoen II.

    The introduction of hut tax in 1899 was sing-ularly a major force which compelled Batswana into themoney economy. They were required to pay it as much aspossible in cash which they could only obtain by sellingeither cattle or their labour. Since a large portion ofthe population did not own enough cattle to sell annua-lly,85 their only way out was to sell their labour inSouth African labour markets. As a matter of fact bothgovernment and labour recruitment agencies collaboratedto find ways and means of coercing the African into wagelabour. For those Africans who had enough cattle to sellthe economic depression of 1929 dealt them a big blow.The value of cattle fel186 drastically thus making thesale of livestock not enough to meet the financialdemands of the money economy. By encouraging Batswanato join the stream of migrant labour to South Africa, thecolonial government gained revenue from the hut tax andalso subsidies from the South African government for themigrant labourers. The tribal authorities also oftenused migrant labourers from their tribes to generatetribal revenue.8?


  • Whereas migratory labour, the Protectorate'smajor export until the 1960s, informally tied theProtectorate to South Africa, the formal ties were esta-blished by the incorporation of the Territory into aCustoms Union with South Africa which was actually an

    88a~inistratiTe necessity rather than an economic partner-ship. By this customs agreement South Africa, in herstronger bargaining position as a relatively highly indus-trialized power, would monopolise fiscal discretions andthe custo•• and excise policies governing the customsarea.89 In this way, she determined and controlled price-raising standards, and consequently the growth of industryin her less developed partner. The items of trade betweenthe two partners reveal that South Africa came to have anupper hand in determining the structure of industrialdevelopment in the Protectorate and of establishing itsown markets in the less advanced country. Whereas theProtectorate exported her primary products, first migrantlabourer. and later beef, she imported processed consumergoods which were often exports returned after processing.The implication. of primary export were that no interme-diatory industries were generated.

    All these economic changes had a profoundeffect on the socio-economic structure of Tswana society.The main sources of income came to be as follows:90 Thesale of agricultural produce (31%), Army allotments (8%),Employment outside the Protectorate (43%), and employmentinside the Protectorate (18%). In his study of the impactof migrant labour on Tswana societies, Isaac Schaperaestimated the average minimum expenditure per family at£12 13s. 6d. in the 1930s.91 As the dependency on themoney economy increased, new class relations emerged. Thefeudary structure of Tswana society was soon dominated92by a capitalist structure. The commercialization of thecattle industry gradually transformed cattle ownersespecially the chiefs and other noble families into apetty-bourgeois class. This petty-bourgeoisie was alsoreinforced by now-traditional authorities who had acquiredEuropean education. In fact, the Native Administration


  • Proclamation of 1934 made provision for the inclusion ofeducated persons who had no traditional standing into the'Native' Council.93 The skewed distribution of cattlewhich characterised pre-colonial social structure con-tinued into the capitalist period with some slightrecruits for the class of owners.

    Although no minerals were discovered in theTerritory during the colonial era, by the late nineteenthfourties, Europeans strongly suspected that some Batswanapossessed secret knowledge of mineral deposits in thecountry.94 The Colonial Geological Survey thought theyhad reason to believe that some Africans did know ofmineral showings in their country which necessitated theclarification of the problem of mineral development andexploitation as well as reformulations of principles'designed reasonably to protect Native interests,.95


    Bearing in mind the alliance between thepolity and the capitalists the process of concession-colonization in the Protectorate can be summarized aafollows: first came the small concession-hunting indivi-dual companies; then followed amalgamation of monopolysyndicates and the absorption of the original smallcompanies, resulting in the dominance of two m~jor com-panies, viz., the B.S.A. and Balkis Consolidated. Whenthe monopoly companies were established they then leasedout options to other companies but retained possession ofthe original concessions which entitled them to an owner'sshare of any profits that the leasee companies might havemade. In granting a royal charter to the B.S.A. Companyin 1899 the British imperial ~overnment was merely esta-blishing political control over the process of concession-colonization spearheaded by various comDRnies, and throughthe cheapest way possible. For the most part, the Crownshowed the least economic interest in the protectorate96

    as prospecting activities yielded no mineral deposits.So the Crown did not foster any economic developments inthe Territory as there did not seem to be any. It hoped


  • that the prospecting of the comp3nies would discoversomething worth spending money on.

