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CHAPTER XVIII.

Langalibalele.

THE story of Langalibalele is one which I must decline to tell with any pretence of accuracy, and as to the fate of the old Zulu,—whether he has been treated wrongly or rightly I certainly am not competent to give an opinion with that decision which a printed statement should always convey. But in writing of the Colony of Natal it is impossible to pass Langalibalele without mention. It is not too much to say that the doings of Langalibalele have altered the Constitution of the Colony; and it is probable that as years run on they will greatly affect the whole treatment of the Natives in South Africa. And yet Langalibalele was never a great man among the Zulus and must often have been surprised at his own importance.

Those who were concerned with the story are still alive and many of them are still sore with the feeling of unmerited defeat. And to no one in the whole matter has there been anything of the triumph of success. The friends of Langalibalele, and his enemies, seem equally to think that wrong has been done,-or no better than imperfect justice. And the case is one the origin and end of which can hardly now be discovered, so densely are they enveloped in Zulu customs and past Zulu events. Whether a gentleman twenty years ago when firing a pistol intended to wound or only frighten? Such, and such like, are the points which the teller of the story would have to settle if he intended to decide upon the

rights and wrongs of the question. Is it not probable that a man having been called on for sudden action, in a great emergency, may himself be in the dark as to his own intention at so distant a period,-knowing only that he was anxious to carry out the purpose for which he was sent, that purpose having been the establishment of British authority? And then this matter was one in which the slightest possible error of judgment, the smallest deviation from legal conduct where no law was written, might be efficacious to set everything in a blaze. The natives of South Africa, but especially the natives of Natal, have to be ruled by a mixture of English law and Zulu customs, which mixture, I have been frequently told, exists in its entirety only in the bosom of one living man. It is at any rate unwritten, -as yet unwritten though there now exists a parliamentary order that this mixture shall be codified by a certain fixed day. It is necessarily irrational,

as for instance when a Zulu is told that he is a British subject but yet is allowed to break the British law in various ways, as in the matter of polygamy. It must be altogether unintelligible to the subject race to whom the rules made by their white masters, opposed as they are to their own customs, must seem to be arbitrary and tyrannical,—as when told that they must not carry about with them the peculiar stick or knobkirrie which has been familiar to their hands from infancy. It is opposed to the ideas of justice which prevail in the intercourse between one white man and another, as when the Zulu, whom the white man will not call a slave, is compelled through the influence of his Chief to do the work which the white man requires from him; as an instance of which I may refer to those who are employed on the roads, who are paid wages, indeed, but who work not by their own will, but under restraint from their Chiefs. It must I think be

admitted that when a people have to be governed by such laws mistakes are to be expected,—and that the best possible intentions, I may almost say the best possible practice, may be made matter of most indignant reproach from outraged philanthropists.

The white man who has to rule natives soon teaches himself that he can do no good if he is overscrupulous. They must be taught to think him powerful or they will not obey him in anything. He soon feels that his own authority, and with his authority the security of all those around him, is a matter of "prestige." Prestige in a highly civilized community may be created by virtue,— and is often created by virtue and rank combined. The Archbishop of Canterbury is a very great man to an ordinary clergyman. But, with the native races of South Africa, prestige has to be created by power though it may no doubt be supported and confirmed by justice. Thus the white ruler of the black man knows that he must sometimes be rough. There must be a sharp word, possibly a blow. There must be a clear indication that his will, whatsoever it may be, has to be done,—that the doing of his will has to be the great result let the opposition to it be what it may. He cannot strain at a gnat in the shape of a little legal point. If he did so the Zulus would cease to respect him, and would never imagine that their ruler had been turned from his way by a pang of conscience. The Savage, till he has quite ceased to be savage, expects to be coerced, and will no more go straight along the road without coercion, than will the horse if you ride him without reins. And with a horse a whip and spurs are necessary,-till he has become altogether tamed.

The white ruler of the black man feels all this, and knows that without some spur or whip he cannot do his work at all. His is a service, probably, of much danger,

and he has to work with a frown on his brow in order that his life may be fairly safe in his hand. In this way he is driven to the daily practice of little deeds of tyranny which abstract justice would condemn. Then, on occasion, arises some petty mutiny,—some petty mutiny almost justified by injustice but which must be put down with a strong hand or the white man's position will become untenable. In nineteen cases the strong hand is successful and the matter goes by without any feeling of wrong on either side. The white man expects to be obeyed, and the black man expects to be coerced, and the general work goes on prosperously in spite of a small flaw. Then comes the twentieth case in which the one little speck of original injustice is aggravated till a great flame is burning. The outraged philanthropist has seen the oppression of his black brother, and evokes Downing Street, Exeter Hall, Printing House Square, and all the Gospels. The savage races from the East to the West of the Continent, from the mouth of the Zambesi to the Gold Coast, all receive something of assured protection from the effort;but, probably, a great injustice is done to the one white ruler who began it all, and who, perhaps, was but a little ruler doing his best in a small way. I am inclined to think that the philanthropist at home when he rises in his wrath against some white ruler of whose harshness to the blacks he has heard the story forgets that the very civilization which he is anxious to carry among the savage races cannot be promulgated without something of tyranny, - some touch of apparent injustice. Nothing will sanctify tyranny or justify injustice, says the philanthropist in his wrath. Let us so decide and so act;—but let us understand the result. In that case we must leave the Zulus and other races to their barbarities and native savagery.

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In what I have now said I have not described the

origin of the Langalibalele misfortune, having avoided all direct allusion to any of its incidents,-except that of the firing of a pistol twenty years ago. But I have endeavoured to make intelligible the way in which untoward circumstances may too probably rise in the performance of such a work as the gradual civilization of black men without much fault on either side. And my readers may probably understand how, in such a matter as that of Langalibalele, it would be impossible for me as a traveller to unravel all its mysteries, and how unjust I might be were I to attempt to prove that either on this side or on that side wrong had been done. The doers of the wrong, if wrong there was, are still alive; and the avengers of the wrong, whether a real or a fancied wrong,—are still keen. In what I say about Langalibalele I will avoid the name of any white man,—and as far as possible I will impute no blame. That the intentions on both sides have been good and altogether friendly to the black man I have no doubt whatsoever.

That

Langalibalele was sent for and did not come. was the beginning of the whole. Now it is undoubted good Kafir law in Natal, — very well established though unwritten, that any Kafir or Zulu is to come when sent for by a white man in authority. The white man who holds chief authority in such matters is the Minister for Native Affairs, who is one of the Executive Council under the Governor, and probably the man of greatest weight in the whole Colony. He speaks the Zulu language, which the Governor probably has not time to learn during his period of governorship. He is a permanent officer, -as the Ministry does not go in and out in Natal. And he is in a great measure irresponsible because the other white men in office do not understand as he does that mixture of law and custom by which he rules the

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