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Apartheid In South Africa - Origins And Impact

Apartheid In South Africa - Origins And Impact

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Apartheid In South Africa - Origins And Impact

161 Seiten
2 Stunden
Feb 4, 1987


This book was first published in 1987 when South African Apartheid policy generated much public discussion all over the world. This book, “Apartheid in South Africa: Origins and Impact", is a book which can serve the dual purpose of informing the general reader, of the historical background to Apartheid; and of placing a textbook at the disposal of students preparing for various examinations on the history of South Africa.
Feb 4, 1987

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Apartheid In South Africa - Origins And Impact - Seth Asiedu Asante




THE BANTU: The word, Bantu, is a general name given to a vast group of peoples who speak several hundred different languages which are related to one another. They all belong to the Negroid stock. They are made up of many different groups, and for centuries, had been gradually advancing southwards from Central Africa.

As early as the sixteenth century, the Bantu had entered Natal, and during the eighteenth century, Bantu peoples had become well established in South Africa. They inter-married with other peoples and developed a wide variety of cultures and political systems. Far to the north of the Cape were such groups as the Ovaherero, the Damara, and the Bechuana. In the highlands farther east were the Barotse, the Bavenda, and the Bakwena; and on the east coast were the Xosa (pronounced Khosa), and the Tembu. This last group, were the first to come into contact with the Europeans.

The Xosa led the eastern advance of the Bantu towards Cape Colony and drove away the Bushmen whilst they mixed up with the Hottentots. As early as 1702, Dutch cattle-traders met them west of the Fish River, and during the eighteenth century, the white men, Xosa, and the Hottentots met frequently either during hunting or for the purpose of trading cattle. But it was not until 1778 that it became necessary to fix a frontier between them because the Company's government heard disturbing rumors about the behaviour of its Subjects in the frontier area. In that year a treaty was· signed by Joachim Van Plettenberg, governor of the Cape and the Xhosa chiefs. By the treaty, the Fish River was made the dividing line between white and black. Most of the Bantu were mixed farmers. They cultivated the land and kept cattle, sheep and goats.

They were therefore able to maintain much larger populations on the same area of land than the Hottentots and the Bushmen. They also lived in larger communities and lived a settled life. There was division of labour among the Bantu, The women and girls did the domestic work and ploughed the fields, sowed millet, hoed and harvested the crops while the men looked after the cattle, hunted, attended tribal council and went to war.

Education of boys and girls consisted of learning tribal laws and customs. Birth, tribal initiation, courtship, marriage and death were surrounded and govern by ceremonial rituals based on strict taboos that were designed to propitiate natural forces and ancestral spirits. They practiced ancestral worship – worship of lesser gods because of the nature of their occupation – cattle- keeping.

They were organized in lineage groups each of which consisted of one central clan. Each village was headed by a chief who was helped in the discharge of his duties by his personal officers called the Indunas. These indunas were selected from families with no connection with royalty, Apart from these personal officers the chief was helped, on more important occasion, by all the district rulers.

Based on clearly - defined clans and tribes, chieftainship was normally hereditary. The chiefs and elders ruled in peace and war, and administered customary laws that had their roots deep in the past.

By 1700 a different stock of people had been added to the South African racial groupings. These were THE BOERS who came from Holland.

Ultimately their descendants were to call themselves, Afrikaners.

They have evolved a language of their own called, Afrikaners

The Afrikaners differed from other Africans mainly in their individualism and in the seventeenth-century Calvinist beliefs and outlook which reinforced the conviction, born of the circumstance in which they found themselves, that they were an Elect of God and that the heathen coloured folks had no natural rights against them or the land they were taking for their own.



A crucial factor in the development of South Africa from the discovery of the Cape in the 15th century to the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 was its position as the convenient stopping place and also a strategic point of control of the trade route from Europe to the Far East. The Portuguese who first saw its importance were the first to realise the operation of yet another factor as crucial as the first, namely; the fierce and relentless opposition of the Bushmen and the Hottentots to foreign occupation. The early contacts were characterised by clashes, with the Hottentots in which sometimes, as in 1510, many native lives were lost. The Portuguese failed, to establish any economic or military base at the Cape because they had the island of St. Helena, Mozambique and the East African coasts which were adequate for their purposes.

Within, twenty years of the establishment of the Dutch East India Company the Dutch had ousted the Portuguese. They captured Bantam, Amboyna, and .Java and established a government at Batavia, in Java, for their East India possessions. Most of the Portuguese possessions along the coast of East Africa were also taken. Later on the Dutch occupied Ceylon, Banda, Malacca, Makassar and. the Moluccas.

By 1651, the Dutch therefore came up against the problem of restocking their trading ships to and from the Far East. Six months was the average time taken in the seventeenth century to travel from Europe to the Far East and for most of the time, the crew went without meat.

Though the sailors had not heard of vitamins they were familiar with scurvy which comes about as a result of not eating fresh meat, vegetables and fruits.

