Liberation history Timeline 1920-1929


Clements Kadalie. Founder member of the ICU.

The period of the 1920s was largely marked by growth of the ICU and a largely weakened African National Congress (ANC). Also significant in this period was the formation of the Communist Party of the South Africa (CPSA). This resulted in tensions between the ANC and the Communist Party of the South Africa (CPSA) as some members and leaders of the ANC embraced communism. Even more apparent was increasing segregation against Indians in South Africa. A number anti Indian legislation was passed throughout the 1920s extending to the 1930s.         

The Housing Act is passed. This Act made funds available for the government to house the poor. “The resultant estates were required to be racially segregated, separated from one another by open spaces and with separate access roads” (Christopher, 1994: 38)
The Cape Native Teachers’ Association is formed with Elijahn Makiwane as one of the founder members and DDT Jabavu later serving as its president.
Albert Luthuli attends the Higher Teachers' Training Course at Adams College on a scholarship and joins the staff upon the successful completion of the course.
Brian Percy Bunting, member of the SACP and editor of the Guardian is born in Johannesburg.
February, The South African National Native Congress (SANNC) helps organise a strike of more than 40 000 African mineworkers on the Witwatersrand.
The Asiatic Inquiry Commission, headed by Sir Johannes Lange, is appointed to inquire into laws concerning the right of Asiatics to trade and acquire fixed property in the Union.
March, General Jan Smuts forms a government with a narrow parliamentary majority.
The Native Affairs Act No. 23 is passed. This Act was yet another outcome of the South African Native Affairs Commissions report of 1905, and led to the creation of a countrywide system of tribally based, but government appointed, district councils. These councils were modelled on the lines of the Glen Grey Act of 1894. The SANNC participates in Native Conferences that are held under this new Act. The Act also paves the way for the establishment of the Native Affairs Commission to investigate the pass law problem, as “Natives were chafing under these irritating laws”¦” (General Smuts in Karis and Carter, 1989: 311)
The Transvaal Mine Clerks' Association is formed under the leadership of A.W.G. Champion. The aim of the Association was to bring together literate Africans who held a small number of low-level clerical and supervisory positions open to Africans on the mines.
12 May, The Asiatic Inquiry Commission submits an interim report.
11 June, Meshach Pelem president of the Bantu Union gives his testimony before the Select Committee on Native Affairs with regards to the Native Affairs Bill. 
15 June, J.T Jabavu and Rev Z.R Mahabane testify before the Select Committee on Native Affairs with regards to the Native Affairs Bill.  To read Jabavu’s testimony click here and for Mahabane’s testimony click here.
July, A National Convention of African and Coloured workers is held in Bloemfontein under the chairmanship of Selby Msimang. At the conference Clements Kadalie puts forward a new constitution for the Industrial and Commercial Union (ICU) as a nation-wide union.
D.D.T Jabavu, eldest son of J.T. Jabavu and the first African professor, presents his paper, “Native Unrest”, to the Natal Missionary Conference. The paper surveys the condition of the African in South Africa.
11 July, Hudson William Edison Ntsanwisi, future Vice-President of the Transvaal African Teachers Union, is born at the Shiluvane Mission Station in the Letaba District of Limpopo.
8 August, Nimrod Sejake, a trade unionist and ANC member is born in Evaton.
October, The Industrial Socialist League and the Communist League (a splinter group of the ISL) unite to form the first Communist Party of South Africa. Their application to Moscow to become the official party of South Africa is refused. The official founding conference occurs in 1921.
23 October, Workers affiliated to the Industrial and Commercial Union (ICU) hold a meeting in Port Elizabeth to demand higher wages. Samuel Masabalala the organiser of the meeting is arrested following a disturbance. The workers protest against Samuel Masabalala’s arrest sparks a violent response from White vigilantes and policemen. As a result 24 African people and one White person are killed.
24 November, Clements Kadalie is arrested and issued with a deportation order which declares him a prohibited immigrant and orders him to leave the Union of South Africa within three days.
December, P.K. Naidoo and others form the Congress Resuscitation Committee (CRC) to resuscitate the Natal Indian Congress (NIC) that had become defunct after a split with M.K Gandhi in 1913.
11 December, Olive Schreiner dies at the age of 65 in Wynberg, Cape Town.
The South African Party (SAP) merges with the Unionist Party.
Mary Fitzgerald becomes the first female City Councillor in Johannesburg.
Rev. Z. R. Mahabane addresses the Cape branch of the SANNC. To read his address click here.
Four branches of Garvey’s Negro Mutual Improvement Society are opened in Cape Town. However, these collapse by 1924.
Josiah Gumede is appointed full-time General Organiser for the SANNC. His duties include touring the Union in search of financial assistance.
Clements Kadalie writes to James La Guma asking him to return to Cape Town to assist with the administration of the ICU. On his return, La Guma becomes the Union’s Assistant General Secretary and manager of the official newspaper, Worker’s Herald.
February, National elections take place. General Jan Smuts’ government remains in power, with an increased parliamentary majority.
3 March, The Asiatic Inquiry Commission concludes its activities and submits its final report:
It rejects the grievances of the South African League and proposes a system of voluntary repatriation and segregation of Indians.
It recommends that existing legislation on Indians in the Transvaal be retained, but that new measures be introduced in Natal to prohibit Indians from buying agricultural land in a specified area along the coast.
5 March, Anti-Indian Legislation is passed:
The Provincial Council of Natal approves the Township Franchise 
Ordinance, which deprives Indians of their municipal franchise rights. The Union Government, however, vetoes the ordinance.
The Durban Land Alienation Ordinance, No. 14 of 1921 (Natal), enables the Durban City Council to exclude Indians from the ownership or occupation of property in White areas.
The Provincial Council of Natal approves the Rural Dealers Licensing Ordinance, which limits Indian trader’s right of appeal against the refusal of trading licences by municipal licensing officers.
 March, The Natal Indian Congress (NIC) is resuscitated and reorganised at a meeting in Durban. Ismail Gora is elected President.
