British South Africa Company
Company logo and flag
|Former type||Public company|
|Industry||Mining, Colonial enterprises|
|Predecessor(s)||Central Search Association and the Exploring Company Ltd.|
|Successor(s)||Charter Consolidated Ltd|
|Founded||London, United Kingdom (1889 )|
|Area served||Southern Africa
and their predecessor entities
|Key people||Cecil Rhodes (Founder)|
The British South Africa Company (BSAC or BSACo) was established by Cecil Rhodes through the amalgamation of the Central Search Association and the Exploring Company Ltd., receiving a royal charter in 1889. Modelling the BSAC on the British East India Company, Rhodes hoped it would enable colonisation and economic exploitation across much of south-central Africa, as part of the "Scramble for Africa". The company's directors included the Duke of Abercorn, Rhodes himself and the financier Alfred Beit.
Origins and territorial acquisition 
Royal charter 
The company had been incorporated in October 1888, and much of the time after Rhodes arrived in London in March 1889 and before its Charter was granted was taken up in discussions on its terms. In these discussions, Rhodes led the BSAC negotiators. Although the British government broadly supported of the scheme, it demanded that it and the High Commissioner for South Africa it appointed should have the ultimate responsibility for any territory BSAC might acquire and for approving or rejecting all BSAC actions. Although Clause 3 of the Charter appeared to grant BSAC powers to administer a wide (if unspecified) area of Central Africa on behalf of the British government, this was subject to it obtaining those powers through treaties with local rulers. Under Clauses 4 and 9, the British government also had to accept those treaties and agree to assume any powers to govern that the rulers had granted before authorising BSAC to exercise those powers in its behalf.
Acquiring territory 
The first stage in acquiring territory was to enter into treaties with local rulers. Although the Ndebele king, Lobengula, had agreed not to enter into a treaty with any other power without prior British consent, and had granted mining concessions to BSAC (including the right for the company to protect them), he consistently refused to delegate any general powers of government to the company. However, BSAC convinced the Colonial Office that it should declare a protectorate on the basis that a group of citizens of the Transvaal Republic led by Louis Adendorff planned to cross the Limpopo River to settle and proclaim a republic in Mashonaland. A protectorate was proclaimed by an Order-in-Council of 9 May 1891, initially covering Matabeleland and Mashonaland. The Adendorff party did attempt to cross the Limpopo in June 1891, but was turned back by a force of BSAC police. 
In 1890, BSAC had signed a treaty with the Barotse king, which gave the company extensive trading and mining rights. On the basis of this treaty, a protectorate was proclaimed over Barotseland in 1891, although the Barotse king, Lewanika, protested that the terms of the treaty had been misrepresented to him. In 1900, Lewanika signed a further agreement, the Barotse Concession, which gave the BSAC control in the areas that had been disputed. Up to 1899, Northern Rhodesia outside of Barotseland was governed according to the Order-in-Council of 9 May 1891, which did not fix clear boundaries to the area involved. Before 1911, Northern Rhodesia was administered as two separate territories, North-Western Rhodesia and North-Eastern Rhodesia. The former was recognised as British territory by the Barotseland and North-Western Rhodesia Order-in-Council of 1899 and the later by the North-Eastern Rhodesia Order-in-Council of 1900. Both Orders-in-Council regularised the position of the BSAC Administrators, the first of whom for North- Eastern Rhodesia was appointed in 1895. In North-Western Rhodesia the first Administrator was appointed for Barotseland in 1897, becoming Administrator for all North-Western Rhodesia in 1900.
Also in 1890, Alfred Sharpe undertook an expedition with the objective of acquiring Katanga. He only managed to make treaties with local rulers in North-Eastern Rhodesia and Katanga became part of the Congo Free State. A number of these rulers later claimed that the contents of these documents had been misrepresented to them. The boundary between the Congo Free State and British territory was fixed by a treaty in 1894. It was only after this treaty and the appointment of a separate Administrator for North- Eastern Rhodesia in 1895 that the area was brought under effective BSAC control.
