Page images

account of long thraldom, ignorance and poverty, are incapable of right discernment. The absence of intelligent, independent and effective criticism renders difficult any high standards of indigenous growth.

The Government of the day, whose favourable criticism is valued as a hall-mark, has set before them models of foreign origin—a fact which makes individuality of thought still more rare and difficult.

I would myself preserve the village as the unit of administration, and would not centralise more than is avoidable.

I would endow the village with schools, sanitary establishments, public offices, courts of justice, and drinking water for men and animals. I should introduce many commercial and technical institutions, and places of education where a higher training would be given to the young men of the country.

It is quite impossible for me while I am travelling to give a full and exhaustive sketch of my life and opinions, but I have tried to fulfil my promise made to the Editor of this Review as well as I





THE future administration and fiscal policy of both the Transvaal and Orange River colonies will at an early date demand the attention of Parliament. The difficulties confronting the Chancellor of the Exchequer are of no light character, for it is nearly impossible for the Government to obtain information respecting the wealth of the Transvaal except from men who are connected directly or indirectly with the capitalists of that country.

There is a general feeling that the mines should be heavily taxed in order to defray the cost of the war. Many people are inclined to treat the question somewhat carelessly, without paying due regard to the consequences which would result from a short-sighted fiscal policy. It is most important to remember, however, that on a just system of taxation depends not only the future prosperity of the new colonies, but that of the whole of South Africa. With the one exception of the De Beers Mines, there is not in South Africa a single industry of any moment, Cape Colony and Natal deriving the greater part of their revenue indirectly from the Transvaal. The mineral wealth of this country is unique, for the reason that gold is extracted from a conglomerate body consisting of a series of pebble beds, whereas in all other countries gold is extracted from quartz lodes, which have justly earned the reputation of a varying character. It is necessary to draw a very sharp distinction between quartz and banket mining, the one being of a highly speculative, the other of a certain character.

It is possible on the Transvaal banket fields to estimate both the cost of working, and the return a ton of ore will yield when passed through the mill to within a few shillings of the actual return. There is hardly a single mine on this series where failure has occurred in which the failure cannot be traced to the fault of man. Unfortunately for South Africa and the mining industry, many companies have been floated on ground where gold did not even exist. It is only right to add, however, that with one or two exceptions the leading financial groups which control the mines to-day conduct their business far more honestly than formerly.

The mine-owners will be able to have their case laid before Parliament, for Mr. Rutherfoord Harris-who was closely associated in companies with Messrs. Rhodes and Beit-has been returned for Newport; while Mr. Stroyan-who was the late Mr. B. I. Barnato's partner and co-director-has been returned for West Perthshire.

The most important matter for the consideration of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is not the total sum of money the Transvaal must repay this country for the cost incurred by the war, but the manner in which the taxation is to be levied. The true basis should be to levy taxation on a scale which would enable mines yielding 6 dwts. of gold-equal to twenty-one shillings-to be profitably worked. If this be done, the production of gold from the Transvaal will be limited only and solely by the supply of labour.

The labour question in South Africa presents one of the most complicated and difficult problems of a country in which difficult problems abound. The statement made by Sir W. Harcourt during the last session of Parliament, to the effect that some of the mineowners wished only the higher-grade mines to be worked, is perfectly true. If this policy were adopted, the higher-grade mines would be able to obtain an ample supply of labour at a very low cost, whereas the development of the lower-grade mines would naturally draw upon the already somewhat limited supply of Kaffirs, and proportionately decrease the profits of the higher-grade mines.

The De Beers Mines, the Chartered Company, the Rand Mines, the Consolidated Gold Fields, and one or two other groups have formed an association, having for its object the despatch of agents into all parts of Africa to secure for these companies whatever supply of labour is available.

It is imperative to remember how widely different are the conditions of labour in South Africa from what they are in European countries. Those conditions cannot be judged by the economic standards with which we are familiar in England. No white man in South Africa will undertake manual labour in competition with coloured labour. Actual manual work in the mines is performed entirely by Kaffirs. Artisans, gangers, and skilled workmen are all Europeans, but the labourer is invariably black. White men, in short, only superintend the working of machinery and the ganging of underground labour. This system prevails not only in the Transvaal, but throughout South Africa. To labour in proximity to Kaffirs is considered degrading to the white, and this is a very highly important factor which must not be overlooked.

