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South Africa: Something for the Xhosa

2 minute read

If Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd has his way, most of South Africa’s 11,000,000 Bantu (native blacks) one day will live in their own Bantustans—eight big isolated reserves in regions safely separate from the white cities. There the stark concept of total apartheid will get its first test—if the plan ever comes off. Almost no one except Verwoerd’s determined Afrikaner followers thinks it will, for the cost of development would be enormous, not to mention the reluctance of the black millions to remain forever in underdeveloped enclaves.

Nevertheless, Verwoerd last week announced “self-government” next year for the biggest Bantustan, the sprawling (16,500 sq. mi.), isolated Transkei, on the southeast coast, traditional homeland of the 2,000,000 Xhosa people. “The Transkei,” Verwoerd declared, “will have a wholly black Parliament and Cabinet. The white inhabitants will have no political rights there.” But the government would still retain control over the Transkei’s foreign affairs, defense, and justice. Many of the Xhosa themselves seemed happy enough; being largely illiterate, they were hardly aware of what the plan was all about. The protests will come from the more advanced Africans—the 6,500,000 who staff the factories, mines, shops and farms. For them “self-government” in the wilderness is no substitute for the rights, including the vote, they want to enjoy in the productive regions of the country.

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