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Luka Jantjie : resistance hero of the South African frontier

by Kevin Shillington

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Luka Jantjie is today a largely forgotten hero of resistance to British colonialism. His place in South African history has tended to be overshadowed by events elsewhere in the region. This book attempts to redress the balance by recording his remarkable story. In 1870, at the beginning of the Kimberley diamond mining boom that was to transform southern Africa, Luka Jantjie was the first independent African ruler to lose his land to the new colonialists, who promptly annexed the diamond fields. His outspoken stand against the hypocrisy of colonial 'justice' earned him the epithet: "a wild fellow who hates the English." As the son of an early Christian convert, Luka was brought up to respect peace and non-violence; his boycott of rural trading stores in the early 1890s was perhaps the earliest use of non-violent resistance in colonial South Africa. His steady refusal to bow to colonial demands of subservience intensified the enmity of local colonists determined to "teach him a lesson". As many of his people succumbed to colonial pressures, Luka was twice forced to take up arms to defend himself and his people from colonial attacks. His life ended in a dramatic and heroic last stand in the ancestral sanctuary of the Langeberg mountain range; its tragic consequences stretched far into the next century.… (more)
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Extraordinary biography, rooted in historical details that explain the "fissiparous tendencies" of the Tswana merafe. Carefully illustrated with many maps to orientate people who only know the N12; and evocative photographs both contemporary and modern. Colonial society appropriated some chiefs and wiped out those who stood their ground. Luka left no letters to his father, and wrote no reminiscences like his collonial opponents, yet Shillington makes use of this material to illuminate his attitudes and the tunnel vision of those who faced him down.. ( )
  mnicol | Jan 5, 2015 |
Luka Jantje For Wits Review
Review of Luka Jantjie Resistance Hero of the South African Frontier by Kevin Shillington

Luka Jantjie was a kogsi , a leader of a branch of the Batlhaping, the southernmost of the Setswana speaking peoples of Southern Africa, the Batswana who was killed in the Northern Cape in 1897 protecting his followers and his stretch of land against colonial and capitalist appropriation. We are indebted to Shillington for this powerful and compassionate biography and history of a previously unknown hero. This is a story of invasion and conquest, heroism and resistance. Through researching and tracing the life of a man and his ancestors the study illuminates the story of a people and so enriches and extends South African history. This is a story of local people and a wider community who had been in occupation of this part of Southern Africa for over 200 years and the pressures they faced when their lifestyles and beliefs were challenged by missionaries, adventurers, Afrikaner farmers, diamond seekers and speculators and colonial administrators during the 19th century.

Change was rapid and uncontrollable from the 1850s onwards as guns, horses, cattle, ox wagons, ivory, diamonds , alcohol and a money became a potent brew in shifting political interests and ownership of land. Jantje embraced the benefits of the encroaching new industrial world; he was a Christian and was literate; he was a man of peace and non violence but he was also a proud, brave man defended his rights and his people in battle and he died a violent death. The work raises questions about the relationship between blind economic forces that rolled over the frontier and the roles and responsibilities of individual leaders. Who is the criminal and who was and who should have been punished and indeed by which civic authority? How can a society manage or respond to rapid extraneous change? It is a shocking story of dispossession, exile for a people, violence and ultimate defeat following a six month siege in the Langeberg.

The blend of memory, oral tradition and history links past to present as land reform, the recompense and redress for a community remains issues . The work is well illustrated with maps, a section of quality printed coloured illustrations and is further enhanced with pertinent inserts of smaller black and white photographs, bring individual players to life. ( )
  Africansky1 | Jul 8, 2013 |
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Luka Jantjie is today a largely forgotten hero of resistance to British colonialism. His place in South African history has tended to be overshadowed by events elsewhere in the region. This book attempts to redress the balance by recording his remarkable story. In 1870, at the beginning of the Kimberley diamond mining boom that was to transform southern Africa, Luka Jantjie was the first independent African ruler to lose his land to the new colonialists, who promptly annexed the diamond fields. His outspoken stand against the hypocrisy of colonial 'justice' earned him the epithet: "a wild fellow who hates the English." As the son of an early Christian convert, Luka was brought up to respect peace and non-violence; his boycott of rural trading stores in the early 1890s was perhaps the earliest use of non-violent resistance in colonial South Africa. His steady refusal to bow to colonial demands of subservience intensified the enmity of local colonists determined to "teach him a lesson". As many of his people succumbed to colonial pressures, Luka was twice forced to take up arms to defend himself and his people from colonial attacks. His life ended in a dramatic and heroic last stand in the ancestral sanctuary of the Langeberg mountain range; its tragic consequences stretched far into the next century.

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