1700 Dlamini chiefdoms move south from Delagoa Bay and settle on land north of the Phongolo River; thereby forming the core of the future Swazi nation.
1767 The Cape frontier is pushed further eastward, beyond the Gamtoos River into the land of the AmaXhosa. Armed confrontations between the AmaXhosa and the Dutch colonists ensue.
1775 The death of Phalo increases the political tensions and strife within the AmaXhosa people. Consequently they split into two groupings: into followers of Gcaleka and of Rharhabe, two of the sons of Phalo.
1778 The Cape Colony's eastern border is extended to the Upper (Greater) Fish and Bushmans Rivers by decree of the VOC Council of Policy. This lays the foundation for a series of anti-colonial wars by the AmaXhosa and skirmishes that are to last until the end of the nineteenth century. Gcaleka, the paramount chief of the AmaXhosa, dies. Ngqika succeeds him under the regency of Ndlambe, the son of Rharhabe. Rharhabe uses Gcaleka's death to extend his own power. This includes attempting to form an alliance with the Colony. In the ensuing strife Rharhabe and his AmaRharhabe are banished to the north of the Eastern Cape.
1779 - 1881 The AmaXhosa drive large herds of their cattle across the border in search of grazing. Clashes between them and border farmers take place and by the end of 1779, many farmers have abandoned their farms on the Fish and Bushmans rivers. After two farmers' commandoes organised in 1779 and 1780 to follow the AmaXhosa into their own country, Adriaan van Jaarsveld is instructed to implement the establishment of the eastern border of the Colony (Greater Fish and Bushman's Rivers) by enforcing a relocation of all AmaXhosa chiefdoms living to the west of the Greater Fish River. Under the pretence of bringing the AmaMdange a gift of goodwill, Van Jaarsveld orders his commando to attack the unsuspecting and unarmed AmaMdange, killing many. Other chiefdoms are similarly attacked. In addition to defeating the AmaXhosa, Van Jaarsveld, contrary to his instructions, nets almost 6 000 head of cattle and divides them among the members of the commando and other border farmers who had suffered losses during raids by the AmaXhosa. Numbers for other livestock are not known. This series of skirmishes and attacks goes down in history as the First War of Dispossession, or the First Frontier War, between the AmaXhosa and Dutch colonists. It is the first of a series of nine wars waged by various colonial administrations against the AmaXhosa in attempts to dispossess them of their land and livestock, to settle colonists there and to safeguard the frontier farmers against raids by the AmaXhosa.
1780 The Cape government declares the entire length of the Fish River as its eastern boundary without consulting the AmaXhosa, claiming most of the Zuurveld for the colonists. Since this claim could not be enforced against them except military means, it is only achieved in 1812. (SESA, p. 56)
1782 or 1787 The chief of the AmaXhosa and brother of Gcaleka, Rharabe, dies near Dohne.
1785 or 1787 Shaka, the future king of the AmaZulu, is born.
1789 Ngqika (Gaika), who makes an unsuccessful bid for the supreme leadership of the AmaXhosa, defeats Ndlambe. By the end of the decade Ndlambe moves west of the Fish River, back to their ancestral land. Large numbers of AmaXhosa west of the border and cattle thefts by bands of marauders increase the anxiety of the farmers. However, raids by San remain the greatest danger for hunters and farmers. Mzilikazi, future leader of the AmaKhumalo and later of the AmaNdebele, is born near Mkuze, Zululand. He dies in Ingama, Matabeleland in 1868.
1790 The Second War of Dispossession (Second Frontier War) begins as burgher commandos of the Graaff-Reinet area force AmaXhosa chiefdoms across the Fish River and pillage their cattle. The view of the burghers is that that they do not pillage cattle, but are taking back what have belonged to them before raids by the AmaXhosa. The war ends three years later in a truce that does not appease the burghers' demand for more land than already taken from the AmaXhosa.
1799 31 March, The Reverend Johannes Theodorus van der Kemp, physician and missionary of the London Missionary Society, arrives at the Cape from the Netherlands. He begins his activities in collaboration with the Chief of the AmaXhosa, Ngqika, but establishes the settlement of Bethelsdorp for roving Khoi-Khoi in 1803.
1799 - 1802 Khoisan join forces with the AmaXhosa and rise up in an unsuccessful but protracted rebellion in the eastern districts of the Cape in what becomes known as the Third War of Dispossession, or, Third Frontier War.
