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Frontier Wars

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FRONTIER WARS (1779-1878). Between 1779 and 1878, nine Cape Frontier Wars (so-called 'Kaffir Wars' , also referred to as the 'Xhosa Wars' or 'Cape Frontier Wars')

First (Cape) Frontier / Xhosa War (Dutch rule, chiefly Trekboer Settlers): 1779-81
Second (Cape) Frontier / Xhosa War (Dutch rule, chiefly Trekboer Settlers): 1789-93
Third (Cape) Frontier / Xhosa War (British rule, chiefly Trekboer Settlers): 1799-1803
Fourth (Cape) Frontier / Xhosa War (British rule, chiefly Trekboer Settlers): 1811-12
Fifth (Cape) Frontier / Xhosa War (British rule, chiefly Trekboer Settlers): 1818-19
Sixth (Cape) Frontier / Xhosa War (British rule, chiefly Trekboer and 1820 British Settlers):1834-35
Seventh (Cape) Frontier / Xhosa War (British rule, after the Trek, chiefly 1820 British Settlers): 1846-47, 'War of the Axe' or the 'Amatola War'
Eighth (Cape) Frontier / Xhosa War (British rule):1850-53
Ninth (Cape) Frontier / Xhosa War (British rule):1877-78

These wars occurred on the eastern border of the Cape Colony between the Cape government and the Xhosa tribes. This long-drawn-out conflict began when the trek farmers, who had rapidly dispersed eastward and north-eastward of the South-West Cape, came face to face with the Xhosa cattle-keeping tribes in the Zuurveld, the area between the coast and the line formed by the Bushmans and the Upper Fish Rivers.

These were in a time of three changes of government at the Cape, firstly the Dutch through the offices of the trading company the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC) – 1795, thereafter the First British occupation of the Cape 1795-1802, then the time of the Batavian Republic, 1802-1806, then the British annexation and colonization of the Cape, 1806-.

The nine Cape Frontier Wars increased in level of severity. British policy became one of containing the Xhosa, and by the end of the series of wars, the Xhosa had lost much of its prime pastoral land. The 7th and 8th Frontier Wars were particularly bitter, and resulted in the Xhosa Great Cattle-Killing, a millenarian movement amongst the Xhosa of the Ciskei area based on the prophecy of a teenage girl, Nongqawuse, that said the self-purification through the destruction of crops and cattle which would result in an intervention by the ancestors.

See also South African History Online