martin legassick on the politics of the frontier zone in south africa


Martin Chatfield Legassick, The Politics of a South African Frontier: The Griqua, the Sotho-Tswana and the Missionaries, 1780–1840 (Basler Afrika Bibliographien, 2010).

This book publishes Martin Legassick’s influential doctoral thesis about the pre-industrial South African frontier zone of Transorangia. The impressive formation of the Griqua states in the first half of the 19th century outside the borders of the CapeColony and their relations with Sotho-Tswana polities, white frontiersmen, missionaries and the British administration at the Cape take centre stage in theanalysis. The Griqua, of mixed white and Khoisan descent, secured hegemony in afrontier of complex partnerships and power struggles.

This study, completed in 1969, “remains by far the best account of what is a crucial,and fascinating, episode in Southern African history … constructed on the impressive basis of documentary and other forms of primary source material”. Robert Ross, University of Leiden

Well done Basler Afrika Bibliographien: this is a fantastic decision to publish Legassick’s thesis, written way back in 1969. My copy of Professor Legassick’s thesis sits tired and scruffy on my shelf. I can’t wait to get ahold of this new copy, with spine, and of course, an index! It would be hard to come across a more important, and higher quality thesis on South African history for this early nineteenth-century period, than this.

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