Responses in South Africa to the outbreak of WWI: The African Peoples Organisation and the Teachers League of South Africa

Like their African counterparts, the organisations of the coloured elite came out strongly in support of the British war effort. They shared the same illusions that support for the war would eventually lead to their grievances being taken seriously by the British and the South African government. The chief organised expression of the political attitude of the coloured petty bourgeoisie was Dr Abdullah Abduraghman’s African l Peoples Organisation (APO), formed in 1902, and the recently formed Teachers League of  South Africa (TLSA).  The TLSA was formed in June 1913, with Dr Abduraghman as an important driving force in its formation. Both organisations, whose members were closely aligned, came out in direct support of the war. Many of the members of the TLSA volunteered for service, while the APO played a direct role in recruiting coloureds for the Cape Corps.  TLSA members also involved themselves in fundraising activities for the Cape Corps. One of its members, Abe Desmore, served in the East African Campaign and recorded his experiences in a book.  The Educational Journal, the official mouthpiece of the TLSA made its position on the war very clear:

‘We look forward with calm confidence to the triumph of British might and British right. We are prouder than ever of being subjects of the glorious British Empire’ (Adhikari: 1993: 48).

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Last updated : 21-Sep-2016

This article was produced for South African History Online on 24-Feb-2014