Jessica Hagen

Ethno-Film Study

The Boer War

The Boer War was the struggle of the Boers, or Dutch descent farmers, to keep the power of their land away from the British. They wanted to control their own land, and they were not going to let the British have an easy take over.

The Boer War is also known as the South African War, and was fought from 1899 to 1902 (World 435). The British learned of resources they could use in the African area and there was a major struggle over who would control the area. This war was known as a ‘gentlemen’s war’, the ‘last Colonial war’, and the ‘forgotten war’ (1). This was a major bloodbath, yet it was overshadowed and forgotten because of World War I. This was the biggest war fought by Britain in Africa (2). The Boers were people of Dutch, German, or French ancestry that lived in South Africa (World 436). Many of these people were farmers; the word Boer is actually a Dutch word meaning farmer (World 436). They felt that the British should not be able to take supremacy in their colonies, and they refused to be under control of the British King.

The British felt that they would easily take over they South African colonies. It is quoted that they felt this "colonial conflict" would be over and settled in time for them to be "home for Christmas" (2). The British were very wrong by entering the conflict with such an overwhelming confidence. They did not realize that the Boers cherished their land and independence, and they would fight with passion and strength to keep their freedom. The Britain government and army underestimate the Boers. The Boers had an unconventional way of fighting and their "guerilla warfare hit and run tactics" (2) were not easy for the British army to fight. The war that the British Empire felt would be an easy take over led to a four-year battle. The British began using "blockhouse lines," which is a "scorched earth" policy (2). They had to resort to desperate measures because they were not able to handle the "swift-moving, mounted farmers armed with deadly Mauser rifles and bitter determination" (1). After the British began destroying anything that they came into contact with the Boers decided it was in their best interest to sign the peace treaty of Vereeniging on May 31, 1902 (2). The Boers were not punished for participating in the war; however, they had to sign a contract of faithfulness to King Edward VII (World 436). Although this war is said to be forgotten, the determination of the Boers to keep their freedom can never be forgotten by the British that underestimated them.