CECIL RHODES IN RHODESIA
IT was about this time that a young Englishman was making his unique personality felt in South Africa. Cecil
Rhodes—one of the greatest empire-builders—a name closely connected with all that was vital in
that land, had come out from England in 1870, at the age of seventeen, when the voyage to Durban yet took
seventy days. He had made his way to the diamond fields about Kimberley, where he not only succeeded in
regaining his failing health, but in making a fortune by his industry, foresight, and prudence.
The new land fascinated him. Ever a "dreamer of dreams", he planned out his life as a ruler of men in the land
of his adoption. So matured were these that in 1877 he unrolled a map of Africa, for which all the European
nations were now scrambling, and pointing from the cape to the great River Zambesi, "That 's my dream," he
cried—"all this to be English."
 Having decided once for all on his course of action, he spared neither himself nor his money to achieve his
In 1889 the British South Africa Company was formed, with Cecil Rhodes as guiding spirit and managing
order to open up the yet unexplored lands lying at the back of beyond.
Bechuanaland, for the past the years, had been under British protection, to the annoyance the Transvaal Boers,
who were now trying to get a footing in Matabeleland. Germans and Portuguese were also advancing towards the
hinterland. Already, thanks to Rhodes's foresight, a treaty had been made with the great native chieftain
Lo-Bengula, to whom Matabeleland and Mashonaland were subject—a treaty by which the British practically
had the refusal of these vast tracts of land, which to-day we call Rhodesia.
It was now thought desirable for some white men to go up to Mashonaland and exploit the goldfields
 there. So some 200 British colonists, with a force of 500 armed police, set forth in the summer of 1890 to pioneer their
roadless way into the new lands. Though missionaries and hunters had passed through the land, it was as yet
unknown. Savage warring tribes were living in the thick bush, through which the"Mashonaland Pioneers "had to
fight their way. Every night great precautions were taken: the camp was made of ox-wagons with a Maxim gun at
each corner, while an electric searchlight illumined the dark night, and kept the natives at a safe distance.
And so, under the guidance of Selous, the famous lion-hunter, who knew the region better than any white man
living, the pioneers reached the very heart of Mashonaland. They hoisted the British flag at a spot near Mount
Hampden, which they named Salisbury, after the Prime Minister at home. Here they disbanded, for they had
reached the promised land of the goldfields. They soon built the towns of Salisbury and Victoria, and more and
more settlers found their way to the new country. A chartered company was formed, administered by
 Cecil Rhodes and his friend Dr. Jameson, and the whole was brought under British protection.
But all this displeased Lo-Bengula, and frequent Matabele raids disturbed the peace of the Mashonaland
colonists. At last Jameson decided that the power of Lo-Bengula must be crushed.
In 1893 an opportunity offered. A Matabele army crossed the border, and colonists and troops were called out
to war. Some thousand rallied round the flag and marched towards Bulawayo, Lo-Bengula's capital. Soon Bulawayo
was in flames, and Lo-Bengula was flying panic-stricken to the north. Major Forbes, with a small force, was
sent in pursuit. He followed the tracks of Lo-Bengula's wagons for some forty miles to the Shangani River,
then along the river to a ford, which had evidently been crossed. Major Forbes then deputed Major Alan Wilson,
with thirty-three troopers, to cross the Shangani and patrol further, intending to follow later with the main
The night was dark, and rain fell heavily. The river rose, and with it all possibility of return. Wilson and
his handful of men were hopelessly separated from Major Forbes. A terrible tragedy was the result.
The Matabele were rallying round their king, when they discovered the white men. In the early morning Major
Wilson and his thirty-three troopers were furiously attacked. They knew full well there was no escape, but
that they must die as became brave men, facing certain death. The handful of
English-  men fell back on a large mound. Here they dismounted, and formed a ring with their horses, behind which they
took shelter. There was no request for quarter, no thought of surrender. With "iron calmness" the men fought
on for two long hours till their ammunition gave out. As soon as the supreme moment came, those who were yet
able to rise, stood shoulder to shoulder and lifted their hats. Then, said the Matabele afterwards—then
they joined in a song, and singing, died. Still one man was left, upright, brave to the end. Alone he stood in
the midst of the dead bodies of his comrades, a hero among heroes, and single-handed he fought the foe, till
he too fell dead at the last.
The desperate bravery of Wilson's patrol struck the natives with awe and reverence. To-day the spot where they
fell is marked by a granite memorial put up by Cecil Rhodes himself. The brave end of the Shangani patrol will
ever stand out, not only in colonial but in imperial history, as one of Britain's famous deeds.
Mashonaland and Matabeleland both came under British protection, and were administered by the Chartered
Company, under Dr. Jameson, under the name of Southern Rhodesia—which forms the fifth of the British
States in South Africa.
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