1802 The region of the AmaZulu is plagued by drought and accompanying famine. This leads to internal strife and social dislocation within the AmaZulu chiefdoms. The drought produces thousands of internal refugees.
1804 Godongwana, a son of Jobe the Chief of the AmaMthethwa, attempts to seize power by plotting to assassinate his ageing father. The plot is foiled and Godongwana is sent into exile
1809 Jobe of the AmaMthethwa dies. His exiled son, Gogongwana, returns with a new name, Dingiswayo. He removes his brother who had taken over the chieftainship from their father, and proclaims himself Chief of the AmaMthethwa. The AmaMthethwa society and economy blossom under the rule of Dingiswayo although he had assumed power and ruled autocratically and by violent means
1810 Shaka is appointed chief of the army of the AmaMthethwa
1811 John Cradock replaces Caledon as Governor of the Cape as he is expected to follow a more aggressive policy towards the Colony's eastern frontier than Caledon. His "frontier policy" results in hostilities breaking out between the colonists and the AmaXhosa.
1811 - 1812 The Fourth War of Dispossession between the AmaXhosa and colonists takes place under the command of Commissioner John Graham. In a brutal battle against the AmaXhosa, which includes the indiscriminate shooting of women and other civilians as well as destruction of crops, the AmaXhosa are driven from the Zuurveld. Women and children are killed although the colonial authorities knew that the AmaXhosa only attack men as men are regarded, as soldiers while women are not. The AmaXhosa also never attacks male missionaries
1811 The headquarters of the Cape Regiment is named Graham's Town (subsequently Grahamstown) after Commissioner John Graham after his onslaught on the AmaXhosa
1815 Cape Colony: Governor Lord Somerset forces Ngqika into an alliance with the Cape government in terms of which the latter has to prevent cattle raiding on the eastern frontier. This alliance causes friction amongst the chiefs of the AmaXhosa Shaka assumes supreme power over the AmaZulu
1816 One of the most influential diviners of the AmaXhosa, Ntsikana Gaba, converts to Christianity
1817 (approx) Dingiswayo, Chief of the AmaMthethwa, wanders out of his military camp and is captured by Zwide, Chief of the AmaNwandwe. He is executed by Zwide and, left without its leader, the AmaMthethwa Confederacy collapses. The ensuing power vacuum allows the rise to regional prominence of the AmaZulu under the leadership of their young paramount chief, Shaka
1818 - 1819 Cape Colony: The Fifth War of Dispossession takes place as a result of Governor Somerset lifting 23 000 head of cattle belonging to Ndlambe who had been accused of alleged stock theft
1819 Ndlambe inflicts defeat over the British ally Ngqika's forces at Amalinde. Colonial forces heavily defeat Ndlambe's forces when he takes the battle to Grahamstown. The alliance between Ngqika and the Cape government is destroyed when Governor Somerset appropriates land between the Fish and the Keiskamma Rivers. The land was to serve as a buffer between the Colony and the AmaXhosa. The Cape government declares the Keiskamma River its eastern border The AmaZulu under Shaka's military leadership defeat the AmaNdwandwe at Gqokoli Hill
1820 Approximately 5 000 British settlers from economically depressed regions of Britain arrive in Algoa Bay in the eastern Cape to increase the size of the white settler population. Upon arrival it is revealed to them that they are also required to act as a civilian defence force against the indigenous people on whose land they are settled. They are allocated land in the Zuurveld, next to the Fish River Port Elizabeth is founded The rise of the kingdom of the AmaZulu continues the already violent dispersal of neighbouring political entities competing with each other and with British and Boer colonisers for land and basic resources. This troubled period goes down in official South African history as either the Mfecane (IsiZulu) or Difaqane (SeSotho) which literally means "forced dispersal" or "forced migration" because the upheavals caused thousands of refugees. The AmaMfengu, for example, flee to the eastern Cape Colony, to the lands of the AmaXhosa. The fleeing political entities engage in armed skirmishes for land with kingdoms and chiefdoms which they encounter during their flight. This conflict continues for a number of years throughout the southern African region. Until the 1990s the view that the upheavals were caused solely by the alleged tyranny of Shaka's rise to power. This view has subsequently been challenged, with some historians disputing the existence of the Mfecane or Difaqane at all. Instead historians identify increasing pressure on the various communities that populated the region as colonisers move in and colonisers and indigenous people fight each other for the dwindling resources. This phenomenon is seen as a direct result of an increase in population and a quest for power