24 May, Frustrated White authorities finally resort to the use of force after the Israelites Millenarian (see below for explanation) Separatist Sect repeatedly refuse to move from outside of Bulhoek in the Cape Province, where they had been squatting for over a year. When a reinforced Police Unit is sent led by Police Commissioner Colonel Theodore Truter, the Israelites launch an attack armed with clubs, assegais and swords. They are fired upon by the police and more than 180 people are killed, 100 wounded and 150 were arrested.” The incident became known as the Bulhoek Massacre. Prophet Enoch Mgijima, the leader of the Sect, and his two brothers, are arrested.
Millenarianism is often the last resort of desperate people”¦ can be seen as a reaction against a steady tightening of White control in the ‘native areas’, running in tandem with greater industrialization and increasing demands for cheap migrant labour”¦” (Giliomee: 2007)
June, A Non-European Convention is held in Kimberly to protest against the pass laws and the Hertzog Bills (which proposes the removal of the limited Cape franchise). Dr. Abdurahman of the African People's Organisation (APO) is elected as the chairperson.
20 June, The Imperial Conference begins in London. At the Conference, V.S. Srinivasa Sastri, the Indian representative, puts forward a strong case for the granting of full citizenship rights to Indians in South Africa and other British colonies. The South African Prime Minister, General J.C. Smuts, opposes Sastri’s resolution that calls for equality, and maintains that he cannot grant the franchise to Indians while withholding it from Blacks.
July, John Dube attends the Second Pan-African Congress in London.
Ghananian educator, J. E. G. Aggrey visits South Africa on an endowment mission to study African education. This prompts concerned Whites and members of African middle class to form the Joint Councils of Europeans and Blacks in major South African cities. As a result the first Joint Council is formed in Johannesburg.
23 July, Selby Msimang delivers a speech before the second conference of the ICU in Cape Town. At the conference a resolution is passed to: “dissociate itself from any political body whatever, but”¦solely to propagate the industrial economic and social advancement of all the African workers through the industrial action on constitutional lines, and”¦not foster or encourage antagonism towards other established bodies, political, or otherwise, of African people”¦”
30 July – 1 August, The founding conference of the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) takes place in Cape Town and the party’s manifesto is adopted. The ISL joins other organisations to form the CPSA. William H. Andrews is elected as first General Secretary and Sidney Bunting is elected Treasurer and becomes editor of The International.
10 September, J.T Javabu dies at the age of 62 at the home of his son D.D.T Jabavu at Fort Hare.
November, One-hundred and sixty-two women are arrested by the police in Maquard, Free State for protesting pass laws.
21 November, The trial of the accused in the Bulhoek Massacre commences. Prophet Enoch Migijima, the leader of the Millenarian Separatist Sect, and his two brothers are given a six year sentence for leading people in protest against forced removals by White authorities. However, they are released in 1923.
16 December, The CPSA calls for a united front in a pass burning campaign on Dingaan's Day.
In South Africa the nomadic Nama people are forced from their lands near the mouth of the Orange River following the British discovery of diamonds in the area over a period of 8 years.
The Stallard Report of the Transvaal Local Government Commission recommends allowing 'natives' in the ur­ban areas only 'as long as their presence is demanded by the wants of the White population'.
The first significant action by women in the rural areas occurs in Hershel. They boycott stores as a result of price hikes using passive resistance tactics that had been used earlier in the Free State.
New laws are passed which fix the funding of African education with additional funding to come from the Africans themselves. The result is continual under-funding of African education.
The Apprenticeship Act is passed which gave unionized White workers a secure position by setting educational qualifications for apprenticeship in numerous trades. Such educational levels make it difficult for Africans to be apprenticed since they lack the means to meet the prescribed level of educational qualifications.
A South African Indian deputation, supported by Sir Jamshetji Jeejibhoy and other Indian leaders, meets the Viceroy.
The Transvaal Native Mine Clerks Association hands a memorandum to the Mining Industry Board.
The SANNC receives an invite to attend a race conference in New York hosted by the Garveyite Universal Negro Improvement Society (UNIA).
Inkatha kaZulu is formed as a cultural movement and gains the support of the Zulu monarchy and becomes a rival to Congress, especially in Natal.
February, White miners embark on what has become known as The Rand Rebellion, or Rand Revolt, in protest to the replacement of 2000 semi-skilled White labourers by cheap Black labour. Initially Whites were protected by the Colour Bar Act, which advocated job reservation for them. The fall of the Rand after WWI had a heavy financial impact on mine owners leading them to a reduction in costs, especially on labour.
The ICU condemns the attack on Blacks during the Rand Rebellion in a meeting in Cape Town, and calls upon the government to act against the offenders.
March, The Bondelswarts rebellion takes place in South West Africa, government forces kill 100 of the Bondelswarts, who had been resisting against paying taxes.
The White miners' general strike becomes an armed clash between strikers and government.
The First Native Conference is held under provisions of the Native Affairs Act of 1920.
22 March, The Rand Rebellion is brought to a brutal end by the police.
June, The third conference of the ICU takes place in Queenstown and resolved to recognise the SANNC and APO as the official Black political bodies.
2 June, Sidney Bunting and his wife, Rebecca, travel to Moscow, Russia, to attend the Congress of the Communist International.
September, Rev. Selope Thema, founding member of the SANNC, encourages biracial meetings in an article published in The Guardian.
4 October, Inauguration of Witwatersrand University
November, William H. Andrews is elected to the Executive Committee of the Communist International.
An SANNC delegation meets with the Prime Minister to protest the exclusion of African freehold title in the Urban Areas Bill.
The Transvaal Native Congress (TNC) forms a branch in Alexandra with John L. Mophosho as president and T.S. Mngadi as general secretary.
Tembu Chief Dalindyebo dies at Silimela. He is replaced by Chief David Jongintaba Dalindyebo who becomes the Regent as Dalidyebo’s son is a minor.
The issue of pass laws is discussed at a Native Conference, held under the Native Land Act of 1920. Present at the conference is Selby Msimang, Sefako Mapogo Makgatho, Rev Z.R Mahabane, Thomas Mapikela, D.D.T Jabavu, Charlotte Maxeke, Dr. Molema, Selope Thema, Walton Fenyang, Meshach Pelem and S.F Zibi, amongst others. To read extracts from the conference click here.
