Today in History: Maqoma The Great.

Unlike other chiefs, Maqoma refused to bow down to British domination in the Eastern Cape. An area the British referred to as “British Kaffraria”. Maqoma wanted their ancestral land back and went to war to fight for it and soon he became known as one of the most powerful Xhosa warrior chiefs ever.

He was born in 1798 and was the right-hand son of Ngqika, the King of the Rharhabe of the Xhosa Nation. Maqoma did not agree with his father’s decision of ceding land to the colonizers and refused to give up land to the British, who did not see black people as humans who have rights. He moved away to start his own chiefdom and soon the Brits chased after him, but he fought back. They hated his defiance of their laws. He married Katyi, a Khoi princess, the marriage established a great relationship with the neighbouring Khoi who also fought together with him against the British. He fought them for years and became a symbol of strength and defiance amongst the people of the Xhosa nations. They eventually caught him and his wife in 1858 after the cattle killings prophesized by Nongqawuse when the AmaNgqika went through hard times and famine. Nongqawuse was a young girl who had a vision of three of her ancestors who told her that all their cattle should be killed, and crops should not be planted. This led to famine and hard times.

Maqoma, his wife and his son were imprisoned and sent to Robben Island together. He died aged 75 in 1873. Remember Maqoma the great and what he stood for.


Illustration: Dav Andrew