From the book: Book 3: Migration, Land and Minerals in the Making of South Africa commissioned by The Department of Education

Thenineteenth century, leading up to the unification of South Africa in 1910, saw the making of the country that we know today. The major themes in this process were:

  • the drawing together of the various societies and communities of southern Africa into a single, unified, economic and ultimately political order;
  • the growth of an infrastructure based on towns, industries, railways and seaports;
  • the massive increase in the mobility of people, as long-distance migration in search of work began; and
  • the huge cultural and material changes in people's lives in which these developments resulted.

One way of understanding these developments is by seeing them as resulting from a process of globalisation. The nineteenth century was the high point of the era of European imperialism - the expansion of European power across the globe in pursuit of markets, investment opportunities and places where Europeans could settle. South Africa attracted Europeans because of its temperate climate, its economic opportunities and most importantly because of its huge mineral riches. The discovery of diamonds (1867) and gold (1886) brought large numbers of immigrants and large quantities of investment capital into the country. Economic development and international trade grew greatly as a result. The mineral discoveries also intensified the system of labour migration, of drawing young African men (and, on a smaller scale, women) out of their homesteads and villages to service the hunger for labour that economic development caused.

globalisation- international integration, especially in terms of world trade, financial markets and communication technology. This is often associated with the dominance of the world’s wealthy countries

Up to the time of the mineral discoveries, white-ruled societies (British colonies and Boer republics) lived side-by-side with independent African states and chiefdoms. Settlers had always wanted land and labour from the indigenous African people. They had gone to great lengths to gain control over both. Indigenous people were forced into servile positions, as workers on their farms and in their homes and businesses. However, the settlers did not have the power, or the need, to conquer and rule over the larger, more organised African societies and to strip them of their independence. It is probably true to say that the great majority of the African people of South Africa did not live under direct white rule by 1870. Black and white societies parcelled out the land, often fighting one another over land and cattle and labour, sometimes forming alliances with one another, but always dependent on one another for trade. Everything changed with the beginning of the “mineral revolution”. A more aggressive stage in the history of white supremacy was the result.

What were the first effects of the mineral revolution?

The diamond rush that began in the late 1860s in and around the new city of Kimberley started processes that had a profound effect on the subcontinent as a whole. The mobilisation of labour needed for the mines, the railways and all the new urban developments of the 1870s was on a new scale. Young men walked vast distances to reach the diamond fields to earn wages. Sometimes they were sent by chiefs to get hold of firearms to aid in the defence of their societies. Others went to earn money to buy cattle. Some African peoples (such as the Tswana and Southern Sotho) benefited by supplying the diamond fields with grain crops and meat, fodder for horses and firewood for fuel. So, at first, many Africans profited from opportunities presented by the colonial economy.

At the same time, however, colonial authorities were developing the institutions of coercion and control that became so central to the exercise of racial domination in the industrial age. At Kimberley, the institution of the closed compound was introduced, where workers were subjected to round-the-clock supervision and surveillance. The pass laws, which dated from the earliest colonial days, were developed as instruments of control. Later, they were used to keep unwanted people out of towns as well as to keep them under the tight control of their employers.

There was now a direct incentive for colonial authorities to assert control over African societies - to try to ensure a constant supply of workers for colonial needs. The 1870s saw a concerted attempt to undermine the independence of African states and chiefdoms in various parts of southern Africa, to reduce them to a state of subjection and to strip them of the means to resist white men's wishes. So the 1870s was a decade of imperial activism and military intervention in southern Africa. This coincided with the start of the “Scramble for Africa”. This policy of conquest and annexationwas very much in evidence in southern Africa, where the discovery of diamonds and gold, and the resulting need for labour and agricultural produce to feed new urban populations, provided the main incentive.

annexation- the seizing of territory by an imperial power
the“Scramble for Africa”– the carving up of the continent by European powers intent on grabbing whatever advantage they could from possessing and ruling over vast stretches of territory

What was the impact of the discovery of diamonds?

The full effect of imperial activism in southern Africa in the 1870s was felt by independent African societies. It could be argued that the origins of presentday South Africa lay in the wars of the 1870s, which undermined the independence of African societies as never before. Basutoland (present-day Lesotho) under King Moshoeshoehad already been defeated by the Orange Free State Republic in a war that was mainly about control of the rich farmlands of the Caledon River valley. The British then annexed the kingdom and handed it over to the Cape Colony. After a war of resistance against the Cape’s disarmament policy, known as the Gun War, Britain took control of it again as a British colony, after which it was ruled directly from Britain. So Lesotho’s present-day status as an independent kingdom resulted directly from the Basotho people’s fierce resistance to the government of the Cape.

