We had the most exciting adventures in Southern Africa in 2017-2018.
As we have visited the site of Chief Albert John Luthuli, some history?
Chief Albert Luthuli, who became Africa’s first Nobel Peace Prize Laureate in 1960, was President-General of the African National Congress (ANC) from December 1952 until his death in 1967. Luthuli was the most widely known and respected African leader of his era. A latecomer to politics, Luthuli was nearly 50 when he assumed the leadership of the ANC. Over the course of his political career his approach became increasingly militant. Yet, there is still no consensus about whether he approved of the ANC’s transition from a peaceful organisation into one committed to armed struggle.
Luthuli was born in 1898 near Bulawayo in a Seventh Day Adventist mission. His father died when he was an infant, and when he was 10 years old his mother sent him to the family’s traditional home at Groutville mission station in Natal. Luthuli then lived for a period in the household of his uncle, Martin Luthuli, who was at that time the elected Chief of the Christian Zulus inhabiting Umvoti Mission Reserve around Groutville.
On completing a teaching course at Edendale near Pietermaritzburg, Luthuli took up the running of a small primary school in the Natal uplands. Becoming seriously conscious of his religion for the first time, he was confirmed in the Methodist Church and became a lay preacher. The language of the Bible and Christian principles profoundly affected his political style and beliefs for the rest of his life.
In 1920 he received a government bursary to attend a higher teachers’ training course at Adams College, and subsequently joined the training college staff, teaching alongside Z.K. Mathews, who was then the head of Adams College High School. At this stage Adams College was reputed to be one of the best schools in southern and central Africa. Luthuli was offered a scholarship to study at the University College of Fort hare but declined it. He opted to stay as a teacher hoping that the £10 monthly salary would help provide for his aging mother. He appears to have had fond memories of Adams College, once commenting that it “was a world of its own”¦ one in which we were too busy with our profession to pay more than passing attention to what happened elsewhere”.
Despite their almost privileged and insular lifestyles, some students at the College struggled to make ends meet. Anton Lembede, who was to become founder of the ANC Youth League, is known to have worn shabby clothing. The “Amakholwa”, considered the “middle class” of the time, found life difficult. Teachers’ salaries were low and few other professions were open to black people at the time. Luthuli showed empathy with working people’s concerns, joining the Natal Native Teachers Union, and in 1928 was elected its secretary. He accrued valuable political experience by organising boycotts and acting as a negotiator with white authorities.
The American Board Mission’s support of the idea of “muscular Christianity” and the value of a “healthy mind in a healthy body” provided an ideal environment for the meeting of western and indigenous cultures. Football was the school’s most popular sport and as a young faculty member, Luthuli became secretary and supervisor of Adams College Football team, Shooting Stars. By his own admission, Luthuli was not a sport enthusiast, except for an occasional game of tennis.
The American Board Mission had established other football teams, including Ocean Swallows of Umbumbulu (established in the 1880s), Natal Cannons of Inanda (1890s), and Bush Bucks of Ifafa (1902). This institutional support and promotion of sport is consistent with, and lies at the heart of, Victorian England’s rational recreation movement.
Luthuli’s success in popularising sports as a vehicle for good living can be seen in how the idea spread throughout Natal and the Transvaal. Many former Adams students went on to become players and officials in football leagues and clubs in the two provinces. The Witwatersrand District Native Football Association was founded by the “mabalanes”, or Zulu-speaking clerks. Structured along ethnic lines, these clubs were encouraged by mine management, who saw in them the potential “to keep Natives wholesomely amused”. Membership to the clubs not only occupied their leisure time and emphasised their elite status but also promoted an ethos of loyalty to the mine.
