Detailed Map of Central and Southern Africa from the Period between the Boer Wars
Fine map of central and southern Africa from the period between the First and Second Boer Wars. The map, though prepared for a commercial audience, was part of a larger effort to map southern Africa in order to aid the British war effort. This effort provided the foundation for the intensive mapping of British holdings in southern Africa after the Second Boer War.
The map depicts the Boer territories of southern Africa, including the Orange Free State, the South African Republic, and the Natal. The British Cape Colony is to the south. Other territories are identified by the names of local peoples such as Mossamedes and Bartose Mabunda Country in the central region, Zululand to the east, and Khama’s Land, Great Namaqualand, and Damaraland in the west.
The map is quite detailed, naming many regions and identifying ethnographic, topographical, and environmental features. These include the Kalahari Desert and the Cape of Good Hope. Politically, it also shows the German areas of colonial control in the northwest, in addition to the Boer Republics in the central and eastern portions of southern Africa.
The map is bordered by a neatline identifying latitude and longitude, while the title of the map appears in bolded letters in the bottom-left corner. A note below the neatline explains that, while originally prepared by the South African firm Juta, it was also published in London by Edward Stanford.
The First and Second Boer Wars
Between 1835 and 1845, the Boers moved out of the British Cape Colony and established two independent republics, the Orange Free State and the Transvaal, or the South African Republic. The First Boer War (1880-1881) occurred as a result of British attempts to annex Boer territory in order to create a confederation of South African states. After two years of fighting, an uneasy peace was reached in which the annexation was halted and the British begrudgingly recognized the Transvaal’s internal independence.
In the decade between the two wars, the ideologies of British imperialism and Boer republicanism grew increasingly irreconcilable. While the British sought the unification of southern Africa under their own rule, the Boer Republics sought to maintain their independence and expand their power. Tensions came to a head in 1890, when the government of the Transvaal restricted voting rights to naturalized citizens who had been in the country for fourteen years. This policy threatened the interests of the British in the region following the discovery of gold in Transvaal in 1866. After Joseph Chamberlain, a strong imperialist, was elected to the Colonial Office in 1895, war seemed inevitable.
The deadliest war fought by the British between the Napoleonic Wars and World War I, the Second Boer War (1899-1902) is notable for the internment of entire villages of Boers in concentration camps in attempts by the British to suppress Boer guerilla warfare. The war ended with the Peace Treaty of Vereeniging, which recognized British military administration over the two Boer Republics. In 1910, the two republics were unified with the Cape of Good Hope and Natal into a country called South Africa, under British rule.
Cartography and the Boer Wars
This map was intended for a popular audience, who were likely eager to see the areas where the First Boer War had taken place and the locations of British colonial holdings. In addition to the popular use of maps, the Boer Wars also provided an impetus for the large-scale mapping of British holdings in central and southern Africa.
At the beginning of hostilities, central and southern Africa were still mostly unmapped, largely due to the fact that there was no tradition of topographic mapping in the region. Even after the end of the First Boer War, the War Office only had cursory maps of northern Natal and the two Boer Republics that were inadequate for military purposes.
After the outbreak of the Second Boer War, the British sent survey and mapping sections to the region but were only able to map isolated strategic locations. Thus, the British Field Intelligence Department resorted to unorthodox methods of cartography, chiefly through the creation of the “compilation map.” This method of mapping involved fitting together the title diagrams of farm surveys that were filed in the offices of the surveyor general. While often crude and inaccurate, these maps were extensively used due to a paucity of more thorough maps.
The heavy losses which the British suffered as a result of the lack of reliable maps convinced British authorities after the Second Boer War of the necessity of systematically mapping central and southern Africa in order to maintain political supremacy. Thus, the Colonial Survey Committee was created in 1905 in order to regulate the surveys and mapping of British Africa. Three survey map series of southern Africa were complied after the war, the most important of which was the GSGS 2230 series, a topographic survey of the Orange Free State by the War Office from 1905-1911.
Juta’s map is a fine example of the early attempts at the large-scale mapping of the southern areas of the African continent between the Boer Wars. Even commercial maps like this one might have been of use to the military, although it was more likely intended to show viewers the political situation of the important region during the period of tensions following the First Boer War. This map too is a compilation from a variety of sources, as the title explains. Juta’s even more detailed topographic map from 1899 would, by comparison, have been an extremely valuable resource for British authorities in planning their war effort.
The map was originally published by Juta and Company, Ltd., the oldest publishing house in South Africa. Established in 1853 by Jan Carel Juta (1824-1886), a Dutchman who moved to the Cape and was the husband of Karl Marx’s sister, the company still exists today and is known for its educational and legal materials. In the nineteenth century, Juta played a central role in the mapping of central and southern Africa. In 1858, Juta imported the scientific and legal materials needed by the Royal Observatory and entered into a number of partnerships allowing for the mapping of the region.
This map is featured in several editions. This is a revised edition of 1899. We also note editions from 1866, 1889, 1891, 1895, 1899 and 1902. The reissuing of the map underlines how popular and important the region was to British audiences, although the map remains rare today.
Frederick Courtney Selous (1851-1917), whose work is cited as one of the sources for the map, was an explorer of southern and central Africa whose works were a major addition to the knowledge of modern-day Rhodesia. He explored and hunted in the territory between the South African Republic and the Congo River basin, collecting scientific specimens and ethnological information. In 1890, he entered the service of the British South Africa Company.
This fine map would make an important addition to any collection of maps related to southern and central Africa, British imperial history, or wartime mapping in general. It contains not only detailed topographical information about the region but also remains a testament to British colonial ambitions in Africa.
Edward Stanford (1827-1904) was a prominent British mapmaker and publisher. A native of Holborn in the heart of London, Edward was apprenticed to a printer and stationer at the age of 14. After his first master died, he worked with several others, including Trelawny W. Saunders of Charing Cross. Saunders oversaw young Edward’s early career, ensuring that he became a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. Associations with the Society eventually brought Sanders much business and gave him a reputation as a publisher of explorers. As testament to this reputation, the Stanford Range in British Columbia was named for him by John Palliser.
Stanford briefly partnered with Saunders in 1852 before striking out on his own in 1853. He was an agent for the Ordnance Survey, the Admiralty, the Geological Survey, the Trigonometrical Survey of India, and the India Office. He also controlled the maps of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, another lucrative source of income. In 1857, Stanford founded his namesake Geographical Establishment, with Saunders and A. K. Johnston as engravers. Thereafter, Stanford was known for his “library maps”, particularly those of Africa and Asia.
Although he had authored many maps, the Harrow Atlas of Modern Geography and a similar volume on classical geography, Stanford is better remembered today as the leader of a successful map business. Ever in search of more inventory, he acquired the plates and stock of John Arrowsmith, heir of the Arrowmsith family firm, in 1874. By 1881 he employed 87 people at his premises at 6 Charing Cross Road, Saunders’ old address. As he aged, he phased in his son Edward Jr. to run the business. He died in 1904. The business survived him, and the Stanford’s shop is still a prominent London landmark today.