Dispute with Portugal 
At the start of the 19th century, effective Portuguese government in Mozambique was limited to the ports Mozambique Island, Ibo, Quelimane, Sofala, Inhambane and Lourenço Marques and the outposts at Sena and Tete in the Zambezi valley. Although Portugal claimed sovereignty over Angoche and a number of smaller Muslim coastal towns, these were virtually independent. In the Zambezi valley, Portugal had also initiated the Prazo system of large leased estates under nominal Portuguese rule. By the end of the 18th century, this area valleys of the Zambezi and lower Shire River were controlled by a few families that claimed to be Portuguese subjects but which were virtually independent.  In the interior of what is today southern and central Mozambique, there was not even a pretence of Portuguese control. The nadir of Portuguese fortunes was reached in the 1830s and 1840s when Lourenço Marques was sacked in 1833, Sofala in 1835, Zumbo was abandoned in 1836, Afro-Portuguese settlers near Vila de Sena were forced to pay tribute to the Gaza Empire and in 1847 Angoche fought off a Portuguese attempt to prevent it from slave-trading. However, from 1840 the Portuguese government embarked on a series of military campaigns to bring the prazos and the Muslim coastal towns under its effective control. 
The General Act of the Berlin Conference dated 26th February 1885, which introduced the principle of effective occupation was potentially damaging to Portuguese claims in Mozambique. Article 34 required a power acquiring land on the coasts of Africa outside of its previous possessions to notify the other signatories of the Act so they could protest against such claims. Article 35 of the Act provided that rights could only be acquired over previously uncolonised lands if the power claiming them had established sufficient authority there to protect existing rights and the freedom of trade. This normally implied making treaties with local rulers, establishing an administration and exercising police powers. Initially, Portugal claimed that the Berlin Treaty did not apply, and it was not required to issue notifications or establish effective occupation, as Portugal’s claim to the Mozambique coast had existed for centuries and had been unchallenged.
However, British officials did not accept this interpretation, as Henry O'Neill, the British consul based at Mozambique Island said in January 1884:
"There is a field of action open to her (England) in South Africa which only a slight political barrier interposes to shut her out from. We refer, of course, to the area of Portuguese rule. This, it is true, at present is an undefinable area. Portugal has been a colonising power only in name. To speak of Portuguese colonies in East Africa is to speak of a mere fiction—a fiction colourably sustained by a few scattered seaboard settlements, beyond whose narrow littoral and local limits colonisation and government have no existence."
In order to forestall British designs on the parts of Mozambique and the interior that O'Neill claimed Portugal did not occupy, Joaquim Carlos C Paiva de Andrada was commissioned in 1884 to establish effective occupation, and he was active in four areas. Firstly, in 1884 he established the town of Beira and Portuguese occupation of much of Sofala Province. Secondly, also in 1884, he acquired a concession of an area within a 180 kilometre radius of Zumbo, which had been reoccupied and west of which Afro-Portuguese families had traded and settled since the 1860s. Although Andrada did not establish any administration immediately, in 1889 an outpost was established beyond the junction of the Zambezi and Kafue River and an administrative district of Zumbo was established. Thirdly, in 1889 Andrada was granted another concession over Manica, which covered the areas both of the Manica Province of Mozambique and the Manicaland Province of Zimbabwe. Andrada succeeded in obtaining treaties over much of this area and establishing a rudimentary administration but he was arrested in November 1890 by British South Africa Company troops and expelled. Finally, also in 1889, Andrada crossed northern Mashonaland, approximately the area of the Mashonaland Central Province of Zimbabwe, to obtaining treaties. He failed to inform the Portuguese government of these treaties, so these claims were not formally notified to other powers, as required by the Berlin Treaty. The British government refused to submit any disputed claims to arbitration, and on 11 January 1890, Lord Salisbury sent the British Ultimatum of 1890 to the Portuguese government demanded the withdrawal of the Portuguese troops from the areas where Portuguese and British interests in Africa overlapped.
