Second Anglo Boer War propaganda poetry – the British side of things

South African War | Definition, Causes, History, & Facts | Britannica
British troops fighting in trenches during the Second Anglo Boer War

In my post entitled Second Anglo Boer War propaganda Poetry – the Boer side of things, I gave a brief overview of the circumstances that led to the Boers declaring war on the British Empire for the second time.

The late 19th century saw a significant increase in imperialism in Britain, spurred on by the theories of social Darwinism which argued that the biological concepts of natural selection and survival of the fittest should be applied to sociology and politics. This imperialism provided an ideological foundation for warfare and colonisation in the name of the British Empire.

Journalism was used to disseminate these ideas to the British public and, in the years leading up to the Second Anglo Boer War, newspapers were characterised by extreme pro-war propaganda, which was strictly controlled by the British High Commission in South Africa, Sir Alfred Milner.

After a holiday to South Africa in early 1898, Rudyard Kipling became friendly with Cecil John Rhodes, a British mining magnate and politician in southern Africa, Leander Starr Jameson, the leader of the botched Jameson Raid which aimed to overthrow the Transvaal government in December 1895, and Sir Alfred Milner. Kipling cultivated these friendships and came to admire these men and their politics. Before and during the Second Anglo Boer War, Kipling wrote poetry in support of the British cause in the Boer War.

Rudyard Kipling - Wikipedia
Rudyard Kipling as a young man

One of Kipling’s early propaganda poems was The Old Issue which is published in his The Five Nations book of poetry.

The Old Issue

OCTOBER 9, 1899
(Outbreak of Boer War)

By Rudyard Kipling

“HERE is nothing new nor aught unproven,” say the Trumpets,
    “Many feet have worn it and the road is old indeed.
“It is the King—the King we schooled aforetime !”
    (Trumpets in the marshes—in the eyot at Runnymede!)

“Here is neither haste, nor hate, nor anger,” peal the Trumpets,
    “Pardon for his penitence or pity for his fall.
“It is the King!”—inexorable Trumpets—
    (Trumpets round the scaffold at the dawning by Whitehall!)

.     .     .     .     .

“He hath veiled the Crown and hid the Sceptre,” warn the Trumpets,
    “He hath changed the fashion of the lies that cloak his will.
“Hard die the Kings—ah hard—dooms hard!” declare the Trumpets,
    Trumpets at the gang-plank where the brawling troop-decks fill!

Ancient and Unteachable, abide—abide the Trumpets!
    Once again the Trumpets, for the shuddering ground-swell brings
Clamour over ocean of the harsh, pursuing Trumpets—
    Trumpets of the Vanguard that have sworn no truce with Kings!

All we have of freedom, all we use or know—
This our fathers bought for us long and long ago.

Ancient Right unnoticed as the breath we draw—
Leave to live by no man’s leave, underneath the Law.

Lance and torch and tumult, steel and grey-goose wing
Wrenched it, inch and ell and all, slowly from the King.

Till our fathers ’stablished, after bloody years,
How our King is one with us, first among his peers.

So they bought us freedom—not at little cost
Wherefore must we watch the King, lest our gain be lost,

Over all things certain, this is sure indeed,
Suffer not the old King: for we know the breed.

Give no ear to bondsmen bidding us endure.
Whining “He is weak and far”; crying “Time shall cure.”,

(Time himself is witness, till the battle joins,
Deeper strikes the rottenness in the people’s loins.)

Give no heed to bondsmen masking war with peace.
Suffer not the old King here or overseas.

They that beg us barter—wait his yielding mood—
Pledge the years we hold in trust—pawn our brother’s blood—

Howso’ great their clamour, whatsoe’er their claim,
Suffer not the old King under any name!

Here is naught unproven—here is naught to learn.
It is written what shall fall if the King return.

He shall mark our goings, question whence we came,
Set his guards about us, as in Freedom’s name.

He shall take a tribute, toll of all our ware;
He shall change our gold for arms—arms we may not bear.

He shall break his judges if they cross his word;
He shall rule above the Law calling on the Lord.

