THEMBULAND, Afrikaans : Temboeland, is a natural region in the
Eastern Cape province of
South Africa . Its territory is the
traditional region of the
Thembu people , one of the sub-groups of the
Xhosa nation .
It was formerly also known as "Tamboekieland" or "Tambookieland". The
Thembuland proper includes present-day
Ngcobo , Mjanyana ,
Willowvale as well as their
* 1 Geography
* 2 History
* 2.1 Early history
* 2.2 Incorporation into the
* 2.3 Early political restrictions
* 2.4 The Union of
South Africa and
* 2.5 Secession dispute
* 3 References
Thembuland was historically defined as the area between
Kei River . As such it formed an area of 50 by 120 miles,
although its boundary was considered disputable with
Pondoland on the
coast, and with
Fingoland just to the south. The definition of the
area has also changed over time.
Before colonial conquest, it was divided into Tembuland Proper,
Emigrant Tembuland and Bomvanaland —the
Bomvana were a related
people who lived on the east bank of the
Bashee River , in what was
later the district of Elliotdale. In colonial times it was defined as
consisting of the districts of Emjanyana ,
Mqanduli , Umtata
, St Marks , Southeyville and Xalanga .
The hunter-gatherer San and
Khoikhoi people inhabited the region in
scattered nomadic groups from c. 30,000 BCE. In the 16th century,
iron-working Nguni farmers entered the area from the north-east. A
sub-group of the Nguni peoples became the
Thembu people . Although
originally classed as a separate Nguni nation, the Thembu subsequently
assimilated to a large degree with the neighbouring Xhosa people.
Thembuland became an independent kingdom , ruled by the Hala royal
clan. British interference and incursions began in the 19th century.
From 1871 the Thembu became engaged in a protracted war against an
alliance of neighbouring Xhosa-speaking peoples, including the Pondo ,
Bomvana and the
Gcaleka . The Thembu Paramount-Chief, Ngangelizwe,
had sought to unite the various Thembu clans but had come under
increasing military pressure from
Sarhili , Paramount-Chief of the
Gcaleka . The conflict had a personal side, as Ngangelizwe's Chief
Wife Novili was the daughter of Sarhili, and rumours had been spread
that Ngangelizwe had ill-treated her.
Facing severe military pressure from the combined armies of his
enemies, Chief Ngangelizwe and his Ministers approached the
Cape Colony to negotiate alliance and possible
INCORPORATION INTO THE CAPE COLONY
The Cape Colony, having recently achieved a degree of independence
from Britain under the system of
Responsible Government , operated
under a relatively inclusive system of multi-racial franchise -
whereby qualifications for suffrage applied equally to all male
residents, regardless of race. Its laws also forbade any white
settlement in traditional "Native territory". The Cape was therefore
viewed by Ngangelizwe and his ministers as a satisfactory entity to
merge with. Ngangelizwe however, was a highly controversial leader
in the Xhosa-speaking community. He was hated by many in the
neighbouring Pondo and
Gcaleka states, and accused of a range of
crimes. The Cape Government demanded his resignation, as a
precondition for any annexation.
According to Cape Parliamentary records, the Thembu leaders demanded,
among other things, 4 magistracies with equal access to the Cape's
current system of nonracial franchise, and military protection from
both the British and their
Gcaleka enemies. If these conditions were
incorporated into law, together with respect for the traditional
authority of the chiefs, then they would request incorporation. The
Cape government agreed to these terms and signed them into law with
the Tembuland Annexation Act (1876), creating the magisterial
districts of Xalanga, St. Marks, Elliot and Engcobo. Additional
stipulations of the 1876 act were that the Thembu traditional
government system was to get full government recognition; Thembu King,
Chiefs and Subchiefs were to earn government salaries; normal taxation
would only begin in 1878; the boundaries of
Thembuland were final and
were not to be altered in any way; and that the sale of alcohol be
prohibited to Thembu subjects.
The resignation of the controversial Thembu King Ngangelizwe, in
favour of his successor, had initially been demanded by the Cape
government as a precondition for annexation, but this condition was
waived as being impractical. Otherwise, the terms of the incorporation
were implemented as stated. Traditional land ownership was fully
recognised and, with the exception of a few missionaries and white
Thembuland was preserved for Thembu occupation, as part of
the "Transkeian territories". However, the British overthrow of the
elected Cape government in 1878 and assumption of direct rule over the
Cape Colony caused the Confederation Wars, and the later disruption of
the treaty's peaceful implementation.
The annexation was only finally completed in 1885.
defined at the time as being the territory between
Umtata and the
Tsomo River, and home to 60,000 people.
Thembuland also submitted
troops to the Frontier Armed forces of the Cape Colony, who, in this
capacity, fought several victorious campaigns against their Gcaleka
and Mpondo enemies.
EARLY POLITICAL RESTRICTIONS
Main article: Cape Qualified Franchise § Erosion and abolition
According to the original laws of the Cape Colony, as well as the
terms of the Annexation Act, Europeans were prohibited from owning
land in the Thembu territories. This was initially intended to prevent
the dispossession of the Thembu by aggressive settlers, however in the
ensuing political upheavals, the law was badly enforced.
From the 1880s, the pro-imperialist governments of Prime Ministers
John Gordon Sprigg
John Gordon Sprigg and
Cecil Rhodes turned a blind eye to white
incursions. Already by 1882, white settlers had illegally moved north
of the Great
Kei River and, in the same year, Chief Ngangelizwe
himself sold territory within
Umtata district to white land owners.
In 1894, the Glen Gray Act constituted the Thembu chiefs as leaders
of "District Councils", thereby establishing a system of proxy rulers.
The Government of
Cecil Rhodes passed legislation, such as the
Parliamentary Registration Act, that severely curtailed the voting
rights of the Thembu and all Black African citizens of the Cape.
However it was the Union of South Africa, in the Twentieth Century,
that was to oversee the greatest growth in oppression against the
people of Thembuland.
THE UNION OF SOUTH AFRICA AND APARTHEID HISTORY
Later, in the lead up to the Union of
South Africa and the beginning
Apartheid , the franchise and property rights of the Thembu were
gradually revoked, and what rights remained were applied only in their
Later still, under apartheid, the
Transkei was turned into a
bantustan . In the ethnic theory underpinning apartheid , the Transkei
was regarded as the "homeland" of the Xhosa people. As a result, the
Thembu people are often misidentified as being Xhosa.
The current Thembu king