1822 AmaNgwane cross the Drakensberg and enter the Caledon River valley. AmaMfengu refugees of the upheavals called the Difaqane settle in eastern Cape
1823 The AmaKhumalo, under Mzilikazi, move north of the Vaal River as a result of the upheavals called the Difaqane
1824 Shaka grants generous land and other rights to two British traders and adventurers Lieutenant Francis Farewell and Henry Fynn who pretend to be envoys of the British monarch and who establish fiefdoms on the land granted them. They are involved in illicit trade. When the colonial government becomes aware of their criminal activities, the men attempt to divert the attention of the colonial authorities from themselves, instead claiming to the British and Cape governments that Shaka and his people are "barbarians", and that Britain should annex Zululand. Together with another adventurer, Nathaniel Isaacs, these men determine the stereotype of Shaka as the "barbaric despot" that needed to be civilised by a colonising imperial Britain
1828 In one of the numerous skirmishes that form part of the Difaqane combined forces of the colonial government, AmaXhosa, AmaThembu and white soldiers and farmers defeat Matiwane, Chief of the AmaNgwane at the Battle of Mbholompo in an attempt to restore some stability in the region. Matiwane returns to Zululand where Dingane executes him. His brother Dingane who succeeds him as paramount leader of the AmaZulu assassinates Shaka
1834 - 1835 AmaXhosa chiefdoms invade the Cape Colony in an attempt to regain the land that the Cape government had appropriated from them in previous wars. This goes down in history as the Sixth War of Dispossession. The Governor, Sir Benjamin D'Urban, sends in the Cape regiment troops as well as African allies to effect a devastation of the invading AmaXhosa. The target of the military action is less the armed AmaXhosa as the basis of their livelihood. Hence D'Urban orders the destruction of whole villages and all the crops and food supplies. An AmaXhosa nation thus impoverished and devastated would be forced to accept colonial authority and rule. With the AmaXhosa defeated and stripped of their means of production and existence, D'Urban annexes all their land between the Kei and Keiskamma rivers and expels the AmaXhosa living there. The annexed land is called the Province of Adelaide. The London Missionary Society missionary, Dr John Philip intervenes on behalf of the AmaXhosa. As a result of his report to the British government, D'Urban is forced to reverse his annexation policy. Philip and the London Missionary Society had in the past persuaded the British government of the injustice and belligerence of Cape colonial polices towards the indigenous people of the Cape. His Researches in South Africa which was published in 1828 formed the basis of the British government's decision to act against some Cape colonial policies. Missionaries are instrumental in the first publication of an IsiXhosa grammar in Grahamstown
1835 Hintsa, the Paramount Chief of the AmaXhosa, is illegally captured under a flag of truce and the pretext of peace negotiations by the military troops of the Cape Governor, Sir Benjamin D'Urban. Both the Governor and his Colonel, Sir Harry Smith, who unsuccessfully try to force him, under the threat of being hanged, to convince the AmaXhosa to surrender to the colonial government during the Sixth War of Dispossession, interrogate him for days. They murder him while he attempts to escape. His ears are taken as trophy
1836 Cape Colony: Andries Stockenström, Lieutenant Governor of the Eastern Districts, restores the Province of Queen Adelaide, land that had been annexed during the Sixth War of Dispossession, to the AmaXhosa at the instruction of Britain. This follows his testimony to the Aborigines Commission in London in which he describes the freedom with which settlers are allowed to counter-raid suspected cattle thieves among the AmaXhosa as a significant reason for the outbreak of warfare on the frontier. Stockenström also institutes a "treaty system", that recognises the independence and authority of the AmaXhosa chiefs. This causes tension between him and Governor Sir Benjamin D'Urban who had been overlooked by Britain in the making of this policy
The AmaNdebele under the leadership of their king, Mzilikatsi, pose the biggest challenge to the marauding Voortrekkers during the course of the Great Trek. In a series of bloody battles they defeat the AmaNdebele, most notably by Hendrick Potgieter from his main laager at Vegkop. The Battle of Vegkop, while signalling a victory for the Boers, demands a great toll on lives on both sides as well as on their stocks of cattle and trek oxen. Chief Moroka of the Barolong and his missionary Archibell come to the rescue of the Voortrekkers with food and oxen Voortrekker leaders Andries Potgieter and Pieter Uys, with the aid of the Griqua, Barolong, Koranna and BaTlokwa, seize the stronghold of Mzilikatsi in Mosega and drive him and his people out of the region towards the Marico Valley in the north. The Voortrekkers conclude "friendship" treaties with their allies in the defeat of Mzilikatsi