Luthuli and the Mabalanes expressed a “profound cultural ambivalence” about their identity, which straddled traditionalist and modern experiences. It was while Luthuli was steeped in this hybrid world of Western values and traces of traditionalist existence that he was called upon to become chief in his ancestral village of Groutville. Initially, he resisted the appeal by village elders to take up the chieftaincy. Succumbing to pressure from the elders of his tribe, Luthuli agreed in 1935 to accept the chieftaincy of Groutville reserve, and returned home to become an administrator of tribal affairs. For 17 years he immersed himself in the local problems of his people, adjudicating and mediating local quarrels, and organising African cane growers to guard their own interests.
In the early years of his chieftaincy, Luthuli became immersed in the struggles of the cane growers in his chiefdom. At this stage the South African Cane Growers Association, established in August 1927, dominated the production and marketing of sugar cane. Various other associations were established to represent the interests of African, Coloured and Indian sugar cane growers. It is possible that Luthuli became involved with African cane growers, defending their interests. During this period in South African history, the process of land dispossession was largely piecemeal, with Africans resisting total expropriation by finding creative ways of securing access to land. However, by the middle of the 1940s, many African growers had been marginalised, and the government had turned on Indian growers.
The Asiatic Land Tenure and Indian Representation Act, 1946 (Act No. 28 of 1946) was a legislative measure adopted by the government in an attempt to reduce Indian growers to wage labour. The ANC, the Transvaal Indian Congress and the Natal Indian Congress resisted the new measure. In what became known as the “three doctors Pact” Dr. AB Xuma, President of the ANC, Dr. GM Naicker, President of the Natal Indian Congress, and Dr. YM Dadoo, President of the Transvaal Indian Congress, signed a joint declaration of cooperation on March 9, 1947 in a bid to mobilise support for a campaign aimed at resisting these measures.
Through minor clashes with white authority Luthuli had his first direct experience with African political predicaments. Travel outside South Africa also widened his perspective during this period; in 1938 he was a delegate at an international missionary conference in India, and in 1948 he spent nine months on a church-sponsored tour of the United States.
At this stage Luthuli was being gradually eased into a political involvement transcending his role as a chief. Sensing that the ANC in Natal was moribund, and aware of the leadership vacuum created by the illness and the death of John L Dube in 1946, Luthuli became actively involved in strengthening the organisation. Beginning his career in national politics, Luthuli defeated Selby Msimang in a by-election for a successor to Dube on the Natives’ Representative Council (NRC). Luthuli was returned unopposed to the semi-defunct council in 1948. With the backing of the Natal ANC Youth League and Jordan Ngubane in Inkundla ya Bantu, he advanced another step onto the national stage in early 1951 by narrowly defeating AWG Champion to become the Natal provincial president of the ANC.
His public support for the 1952 Defiance Campaign brought him finally into direct conflict with the South African government, and after refusing to resign from the ANC, he was dismissed from his post as chief in November 1952.
During the Defiance Campaign Luthuli was actively involved in soliciting and recruiting volunteers. He was particularly active on the East Rand where, along with Oliver Tambo, he addressed numerous meetings on different occasions. He made numerous trips to the East Rand during the campaign, visiting Katlehong, Tokoza and Tsakane outside Brakpan. The Defiance Campaign in these townships coincided with numerous popular protests such as bus boycotts, squatter movements and industrial strikes. These interactions brought him into contact with leading trade unionists in the region, and helped raise his profile as a potential national leader.
Albert Luthuli surrounded by Defiance Campaign volunteers in Katlehong on the East Rand. Photo: Daniel Booi Mathang
In response to his removal as chief of Grouville, Luthuli issued “The Road to Freedom is via the Cross”, perhaps the most famous statement of his principles a belief in non-violence: a conviction that apartheid degrades all who are party to it, and an optimism that whites would sooner or later be compelled to change heart and accept a shared society. The notoriety gained by his dismissal, his eloquence, his unimpeachable character, and his demonstrated loyalty to the ANC all made Luthuli a natural candidate to succeed ANC President James Moroka, who at his trial during the Defiance Campaign tried to dissociate himself from the other defendants.
