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Philip Bonner

(South Africa)

AFROCENTRICISM AND EUROCENTRICISM IN THE POLITICS OF THE SOUTH AFRICAS BLACK ELITE BETWEEN THE WARS

 

Introduction

Eurocentricism and any overarching sense of a white identity have assumed a distinct form, so Said and others have argued, in reaction and contra-distinction to non-European others (Said, Orientalism 1995). Afrocentric perspectives, in the form of Pan-Africanism, Negritude, The Black Power movement in the United States and the Carribean, and the like, have developed no less reflexively in response to subjugation and denigration by Europe. Africanisation is unintelligible unless conterposed to Westernisation, as is the perspective of Afrocentricism if divorced from Eurocentricism. In much the same way, the current preoccupation with an African renaissance in South Africa only acquires resonance when bounced off a previous history of racial subjugation and humiliation.

Local proponents of the African Renaissance in South Africa have, as Bheki Peterson has recently argued, displayed a surprising reluctance to engage with black political traditions that precede the current interventions (Identity in the Round. Between Whiteness and the African Renaissance). This paper explores the ways in which the black elite on the Witwatersrand in the late 1920s and 1930s sought to negotiate Eurocentric and Afrocentric perspectives, and formulated agendas for African regeneration which synthesized aspects of both. It identifies three different intellectual and political traditions which dominated debate in this period. Each proposed different answers to the central dilemma faced by African intellectuals at this time. How far to react against the hegemony of Eurocentricsim and how much and in what way to draw on Afrocentric roots. None of the solutions arrived at were completely satisfactory, which partly accounts for the inability of the African intelligentsia to harness the intellectual and political energies of their political and cultural constituency. This was nevertheless a period of intense political and ideological contestation which has been almost totally ignored in the literature of the period. This paper begins to fill in that gap.

The Eurocentric Left

The late 1920s, and the first half of the 1930s are generally depicted as the nadir of the African political activity in South Africa in general and on the Witwatersrand in particular. Walshe writes them off as years of anguished impotence in which the ICU, the ANC and the CPSA were each wracked by internal splits and drained of energy and initiative by the ravages of depression. One part of this characterization is correct. African political organizations were deeply divided in this period and were largely ineffectual in influencing the broader political process. This did not mean nevertheless that they were ideologically or politically inert. The years in question were peppered with ideological and political contestation, but of such an introverted kind, that it paralyzed extroverted political campaigning. The broad alignment of competing forces which cancelled themselves out in this fashion, may be described as two currents of Eurocentricism competing with two currents of Afrocentricism.

In the late 1920s the most conspicuous Eurocentric current was set into motion by the CPSA. The CPSA made comparatively little impact on African politics on the Witwatersrand until the late 1920s. Up until the mid 1920s it had failed to secure any sizeable point of entry into black political life, and in late 1926 it was expelled from the ICU which it had tried to use as its vehicle and recruiting base during 1925-1926. Early in 1928, according to South African secret agent reports it decided on a change of tactic; 'having failed to organize natives as members of the Party they started a trade union for the natives'. These unions, which in most cases worked in tandem with the white members of registered unions, proved an instant if limited success. Between 1928-29 37 strikes in which African workers were involved broke out in Johannesburg alone, a number of which ended in success. By invoking Wage Board determinations, and then policing them by means of strikes, African unions were able to register significant improvements in wages as well as to score a number of other gains. By 1928 Weinbren claimed that the South African Federation of Native Trade Unions boasted a membership of 10 000 strong. This was almost certainly a gross exaggeration, and the available evidence suggests that the unions' membership never crept up beyond 4 000. This nevertheless was a considerable achievement, and in February 1929, Weinbren was able to address a meeting of supporters 1 000 strong the largest gathering that had been seen in Market Square, Newtown, for many a day. The Federation of Non-European Trade Unions itself began to weaken and splinter in the middle of the year as a result of the loss of a number of strikes, and internal dissension, but the CPSA still had another card up its sleeve. In August 1929 it founded the League of African Rights, under the mistaken impression that it had been given the green light by the Comitern. The LAR soon became its principal point of leverage in African politics and particularly in the Transvaal Provincial wing of the ANC.

