Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Volume 32, No. 18. July 30, 1969
The problem of race relations is one of the most complex issues of the modern world. It is of vital importance that some solution should be found as soon as possible.
The problem affects many countries but in each country it takes a different form. Consequently there is no single solution for universal application. Each country must work out its own salvation. Here in New Zealand you have decided that the answer to the problem lies in a policy of integration, because both sections of the community—Maori and Pakeha—are willing to accept integration in principle. What happens when integration is rejected by all sectors of the population— by white and by black—as is the case in South Africa? That is our problem, and it requires a solution which will recognise this universal rejection. Our solution is Apartheid.
I am aware of the fact that, to many people outside South Africa, Apartheid is just another word for segregation—a horizontal division between the races with the white man always on top and the black man always underneath—a brutal, selfish system. If Apartheid really meant that, we would be the first to oppose it. After all, South Africa fought alongside New Zealand in two World Wars and again in Korea to destroy just such a system. Is it likely that, within three years of finishing the Second World War, we should recreate the very system which we had just helped to destroy with so much blood, sweat and tears?
I would ask you therefore to forget the moment any pre-conceived ideas that you may have as to the meaning and objectives of Apartheid.
The word "Apartheid" is a controversial one—it is also a word that is constantly misinterpreted and misunderstood. It might therefore be as well to begin by defining precisely what we mean when we use it. It means simply Apartness—we in South Africa prefer the term "Separate Development" because that term describes more accurately what we are trying to do.
We are trying to create a situation in which each of the white, black and brown nations in South Africa—European, Xhosa, Zulu, Sotho, Tswana, Coloured, Indian, and so on— each of them can develop in its own way, at its own speed, and in the direction in which it chooses to go. It is also important that each of these nations should feel secure against domination by one of the others— secure in the territorial, economic and cultural sense.
South Africa has been described as a multiracial State, but it would be more accurate to use the term "multi-national". Up to the end of the 15th century South Africa contained neither Whites nor Blacks, neither Europeans nor Africans, but only a thin scattering of Khojsan people—that is to say Hottentots and Bushmen. In 1486 Bartholomew Dias became the first European to round the Cape of Good Hope, and from then onwards the Cape became a regular port of call for the Portugese, Dutch and British ships sailing to and from India. In 1652 the first white settlement was established under Jan van Riebeeck at Cape Town. Meanwhile, the African nations of Central Africa had begun migrating southwards across the Limpopo River down into South Africa, driving the Hottentots and Bushmen before them. I use the term "African Nations" because it is important to remember that Africa was, and still is, divided just as sharply as Europe into different and often hostile national communities, with different histories, different cultures and different languages. There are between 700 and 1000 languages and dialects in Africa, which gives some idea of the Continent's diverse national character. The Bantu who invaded South Africa at that time were divided into four main ethnic groups—the Nguni, the Sotho, the Venda, and the Tsonga; these may be further subdivided into Xhosa, Zulu, Swazi, Ndebele, North Sotho and South Sotho, Tswana, Tsonga and Venda. They are very conscious of their separate identities and they cling fiercely to those identities. We must not ignore this fact, because to do so would be to create in South Africa a state of civil war on the lines of the Congo, Nigeria or the Sudan.
Thus the various black migrations from the north and the white migration from the south, began to move into South Africa in a series of waves. When they met there was often fighting—between black and black and between black and white—but it was in fact a very long time before the black and white migrations met. This did not take place until about 1770, which was 120 years after the first white settlement at the Cape. During the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, the pattern was one of constant territorial expansion, with the various migrant waves constantly moving forward, changing direction when they came to occupied lands, seeking and filling the empty spaces where they might settle and multiply.