Fixing boundaries 
The final stage in acquiring territory was to make bi-lateral treaties with other European powers. The Anglo-Portuguese Treaty of 1891 was an agreement signed in Lisbon on 11 June 1891 between the United Kingdom and Portugal. It fixed the boundaries between the territories administered by the British South Africa Company in Mashonaland and Matabeleland, (now parts of Zimbabwe, and North-Eastern Rhodesia (now part of Zambia) and Portuguese Mozambique. It divided Manica, granting the western portion to the British South Africa Company. It also fixed the boundaries between the British South Africa Company administered territory of North-Western Rhodesia (now in Zambia), and Portuguese Angola. The northern border of the British territories was agreed as part of an Anglo-German Convention in 1890. The border between the British Central Africa Protectorate and the territory of the British South Africa Company in what is today Zambia was fixed in 1891 at the drainage divide between Lake Malawi and the Luangwa River.
Early administration 
The BSAC appointed an Administrator of Mashonaland, who was intended to have a similar function to a colonial governor, and later assistants in charge of districts. The first Administrator, A. R. Colquhoun, was appointed in October 1890, soon after the Pioneer Column had arrived at Fort Salisbury. As first, the British government refused to recognise Colquhoun, and placed the governor of Bechuanaland in immediate charge of the new protectorate, with the High Commissioner for South Africa given oversight of it. The governor legitimated the Administrator in July 1891 by appointing him Chief Magistrate, and as the British government did not want the expense of administration, it acquiesced to BSAC control. As the High Commissioner was usually resident in Cape Town, a Resident Commissioner was appointed to represent him in Rhodesia. The early BSAC Administrators had a dual role, being appointed Administrators by the company and Chief Magistrate by the Crown. Their position was regularised in 1894, when the British government appointed BSAC to administer what was beginning to be called Rhodesia, which at that time was not split into Northern and Southern sections. A Legislative Council was created in 1898 to advise the BSAC Administrator and the High Commissioner for South Africa in legal matters.
The company was empowered to trade with African rulers such as King Lobengula; to form banks; to own, manage and grant or distribute land, and to raise a police force (the British South Africa Police). In return, the company agreed to develop the territory it controlled, to respect existing African laws, to allow free trade within its territory and to respect all religions. Rhodes and the white settlers attracted to the company's territory set their sights for ever more mineral rights and more territorial concessions from the African peoples, establishing their own governments, and introducing laws with little concern or respect for African laws.
The company recruited its own army, which allowed it to defeat and replace the Matabele kingdom and then overcome resistance of the Shona north of the Limpopo river in the First Matabele War and Second Matabele War. It was the first British use of the Maxim gun in combat (causing five thousand Ndebele casualties). The company carved out and administered a territory which it named Zambezia, and later, Rhodesia, and which now covers the area occupied by the republics of Zambia and Zimbabwe.
In 1896, Queen Victoria sanctioned the issue by the British South Africa Company of a medal to troops who had been engaged in the First Matabele War. In 1897, the Queen sanctioned another medal for those engaged in the two campaigns of the Second Matabele War: Rhodesia (1896) and Mashonaland (1897). The government of Southern Rhodesia re-issued the medal to commemorate the earlier 1890 Pioneer Column, in 1927.
Legislature and administration 
A legislative council for Southern Rhodesia was created in 1898 to advise the BSAC Administrator and the High Commissioner for South Africa on legal matters. Initially, this had a minority of elected seats, and the electorate was formed almost exclusively of those better-off white settlers who held BSAC shares. Over time as more settlers arrived, disputes between settlers and BSAC grew, and the company attempted to keep these in check by extending the franchise to some non-shareholders. However, in 1914, the Royal Charter was renewed on condition that settlers in Southern Rhodesia were given increased political rights, and from 1914, there was an elected majority on the Southern Rhodesian Legislative Council.
The British South Africa Company was planning to centralise the administration of the two Rhodesias at the time of the Jameson Raid in 1896. Following the raid, the British government increased its oversight of BSAC affairs in Southern Rhodesia, and insisted on a separate administration in Northern Rhodesia. In both 1915 and 1921, BSAC again failed to set-up a single administration for both Rhodesias. In part, this was because the Southern Rhodesian settlers feared that it more would be difficult for a united Rhodesian state to achieve responsible government. Northern Rhodesia has no elected representation while under BSAC rule. When company rule there came to an end in 1924, it became a protectorate, with a governor, Executive Council and Legislative Council, the last including a minority of elected members.
