Saturday, August 1, 2020

birth of Republic of Stellaland - 138 years ago !


The Indian Premier League 2020 (IPL 2020) is all set to start in UAE on 19th Sept 2020. The international cricket boards have started giving no objection certificates (NOC’s) to its cricketers for participating in the Indian league. The New Zealand Cricket and Cricket South Africa both have announced NOC’s for its cricketers. But despite of that 10 cricketers from South Africa including AB de Villiers (RCB), Quinton De Kock (MI) stands doubtful for IPL 2020.   

Reason – due to Covid19, currently South Africa is under strict lockdown and no international take-offs are allowed since the last few months. As the Coronavirus cases are constantly growing in the African nation, no one knows when the flight operations can start. Already the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), starting August 18, is faced with a few tricky issues on this account. With South African borders closed, there is no way the Proteas cricketers – Imran Tahir, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen, Rilee Rossouw, Anrich Nortje and Colin Ingram, can reach Caribbean.

Three members of the South African women's cricket squad have tested positive for coronavirus ahead of their training camp for a proposed tour of England.  The three members, including one support staff, have been withdrawn from the camp by Cricket South Africa (CSA).

Moving away, ‘Republic of Stellaland’  was created on this day  138 years ago !  under the leadership of its elected president Gerrit Jacobus van Niekerk.  Any faint idea of where this Country was ? – and what is its present position ??

Boers  are the descendants of the proto-Afrikaans-speaking settlers of the eastern Cape frontier  in Southern Africa during the 18th and much of the 19th century. From 1652 to 1795, the Dutch East India Company controlled this area, but the United Kingdom incorporated it into the British Empire in 1806.  Boers emigrated from the Cape colony  primarily to escape British rule and to get away from the constant border wars between the British imperial government and the indigenous peoples on the eastern frontier.

Popular organisations and the government both moved rapidly in mid-March to respond as the coronavirus pandemic hit South Africa. However, the country today has the fifth highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world – over 420,000 on July 24 – and the virus continues to spread, posing a challenge to the fragile, technocratic and neoliberal government on the one hand and social movements on the other. Governmental shifts in South Africa seem to have taken the opposite trajectory to much of the global pattern, following changes in the former liberation movement, the African National Congress, at the end of 2017. This saw the replacement of the profoundly corrupt, constitution-flouting and incipiently populist regime of Jacob Zuma by the suave former businessman Cyril Ramaphosa, promising to end corruption, restore ‘good governance’ and attract massive foreign investment. The change was welcomed by many in the middle classes, business and internationally, but Ramaphosa’s position in the ANC remained precarious, with the Zuma network retaining many positions of power. With the coming of the pandemic, Ramaphosa moved decisively to take charge, and the government adopted a science-driven approach, gaining high approval in the media and opposition parties, as well as internationally from the WHO and others.

SA President in India with Indian President and PM

South Africa,   (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over 59 million people, it is the world's 24th-most populous nation and covers an area of 1,221,037 square kilometres (471,445 sq mi). South Africa has three capital cities: executive Pretoria, judicial Bloemfontein and legislative Cape Town. The largest city is Johannesburg.  It is bounded by  coastline of Southern Africa stretching along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; countries of Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe; Mozambique,  Eswatini (former Swaziland); and Lesotho.  The  two most spoken first languages are Zulu (22.7%) and Xhosa (16.0%).  The two next ones are of European origin: Afrikaans (13.5%) developed from Dutch and serves as the first language of most coloured and white South Africans; English (9.6%) reflects the legacy of British colonialism, and is commonly used in public and commercial life. The country is one of the few in Africa never to have had a coup d'état, and regular elections have been held for almost a century. However, the vast majority of black South Africans were not enfranchised until 1994.

British, French, Dutch and other European States established colonies in most parts of the World and exploited natural wealth and crushing local residents.  There were many wars in which the colonisers by their military might, subjudication and divisive rule crushed the uprising, held the locals as criminals in prisons.  The Second Boer War (11 October 1899 – 31 May 1902) was fought between the British Empire and two independent Boer states, the South African Republic (Republic of Transvaal) and the Orange Free State, over the Empire's influence in South Africa. The trigger of the war was the discovery of diamonds and gold in the Boer states.

  Initial Boer attacks were successful, and although British reinforcements later reversed these, the war continued for years with Boer guerrilla warfare, until harsh British counter-measures including a scorched earth policy brought the Boers to terms. The British army seized control of all of the Orange Free State and Transvaal, as the civilian leadership went into hiding or exile. In conventional terms, the war was over. The British officially annexed the two countries in 1900. Back home, Britain's Conservative government wanted to capitalize on this success and use it to maneuver an early general election, dubbed a "khaki election", to give the government another six years of power in London.  British military efforts were aided by Cape Colony, the Colony of Natal, Rhodesia, and some native African allies, and further supported by volunteers from the British Empire, including southern Africa, the Australian colonies, Canada, India and New Zealand.  

The Boers refused to surrender. They reverted to guerrilla warfare under new generals Louis Botha, Jan Smuts, Christiaan de Wet and Koos de la Rey. Two years of surprise attacks and quick escapes followed. As guerrillas without uniforms, the Boer fighters easily blended into the farmlands, which provided hiding places, supplies, and horses. The British response to guerrilla warfare was to set up complex nets of blockhouses, strongpoints, and barbed wire fences, partitioning off the entire conquered territory. In addition, civilian farms and livestock were destroyed as part of a scorched earth policy. Survivors were forced into concentration camps. Very large proportions of these civilians died of hunger and disease, especially the children.

The Republic of Stellaland was, from 1882 to 1883, a Boer republic located in an area of British Bechuanaland (now in South Africa's North West Province), west of the Transvaal.  During its short history, the small state became a focal point for conflict between the British Empire and the South African Republic, the two major players vying for control of the territory.  The Republic of Stellaland was created on 26 July 1882, under the leadership of its elected president Gerrit Jacobus van Niekerk, a farmer from Transvaal, and was given the name Stellaland (Star Land) in reference to a comet that was visible in the skies at the time. The town of Vryburg was founded and declared its capital

Stellaland’s laws and constitution were practically identical to those of the South African Republic. It never issued an independent currency, but instead—like all the surrounding states—used the South African pound; it did, however, print its own postage stamps beginning in  1884.  In Dec  1884,  British sent in a force under Sir Charles Warren, who invaded the country and abolished the republic in August of the following year before it was incorporated into British Bechuanaland.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
26.7.2020

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