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Chapter X Dr. Abdurahman, President of the A.P.O. / Dr. A. Abdurahman, M.P.C. (Native of the Cape, and M.B.C. of Edinburgh) President of the African Political Organization on the South African Colour Trouble The following presidential address was delivered by Dr. Abdurahman at Kimberley on September 29, 1913, at the opening of the tenth annual Conference of the A.P.O. His Worship Councillor E. Oppenheimer, Mayor of Kimberley, presided: -- == Nearly two years have elapsed since we last met in Conference -- two years crowded with events that have an important bearing on the future of South Africa, and especially on the Coloured races. Thanks, however, to the A.P.O. newspaper, every intelligent Coloured man is acquainted with those events, and there is no need for me to dwell in detail on any one of them. Nevertheless, a cursory enumeration will be desirable in order to answer certain questions I propose to submit to you: it will be further necessary to make a retrospect of the conditions that prevailed at the time when White South Africa, amid exuberant exultations, and a chorus of hosannahs, wildly welcomed the Act of Union as a beacon light, that would blaze down through ages of history, indicating the commencement of peace and prosperity for the land, and the birth of a new nation -- the foundation of a new nationalism. Ushered in by its authors with the blare of trumpets, and with an incense of self-adulation for their vaunted achievement, it surely cannot have belied their sanguine hopes, and proved to have been nothing more than a dream of Alnaschar. Whether Europeans are wholly satisfied with the results of Union is their business; but I think we are warranted in looking for some indication of the fruits of that Act from our point of view. But, before doing so, let us take a cursory glance at the condition of the Coloured races in pre-Union days, and then, after a rapid review of the legislation since that memorable date, we will ask ourselves: How have those events impressed the minds of the Coloured races, and what is our duty to ourselves and to our country? Such are the questions that I propose to put myself to-night, and I shall endeavour to answer them in the most candid and straightforward manner possible. Justice and equity are our demands -- are inherent rights of every man, especially a free-born British subject, even in South Africa. Heedless, therefore, as to whether some of our views please or displease the privileged section of this country's population, we are in duty bound to speak out our honest convictions boldly and fearlessly. I shall endeavour to state my opinions, therefore, without any heat, but with a cold, passionless calmness that is possible only to those who, despite bitter experiences, base their remarks on stern facts and undeniable realities. Of late, it has become the fashion in the Press of the Union to dub any one who has to utter unpleasant truths an emotionalist. That is, of course, not argument. The silent suffering of years that must have been undergone by the Coloured man in South Africa is not likely to have left much of the emotional side of humanity in his composition. However, unpalatable as the facts may be that I have to present for your consideration to-night, I trust that my critics will be honest enough on this occasion to face them boldly. They may question their accuracy, if they will, or dispute the validity of my deductions from these facts. That is the honest course for them to adopt. Furthermore, I trust that White South Africa, especially those who boast loudest of British traditions, will remember that it is an inalienable right of a British subject, no matter in what part of the Empire he may be, to address his fellow-subjects on the momentous question of Government. "If," declared an English lawyer, "no man could have awakened the public mind to the errors and the abuses in our English Government, how could it have passed on from stage to stage, through reformation and revolution, so as to have arrived from barbarism to such a pitch of happiness and perfection?" Such an inquiry as I now propose will not be without its lessons. If South Africa is worthily fulfilling her mission; if she has been faithful to her trust; if she is promoting the cause of civilization, and if her actions are based upon humanitarianism, then she may strenuously and conscientiously proceed on the course she has been following. But if it can be shown that there is no ethical basis to her policy of dealing with Coloured races, that humanitarianism as a dominating factor is invariably wanting, and that underlying her present policy is the principle of class aggrandizement, then we may urge her to halt ere it is too late, and pursue another course. Cape Colony Now although there never was a time when the white and the black races stood on a footing of practical equality -- civilly and politically -- it is a fact that, under the old Cape constitution, theoretical equality was ensured to all, irrespective of race or creed. The Coloured races were, in this Colony, treated with much consideration, if not with absolute equality. The advancement made by them under that regime was always held up to the world's admiration. It was regarded as convincing proof that a policy based upon justice was the right one to be followed in governing subject races. The peaceful habits of the