1837 - 1838 The forces of Potgieter and Uys attack Mzilikatsi anew. This time they drive him and his people beyond the Limpopo River into what is present day Zimbabwe. Potgieter and Uys seize the land of the AmaNdebele
1837 Piet Retief visits Dingane, Chief of the AmaZulu, to negotiate an apparent claim to the land between the Tugela and Mzimvubu Rivers in exchange for cattle and rifles. The cattle are delivered but not the rifles. Dingane orders the execution of Retief and his negotiating party
1838 AmaZulu regiments are defeated by the military superiority of the Voortrekkers at the Battle of Blood River, a revenge attack for the murder of Piet Retief and the subsequent attack on Boer laagers at Weenen. The AmaZulu lose an estimate of three thousand troops The kingdom of the AmaZulu breaks into civil war. Mpande, chief military advisor and brother of the King of the AmaZulu, overthrows Dingane with the assistance of Voortrekkers, who capture children to work as their servants. Dingane flees into Swazi territory. Pretorius instates Mpande as king. The Republic of Natalia annexes the southern region of Zululand The Voortrekkers lift thousands of head of Mzilikatsi's cattle and distribute them amongst the Boer farmers
1843 British forces of Governor Sir George Napier annex the Republic of Natalia, which becomes a British colony. The annexation comes in the wake of a military intervention in 1842 when British forces attempt to pre-empt a n by other European imperialist powers and when the Voortrekker head of state, Andries Pretorius, stages a failed siege against the British. As a result of the strength of British intervention, Mpande agrees to cede St Lucia Bay to the British. Furthermore he signs a treaty which restricts the AmaZulu to the region south of the Tugela River The entrenchment of merino sheep farming in the eastern regions of the Cape Colony changes its socio-economic as well as the political arena. Merino farmers are intent upon gaining access to more grazing land, despite the fact that the land that they want belongs to the AmaXhosa.
1846 - 1847 The Seventh War of Dispossession against the western AmaXhosa or AmaNgqika goes down in history as the War of the Axe as the ostensible reason for the colonial attack on the western AmaXhosa is the theft of an axe which leads to the detention of the thief and the subsequent freeing of the thief by his fellow clansmen. The real reasons for this war are to be found in the persistent efforts by the colonial government to seize the land of the western AmaXhosa and the agitation in the Graham's Town Journal that the Province of Queen Adelaide be given to the settlers, land that had been seized by the colonial troops during the Sixth War of Dispossession of 1834, but which Britain had decreed should be returned to the AmaXhosa. The conflict is a full-scale war with the western AmaXhosa being the more victorious side. They adopt the British tactic of a scorched earth policy, which does not only wreak havoc on the colonial troops but also within the western AmaXhosa chiefdom. Despite the imminent defeat of the colonial troops, the AmaXhosa offer to end hostilities. The British colonial troops realising that the offer of peace was because the AmaXhosa were running out of food supplies, demand their unconditional surrender and the annexation of all land west of the Kei River
1847 The western AmaXhosa resist the British conditions of peace while simultaneously refusing to engage in warfare. Maitland thereupon attacks the homes, remaining cattle and crops as well as the grain bins of these AmaXhosa. Hence the defeat of the AmaXhosa by the British colonial forces is ultimately not effected on the battlefields but in the homesteads of a people passively resisting warfare Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Harry Smith is appointed Governor of the Cape. He embarks on aggressive expansionist politics With the defeat of the AmaXhosa in the War of the Axe the Cape colonial government in the person of the newly appointed Governor and High Commissioner, Sir Harry Smith, extends the Colony to the Keiskamma River. Smith also creates a new colony on the land of the AmaNgqika, which he names British Kaffraria. AmaXhosa are allowed to live in that region as British subjects
1849 After the defeat of the western AmaXhosa in the War of the Axe the Cape colonial governor, Sir Harry Smith, exercises an extreme form of authoritarian governance over the AmaXhosa. He introduces military rule in British Kaffraria, which entails severe punishment for even petty crimes, the impounding of cattle for alleged trespassing and the indenturing of "kaffir youths" to white farmers. The chiefs of the AmaXhosa openly defy some conditions of Smith's rule
