Firearms in South Central Africa
In the 1820s and 1830s the Griqua and other Khoikhoi groups extended their operations over much of the highveld, giving the Ndebele their first whiff of gunpowder. The great increase in the number of firearms on the highveld and in Tswana country from the middle years of the nineteenth century probably aggravated the political instability of the area. The published Tswana praise poems contain many references to firearms, in some cases concerning twentieth-century incidents. The Shona undoubtedly put their firearms to better use than did the Ndebele, forming what David Beach has called a 'gun society'. This chapter argues that in cases as the Tlhaping and those Shona people who rebelled in 1896, the very tenacity of resistance increased the white determination to destroy social and material resources, and to alienate land and cattle. But even such negative effects must be included in an assessment of the role of firearms in south central Africa.