Coloured races since the granting of the old Cape Constitution is a complete vindication of the broad liberalism entertained by English statesmen sixty years ago. "It is the earnest desire of Her Majesty's Government that all her subjects at the Cape, without distinction of class or colour, should be united by one bond of loyalty, and we believe that the exercise of political rights enjoyed by all alike will prove one of the best methods of attaining this object." Thus reads the dispatch of the Duke of Newcastle to Governor Cathcart, when transmitting "to the Colony of the Cape of Good Hope Ordinances which confer one of the most liberal constitutions enjoyed by any of the British possessions." But even in the Cape, prior to Union, signs were not wanting that some slight reactions had set in. By degrees the doctrine of equal rights, which formed the basis of the Cape Constitution, despite its resuscitation by the famous declaration of the great Rhodes, was losing its force. However, in the face of minor infractions of the principle of equal rights, and some invasions of the necessary corollary to that principle, the right to equal opportunity -- in the industrial as well as in the political world -- we were not wholly dissatisfied with the White man's rule in the Cape. The Northern Colonies Now let us consider the position in the Northern Colonies, especially in the misnamed Free State. There a very different picture is presented. From the days that the voortrekkers endeavoured to escape English rule, from the day that they sought the hospitality of Chief Moroka, the history of the treatment of the blacks north of the Orange River is one long and uninterrupted record of rapine and greed, without a solitary virtue to redeem the horrors which were committed in the name of civilization. Such is the opinion any impartial student must arrive at from a study even of the meagre records available. If all were told, it would indeed be a blood-curdling tale, and it is probably well that the world was not acquainted with all that happened. However, the treatment of the Coloured races, even in the Northern Colonies, is just what one might expect from their history. The restraints of civilization were flung aside, and the essentials of Christian precepts ignored. The northward march of the voortrekkers was a gigantic plundering raid. They swept like a desolating pestilence through the land, blasting everything in their path, and pitilessly laughing at the ravages from which the native races have not yet recovered. Their governments were founded on the principle that is subversive of all Christian ethics, that the Coloured man was entitled to no recognition either in Church or State. Cruelty and oppression amounting to serfdom were, and still are, the outstanding features of the Free State. And he would be a bold man who would assert that the native races have progressed at all as a result of contact with the white man in the Free State. Progress could not be looked for under such circumstances, for nowhere are there any signs that the Free State was ever inspired by altruistic motives. Such was the condition of things at the time of Union. Injustice, repression, and inhumanity characterized the treatment of the Coloured races in the north: justice, benevolence, and equality of opportunity in the south. Now, it is said that "where slavery is prohibited, there civil liberty must exist; where civil liberty is denied, there slavery follows." These maxims, every student of history will admit, have been abundantly verified in the history of South Africa. Take, for instance, a comparison of the condition of the Coloured people of this town and that of Bloemfontein, the capital of the Orange Free State. Your member of Parliament has stated that in Kimberley our people are a credit to the district, and the most advanced and progressive Coloured people in South Africa. This is no doubt due to the excellent educational facilities with which you have been provided for some considerable time, to the liberty and freedom you enjoy, and to the kindly treatment you have received at the hands of the Europeans. In Bloemfontein, on the other hand, there are practically no educational facilities for children, who, as soon as they reach the age of fifteen, must enter the service of a white man, or be cast into prison. There is no freedom, no liberty, and the result is that the Coloured people of the capital of that British Slave State are uneducated, poor, and degraded. Here, then, one can easily see the results produced by the two different systems of governing Coloured races -- the benevolent and the despotic. In the north the denial of civil rights produced a state of virtual slavery, and the recent denial of the complete enfranchisement of the Coloured people in the Union has similarly resulted in the passing of an Act -- the Natives' Land Act, which means nothing less than the partial enslavement of the races throughout the Union. With two such divergent policies in force in South Africa, it is not surprising that the Coloured races viewed with the gravest apprehension the Union of the Colonies upon a basis which would give the Northern Colonies sufficient power and influence to shape the legislation of the Union. And I have no hesitation in declaring that when Union was accomplished, and the Coloured people were partially disfranchised, the death-knell of political equality for the Coloured