|Mgolombane Sandile (left) meeting officials
However, even in those days, relations between the British and the Boers were not always ideal and soon the two sides fell out with the Boers abandoning the British to their fate. By that time, starvation and fever were taking a dreadful toll on both sides. Sandile was in a desperate position but still gained great fame as he evaded all the British patrols sent to capture him as both sides, sick and exhausted, launched small but brutal raids against each other. Finally, a peace was negotiated and Sandile was taken prisoner but only for a short time. Hostilities ceased and more Xhosa territory was annexed by the British. Chief Sandile had lost his first war but had gained great fame nonetheless for his daring attacks and dogged determination. His people were determined that there would be yet another war in which they would make good their loss and take revenge on the British. This idea was fostered when a new prophet appeared, full of prophecies of a Xhosa victory and promises that his magic would protect them from British bullets. In 1850 the local British governor, alarmed at this turn of events, called several chiefs together at Ft Cox with the aim of silencing the prophet. However, Chief Sandile did not answer the summons and so the British governor declared him deposed and sent troops to arrest him. They were ambushed by Sandile’s warriors and forced to make a hasty retreat back to the fort.
|Sandile and his warriors resting on a Krans
Increasing hardship caused the outbreak of the ninth war in 1877. It started out as an all-African inter-tribal brawl but soon came to involved the British as some of the tribes were allied to them. Frustrated with these continuous conflicts, the British governor was also anxious to get involved and settle matters once and for all by the total conquest and annexation of all Xhosa territory. Chief Sandile seems almost to have sensed that there was more to this situation that most realized and he was very reluctant to join the conflict which, by that time, had come to include a declaration of war against the Cape Colony itself. His older advisors were against it but his young an impetuous warriors wanted to fight. Perhaps seeing that they would be drawn into the conflict regardless of his wishes, Sandile finally agreed to go to war. Unfortunately for him, it was his last conflict as his forces were defeated by the British and their Fingo (or Mfengu) allies with Chief Sandile himself falling in battle against the Fingo on May 29, 1878. He died a few days later in the hands of his enemies and was buried alongside British soldiers. In the aftermath, the Xhosa were defeated and their territory annexed by Great Britain. Still, the name of Chief Mgolombane Sandile is still remembered in South Africa today. Although not always victorious, he is held up as an example of a determined leader who fought fiercely, again and again in defense of his land and people.