This is a very well-written, lively and interesting account, with vivid descriptions and fascinating information about individuals. It is a great story, one that has been told in outline before, but this tells it from a number of new angles, is now
the most comprehensive account, one that is well-researched, and draws on a host of recent relevant secondary works along with primary research.’ – Professor Christopher Saunders, University of Cape Town.
Most people believe that black South Africans obtained the vote for the first time in 1994. In fact, for almost a century suitably qualified black people had enjoyed the vote in the Cape and Natal, and in certain constituencies had decided the outcome of parliamentary elections. Little wonder, then, that when the first South Africa came about in 1910, black people were keen to
see the principle of non-racialism entrenched in the constitution that was drawn up for the new Union.
This is the story of that struggle. Its centrepiece is a lively account of the delegation that travelled to London in mid-1909 to lobby for a non-racial
constitution. Led by a famous white lawyer and former prime minister of the Cape, Will Schreiner, brother of the novelist Olive Schreiner, it included some of the great African and Coloured leaders of the day, who were perhaps equal in stature to the great black leaders who helped found the second South Africa in 1994.
The story played out in London, Cape Town and Pretoria; but its outcome was the result, too, of protests in India and of debates in England and Australia. Many of the Africans involved in this story went on to found the African National Congress, but there were other participants, including MK Gandhi, whose own fight for the rights of Indian people in South Africa is woven into this story. The book concludes with a discussion of why Gandhi was finally able to leave South Africa in 1914 victorious, while other parties and movements, including the ANC, were unable to resist the tide of white racism.
This is the story of the founding of the first South Africa, with all its promise and