"Changing direction when they came to occupied lands"—I should like to repeat that phrase because it has great significance in South African history and in the context of Separate Development. The classical pattern of colonial penetration is first the soldier, then the missionary, then the trader and finally the farmer. In the case of South Africa, the last step was omitted—the white farmer never came into the black territories. During the 19th century,' when the Cape was a British Colony British troops conquered the Bantu, and the British Government took over the administration of the Bantu territories, often at the request of the people concerned. But they did Not open these territories to white settlement. This is important. They demarcated the areas involved and proclaimed them to be Bantu areas where no white man could own land. When you consider that these areas contained the best farming land and had the highest rainfall in South Africa, this was a pretty magnanimous gesture. 75 per cent of the Bantu Homelands enjoy a rainfall of more than 20 inches a year; only 35 per cent of the entire Republic is blessed with the same advantage. To put it another way. 27.5 per cent of the whole Republic has an arid climate of which only 0.5 per cent is situated in the Bantu Homelands.
As a consequence of this policy, the situation in 1910, when the Union of South Africa was established, was as follows. The country was divided between white areas and black areas in almost exactly equal proportions— 51 per cent to 49 per cent to be precise. The British Government retained control over some of the black areas—Bechuanaland (now Botswana), Basutoland (now Lesotho) and Swaziland. The South African Government took over the administration of the remainder —Transkei, Ciskei, Zululand and a number of smaller territories. In 1913 the South African Government passed the Land Act which protected and preserved the Bantu areas for all time, thus perpetuating the earlier British Policy. We do not regard these Bantu homelands as colonies, but they do have something in common with the colonial concept. If you can imagine a small colonial empire in which the mother country and the colonies are all situated on the same continent and adjacent to each other, that was more or less the position in South Africa after 1910. This is why we prefer to talk of South Africa as a multinational rather than a mulit-racial country.
Then came the Second World War and the Winds of Change. The metropolitan countries of Europe suddenly began to doubt their moral right to administer subject peoples of other races. "India for the Indians", "Nigeria for Nigerians", "Kenya for the Kenyans"— these cries began to make sense. The right to be governed by one's own people became a recognised and established right. The colonial powers withdrew from Africa and Asia. We in South Africa were not unaffected by this change of thought and attitude; after all it was in Cape Town—in an address to our own Parliament—that Mr. Macmillan made his famous "winds of change" speech. We, the white South Africans, claimed the right to be governed by our own people, and it seemed logical and fair to us that the African should have the same right. And that, in short, is precisely what the policy of Separate Development means—the right of all the nations in South Africa to be governed by their own people. We are doing precisely what Britain, France, Holland, Belgium and Spain have done. We are handing back the "colonies" to their own people to be governed in their own way by their own people. There is perhaps one difference between our policy and that of the European colonial pwers, and that is in regard to timing. In their case strong liberal pressure on the Governments concerned persuaded them to grant immediate independence, without making proper allowance for the fitness of the subject peoples to take over the highly sophisticated machinery of modern administration. For various reasons they succumbed to those pressures, often with tragic results. We cannot afford to make this mistake; after all we live there. The tempo of our withdrawal has been adjusted to the capacity of the Bantu to absorb the experience and expertise necessary for self-government. Our critics often claim a monopoly of moral principle. But our policy is influenced just as strongly by moral considerations, and the paramount consideration with us is our moral responsibility for the welfare of the people concerned. Perhaps that is the main difference between South Africa and her critics; they think in terms of principle alone— we think in terms of people also.
Many fine and noble things are said about independence, national liberty, civic rights and so on—and we endorse all of them. But let us get our priorities straight. A community is made up of individual people, and the prosperity of the community depends in the final event upon the welfare of its individual members. Certainly the average man of any colour is anxious to have a say in the government of his own country, but even more than that he is anxious to have the more mundane benefits of life—a house to live in, enough to eat, education for his children, health services for his family when they are ill. This remark may sound trite and platitudinous to you, and so it is. How curious that South Africa should be one of the few countries to put it into practice. We take modest pride in the fact that our record in regard to Bantu Housing, wages, education and health services is second to none.
Take housing for example. During the last war there was a desperate shortage of labour in South Africa, because so many of our young men were in the armed forces. The Bantu came flooding into the cities to fill this vacuum, but there were no houses for them, nor did we have the resources to provide houses. You will perhaps recall how terribly difficult it was to obtain building materials at that time and for some yean after the War. And so the shanty-towns were born, huts built of old paraffin tins, rusty corrugated iron, bits of wood, any debris that came to hand. They were shocking places. The worst son of slums. In the early fifties, the Government and the municipalities set about providing proper housing for the Bantu. In thirteen years, the Government alone spent over 300 million New Zealand dollars on housing 1.25 million Africans; this is excluding the millions of dollars spent by local authorities for the same purpose. The slums, I am happy to say, have nearly all gone. Quite soon we shall be able to boast that we have no slums.