Minister of Interior, Sir Patrick Duncan, introduces Class Areas Bill, which proposes compulsory residential and trading segregation for Indians throughout South Africa.
April, The National Party and South African Labour Party conclude an electoral pact to challenge General Smuts’ government.
28 April, The official second congress of the CPSA is opened by William H. Andrews at the Trades Hall in Johannesburg. The office bearers for the year are elected:
Chairman: Julius First
Vice-Chairman: Sam Barlin
Secretary: William H. Andrews
Treasurer: Sydney Ward
Organiser: C.F. Glass
Central Executive: A. Goldman, R. Gelblum, H. Lee, S. Rubin, E. Roux, R. Rabb, W. Ward
May, William H. Andrews leaves for Russia to take up duties as a full-time officer on the Comintern committee. As a result Sidney Bunting takes his place as Secretary of the CPSA.
Publication of the Workers' Herald, the newspaper of the ICU, begins. It is published in English, Xhosa, Sotho and Zulu.
28-29 May, At its annual conference the SANNC changes its name to the African National Congress (ANC). To read other resolutions made at this conference click here.
31 May, The mayor of Durban, Walter Gilbert J.P, officially opens the third national conference of Indian organisations in the Durban Town Hall. The Conference formally decides to establish the South African Indian Congress (SAIC) and Omar Hajee Amod Jhaveri is elected its first President.
1-3 June, The third national conference of Indian organisations continues at Parsee Rustomjee Hall in Queen Street, Durban. The Conference draws up and adopts the constitution and standing orders of the newly established South African Indian Congress.
14 June, The Native (Black) Urban Areas Act No 21 is passed. This Act devolves the function of implement­ing pass laws and administering African townships onto White municipalities; property rights are not allowed in the 'locations'. The Act:
Made each local authority responsible for the Blacks in its area. ‘Native advisory boards' regulated influx control and removed ‘surplus' people, i.e. those who were not employed in the area.
The country was divided into prescribed (urban) and non- prescribed areas, movement between the two being strictly controlled (Horrell 1978: 2-3). This Act was consolidated by the 1945 Blacks (Urban Areas) Consolidation Act.
The Act is legislated on a broad front to regulate the presence of Africans in the urban areas. It was only intermittently applied until the end of the 1940s. The ANC, through Abantu-Batho, makes it known that it opposes the Act as it promotes and strengthens segregation.
26 July, Trade unionist, ANC member and Rivonia treason trialist Elias Motsoaledi is born in Sekhukhuniland.
September, The European-Bantu Conference is held under the auspices of the Dutch Reformed Church. It encourages the African National Congress to withdraw from direct political action. To read extracts of the conference’s proceedings and resolutions click here.
14 December, At a meeting for the Central Committee of the CPSA, a letter from veteran trade unionist Harry Haynes, is read out voicing his objection to the Party’s ‘native policy’ which had been under serious debate.
21 December, James Thaele, in the first conference of Black Affairs, under the sponsorship of the Dutch Reformed Church, calls for Independent African Action. To read the article published in The Worker’s Herald click here.
Clements Kadalie publishes an article in The Workers’ Herald entitled ‘African Labour Congress’.
The Cape Native Voters’ Convention is formed.
The ICU has an internal struggle over its relationship with the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA).
Samuel Masabalala is dismissed from the ICU for negligence and financial irregularities. As a result a decision is taken that in future all the money collected by the branches should be centralised.
J.G. Gumbs is elected president of the ICU.
J.B Marks and Johannes Nkosi join the CPSA.
A series nti-Indian Legislation
The Township Franchise Ordinance, Natal: This Ordinance deprived Indians of municipal franchise.
The Rural Dealers Ordinance, Natal: This Ordinance attempts to cripple Indian trade.
The Durban Land Alienation Ordinance, Natal: This Ordinance prevented Indian ownership of land in white areas
The Boroughs Ordinance, Ordinance No. 189: This Ordinance effectively disenfranchises Indians in Natal by removing their right to vote in boroughs.
Colonel Creswell addresses the Native Conference on the government’s labour policy. The meeting is attended by John Dube, Selope Thema, Sefako Mapogo Makgatho, D.D.T Jabavu and Rev Z.R Mahabane amongst others. To read extracts of the proceedings click here.
27 January, The Natal Indian Congress and the Natal Indian Association jointly organises a mass meeting in Durban in opposition to the Class Areas Bill. The mass meeting is attended by 3000 Indians.
February, William H. Andrews returns to South Africa. He is elected as the first General Secretary of the South African Association of Employees' Organisations, which later becomes the South African Trade Union Congress.
8 February, Imam Adbullah Haron is born in Newlands-Claremont.
15 February, A deputation for the SAIC meets with the Minister of the Interior, Sir Patrick Duncan, and presents him with a memorandum setting out their objections concerning the Class Areas Bill.
April, After an invitation from the NIC, Mrs. Sarojini Naidu, a celebrated poetess from India, returns to South Africa from a visit to Kenya. She addresses scores of meetings and puts forward the case of the SAIC concerning the Class Areas Bill- in interviews with the Prime Minister, General J.C. Smuts, the Minister of the Interior, Sir Patrick Duncan, leaders of the Opposition and other prominent members of Parliament. She is also present in Parliament during its discussions of the Bill. The Government later decides not to pursue the Bill pending the general elections to be held in June.
April 8, Industrial Conciliation Act No 11 of 1924 is passed. It provided for job reservation. It also excluded Blacks from membership of registered trade unions and prohibited the registration of Black trade unions. The Act commenced on 8 April 1924 and was repealed by s 86 of the Industrial Conciliation Act No 36 of 1937.
April 21-25, The SAIC convenes an emergency conference in Durban. In a resolution adopted by the Conference, the SAIC approves Mrs Sarojini Naidus suggestion that a Round-table Conference be held between delegates from the SAIC, the Union Government and the Indian Government.
