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1902 - Boer War

1902_Boer War_min.JPG

Title: 1902 - Boer War

About:  Since 1899 the British Empire had been fighting two Boer states - the South African Republic and the Orange Free State - over the Empire's influence in South Africa.  


The conflict in South Africa was the first major war of a bloody century marked by wars on an international scale.  Although outnumbered, the Boers were a skilled and determined enemy. After initial setbacks and a long period of guerrilla warfare, the British eventually prevailed, but not without adopting controversial tactics.


The war began in October 1899, as a result of tensions in the region between Boer settlers and  British colonial authorities, who aimed to unite the British South African territories of Cape Colony and Natal with the Boer republics of the Orange Free State and the South African Republic. The Boers, Afrikaans-speaking farmers, wanted to maintain their independence. They refused to grant political rights to non-Boer settlers, most of whom were British, or to grant civil rights to Africans. But perhaps more important was the underlying question of control over the gold mines of the Transvaal.

In the early stages, the Boers took the initiative, invading the British colonies of Natal and the Cape, where they were joined by Afrikaner sympathisers. British troops were defeated in battle and the key towns of Ladysmith, Mafeking and Kimberley besieged.


However, by late February 1900, Ladysmith and Kimberley had been relieved as massive British reinforcements began to turn the tide. In its later stages the conflict was typified by guerrilla warfare. To prevent the guerrillas from obtaining supplies, information and assistance, the British burnt thousands of farms and destroyed crops. The 'scorched earth policy' also served as a punishment to the locals for supporting the guerrillas. The British also confined Boer families and black Africans in a network of concentration camps. 

Although the war was fought between Briton and Boer, it was not simply a 'white man's war'. Large numbers of Africans and other non-Europeans were involved, whether combatants or in support roles, and the lives of many more were affected by the conflict. 


The war ended with the Peace of Vereeniging of May 1902, with the republics becoming crown colonies, but with limited self-governance.

Decade: 1900s

Year: 1902

Region: Africa

Country: South Africa + UK

Conflict: Regional War

Politics: Imperialism 

Type: Historical Event

Impact: 3

Artist: Jaroslaw Marcinek


Group: Genesis

Number: 02/100

Price: 0.3 ETH


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