He shall peep and mutter; and the night shall bring
Watchers ’neath our window, lest we mock the King—

Hate and all division; hosts of hurrying spies;
Money poured in secret, carrion breeding flies.

Strangers of his counsel, hirelings of his pay,
These shall deal our Justice: sell—deny—delay.

We shall drink dishonour, we shall eat abuse
For the Land we look to—for the Tongue we use.

We shall take our station, dirt beneath his feet,
While his hired captains jeer us in the street.

Cruel in the shadow, crafty in the sun,
Far beyond his borders shall his teachings run.

Sloven, sullen, savage, secret, uncontrolled,
Laying on a new land evil of the old—

Long-forgotten bondage, dwarfing heart and brain—
All our fathers died to loose he shall bind again.

Here is naught at venture, random nor untrue—
Swings the wheel full-circle, brims the cup anew.

Here is naught unproven, here is nothing hid:
Step for step and word for word—so the old Kings did!

Step by step, and word by word: who is ruled may read.
Suffer not the old Kings: for we know the breed—

All the right they promise—all the wrong they bring.
Stewards of the Judgment, suffer not this King!

Commentary

Kipling’s description of the Boers as “sloven”, “savage” and “evil” was insulting and most definitely part of the British government’s pre-war campaign to dehumanise the enemy in the eyes of the public. The lines “He shall take tribute, toll of all our ware, he shall change our gold for arms – arms we may not bear” are arrogant and indicated that Kipling believed the British had a legitimate claim to the gold of the Transvaal.

A Ghost and His Gold by Roberta Eaton Cheadle – Cover reveal

About Roberta Eaton Cheadle

IMG_9902

I am an author who has recently branched into adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my young adult and adult writing, these will be published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first young adult supernatural novel, Through the Nethergate, has recently been published.

I also have two short paranormal stories in Whispers of the Past, a paranormal anthology edited by Kaye Lynne Booth.


Like this post? Let me know in the comments. You can be sure not to miss any of Writing to be Read’s great content by subscribe to e-mail or following on WordPress. If you found this content helpful or entertaining, please share.


Second Anglo Boer War propaganda poetry – the Boer side of things

Background

For those of you who do not know, a Boer is the Dutch and Afrikaans word for “farmer”.

Britain occupied the Cape in South Africa in 1795, ending the role of the Dutch East India Company in the region. After the British occupation, the infrastructure in the Cape Colony began to change as English replaced Dutch, the British pound sterling replaced the Dutch rix-dollar and a freehold system of landownership gradually replaced the existing Dutch tenant system.

Between 1835 and 1840, the Great Trek took place when approximately 12 000 Boers from the Cape Colony migrated into the South African interior to escape British control and to acquire cheap land.

Over time, the Boers achieved the independence of their two republics, the South African Republic (Transvaal) and the Orange Free State which shared borders with the British controlled Cape Colony.

When Sir Alfred Milner took over as Governor of the Cape Colony and High Commissioner for Southern Africa in May 1897, relations between Britain and the two Boer republics had been strained for some time. The Boers had already successfully defended the annexation of the Transvaal by the British during the first Anglo Boer War. Milner knew that an independent Transvaal stood in the way of Britain’s ambition to control all of Africa from the Cape to Cairo and that, with the discovery of gold in the Transvaal, the balance of power in South Africa had shifted from Cape Town to Johannesburg.

After the discovery of gold in the Transvaal, thousands of British and other gold seekers called Uitlanders, flocked to the Witwatersrand. The Boers considered that the Uitlanders threated the independence of their republic and refused to give them the vote. Milner used the Uitlander issue as a pretext to provoke the Boer government. The two republics declared war on the British Empire on 11 October 1899 and the second Anglo Boer War started.

Propaganda during the war

During the Second Anglo Boer War or South African War, there was a lot of propaganda on both sides. Propaganda is common in a war scenario. It is a significant tool used by government to get men sufficiently wound up against the enemy to shoot them without conscious.