31 May, At the annual conference of the ANC, Rev. Z. R. Mahabane is elected as president. After formal application by representatives from the Transkei, the ANC’s annual convention formally recognises the Transkei as a province under the ANC’s constitution. The branch becomes known as the Transkeian Territories African Congress (ANC-TT).  To read other resolutions made at the conference click here.
June 17,The Pact coalition between the National Party and South African Labour Party wins the national election and General J.B.M. Hertzog becomes Prime Minister. The new Pact Government establishes the Department of Labour with Colonel F.H.P Creswell of the South African Labour Party as the Minister of Labour.
5 December, Robert Sobukwe, founder and first president of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), is born in Graaff-Reinet.
December 30, The third conference of the CPSA is dominated by the issue of whether to allow Africans membership. Bunting leads the pro-membership group while Andrews leads the opposition. All the delegates at the conference are white except for three Africans mentioned in the register as “visitors” – Thomas Mbeki, J.M.K Sibella and Silwana. A resolution is passed at the conference to focus on mass action and include Africans. Sidney Percival Bunting is elected as Chairman of the CPSA.
The Pact Government comes to power, under General Jan Smuts and General Barry Hertzog.
The Bill of Rights is adopted at the ANC’s national conference. The Conference also adopts Nkosi Sikelel’ i-Afrika (‘Lord Bless Africa’) as its anthem and a new flag, proposed by Thomas Levi Mvabaza,  with “black for the people, green for the land and gold for the riches” (Benson, 1985: 46).  
The Minimum Wages Act is passed which gives the Pact Government the power to determine wage rates within specific industries and to earmark certain trades for Whites only. Excluded from this Act are agricultural and domestic workers – the largest category of lowest paid African workers.
An attempt to extend pass laws to African women is blocked by a court decision instigated by ANC.
ICU headquarters are moved from Cape Town to Johannesburg and extend their activities to a nationwide basis. In Waaihoek a “stay-at-home” with well-organized pickets takes places under the auspices of the ICU.
At the annual ICU conference a new constitution is adopted which fixes the union's name as the Industrial and Commercial Workers' Union of Africa. The most significant change in the constitution is the abolition of the old general executive council and the establishment of the national council, composed of chief officers of the union. These are the president, the senior and junior vice-presidents, the secretary general, three trustees and provincial secretaries, all to be chosen at an annual conference from among those who had been members of the ICU for at least three months.
The ANC sends a deputation to meet with the Native Affairs Commission to discuss the election of political and labour representatives to the Native Conferences.
The Report of Native Churches Commission is published and states that: “‘the activities of Congress vary inversely with the prosperity’ of Africans” (Limb, 2010: 289).
The ANC Western Province establishes a labour bureau in Cape Town to assist its members.
The African World is established with the slogan ‘African for Africans’ and reports on ANC matters.
Various officials of the CPSA join the ICU and members of the ICU also join the CPSA.
A CPSA night school in Ferreirastown is established.
James La Guma and John Gomas join the CPSA in Cape Town.
Alex La Guma, future leader of the South African Coloured People’s Organisation (SACPO), is born in Cape Town.
William H. Andrews resigns from his post as secretary of the CPSA but retains his membership to the Party.
Transvaal Dealers (Control) Ordinance 11/1925: This ordinance puts obstacles in obtaining licences by Indian traders with the aim of  restricting trading activities of Indians.
25 January, Sir Dinshaw Petit and Sir Purushottamdas Thakurdas lead a deputation to the Viceroy of India to press for a round-table conference with South Africa.
April, Selby Msimang starts work as the organising secretary of the ICU in Johannesburg.
8 April, The Indian Government sends a telegram to the Union Government to a suggest round-table conference. In his reply to the telegram, the Union Governor General states that the conference must acknowledge repatriation as fundamental to the discussions.
4 May, Herloise Ruth First member of the SACP and ANC, author and academic is born in Johannesburg.
5 May,  Afrikaans is declared an official language by Act 8 of 1925.
16 June, The Union Government rejects a round-table conference with India on the grounds that it will constitute interference in South African affairs.
23 June, The Transvaal Mine Clerks’ Association sends a petition to the Prince of Wales on his visit to the gold fields of the Rand.
23 July, The Areas Reservation and Immigration and Registration (Further Provision) Bill is introduced by Dr. D. F. Malan, Minister of the Interior. This Bill  defines Indians as aliens and recommends limitation of their population through repatriation.
31 August, The NIC holds a mass meeting in Durban in protest against the proposed Areas Reservation and Immigration and Registration (Further Provision) Bills. Anglia and J.K. Roberts call for a round-table meeting of Indian organisations, but the resolution is opposed.
14 September, Ruth Mompati, ANC member and founding member of the Federation of South African Women (FEDSAW), is born in Vryburg.
24 September, In a communiqué to the Indian Government, the Union Government again declares that there is no need for a round-table conference and that the two Governments need only to discuss the repatriation of South African Indians.
29 September, Selby Msimang arrives in Natal to take over from A. S. Maduna as the organising secretary of the ICU.  
9-12 November, The fifth conference of the SAIC in Cape Town rejects the Areas Reservation and Immigration and Registration (Further Provision) Bill and calls for a round-table conference to be held between the Governments of India and South Africa and representatives of the SAIC. The Conference also adopts a resolution that a deputation be sent to India.
13 November, General Hertzog outlines his "solution" for the 'Native Question' at Smithfield, where he presents proposals regarding the Coloured Persons Rights Bill.
16 November, Advocate J.W. Godfrey leads the SAIC deputation to the Minister of Interior, Dr D.F. Malan, to put forward the case of the Indian community with regards to the Areas Reservation and Immigration and Registration (Further Provision) Bill. The deputation urges the Minister to agree to a round-table conference between the Governments of India and South Africa.
23 November, An SAIC deputation leaves for India to lobby the Indian Government about the issues of the Areas Reservation and Immigration and Registration (Further Provision) Bill and a round-table conference between the Governments of India and South Africa.
November/December, General Hertzog addresses the Native Conference regarding issues of Native administration. Present at the address is D.D.T Jabavu, Sol Plaatje, Selope Thema, and Rev Z.R. Mahabane amongst others. To read extracts from the proceedings click here.
