In Considering The Process Of Colonisation And Decolonisation By The British In Africa The Periodc.1870 – C.1981, How Far Can The Boer War Be Seen As

762 words - 3 pages

The second or great Boer war began on the 12th of October 1899. Two small states of 400,000 Dutch speaking people, the orange free state and the Transvaal republic, Had declare war on the British empire after they refused to remove their troops from their borders and to reroute reinforcements set to arrive by sea. Britain had thus far taken about 5 million square miles of African territories and the Boer war is often viewed as a turning point in British expansion. But to what extent is this true? Was this war a sign of things to come?

The Boer war meant a great change in public opinion towards British expansion in Africa. It was widely considered, throughout much of the 19th century, that the British people were like a master race who’s right it was to rule and with the public behind them the government and entrepreneurs alike could keep on expanding, investing and getting rich ‘for the good of the empire’. The Boer war however was a landmark for British imperialism. The Boer war was different from the other wars the British had fought in Africa. In the battle of Omdurman in 1898 the British set up with their backs to the river Nile and mowed down 100s of natives with the new invention, the maxim machine gun. The British only received three casualties. The lesson here was that Technological superiority paired with poor tactics and poor equipment on the enemy’s part meant British victory. However The Boers were well equipped and were using guerrilla tactics to avoid the British machine guns and thus removing there advantage. This led to new and brutal tactics by the British such as burning farms and the creation of concentration camps to house civilians. The conditions in these camps were dreadful and resulted in the deaths of many civilians. This created a rift both in public opinion of the war and of political persuasions.

Although the Conservative government won the 1900 elections because of the recent successes’ in the Boer war, Popularity quickly disappeared as the brutal tactics and the lack of progress in the war became apparent. The policies of both the government and the army in South Africa were attacked in parliament in February 1901 by the radical liberal politician David Lloyd-George. Journalists rushed to...

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