Joao Albasini .. Part 2
Albasini met the expedition of Commandant Hendrik Potgieter on their way from Andries-Ohrigstad, to Lourenco Marques, and supplied guides to accompany them. The aim was to start a settlement for the group, closer to Delagoa Bay.
During his inland trek, Albasini exchanged 22 head of cattle with the Kutswe Chief, Magushula, for a piece of land along the Sabi River for establishing a trading post between Delagoa Bay and Sekhukuneland he called this post Magushula’ s Kraal. The trading post was started by both Albasini and Karel Trichardt. Bricks were burnt from clay obtained close by; water was obtained from the Phabeni Spruit. Fruit and vegetable gardens were laid on. Maize was grown and life at this post must have been quite comfortable here where today the restored remains near the Phabeni gate are worth a visit.
Johannes Joubert would run the Magushula’s Kraal trading post successfully to the benefit of himself and the two partners.
Later Albasini also built a trading post along the Voortrekker Road, which was on the route between Delagoa Bay and the inland, close to Manungkop, named after Manung one of Albasini’ s assistants who was a hunter and cattle herder.
Another of Albasini’ s assistants was Josekhulu whose name is carried by a little spruit close to Skipberg this little post 24 km from Manungkop was later used by the trader Thomas Hart.
Albasini operated a good trading business transporting his goods from Delagoa Bay to the inland via the Great Lebombo Mountains to Magushula’s Kraal along the Sabi River, to the west of Graskop along the Treur River across the Blyde River to Ohrigstad.
The grave of Willem Pretorius, who en route to Delagoa Bay got malaria, can still today be seen next to the road near the present Pretoriuskop Restcamp where he was buried by Joao Albasini in 1845.
Albasini occupied the Magushula’s Kraal trading post for two years and then due to changing circumstances left and moved further inland and built another post near Ohrigstad where he purchased the farm Rustplaas neighbouring Rozenkrantz belonging to Karel Trichardt.
Here at Ohrigstad Albasini met the daughter of Lukas Janse van Rensburg and found her very attractive, he proposed to marry her, Albasini being a Roman Catholic caused protests from the parents but all in vain, on 6 March 1850, the 18-year-old Gertina Petronella Maria Janse van Rensburg became the wife of the 36-year-old Joao Albasini. This marriage was blessed with six daughters and three sons.
It was soon realised that Lydenburg would be a better-positioned settlement; the inhabitants of Ohrigstad started moving into the new area in 1850. The Albasini family also moved and again started a trading store – in Lydenburg.
The trading business in Lydenburg was not that good, as many inhabitants moved to Soutpansbergdorp, later named Schoemansdal. The Albasini family moved to Soutpansbergdorp in 1853, again starting a shop, doing business with the local Boers and the Magwamba people, obtaining good quality goods from Lourenco Marques became difficult and Joao then decided to, move to the farm Goedewensch in 1857.
Goedewensch was soon a prospering enterprise and with hard work and all the labour and other resources available, developed into the masterpiece of the district. A large brick house was built with a high surrounding protecting wall with heavy wooden doors, which were locked at night and guarded by two guards. Water was laid on. A coffee plantation was established, surrounded by high growing Banana trees as protection, fruit trees were planted.
Here at Goedewensch, Van Nispen brought from Potchefstroom, educated the children; the farm was regularly visited by all and sundry. It was also here that Joao Albasini reigned as the Portuguese vice Consular in the Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek after his appointment by the Governor of Mozambique.
This appointment necessitated a postal service between Goedewensch and Lourenco Marques, which operated once per month by means of a Portuguese soldier fetching and delivering...
Official functions were attended by an elaborately dressed vice consular in navy and dark blue, black, gold and white, a sword in a well decorated adding to his dignity. His appearance was not very unlike that of a Portuguese Admiral.