December, The Paddison deputation, led by the Commissioner of Labour in Madras, G.F. Paddison, arrives in South Africa. The other members of the deputation are the Hon. Syed Raza Ali, G.S. Bajpai, C.S Ricketts and Sir Deva Prasad Sarvadhikary. The aim of the deputation is to study the general position and economic conditions of the Indians in South Africa. This delegation paves way for the first Round-table Conference.
The CPSA holds its annual conference in Cape Town. T.W. Thibedi is the first black person to be elected to the Party’s central committee. Also for the first time three black people are present as delegates: J. Gomas, E.J. Khaile, P. De Norman.
19 December, The SAIC delegation, led by Dr A. Abdurahman (President of the APO, but now involved with the plight of the Indians), meets with the Viceroy of India.
26 December, The SAIC deputation attends 40th session of All-India Congress (also referred to as the India National Congress) at Cawnpore, India. Sarojini Naidu, President of the Indian National Congress, links the problems of South African Indians with India's subjection to foreign rule and calls for the freedom of India.
Prime Minister General Barry Hertzog introduces a Bill to eject Africans from the political system.
The Local Government (Provincial Powers) Act: This Act denies citizenship rights to Indians.
The Liquor Bill, Sections 107 and 144 is passed. As part of this Act Indians and Africans could not be employed by licence holders and are not allowed on licensed premises and liquor supply vehicles. Three thousand Indians employed in the brewery trade are affected.
The ANC, in alliance with the ICU, plan a nationwide campaign after the publication of the Black Native Bills. Leaders of the two organisations pull out from the endorsement and the campaign fails to take off. However the ICU presents a list of resolutions with regards to the Native Bills.
T.W. Thibedi carries out a tour of the mines reporting wages of ¼d a day for Black miners.
The Northern and Southern Transvaal Native Teachers’ Association merge to form the Transvaal African Teachers’ Association.
The Natal Natives Congress is renamed the Natal African Congress.
Congress in the Cape split into the Cape African Congress (CAC) and ANC Western Province (ANC WP).
The Secretary of Native (Black) Affairs bans Clements Kadalie from entering Natal under the pass laws.
E.J. Khaile is elected the financial secretary for the ICU.
The Native Conference debates issues regarding the Representation of Natives in Parliament Bill. To read extracts of the proceedings click here.
4-5 January, The ANC holds its annual conference. To read extracts of the proceedings and resolutions of the conference click here.
30 January, Prime Minister, Gen. J.B.M. Hertzog and the Minister of the Interior, Dr D.F. Malan, meet with the Paddison delegation after a great deal of pressure from the British government. The meeting results in the decision that a Select Committee will be set up to enable the Paddison deputation to argue on the principle of Areas Reservation Bill. The deputation also succeeds in getting the Union Government to agree to a round-table conference.
February,  The SAIC deputation to India returns to South Africa.
17 February, The South African Government agrees to round-table conference with the Government of India provided discussion is restricted to repatriation of Indians. The conference is to be held at the end of 1926.
23 February, The SAIC calls for a national day of prayer (hartal), strikes and the closure of shops in opposition to various pieces of proposed anti-Indian legislation. The South African Indian community heeds this call on a national scale.
April, The South African Trade Union Congress is formed.
23 May, Joe Slovo , central committee member of the SACP, MK Chief of Staff and post apartheid’s first Minister of Housing   is born in Lithuania.
May, The Mines and Works Amendments Act (Colour Bar Act) 25/1926 is passed. It reinforces the colour bar in the mining industry and also excludes Indian miners from skilled jobs.
31 May, The Indian Government invites a delegation from the South African Government to visit India, in an attempt to foster closer mutual cooperation.
21 June, The CPSA Central Committee decides that articles in the South African Worker should be published in African languages.
July, The African World is closed down by the ANC.
19 September, A South African Government delegation arrives in India. This is led by F. W. Beyers, the Minister of Mines and Industry (in the Hertzog Government) and Patrick Duncan, the Minister of the Interior in the previous Smuts Government.
October, South African Prime Minister, General J.B.M. Hertzog, attends the Imperial Conference in London. The Conference focuses on the clarification of the dominions status within the British Empire and its activities result in the Balfour Declaration.
19 November, Following the Imperial Conference held in London in October, Lord Balfour, the former British Prime Minister, announces the Balfour Declaration, in which the status of the dominions in the British Empire is clarified as follows: [Britain and her dominions] are autonomous Communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by a common allegiance to the Crown and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
December,  Clements Kadalie defies an order forbidding him entry into Natal.
6-7 December, The SAIC holds an Emergency Conference.
16 December, At the ICU National Council meeting in Port Elizabeth a motion is put forward by A.W.G Champion requiring all communists to be expelled from the ICU. At the time four or five members of the ICU National Committee were members of the CPSA, all refused to resign. As a result all communist members are kicked out of the ICU. (According to La Guma’s bio this motion was put forward by Kadalie, See La Guma, 1997: 29).
17 December 1926- 12 January 1927, Representatives of the South African and Indian Governments meet for a round-table conference in Cape Town. The Conference leads to the conclusion of the Cape Town Agreement between South Africa and India. In terms of the agreement:
The Indian population of South Africa shall be limited through assisted emigration.
The entry of naturalised Indian wives and minor children will be facilitated in accordance with paragraph 3 of the Reciprocity Resolution.
The South African Government commits itself to the upliftment of the Indian Community. It is also decided that Agents of the Government of India will be appointed to represent India in South Africa.
Alexkor Ltd., a state-run diamond mining company, is set up in the town of Alexander Bay as a work program for poor Whites. The local Nama are forced out after mineral rights are awarded to Alexkor Ltd. (In 2007 the government agrees to restore the 330-square-mile northern coastal strip to the tribe and pay $28 million compensation as well as millions more in development funding.)
Walter Sisulu leaves school at the age of 15 and shortly afterwards goes to Johannesburg where he attended various educational organisations.
The first Communist-sponsored African trade union is formed.  
The paid-up membership of the ICU reaches between 50 000 and 80 000. 
Moses Kotane joins the ANC.
E.T Mofutsanyana and his wife Josie Palmer join the CPSA.