In 1917, the Responsible Government Association was formed as a political party to press for Responsible government, and fought the 1920 Legislative Council election in opposition to those advocating union with the Union of South Africa. When the British courts decided that the ultimate ownership of all land which had not already been alienated into private ownership lay with the Crown, not with BSAC, the campaign a self-government gained strength.
In 1921, General Smuts and his government wished for the early admission of Southern Rhodesia into the Union of South Africa. When the Union was established, Natal and the Free State were given representation in the Union Parliament considerably in excess of the number of their electors, and Smuts promised that this would apply in the case of Rhodesia, which would receive 12 to 15 seats in the Union Parliament, which then had 134 members. Smuts also promised that South Africa would make the financial provision necessary to buy out the commercial rights of the BSAC. If those rights were to continue under responsible government, this would be a serious problem for that government. In 1922, the company entered negotiations with the Union government for the incorporation of Southern Rhodesia]]. However, as the BSAC charter was due to expire on 1924, a referendum was held in 1922 in which the electorate was given a choice between responsible government and entry into the Union of South Africa. Those in favour of responsible government won a significant, but not overwhelming, majority. In 1923, the British government chose not to renew the Company's charter, and instead accorded 'self-governing' colony status to Southern Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe) and protectorate status to Northern Rhodesia (present-day Zambia).
The BSAC was not able to generate enough profit to pay its shareholders dividends until after it lost direct administrative control over Rhodesia in 1923. In 1933, the BSAC sold its mineral exploration rights south of the Zambezi to the Southern Rhodesian government, but retained rights over Northern Rhodesian mineral rights, as well as the company's vast interests in mining, railways, real estate and agriculture across southern Africa.
In 1964, the company was forced to hand over its mineral rights to the government of Zambia, and the following year, the British South Africa Company merged with the Central Mining & Investment Corporation Ltd and The Consolidated Mines Selection Company Ltd to form a mining and industrial company known as Charter Consolidated Ltd, of which slightly over one-third of the shares were owned by the British/South African mining company Anglo American plc.
- Charter of the British South Africa Company. http://www.rhodesia.me.uk/Charter.htm
- A Keppel-Jones (1983) Rhodes and Rhodesia: The White Conquest of Zimbabwe 1884–1902, pp. 112–3, 133–6, 315.
- A Keppel-Jones (1983) Rhodes and Rhodesia: The White Conquest of Zimbabwe 1884–1902, pp. 176, 315–6.
- D N Beach, (1971).The Adendorff Trek in Shona History, pp. 30–2.
- P E N Tindall, (1967). A History of Central Africa, pp. 133–4.
- E A Walter, (1963).The Cambridge History of the British Empire: South Africa, Rhodesia and the High Commission Territories, pp. 696–7.
- G Macola, (2002) The Kingdom of Kazembe: History and Politics in North-Eastern Zambia and Katanga to 1950, pp. 161–4.
- M Newitt, (1995). A History of Mozambique, pp. 129, 137, 159-63.
- R Oliver and A Atmore, (1986). The African Middle Ages, 1400-1800, pp. 163-4, 191, 195.
- M Newitt, (1969). The Portuguese on the Zambezi: An Historical Interpretation of the Prazo system, pp. 67-8.
- M Newitt, (1995). A History of Mozambique, pp. 260, 274-5, 282, 287.
- M Newitt, (1969). The Portuguese on the Zambezi: An Historical Interpretation of the Prazo system, pp. 80-2.
- A Keppel-Jones (1983) Rhodes and Rhodesia: The White Conquest of Zimbabwe 1884-1902, pp 190-1.
- General Act of the Berlin Conference. http://africanhistory.about.com/od/eracolonialism/l/bl-BerlinAct1885.htm
- Quoted in J C Paiva de Andrada, (1885). Relatorio de uma viagem ás terras dos Landins, at Project Gutenberg, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/34041/34041-h/34041-h.htm
- J C Paiva de Andrada, (1886). Relatorio de uma viagem ás terras do Changamira, at Project Gutenberg, http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/34040/34040-h/34040-h.htm .
- J C Paiva de Andrada, (1885). Relatorio de uma viagem ás terras dos Landins,
- M Newitt, (1995). A History of Mozambique, pp. 337-8, 344.
