Sub-Saharan Africa 1899: Second Boer War
In the late 19th century the discovery of gold and diamonds in the Boer republics—the South African Republic (Transvaal) and the Orange Free State—led to a massive influx of mostly-British foreigners (‘uitlanders’). Britain naturally backed these newcomers in their interactions with the Boers, rapidly increasing Anglo-Boer tensions. In 1899 the British tried to enforce their will by sending troops to the border, but were swiftly overrun when the Boers invaded the Cape Colony and Natal.
1 Sep 1899 Dervish State▲
In around 1896 the Somali religious leader Mohammed Abdullah Hassan traveled into the interior of British Somaliland, initially exercising a peaceful influence among the Dolbahante and other tribes. However, from March 1899 he began defying the British authorities and in August captured the town of Burao. Declaring himself the Mahdi, Hassan—soon nicknamed the ‘Mad Mullah’—openly denounced the British and their supporters at the beginning of September.
11 Oct 1899–17 May 1900 Boer invasion of Cape Colony▲
In October 1899 the Boer governments of the South African Republic (Transvaal) and the Orange Free State declared war on the British, invading the Cape Colony. While some Boer contingents advanced north into Bechuanaland, far into the west to Kuruman, and south to attack Middleburg and Stormberg, the major Boer efforts became concentrated on the sieges of the western border towns of Mafeking and Kimberley. Despite these initial setbacks, the British recovered and, buoyed by reinforcements, relieved Kimberley in February 1900 and Mafeking in May.
13 Oct 1899–28 Feb 1900 Boer invasion of Natal▲
In October 1899 21,000 Boer troops from the South African Republic (Transvaal) and the Orange Free State invaded the British colony of Natal, attacking the garrison town of Ladysmith. Cutting the rail link to the colonial capital of Durban and defeating the first British relief effort at Colenso in December, the Boers besieged Ladysmith for 118 days. Eventually a larger British force was organized and in February 1900 the Boers were finally driven off.
24 Nov 1899 Battle of Umm Diwaykarat▲
After the British victory at Omdurman (1898), 25,000 Mahdist remnants under Abdallahi ibn Muhammad (the Khalifa) remained at large in Kordofan, in the south of Sudan. Learning of the Khalifa’s location in October 1899, Lord Kitchener dispatched 8,000 Sudanese and Egyptian soldiers under the command of General Francis Reginald Wingate to intercept him. Wingate met the Khalifa at Umm Diwaykarat on the White Nile, defeating and killing him in battle.
2 Dec 1899 Tripartite Convention in Africa▲
In December 1899 Britain agreed to surrender all rights in Samoa to Germany in return for rights in Tonga and the northern Solomons. Additional deals were made regarding Africa, where the British and Germans divided the West African neutral territory between the Gold Coast and Togoland. The Germans also agreed to renounce their rights of extraterritoriality in Zanzibar.