races was sounded, and the triumph of the north over the south was heralded. Sincere regrets were expressed by our friends at the abridgement of our rights and the curtailment of our privileges that were effected by the South Africa Act. Fervent hopes were entertained by Cape politicians that not only would we not suffer any injustice, but the position of the Coloured races in the north would be improved, and their rights eventually be admitted. They fondly believed that the leavening influence of the Cape ideas would mitigate the barbarity of those of the northerner. We had no reason to doubt the sincerity of our friends' beliefs, but we had no faith in the northerners -- men whose public professions and practice were void of a vestige of justice or honour in their dealings with the Coloured races. In November, 1904, when the question of Union was under discussion, I expressed myself thus: "In a central Parliament there would be the danger of the policies of the north slowly creeping into our Colony, and undermining our Constitution. The men of the north have already told us what they would do if they got into power; and European friends, numerous and influential as they might be, would not be able to safeguard the interests of the Coloured people." How far that prediction has been verified is well known to every Coloured man. The position of the Coloured man at the time of the Union was such as I have described. Since Union Scarcely had the blessing of the Almighty been invoked on the proceedings of the Union Parliament at the opening of its first session when, to its eternal shame and infamy, it placed upon its statute book a law that would debar Christ Himself from membership of the Dutch Reformed Church. A Parliament capable of such blasphemy is capable of any iniquity. Then followed the Marriage Bill and the Squatters' Bill, both abortive measures, but, nevertheless, showing clearly the attitude of mind of the white rulers towards the Coloured races. In order to find employment for poor whites, Coloured railway employees who had served the country faithfully and well were dismissed. A white South Africa has been declared in the Union Parliament and from every platform. The white race must preserve its dominance. To this end a rigorous policy of repression was adopted; and the enthusiastic hopes of an extension of franchise rights to our northern fellow-men, that was entertained by Cape politicians and the Imperial Parliament, is now as far distant as the Greek Kalends. I shall not recount the long catalogue of other persecutions and injustices. We have all felt some of them in one phase of life or other. So serious had matters become in 1911 that in my warning to the Coloured races against the dangers that such a policy must entail, I was bold enough to declare at our Johannesburg Conference that when Europeans were ready they would enter upon a war of extermination. I was severely taken to task for imputing such inhuman motives to Europeans. I was denounced in even worse language than has been used towards the labour leaders in the recent strike. No vituperative epithet was strong enough to fling at my head. My statement met with almost universal condemnation at the hands of the editors of the white Press; but it was condemned not on account of any falsity in it, but simply because it was unwise and inexpedient to make such remarks. Barely eighteen months have elapsed from the time when I made that prediction ere we find the Union Parliament pass the Natives' Land Act, which creates conditions, if not amounting to extermination, yet designed to enslave the Natives of this country. That tyrannical mandate is scattering multitudes of Natives from their homes. Mother earth is to them now only a step-dame. They may enter either into perpetual bondage on the farm, or spend "a sunless life in the unwholesome mine". To-day there is also a revival of persecution in the Free State. The old laws of the dark days are being enforced with relentless rigour. The sanctity of homes is violated. Wives are compelled to carry passes. Mothers driven to abandon their offspring of tender years and seek employment. Daughters are wrenched from parental care and control, and forced into the service of some white scoundrel. Husbands are not allowed to work at their trades for themselves without paying 5s. per month for the privilege. Such is the condition of things in the slave State. And all this is done behind the power of the British flag which floats over that Province, and yet these acts were impossible while the Free State lacked the power to face British public opinion. Moreover, in the Cape Colony the Free State laws are gradually being introduced. The Curfew Laws are enforced. A distinct colour line is being drawn in every phase of life, more distinctly since General Smuts declared that colour and colour only is to be the dividing line. Such a long list of tyrannical acts of persecutions as I could make out -- persecutions of the Coloured people as a class as well as individually -- can point to but one conclusion, and that is that the whites are determined at all hazards to repress all aspirations of the Coloured people for a higher life, to deny all opportunities of betterment, to keep them politically, civilly and industrially as slaves, and even to force those who have risen back into a state worse than slavery. South Africa is fast becoming A land of tyrants, and