- M Newitt, (1995). A History of Mozambique, pp. 345-7.
- M Newitt, (1995). A History of Mozambique, pp. 341–7, 353–4. ISBN 1-85065-172-8
- Teresa Pinto Coelho, (2006). Lord Salisbury's 1890 Ultimatum to Portugal and Anglo-Portuguese Relations, pp. 6–7. http://www.mod-langs.ox.ac.uk/files/windsor/6_pintocoelho.pdf
- J G Pike, (1969). Malawi: A Political and Economic History, pp. 86–7.
- A Keppel-Jones (1983) Rhodes and Rhodesia: The White Conquest of Zimbabwe 1884–1902, pp. 318–9, 322–4.
- E A Walter, (1963).The Cambridge History of the British Empire: South Africa, Rhodesia and the High Commission Territories, pp. 682–4.
- P E N Tindall, (1967). A History of Central Africa, Praeger p. 267.
- E A Walter, (1963).The Cambridge History of the British Empire: South Africa, Rhodesia and the High Commission Territories, pp. 682, 684–5.
- H. I Wetherell, (1979) Settler Expansionism in Central Africa: The Imperial Response of 1931 and Subsequent Implications, pp. 211–2.
- E A Walter, (1963).The Cambridge History of the British Empire: South Africa, Rhodesia and the High Commission Territories, p. 686.
- R Blake, (1977). A History of Rhodesia, p. 179.
- E A Walter, (1963). The Cambridge History of the British Empire: South Africa, Rhodesia and the High Commission Territories, pp. 690–1.
Published Sources 
- D N Beach, (1971). The Adendorff Trek in Shona History, South African Historical Journal, Vol. 3, No. 1.
- R Blake, (1977). A History of Rhodesia, New York, Knopf. ISBN 0-394-48068-6.
- "Blue & Old Gold" – The History of the British South Africa Police 1889–1980 published September 2009 http://www.30degreessouth.co.za
- Teresa Pinto Coelho, (2006). Lord Salisbury´s 1890 Ultimatum to Portugal and Anglo-Portuguese Relations. http://www.mod-langs.ox.ac.uk/files/windsor/6_pintocoelho.pdf
- A Keppel-Jones (1983) Rhodes and Rhodesia: The White Conquest of Zimbabwe 1884–1902, McGill-Queen's Press. ISBN 978-0-773-56103-8.
- G Macola, (2002) The Kingdom of Kazembe: History and Politics in North-Eastern Zambia and Katanga to 1950, LIT Verlag Münster. ISBN 978-3-825- 85997-8
- M Newitt, (1995). A History of Mozambique, Hurst & Co. ISBN 1-85065-172-8
- M Newitt, (1969). The Portuguese on the Zambezi: An Historical Interpretation of the Prazo system, Journal of African History Vol X, No 1.
- J C Paiva de Andrada, (1885). Relatorio de uma viagem ás terras dos Landins, at Project Gutenberg, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/34041/34041-h/34041-h.htm
- J C Paiva de Andrada, (1886). Relatorio de uma viagem ás terras do Changamira, at Project Gutenberg, http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/34040/34040-h/34040-h.htm
- J G Pike, (1969). Malawi: A Political and Economic History, Pall Mall.
- R K Rasmussen and S C Rubert, (1990). A Historical Dictionary of Zimbabwe, Scarecrow Press, Inc.
- Scouting on Two Continents, by Major Frederick Russell Burnham, D.S.O. LC call number: DT775 .B8 1926. (1926)
- P E N Tindall, (1967). A History of Central Africa, Praeger.
- E A Walter, (1963). The Cambridge History of the British Empire: South Africa, Rhodesia and the High Commission Territories, Cambridge University Press.
- H. I Wetherell, (1979). Settler Expansionism in Central Africa: The Imperial Response of 1931 and Subsequent Implications, African Affairs, Vol. 78, No. 311.
See also 
- Lord Robins
- Henry Birchenough
- Pioneer Column
- Shangani Patrol
- "Blue & Old Gold – The History of the British South Africa Police 1889–1890" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Sqrk8yn9r4