Austral Africa: Losing It or Ruling It; Being Incidents and Experiences in Bechuanaland, Cape Colony, and England


John Mackenzie (1835–99) was a Scottish missionary who was sent by the London Missionary Society to South Africa in 1858. He lived at Shoshong in present-day Botswana in 1862–76. Mackenzie believed that the Ngwato and other African peoples with whom he worked were threatened by Boer freebooters encroaching on their territory from the south, as well as by politicians such as Cecil Rhodes who wanted to see extensive territories to the north annexed to the British Cape Colony. He thus began a campaign for the establishment of what became the Bechuanaland Protectorate, to be ruled directly from Britain. Austral Africa: Losing It or Ruling It is Mackenzie’s account of events leading to the establishment of the protectorate. Influenced by Mackenzie, in January 1885 the British cabinet decided to send a military expedition to South Africa to assert British sovereignty over the contested territory. Sir Charles Warren (1840–1927) led a force of 4,000 imperial troops northward from Cape Town. After making treaties with several African chiefs, Warren announced the establishment of the protectorate in March 1885. Mackenzie accompanied Warren, and Austral Africa contains a detailed account of the expedition. The book, published in two volumes in 1887 and including maps, photographs, and illustrations, remains an important source for the early history of Botswana.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington, London


Title in Original Language

Austral Africa; Losing It or Ruling It. Being Incidents and Experiences in Bechuanaland, Cape Colony, and England

Type of Item

Physical Description

2 volumes : frontispiece (portraits), illustrations (including facsimilies), plates, 2 folded maps ; 22 centimeters


  1. Christopher Saunders, “Mackenzie, John (1835-1899),” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

Last updated: September 18, 2015