Native Life on the Transvaal Border (1900)

Title: Native Life on the Transvaal Border
Photographer(s): W.C. Willoughby
Writer(s): W.C. Willoughby
Publisher: Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co., Ltd, London (1900)
Pages: 64
Language: English
Dimensions: 18.5 x 27 cm
Edition: Regular edition, there also exists a ‘Colonial Edition’
Country: South Africa
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4 thoughts on “Native Life on the Transvaal Border (1900)

  1. Little Giant of Bechuanaland” is the story of pioneer missionary Reverend William Charles Willoughby (1857 to 1938) and his dedicated wife Bessie Willoughby. He is most famous for his role with the “Three Chiefs” when they went to London in 1895, something that has been written about extensively, but not completely. Professor Neil Parsons called Willoughby a “pathfinder” in his book “King Khama, Emperor Joe, and the Great White Queen” (1998) and the Three Kings (the Dikgosi Khama III, Bathoen I and Sebele I) his “reluctant followers”. Willoughby is remembered by many older Batswana for a number of other significant contributions he made to Botswana over the twenty-four years he lived in Southern Africa as a missionary, an educator, a linguist, a researcher, writer and author of five significant books, and a photographer.
    Willoughby was born in the UK in 1857. He was educated at Spring Hill College where missionary work became his “Call”. He had his first year in Africa in 1882-1883 when he was a young and formative twenty-five-years old. His first stay was at Urambo in central Tanganyika, but then he became ill. A decade later, in 1893, after serving as a pastor in Briatin, Willoughby responded to a call from the London Missionary Society (LMS) to “undertake a particularly difficult task at Phalapye in Bechuanaland”. Willoughby would discover that to be able to function he would have to learn Setswana. So he did, much to the surprise of the Batswana around him and those in the LMS who did not like him. Another demand made on him was that he become a “doctor of medicine”.
    He also found that though he was a church builder and out to save souls for Christ, he was also operating in a “Front-Line State” and that the enemy was Cecil Rhodes and his allies. He would serve to block Rhodes’ vision of a British Empire extending from the Cape to Cairo. His first book was on these years, an illustrated volume, “Native Life on the Transvaal Border” (1900). In 1904 the Willoughbys were moved by the LMS to Tiger Kloof, near Vryburg in the Northern Cape, where he was to become the Principal of a great school for the Bechuana and Africa. His second book was called simply “Tiger Kloof” (1912). The Institute became known as the “Hampton or Tuskegee for Bechuanaland”.
    John Rutherford (2009) Foreword by His Excellency Lt Gen Seretse Khama Ian Khama. “Little Giant of Bechuanaland: A Biography of William Charles Willoughby Missionary and Scholar”. Gaborone, The Botswana Society and Mmegi Publishing House, 245 pages, paperback, with three maps, 17 black and white plates, footnotes, list of abbreviations, references and an index. ISBN 9-789991-24881-3.

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