King Moshoeshoe of Basutoland
(present-day Lesotho)

Basutoland Resistance

1868Moshoeshoe defeated by Orange Free State

1871Moshoeshoe’s kingdom annexed by British and handed over to Cape Colony

1880-1881Gun War

1884Basutoland becomes a British colony

During the 1870s, the rule of Cape colonial magistrates was extended through most of the chiefdoms of the Southern Nguni (known as the Transkeian Territories). Only the Mpondo retained their independence, until they were also incorporated in the Cape in 1894.

The most spectacular military resistance was that of the mighty Zulu kingdom in 1879. At Isandhlwana, the Zulu impisinflicted a devastating defeat against the British army.

However, shortly afterwards, at Ulundi, the Zulu kingdom was dealt a blow from which it never recovered. King Cetshwayo was removed as king and his kingdom was broken up. This was followed by a civil war between Zulu factions, fuelled by whites wanting their land. After some years as a British dependency, in 1895 Zululand was eventually incorporated in the neighbouring Colony of Natal, and fell under the rule of its white settler government. Thus its fate was very different from that of the Basotho kingdom, which was able to avoid falling under the rule of local white governments, and therefore never became part of South Africa. Perhaps the explanation is that the Zulu were more thoroughly conquered and their military organisation dismantled. Because of this, the British government may have felt that the Zulu could safely be left under the control of local authorities, unlike the Basotho.

impi- a Zulu fighting regiment

Boer republics also stood in the way of British imperial designs. The South African Republic fell to a small British military force which marched into Pretoria in 1877. The Boers pushed the British out again in 1881. By that time the economic boom of the 1870s was over and South Africa was in a depression, so the British were less interested in ruling over the Transvaal, which, being a white state, was granted more respect than the African states that had been conquered. During their rule in the Transvaal, the British had defeated the Northern Sotho (the Pedi kingdom), the strongest African state within the borders that the republic had claimed for itself, which until then had resisted the Boer armies. The failed annexation of the Transvaal (1877-81) was to be followed in 1899-1902 by the much more fiercely fought and dramatic war against the Boer republics.

It is important to note that the main military power in southern Africa at the time was Britain. The local white governments in the colonies (Cape and Natal) and in the republics (Transvaal and Orange Free State) did not have the power by themselves to take on African states and permanently subdue them. The British wanted to see the establishment of a stronger, selfgoverning, white-ruled South Africa to which it could hand over the responsibility for governing the country as a whole, including the black states. To this end, already in the 1870s, they were trying to get the British colonies and Boer republics to unite and create a local white state that could be relied on to serve the imperial interests of Britain. This was the so-called“confederation scheme”. It came to nothing at the time, mainly because of Boer resistance. It was not until the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902 that Boer resistance to British imperialism was finally broken, and with it the final obstacle to unification, which came eventually in 1910, when modern South Africa was born.

Once the process of incorporation of African states under white rule had begun, it continued until there were no independent African people left. The Tswana people of the Northern Cape (present-day Northwest province) and Bechuanaland (present-day Botswana) came under British rule in 1885. The former became part of the Cape Colony, and the latter a separate British protectorate. Britain kept control of Botswana in order to keep control of the“road to the north”, to prevent expansion by the Transvaal republic and to forestall German ambitions in central Africa after Germany had set up its own colony in Namibia to the west. The area to the north, modern-day Zimbabwe, was regarded as potentially rich in gold, and the British did not want anybody else getting there before they did. The last African people in South Africa to be conquered (in 1898) were the Venda in the far north of the Transvaal (present-day Limpopo province) under Chief Mphephu.

Magistrates, tax collectors, traders and labour recruiters all arrived with colonial rule; together they began to undermine the old order. As Africans turned more and more to labour migrancy, homesteads and villages were robbed of the labour of their young men. But this did not happen all at once, or in all areas to the same extent. We should also remember that many African people became small-scale commercial farmers, investing in new crops, in ploughs and trek oxen and sheep, and also in ox wagons for transport. For a time, many Africans as well as whites benefited from South Africa's economic development. For a time, South Africa's growing towns depended on African farmers for their food. But this was not to last. Government policies were based on the assumption that in South Africa white people were to be the producers and black people the workers.

