History Opinions & Features August 05, 2020 at 02:00 pm

From Battle of Adwa to Gun War, here’re five colonial-era battles in Africa that shocked the world

Mildred Europa Taylor | Head of Content

Mildred Europa Taylor August 05, 2020 at 02:00 pm

August 05, 2020 at 02:00 pm | History, Opinions & Features

The Basuto War in South Africa, Departure of Burghers from … stock ...
Credit: Look and Learn

The Gun War

Also known as the Basuto War, the Gun War (1880-1881) occurred in the British territory of Basutoland (present-day Lesotho) in Southern Africa and was fought between Cape Colony forces and nationalist Basotho chiefs over the right of the Basotho people to bear arms. Before the conflict, the “discovery of diamonds and the flood of diggers” caused a huge demand for cheap, unskilled labor. Africans were willing to provide this labor as long as they could get guns in exchange. This went on until whites in South Africa became nervous and decided to disarm all Africans in the Cape Colony following their war with the Xhosa in 1877-78.

But the Basotho refused to disarm and hand in their guns leading to conflicts between Basotho rebels and Cape soldiers. At the end of the day, the Cape Colony made peace with the Basotho in April 1881. The Basotho victory over the Cape Colony “is one of the few examples in Southern African history of black Africans’ winning a conflict with colonial powers in the 19th century,” according to a report. It’s also the reason Lesotho is surrounded by the country of South Africa, rather than being a part of it, the report adds.


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