In July of the same year the more radically inclined Josiah Gumede had been elected to the Presidency of the ANC and had chosen Johannesburg as bis political and administrative base. Gumede sought to revitalize both the ANC and its Transvaal Province, and in March 1928, after Ms return from a visit to the Soviet Union, he began to canvass the idea of an anti-pass campaign. Gumede had been hugely impressed by the overthrow of what he perceived to be the Czarist tyranny in Russia, which inclined him to work in collaboration with the CPSA. During Ms stay in the Soviet Union Gumede had been given a silver key, to which he made repeated allusions in public meetings after Ms return home to South Africa. For Gumede, the key became a metaphor for the means of unlocking the door to liberation. When the CPSA broached the idea of a united front in the form of the League of African Rights he was only too happy to play a leading role. For him the key to the door of liberation was beginning to turn slowly in the lock

The initial objective of the LAR was to collect a million signatures to petition for civil rights and to organize an anti-pass demonstration on Dingaan's Day, 16 December 1928. The program of the League was a curious hybrid of Eurocentricism and Afrocentricism. It was shot through with the Native Republic's pre-occupation with land. In this it resonated strongly with the pre-dispositions of a large section of the Transvaal African Congress. The League's slogan, which it appropriated from the more militant early days of the African National Congress in 1912-1913, was 'Mayibuye Africa' [Let African Return or, more specifically let the soil of Africa return to its owners]. On the other hand the main political constituency to which it addressed itself was the black working population of the Witwatersrand which it perceived in mechanistic Eurocentric class reductionist terms. This somewhat incongruous political concoction however, found a surprising resonance among the Witwatersrand's black working poor.

The League stood on more shaky foundations than it had originally imagined. In January 1929 the Comitern ordered it to be dissolved, and in the course of the year increasing disquiet began to be expressed within the more conservative sections of the TAG about this 'coquetting with communism'. The Party leadership's initial response to the Comitern's directive was to resort to subterfuge. Early in 1929 the Party proposed a secret joint committee of action comprised of the ICU, the TAC and the SACP, whose central focus would be an anti-pass burning campaign. The committee met intermittently, but tapped in, almost fortuitously, into an unexpectedly insurgent popular spirit. On Dingaan's Day 1929, a march which it staged with a minimum of preparation, saw between 5000-9000 protesters parade through the streets of Johannesburg, in an unprecedented expression of popular solidarity.

Even as this happened however the League was on the point of falling apart. The Bunting group who were largely responsible for this strategic orientation were soon to be ousted from the leadership of the Communist party and stigmatized as reformists collaborating with bourgeois nationalist elements. Inside the ANC Gumede was also coming under fire. During 1928-1929 Gumede had swung some of the up and coming leaders in the Transvaal into the radical camp. Aaron Kgoathe, Chairman of the TAC Johannesburg branch, emerged as a strong protagonist of the LAR's pass burning campaign, as did Daniel Lethoba, a Sophiatown businessman and an increasingly prominent figure in the Western Johannesburg branch, and Daniel Hiakudi, a rising star in Johannesburg's eastern locations. At a meeting held in Western Native Township in April 1930, Lethoba urged his audience to 'fight Pirow's (The Minister of Justice's) dirty laws and expressed himself in full sympathy with the CPSA demonstration planned for May 1. Both Kgoathe and Hiakudi were later publicly chided by the TAC President Sefako Makgatho for 'their Russian ideas'. However the most important figure from within the TACs ranks to be drawn into Gumede's orbit was Pretoria branch leader, Peter Matseke. Matseke led a successful anti-pass campaign in Pretoria in March 1928, which in large part inspired the subsequent anti-pass demonstrations of successive December 16ths. In the early months of 1930 he spoke on a joint ICU, CPSA platform in Marabastad location, Pretoria, to protest against the imposition of passes on women. Here Matseke delivered a fiery speech, in which he lambasted TAG President and fellow Pretoria resident Sefako Makgatho for criticizing bis own association with the CPSA and proclaimed 'if they have to go for us with their machine guns, we will have to face them'.

