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Modern History Sourcebook:
A. L. Geyer:
The Case for Apartheid, 1953


The following speech was given before the Rotary Club of London on August 19, 1953. A supporter of apartheid explains why it is the best policy for all races in South Africa.

As one of the aftermaths of the last war, many people seem to suffer from a neurotic guilt­complex with regard to colonies. This has led to a strident denunciation of the Black African's wrongs, real or imaginary, under the white man's rule in Africa. It is a denunciation, so shrill and emotional, that the vast debt owed by Black Africa to those same white men is lost sight of (and, incidentally, the Black African is encouraged to forget that debt). Con fining myself to that area of` which I know at least a very little, Africa south of the Equator, I shall say this without fear of reasonable contradiction: ever) millimetre of progress in all that vast area is due entirely to the White Man. You are familiar with the cry that came floating over the ocean from the West-a cry that "colonialism" is outmoded and pernicious, a cry that is being vociferously echoed by a certain gentleman in the East. (This refers to Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India.)

May I point out that African colonies are of comparatively recent date Before that time Black Africa did have independence for a thousand years and more-and what did she make of it? One problem, I admit, she did solve most effectively. There was no overpopulation. Interminable savage inter tribal wars, witchcraft, disease, famine, and even cannibalism saw to that.

Let me turn to my subject, to that part of Africa south of the Sahara which, historically, is not part of Black Africa at all - my own country. Its position is unique in Africa as its racial problem is unique in the world.

  1. South Africa is no more the original home of its black Africans, the Bantu than it is of its white Africans. Both races went there as colonists and, what is more, as practically contemporary colonists. In some parts the Bantu arrived first, in other parts the Europeans were the first comers.
  2. South Africa contains the only independent white nation in all Africa ~. South African nation which has no other homeland to which it could retreat; a nation which has created a highly developed modern state, and t which occupies a position of inestimable importance
  3. South Africa is the only independent country in the world in which white ­ people are outnumbered by black people. Including all coloured races or peoples the proportion in Brazil is 20 to 1. In South Africa it is 1 to 4.

This brings me to the question of the future. To me there seems to be two possible lines of development: Apartheid or Partnership. Partnership means Cooperation of the individual citizens within a single community, irrespective of race.... (It) demands that there shall be no discrimination whatsoever in trade and industry, in the professions and the Public Service. Therefore, whether a man is black or a white African, must according to this policy be as irrelevant as whether in London a man is a Scotsman or an Englishman. I take it: that Partnership must also aim at the eventual disappearance of all social segregation based on race. This policy of Partnership admittedly does not envisage immediate adult suffrage. Obviously, however, the loading of the franchise in order to exclude the great majority of the Bantu could be no wore than a temporary expedient.... (In effect) "there must one day be black domination, in the sense that power must pass to the immense African majority. Need I say more to show that this policy of Partnership could, in South Africa, only mean the eventual disappearance of the white South African nation? And will you be greatly surprised if I tell you that this white nation is not prepared to commit national suicide, not even by slow poisoning? The only alternative is a policy of apartheid, the policy of separate development. The germ of this policy is inherent in almost all of our history, implanted there by the force of circumstances.... Apartheid is a policy of self preservation. We make no apology for possessing that very natural urge. But it is more than that. It is an attempt at self­preservation in a manner that will enable the Bantu to develop fully as a separate people.

We believe that, for a long time to come, political power will have to remain with the whites, also in the interest of our still very immature Bantu. But we believe also, in the words of a statement by the Dutch Reformed Church in 1950, a Church that favours apartheid, that "no people in the world worth their salt, would be content indefinitely with no say or only indirect say in the affairs of the State or in the country's socio­economic organisation in which decisions are taken about their interests and their future."

The immediate aim is, therefore, to keep the races outside the Bantu areas apart as far as possible, to continue the process of improving the conditions and standards of living of the Bantu, and to give them greater responsibility for their own local affairs. At the same time the long­range aim is to develop the Bantu areas both agriculturally and industrially, with the object of making these areas in every sense the national home of the Bantu - areas in which their interests are paramount, in which to an ever greater degree all professional and other positions are to be occupied by them, and in which they are to receive progressively more and more autonomy.


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(c)Paul Halsall Aug 1997
halsall@murray.fordham.edu