What did white rule mean for Africans?

Africans’ experiences of white rule varied. From the 1830s, Xhosa-speaking peoples to the west of the Kei River had been incorporated into the Cape Colony. In keeping with nineteenth-century British liberal beliefs, which downplayed racial differences and stressed the level of “civilisation” of the individual, a policy of assimilation was followed. In theory, this meant full citizenship rights, including the right to vote, for all those who fulfilled certain qualifications, such as income and educational tests. This approach became known as the “Cape liberal tradition”. This tradition embodied important principles of non-racialism and equal treatment, although in practice such beliefs were probably not very widespread among white colonists. Certainly, the reality of white domination was never threatened. This liberal tradition assumed the superiority of European culture and ways of doing things.

As more and more Africans, particularly those in the Transkeian Territories, were incorporated in the Cape, liberal principles became weaker. By the end of the century, Africans were increasingly discriminated against. In the second half of the nineteenth century, scientific racism - the theory that Africans were naturally inferior to Europeans - was becoming more dominant in the European world. In Britain it displaced the now unfashionable view that black individuals could, with education, achieve complete equality with whites. While in the early nineteenth century many people in Europe and America fought for the liberation of black people from slavery and oppression, by the end of the century the dominant view among whites was that the races were unequal by their very nature. So the liberal tradition in the Cape Colony, which many members of the black elite valued greatly, was already in decline by the end of the century. White colonists increasingly resented black men participating in elections. (Women, black and white, did not have the right to vote at all at that time.)

In contrast to the Cape liberal tradition was the republican tradition, based on stark racial exclusion, in which no racial equality was possible. In the Transvaal and Orange Free State republics, only white people were ever considered to be citizens. Africans had no rights at all. In addition, those who became subject to white rule as labourers were usually stripped of all rights to land of their own. The Natal Colony was similar to the republics in not recognising any equality, but did set aside land for Africans to live on. Natal incorporated many small chiefdoms that had fallen under the Zulu King Shaka’s rule at the height of his power in earlier days. From the 1850s they were settled in reserves under chiefs (often appointed by white officials), and were ruled under their own customary law. The fact that Natal did not follow the policies of its sister colony in the Cape was partly due to the much weaker position of its white inhabitants, in terms of numbers and of security.

So, when the larger African states were brought under white rule, there were different policies in the different white states of South Africa. In practice, the segregationist policy that emerged as the policy for the country as a whole in the twentieth century drew from the different traditions. It followed the Natal example in setting aside reserves - what later became known as the “homelands” or “Bantustans”. Eventually the reserves were to make up some 13% of South Africa's land area. Within the white areas, increasingly the republican tradition of “baasskap” (white supremacy) prevailed. The Cape’s liberal tradition survived as an ideal for some whites, and for many blacks who benefited from it. However, whites increasingly rejected it in favour of the segregationist policy, which insisted on unbridgeable differences between the races and the way they were treated.

It is interesting to reflect that the liberal, integrationist policy of the Cape required Africans to assimilate to European culture and turn their backs on their traditional Africans ways and beliefs.

In the homelands, Africans were forced to live on communal land under the authority of chiefs, with their own codified customary law. From there, they were encouraged (or forced) to migrate into so-called white South Africa to sell their labour.

Segregationist policy - or apartheid as it became known - rejected the very idea of a common society for black and white, and recognised and reinforced "tradition" as a means of emphasising the differences between the races. Today most of us would argue that all people can and should join together in a common society, but one which allows people to embrace and celebrate their differences as well as what they share in common.

What were the economic and social impact of the discovery of gold?

Even more important than the discovery of diamonds was the discovery of gold on the Witwatersrand just south of Pretoria in 1886. The new city of Johannesburg sprang up in the middle of the biggest gold fields ever found in the world. A lot of the money made out of diamonds was now invested in buying up gold claims, and a new flood of investment arrived from Europe.

The richest deposits were very deep underground, and the deep-level mines required large investment and tens of thousands of workers to dig the precious metal out of the ground. At first it was not realised just how rich the deposits were, until by 1893 new technologies became available to extract the gold ore from deep in the earth.