a den of slaves, Where wretches seek dishonourable graves. Duty of Europeans What is the duty of Europeans towards the Coloured races of the country? Take the oft-repeated assertions of Europeans themselves. Their leaders are fond of talking of their responsibilities to us. They have everlastingly had, or used to have until quite recently, on their lips these nice-sounding phrases about "our duties and our responsibilities to our Coloured brothers". But are such phrases not hollow and meaningless? If Europeans have duties towards the Coloured people, what else is implied than the need for humane dealings, and endeavours to ameliorate their lot, and uplift them in the scale of civilization. If that is what their duties mean, let us ask how far they have fulfilled them. Instead of kindly, humane treatment, we find barbarous cruelty and inhumanity. Instead of ameliorating our lot they endeavour to accentuate its bitterness. Instead of aiming at our upliftment they seek to degrade us. Instead of lending a helping hand to those struggling to improve themselves they thrust them back remorselessly and rigorously. Instead of making it possible for them to enjoy the blessings of an enlightened Christianity and a noble civilization, they refuse them the right to live, unless they are content to slave for farmers or descend into the bowels of the earth to delve the gold which enslaves the world, and before whose charms all freedom flies. In short, the object of the white man's rule to-day is not to develop the faculties of the Coloured races so that they may live a full life, but to keep them for ever in a servile position. The spirit that underlies this view of governing Coloured races spread into this Colony with the Union, and is now universal throughout South Africa. The Coloured people resent this, and one cannot be astonished at the feeling of violent hostility that has sprung up. It is a natural result. And, in the words of Carlyle, it may be said that "to whatever other griefs the Coloured people labour under, this bitterest grief -- injustice -- super-adds itself: the unendurable conviction that they are unfairly dealt with, that their lot in this world is not founded on right, nor even on necessity and might, is neither what it should be, nor what it shall be." The Coloured peoples are sentient beings. Their souls smart under the stigma of injustice. They are nursing a sullen revengeful humour of revolt against the white rule. They have lost respect for the white man, and are refusing to give their best to the country. The duty of Europeans is plain. Show the Coloured people that the Government is for the good of all, not for the privileged class. Prove that the first aim is not to keep us as hewers of wood and drawers of water to men who have the power. Engage the Coloured races by their affection. Grant them equal opportunities. If you do so, then the happy harmonization of the whole community will be achieved, and you may be sure of receiving the grateful return of the affection and respect of the Coloured races. The treatment we might reasonably expect from the dominant race is just what they themselves would expect were they in our position. We have as much right to the land of South Africa as they. We have as much right as they to be governed on the same basis of humanity. In the language of one of England's greatest statesmen, Europeans themselves would have been shut out from all the blessings they enjoy, of peace, of happiness, and of liberty if there had been any truth in these principles which some gentlemen have not hesitated to lay down as applicable to the case of Africa. "Had those principles been true, we ourselves," said William Pitt, "had languished to this hour in that miserable state of ignorance, brutality, and degradation, in which history proves our ancestors to have been immersed. Had other nations adopted those principles in their conduct towards us; had other nations applied to Great Britain the reasoning which some of the Senators of this very Island now apply to Africa, ages might have passed without our emerging from barbarism; and we, who are enjoying the blessings of British civilization, of British laws, and British liberty, might at this hour have been little superior either in morals, in knowledge, or refinement, to the rude inhabitants of the coast of Guinea." Such were the words of Pitt in a speech he delivered in 1792 in the course of a debate on the Slave Trade. His opinions were vastly different from those of our South African Premier, who only refrains from using the sjambok, so he has told us, on no other ground than that it might also hurt himself, and who is determined to allow no native representative in the Union Parliament as long as the Almighty spares him to be overlord. He does not look forward as Pitt did to the day when "We (British) might behold the beams of science and philosophy breaking in upon Africa, which, at some happy period, may blaze with full lustre." But this policy of repression cannot last much longer. If a handful of Indians in a matter of conscience can so firmly resist what they consider injustice, what could the Coloured races not do if they were to adopt this practice of passive resistance? We must all admire what these British Indians have shown, and are showing, in their determination to maintain what they deem to be their rights. The inhumanity of the Free State has driven our women