Here at the vice consulate the Portuguese flag was flown on National holidays and the Royal Emblem of Portugal was emblazoned over the main entrance to the homestead. Albasini was not financially rewarded, for his duties; instead, it must have cost him a considerable amount employing a full time secretary, entertaining visitors and accommodating the mail carrier once per month for a week.
Albasini was a proud Portuguese and always did his best to promote his country of birth wherever and whenever the opportunity arose.
He estimated that between 70 000 and 80 000 kg of ivory worth about one hundred and twenty thousand pounds was exported annually to the British colonies, and proposed that a railroad be built between the ZAR and Lourenco Marques, unfortunately the ZAR could not due to internal problems be of no assistance.
Albasini was also appointed the official tax collector for the district, he had to collect the imposed taxes and then regularly report and pay over the collected cash as well as that generated at the auctioning of, the collected cattle and goats and sheep and copper ingots, while the collected ivory was handed over to the Government. In this way, Joao Albasini contributed quite a lot to the meagre income of the Government of the ZAR.
After the death of Venda Chief Ramapulana, his two sons Makhado and Davhana started a war, the last named fled and was placed under the guardianship of Albasini, at the same time Umzila, succeeded his father Manukosi, and claimed the expulsion of the refugee Monene, threatening to stop all Elephant hunting by the Boers. This soon extended into a war between the Boers living in the area and the Makhado and Umzila followers. Of the refugees congregated at Goedewensch after the attack on the Venda failed, while others left the area and moved to Marabastad.
The refugees at Goedewensch soon ran out of supplies and hardships set in.
Soon after all of this the locals submitted a petition to the Government, requesting that he be relieved of all his authority and duties due to his laxness in assisting them in their efforts to “ create peace and stability “ in the area.
Albasini was relieved of his duties and Stephanus Schoeman was appointed in his place. One of his responsibilities was to attack the Venda with the assistance of Umzila; this was a failure as the Magwamba people, were loyal to Albasini, leading to clashes between Albasini and Schoeman.
Schoeman reported Albasini to his superiors, who then summoned the last named to Pretoria to answer to the charges, the Executive Committee found the charges to not be substantial and Albasini returned to his farm.
Commandant- General Paul Kruger was sent to the Soutpansberg at the end of 1869 to restore peace; he succeeded in doing so with most of the Chiefs, the exceptions being Katse Katse and Makhado.
Albasini had ambitions of extending the Portuguese colony inland and proposed that the area of Magushula’s Kraal, which he exchanged from the chief, be colonised after donating the land to the Portuguese authorities. and named the area “ Sao Luiz “ in honour of the Portuguese king this was accepted by the Portuguese Governor and Albasini was appointed the principal of the new added area.. Proposals to add Soutpansberg and Lydenburg to Portuguese east Africa were submitted but were opposed by Albasini as he feared that this would ruin the good relationship between the two Governments.
It was later determined that Magushula’s Kraal was outside the Portuguese borders and inside the ZAR resulting in the extended colony ( Joaoa Albasini's dream ) never materialized.
By now Albasini had lost most his wealth and prosperity, the war between the Boers and the Venda ruined him. The Albasinis moved to the Kimberley diamond fields during 1875 where he recruited labour for the Cape Government and for the diggings. This was not successful and the impoverished family returned to the Soutpansberg in 1877.
Here he served the ZAR Government as Justice of the peace, and as Native Commissioner and also as member of the District Council, earning a meagre wage.
Joao Albasini survived a first stroke from which he totally recovered and again seemed to reign at Goedewensch and things again started to prosper, unfortunately, he had a second stroke and after being bedridden for more than a year, he died on 10 July 1888. He was buried on his farm Goedewensch, just below the wall of the . . . . . . . Albasini Dam.
Joao Albasini together with Louis Trichardt, Andries Hendrik Potgieter, Hans van Rensburg, Piet Potgieter and Stephanus Schoeman will be remembered as being of the first Europeans in the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK as well as the eastern Lowveld.
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