Railways, which had already reached Kimberley from the Cape by 1885, were now built more rapidly than before. The first railway from the Cape reached Johannesburg in 1892, followed by lines from Delagoa Bay (now Maputo) and Durban. Railways revolutionised transport, which previously had depended on slow ox wagons. They gave a huge boost to trade, and made transporting people and goods much easier and faster.

The high costs involved made the gold mining companies especially determined to keep the price of African labour as low as possible. The companies joined together to share recruiting expenses in the rural areas, eventually forming large organisations whose job it was to ensure a steady supply of labour to the mines.

Migrant Labour System
African workers were recruited from the rural areas to work in the mines. They had to sign contracts for periods of up to a year. While they were at the mines, they lived in labour compounds.

They also co-operated to ensure that wage rates were kept low, and to ensure that competition between them for labour did not push wages up. The migrant labour system enabled the companies to keep their wages low by ensuring that workers never became fully urbanised, but maintained their homes in the rural areas, where their families supposedly lived from farming rather than wages.

The pass laws were used to ensure that Africans could not stay permanently in the urban areas. More and more African people came to experience migrancy as a central part of their lives.

Eventually, in the twentieth century, rural homesteads and villages often consisted of old people, women and children for much of the year, as men of working age went to the towns to earn wages. Moreover, labour migrancy bound the whole subcontinent together into a single economic system, based on the activities of traders and recruiters - often the same people were both - who used debt to force young men into wage labour far away from their homes. Southern Mozambique, for example, became a very important source of labour for the gold mines, with the full cooperation of the Portuguese authorities there, who also benefited from the system.

At the same time, the skilled work on the mines was reserved for immigrant white miners from Britain, Australia and elsewhere, who brought with them traditions of trade unionism.

Job Colour Bar
This was a system where Africans, no matter how experienced they became or how much responsibility they exercised in the mines, were always regarded as unskilled and paid a wage that often was little more than onetenth what a white miner could earn.

Their unions were able to keep the skilled work as a monopoly for white men, a system that from early on became law. This became known as the job colour bar, or job reservation. No black man could hope to become a skilled worker, no matter how long he worked in the mines. As more and more Afrikaners from the farms joined the mines, the situation often arose that black men knew far more about mining than the whites, but the white men were always regarded as being skilled and the black men as unskilled. They were paid accordingly. Thus, the institutions we associate with apartheid were developed on the gold mines, even more than the diamond mines.

What were the political effects of the discovery of gold?

The gold fields shifted the economic centre of the country to the Transvaal Republic, where the gold had been found. This was a situation that the mining companies and the British government could not tolerate for long. The Transvaal government of President Paul Kruger was not always sympathetic to the needs of the mining industry. It raised the costs of the industry through a system of industrial monopolies to its friends, for example in railway construction and the manufacture of dynamite. British domination in the region could never be secure as long as the Transvaal was independent and unsympathetic to Britain.

A new development was the seizure of the territory north of the Limpopo River. White settlers took up large stretches of land in Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe). This happened after the Ndebele King Lobengula had been pressurised into signing a treaty with the representatives of the British South Africa Company, granting them rights in his territory. In 1889 the British government had given this private company, headed by Cecil Rhodes, a charter to administer the new territory on behalf of the British Crown. Rhodes was a very wealthy man whose De Beers Company had by 1888 established control over the whole diamond industry. In 1890 Rhodes used his influence to become Prime Minister of the Cape Colony, making him by far the most powerful man in the region. He and his backers in Britain thought that the seizure of Rhodesia from its Ndebele and Shona inhabitants would open up new gold fields that they believed were to be found there.

They also hoped that it would surround and isolate the Boer government in the Transvaal, and force them to accept British terms. Rhodes’ role was an example of sub-imperialism. The British were content to allow Rhodes, using his local power base, to bring about the unified white-ruled South African state, including the Boer republics, that could be entrusted with maintaining the dominance of Britain in the region. Rhodes fell from power when, in an attempt to take control of the Transvaal Republic, he sent a military force under L.S. Jameson into the Transvaal at the end of 1895. The attempted coup failed and its leaders were arrested. Rhodes was forced to resign as Prime Minister of the Cape in disgrace. Methods that were used to overthrow African rulers were not seen as acceptable when aimed at a white-ruled country, which now had strong friends in the world, such as Germany.

sub-imperialism- the use of local forces to serve imperial purposes

However, important people in Britain and South Africa were still determined to end the independence of the Boer republics. If there was to be a war, it was important that the Boer government be made to look as if they were responsible. In 1897 Alfred Milnerwas sent as British High Commissioner, the highest local representative of the British government. He forced a conflict with the Transvaal. He used the grievances of the British workers on the goldfields, who were denied the right to vote in the Transvaal, in order to create a crisis. In 1899 war broke out after the Kruger government ignored British demands.

