From the book: The Segregation Fallacy and Other Papers by D.D.T Jabavu
The theory of Segregation as a solution of the 'Native question in South Africa has for fifteen years been associated with the name of General Hertzog. He became the Prime Minister in 1924 and introduced his segregation scheme in the shape of the Civilized Labour Policy; the Colour Bar Act of 1926, and his series of four Native Bills.
Under the Civilised Labour Policy the object is to eliminate the Bantu people out of all the industries, skilled and unskilled, by a gradual process, especially in the railway system, and to substitute the labour of the "poor whites"-a section of the European population numbering about 130,000 who have sunk so low in social and economic life as to be a burden and a drag on the State. The expression " Civilised Labour Policy " has been adopted as a political figment to conceal the true aim of the policy, which is that of repressÂing the blacks in industry and uplifting indigent whites at the expense of the State. The Colour Bar Act has been rightly described as a blot on the escutcheon of European civilisation inasmuch as it seeks to hinder by artificial means the natural and legitimate development of the Africans in skilled mechanical industries. The Natives, who possess the machinery of an annual Government Conference, and of whom some are voters in the Cape were not only never consulted, not were time and again blankly refused a hearing while the bill was steam-rollered through parliament in the teeth of powerful organised protests by missionary and other non-political bodies that represent unbiassed European opinion. Under Act 23 of 1920 the Natives are entitled to consultation on all-important legislation that vitally affects them. This legal undertaking has thus been openly violated. In connection with the Native Bills we have no grievance on the score of non-consultants for the Native Affairs Commission visited all Native districts, obtained opinions on the spot, and registered these in their Report of 1926. Also the Government Native Conference considered the bills and categorically rejected them in November 1926, the principal objection being the abolition of the Cape Native franchise. The Natives on the whole have never wavered nor changed opinions on that decision to the present day. If word Segregation means anything in South Africa means the Hertzogian policy, which we have just summarised. The policy is in many respects original and unlike anything we knew of in other countries except the Jim Crow system of the Southern States of America where it has resulted in lynching and terrible race conflicts.
Under ordinary circumstances we do find segreÂgation as a common phenomenon in the old countries of Europe and Asia. Historically it is associated with territorial boundaries of nationality fixed and confirmed by acts of conquests. Never dictated by internal legislation, it has been the spontaneous result of mutually accepted convention in such matters as inter-marriage race fusion and social intermingling, guaranteed by the will power and national pride that jealously guard race purity out of an idealistic desire for race integrity. Allied to this ethnic tendency we find the existing interÂnational groups that voluntarily organise themselves to carry on their purposes of religion, education, art, music, science, agriculture, trade-unionism and so on, all cutting athwart the frontiers of political states and racial divisions. Even in the Southern districts of the United States of America where the Jim Crow system is most rabid there is no legalised discrimination on racial lines in the matters just mentioned. But in South Africa the Hertzogian system is worked on the tradition of the Transvaal and Orange Free State where the State law was that there shall be no equality between the European and the African in Church or State. The constitution of South Africa contains a colour-bar that precludes the African from membership in Parliament. The very primary school syllabus is divided into Higher and Lower certificates for white and black pupils respectively on colour lines. Even in State funds which are raised on an equality and parity by all citizens the grants for education are divided on colour lines so that the State contributes about £15 per white pupil and for the African pupils only a lump sum that works out at £2 per pupil and which is now doomed by a new law never to increase proporÂtionately with the number of school children that may attend school but fixed eternally on a procrustean bed of a lump sum that must never exceed a particular figure arbitrarily dictated by the GovernÂment. These are the first fruits of Segregation. Under this Hertzogian system of Segregation the forces of the legislature are mobilised to hinder the natural progress of one section of the population in their legitimate development. This means that those who have risen by the efforts of self-sacrifice, character, education and achievement to the top of success are to be penalised and automatically repressed by means such as we see instituted under the items of education and industry. This type of segregation is based ultimately on no nobler foundation than the brute power of military force for the purpose of maintaining European domination. We readily agree that the European has, by virtue of conquest, every right to choose his mode of administration, reinforce his power of capital and brains with military science, plunder, and proceed to impose Pass Laws, Curfew Bells, Land Acts and disfranchise reason.
Granting that this policy enforceÂment we submit that it belongs to generations long extinct. The philosophy of the modern world has swung away from in the vogue of repression as an ideal of administration.
