African Series Sample Documents

Volume X: January 1923--1945

Article in the Cape Argus

[Cape Town, Friday, January 5, 1923]

Garveyism in Africa

[ . . . ]^1 A new phase in native life in this country which springs from an increasing mistrust of Europeans is seen in the remarkable belief which the natives are beginning to have in propaganda spread by members of their own race.

On its good side, this is seen when we remember the extraordinary influence obtained over natives by Professor Aggrey, who visited this country a couple of years ago in connection with the educational survey undertaken by the Phelps Stokes Fund. Although this West African native could not speak a word of Kafir,^2 the fact that he was one of themselves, coupled no doubt with his remarkable oratorical gifts, made him at once a power in the land.

On its bad side we see the power of black propaganda in the increasing influence of Garveyism in Africa. In spite of the police action which was taken against Marcus Garvey in America, and in spite of the ridicule which has been cast upon his movement, the creed of the "Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League," to give the movement its full title, is capturing the imagination of the black people of Africa.

I will return to this subject for fuller treatment later; here it is sufficient to summarise its doctrines in the words of Garvey's own paper, "The Negro World":

As the social relations between black and white are impossible, and as the whites are too prejudiced against the black to treat him as an equal either socially, politically, or industrially, therefore the black man's only hope of redemption is the creation of a distinct type of civilisation in his mother land.

All this, says the paper, is to be accomplished under the slogan "Africa for the Africans at home and abroad." U.N.I.A. and A.C.L. branches exist all over Africa.

At almost every West African port the inquisitive voyager has only to get into the "black quarter," and to scratch a little below the [sur]face to find signs of the organisation. There are at least two branches south of the Zambesi, and it is well known that some South African natives have sent Garvey money for investment in his Black Star Line of steamships.

Garveyism as preached to-day advocates the use of force to accomplish its ends, and is therefore incompatible with European control over Africa. No doubt the Government will watch very carefully the spread of this and other anti-white propaganda in the Union, but it will easily be realised that mere suppression of these movements as they arise will not be sufficient. The native people are growing up, and some healthy counteracting methods to enable them to express their growing ideals will be necessary.

Printed in the Cape Argus (Cape Town), 5 January 1923. Reprinted in NW, 24 February 1923. Headlines and text abridged.

1. The elided section discusses the political activities of black South Africans, particularly Enoch Mgijima.

2. A derogatory allusion to the Sotho and Nguni languages spoken in southern Africa.

J. C. Hofmeyr, Acting Magistrate of Rehoboth, to Secretary for South West Africa


Hottentot Unrest Naos Rehoboth District

I have the honour to forward the attached report by [H. H. Erasmus] the Post Commander S.W.A.P. Rehoboth, for your information with reference to previous correspondence in the above connection[.] I have to inform you that the patrol was specially sent out to ascertain what the true state of affairs were at Naos as we could not depend on the reports made by the European and Bastard [Basters] farmers[;] also to find out what grievance the Hottentots really had.

The Hottentots appear to be dissatisfied because they have been allocated no reserve, and they say they are chased from place to place, but it[']s only lately that they have come together in a mob, previously they used to work on the Bastard and European farms, and there was then no necessity to put them in a reserve.

The cause of the trouble as far as I can ascertain has been the American Negro Society, a certain Franz Afrikaner and Vaalui Lawren [Vaaluin Lawren], were appointed Captain and Vice Captain respectively for the district of Rehoboth, at the Society's Headquarters in Windhoek, these two used to ride about in the Rehoboth district visiting all the Hottentots from whom they collected 3/-- each, this money the Hotten[to]ts were told would be used to purchase their freedom and the land at present occupied by the Bastards and European[s] would be returned to them, consequently the Hottentot labourers saw no further necessity to work in view of these promises, they deserted their masters['] services and congregated on Naos and the Gurumanas because of the plentiful water and grass there obtainable, there are now about 50 all told[;] they possess 4000 head of small stock and about 250 head of large stock.

