Calamaish Books


Pawns in a Larger Game

Paperback Edition
Buy in SA Rands from for quick delivery in SA
Buy in UK pounds from
Buy in US$ from
Kindle edition
Kindle Edition
Buy now from

In the nineteenth century the Eastern Frontier of the Cape Colony was the stage on which a hundred years of conflict between Briton, Boer, and Xhosa was played out, fed by competition for land and mutual cultural incomprehension. The consequences of that conflict are still playing out in modern South Africa.
Britain's motive in establishing the British settlement of 1820 was to set up a buffer on the border between the Xhosa on the east of the Great Fish River, and the Colony on the west. The motive of those who braved the journey was to find a better life than that offered by Britain after the Napoleonic wars.
This is the story of some of them, including:
Robert Hart who arrived with the first British occupation forces in 1795. Sometimes dubbed the father of English speaking South Africa. Soldier. Pioneering farmer. Patriarch. He left more than two hundred living descendants
The Thackwray family. 1820 settlers, pioneers, traders and explorers. Father and two sons each died violently, trying to make better lives for their families.
Edward Driver – In 1820 a young tearaway who liked to be known as Kelham Ned. Used the illegal cross border trade to build up his fortune. Daring elephant hunter.. Guide to General Sir Harry Smith. On the spot during the pursuit and murder of the Xhosa King Hintsa. Often close to trouble but always emerging unscathed.
Joseph Walker – One of a group of merchants and entrepreneurs who made their fortunes on the frontier.
John Forbes Cumming – Missionary. A man combining deep religious conviction with romantic dreams and great courage. He was a the centre of events during the War of the Axe and later a central figure in the consequences of the massacres at the military villages, Woburn and Auckland
They became joined by family ties. Their stories include tales of murder, gunfights, war, massacre, and unrequited love, and are interwoven with the historical narrative. The material is extensively researched using a wide range of primary sources.
The protagonists influenced and were influenced by those they encountered. This also the story of all those people – Xhosa kings and commoners, Boer farmers and adventurers, South Africans to-be, with different languages and cultures.
The book epitomizes Carlyle's observation: History is the essence of innumerable biographies. It is a gripping account of the history of the Eastern Cape Frontier as experienced by some who lived there.