Gumede's increasingly close flirtation with the SACP was however ringing alarm bells in other sections of the ANC. Gumede responded to these criticisms by putting himself even further out on a limb. He suspended three Provincial Presidents in mid 1929, and in addition probably installed Matseke in the place of the more recalcitrant Makgatho in the Transvaal. As he did this he came to lean ever more heavily on the SACP, who in turn were becoming increasingly demanding and unreliable allies. His worst blunder, which, to a large degree precipitated his downfall, was to solicit the COMITERN for funds and support. This letter was uncovered by fellow TAG executive members and Makgatho supporters in late 1929 and was used with such devastating effect by bis opponents that he initially refused to put himself forward for re-election as President of the National ANC in April 1930. Before long, however, he was prevailed upon by the faction of the communist part leadership that was itself on the way out, to offer himself as a candidate once again, and was roundly trounced.

A variety of factors explain his defeat. In one sense Gumede signed Ms own death warrant by the Presidential address that he delivered at the April conference in which he observed that, everywhere the oppressed peoples were being inspired by the ideal of emancipation which found expression in the Russian revolution' and proclaimed that since British justice was an illusion 'We have now to rely on our own strength, on the strength of the revolutionary masses of the white workers the world over with whom we must join forces.

Gumede's speech was clearly scripted elsewhere, and he was evidently relying on communist support to be re-elected. The lactic badly misfired. As the newspaper Umteteli wa Bantu reported, Ms 'startling speech ... raised a storm of protest' from the majority of the delegates and he was summarily voted out.

Gumedes declamations were not the only reason that Congress conservatives were able to rally the center and even some sections of congresss left to their support . Even those in Congress's ranks who had felt some sympathy for the militancy and non racialism of the Party were beginning to have second thoughts. In the late 1920s Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe accelerated. East European immigrants came to constitute a larger and larger proportion of communist Party members and began to coalesce into an opposing and highly Eurocentric bloc. In June 1929 this assumed an organizational expression with the formation of the Jewish Workers Club and began to mount a serious challenge to the erstwhile dominant Bunting group. Bunting, whose good faith at least, was not disputed by the more conservative element of the Congress mission educated elite became increasingly marginalized by this group. This in turn created a growing distance between the SACP and the ANC. Even the editor of the bourgeois and ultra Christian African newspaper Urnteteli wa Bantu lamented the ousting of a man of his integrity from the communist party ranks after the party purges of 1930 and predicted the total estrangement of ANC radicals from the SACP. The growing prominence of East European Jews in the ranks of the SACP also opened up the Party to other kinds of attack which became increasingly frequent from 1930 onwards. Party functionaries, the likes of Isaac Montoele claimed, were merely 'agent[s] of the poor whites in Russia who want to get room in South Africa after the natives are shot down.

An even more damaging attack on communist party credentials, and by extension on those of all fellow travellers, was launched from an entirely different direction. Since its inception the ANC had been closely associated and for much of the time strongly supported by chiefs. This was especially true of the Transvaal. White communist party militants had little conception of the enduring power of the institution of chieftainship in South Africa, portraying it as an anachronistic and dying institution. Operating from the basis of a totally mistaken analogy, they equated the Romanovs with the chiefs and opely celebrated the abolition of the monarchy in Russia and the physical extinction of this line. Even Gumede himself was surprisingly insensitive on this issue, and publicly applauded the excution of the Czar. The reservations of even congress militants on this subject are reflected in Peter Matsekes comments at an ANC conference in 1928, where he observed, the chief should be particularly careful in regard to the communist Party, as this party has as its aim and object the overthrow of the rules of any land.

