Native Life in South Africa, Before and Since the European War and the Boer Rebellion

Part 8 out of 8

must have taught us the wrong arithmetic. Is it any wonder
that it is becoming increasingly difficult for us to continue
to love and respect the great white race as we truly loved it
at the beginning of this century?

* Some white South Africans in recent years have migrated
to the Katanga region in the Belgian Congo. I have read
in the South African daily papers, correspondence from some of them
complaining of their inability to make money. They attributed
this difficulty to the fact that the Belgian officials will not permit them
to exploit the labour of the Congolese as freely as white men are accustomed
to make use of the Natives in British South Africa.

We would submit a few problems in this Report for the British People
and their Parliamentary Representatives to solve: --

First: Who are to become the occupants of the lands from which the Commission
recommends the removal of the native proletariat?

Secondly: In view of certain upheavals which we have seen not very long ago,
and others which might take place in the future, it is pertinent to ask,
concerning the "very small minority of the inhabitants" -- the Whites --
alluded to by Mr. Schreiner at the head of this chapter,
(a) what proportion is in full sympathy with the ideals of the British Empire;
(b) what proportion remains indifferent; and (c) what proportion
may be termed hostile?

Thirdly: Does the autonomy granted to this "small minority"
amount to complete independence, or does it not?

Fourthly: Would it not be advisable also to inquire:
Of "the vast majority of the inhabitants" the King's Black subjects,
doomed by this Report to forfeit their homes and all they value
in their own country, (a) how many of these are loyal,
and (b) how many are not?

Finally and solemnly we would put it to all concerned
for the honour and perpetuity of British dominion in South Africa,
can the Empire afford to tamper with and alienate their affections?

As stated already, this "very vast majority of the inhabitants"
of South Africa has been strafed by the "very small minority"
for over three years. And when the burden loaded on our bent backs
becomes absolutely unbearable we are at times inclined to blame ourselves;
for, when some of us fought hard -- and often against British diplomacy --
to extend the sphere of British influence, it never occurred to us
that the spread of British dominion in South Africa would culminate
in consigning us to our present intolerable position, namely, a helotage
under a Boer oligarchy. But when an official Commission asks Parliament
to herd us into concentration camps, with the additional recommendation
that besides breeding slaves for our masters, we should be made
to pay for the upkeep of the camps: in other words, that we
should turn the Colonials into slave raiders and slave-drivers
(but save them the expense of buying the slaves), the only thing
that stands between us and despair is the thought that Heaven
has never yet failed us. We remember how African women have at times
shed tears under similar injustices; and how when they have been made
to leave their fields with their hoes on their shoulders,
their tears on evaporation have drawn fire and brimstone from the skies.
But such blind retribution has a way of punishing the innocent
alike with the guilty, and it is in the interests of both
that we plead for some outside intervention to assist South Africa
in recovering her lost senses.

The ready sympathy expressed by those British people
among whom I have lived and laboured during the past two years
inspires the confidence that a consensus of British opinion will,
in the Union's interest, stay the hand of the South African Government,
veto this iniquity and avert the Nemesis that would surely follow
its perpetration.

Her mind must have been riveted on South Africa when, quite recently,
Ida Luckie sang: --

Alas, My Country! Thou wilt have no need
Of enemy to bring thee to thy doom. . . .
For not alone by war a nation falls.
Though she be fair, serene as radiant morn,
Though girt by seas, secure in armament,
Let her but spurn the vision of the Cross;
Tread with contemptuous feet on its command
Of mercy, Love and Human Brotherhood,
And she, some fateful day, shall have no need
Of enemy to bring her to the dust.

Some day, though distant it may be -- with God
A thousand years are but as yesterday --
The germs of hate, injustice, violence,
Like an insidious canker in the blood,
Shall eat that nation's vitals. She shall see
Break forth the blood-red tide of anarchy,
Sweeping her plains, laying her cities low,
And bearing on its seething, crimson flood
The wreck of Government, of home, and all
The nation's pride, its splendour and its power.
On with relentless flow, into the seas
Of God's eternal vengeance wide and deep.
But, for God's grace! Oh may it hold thee fast,
My Country, until justice shall prevail
O'er wrong and o'er oppression's cruel power,
And all that makes humanity to mourn.