Ben Turok, future secretary of the South African Congress of Democrats (COD), is born in Latvia.
Sam Masabalala, an ICU official, is sent to prison for stealing union money.
12 January, The Cape Town Agreement is signed on the last day of a round-table conference of representatives of the South African and Indian Governments. The South African Minister of the Interior, Dr D.F. Malan withdraws the Areas Reservation Bill, while the Government of India agrees to the policy of voluntary repatriation.
January, - NIC and the Natal Indian Association jointly organise a mass meeting in Durban, in opposition to the Class Areas Bill. The mass meeting is attended by 3000 Indians.
3 February, The second (and last) European-African Conference is sponsored by the Dutch Reformed Church. To read extracts of the conference report click here.
10 February, Josiah Gumede, representing the ANC, James La Guma, as a delegate for the CPSA, and Daniel Colrane, representing the South African Trade Union Congress; attend the first international conference of the League Against Imperialism in Brussels. At the end of the conference Gumede and La Guma travel to the Soviet Union.
21 February, The Cape Town Agreement is published, and a joint communiqué on the Cape Town round-table conference is issued by the South African and Indian Governments.
12-13 March, The seventh annual Conference of the SAIC is held in Johannesburg to discuss the Cape Town Agreement signed by South Africa and India in February. The SAIC accepts the agreement.
12 April, In an article published in The Star, The Minister of the Interior, Dr D.F. Malan presents the Cape Town Agreement as an agreement between South Africa and India to repatriate Indians.
15 April, At the Convention of Bantu Chiefs held under the auspices of the ANC, which attracts 22 chiefs, Josiah Gumede succeeds in having a proposal which condemns the ties between the CPSA and ANC withdrawn. To read other resolutions of the convention click here.
27 April, Dr. D.F. Malan introduces Immigration and Indian Relief (Further Provision) Bill, which follows closely on the Round Table Conference between India and South Africa. This act restricts Indian immigration, and establishes a scheme of voluntary repatriation.
May, Philemon (Duma) Nokwe, , the first African advocate of the Supreme Court of Transvaal, ANC member and director of International Affairs is born in Evaton
6 May, Charles Sakwe, Elijah Qamata and William Miandu of the Transkeian Native General Council give evidence before the Select Committee on the Subject of Native Bills. To read their testimony click here.
8 May, The Transvaal British Indian Association (TBIA), which is dominated by Muslim merchants, secedes from the SAIC. The TBIA feels that the SAIC, dominated by representatives of the Natal Indian Congress, does not pay sufficient attention to the problems experienced by Transvaal Indians.
10 May, The Natal Provincial Council passes a motion against the Cape Town Agreement, regarding fears that existing licensing legislation will be relaxed.
23 May, A.W.G. Champion, as Acting National Secretary of the ICU, writes a letter to Prime Minister Hertzog.
27 May, V.S.S. Sastri is appointed as the first Agent of the Government of India in South Africa.
The SAIC sends a deputation to the Minister of the Interior, Dr D.F. Malan, to protest against Section 5 of the Immigration and Indian Relief (Further Provision) Bill. This section empowers Immigration Officers and Boards to cancel registration certificates and certificates of domicile. After further pressure by Sastri, Malan does not put Section 5 into effect.
30 May, D.D.T Jabavu, Walter Rubusana and Rev. A. Mtimkulu from the Cape Native Voter’s Convention and Meshach Pelem of the Bantu Union give evidence before the Select Committee on the Subject of Native Bills. To read their testimony click here.
June - November, Clements Kadalie visits Europe to try and gain international support and to see how other professional trade unions are run. On his return Kadalie attempts to organise the ICU along the lines of a British trade union.
June, Josiah Gumede is elected president-general of the ANC. After his election, Gumede, accompanied by James La Guma, travels abroad to attend the tenth anniversary of the communist revolution of 1917 in the USSR.
Dr. A. Abdurahman, leader of the APO, organises a Non-European Conference in Kimberley to protest against the so-called Hertzog Bills that aim to further entrench segregation and are to be tabled in Parliament later. To read the conference’s resolutions and proceedings click here. At Abdurahman’s invitation, the SAIC sends a delegation led by V. Lawrence. The delegation, however, declares that the SAIC cannot be bound by resolutions adopted at the Conference, because of the delicate position of Indians following the Cape Town Agreement and the appointment of an Indian Agent.
23 June, The Asiatics in the Northern Districts Act is passed, which states that Transvaal laws are to be applied to Indians in Utrecht, Vryheid, and Paulpietersburg, and restrictions placed on land purchase, trade and residence rights.
The Liquor Act: Africans and Indians are denied employment by license holders and are not allowed to serve liquor and drive liquor vans. They are also denied access to licensed premises.
The Women's Franchise Bill: No Indian women are allowed to vote.
The Riotous Assembly Act: Indians considered dangerous agitators are subject to deportation.
29 June, The first Agent of the Government of India, the Right Hon. V.S. Srinivasa Sastriarrives in South Africa.
5 July, The Immigration and Indian Relief (Further) Provision: Act 37/1927: This Bill becomes law and the scheme of assisted emigration comes into operation.
1 September, Black (Native) Administration Act No 38:
Section 5(1)(b) provided that ‘whenever he deemed it expedient in the public interest, the minister might, without prior notice to any persons concerned, order any tribe, portion thereof, or individual black person, to move from one place to another within the Republic of South Africa' (Horrell 1978: 204).
Section 29(1) prohibited the fomenting of feelings of hostility between blacks and whites. Amended by s 4 of the Black Laws Further Amendment Act No 79 of 1957. This was extended to all racial groups in terms of s 1 of the 1974 Second General Law Amendment Act (see below). ‘All the reported cases concern charges of inciting hostility among blacks towards the white section of the community' rather than cases of whites who cause feelings of racial hostility by racially abusive comments (Dugard 1978: 178). Used extensively to carry out forced removals. Later amended by the 1973 Bantu (Black) Laws Amendment Act.
The Act commenced on 1 September 1927, except ss 22, 23 & 36: 1 January 1929. Sections 5(1)-(5) repealed by the Abolition of Influx Control Act No 68 of 1986; repealed in full by the Abolition of Restrictions on Free Political Activity Act No 206 of 1993.
