22 March 1907
In 1906, the Transvaal government promulgated a new Act which enforced registration of the colony's Indian population. At a mass protest meeting held in Johannesburg on September 11th that year, MK Gandhi adopted his methodology of satyagraha (devotion to the truth) or non-violent protest for the first time. He called on his fellow Indians to defy the new law and suffer the punishments for doing so, rather than resist through violent means. This plan of satyagraha was adopted, but the campaign gained momentum when the Asiatic Law Amendment Act was passed in Transvaal parliament on 22 March 1907. The Asiatic Law Amendment Act, 2/1907 ("The Black Act") was identical to Ordinance 29/1906. All male Asians were required to register and be finger printed, and certificates (passes) were to be carried at all times. These certificates would have to be shown to police on demand. The amendment of the 'Black Act' seemed to mobilize more Indian people in the Transvaal into joining Gandhi's Satyagraha campaign. On 29 March 1907, Transvaal Indian's met at a mass meeting to protest against the Asiatic Registration Act and offered voluntary registration. This lead to a seven-year struggle in which thousands of Indians were jailed including Gandhi himself on many occasions. Protesters were flogged or even shot for striking, refusing to register, burning their registration cards, or engaging in other forms of non-violent resistance. The government was successful in repressing the Indian protesters. However, the public was outraged at the harsh methods employed by the South African government in the face of peaceful Indian protesters. Therefore, South African General Jan Christiaan Smuts was forced to negotiate a compromise with Gandhi. Sources: Wallis, F. (2000). Nuusdagboek: feite en fratse oor 1000 jaar, Kaapstad: Human & Rousseau. The Satyagraha Campaign: 1906-1914 [online], available at: sahistory.org.za [accessed 19 March 2009]