A FEW EXAMPLES OF BRITISH PROPAGANDA TO INSTIGATE WAR
Published in the Indian Planter’s Gazette:
'Not only should the Boer be slain, but slain with the same ruthlessness that they slay a plague-infected rat. Exeter Hall may shriek, but blood there will be and plenty of it, and the more the better. The Boer resistance will further this plan, and enable us to find the excuse to blot the Boers out as a nation, to turn their land into vast shambles, and remove their name from the muster roll of South Africa.’
Historian Bill Nasson refers us to what Robert Blatchford, socialist, sometime journalist, patriot, and war supporter, in response to criticism of the war by JA Hobson and other pro-Boer English writers, remarked:
‘We have killed some of them with kindness, but we have not killed enough … Dispatch more. Those in St Helena and Ceylon might be rendered down into beef extract. It will be too expensive to send them back to South Africa.’
Here follows a rather detailed depiction of the Boers from a certain lady Rolleston who wrote in 1901:
‘[T]heir eyes are generally small and dark, and too close together, the nose is short … the face is nearly always animal … the glance is shifty, and reminds me irresistibly of a visit to Zoological gardens at home.’
It must have been due to these distorted portrayals that some British soldiers, after an exchange of gunfire, would ask Boer soldiers: ‘Where are the Boers?’ To which the perplexed Boers replied: ‘WE are the Boers’.
The poet most seen as slandering the Boers was Algernon Charles Swinburne.
The poem ‘Transvaal’, in particular, is seen by critics as an ‘exercise in hatred’.
Patience, long sick to death, is dead. Too long
Have sloth and doubt and treason bidden us be
What Cromwell’s England was not, when the sea
To him bore witness given of Blake how strong
She stood, a commonweal that brooked no wrong
From foes less vile than men like wolves set free
Whose war is waged where none may fight or flee –
With women and with weanlings. Speech and song
Lack utterance now for loathing. Scarce we hear
Foul tongues that blacken God’s dishonest name
With prayers turned curses and with praise found shame
Defy the truth whose witness now draws near
The scourge these dogs agape with jaws afoam,
Down out of life. Strike England, and strike home.
[Note: the wolves and dogs refer to the Boers]
After the poem was published in The Times, disgusted with these images, W.H. Colby replied: ‘Where are the dogs agape? With jaws afoam? Where are the wolves?’
God’s Chosen people ?
Afrikaners have often been accused of having seen themselves as the ‘chosen people’, similar to ‘Israel’ with a ‘special' mission and having to honour their ‘covenant with God’.
Let us examine how things fared elsewhere. Scottish Reverend Ian MaClaren ‘encouraged’ his congregation before the Anglo Boer War.
“Why should we not recognize in our England the modern Israel, called of God, and set apart by God for a special mission? The ‘mission’ is built on a ‘covenant’: “the Lord thy God has chosen thee to be a special people unto Himself above all people that are upon the face of the earth.”
“The British must not forget the ‘covenant’ which God made with them. Speak ye home to the heart of England, for the covenant stands between God and England.”
Another is military chaplain, Rev Armstrong Black, in his sermon filled with revenge talk to the Toronto garrison before they departed for Southern Africa as reported in the British Daily, Dec 7th 1899:
‘Wrath was God’s. The war was God’s lightning flash and thunder clap among the affairs of men’ [sounds like a Transvaal thunderstorm] (…) ‘sit thee at my right hand until I make thine enemies my footstool. Pastor Armstrong Black then adds, (like his colleague above) that the British in England should acknowledge the modern Israel (in themselves) and accept that they had been chosen by God on a ‘special mission’.
On 13 March 1899 - The Boer leaders presented the 'Great Deal' - a remarkable offer (more efforts followed later) in an effort to prevent war. Jan Smuts went as far as allowing Percy FitzPatrick (yes! author of Jock of the Bushveld), who was restricted at this stage due to his part in the Jameson Raid, to address his fellow Uitlanders (miners) regarding the 'Great Deal'. Lo and behold Fitz used the opportunity to discredit the deal.
He then said that continued immigration by foreigners to the mines and industrialization would overwhelm the Boers, adding:
"It means the absolute wiping out of these people. We have got to win as sure as God is above us."
Afterwards, he leaked the details of the 'Great Deal' to the Press, assuring it's collapse.
Pastor John Alsopp delivered the following tale to the world:
‘Paul Kruger had been charged with wedging a young girl between two pieces of wood and sawing both wood and girl through the middle because she refused to divulge the military secrets of her own tribe. That charge had not been denied.’