1850 - 1853 Sandile, Paramount Chief of the AmaNgqika, with the support of the AmaGcaleka and AmaThembu resist Cape Governor Sir Harry Smith's harsh rule by launching a series of attacks on colonial patrols and administrative stations, including an attack on Fort Beaufort in 1851. These attacks mark the beginning of the Eighth War of Dispossession. Sir Harry Smith's magistrate for the Kat River Settlement, Thomas Holden Bowker invades the Settlement with AmaXhosa police to evict "squatters". During the eviction campaign homes are burned and crops destroyed. Hundreds of people are left homeless. This attack precedes the outbreak of the Eighth War of Dispossession by six months. The inhabitants of the Kat River Settlement join the war on the side of the AmaXhosa hoping for a victory that would rid them of the threat posed by the settlers' greed for their land and labour
1852 Sir George Cathcart becomes Governor of the Cape Colony. He leads the defeat of the AmaXhosa. Settlers gain the land of the AmaXhosa in the Amatola Mountains. As a result of their defeat during the Eighth War of Dispossession thousands of AmaXhosa and Coloureds are rendered landless, and impoverished, their political and social systems largely destroyed. Thus dislocated, they are forced to work on white farms as grossly underpaid labourers and at conditions set by white settlers and farmers
1854 Despite the fact that slavery is outlawed in the Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek as a condition for independence from Britain, the Republic continues the systematic raiding African homesteads to capture African children and youth as slaves, as slavery had become an entrenched part of the Boer economies. The captives are called inboekselingen. The most notorious slave raider for the "black ivory", as the children and youths are also known, is Hermanus Potgieter who terrorises the AmaNdebele leaving many adults dead in his wake. In an attempt to stop these raids AmaNdebele troops under the leadership of Chiefs Mokopane and Mankopane attack Boer settlements. 42 Boers are killed. In retaliation Boers attack Mokopane. He and his people take refuge in a network of caves where they are besieged by hundreds of Boer commandos and 300 BaKgatla allies. The siege lasts 25 days. About 1 000 AmaNdebele, including Mokopane, die either of thirst or are shot as they try to escape from the caves or surrender. The victorious Boers take 700 women and children captive
1856 Civil war breaks out in the kingdom of the AmaZulu as Cetshwayo and his brother, Mbuyazi, vie to build up power bases to clarify who would eventually succeed Mpande as the King of the AmaZulu. Cetshwayo defeats and kills his brother at the Battle of Ndondakusuka
1856 - 1857 In the wake of the devastation of the Eighth War of Dispossession the AmaXhosa experience extreme hardship: the loss of their land and widespread political fragmentation as a result of the land loss. Their economic misery is exacerbated by the spread of lung disease amongst their remaining livestock. In their search to find meaning in their despair, the AmaXhosa accept the apparently prophetic message of a young woman, Nongqwase of the independent AmaSarhili. She promises them a reversal of their fortunes if they purge themselves of their cattle and crops and refrain from sowing. According to her vision this purge would resurrect fallen heroes and other dead, and the AmaXhosa would be assured of healthy cattle and crops. The white settlers would be swept away into the sea. The Paramount Chief Sarhili supports her in her prophecy. The prophecy causes bitter internal conflict. Sarhili orders the mass slaughter of cattle and the burning of crops. Famine follows. Fifteen months later when Sarhili rejects the prophecy, with civil war imminent the AmaXhosa are all but decimated. This act of desperation seals the fate of the AmaXhosa as defeated people, people already ravished by centuries of colonial wars of dispossession and their belief and philosophical systems undermined by missionary intervention
1879 January, After a few minor border incursions into Natal by Cetshwayo ’s followers, Britain gives the Zulu kingdom an ultimatum - to disarm and for Cetshwayo to forsake his sovereignty. This ultimatum is ignored and Britian invades Zululand in what becomes known as the Anglo-Zulu war. January 22, The Zulus defeat the British at the Battle of Isandlwana. July, The Zulus are defeated by the British at the Battle of Ulundi. Cetshwayo is forced to flee. August, Cetshwayo is captured by the British and is exiled to the Cape. The Zulus are instructed to return to their homesteads and resume productive activities. Sir Garnet Wolseley, the new British commander in Natal, divides up the Zulu into 13 territories under appointed chiefs.
- Nguni Kruger 2 Canyons Tribal History
- Peires, J.B. (2003). The House of Phalo. Johannesburg, South Africa: Ravan Press.
- Chief Ndumisa Bhotomane’s oral recounting of Gcaleka genealogy on September 10 1967 – recorded in The Tongue is Fire: South Africa storytellers and apartheid By Harold Scheub
- Meanings of African Place Names