Bantu wages in South Africa are higher than in any other African State. That is why so many thousands of foreign Africans make the long and often dangerous journey down into the Republic. At any given moment there are about a million foreign Africans living and working in South Africa; many of them are illegal immigrants. Our opponents have some difficulty in reconciling this undisputable fact with their allegation that South Africa is a hell for the black man. As regards education, four out of every five Bantu children between the ages of 7 and 14 are at school and we hope to wipe out illiteracy altogether within this generation. No other African State comes anywhere near this level. In the rest of Africa, the proportion of children at school is one in five, and in the world as a while it is estimated that there are 700 million illiterates —their numbers are said to be growing at the rate of 20 million a year. In South Africa, there are over 2 million Bantu children at nearly 9000 schools, staffed by 34,000 Bantu teachers. 36 Bantu teacher training colleges produce about 2000 teachers a year. There are three universities reserved exclusively for Bantu, besides the University of South Africa which provides university courses by correspondence. All told, there are about 3000 Bantu students working for university degrees. These figures do not include the facilities provided for Coloured and Indian Students.
In the field of health the story is the same. Throughout South Africa, there were in 1965 87,000 hospital beds available for non-whites, that is to say 5.78 beds per 1000 persons. This compares satisfactorily with the accepted world standard of 5 beds per 1000 people. 77 hospitals cater for the non-white sector of the population. One of these is Baragwanath near Johannesburg. It is the largest hospital in all Africa and one of the best equipped with more than 2200 beds and 12 operating theatres. It is reserved exclusively for non-whites and we are rather proud of it. It has a staff of over 200 doctors and specialists (24 of them are non-white) and a nursing staff of some 1900 including about 850 student nurses—with only a few exceptions all these are non-white. Last year the hospital treated 90,000 in-patients and 700,000 out-patients. 23,000 operations were performed there. In page 5more specialised fields there are throughout South Africa over 3000 beds available for non-white tuberculosis, 1700 for lepers and over 9000 for mental patients.
This is the text of an address given by the Consul-General of South Africa, Mr. Peter Philip, at Victoria University last week. The address, the first positive defence of his country's racial policies to a university audience, excited considerable interest and comment from the audience.
I spoke earlier of the moral responsibility which South Africa has towards its Bantu peoples. The figure that I have just quoted represent the more practical means by which we carry out that responsibility. I have mentioned them first because we give them top priority. However, there are also loss practical, but no less important, fields in which this responsibility must be exercised. The Africans as we know him is seeking one thing above all others. He is seeking the right to be proud of being an African. He is seeking a sense of achievement. One of the most vital problems that faces the Western World today is to find some means by which the African can obtain that sense of achievement and that pride of race which is so important to him. In other parts of the world, attempts are being made to solve this problem through partnership with the whites. We in South Africa are trying a different way. We believe that, until he is cut off from the whites and given his independence, he will not have a chance to show what he can do. It goes without saying that we must give him all the help we can, but it must not take the form of charity, of pulling the African permanently on the dole. The object of the exercise is to teach him to help himself—to teach him to work out his own salvation with success. This we hope to do through the policy of Separate Development. The African needs training in taking responsibility and in self-government; he needs technical expertise; he needs capital to exploit his own resources. All these things we are giving him.