[End of original text.]

[Original Advertisements.]

Some Opinions of the Press on the First Edition

"It is difficult to believe that such barbarities are possible;
but Mr. Plaatje gives chapter and verse for every one of his indictments;
the Act itself is quoted in extenso; various debates
in the Colonial Parliament are given, and arguments for and against the Act
furnished by the different speakers. The whole book is really interesting,
and will come as a great surprise to many English people
who know little of the South African Native as an educated,
thinking human being, and will certainly excite sympathy
with his present precarious state under colonial laws,
which seem to be little inspired by the principles of justice and liberty
which British supremacy formerly guaranteed." -- `Yorkshire Observer'.

"Whatever may have been the intention of the home Government,
in practice this Act has meant the restriction of Natives
to their reservations, or to servitude among the white population.
Mr. Plaatje states his case clearly and asserts that this movement
is reactionary and a false step on the part of the Government
to placate the extreme Dutch party in South Africa." -- `Glasgow Herald'.

"The author makes an excellent case for the consideration
of the Imperial Government. He convincingly proves
that the fortunes of the native races should not have been
handed over to the Dutch Republicans without adequate safeguards.
He gratefully acknowledges the enthusiastic support given to the Natives
by the British settlers and appeals for an inquiry. The interest of the book
for the Punjabis consists, not in the similarity of the grievances,
for we here have no such grievance against the Government,
but in showing the way for inviting attention to the injustice involved
in excluding a large class of Hindus from agriculture."
-- `The Tribune', Lahore.

"It is a serious case, well and ably put, and the evidence embodied in it
is very disquieting. Here at any rate is a book which makes
the native agitation intelligible and may conceivably have an influence
on future events in South Africa -- and at home, for by no legal fiction
can the Imperial power dissociate itself from responsibility
for Native affairs." -- `Birmingham Post'.

"The supporters of the Act do not make the principles attractive
in explaining them. Mr. J. G. Keyter, Member for Ficksburg,
said "they should tell the Native as the Free State told him,
that it was white man's country, that he was not going to be allowed
to buy land there or hire land there, and that if he wanted to be there
he must be in service." -- `New Statesman'.

"There is the spice if not the charm of novelty about this book.
It is written by a South African native and he holds strong views
on some recent public questions. He occasionally expresses himself
well and forcibly, and it is all to the good that South African publicists
should have the advantage of reading the opinions of a native observer
when dealing with legislation affecting his race." -- `South Africa'.

"In this well arranged and lucidly written book the author shows
from authentic sources how changeable and often unreasonable has been
the treatment of the loyal Natives under the South African flag.
Mr. Plaatje is no fire-brand; he writes with moderation,
and his book should attract sympathetic attention." -- `Booksellers' Record'.

"Mr. Plaatje has marshalled his facts with considerable skill.
He sets forth the case of his countrymen with energy and moderation.
His conclusions seem to be warranted by the information at his disposal,
and the facts he adduces seem to bear but one interpretation.
And lastly, in the existing circumstances, he is fully justified
in appealing to the court of public opinion." -- `United Empire'.

Books by the same author

730 Sechuana Proverbs
With Literal Translations and their European Equivalents
(Diane Tsa Secoana, Le Maele a Sekgooa, Aa Dumalanang Naco).
By Solomon T. Plaatje.

An interesting and instructive comparison of African and European Proverbs

A Sechuana Reader
(In International Phonetic Orthography, with English Translations)
By Daniel Jones, M.A., and Sol. T. Plaatje.

The Texts include native fables and stories of adventure,
and form a collection of reading matter suitable either
for native Bechuanas or for foreign learners.

Both word-for-word translations and free translations are given throughout.

In the introduction will be found detailed information with regard to
the pronunciation of the Sechuana language.

[End Original Advertisements.]

Notes to the text:

The Titles listed in the Table of Contents are not always identical
to those in the text. Therefore, the longer versions have been used,
or in those cases where they are significantly different,
both titles have been given.

