Important acquisitions

Sixty-six years' residence in South Africa: an autobiographical sketch.

Author Ainslie, William.
Title Sixty-six years' residence in South Africa: an autobiographical sketch.
Imprint [Fort Beaufort, South Africa]: Fort Beaufort Printing and Publishing Company
Date of Publication 1899
Language English
Notes This rare book, crudely printed in the small South African town of Fort Beaufort, documents the experiences of a Scottish emigrant to South Africa. William Ainslie was born c. 1820 in Hawick in the Scottish Borders. His father worked there as a brewer and bookbinder. In 1833 the Ainslie family decided to move to South Africa, on the advice of William's famous uncle Thomas Pringle, who had lived there in the 1820s. Pringle (1789-1834) was a writer and campaigner for abolition of slavery, who became known as the father of South African Poetry, being the first successful English language poet and author to describe South Africa. The Ainslie family eventually purchased a farm in what was then called Kaffraria, the southeast part of what is today the Eastern Cape Province. They inevitably got caught up in the conflicts between European settlers and the native Xhosa people (referred to in the book as 'Kaffirs'). From the late 18th century onwards a series of armed conflicts between the Xhosa, British army and settlers had taken place as more and more settlers encroached on Xhosa lands. In the preface to the book, written by one A. Hanesworth, it is stated that: "No savage people has given Great Britain so much trouble in open fight and secret foray as the Coloured races of Kaffraria". When William Ainslie acquired his own farm, he became a 'burgher' who was obliged to arm himself to defend his property and also to assist the army and the other settlers. As such he was participant in what is now termed the 8th Xhosa War of 1850-53, which he describes at length. In 1859 Ainslie settled in the Fort Beaufort area, where he continued to farm as well as making a brief foray into diamond mining. Ainslie's book documents the struggle of an emigrant to establish himself in an often hostile and unforgiving environment. It was written on the eve of the Boer War and he criticises the Dutch Bond politicians "who are doing everything in their power to cause race-hatred between the Dutch and English".
Shelfmark AB.1.212.26
Acquired on 23/03/12
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