Pretoria - Driving on the busy R72 road, which links East London and Port Alfred in the Eastern Cape, one cannot ignore the scars left by centuries of exploitation and subjugation by European nations that colonised and conquered African people.
The indigenous people residing in the lower areas of the Eastern Cape in South Africa were no exception to this history.
Between 1779 and 1879, they suffered from incursions, dispossession, and violence at the hands of determined, all-conquering European nations. Europeans were determined to expand their territorial control and sought to do so by invading people’s lands, seizing their cattle, and forcing them off their lands.
In what today is called the Xhosa Wars, the British utilised brute force and barbarism to stamp their authority over the Xhosa people. These wars marked the beginning of multiple conquests the people had to face, and their pain and streams of blood are evident in the Fish River and other streams that pour into the Indian Ocean. The people also fought back, nevertheless, with notable acts of resistance, such as the Battle of Grahamstown in 1819 against the British.
But one of the most brutal acts of the Xhosa Wars was the forced removal of the Xhosa people from their lands. In 1834, Governor Benjamin D’Urban signed a proclamation that declared all Xhosa lands be forfeited to the British government. The wars resulted in significant losses for the people, including the loss of their lands, their livestock, and their freedom. The wars also led to the deaths of thousands of people.
Among others, the death of King Hintsa kaKhawuta in 1835 remains one of the untold stories of our time and involved British colonial authorities, including Harry Smith and Benjamin D’Urban.
Great kings Hintsa, Sandile, Makana, and Ngqika lay buried in hidden memories after conquerors like D’Urban, Smith and George Grey utilised brute force and barbarism to stamp their authority. These men later moved up to Natal and Free State as well as to New Zealand, where they repeated their heinous crimes that led to their knighthoods from Britain.
That is why Africans should snub King Charles’s recent coronation. Not only that, they should also withdraw their membership from the Commonwealth of Nations and demand reparations. Today, King Sandile is reduced to a tiny village of KwaSandile between Port Alfred and East London, alongside many colonial names that dot the beautiful landscape of rolling hills.
The aftermath of the Xhosa Wars was devastating for the Xhosa people. Their lands were taken, their people killed or forced into poverty, kings buried in hidden memories.
Many colonial names were imposed on the landscape of rolling hills, reducing the legacy of the indigenous people to mere shadows. The Xhosa Wars were a clear example of the devastation wrought by colonialism, and their legacy continues to be felt to this day.
The second form of conquest in the Cape was the forceful Christianisation and evangelism that shook and confused the people.
The final and ongoing conquest of the people in the Border region concerns climate change imperialism, a weaponisation of science against Africans. The Eastern Cape is currently home to several renewable energy projects, including wind farms and solar power plants.
While these projects are seen to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change, they have significantly impacted the local people.
The current climate change imperialism has led to the displacement of communities and the destruction of the environment.
The legacy of these conquests is still felt today.
Hadebe is an independent commentator on socio-economic, political and global matters based in Geneva. The views expressed here are his own.