Cases of battered type, and even missing letters, where obvious,
are too numerous to be commented on in detail. Less obvious cases
are noted.

Chapter II:

(p. 42)
[ delivered by the Governor-General at the opening af the session ]
changed to:
[ delivered by the Governor-General at the opening of the session ]

(p. 44)
[ H. Mentz and G. A. Louw, teller ]
changed to:
[ H. Mentz and G. A. Louw, tellers. ]

Chapter VI:

(p. 82)
[ my hushand's and children's peculiar wants, if Anna ]
changed to:
[ my husband's and children's peculiar wants, if Anna ]

Chapter VIII:

(p. 106)
[ under notice to leave, We informed them ]
changed to:
[ under notice to leave. We informed them ]

(p. 110)
[ Pieter Dout consented, and joined the exlpedition ]
changed to:
[ Pieter Dout consented, and joined the expedition ]

(p. 112)
[ to mulct them in more money than the land. is worth. The best legal advice
they have received is that they should sell their inheritances to white men ]
changed to:
[ to mulct them in more money than the land is worth. The best legal advice
they have received is that they should sell their inheritances to white men. ]

Chapter IX:

(p. 120)
[ says Dr. Kellog, ]
changed to:
[ says Dr. Kellogg, ]
(This is the correct spelling of the name of a doctor who was famous
about the time that Plaatje was writing, and who was undoubtedly
the source for the quote.)

(p. 132)
[ Hence, let the leaders direct them into cruel way as they are seemingly ]
changed to:
[ Hence, let the leaders direct them into cruel ways as they are seemingly ]

Chapter X:

(p. 142)
[ went unarmed to hold with the Matebele chiefs ]
changed to:
[ went unarmed to hold with the Matabele chiefs ]
(in accordance with other usage, and another edition.)

(p. 144)
[ the papers and the public chorus with joy hear that the C.S.A.R. ]
changed to:
[ the papers and the public chorus with joy to hear that the C.S.A.R. ]

Chapter XIV:

(p. 178)
[ and Mid-Illovu, ] (end of paragraph)
changed to:
[ and Mid-Illovu. ]

(p. 179)
[ July 20, 191. ]
changed to:
[ July 20, 1913. ]

Chapter XVI:

(p. 197)
[ (Mr Alden) and the hon. Baronet th Member for Hackney (Sir A. Spicer ]
changed to:
[ (Mr. Alden) and the hon. Baronet the Member for Hackney (Sir A. Spicer) ]

(p. 221)
Regarding the reference to `The Biglow Papers', the quote is from No. VI,
and `The Biglow Papers' was written by J. R. Lowell (see below).

Chapter XVIII:

(p. 225)
(subtitle) [ Bear ye one another's Burdens" ]
changed to:
[ "Bear ye one another's Burdens" ]

(p. 231)
[ F. R. Lowell ]
changed to:
[ J. R. Lowell ]
James Russell Lowell [1819-1891], the Massachusetts poet, wrote these lines,
under the title "Stanzas on Freedom". As the italic forms of "J" and "F"
are similar, and frequently confused, this error is not to be wondered at.
The 1st, 3rd, and 4th stanzas are quoted in the text. The complete text
is presented here:

Stanzas on Freedom

Men! whose boast it is that ye
Come of fathers brave and free,
If there breathe on earth a slave,
Are ye truly free and brave?
If ye do not feel the chain,
When it works a brother's pain,
Are ye not base slaves indeed,
Slaves unworthy to be freed?

Women! who shall one day bear
Sons to breathe New England air,
If ye hear, without a blush,
Deeds to make the roused blood rush
Like red lava through your veins,
For your sisters now in chains, --
Answer! are ye fit to be
Mothers of the brave and free?

Is true Freedom but to break
Fetters for our own dear sake,
And, with leathern hearts, forget
That we owe mankind a debt?
No! true freedom is to share
All the chains our brothers wear,
And, with heart and hand, to be
Earnest to make others free!

They are slaves who fear to speak
For the fallen and the weak;
They are slaves who will not choose
Hatred, scoffing, and abuse,
Rather than in silence shrink
From the truth they needs must think;
They are slaves who dare not be
In the right with two or three.