Franz Afrikaner and Vaalui Lawren have been the cause of all the trouble and today they are still stirring up strife[;] they are dangerous and should be removed from this district[;] they have caused the adjoining farmers and myself a lot of trouble and the Bastard Raad particularly want them removed. As a temporary measure I would recommend that the rest of the Hottentots are allowed to occupy one of the Government farms in the west of this district till such time as the Administration can accommodate them permanently elsewhere, if this is done I think that they be quite satisfied.

With reference to the last paragraph of the report I beg to inform you that I am despatching a patrol of three European and 3 native constables on the 9th instant and the result I will report to you in due course, to the Namib.

J. C. HOFMEYR Acting Magistrate

NaNam, A 396/6, Native Unrest: Rehoboth, 1915--1923. TL, carbon copy.

Enclosure: Report by the Post Commander of Rehoboth, South West Africa Police


Unrest: Hottentots: Farms Naos and Gurumanas


In accordance with your verbal instructions conveyed to me on the 1st instant I have the honour to report on the above as follows:---

On Tuesday 2nd instant I left for farm Naos and arrived there at 7.30 A.M. on the 3rd. The occupier of the farm, Mr Max Greuniger was not at home, and his mother Mrs Sievers could not give me any information in regard to the Hottentots alleged to be trespassing on the farm. From the homestead I proceeded to a Cattle Outpost 6 miles away in a westerly direction. On my arrival at this Post I met Bastard Field Cornet Titties Claassen and Bastard Giel van Wyk, the latter was in charge of the Post, van Wyk informed me that all the Hottentots with the exception of one Andreas had left farm Naos and were at present on farm Gurumanas.

I asked where Andreas lived and whether he was at his huts and van Wyk pointed out the huts to me and informed me that Andreas was at home. Titties Claassen warned me to be careful of Andreas as he was a very impertinent native and would not hesitate in assaulting me. I proceeded to the huts but on my arrival there I found that Andreas was away, the women told me that Andreas went out to look for stock, but on questioning a young boy I was informed that Andreas and two other natives saw us at the house of van Wyk and ran away into the mountains. I left the huts and proceeded to another Cattle Post two miles away where I met Mr Edward Bassingthwaighte who informed me that the Hottentots who used to be on farm Naos passed the cattle post on or about the 16th December and went to farm Gurumanas. At 3 P.M. that same day I returned to the huts of Andreas and searched for him in the mountains but could not find him. At 4 A.M. on the 4th I went to the huts of Andreas again but he had not returned yet. I then proceeded to farm Gurumanas and arrived there at 9.30 A.M. I interviewed the owner of the farm Bastard Burgher Johnnie Karroo who complained to me that there were about 30 male [H]ottentots on his farm with their families, and over 4000 head of small stock and 200 large stock[;] he warned them several times to leave his farm but they flatly refused, and on one occasion threatened to assault him when he spoke to them about their cattle and sheep drinking all his water. On one occasion he was asked by the headman of the Hottentots, Vaalui Lawren, to produce documents to prove that the farm belonged to him (Karroo), and further stated that the farm originally belonged to the Hottentots and that they would get it back.

Johnnie Karroo asked me to call all the Hottentots together and to give them a final warning to leave his farm. I sent one of Karroo's sons to call all the [H]ottentots, and about an hour later a troop consisting of 17 mounted men under the leadership of Vaaluin Lawren, riding in troop formation (half sections) came up to where I was waiting for them, I told them to dismount and sit down, they did so very reluctantly and appeared to be very suspicious and restless. I noticed that the majority of them wore a small green, red, and black button, and most of them had a uniform of sorts, the leader Vaaluin Lawren was in khaki uniform, similar to the uniform worn by our Native Constable, with Defence Force buttons.

I put them at their ease and told them that I did not come out to cause trouble but was sent by the Magistrate to find out whether they had any grievances and further to find out why they were trespassing on farms Naos and Gurumanas and why they were not in employment.

I explained to them that they had to find masters otherwise they would have to be prosecuted, unless they were in possession of exemption certificates. I finally warned them to leave the farm Gurumanas and go out to white farmers where they would be able to earn a honest living and have sufficient grazing and water for their stock.

They all complained that they could not find any farmers to take them as they had too many cattle and sheep. One of them informed me that he searched for employment for three years but could not find anyone to take him.

