The Matchless Copper Mine in 1857, by Brigitte Lau
Brigitte Lau documents a year's copper mining activity in Namaland, South West Africas during 1857 and on The Matchless Copper Mine.
Relations between copper companies and Namaland chiefs
The relations between copper miners and the chiefs and greatmen of Namaland have never yet been carefully studied. The only two published accounts providing more than a comment, Vedder and Esterhuyse, cannot be relied on for accuracy: Vedder does not disclose his sources which makes a11 his evidence questionable; Esterhyuse quotes Vedder as well as Cape records of a much later date, compiled largely on the basis of people's memory. (Bell's account of how Bassingthwaighte and Jonker 'discovered' the Matchless mine must be disqualified for the same reasons.) There are only two sets of contemporary documentary sources hitherto known for the copper mining era: one is the present text, and the other is missionary diaries and letters. Available evidence suggests that the contracts were not dear. Thus, Chief Swartbooi was reported to receive £1.2.3 per wagon load or £1.3.0,11 or 4% of the profits plus a generous present. The Great Namaqua Mining Company mentioned above negotiated royalty fees of "some clothes and food" for Chief David Christian or, as a another source claims, £50 per year for a 33-year contract if mining was undertaken. Apart from Andersson's remarks in the present text, records on the actual payment of royalties hardly seem to exist. While the territorial rights of the three principal Nama chiefs in the area, Jonker, Swartbooi and //Oaseb, were not defined in terms of boundaries and square miles, the copper miners were not shy to engineer even more confusing 'agreements' between the chiefs. They also attempted to ensure sovereign Jonker Afrikaner's cooperation by supplying him with a (Wesleyan) missionary. Their actions suggest that they were prepared to disregard chiefs' claims to royalties as much as possible, whether for mining rights, grazing or water. On the other hand, the missionaries frequently reported on raids organised by individual chiefs, or even combined forces, against the copper miners' settlements, taking cattle and equipment, possibly even ore. The first of these was designed - successfully so - to force the W.B.M.C. to make a contract with Chief //Oaseb, after they concluded an agreement with Jonker Afrikaner. Clearly, the political situation they found themselves in was complex and delicate, and that neither the mining concerns nor Andersson seem to have cared to acknowledge. It is also interesting that missionaries records frequently comment on these conflicts; yet, Andersson himself only hints at them in his correspondence. [...]
This is an excerpt from the book: The Matchless Copper Mine in 1857, by Brigitte Lau.
Title: The Matchless Copper Mine in 1857
Subtitle: Correspondence of manager C.J. Andersson; Andersson Papers, Vol. 1
Editor: Brigitte Lau
Series: Archeia, No. 7
Publisher: National Archives, SWA/Namibia
Windhoek, Namibia 1987
ISBN 0869762125 / ISBN 0-86976-212-5
Original softcover, 15x21 cm, 113 pages, some bw-photos, illustrations and scetches
Lau, Brigitte im Namibiana-Buchangebot
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