The Anglo-Boer War was a war between British imperialism and Boer republicanism over control of South Africa's destiny and its mineral wealth. The British had massive military superiority, and thought the war would be over quickly. In fact, it lasted more than two and a half years, due to the Boer guerrilla tactics. The British had no answer to these tactics except to lay waste the Boer farms and herd all living on them, black as well as white, into concentration camps.

It was a quarrel in which black South Africans were not supposed to have any part. However, black South Africans did play a role - as participants on both sides, as scouts, transport workers and even as armed fighters. Many thousands of Africans who lived on the farms of the republics were herded into concentration camps where many died from illness and hunger. Many others profited by supplying the military forces with foodstuffs, livestock and fuel. Some believed the British propaganda that the war was intended to liberate black people from oppression, and backed the imperial cause for that reason. They were to be greatly disappointed.

In fact, after the long and very costly war was over, the British abandoned the cause of black rights, as they were determined to win the Boers over to the idea of a united white nation. In the Treaty of Vereeniging which ended the war, the question of the rights of black people was left to a future white government to decide. There was no room for black demands in a country that was meant to serve white people.

After the war, the fate of South Africa lay in the hands of Lord Milner and his administrators, mostly men he brought from Britain who were loyal to the imperial cause. They were determined to make South Africa Englishspeaking by flooding the country with British immigrants, and by anglicising the Boers - the Dutch or Afrikaners as they were now increasingly known. This strategy did not work, and from 1905 a new British government tried a friendlier approach to the Afrikaners. A group of white South Africans ”” Afrikaners and English-speaking - from the Transvaal and the Cape, particularly Jan Smuts and J.X. Merriman, took the lead in pushing for unification of the four colonies into a proposed Union of South Africa. After the former republics were given self-government in 1906-1907, with only whites allowed to vote, a National Convention with representatives of all four white governments met in 1908-1909. They drew up a constitution for the Union, which was established on 31 May 1910.

What role did Africans play in shaping their history?

Black people were never just victims, to be pushed around at the whim of white men. Africans were able to some degree to shape the way they were drawn into the new economic and political system. To look at Africans’ own active role in the making of modern South Africa is not to downplay the harshness of white supremacy, but to recognise that Africans shaped their own history, too.

The role of Africans as producers of foodstuffs for the early towns and cities cannot be underestimated. Overcrowding in the reserves due to land loss elsewhere gradually ate away at rural productivity. Despite this, in the
late nineteenth century and into the twentieth, an African peasantry thrived, in some areas more than others. On white-owned farmland, the African tenants were successful small-scale farmers, handing over a share of their crop to white landlords as rent. These black sharecroppers were often more successful than the debt-ridden whites, who clung to the land only with the help of the black tenants on whom they depended, despite the attempts of white governments both before and after Union to make such practices illegal.

Often our picture of white domination in South African history hides the extent to which whites depended on blacks for their survival, and the hidden ways in which blacks managed to use the system to their own advantage. In the political realm, these years saw the rise of black protest politics. We can distinguish between “primary” and “secondary” resistance. Primary resistance was the armed resistance of African societies under their chiefs against white aggression, conquest, and the loss of their land and independence. Secondary resistance was the politics of the new educated elites - graduates of mission schools, teachers, journalists, ministers and office workers - who led the new nationalist organisations. In practice, the difference between the two was not always clear. “Old” and “new” elites, the chiefs and the educated men, often co-operated and worked together.

Chiefs were sometimes themselves educated men. The last major uprising of the chiefs was Bambatha's rebellion in Natal in 1906-1907, sparked by a new tax imposed on African men by the colonial government. The Zulu King Dinuzulu was accused of being behind the uprising, and was prosecuted and sent into exile. The rebellion was in defence of a traditional patriarchal order, but for young men it was also a rebellion against the old order.

