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Arrival of Europeans and the Mfecane, Cape Frontier Wars
Ndlambe, frontier wars, Afrikaners, Robben Island, Cape Colony
As settlers moved across the country they encountered resistance from the Bantu-speaking people, and in particular from the well-armed Xhosa, who had been moving slowly south and southwest for hundreds of years and were also in search of land. The Afrikaners and the Xhosa clashed along the Great Fish River, and in 1781 the first of nine frontier wars took place. For nearly 100 years, the Xhosa fought the Cape Colony settlers, first the Afrikaners and later the British. The British also encroached on Xhosa lands, precipitating several of these bloody wars. In the Fourth Frontier War, which lasted from 1811 to 1812, the British forced the Xhosa back across the Great Fish River and set up forts along this boundary.
In 1818 differences between two Xhosa leaders, Ndlambe and Ngqika, ended in Ngqika’s defeat, but the British continued to recognize Ngqika as the paramount chief. He appealed to the British for help against Ndlambe, who retaliated by attacking Grahamstown in 1819 during the Fifth Frontier War. The Xhosa prophet Nxele emerged at this time and promised “to turn bullets into water.” He led the Xhosa armies in several attacks, including the one on Grahamstown in 1819, and was subsequently captured and imprisoned on Robben Island. After this war the British made a futile attempt to declare the area between the Great Fish River and the Keiskamma River neutral territory. More fighting took place, however, until eventually all Xhosa territories were incorporated into the Cape Colony.
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