This chapter of our history involves five countries, powerful men, subterfuge, a botched invasion, a rebellion and land annexation. The concession to mine gold at Tati was granted to a British baronet, Sir John Swinburne, by Lobengula, last king of the Matabele. Tati lay on the missionary road to the north, used by Livingstone and Moffat, and part of Cecil Rhodes’s dream of a direct link between the from Cape and Cairo. The annexation of Bechuanaland was a result of the conflicts between local tribes and the threats from President Kruger and from Germany which had recently colonised Angra Pequena.
David Hilton-Barber, fourth-generation South African of 1820 Settler stock, was born in Grahamstown and holds a BA Honours degree from Rhodes. He trained as a journalist, following in the footsteps of his maternal great-grandfather Frederick York St Leger, founder and first editor of the Cape Times. In his later career as a public relations consultant, he was involved in a wide range of public-relations programmes for the public and private sector, included lecturing and contributing to the compilation of the communications course at the University of South Africa.
He served as president of the PR Institute of SA and council member for South Africa on the International Public Relations Association. He is author of Footprints: On the Trail of those who Shaped the History of Tzaneen, Footprints: Of Those Who Made History in Haenertsburg, The Baronet and the Savage King: the Intriguing Story of the Tati Concessions, Hobson’s Choice: Len Hobson; The Story of a Remarkable Man and Kalahari Dreaming: The Romance of the Desert.