The Transkei is the traditional home of the Xhosa nation, which is today some 3½ million strong. It has been referred to scornfully as a "ghetto".—a tiny area of land into which millions of Xhosa can be pushed out of the way. In fact it covers 15,800 square miles of the best farming land in the country. It is thus about the size of Denmark. 1½ times the size of Belgium, twice the size of Israel. In 1963 the Transkei was given self-government. It has its own Parliament of 109 members, its own Cabinet consisting of a Chief Minister and five other Ministers, a recognised Opposition Pary, and its own Civil Service about 2500 strong. There are still some 300 white civil servants, but these are rapidly working themselves out of their jobs as their Bantu replacements take over the senior posts. The Xhosa are learning by experience and by stages to rule themselves. Of the 109 Members of Parliament, 45 are elected by the Xhosa nation—the remaining 64 are hereditary Chiefs representing the traditional element in Bantu Administration. A most interesting and significant development took place last year. The ruling Transkeian National Independence Party, led by Paramount Chief Kaiser Mantanzima, supports Separate Development. But in the first election of 1963, this party failed to obtain a majority of the elected seats because the Xhosa were suspicious of the policy and its motives. After five years practical implementation, these suspicions have apparently evaporated. In the second General Election, which took place on the 23rd October, 1968, the National Independence Parly, supporting Separate Development, won 28 of the 45 elected seats. It would appear that it is not only the white man who supports Separate Development.
The Bantu need training and technical expertise. This they are receiving at six technical schools and 26 industrial or trade schools. Enrolment is over the 3000 mark and is increasing. Courses include training as building construction workers, woodworkers, motor mechanics, draughtsmen, electricians, plumbers, radio mechanics, leather workers tailors, textile workers and so on. The universities of course provide the white-collar workers—the civil servants, politicians and professional men. A substantial category of self-employed businessmen is growing and some of them are extremely successful—there are 3 Bantu millionaires.
As regards to industrial development of the homelands, we have a problem. The quickest and most effective way to develop the natural resources of the homelands and their people would be to open them up to white investment and entrepreneurial skill. But this would expose the Bantu to white exploitation and to "economic imperialism", which is just the opposite of what we are trying to do. Our aim is to encourage the Bantu to run his own affairs in the economic as in other fields.
If this aim is to be realised we must accept the fact that the economic development of the homelands is likely to proceed at a tempo rather slower than we would like to see.
Nevertheless we are doing what we can to speed it up. Firstly there are what is known as the "border industries". These are white-owned and operated industries situated close to the borders of the homelands and drawing upon labour supplied by Bantu living in the homelands. This system has several advantages. It provides the Bantu with employment opportunities which he can enjoy while living in his own country. It provides also a substantial source of revenue for the homelands, and it is an effective subsidiary means of supplying the homelands with a skilled and semi-skilled labour pool. Secondly there are the various development trusts, such as the Bantu Investment Corporation and the Xhosa Development Corporation. They have capital at their disposal, supplied by the South African Government, running into millions of dollars. They are designed to promote industrial and other undertakings managed and owned by Bantu, and to act as development, financial and investment institutions among the Bantu. They provide loans and advice. They own business premises which can be leased or bought by the Bantu. They mobilise savings and provide investment opportunities for the Bantu. In short they act as catalysts in promoting economic development.
Finally, I should like to deal with the question of what is known in South Africa as "klein apartheid"—petty apartheid, in contrast to the grand strategy of Separate Development which I have just been talking about. Petty Apartheid means separate facilities for the races, separate restaurants, hotels, cinemas, sportfields and jobs. It is against these provisions that most of the criticism from abroad is directed, and it is these provisions which are most controversial in South Africa itself. Why are they necessary? To answer that question we must try to penetrate to the root causes of racial friction and the wild, unreasoning violence that it engenders. What is the fundamental cause of racial friction?
In our experience, this friction is caused firstly by competition between the races and the emotional frustration of losing to a man of another race; inevitably one blames the colour of one's skin for a defeat which is often due solely to one's own incompetence. It occurs when there is a wide cultural gulf between the races concerned. Here in New Zealand, for example, the Maori has a relatively advanced culture of his own; consequently the problem does not arise. It does arise in South Africa. The only possible way out of the dilemma, since racial friction must be avoided at all costs, is to remove as far as possible the points at which the races compete with each other—that is to say the points of contact in the political field, the economic field and the social field. Hence separate facilities for the different sectors of the population.