    Some historians, and even some Tswana nationa-lists, tend to interpret Brit:in's failure to developindustries in the Protectorate as simple negligence:97

    thereby implying that Britain was morally bound to dogood by the Territory. It is even argued that the poli-cies the Crown adopted in the Protectorate were motivatedby humanistic ideals of 'saving' the 'natives' both fromthemselves and from the intrirues of land-hungry Boers andother European capitalists. The myth that theProtectorate had no mineral wealth and also the fact ofscarcity of arable land are often quoted as 'proof' thatBritish activities in the Territory were non-economic andtherefore were mainly in the interests of the 'natives,.98This interpretation is superficial and is based on naivehumanistic sentiments which are not borne out by thenature of capitalism which although social at the levelof production is nonetheless characterised by privateownership of the means of production. For the obviousreason of the discovery of the Rand, British capital wasmostly sunk into the mines of the wealthy territory. Thehumanistic protestations of unmoneyed pressure-rroups oreven imperial officials could not divert any of thiscapital from the lucretive Rand to the poverty-strickenunderdeveloped Protectorate. The capitalists were theones who decided where their caj,ital should go, and thiswas not dictated by the strife of' the colonized societiesbut by the wealth potential of the particular territory.Where capital went there went the Crown; so it was notuntil the late 1950s when serious prospecting resumed thatthe Crown began to seriously consider proffering substan-tial grants-in-aid to the Protectorate. Therefore thehumanistic ideals were contradicted by the dictates ofmonopoly capitalism.99

    The position of the colonial government wassummed up by the white settlers when they said:


  • F 0 0 T NOT E S

    1Thompson George, Capitalism and After. London 1973pp. 60-61

    2Kemp, Tom, 'The Marxist Theory of Imperialism' inR. Owen and B. Suitcliffe (eds.), The Theory ofImperialism, London 1972. p. 23

    3Leys, Colin, Underdevelopment in Kenya. London 1975. p.9

    4For division of opinion among British Authorities con-cerning the method by which the Imperial Governmentcould extp ~ her power see Lord Hailey, The Republicof South Africa and the High Commission Territories,London 1963; and Lord Lugard, The Dual Mandate inBritish Tropical Africa. (5th ed.) London 1965

    5The other chartered companies were the Royal NigerCompany (1886) and the Imperial British East AfricaCompany (IBEA). The climatic conditions of theterritories covered by these two companies were notmineral wealth so that the companies, especially theIBEA tended to be financially weak and dependent onthe imperial power.

    6Greaves, L. B., The High Commission Territories,London 1954. p. 9

    7Galbraith, John S., Crown and Charter: The Early Yearsof the British South Africa Company. London 1974. p.24

    8M" C C1nutes of onces.ions ommission 1893. Botswana NationalArchives (hereafter BNA) RC 3/11.


    WExtract from Report of Concessions Commission, BNA Hcn8IIOp. cit. HC 3/1112Ibid•


    l4Lord Ripon to the High Commissioner, 15th January 1895BNA HC 119

    150p• cit. RC 3/1116Schapera, Isaac, A Handbook of Tswana Law and Custom.

    London 1970. p. 214


  • l7In his study of economic conditions of the BakgatlaReserve, I. Schapera'. survey revealed that betweenthem the chief (Molefi), the ex-regent Isang, Isang'sbrother, Bogatswe Pilaae, Isang's brother-in-lawBogatswe Matlapeng and Ditshote Monametse owned 2~of the cattle of the whole reserve - see I. Schapera,'Economic Conditions in a Bechuanaland Native Reserve'in South African Journal of Science, Vol. XXX 1933,p. 650. For a comprehensive study of wealth distri-bution among Batswana see I. Schapera, A Handbook ofTswana Law and Custom, and his study on impact ofmigrant labour on the economy of the Territory inBNA S 437/1/2

    l8For land tenure system among Batswana, see I. Schapera,A Handbook of Tswana Law and Custom. pp. 195-213

    19Ibid• p. 203

    20Minutes of Concessions Commission 1893. BNA Re 3/112lIbid•

    22Financial and Economic Position of the BechuanalandProtectorate - Report of the commission appointed bythe Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs.London 1933

    23Smit, P., Botswana: Resources and Development, AQualitative View. Pretoria 1970. p. 36

    24Silley, Antony, Founding a Protectorate. London 1965P. 139

    25Notes on consultation between the Governor of the Cape,the Administrator of the Protectorate, Robert Moffatand W. H. Surmon. BNA, HC 182/1

    26Ashburn (Gaberones) to Imperial Secretary (Cape Town),10th May, 1893. BNA, HC 118

    27Mongatane, Tebogo, Balete and the Scramble. UBLS,Gaborone 1976

    28Galbraith, John S., Crown and Charter. Ope cit.