to resist the law. Numbers of them went to jail rather than carry passes. The Coloured races applaud the noble actions of those brave daughters of Africa. I am convinced that if our people as a whole were prepared to suffer likewise we could gain redress of our most serious grievances while General Botha is still alive. Are we to be driven to that course? Europeans should ask themselves that question, and ask it promptly. For example, if the 200,000 Natives on the mines were, in the language of the white Labour Party, to "down" tools, and prefer to bask in the sun than to go down the mines; if the farm labourer at harvesting time refused to work for one shilling and sixpence a day, the economic foundation of South Africa would suddenly shake and tremble with such violence that the beautiful white South Africa superstructure which has been built on it would come down with a crash, entailing financial ruin such as the world has never witnessed before. If Europeans wish to prevent such a calamity in this country, they must pursue the right course and encourage the Coloured people of South Africa to improve their position and become more useful citizens than they have ever been. They will themselves participate in the blessings that spring from our improvement and prosperity, and they will receive "ample recompense for their tardy kindness (if kindness it can be called) in no longer hindering" our progress. We also should urge Europeans to go back to the path of justice, to retrace their steps along the route they appear to have been travelling of late. They can influence the Legislature. Whatever Parliament does is done in the name of the white people, and whites should, if they wish to see South Africa a happy, prosperous and peaceful country, check the Parliament in its mad career. It is worse than insensate folly to pursue that path any further. Many people have revolted at less oppression than we have had to suffer. At present we have no other course than to endure in silence the persecution of our tyrants, and conform to the servitude imposed on us. We may well exclaim that this is a country where The wanton whites new penal statutes draw Whites grind the blacks, and white men rule the law. Nevertheless, it is not too late to mend. The estrangement between the two races is not irreconcilable. Europeans could, with advantage to the country, if they would only be men, show the Coloured people that the white man's rule is for the good of all, not for the privileged class only. If they grant the Coloured races equal opportunities, and do not penalize them on account of race or colour, they may see a happy realization of the dreams of the wisest statesmen that all classes should be contented, and should work together for the good of all. == Dr. Abdurahman's address provided material for leading articles in the South African papers during that and the following week, the criticisms, with very few exceptions, being more or less hostile. Not one of them, however, accused him of telling untruths; but they vehemently resented the tone of his speech, which they characterized as inflammatory. One daily paper showed some inconsistency in the matter. It upbraided the doctor for his attack upon oppressive legislation, and two days later, presumably after second thoughts, came out with a leading article urging Europeans to check their oppression of the blacks, and in their own interests deal justly by the native and coloured sections of the population. By the Natives it was said that under the present circumstances the speech could have been better for a little moderation; but they nevertheless pronounced it the clearest and most accurate representation of their condition under the Union Administration that was ever uttered on a South African platform. It should be remembered that Dr. Abdurahman delivered his address at a time when the operation of the Land Act was raging like a plague in the Northern Provinces, and its victims included an old man of 119 years, respected by his white neighbours, with his nonogenarian wife, and his sons aged seventy and eighty. From the point of view of the Native, it is satisfactory to note that such sincere white students of the native question as Dr. J. E. Mackenzie of Kimberley, and Rev. Chas. Phillips of Johannesburg, when asked to dissociate themselves from Dr. Abdurahman's charges of "cruelty, inhumanity," etc., refused to do so until it could be pointed out that he had spoken untruths; that, however, could more easily be done by a shrug of the shoulders than by adducing substantial facts. Again, it is doubtful if any South African journalist possesses the experience of Mr. Vere Stent, the editor of the `Pretoria News'. Mr. Stent as a Kimberley youth spent many years in the de Beers mining compounds, working with Natives of nearly all African tribes. He was war correspondent in Ashanti and other parts of Africa, and also with the Republican troops under General Joubert in the Northern Transvaal in the 'eighties, and saw the Boers (whose primitive artillery could not dislodge a native tribe that was impregnably entrenched inside a cave) closing up the mouth of the cave and sealing up the masonry, then leaving the Natives, men, women and children, to smother to death with their belongings inside the cave. Further, Mr. Stent accompanied Cecil Rhodes to the Mattopo hills, where the late Colossus went unarmed to hold with the Matabele