7 September, Josiah Gumede’s first statement as president of the African National Conference is published in The National Gazette.
30 September, The Immorality Act No 5 is passed. This forbade "extra-marital carnal intercourse ... between whites and Africans" (Dugard 1978: 70) The Act commenced on 30 September 1927. It was later extended in 1950 to include a ban on sexual relations between whites, Coloureds and Asians.
Clements Kadalie publishes an article entitled ‘Open Letter to Blackpool’ in The New Leader.
October, The Nationality and Flag Act denies Indians the right to become South African citizens by naturalisation.
12 October, The Indian Agent in South Africa, V.S.S. Sastri, addresses a public meeting in Johannesburg to explain Section 5, concerning the entry of minor Indian children into the Transvaal, of the Immigration and Indian Relief (Further) Provision Act, Act No. 37 of 1927.
November, The ANC-TT carries out protests against high local taxes after complaints by members in Tsomo, Willowvale and Ngqamakwe.
17 November, Thanks to the efforts of the Indian Agent in South Africa, V.S.S. Sastri and C.F. Andrews, the Natal Commission for Indian Education is appointed.
18 December, Dissidents from the Transvaal British Indian Association (TBIA) who are encouraged by the Indian Agent, V.S. Srinivasa Sastri,  and establish the Transvaal Indian Congress (TIC).
A South African national flag (orange-white-blue) is used for the first time alongside the Union Jack.
The ANC organises workers in Cape rural areas.
Josie Palmer is active in a campaign against residential permits.
A.W.G Champion is suspended from the Industrial and Commercial Union (ICU) following allegations of  financial mismanagement.
William Ballinger is sent by the British Independent Labour Party as an advisor to the ICU. However, the ICU had already fragmented and by the early 1930s there were around 8 ICU organisations, two each in Johannesburg, East London and Durban, one in the Free State and another in Cape Town.
The Laundry Worker’s Union is formed in Johannesburg.
Albert Luthuli becomes the secretary of the Natal African Teachers’ Association.
A Defense Committee is formed in Johannesburg by the ANC, CPSA, APO and various African unions.
The CPSA has a successful demonstration together with the ANC, attended by 5000 people.
Moses Kotane joins the Communist Party’s night school.
Clements Kadalie makes a statement on the ICU’s ‘Economic and Political Program for 1928’.
January, South African Trade Union Congress rejects application of ICU for affiliation.
The Natal branch of the ICU secedes and the ICU yase Natal is formed under the leadership of A.W.G Champion.
2 January, Section 104 of the Liquor Bill which prohibiting Indians from entering licensed premises, is withdrawn.
3 January, The Cape Native Voters’ Convention sends a petition to the South African Parliament.
2-5 January, The affiliation of the Transvaal Indian Congress (TIC) to the SAIC is accepted at the SAIC’s annual conference.
 5 January, Phyllis (nee David) Naidoo lawyer, member of the NIC and ANC is born in Estcourt.
26 January, Abantu-Batho publishes an editorial entitled ‘What Do the People Say?’ which looks at the increasing segregation being enforced under the Hertzog government.
February, The outcome of the meeting between James La Guma and Nikolai Bukharin, in Russia, is a new draft resolution sent back to South Africa “suggesting” the CPSA adopt a new slogan: “An independent Native republic as a step towards a workers’ and peasants’ government”. This leads an upsurge in membership of Africans in the Party. Josiah Gumede supports the motion and this provokes the ANC.
March, The NIC and SAIC help establish several Indian trade unions and bring them together in a Natal Workers Congress with NIC officials in key positions.
25 March, The South African Federation of Non-European Trade Unions (SAFNETU) is formed.
April, James La Guma is offered the post of general secretary of SAFNETU.
July, The CPSA drafts a resolution which stating that an ‘independent Native republic’ will be discussed and adopted at the sixth world congress of the Comintern. The CPSA is allowed three delegates and Sidney Bunting, his wife and Edward Roux attend. The Congress accepts the resolution.
Those expelled from the ICU form the Non-European Trade Union Federation with Bennie Weinbren as the Chairman and T.W. Thibedi as the General Secretary, both are CPSA members.
12 August, Fatima Meer, an anti apartheid activist, sociologist and academic is born in Grey Street, Durban.
27 August, Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi, future founder of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), is born in Mahlabathini, Natal.
19 September, The Minister of Public Health appoints the executive committee of the Central Housing Board to enquire into the sanitary and housing conditions of Indians in and around Durban. The Committee becomes known as the Thornton Committee after its chairman, Sir Edward N. Thornton.
December, The Workers’ Herald, newspaper of the ICU, ceases publication.
20-30 December, At a conference held in Johannesburg, the South African Federation is launched with Abdul Karim as President. The Federation repudiates the Cape Town Agreement, as it is opposed to the reduction of the Indian population in South Africa and their repatriation.
29 December – 2 January, The CPSA holds its annual conference in Johannesburg where the delegates vote in a new programme approving the Comintern’s orders for the Black Republic. A decision is also taken for the Party to contest in the general elections with Douglas Wolton contesting for the Cape Flats and Sydney Bunting for Tembuland (both are defeated). Bunting is voted as Chairman and Treasurer, Solly Sachs as Vice-Chairman and Wolton as General Secretary and Editor.
1928 - 1929
The Durban Beer Protests occur in opposition to liquor acts that extend the scope of police raids on the brewers, usually women.
Sydeny Bunting and Edward Roux establish the League of African Rights and it is launched with Josiah Gumede as president, Bunting as chairman and Roux joint secretary with Albert Nzula. This comes as a directive from the Comintern, however, at the end of the year a telegram arrives from Moscow ordering dissolution of the League.
Walter Sisulu returns to Johannesburg after undergoing traditional Xhosa initiation rites in Transkei. In Johannesburg Sisulu obtains work at a gold mine.
Bhawani Dayal Sannyasi, Vice President of NIC, President of the All-India Emigrants Conference and a member of the South African Indian Congress deputation to India in 1925, publishes a report on the subject of the repatriation scheme.