Seme and congress conservatives capitalized hugely on this blind spot of the SACP. In June 1930, shortly after Gumede's defeat in the ANC Presidential election the party newspaper Umsebenzi reported that ANC officials had been touring the country spreading the story that the CP wishes to abolish chiefs. This was mistaken, Umsebenzi went on, and one might have expected it to attempt at this point to counter the canard. Instead it exposed its own distance from South African realities and dug itself further into a hole by dismissing the chiefs as a serious political force with the fatuous observation that The chiefs have abolished themselves.

The Neo Traditionalist Center

With Semes victory the political universe and the ideological firmament were transformed. Makghatos provincial leadership was re-affirmed and it was agreed theat no further leadership elections would take place until the provincial memberships had grown. Makghato returned to the Transvaal in buoyant mood and proclaimed to a report back to provincial membership meeting that nobody would now be permitted to be simultaneously a member of the communist party and of the TAC. Matseke barely demurred.

Makghato and Seme now established a close political alliance and subscribed to a more or less common political program. Both were committed orthodox Christians but both revered the institution of chiefship. Makghato was the son of a Northern Transvaal chief and had cemented close political ties with the traditional leadership of the Western Transvaal as well. Seme's origins were more obscure but he married into the Zulu royal house, and had close connections with the Swazi monarchy as well. Both wished to preserve the integrity of chiefship, but to establish a supra tribal unity through which an African re-birth could take place. Both had played central roles in the initial formation of the ANC in 1912, which sought to set in place an organizational structure which could accomplish this goal. Both had also campaigned to oust John Dube from the Presidency of the ANC in 1917.

Makgatho was born into a generation which still remembered the late nineteenth century wars of dispossession in the Transvaal. His central pre-occupation was the return of the land. (Mayibuye Africa). The key precondition for realizing this ambition was to overcome the divisions within African society which had allowed that dispossession originally to take place. As he wrote in a letter to Umteteli wa Bantu in June 1933.

The truth is that land as everybody knows is won by conquest in the battle field. This is not new with the whites... It is just that with the whites they defeated us with the help of our fellow people. And this crying that we hear everyday about the whites who took our land is not true, and it is a useless outcry. The only help is what can we do if we lost our land due to our own differences ...what can we do to bring back the land... let us stop crying. The Congress is a Parliament for Africans. Let all the organizations forget the hatred caused by differences. Let us meet in the Congress and separate into groups under one President ... let us unite into one unity ...Unity is strength (Kopano ke maatia). An old African saying goes Lions without unity cannot overcome the injured buffalo.

Once unity had been achieved Makgatho proposed a simple formula for recovering the land; combining their resources to buy back land (which was still possible in the Transvaal) and freedom through education or more specifically good quality education without the help of European missionaries.

Semes vision of unity was in many ways similar. In a new constitution that he drew up for the ANC the basic building blocks would be the tribes. Tribes would be united under a single Council. Finances would be under the charge of the chiefs. One of the country's paramount chiefs would be elected from among them to head the national organisation. To accomplish this end Seme proposed dividing the Cape, Natal and the Transvaal each into three separate congresses. No document exists, as far as I know, which specifies the boundaries between these different tribal blocs, but it may be inferred that the intention with the Transvaal was to split it into Northern, Eastern and Western provinces a solution remarkably similar to the post 1994 provincial dispensation. To underwrite unity, Seme proposed reserving powers to himself to dismiss Provincial cabinets and if necessary install nominees of his own choice. Finally, Seme proposed a national treasury or national fund (Insitabataba) which would centralize subscriptions paid into the ANC and use these to promote self help business and other ventures.

Seme, in a strikingly contemporary vein, was a firm believer in a future African revival or renaissance. While studying at the University of Columbia in New York he delivered an address on The Regeneration of Africa and looked back to the past achievements of Egyptian civilization as evidence of Africa's creativity and genius and what this could achieve. (Frederickson, Black Liberation p. 117). In an interesting variation on the same them Makgatho expressed a similar confidence in Africa's potential when he wrote Africa is a land blessed by God because it is Africa which saved bis son from the hands of Herod.

