Die invloed van die Anglo-Boereoorlog op die siviele bevolking van die distrik Oudtshoorn

Burger, P. (2007-03)

Thesis (MA) -- Stellenbosch University, 2007.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: At the onset of the Anglo-Boer War, the district of Oudtshoorn was characterised by its diverse demographic composition and the prosperity which arose primarily from the trade in ostrich feathers. The district was drawn into the theatre of war relatively late and, when measured against the involvement of certain other districts, for a comparatively shorter period of time. From the outset the war, nevertheless, exerted a significant and far reaching influence on the civilian population of the district of Oudtshoorn. Initially this influence was largely limited to the way in which the community of Oudtshoorn reacted to matters relating directly or indirectly to the war. A powerful and outspoken group whose loyalty to Britain had been fanned by the war to fervent patriotism came to the fore. This group consisted mainly of English-speaking whites residing in the town, although some high profile Dutch Afrikaners and most coloured and black people in the district rallied around this group. On the opposing side there were those – mostly Dutch Afrikaners residing outside the town of Oudtshoorn – who felt a close bond with the burghers of the Boer republics. This group had to find a way in which they could reconcile their loyalty to Britain as subjects of the Commonwealth with their desire to give assistance to the Boer Republics. So, whereas those who were pro-British in the district were often provokingly defiant in their patriotic expression, those who were sympathetic to the Boer cause mostly turned to a modestly reserved, though intense, support of the Republican war effort. This was initially expressed in various forms of humanitarian aid and moral support to the Republicans. Where the loyalist support of the British war effort led to their taking up arms on a large scale, especially during 1901, and serving in various colonial and local corps, so much so that a Coloured Town Guard was even formed, few of the sympathisers rebelled. Notwithstanding this, the residents of the district tried in numerous other ways to assist the Boer Commandos that entered the district in 1901. This aid, which in some cases was simply alleged aid, caused many residents of Oudtshoorn to land on the wrong side of the martial law and they were subsequently severely punished. In this aspect the Military Court which convened twice in Oudtshoorn was a thorn in the flesh of many residents and an eminent author and practitioner of law like C.J. Langenhoven had serious reservations about the administration of justice which took place there. From 1901 martial law was the single most disruptive factor in the everyday way of life of the residents in the Oudtshoorn district. While the proclamation of martial law can be diametrically linked with the arrival of Boer Commandos in the district, the upheaval that one could attribute directly to the commandos is nothing in comparison to the hardship that was suffered as a result of the implementation of martial law. People were affected in all spheres of life. Moreover, the administration of martial law became a breeding ground for both the misuse of power and power struggles in the district. In the midst of the ordeals caused by the war, the economic prospects remained promising especially because of the flourishing trade in ostrich feathers which was hardly affected by the war. Together with the predominantly conciliatory attitude of prominent loyalists and sympathisers alike, the economic welfare of the community facilitated the post war reconciliation amongst, especially, the white populace of the Oudtshoorn district despite the bitterness that still prevailed after the war.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Met die aanvang van die Anglo-Boereoorlog is die distrik Oudtshoorn gekenmerk deur sy diverse bevolkingsamestelling en welvaart wat gebou was op veral die volstruisveerbedryf. Die distrik het eers laat in die oorlog en, gemeet teen sommige ander distrikte in die Kaapkolonie, vir ‘n relatief kort tydperk deel van die gevegsterrein geword. Tog het die oorlog vanaf sy ontstaan ‘n groot en verreikende invloed op die siviele bevolking van die distrik Oudtshoorn uitgeoefen. Aanvanklik was hierdie invloed grootliks beperk tot die wyse waarop die Oudtshoornse gemeenskap op sake in en rondom die oorlog gereageer het. ‘n Baie sterk en uitgesproke groep wie se lojaliteit aan Brittanje deur die oorlog tot vurige patriotisme aangeblaas is, het na vore getree. Hierdie groep was, wat die blankes betref, hoofsaaklik Engelssprekend en in die dorp woonagtig, hoewel sommige hoë profiel Hollandse Afrikaners en die meeste bruin- en swartmense in die distrik hulle ook by hierdie groep geskaar het. Aan die anderkant was daar diegene – hoofsaaklik Hollandse Afrikaners woonagtig buite die dorp Oudtshoorn – wat ‘n noue verbintenis met die burgers van die Boererepublieke gevoel het. Hierdie groep moes ‘n manier vind om, as Britse burgers, hulle lojaliteit teenoor Brittanje te versoen met hulle begeerte om hulp aan die Boererepublieke te verleen. Waar die pro-Britsgesindes in die distrik dus dikwels uitdagend was in hulle patriotisme, het verreweg die meeste pro-Boersimpatiseerders hulle gewend tot ‘n ingetoë, hoewel innige, ondersteuning van die Republikeinse oorlogspoging. Dit het aanvanklik veral neergekom op verskeie vorms van humanitêre en morele steun aan die Republikeine. Waar die lojaliste se steun vir die Britse oorlogspoging ook daartoe gelei het dat hulle veral tydens 1901 op groot skaal die wapen opgeneem en in verskeie koloniale en plaaslike korpse gedien het, en ‘n Coloured Town Guard selfs ontstaan het, het weinig van die simpatiseerders gerebelleer. Tog het die distriksbewoners op talle ander wyses probeer om die Boerekommando’s wat tydens 1901 die distrik binnegekom het, van nut te wees. Hierdie hulp, of in sommige gevalle bloot gewaande hulp, het baie Oudtshoorniete aan die verkeerde kant van krygswet laat beland en baie is swaar gestraf. In dié verband was die Militêre Hof, wat twee keer op Oudtshoorn gesit het, ‘n doring in die vlees van baie in die Oudtshoornse gemeenskap en het iemand soos die bekende skrywer en regspraktisyn, C.J. Langenhoven, ernstige bedenkinge gehad oor die regspleging wat daar plaasgevind het. Vanaf 1901 was krygswet die enkele grootste ontwrigtende faktor in die alledaagse leefwêreld van die inwoners van die distrik Oudtshoorn. Hoewel die afkondiging daarvan teruggevoer kan word na die koms van die Boerekommando’s na die distrik, kon die ontwrigting wat direk aan die kommando’s toegeskryf kan word, geensins kers vashou by die ontberings wat die toepassing van krygswet meegebring het nie. Geen lewensterrein is onaangeraak gelaat nie. Verder het die administrasie van krygswet ook ‘n teelaarde geword vir magsmisbruik en magstryde in die distrik. Te midde van die beproewing wat die oorlog meegebring het, het die ekonomiese vooruitsigte rooskleurig gebly, veral vanweë die sterk volstruisveerbedryf wat min deur die oorlog geraak is. Dit, tesame met die oorwegend versoenende houding van prominente lojaliste en simpatiseerders, het te midde van die bitterheid wat wel in die gemeenskap geheers het, naoorlogse versoening onder veral die blanke inwoners van die distrik Oudtshoorn vergemaklik.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/72022
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