At the annual conference of December 1952, Luthuli was elected ANC president-general by a large majority. Bans, imposed in early 1953 and renewed in the following year, prevented him from giving direction in the day-to-day activities of Congress, but as a country-bred “man of the people” combining the most inspiring qualities of Christian and traditional leadership, he became a powerful symbol for an organisation struggling to rally mass support. He was re-elected president-general in 1955 and in 1958. Although bans confined him to his rural home throughout his presidency, he nevertheless was able to write statements and speeches for presentation at ANC conferences, and occasionally circumstances permitted him to attend conferences personally.
In December 1956 he was included in the treason arrests, but was released with 60 others in late 1957 after the pre-trial examination. He was subsequently called as a witness for the defence and was testifying in Pretoria on the day of the Sharpeville shooting in 1960. He enjoyed a period of relative freedom between his release at the end of 1957 and May 1959, when a new ban confined him to the Lower Tugela district for five years.
During this lapse in restrictions, he made a number of highly publicised speeches to whites and mixed audiences, climaxed by a tour of the Western Cape. His polished speeches and balanced appeals for reason in race relations earned him the praise of many whites. Reactions were not all sympathetic. At one meeting in Pretoria he was assaulted and knocked off the platform by a group of young Afrikaners.
Almost from the beginning of his presidency, Luthuli was confronted by critics warning that he was allowing himself to become a tool of the ANC’s left wing. Due to the circumstances of his restrictions, he was unable to closely supervise the activities and movements of other ANC leaders, but he was realistically aware of the problems and hardly the naÁ¯ve figure that some critics said he was. His reply was always to defend the right of people of all ideological persuasions to play their part in the struggle for African equality and to support the multiracial Congress Alliance as the foundation of a future integrated society. In ideological terms, he personally expressed a preference for socialism of the type espoused by the British Labour Party.
Until recently, it was widely assumed that Luthuli launched the armed struggle upon his return to South Africa after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. It has since become apparent that he was ambivalent in his support for the transition to armed struggle. According to Scott Couper, it is because of his “domestic and international prominence and impeccable moral character that liberation struggle icons, political parties and politicians justify, in part, their past actions and their contemporary relevance upon a contrived historical memory”. Couper argues that Luthuli did not support the initiation of violence in December 1961 because “his political career proved to be “bound by faith.
OUR DIVERSE CULTURE
Paarl is the third oldest European Settlement in South Africa and is home to a culturally diverse community – the product of a unique history.
The people of Paarl are descendants of the Khoisan, slaves from African and Asia, Dutch settlers, French Huguenots, Jewish immigrants, Italian Prisoners of War, and Xhosa migrant labourers.
The Khoikhoi and San were the first people to utilize the area and original San rock art can still be seen at nearby Wemmershoek and Bainskloof. Originally, Paarl Mountain was named “Tortoise Mountain” by the Khoikhoi.
The Berg River Valley formed the traditional border between the Peninsular Khoikhoi (the Gorachoqua and the Goringhaiqua) and the Cochoqua. The latter group moved their cattle around the various grazing areas of the Berg River and Drakenstein valleys.
The approximately 18 000-strong Cochoqua was one of the richest and strongest of the Khoi tribes, but they were eventually defeated during the second war between the colonists and Khoikhoi and most of their livestock looted.
On the death of their leaders, the tribe dispersed, with some trekking towards the Orange River, while others were in the service of colonists.
The original purpose of the Dutch settlement in the vicinity of latter day Cape Town, was to provide fresh food and water to the ships of the Dutch East India Company, on their way to the East. Founder of Cape Town, Jan van Riebeeck, built up fresh meat stock by bartering livestock from the local Khoikhoi.
In 1657, Abraham Gabbema led an expedition to find more Khoi groups to barter with and to search for the legendary treasures of Monomotapa. On the day that they arrived in the Berg River Valley, the granite boulders, towards the west side of our town, glistened in the sun and this inspired Gabbema to name this mountain “the Diamond and Pearl Mountain” from which the name Paarl was later derived.