Chapter XIX:

(p. 242)
[ to those of the Barolongs, who used their own rifles, ]
changed to:
[ to those of the Barolongs who used their own rifles, ]

The Crest of Queen Victoria, mentioned in brackets, is, of course,
unavailable in ASCII. The letters V R. are for "Victoria Regina",
or, "Queen Victoria".

Chapter XXI:

(p. 276)
[ both missionaries, also poke offering to associate themselves ]
changed to:
[ both missionaries, also spoke offering to associate themselves ]

[ the districts of Calvania, Kenhardt, Keimoes, and Upington ]
changed to:
[ the districts of Calvinia, Kenhardt, Keimoes, and Upington ]
in accordance with other use in the surrounding text.

Chapter XXII:

(p. 291)
[ her privileges of free citizenship (Cheers.) ]
changed to:
[ her privileges of free citizenship. (Cheers.) ]

(p. 302)
[ half a million Boers. ] & [ people's gathering.) ]
changed to:
[ half a million Boers.) ] & [ people's gathering. ]
Closing parenthesis was at end of wrong paragraph.

(p. 303)
[ the harm that as likely to follow a provocation ]
changed to:
[ the harm that is likely to follow a provocation ]

(p. 308)
[ in addition to his own rebels commando. ]
changed to:
[ in addition to his own rebel commando. ]

(p. 312)
[ assaulted a policeman. ]
changed to:
[ assaulted a policeman.) ]
Clause missing closing parenthesis.

Chapter XXIV:

(p. 336)
[ a petition from Rustenberg, made it compulsory ]
changed to:
[ a petition from Rustenburg, made it compulsory ]
in accordance with other use in the surrounding text.

(p. 338)
[ Deuteronomy xix. 14, ]
updated to:
[ Deuteronomy 19:14, ]


(p. 348)
[ signed the Natives' Lant Act ]
changed to:
[ signed the Natives' Land Act ]

(p. 351)
[ has done her duty. ]
changed to:
[ has done her duty." ]

Report of the Lands Commission:

(p. 357)
[ Chairman of the Commission a retired Judge ]
changed to:
[ Chairman of the Commission, a retired Judge ]

(p. 358)
[ and the terms of the Act." ]
changed to:
[ and the terms of the Act. ]
unmatched quotation mark removed according to surrounding usage.

(p. 364)
[ the Klerksdorp Magistrate, who incidentalgl exploded
the stale old falsehood about Natives liviny on the labour ]
changed to:
[ the Klerksdorp Magistrate, who incidentally exploded
the stale old falsehood about Natives living on the labour ]

(p. 376)
[ the Empire was engaged in a titantic struggle, ]
changed to:
[ the Empire was engaged in a titanic struggle, ]


lager/laager: a defensive camp formed by circled wagons.

sjambok: a rhinoceros or hippopotamus-hide whip.

The following lines contained characters that cannot be presented in ASCII:

under the Republican re/gime, no matter how politicians raved
Ils se sont endormis, le c(oe)ur rempli d'espoirs,
Dans un re\ve d'amour et de concorde humaine!
Qui monte des hameaux consume/s par la flamme,
Ni le ge/missement des vie/illards et des femmes!
the inquiries of the Commission, whose report is nai"vely alleged
did its best to fill the ro^le of an enemy.
but who, after three months' drill and man(oe)uvring, were as expert
and that Nakob Su"d was clearly depicted in the old maps
of high-resolve\d men, bent to the spoil,
Goe^n dag, Pikadillie
of these neighbours. The Natives, according to Mr. Lu"dorf,
gathered in a heap and burnt alive. This, says Mr. Lu"dorf,
generally preferred, aspire; and each fills his ro^le
* `Political Economy of Art': Addenda (J. E., Section 127).
(Symbol used for "Section")

Also numerous instances of fractions, here presented, for example,
as 1 1/2 for one and a half, and the symbol for the British Pound,
so that where the original may have said L100 (where L represents
the symbol for Pound) it now says 100 Pounds (Pound or Pounds
has always been capitalized as above in such cases).

End of this Etext of Native Life in South Africa, by Sol. T. Plaatje


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