    29Phimster, I. R., 'Rhodes Rhodesia and the Rand' inJournal of Southern African Studies. Vol I October 197~p. 85

    30Ibid• p. 83

    3lColonial office to Mr. Bauman (Secretary of theSecheleland Concessions Syndicate) 4th August, 1892BNA, HC 152/4

    32Minutes of Concessions Commission BNA, RC 3/11


  • 33Ibid•

    34The High Commissioner's Instructions and Terms ofReference for the Concessions Commission 1893. BNA

    35Consu1tation meeting between the Governor, theAdministrator, Reverend Moffat and W. H. Surmon 1891.BNA HC 182/1

    36Memorandum on the B.S.A. Company's rights in theProtectorate. BNA, 536/2

    ~ 6Schapera, I., Tribal Innovators. London 19 5. p.538British South Africa Company's memorandum to the

    Secretary of State. BNA BNB 17539Lord Hailey, Native Administration in the British Afrkan

    Territories Part V. London 1953. p. 374400n the rise of Tswana nationalism, see o. N. Parsons,

    'Shots for a Black Republic','Simon Ratshosa andBotswana Nationalism' in African Affairs, 73(293 1974)and R. P. Stevens, Lesotho, Botswana and SwazilandLondon 1967

    4lSmit, P., Botswana Resources and Development AQualitative View. Pretoria 1970. p. 43

    42For financial ties between Rhodesia and the Rand areasee I. R. Phimister, 'Rhodes Rhodesia and the Rand'in Journal of Southern African Studies, I, i 1974;and John S. Galbraith, Crown and Cha!1!£ , Ope cit.

    43Phimister, I. R., Ibid., p. 77441 ° 8b~d., p. 345Memorandum on the British South Africa Company's

    Protectorate Rights. ENA, S 36/246S 1 °urvey of and ~n the Protectorate belonging to the

    B.S.A. Company 1901. BNA Re 5/847A . hO GO . Trr~g 1, ~ovann~, he Political Economy of Rhodesia.

    The Hague 19E~. p. 19

    48The British South Africa Company's memorandum to theSecretary of State 1925. BNA, BNB 175

    49The Secretary of State to the High Commissioner,23 January, 1929. BNA, BNB 176


  • 50Britain was the first and the biggest investor inSouth Africa. The other imperialist powers like theUnited States of America and France, came much laterinto the scene. For British investments in SouthAfrica see Ruth First, J. Steele and C. Gurvey,The South African Connection London 1972. pp. 23-24;and Robert Ley, 'South African G01dmining 1976', 'thegold of migrant labour' in African Affairs 74, 1975,pp. 196-208

    51De Kiewit, C. J., The Imperial Factor in South Africa.London 1905. p. 310

    52Memorandum by the Hesident Commissioner summing theposition of the question of Transfer from 1921-1935with special reference to the viewpoint of Europeansettlers, 16 February, 1935. BNA S 337/6

    53Schapera, I., 'Effects of Migrant Labour on Economicposition of the Bechuana1and Protectorate' inBNA S 437/1/1-2. The Native Recruiting Corporation(NRC) only recruited in the south and central dist-ricts of the Protectorate. The other major recruitingagency was the Witwatersrand Native LabourOrganization (WNLA)

    54Correspondence relating to question of mineral conce-ssions 1922-26. BNA, BNB 175

    55Wayland, E. J., Minerals in the B.P., 1949 p. 12 andAsbestos in B.P., 1949, Lobatse, Botswana GeologicalSurvey

    56Schapera, l., Effects of Mi~rant Labour op. cit.

    57A soap industry in Lobatse was strangulated by SouthAfrica

    58 Memorandum on B.S.A. Company's Protectorate rights,BNA, 536/2

    59Financial and Economic Position of the B.P. - A report- of the commis3ion ap~ointe~~~Secretary of State

    for Dominion Affairs, March 1933. Lonnon. p. 20

    60du Toit, A. L., 'Heport on Diamond Prospecting in theBechuanaland Protectorate' Lobatse, BotswanaGeological Survey 1934. p. 6

    61WaYland, E. J., Minerals in the~., op. cit., p.l


  • 62Ibid., p. 27

    63Ibid., p. 27

    64Ibid., p.2

    65Ibid., p. 27

    66Greaves, C. B., The High Commission TerritoriesLondon 1954. p. 9

    67Lord Hailey, Native Administration