In October 1687, thirty years after the Gabbema expedition, Governor Simon van der Stel granted the first farms to Free Burghers. Twenty-one of these farms were in Drakenstein (Paarl), and five were on the foothills of Paarl Mountain.
When the French Huguenots arrived in the Cape in 1688, some were granted land in the Drakenstein area.
Their intimate knowledge of the wine industry would be instrumental in establishing the now internationally-renowned wine industry of South Africa.
The headquarters of the South African wine industry, the KWV, is situated in Paarl, on one of the earliest farms (La Concorde, as it is known today) to be granted by Governor Simon van der Stel.
The traditional European practice of private land ownership soon clashed with the communal land use of the Khoikhoi. Land was now granted to the French Huguenots and this meant that water was limited and the wild animals that were hunted by the Khoisan, systematically disappeared from the area.
European diseases, such as small pox, further decimated the indigenous peoples. Many of the Khoisan were forced to move to the interior or became labourers for the colonists.
Between 1658 and 1808, some 63 000 slaves were brought to South Africa from different parts of the world, to sow, harvest, and thresh the wheat and also to load wagons, weed the owner’s fields, and look after the livestock. On wine farms they harvested and pressed grapes. Women did housework and in some cases acted as wet nurses for their owner’s children.
Het Gesticht (a small unbaked brick church) was built in 1813 to provide slaves with a place of worship. From 1820, onwards it became known as the Zion Church and is the fourth oldest church building in South Africa.
After being emancipated in 1834, slaves in Paarl were awarded property in the vicinity of modern-day Berg Street and School Street.
In 1958 after the voting age was decreased to 18, the National Party (NP) was able to increase their majority again, this time to 108 seats. Verwoerd, like his predecessors, was convinced that unity between the English and the Afrikaner could be achieved only within a new republic. In January 1960 he announced that a referendum would be held that year on the issue of a republic. It was decided that South Africa, like India, would also try to become a republic, while remaining in the Commonwealth.
At this time in South Africa there were various crises that had an impact on the way that people voted in the referendum. First the Sharpeville Masacre (1960) and the resultant banning of the ANC and PAC. Many gave their support to the NP after this incident as they believed the NP could protect them. South Africa also came under international criticism, and in this atmosphere many felt that some withdrawal from international affairs was best. Other incidents that deeply affected South Africans in 1960 were the unsuccessful assassination attempt on Verwoerd, the Orange Free State Coalbrook mining disaster on 21 January 1960 where 435 labourers were buried alive, and British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan’s ‘Winds of Change’ speech. Their effect was to bring greater coherence and unity amongst white South Africans.
Further reading on these incidents:
The referendum was held on 5 October 1960 and the majority of white South African voters (not just white Afrikaans speakers) were in favour of a republic. Black, Coloured and Indian people were not allowed to vote. Both the United Party and the Progressive Party called for votes against the republic at this time. Some white English-speakers voted in favour of a republic, presuming that this would not affect South Africa’s membership of the commonwealth. The government did not use the two-third-majority rule, but only a simple majority. This went against what Strijdom had believed when, thinking only of whites, he said it should be determined by the ‘broad basis of the people’s will’. The result was 850 458 in favour with 775 878 against, meaning that the referendum was won by only 74 580 votes. In 1961 the monetary system was changed from the British imperial currency to a metric, South African system of Rands and cents.
On 3 March 1961 Verwoerd went to the Imperial Conference in London. His apparent intention was to discuss South Africa becoming a republic while remaining in the commonwealth. At the 1960 Commonwealth Prime Minister’s Conference the diplomat, Eric Louw had been told that a decision regarding whether South Africa would be allowed to stay in the Commonwealth or not could not be made in advance. The reason for this decision was that it could have been seen as interference with the internal affairs of another country. Verwoerd now needed to obtain a statement on South Africa’s position that would be acceptable to both the Commonwealth and to South Africans. He was however faced by a lot of opposition to South Africa’s apartheid policy. Some countries had been thinking that South Africa should be expelled from the Commonwealth as a result of apartheid, and there had been campaigning in Britain by the Anti-Apartheid Movement calling for this.