chiefs the pourparler which brought about the peace of Southern Rhodesia. In the siege of Mafeking, Mr. Stent was Reuter's war correspondent, and all things considered, it must be conceded that he is better qualified to write on a subject of this kind than all the critics of Dr. Abdurahman. Commenting on Dr. Abdurahman's address, in the course of a leading article Mr. Stent said: == Here is no paid agitator, but a professional man and a scholar, who is addressing the Coloured workers of South Africa from the lowest Aborigine to the Bantu, from the Bantu to the Coloured tradesman, from the Coloured tradesman to the professional man, of whom there are a few like himself, a great mass of unenfranchised human beings that suffer under disabilities and actual and obvious injustice. This vast proletariat is slowly cohering. Tribal feuds are being forgotten. The anti-colour laws of South Africa, and particularly of the north -- which makes no difference between the savage Zulu fresh from his kraal and the stately Malay, between the Mashaangan and a man like Dr. Abdurahman himself -- are welding together this vast human mass, in the flux of a single grievance, and that grievance, the disability put upon colour qua colour by the law. What if some day, and sooner than we think, that great mass becomes mobile, learns to co-operate, and moves irresistibly together? What, again, which is more likely, if its molecules realize the power of their inertia, if they simply decide quite constitutionally and without violence to do nothing, pending a remedy of their grievances? It will, of course, be said that Dr. Abdurahman is a picturesque extremist; that his position is an abnormal one; that he does not speak for the Coloured people and the Natives as a whole. Do not let us be too certain on the last point. As to the first, there runs through the speech, holding it together and making it difficult to attack, a single plain statement in it -- a steel strong thread of truth. He throws quite a new light upon the Voortrekkers when he says: -- "The northward march of the Voortrekkers was a gigantic plundering raid. They swept like a desolating pestilence through the land, blasting everything in their path, and pitilessly laughing at the ravages from which the native races have not yet recovered." But from the point of view of the native races, the description is a true one. To say of the Natives' Land Act, "That tyrannical mandate is scattering multitudes of Natives from their homes" is extravagant. Only a few so far have been disturbed, but many must be disturbed for the Natives' Land Act is tyrannical. In fact, though couched in the flowing language of an orator, the speech on the whole is not an unfair summing up of the grievances of the coloured people, and there is a very solemn warning in it. The European labour agitators may well envy Dr. Abdurahman: his logic, his doctrine and his power of invective. He has so much to complain of, he asks for so very little. Just equality of opportunity. He does not propose to set up any Trades' Hall government within a government; he does not talk about or attempt to incite to riot or revolution; he does not speak for a few skilled artisans who are living in comfort, and sometimes luxury, upon the sweat of the black man's brow; he speaks for the dark, submerged 5,000,000 South Africans upon whom light is very slowly breaking. == It should also be recorded that long before Dr. Abdurahman became President of the Coloured Organization, white men have been delivering speeches, some of them rather indignant, on the treatment of His Majesty's coloured and native subjects in South Africa. We will refer to just a few for example: == "I will leave out of account altogether," said His Excellency, "the unwise and hard things said by reckless and unthinking white men about Natives; I will only ask white men to consider whether they have ever calculated the cumulative effect on the Natives of what I may call the policy of pin-pricks? In some places a Native, however personally clean, or however hard he may have striven to civilize himself, is not allowed to walk on the pavement of the public streets; in others he is not allowed to go into a public park or to pay for the privilege of watching a game of cricket; in others he is not allowed to ride on the top of a tram-car, even in specified seats set apart for him; in others he is not allowed to ride in a railway carriage except in a sort of dog-kennel; in others he is unfeelingly and ungraciously treated by white officials; in others he may not stir without a pass, and if, for instance, he comes, as thousands of Natives do, from the farm on which he resides to work in a labour district -- (an act which is highly beneficial to the State and commendable in the eyes of all white men) -- he does not meet with facilities, but with elaborate impediments. In the course of his absence from home he may have to take out at least eight different passes, for several of which he has the additional pleasure of paying, though he would be much happier without them; and it is possible that, in an extreme case, he may have to conform to no fewer than twenty different pass regulations. Now, let a white man put himself in the position of a black man, and see how he would like it, and let him ask whether such regulations and laws really make his task easier?" -- Lord Selborne, before the Congregation of the University of