FORT NOTTINGHAM - THE 150th ANNIVERSARY
"In the 1800s, when the Bushmen encountered Zulus who were returning to the Midlands after the decimation of Shaka's wars and the displacement of the Mfecane, and the white settlers, newly arrived from across the seas, it was case of cultures clashing.
The white and Zulu settlers treasured their cattle, but thought nothing of hunting across the whole region, the white hunters often killing animals far in excess of what they could use. To the Bushmen, game belonged to all men, and they hunted only for food, not trophies. Each band of Bushmen had their own recognised hunting ground, and rights over this land were absolute, with hunting by others equivalent to a declaration of war. When the white settlers started to shoot out the game in the Midlands area, their cattle and horses were 'fair game' as far as the Bushmen were concerned.
At the urging of the Midlands settlers, in 1856 the British government decided to establish a garrison at what was to become known as Fort Nottingham after the Nottinghamshire 45th Regiment (the First Sherwood Foresters), who were sent there to protect the settlers and their livestock from Bushmen raids. The soldiers were empowered to pursue the cattle thieves, recapture any animals found and take the necessary punitive action. Although there are no records of the Fort Nottingham garrison having actually killed any Bushmen in these raids, a number of Bushmen were killed in retaliatory raids by Zulu and white settlers. By 1870, as the Midlands became more developed and more densely settled, the Bushmen raids had largely stopped, but no one thought to make peace with the few remaining Bushmen.
Now, for the first time, a gesture of reconciliation will take place at the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of Fort Nottingham in March 2005. The reconciliation of the British and the Bushmen will be represented by Brigadier David Keenan OBE, Military Attaché, UK High Commission, Pretoria, and one of the last known living mountain Bushmen, Kerrick Ntusi.
Kerrick Ntusi is believed to be about 94 years old, and appeared on a television show about the San Bushmen that was put together by Frans Prins, an anthropologist and archaeologist who has specialised in the study of the mountain Bushmen. When asked if he would be happy to take part in the 150th anniversary celebrations, Kerrick replied that he would be.
The handshake came about when, at a meeting of the UK High Commission in Pretoria in October this year, David Fox of Fort Nottingham, one of the organisers of the anniversary celebrations, talked to Brigadier Keenan about the history of Fort Nottingham and the 150th anniversary. When David mentioned that they were hoping to have Kerrick attend on the day, the Brigadier immediately said that 'he would very much like to be present at the ceremony, and to shake Kerrick's hand as a symbol of reconciliation and friendship'."