There is also a second reason. Again it is our experience that if one of the nations, which form part of the South African complex, begins to feel that its identity, its way of life and its existence is threatened by a more powerful neighbour—if it feels insecure —its reaction will be one of violent self-defence in the belief that this is its only means of survival. There are so many examples of this reaction in the rest of Africa, that it has almost developed into a standard pattern of behaviour. Take the Congo, where Katanga sought for survival through violence. Take the Sudan, where north and south are locked in a death-struggle for the same reason. Take Zanzibar and Rwanda. Take Nigeria which is a classic example of this reaction. What is the answer? In our case, the answer seems to be to eliminate any feeling of community insecurity by applying suitable safeguards which will convince each community that its way of life is secure. Moreover, it is only when such a climate is created that unemotional, objective co-operation between the communities becomes a practical proposition. Hence, once again, the separate facilities for each of the communities involved.
Perhaps it would be helpful to consider one specific provision which falls within this category—the ban on mixed marriages, which has given rise to so much criticism abroad and which is so difficult for a non-South African to understand. Think of this problem in terms of alternatives. Firstly, what happens to the children of mixed marriages? If we in South Africa were able to pursue a policy of multiracial integration, as you do in New Zealand, these children would pose no problem whatever—quite the opposite since the whole purpose of such a policy is to mix the races through marriage. But what happens to these children in our situation. They are neither one race nor another; they tend to be rejected by all the communities in the country. Is this not an intolerable burden to place upon a child? Would it not be much more honest to say, as we do, that children should not be placed in a position of not belonging? That is the first reason for the Mixed Marriages Act; there is a second reason, which touches deeply the question of racial friction. The relations between the sexes are usually charged with emotion; if race enters into it as well, the result is potentially explosive in the South African context. The worst racial riot in South Africa this century occurred in Durban just after the last war. The Zulus suddenly went berserk and started slaughtering every Indian in sight, men, women and children. By the time the Police had the situation under control, 140 people had died. There were several reasons for this sudden racial explosion, but one of them was Zulu resentment at the fact that Indian men were consorting with Zulu women. To take another example, there is a man called Robert Sobukwe imprisoned on Robben Island. He was a leading member of the Pan Africanist Congress, an organisation dedicated to the assumption of black power by violence. He can hardly be regarded therefore as a Government stooge. This is what he had to say on this subject:
"Because of the fact that Indian women must at all times be either expectant or having babies and because Indian women must always stay indoors particularly after sunset, the bulls go to the market to satisfy their sexual needs on the African women. This is one of the factors that led to the Durban riots of 1949."
Is it really surprising in these circumstances that we should have clamped down on mixed marriages and inter-racial intercourse and eliminated this highly dangerous source of racial friction.
A point which I should like to lay stress on here is that these measures that I have referred to are intended to reduce and if possible to eliminate friction between the various national communities forming a significant and permanent part of the South African complex.
They are not intended to apply to all non-European races simply because they happen to have dark skins. There is considerable flexibility in the application of these provisions— especially in regard to those which are based upon custom rather than legislation. This flexibility is exercised in those cases where the ethnic group of the individual concerned is not one of the groups permanently established in South Africa. The Japanese and Chinese are cases in point. This flexibility has presumably given rise to the use of the term "honorary white status", which I hear so often. I must emphasise that this term has no official meaning whatever in South Africa. It was not invented by us nor do we ever use it. I am not even sure exactly what it is supposed to mean.
What of the future? Where will this policy of Separate Development lead to in the long run? We envisage a vast complex of black and white states in Southern Africa, which will be economically interdependent and politically independent. The precise form of economic association is not yet clear It could contain some of the elements which are present in the European Economic Community— the Common Market. There would however be no question of eventual political integration as is envisaged in Europe. Depending upon what countries joined the association, it could cover an area of perhaps 2½ million square miles, and could contain upwards of 50 million people. This is a pretty ambitious target, but if one does not think big and plan boldly, one will never progress very far. In any case it will probably be our children or grandchildren who will have the responsibility of carrying out such a plan.
I have tried to explain what we are attempting to achieve. You may not agree with it or with our policy. Many people do not agree with it—and some of them are South Africans. All I ask of you is that you will give us credit for an honest endeavour to solve a particularly difficult problem. We do not ask for your agreement or your approval. We do ask for your sympathy and understanding.