the Cape of Good Hope, February 27, 1909. == The Hon. Dewdney W. Drew, M.A., who was member of the Legislative Council under the Crown Colony Government in the Orange River Colony, now misnamed the Orange "Free" State, is one of the leading South African journalists. In his pamphlet on the Native Question, about four years ago, Mr. Drew made the following remarks: == Most Europeans adopt towards the Natives the privilege of the aristocrat -- not always with the manners of an aristocrat. Many whites expect as a matter of course obeisance and service from all Natives, and think it perfectly natural to cuff and correct them when they make mistakes. Any resentment is apt to draw down severe punishment. In the law courts the Natives do not get the same justice as the whites. A Native convicted of an offence gets, in the first place, the punishment which a white man would get and something extra for the colour of his skin -- often lashes. The bias of white juries in trying Natives charged with offences against whites is such as to have brought the jury system into disrepute, and become a chief argument among lawyers for its entire abolition. The Natives suffer various restrictions on their liberty; they may not use the side-walks, nor visit a friend's house after a certain hour at night, nor move abroad, or even exist anywhere in this "white man's country" without a pass. All the police, if not all Europeans, have the right to arrest and search them, and the exercise of this right is made sometimes a means of shamefully molesting their women. In one Colony the Natives are not allowed to own land, and in another they can only do so under virtually prohibitive conditions. If the tenant families residing upon a farm grow beyond a certain limited number -- three or five -- the surplus are liable to be driven off by the police. As a rule only the worse-paid forms of work are permitted to the Natives, and even these are grudged them. A legislator rises in one Colony to move that all native messengers and other native servants in the Government offices be immediately discharged and replaced by poor whites. In another Colony, the papers and the public chorus with joy to hear that the C.S.A.R. has been able to reduce its native staff, and hopes ultimately to get rid of them all. There are municipalities in which Natives, if they drive a cab, have to pay a higher licence than a white man, and in which they are not permitted to make bricks unless they do so for a white employer. In these municipalities they are not allowed to educate their children above the age of sixteen, nor may they keep their daughters at home under their own protection after that age, except the girls find positions in service, in which case they may sleep under the roof of their parents if the distance is not too great. And, of course, the Natives pay relatively a higher taxation than the whites. Articles which they use, but which are little bought by the whites, are marked for special customs duties. For instance, the white farmers' machinery is duty free, but in several Colonies the native hoes pay an ad valorem tax of 25 per cent. So of shawls; the Customs officer is content to take 12 1/2 per cent on the kind used by Europeans, but when he comes to the native shawl, the duty is again 25 per cent. In addition to these stiff indirect taxes, the Native pays direct taxes amounting to one-sixth part of their average annual wage. Not only they, but even the most respectable coloured people, are in some places not allowed to ride in trams or walk in the parks, or attend public sports, or evening concerts, or even follow a deceased white, though he should be their own father, to his last resting place in the European cemetery. As to the laws, they realize, in all the Colonies but one, Wellington's great ideal for the people, by having nothing to do with them except obey them. In addition to this treatment, varying from mere pin-pricks to oppression, they are mostly referred to in the Press, in public speeches, and private conversation, with words of opprobrium and contempt as "niggers" and "black brutes". The occasional outbreaks of a few, usually maddened with drink which Europeans have sold to them, are put to the discredit of the whole race. Those who, when they hear of a case of rape, talk about the black peril, forget apparently that it is largely the result of a bad environment. In their own country the Natives are by no means lacking in respect to white womanhood. A European lady travelling in Basutoland without escort would probably be safer there than in England under the like condition. The Hon. H. Burton, Attorney-General of the Cape Colony, reports, after visiting the Transkei, that in that great reserve, where ten thousand Europeans are surrounded by a million Natives, the molestation of white women is a thing unheard of. . . . Obviously the treatment which the Natives get is not on the whole such as he can be expected to like, and the drift of things appears to be towards greater harshness, especially towards severer pass laws and the stricter denial of property rights. In one of our Parliaments a Commission has just reported in favour of breaking up the reserves and bringing the Natives under a system resembling slavery. ==
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This work (Sol Plaatje, Native Life in South Africa) is out of copyright, but see the Project Gutenberg legal notice.