The Transvaal and Bechuanaland


This pamphlet by Gavin Brown Clark (1846–1930), honorary secretary of the Transvaal Independence Committee, was part of the debate in Great Britain in the 1880s concerning policy toward South Africa and Bechuanaland (present-day Botswana). The Afrikaans-speaking Boers, descendants of the first Dutch settlers in South Africa, began migrating across the Vaal River in the 1830s and established the South African Republic (also known as the Transvaal) in 1856. The Boers also settled and claimed neighboring Bechuanaland. Britain annexed the Transvaal in 1877, but the Boers rebelled and restored their independence in 1881. In the early 1880s, a number of politicians in Britain began agitating for the annexation of Bechuanaland, on the grounds that British rule was needed to restore order among the warring Koranna, Batlapin, and Baralong tribes. A fierce critic of British imperial policy, Clark argued against annexation and for a restoration of good relations between Britain and the Boers on the basis of the Sand River Convention of 1852. Such arguments did not carry the day, however, and in 1885 Britain established the Bechuanaland Protectorate. Relations between the British and the Boers continued to deteriorate, and eventually culminated in the South African (Boer) War of 1899–1902.

Last updated: September 18, 2015