The Afro-Asian countries were especially critical of apartheid, with Nkrumah and Nehru leading the discussion. Canada also criticised South Africa openly, and the call was for South Africa to abandon her racial policy. Verwoerd refused and felt that nobody should have the right to dictate to South Africa what actions should be followed. In South Africa even the white parliamentary opposition agreed with him on this point. Verwoerd decided it would be best to leave the Commonwealth before South Africa was expelled or faced even more criticism, and so suddenly resigned on 15 March. It had also become clear by this time that some other countries would leave the Commonwealth in protest if an unrepentant South Africa were allowed to remain.
On 31 May South Africa became a republic, with her membership of the Commonwealth simultaneously expiring. The choice of this particular day was no accident, but was deeply significant in the Afrikaner psyche. The date of Republic day (31 May) coincided with the end of the South African War in 1902, the date of the Union of South Africa in 1910 and the date when the South African flag had first been flown in 1928. The new constitution had been finalised in April, but did not resemble that of the old Boer republics or the 1941 draft as many had expected. It combined the old powers of the Queen and the Governor General and invested them in the new position of State President – a position without a political role and elected by the legislature. Equality between English and Afrikaans was retained.
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My town of birth in 1969-12-16. Rustenburg – North-west Province – South Africa.
Have you tried to learn more about your own town and maybe some mystery there?
Rustenburg is prominent in Afrikaner history. The town was established in 1851 as an administrative centre for a fertile farming area producing citrus fruit, tobacco, peanuts, sunflower seeds, maize, wheat and cattle. On 10 February 1859, the local Dutch Reformed Church community was established. One of the oldest Boer settlements in the north, Rustenburg was the home of Paul Kruger, president of the South African Republic, who bought a 5 square kilometer farm to the north-west of the town in 1863. The homestead on his farm, Boekenhoutfontein, is now the Paul Kruger Country Museum. When the Boer and the British came to blows in the Second Boer War (1899), the territory around Rustenburg became a battlefield. The two sides clashed famously at nearby Mafikeng, where the British garrison found itself under siege for months. These battle sites can be explored from Rustenburg.
Before European settlers arrived, the area had been settled by agrarian Setswana speaking tribes for several hundred years after colonising the native pastoralist Khoikhoi people. Rustenburg’s population is primarily Tswana people. Many belong to the Royal Bafokeng Nation, extensive landowners earning royalties from mining operations. The Royal Bafokeng are descendants of Sotho settlers who displaced the local tribes from the region, which they came to call ‘place of dew’ (Phokeng). In the early 1800s, the Bafokeng and other Tswana communities were conquered in a series of devastating wars launched by an offshoot of the Zulu kingdom, called the Matabele. The Boers had also fought the Zulu and Matabele, and so the Boers and Tswana found in the Matabele a common enemy. The Tswana and Boers planned together and worked toward defeating the Matabele from a Sotho-Tswana kingdom to the south, and together, they defeated the Matebele. As the Boers settled in the area, called their settlement Rustenburg because they had relatively friendly relations with their Bafokeng allies in the area, and after the many violent military conflicts with other African chiefdoms, such as the Matabele, they believed they could rest (“rusten” in Dutch) in this settlement, whose name literally means “Resting Town.” Although had already long lived in the area when the Boers arrived, the Bafokeng bought land rights from the Boers, and they purchased their first tracts of land in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century from the colonial rulers, some in exchange for serving in the Boer Wars. Although these land purchases were technically illegal, Paul Kruger, who would become a president of the Transvaal Boer Republic, but was then a veld kornet, was friendly to the Bafokeng and helped arrange many of these purchases. The majority of people in the region 20 years after the fall of apartheid still live in abject poverty despite the massive profits yielded by the platinum royalties. This has led in recent years to claims of kleptocracy against the ‘royal’ family and land claim disputes.