The policy of the Cape Province, the old Cape Colony, has historically been the antithesis of Hertzogian Segregation and its results have amply proved it to be worthy of general adaptation to the northern provinces of the Union of South Africa. Those of us who were born under it have every reason to admire it and to make an appeal to those European friends whose ancestors framed it, to arise and protect it from its impending abolition by its enemies who now assert it was premature and mistaken. We appeal to all Native Welfare Societies, Joint Councils and other patriotic groups to study it and understand why it has produced the happiest section of the Bantu people in the Union so far as pride of citizenship is concerned. The Cape policies dispensed with the Pass Laws winch are the constant source of racial friction in the Transvaal. It never caused its authors any embarrassment with regard to miscegenation, interÂmarriage and intermixture in religion and educaÂtion, leaving these questions to the sensible judgment of its wise citizens on both sides of the colour line. It obviated many legal inequalities by its liberal spirit of giving a square deal, in tramcars and public offices. It assumed from the very first that white men, if worth their salt, need not fear black, competition because they are well able to take care of themselves without any legislative buttress, being two thousand years older in civilisation. It adopted the Native in the firm of the British nation as a junior partner, as has been well said with equal rights. The Cape took the long view and gave the Native at once and in accordance with his stage of development all the possible privileges he would inevitably and ultimately aspire to at the furthest end of his development. It followed the course of reasonableness at all times and taught us Booker T. Washington's principle that we may be as separate as the fingers in matters social but as strong as the hand in national solidarity; thus inculcating the fact that we are not a separate nation within a nation, an imperium in imperio, but an integral part of the single State of South Africa. It ensured that whensoever the Bantu should seek, even at an extreme moment of mental perversity, to force a racial issue, they should be countered in advance by the timeless existence of unalloyed justice. In this manner it incidentally eliminated the type of racial snobbery that is the bane of our Northern provinces. By virtue of sympathetic contact it recognised that colour prejudice was due to mutual ignorance, and realised that fear, the fear about which we hear so much nowadays concerning' Native progress and the impending ruin of white civilisation, could be entertained only by one inwardly conscious of one's own inferiority in open competition.
In brief, the Cape policy opened wide the door to all men and originated the well known dictum of Cecil Rhodes about equal rights for all civilised men south of the river Zambesi. Unlike the new segregation that aims at repression on the lines of barbarous ages, it gives us the nearest approximaÂtion to the ideals of freedom that are now accepted by the world of Christendom with reference to the realisation of individual personality and respect for nationality everywhere. The true salvation of the Bantu people in South Africa will therefore lie not in Segregation as recently expounded hut in the faithful interpretation of the British constitution and its implications of justice that afforded all men without discrimination the unstinted opportunity for self-development and the acquisition of a just share in political influence.
South Africa, we are pleased to observe, is not quite devoid of patriotic citizens who - believe that its happy future in race relationships will come about as a result of friendly interracial conferences. The history of the last decade provides an interestÂing list of such meetings. In 1919 a Native of this country for the first time attracted a large EuroÂpean audience and gave an address on agricultural matters in the University of Johannesburg with general acceptance. The experiment was successfully repeated in 1930 in the same place when he gave a lecture on " The Urgent Necessity of CoÂoperation in the Solution of the 'Native Problem." Another indigenous African, the late Dr. J. E. K. Aggrey, in the following year thrilled great white audiences with his meteoric lectures on Co-operation in Johannesburg, Stellenbosh, Port Elizabeth and many other towns, leaving behind him the valuable legacy of the Rand Joint Council of EuroÂpeans and Bantu. Another worthy Negro orator the Rev. Max Yergan, M.A., Secretary of the-World's Student Christian Movement has during the last six years done admirable work in bringing white and black to a better understanding. The same year a Bantu speaker addressed enthusiastic European listeners in Kokstad, Butterworth. Cala, Aliwal North and Cape Town. In 1933 and I937 the Dutch Reformed Church Council conducted successful conferences in Johannesburg and Cape Town respectively on the Native question in which leading Europeans and Bantu representatives took part on terms of equality and with amicable relations.
In 1924 a similar gathering of urban advisory boards took place in Johannesburg, while in the same year a meeting of European students of the Cape Peninsula, mostly Dutch speaking, invited a Native to address them under the auspices of the Students' Christian Association (S.C.A.). Between 1925 and 1926 five vacation schools were held in the Universities of Cape Town and the Witwatersrand and at Fort Hare at which white and black students attended and sat side by side without any mishap. We have had even a government commission composed of Europeans and "Natives- the 1919 Education Commission of the Cape Province presided over by Dr. J. W. Viljoen. Several Native Child Welfare Associations have recently been established in the Cape Province of which the committee members are partly Europeans and partly non-Europeans with cases where the chairman is a Non-European elected by unanimous acclamation. While the triennial conference of the Students' Christian Association of the European Universities has been addressed by black men at Pretoria in 1925 and at Port Elizabeth in 1928, a group of S. C. A. students drawn from the UniverÂsities of Cape Town, Stellenbosch and Huguenot College travelled to Alice in 1927 and held a successful series of meetings with the Native students of Lovedale and Fort Hare who belong to the same movement. A similar conference has been organised for September 1928 under the aegis of the National Union of South African students where white students are to engage in friendly discussion with black at Fort Hare and LovedaIe.
These are straws that show which way the wind is blowing, indicating that the younger generation is gradually working away from the antediluvian notions of segregation founded on mutual ignorance and suspicion.
It is our belief that with the spread of better understandng in Church and college circles the future of South Africa is one we can contemplate with a fair degree of optimism in the hope that Christian influences will dispel illusions, transcend the mistaken political expedients of pseudo-segreÂgationists and usher in a South Africa of racial peace and goodwill.