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18 - What Did Sol Plaatje Find on His Journey through South Africa?

Property Rights and Labour Coercion

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 August 2022

Johan Fourie
Affiliation:
University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
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Summary

‘Awaking on Friday morning, June 20, 1913, the South African Native found himself, not actually a slave, but a pariah in the land of his birth.’1 So begins Sol Plaatje’s Native Life in South Africa, a book in which he appeals against one of the most consequential pieces of legislation passed by the new Union of South Africa after its establishment in 1910. The Natives Land Act of 1913 restricted ownership of land by black South Africans to a small fraction of the available agricultural land of the country. It decreed that whites and blacks were not allowed to buy land from each other. And although the Act did not have an immediate impact, as many, including Plaatje, had thought it would, it began a process of legislative segregation that would ultimately culminate in Grand Apartheid – the division of South Africa into white and black territories or ‘homelands’ – half a century later.

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Our Long Walk to Economic Freedom
Lessons from 100,000 Years of Human History
, pp. 102 - 108
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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