Seme's effort to create an efficient, well ordered and in many senses modern organization out of its different pre-colonial parts immediately ran into trouble. As the history of post-colonial Africa attests, colonial boundaries may have been an arbitrary, and from an African perspective senseless imposition, but once laid out they created sets of identities and vested interests which made them highly refractory to change. No sooner had Semes new constitution been unveiled than it was vociferously denounced by most of the Provincial leadership of the Transvaal. Offended by such effrontery. Seme dismissed all Transvaal based officials with the exception of Makgatho, from the national cabinet appointed at the Congress of April 1930. Seme and Ms dwindling band of supporters were now accused by the Bantu World and leading provincial politicians both of being unreconstructed tribalists and of seeking to impose unity by dictatorship (11 Jan 1934). Apparently their particular blend of Afrocentrism and Eurocentrism was both behind and ahead of its times.

These disputes between the Province and the center, and to some extent, in the Provinces themselves, paralyzed Congress activities for two years. No national conferences were held and few signs of life could be discerned in the provincial congress of the Transvaal. Critics accused Seme of culpable inertia, and less openly, of being incurably addicted to drink. Umteteli wa Bantu made much play somewhat earlier of his driving up a one way street the wrong way and colliding with both a cyclist and horse drawn vehicle Was He Drunk 16.2.1929). Makgatho was written off as too advanced in years. Both judgements were in some respects too harsh. Huge impersonal economic forces overtook South Africa in this period, which had massively debilitating and enervating political effects. They also radically redrew the political map among clack elite politicians in the Transvaal and fused together a novel and quite distinct amalgam of Afrocentric and Eurocentric styles of political thought.

Populist Africanism

In September 1931, the Great Depression struck South Africa with vengeance following Britans' belated departure from the gold standard. Mass unemployment followed in its wake. Between 1930 and 1932, the worst drought in living memory overwhelmed South African agriculture. Tens of thousands of white farmers and black farm-workers abandoned the farms to seek some kind of relief in the towns. As poor whites swarmed into the urban areas both local and central governments tried to absorb some of this vast reservoir of unemployed by expelling Africans from government jobs and replacing them by whites. From early 1932 black newspapers editorialized repeatedly about the desperate plight of the black unemployed on the Rand. This deepened steadily through 1933 and 1934 compelling Rand elite socialite Walter Nhlapo to write to the Bantu World. Go to the Native Affairs Department in Johannesburg [and see] the thousands of thin hungry young men looking more dead than alive. The scene is pitiful. They look with haggard cheeks and hollowed eyes at passers by. By mid 1932 in excess of 20% of the Rands black population were unemployed.

Mass unemployment generated a more introverted and insular attitude among the Transvaals black elite. A mounting sense of rivalry and resentment began to be both felt and articulated in respect of outsider groups. The most obvious targets of such hostility then as now were foreigners from outside South Africas borders. Through much of 1932 complaints surfaced in the press about the presence and activities of Makirimane (foreigners, mainly Mozambiquans and Malawians), with one Pretoria congress official Silas Maleke recommending that they be deported since they were taking black Transvalers jobs. This rising tide of xenophobia was only part of a much broader process of ethnic labelling and ethnic marginalisation. This movement was spearheaded by sections of the North-Sotho and Tswana speaking elite of the Transvaal.

