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Proto-Apartheid

Evolution of an urban society
in the Eastern Cape from 1847 to 1923

Keith Tankard
The Time Traveller
Updated: 14 December 2009
(Contact the Project Coordinator)



Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Bibliography


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For many years, especially during the 1970s and 1980s, it became endemic amongst South African historians to lay the blame on legal segregation (or Apartheid) as it is called here, on capitalism. Segregation, it was argued, arose only after the discovery of diamonds in Griqualand West in 1868 and of gold on the Witwatersrand in 1886. Before that there was some quirky, shadowy form of segregation which some liked to call neo-feudalism.

A study of the development of segregation at the Eastern Cape port of East London shows clearly that there is no truth behind this argument. East London, a pre-industrial port until about the 1930s, developed a clearly demarcated system of legal segregation as early as 1848. Moreover, the model used at this port came to be copied by many other towns and cities throughout South Africa. Indeed, to a large degree East London's model formed the blue-print for urban segregation in the early 20th century.

This cyber-book, in exploring the evolution of the Black community at East London, aims at explaining carefully how this was so. It documents the changes that occurred in the location system from the arrival of the first white settlers at East London, taking the history through to the passing of the Natives (Urban Areas) Act in 1923 which for the first time legalised urban segregation throughout South Africa. In doing so, it attempts to show not only how legal segregation was a reality in South Africa long before the industrial revolution, but also the pivotal role that East London played in blue-printing the system for the rest of urban South Africa.

Go to:

1. Racism in the Cape Colony

2. A Port is Established

3. Birth of the Location System

4. Arrival of the Missionaries

5. Forced Removals

6. The Mvalo Stick Case

7. Tottering on the Brink

8. Nondescript Shanty Towns

9. The Natives (Urban Areas) Act

10. Conclusion

11. Bibliography

Contact: The Project Coordinator