Lesson One – Sub Topic: First Anglo-Boer War


Focus on: 1stAnglo-Boer war 1880-1881

The Jameson raid 1895

The 2ndAnglo-Boer war 1899-1902


THE 1st ANGLO-BOER WAR 1880-1881

Causes of the War

Introduction: The 1st Anglo-Boer war was the first war between the British and the Boers and was fought between 1880 and 1881.At times, was referred to as Transvaal’s war of independence because the Boers of Transvaal were fighting to defend their independence. The Boers were led by their leader Paul Kruger and his Commander William Jourbert while the British were led by Pomeroy Colley.

  • The major cause of this was the annexation of TV in 1877 that made the Boers to lose their independence.
  • The British thought that the Boers had been weakened by the wars they fought with the Africans. For instance, in 1877, the Pedi attacked Transvaal bringing in the much hatred for the British administration.
  • The Boers of Transvaal were mistreating Africans and used them to work on their farm which was disliked by the British.
  • The Boers also mistreated the Uitlanders and denied them their rights and that annoyed the British especially the Cape Prime Minister, Cecil Rhodes.
  • The Boers of Transvaal had stopped buying British goods and instead bought from the Germans which annoyed the British.
  • Transvaal also had debts with the Cape bankers and therefore the British wanted to protect the money their citizens had lent to the Boers.
  • The British were also worried of the hopeless situation Transvaal was in and feared that the Zulu would exploit it and attack Boers hence the British annexed Transvaal which led to war.
  • Lord Carnavan, the British High commissioner at the Cape contributed to the war because he wanted to defeat Transvaal to create the Union of South Africa.
  • The poor military record of the British in S.A. The Boers fought thinking that the British had been weakened by the Zulu during the Isand halwana battle of 1879.
  • The Boer also fought because they had been promised independence by the British Prime Minister, Gladstone during his campaign trail which he later refused give them after winning the elections.
  • Long term enmity and suspicious between the British and the Boers also led to the war
  • The British were always following the Boers leaving them with no option but to fight them.
  • The discovery of minerals in Transvaal made her to become prosperous in small scale mining which attracted the British. They both started scrambling for the mineral riches by which prepared a state for the war.
  • The rise of war-mongers like Paul Kruger, William Jourbert, and Lord Carnavan also made war unavoidable.
  • The refusal of OFS to join the British federation plans and joined Transvaal also hurt the British and led to war.
  • The Boers considered themselves as owners of S. Africa and did not want any equality with Africans which was suggested by the British yet the British on the other hand considered themselves a superior race which annoyed the Boers.
  • Failure of both Boers and the British to solve their problems peacefully also led to the war.
  • Economic competition between the two created economic rivalries that made war inevitable.
  • The British had for long regarded the Boers as their subjects hence annoyed them and led to war.
  • The failure of two peaceful journeys to London by Kruger, William Joubert and Pretorius to demand for independence made the war inevitable.
  • The Wander fountain meeting and its resolution to restore Transvaal independence by force also made war inevitable.
  • The immediate cause of the war was the tax incident in which a Boer farmer had his property confiscated for not paying taxes and that made the whole of Transvaal rise up in rebellion.
  • British arrest of the Boer farmer forced 300 Boers to stop the police and get back his property by force.
  • Boers of TV expected Support, from OFS which gave them confidence to fight.
  • The Boer determination made them fight.
  • The annexation of Griqualand west and adding it to the British colony created a war atmosphere between the two.
  • Annexation of Basuto land by the British made life difficult for the Boers creating war hysteria.
  • The Boers had been fully armed after the Sand River convention in 1852 in which the British agreed to supply guns to the Boers but not the Africans.


  1. Why were there conflicts between the Boers and the British between 1880 and 1881?
  2. Why did Paul Kruger conflict with the British between 1880 and 1881?
  3. What were the causes of Transvaal war of independence between 1880 and 1881?


Effects of the 1st Anglo-Boer War

  • The British were defeated at Majuba hills and this humiliated them.
  • There was heavy loss of lives and depopulation especially on the British side.
  • Over 100 British solders including General Colley their leader were killed at Majuba.
  • There was destruction of property especially crops, houses and farms and that weakened the state of TV.
  • The war disorganized agriculture and trade in TV and led to decline in economy.
  • The decline in agriculture led to famine and starvation among the Transvaallers
  • There was increased Boer nationalism and their desire for independence than ever before.
  • Increased enmity between the Boers and the British resulting into hostility.
  • The war united the Boers of OFS with those of TV and agreed to help each other in future in case of war.
  • The war created new Boer leaders like, Kruger who became so popular and was later elected in TV as president.
  • During the war, some whites attacked the Africans and made them lose their independence.
  • Some Africans lost their land and were undermined by the Boers.
  • The war led to misery and suffering to the Africans yet the whites became superior.
  • The war weakened further attempts for the federation of S. Africa between the Boers and British.
  • The war increased enmity between Boers and the British subjects called Uitilanders.
  • The Boers’ success against the British troops in the war forced the British Prime Minister Gladstone in London to seek for the peaceful end of the war from the British.
  • It led to the signing of the Pretoria Convention of 1881 that had the following terms.

    (The terms of the convention are at the same time effects of the war)

  • The Boers were to be given self-rule over their international affairs.
  • But the British were to continue taking the responsibility over TV’s foreign affairs.
  • The British were also to have limited responsibility over African affairs.
  • The British were to continue exercising limited control over TV.
  • The Boers promised to start buying British goods.
  • They also promised to protect the British subjects (Uitilanders) in TV.
  • It was also agreed that slavery of Africans in TV was to stop immediately.
  • The future of TV remained in balance creating more uncertainty.
  • The meeting (convention) did not do much for the Boers and its unfairness resulted in future wars.
  • The war led to insecurity in the area as a result of fighting.

NB: From point 17-27 are also the terms of the Pretoria Convention.

What were the effects of the 1st Anglo-Boer from 1880-1881?