Having no convenient place of stopping, the Dutch ships called at the Cape on their way to India and on their return to Europe; and the idea to establish a permanent post there began to be canvassed. A firm decision was taken mainly as a result of an accident. In 1648, a Dutch Indian ship, 'Haarlem', was wrecked in the Dutch Indian Bay. There was no loss of life; but before the crew was taken back to Holland, they grew vegetables and got mutton and beef from the Hottentots. Back in Holland, they propagated the advantage of having a post out there and asked the Dutch East India Company to establish a station there. As a result, the Company established a rendezvous there in 1652 instead of St. Helena.

In I652 Jan Van Riebeeck landed, at the Cape in his flagship, 'Drammedaris', with a small party to find a refreshment station and a halfway house on the route to India. His party consisted exclusively of the employees of the Company. The instructions given him were precise: he was, first, to build a fort capable of having eighty men; secondly to cultivate vegetable gardens for the supply to the Company's ship; thirdly to keep on good terms with the natives for the sake of the cattle trade and, fourthly, to make sure of the supply of fresh water for the ships. The settlement was then conceived not. as a separate enterprise, but as a cog in the great commercial wheel of the Company. As was to be expected, the immediate authority of the Cape was the Board of Directors or the East India Company known as the Mighty Seventeen. But their activities were restricted because ultimate authority was placed in the hands of the governor of Batavia, Java, in the Indonesia. He was expected to inspect and check the books annually and issue orders affecting expenditure, direct the movement of shipping and issue directives on all matters, weighty and trivial, But the Cape was separated from Batavia by three months' voyage and about nine to eighteen months must pass before the Cape ruler could receive a message. Thus, the local government which in theory was restricted was in practice, allowed some freedom of action. The government at the Cape was vested in the Commander of the fort and a Council of policy makers.

The Council was the executive and at the same time, the legislature issuing edicts on all manner of life of the subjects. It was also the nucleus of the High Court.

When the Directors of the Company embarked on making the settlement, they showed no aim of creating free settlers. Their main aim was to establish a refueling station, to develop the Far East trade and to keep a free hold on their monopoly which they feared might be jeopardised by a group of settlers at this vantage point. But they also wanted meat, vegetables, fruits and Wine.

The whole concept of a military garrison doing the work of a farming community was not enough. Quite naturally, they proved to be inefficient farmers with the result that Company farming costs exceeded produce revenue. As a way out Van Riebeeck suggested and it was agreed, to release some of the Company's servants for the full cultivation of those things needed. In 1657 the first real colonists consisting of free burghers were settled on small farms to produce the needs of the Company. As a settlement of free colonists, the Cape began as an experiment forced upon a reluctant authority concerned solely with maintaining their monopoly and profit in the eastern trade and blinded by its interests to the-possibility of making the colony a new and separate venture. This attitude of seeing the Cape in terms of Indian interest and subduing everything in its interest is reflected on the restrictions imposed on the free burghers and which set a pattern of coercion on one hand and defiance and a tendency to get away from authority on the other, which characterised relations between the settlers and the Cape authorities for two centuries.

The terms given to the free burghers required them to sell their cattle to the Company at a price determined by the Company; to pay no more to the Hottentots than the Company was prepared to pay; to grow no more vegetables than were needed for their use and the Company's ships use; and if there was any surplus to refrain from selling to foreign vessels within the first three days of their arrival. In other words the Company wanted not only to be the sole market of the produce of the colonists but also to fix prices in these restricted markets without reference to the colonists and to their own advantage.

The only real source of wealth before the beginning of the nineteenth century, was the raising and selling of cattle. And this was the one industry on which the colonists set their heart; but it was the very industry which the authorities were determined to disallow them to embark upon on a large scale. As a substitute for which they might have raised, the colonists bartered cattle from the Hottentots and sold them to the Company and to foreign vessels which went past the Cape. They could barter to such advantage if they could suppress their movement and sever contact which had been dictated by economic forces, a limitation which was not realistic.

Between 1658 and 1680, the edicts against cattle barter, first issued in 1654, ·were re-issued sixteen times. The frequency with which the edicts were issued was a sure sign that the colonists were not abiding by them and should have proved to the authorities that their attempts would be futile.

In 1662, Van Riebeeck left the Cape and this signified the end of the first phase of the Dutch history in South Africa. After ten years at the Cape, Jan Van Riebeeck, to his great; joy, was allowed to go to the East Indies on promotion. He remained there for fifteen rears and died 1677 without returning to Holland.

In the eyes of the shareholders whom he served, Van Riebeeck had done a good job; he had established a half-way house which, by providing repairs for storm-tossed ships and fresh supplies for scurvy stricken soldiers, must have saved the Company much money and many lives. The fort, the houses and barns, the gardens and the fields; free burghers and slaves; cattle trade and Hottentot war; expeditions inland and along the coast, all these were undertaken, one step leading to another, in the interest of his masters and with no thought that he was doing more than that or that anything else was of the:

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