The Headman Vaaluin Lawren said that the Bastards got a certain amount of justice, the Germans got Justice, the Hereros got a little justice but they, the Hottentots, got no justice from the Administration, the Europeans and Bastards have farms, the Hereros have Reserves but the Hottentots are chased from place to place and have no fixed place of abode. He further stated that the Bastard Government made them pay poll tax in the Gebied^1 and the Administration made them pay Dog Tax in the Gebied if they reside on European farms, and wished to know why they should pay taxes to two Governments at the same time and be ruled by two Governments at the same time. I told them that I could not give them any information on these points and advised them to go to Rehoboth and interview the Magistrate, which they promised to do.

Finally they told me that they were quite prepared to leave the farm but asked whether they could let their stock graze on the government farm adjoining Portsmuth, unoccupied, for a period of three weeks until they can come to Rehoboth to interview the Magistrate. I told them that it was not in my power to give them the permission to go to this farm but under the circumstances they could go there with their stock until such time as they come to see the Magistrate. I trust my action in this respect will be confirmed by you.

During all the time I spoke to the Hottentots they were very restless and cheeky, especially Vaaluin Lawren who continually interrupted me and clearly showed me that he had no respect for me or for the Administration. I am positive that this Hottentot, with one Franz Afrikander [Franz Afrikaner] who really is the Chief of the Hottentots are the cause of all the trouble on the farms on the Western part of this district. I am also positive that if I gave them the slightest provocation they would have attempted to assault me, and I strongly recommend that these two Hottentots be put out of this district, when I feel certain the others will go out to farms and work.

All the Hottentots on this farm belong to the American Negro Society, and on questioning Vaaluin Lawren in regard to same he said that he was the leader of the Society in that part of the district and understood perfectly what the aims of the Society were but did not know or care whether his followers understood it.

I further ascertained that Hottentot patrols were continually going to and coming from Windhoek into this district apparently without passes. A closer watch will have to be kept on the movements of these Hottentots in the future but owing to the fact that I have only three men at my disposal for patrols in this big area it will be a very difficult matter to always keep in touch with them.

Several of the farmers[,] European and Bastard, have lost a considerable number of large stock in this part of the district and it is quite possible that the Hottentots may have stolen same but on the other hand the farmers in most cases say that the cattle may have trekked after the green grass where rains had fallen during the last few months, and are therefore not certain whether their cattle have been stolen or merely strayed. Good rains have fallen on farms Naos and Gurumanas, and there is open water in the rivers and pans in consequence of which all the cattle from neighbouring farms collect on these two farms for the open water and fresh grass, cattle even came as far as from the Schaap River in the Windhoek district to these farms for grazing and water, so it is practically impossible for any farmer to state definitely that his stock had been stolen.

Most of the farmers in the western part of the district are of opinion that there are a number of Hottentots, Klip Kaffirs and even Hereros squatting in the Namib and that they are responsible for a considerable number of stock thefts. I am given to understand that no Police patrol has ever been down the Namib owing to the fact that is is almost inaccessible and outside the Police Zone. I personally think it would be advisable to send a patrol of say 3 Europeans and 3 native Constables into the Namib and find out whether there are any vagrant natives there and if so to have them arrested. The patrol would have the effect of pacifying the farmers in that area nearest the Namib. I have the honour to be, Sir, your obedient servant

NaNam, A 396/6, Native Unrest: Rehoboth, 1915--1923. TL, carbon copy.

1. Gebied is an Afrikaans term for territory or jurisdiction. This is a reference to the Rehoboth Gebied, a semiautonomous community south of Windhoek. The Rehoboth Basters, an Afrikaans-speaking, "coloured" community, migrated from the northwestern frontier regions of the Cape in the 1870s, following social and economic pressures caused by the expansion of white settlement from the Cape. The exact boundary of the Rehoboth Gebied, determined by the Germans in 1909, was 6,390 square miles. At that time the population consisted of between twenty-five hundred and three thousand Basters, about two thousand Damara and Nama, and about twenty whites (J. D. Viall, "The History of the Rehoboth Basters" [unpublished report to the prime minister of South Africa, Rehoboth, 27 January 1959], NaNam).

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