Able to Resist the Attack of any Enemy'? African Identity Formation, Colonial Attitudes and the Lower Kei Forts During the War of Ngcayecibi, 1877-1878
This article utilises a relatively obscure incident on the eastern borders of the Cape Colony during the 1877-78 War of Ngcayecibi to examine relations between the colonial and imperial military authorities and the struggles of the Gcaleka leader, Maphasa, to carve space for himself and his followers in the expanding colonial order. It discusses how colonists treated him with suspicion and hostility even when he demonstrated his loyalty by saving the garrison of Fort Linsingen from certain defeat. The story that emerges is one of British and colonial rivalry and ineptitude, matched by schisms and disagreements within Gcaleka society. The 1877-78 conflict provided the government of the Cape Colony with an opportunity to exert power over both hostile and loyal Africans alike. Political and military cooperation with the Colony provided Africans seeking to come to terms with the growing colonial state with no guarantees of preserving either autonomy or land.