Among the first residents of Rustenburg were settlers of Indian origin. One of the first families of Indian origin was the Bhyat family, whose contribution to the city’s history was marked by the renaming of a major streetname to Fatima Bhayat Street in honour of Fatima Bhyat who arrived in Rustenburg with her husband in 1877.
With the arrival and successful farming practices of the Afrikaners (Boers) in the nineteenth century, Rustenburg became a primary agricultural region with vast citrus estates due to the favourable climate and abundant water supply.
Platinum mining in Rustenburg began in 1929, shortly after the discovery of the Platinum Reef by Hans Merensky, later named the Merensky Reef. The town has been transformed from a region recognized around the world since the 19th century for its natural springs and healing environment, as eloquently described in the book ‘Rustenburg Romance’ by author and poet Eric Rosenthal into one of the most polluted environments in the late 20th and early 21st century South Africa. The wanton despoliation of the environment through mining has drawn comparisons to the Norilsk complex in Russia, one of the ten most polluted cities in the world.
With the implementation of apartheid after 1948 life became more severe for ‘non-whites’ with 9 pm curfews and the most stringent enforcement of pass laws in the country. This was welcomed by the mining industry as it gave them a tighter grip on the migrant labour which was the backbone of their operations. Ethnic groups were moved forcibly from the center of town to the Indian, Coloured or Black areas, Zinniaville, Karlien Park and Boitekong respectively. The pass laws were abolished with the fall of apartheid.
The township of Boitekong on the northeast side of Rustenburg has one of the highest incidence of AIDS orphans in South Africa Boitekong was the venue for World AIDS Day commemoration in December 2010. The township is in a geographical area which bears the brunt of the catchment area of the toxic effects of the mining industry coupled with a very poor quality of water supply from the local Bospoort Dam, the water from which was for decades considered too toxic for human consumption until water shortages in the nineties compelled the purification and supply to Boitekong. Life for the majority under the rule of the ‘Royal Bafokeng’ has parallels to the apartheid era. In the Apartheid era, forced removals of old settlements were on the basis of racial divide whereas now it is done for installation of massive mining operations sometimes engulfing entire villages. (see ‘Rasimone’ on Google Earth)
The Royal Bafokeng own the stadium selected as a World Cup 2010 venue, the only ‘private’ stadium that hosted games in the 2010 World cup. The Royal Bafokeng regard themselves as a ‘separate nation’ which is in contradiction to the Rainbow nation espoused by Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela. This ‘nationhood’ is regarded by many today as a divide and rule tactic orchestrated by the mining conglomerates which has subsequently led to the calls for nationalization of the mining industry by the ANC Youth League.
Agriculture in the region has been in constant decline since the decimation of the vast citrus estates of Rustenburg in the 70’s and 80’s due to pollution from increased smelting and beneficiating processes by mines. There are only a fraction of the original citrus farms remaining.
Comparisons can be drawn between the Klondike gold rush and the events in Rustenburg in the late 20th and early 21st century which led to it becoming one of the fastest growing cities in South Africa.
In 1990, the first post-Apartheid conference between the Nederduits Gereformeerde Kerk (the Dutch Reformed Church in Africa) and the South African churches was held in Rustenburg. During this conference, professor Willie Jonker of the University of Stellenbosch made this confession on behalf of the entire DRC:
“[I] confess before you and before the Lord, not only my own sin and guilt, and my personal responsibility for the political, social, economic and structural wrongs that have been done to many of you and the results [from] which you and our whole country are still suffering, but vicariously I dare also to do that in the name of the NGK [the white DRC], of which I am a member, and for the Afrikaans people as a whole.”
The conference finally resulted in the signing of the Rustenburg Declaration, which moved strongly toward complete confession, forgiveness, and restitution.
In August 2012, South African police fatally shot 34 miners and wounded 78 more during an industrial dispute Marikana miners’ strike near Rustenburg, it was the most lethal use of force by South African security forces since the end of the apartheid era.