General Barry Hertzog campaigns for votes to the White Electorate under the banner of the Black Manifesto in which the “Swart Gevaar” (“Black Danger”) is made the central issue.
The Johannesburg Bantu Football Association is founded
Josiah Gumede purchases a controlling share in Abantu-Batho which provides the ANC with a nationwide mouth-piece.
J.G. Gumbs, president of the ICU, dies.
William H. Andrews is expelled from the CPSA.
The ICU yase Natal publishes its constitution, rules and bye-laws.
January, Clements, Kadalie and those sympathetic to him is ousted from the ICU by William Ballinger and forms his own Independent ICU (IICU).  (Limb (2010: 270)
Sir Kurma Reddi succeeds V.S.S. Sastri as Agent of the Government of India in South Africa.
1 January, The CPSA adopts a programme of action at the seventh annual conference of the Party.
8 January, Report on the pro­ceedings of the Annual Conference of the Cape Native Voters' Convention, appears in Imvo Zabantsundu. To read the report on the conference’s proceedings click here.
31 January, Albert Nzula is the first African to address the weekly Sunday night CPSA meeting on the Johannesburg City Hall steps.
February, The First National European-Bantu Conference takes place. To read extracts from the conferences proceedings and resolutions click here.
April, The Independent-ICU is formed under the leadership of Clements Kadalie.
23 May, Johannes (Joe) Modise, future Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) and post apartheid’s first Minister of Defence leader, is born in Doornfontein, Johannesburg.
June, Africans of Natal boycott municipal beer halls. Demonstrations in Durban around office of ICU yase Natal result in loss of African and European lives. A.W.G Champion publishes a pamphlet entitled ‘Blood and Tears’.
14 June, National elections take place. Nationalists gain parliamentary majority, and General Hertzog forms a government without the aid of the South African Labour Party.
July, Douglas Wolton leaves for England and Moscow. His position as General Secretary of the CPSA is filled by Albert Nzula.
29 September, A.W.G. Champion is barred from Natal under provisions of Riotous Assemblies (Amendment) Act.
1 September, At the second national conference of the SA Federation of Trade Unions, held at Inchcape Hall, Johannesburg; Moses Kotane is elected as vice-chairman.  At the suggestion of Albert Nzula, Kotane joins the CPSA.
October, The Governor-General of South Africa, the Earl of Athlone, opens Sastri College. This serves as a high school for Indian boys in Durban.
November, The leaders of the Joint Councils movement create the South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR), a non-partisan body oriented to research and bridge racial divides.
Minister of Justice, Oswald Pirow, leads the police force in Durban against discontented Africans who are boycotting the Municipal Beer Halls in protest of beer monopoly and other grievances.
16 December, A protest march, organised jointly by the CPSA, ANC and ICU, is held in Cape Town and across the Rand in protest against the passing of the the Riotous Assemblies Act. In a protest meeting held in Potchefstroom attended by several thousand Africans and several hundred Whites, an African CPSA member, Hermanus Lethebe, is shot (and later dies in hospital) by a bullet intended for J.B Marks and E.T Motfutsanyana, the key-note speakers. Six other people are injured.
19 December, R.H. Godio makes his first address as the president of the newly constituted Location Advisory Boards’ Congress of South Africa.
29 December 1929 - 1 January 1930, The tenth annual conference of the South African Indian Congress (SAIC) is held in Cape Town. At the Conference, the Indian Agent in South Africa, Sir Kurma Reddie, comes under severe criticism because of the way he is handling the interests of South African Indians.
1929 - 1932
After the fall of the New York Stock Exchange, South Africa suffers from the effects of the Great Depression, which are compounded by a prolonged drought (Giliomee; 2007)

• Giliomee, H et al (2007) New South African History, published by Tafelberg Publishers pp. 247
• Various Contributors (2004) Great South Africans: The great debate, published by Penguin Books, South Africa.
• Drew, A. (ed)South Africa's Radical Tradition: A documentary history, Volume one 1907 – 1950.
• General South African History Timeline- SAHO resources
• SAHO ANC Feature Time/ General Timeline/ Anti- Apartheid laws/Anti- Indian legislation
• “Timeline South Africa” [online] accessed 27 February 2009]
• Documents: Africans Acting Alone “Document 48j: ANC Calls for Passive Resistance." Statement in Umteteli wa Bantu June 27, 1931. SAHO online library.
• Ministry of Education (2004).Compiled by the Social Integration and Cohesion Research Programme of the Human Sciences Research Council. edited by Linnegar, J. Every Step of the Way – The Journey to freedom in South Africa. HSRC Press. Cape Town
• Christopher, A.J., 1994. “Before Apartheid” in The Atlas of Apartheid. London: Routledge
• Walshe, P., 1970. The Rise of African Nationalism in South Africa: The African National Congress, 1912-1952. London: C. Hurst & Company
• Limb, P., 2010. The ANC’s Ealy Years: Nation, Class and Place in South Africa before 1940. Pretoria: UNISA Press
• Karis, T & Carter G. M. (1972). From Protest to Challenge: A Documentary History of African Politics in South Africa, 1882-1964, Volume 1: Protest and Hope, 1882-1934. Stanford University: Hanover Press.
• Dugard, J., 1978. Human Rights and the South African Legal Order. Princeton: Princeton University Press
• Horrell, M., 1978. Laws Affecting Race Relations in South Africa. Johannesburg: South African Institute for Race Relations
• Benson, M., 1985. “Workers are Organised and Philosophies are found Wanting” in South Africa: The Struggle for a Birthright. International Defence and Aid Fund
• La Guma, A., 1997. “The Twenties” in Jimmy La Guma: A Biography. Cape Town: Friends of the South African Library.

Last updated : 04-May-2012

This article was produced by South African History Online on 19-Jul-2011

Support South African History Online

Donate and Make African History Matter

South African History Online is a non profit organisation. We depend on public support to build our website into the most comprehensive educational resource and encyclopaedia on African history.

Your support will help us to build and maintain partnerships with educational institutions in order to strengthen teaching, research and free access to our content.