Philanthropists and Exeter Hall may ventilate theories as regards blacks and whites, but anyone who has travelled in tropical or sub-tropical countries and studied the question of the white, yellow, and black races cannot fail to recognise that the ideas of these well-meaning people are chimerical and absolutely

impracticable. However desirable theoretically, no white man-and I think rightly so-will ever assent in practice to be placed on an equality with an inferior race. Paternal Governments may pass Acts recognising the rights of the black and yellow races to share equally in the rights of citizenship with white races, but people who by force of circumstances are obliged to come in contact with these races will ignore the law in countries where black and white dwell together. The Southern States of America furnish a very good example of the political discord caused by racial feeling. It is very difficult for any person who has not lived side by side with a coloured race to understand all that is implied by the words 'racial feeling.' It is this factor, nevertheless, which will prevent any actual working of the Transvaal mines by white men. The industry will therefore be compelled to rely on the black or yellow


Labour on the Rand Mines is chiefly recruited from Portuguese East Africa, the boys from this district being far superior workmen to the half-starved beings who come from the north. Many of the East Coast boys work for years on the mines, spending all their earnings on drink. On the other hand, the physically inferior Kaffir from the north, who for some reason falls less a victim to intemperate habits, returns home after a few months, having obtained the wherewithal to purchase a wife or wives. These latter in turn become his servants, or rather slaves, doing all the manual work round the kraal. The Mine Managers Association has repeatedly petitioned the Government to enforce the existing law prohibiting the sale of liquor to Kaffirs, declaring that 30 per cent. of the native labour was daily incapacitated through drunkenness. The friends of the ex-President must not forget the fact that the welfare of the natives was of less account in his eyes than the protection of his burghers' The Boers have always politically regarded the Kaffirs as an inferior race and treated them accordingly. The so-called Apprentice System, which largely prevailed on the Transvaal farms, is nothing more or less than slavery under another name. Since high wages have ruled on the Rand the Boers have not been able, even if they had so wished, to pay the Kaffirs the market rate of labour. Consequently the so-called apprentices had considerably increased in number; and if the wretched Kaffir attempted to escape and was caught, the Landdrost sentenced him to a considerable number of lashes and returned him to his master.


Under British rule the Kaffirs will be treated as human beings and their lot ameliorated in many ways. Among the many difficulties, however, which will confront the new British Administration in the Boer States, a very serious one is likely to arise as regards this changed position of the Kaffirs. The Boers undoubtedly will resent the granting of civil and legal rights to the black

population, and this natural consequence of British rule will only serve to heighten the racial strife now existing in South Africa. This important question cannot be properly discussed within the limits of the present article, but unless carefully handled it is likely to prove a great source of friction and unrest in the immediate future. The enforcement of the present liquor laws should be the first duty of the new administration. The effect, however, will be still further to reduce the supply of labour, for the East Coast boys who have worked in the mines for years, spending all their earnings on drink, and allowing their families to starve, will in future, when drink is not obtainable, return to their homes.

The Kaffir born and reared in temperate zones is quite a distinct being from the Kaffir reared in tropical Africa. The former has political and social aspirations, climatic influences forcing him to labour for an existence; while the latter is able, owing to the prolific bounty of nature, to obtain an existence by a mere scratching of the soil. The black man basking in the sun, furnished with an ample supply of Kaffir beer, and feeling industrious by proxy as he watches his wives hard at work, naturally does not care for work on the mines.

The Chartered Company are now extending their railway system north of the Zambesi, and the effect will no doubt be to tap a large populated district. Before the outbreak of the war, 89,006 Kaffirs were working on the Rand, and if the resources of the Transvaal were fully developed there would be a demand for several hundreds of thousands.

Possibly the solution of this difficulty in the Transvaal will be arrived at somewhat on the lines already adopted by Natal, of coolies working under indentures. It will be necessary, however, to substitute Chinese labour for Indian labour, the latter being of but little value for mining purposes. Any such innovation would be strongly opposed by sentimentalists both in England and South Africa; but as the Chinaman would not enter into competition with the white man, it is difficult to understand what interests would suffer beyond those of the small storekeepers and canteen-holders. There is no more reason why a Chinese labourer should not be permitted to work in the mines of the Transvaal than a native from the far interior of Africa, provided that the Chinaman is not allowed to settle in the country. Australasia and America have both decided, and very rightly so, not to allow Chinese labour to even compete with white labour. How acute questions of this character may become, was proved by an incident which took place in Australia in 1888. In the space of a few hours a Bill was hurried that year through both the Legislative Assembly and Council of New South Wales in order to prohibit the landing of Chinese immigrants. It should be noted, too, that in this matter the Colonial Government set at defiance the

VOL. XLIX-No. 288


« PreviousContinue »