As with all wars, some terrible things occurred during this war. One of the worst developments, in my opinion, were the concentration camps that Lord Kitchener created to incarcerate the families of fighting Boers. Approximately 48 000 people, a lot of whom were children, died in the concentration camps between September 1900 and May 1902.

Lizzie van Zyl

Emily Hobhouse tells the story of the young Lizzie van Zyl who died in the Bloemfontein concentration camp: She was a frail, weak little child in desperate need of good care. Yet, because her mother was one of the “undesirables” due to the fact that her father neither surrendered nor betrayed his people, Lizzie was placed on the lowest rations and so perished with hunger that, after a month in the camp, she was transferred to the new small hospital. Here she was treated harshly. The English disposed doctor and his nurses did not understand her language and, as she could not speak English, labeled her an idiot although she was mentally fit and normal. One day she dejectedly started calling for her mother, when a Mrs Botha walked over to her to console her. She was just telling the child that she would soon see her mother again, when she was brusquely interrupted by one of the nurses who told her not to interfere with the child as she was a nuisance. Quote from Stemme uit die Verlede (“Voices from the Past”) – a collection of sworn statements by women who were detained in the concentration camps during the Second Boer War (1899-1902). 

While I was doing the research for my new novel that tells the stories of three ghosts who all experienced different aspects of this war, I came across the following propaganda poem about the concentration camps.

The refugee camps (so called)

Lord Roberts he boasts that he stands at the head

Of all that is noble, and nice, and wellbred,

So we’ve got to believe it, it’s only his due,

He says so himself – so it’s bound to be true.

 

If against the “cowardly ignorant Boer”

In a barbarous manner he carries on war,

Why! What does it matter to me or to you,

He says so himself – so it’s bound to be true.

 

The Boer has deserted his children and wife

For the purpose of leading a pleasanter life

Yes, “Such are those people, unnatural crew!”

Lord Kitchener says – so it’s bound to be true.

 

If he harries weak women and children tender

It is not to induce the men to surrender,

Oh no! that’s a thing he never would do,

He says so himself – so it’s bound to be true.

 

If the women and orphans he drags away

In his pest-smitten camps are willing to stay

Let no one assert he the Innocents slew,

He says so himself – so it’s bound to be true.

 

If by thousands they die of disease and starvation

In those sweet health-resorts they call “concentration”

No matter! Those people deserved it too,

He says so himself – so it’s bound to be true.

 

Lord Kitchener persecutes woman and child

Because he was always exceedingly mild

And the more they objected the kinder he grew

He says so himself – so it’s bound to be true.

 

Oh! He is so gentle, the Mahdi’s head

He cut that off when his foe was dead;

In uncivilized warfare, that’s nothing new

He says so himself – so it’s bound to be true.

 

The wife gets a pass and may go away

To bring in the man; but the child must stay;

This, of course, Lord Kitchener never knew,

He says so himself – so it’s bound to be true.

 

But Thanks to our wives, for they do not care

Whatever the hardships they have to bear,

They willingly suffer their woeful plight

If their husbands stand firm for God and the right.

 

By her noble example the Burgher’s wife

Still gives him strength to continue the strife

And she cheers him on with all her might

To stand up firmly for God and the right.

 

O Africander! Be staunch and true

For that’s what your wife is expecting from you

You will help her to make the burden light

By standing firm for God and the right.

This poem is published in The War Reporter The Anglo-Boer War Through the eyes of the Burghers by J.E.H. Grobler

A Ghost and His Gold by Roberta Eaton Cheadle – Cover reveal

The cover of my new novel, A Ghost and His Gold about the Second Anglo Boer War

About Roberta Eaton Cheadle

IMG_9902

I am an author who has recently branched into adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my young adult and adult writing, these will be published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first young adult supernatural novel, Through the Nethergate, has recently been published.

I also have two short paranormal stories in Whispers of the Past, a paranormal anthology edited by Kaye Lynne Booth.


Like this post? Let me know in the comments. You can be sure not to miss any of Writing to be Read’s great content by subscribe to e-mail or following on WordPress. If you found this content helpful or entertaining, please share.