The new political leaders - men like J.T. Jabavufrom the Eastern Cape, Sol Plaatjeof Kimberley and John Dubeof Natal - found themselves in a difficult position. All three of these men were closely associated with the earliest African-language newspapers. They had little mass support - after all, literacy was rare at the time - and depended on petitions, personal contacts with white officials and friendly persuasion to try to get whites to listen to them. A high point of their early campaigns was the delegation to London in 1909 to protest against the constitution adopted for the new Union of South Africa. Their faith in the good intentions of the British government proved to be misplaced. They never made radical demands, but tried to gain admission to the political process for the privileged few.

They did not directly challenge white supremacy, but tried to soften its impact. Their main concerns were with preserving and extending the vote that they had enjoyed in the Cape Colony, and with access to land for their people. They were sometimes prepared to make compromises with segregation. However, they were operating in a very different world, in which their choices were very limited, and the idea of overthrowing the white state was unthinkable.

The early political elite also started developing a philosophy of African nationalism, a belief in African self-reliance, with a history and worldview separate from that of Europeans. They organised themselves to further their own interests. The earliest political organisations emerged in the Eastern Cape, the area with the longest contact with the colonial world. In the early twentieth century, though, such organisations sprang up in the other parts of the country as well, culminating in the founding of the South African Native National Congress (later renamed the African National Congress) in 1912.

Some Africans were already travelling to the United States to study, and were bringing back ideas of self-improvement through education. Dube was one, founding the Ohlange Institute on his return. Pan-Africanism was also a philosophy that they brought back with them - the belief in the unity of the African peoples, both in Africa and in America. The emergence of the Ethiopian churches from the 1890s, led by men who rebelled against their restricted and subordinate role in the white-led churches, reflected these beliefs.

What forms of conflict were there besides racial ones?

The black-white divide was not the only division in South African history. There were class divisions as well. Not all Africans faced dispossession and impoverishment. Some chiefs who chose to collaborate found their position strengthened under white rule. In the same way, not all white people were equally privileged; there were white victims, too. Many Afrikaners, who had no other home than South Africa, became poor as they lost access to their land and were forced into wage labour in the towns and cities. As agriculture became more intensive and a new breed of white entrepreneur landowners - often people who lived in towns and did not have much time for the “poor whites” - bought up the land, the old rural Boer economy collapsed. Like many Africans, these Afrikaners had few skills and little education. Many lost their land because of debt, or because of an inability to adapt to a capitalist world demanding more productivity on the land. They could not compete in the new capitalist economy.

White poverty was a major problem facing white governments, especially after the Anglo-Boer War. The big difference was that white poverty was regarded as a problem that had to be solved, and black poverty was regarded as a natural condition that whites did not have to worry about. The Afrikaner experience of economic dispossession and defeat in war caused a backlash that took the form of Afrikaner nationalism, which eventually was to take over the government of the country as a whole.

Divisions between employers and white trade unions also caused much conflict. The worst strikes in these years were those by the white workers on the gold mines. White mineworkers objected to attempts by the mining companies to reduce costs by reducing the number of white miners. One example of resistance was the great strike of 1907; another was the even bigger one of 1922. Black workers were not allowed to organise, and were kept under close control in the compounds. Some brave early labour activists and socialists realised that the interests of black and white workers were the same, and that they should act together. Most white trade unionists, though, put white interests ahead of black interests, and fought for a better deal for white workers at the expense of the black workers.

In all this, the single biggest gap so far is surely the women, who so often are hidden from history. How did industrial development, urbanisation and the massive rise of wage labour affect them? When men migrated, the burden of keeping the rural economy, tending the crops and ensuring that food was produced fell on the women as never before. In practice, they often became family heads. Many women moved to town themselves, for all sorts of reasons. African women in towns lived very difficult lives, as they were usually rebelling against male dominance in their home societies. Their economic activities (such as beer brewing) were often illegal. In new urban areas such as Johannesburg, most domestic servants at first were men (“houseboys” they were called by whites), as black women were not seen as belonging in town. Afrikaner women, on the other hand, moved to town with their menfolk and often found work that was denied to black women. In the long run, the more permanent urbanisation of white families helped them become more fully part of the urban economy, unlike Africans who were never allowed to see themselves as having rights to family life in town.

The white mineworkers’ strike of 1922


It seems that there are many different people whose history needs to be told, white as well as black, rich as well as poor, powerful as well as powerless. So, whose history is the correct one? Everyone's history is valid. There is no single historical truth, but many different stories that must be told and listened to. The more historical voices we hear, the better.