The north Sotho elite had for some while harboured a sene of grievance against particularly Nguni speaking immigrants into the Transvaal. Both Xhosa and Zulu speakers were disproportionately represented among the black elite on the Witwatersrand, in the first two decades of the twentieth century largely because mission education established itself earlier and on a larger scale in the Eastern Cape and Natal, than it did in the Transvaal. The Johannesburg township of Nancefield, for example, was dominated by a Xhosa speaking elite. The slumyards of central Johannesburg where some of the black elite were able to rent relatively capacious houses was equally heavily weighted in favour of Zulu speakers. Only in Pretoria did North Sotho speakers enjoy an undisputed numerical preponderance. The perception gradually developed among sections of the Transvaals black elite that while the Witwatersrand was situated in the home province of the North Sotho and Tswana, its job market was disproportionately peopled by immigrants from elsewhere. These resentments obviously heightened with the onset of recession and its accompanying high levels of unemployment.

An allied prejudice was also entertained in the bosoms of some elements of the Transvaals black elite. This was that the only really committed supporters of the main national political organization, the ANC, were also the residents of the Transvaal. Selope Thema, Pedi editor of the Bantu World put it like this,

There are some men who try hard to divide the nation trying to mislead the nation. They go around saying that Congress in the Transvaal is for Sothos only. There is no such thing. The Congress doors are open to anyone who is an African except those that think they can live as parasites, not through the sweat of their brows. The Congress is meant to be an organization for all Africans but it appears that those who are not Tswanas or Sothos are reluctant to join the national organization and even their leaders are doing nothing to preach the gospel of unity. Since its establishment most of the people joining the congress are Sotho-Tswana. No person can dispute the fact that all money s used to pursue the hard work of the Congress came from Sotho and Tswana tribes. (23.12.1933)

Thema was in several senses correct. The Transvaal was home to a large number of heavily populated African reserves. Chiefs from the Transvaal had made very substantial contributions to Congress coffers between 1914 and 1919 to fight the Land Act and to finance deputations to England. The Eastern Caper which enjoyed the Cape African franchise and was not subjected to the provisions of the Land Act held aloof from congress activity at this time. Natal for some reason also contributed next to nothing to Congress coffers. In a history of the early years of the ANC, Selope Thema even went as far as to claim that Makgatho had secured the majority of votes in the first Presidential election of the ANC, but had conceded to John Dube from Natal in the interests of cross ethnic unity. For Theme and a broad group of Transvaal Congress leaders it was evidently time that they should claim their just rewards.

An ethnically inflected version of Afrocentricism had existed since the formation of Congress and before. It became heightened and hardened under the impact of depression. In 1933 it mobilized itself politically in the Presidential election of the Transvaal Provincial Congress. In this Peter Matseke the ex communist inclined Pretoria leader challenged the incumbent Sefako Makgatho. Matseke was aided in bis campaign by newspaper editor and Congress leader Selope-Thema. They mobilized on an explicitly ethnic ticket. The Transvaal congress was the preserve of the North Sotho and the Tswanas and it was they who would inspire its regeneration.

Selope-Thema and most of his associated cohort of politicians were strongly Christian in their upbringing and associations. In this respect they differed little from Magatho and Seme. They were also inspired by a similar vision of revival and of the means by which it should be attained. As Theme wrote in an editorial in The Bantu World in June 1934.

Earlier, when the Congress was still strong ... the leaders made the call that Africa must come back. This call even today can still be heard in the entire country where Africans live. ..Some think when it is said bring back Africa it means Africans must return back to the olden days, some think whites must be driven out of Africa.

We understand the call in this way. We see no regression in this call by progress. The coming back of Africa does not mean going back or driving whites out of Africa. But what it means is that Africa must advance, its children progress like other European, Asian and American Nations... There are many ways to improve Africa ...through education...through business...Through good behaviour. ..Even though we can feel the pressure from oppression, through this darkness we can see the light.

Among this group of intellectual the watch words are still the same revival, progress, education, self-upliftment. No noticeably different balance of Afrocentricism and Eurocentricism can be discerned.

Where a major difference lies however is in the role of tradition and ethnicity. Both Thema and Matseke represented a new generation of the African elite. Neither was closely connected the chieftaincy. Both appear to have been brought up on white farms. Both belonged to a new post Boer war generation, to whom independent African chiefdoms were no more than a distant dream. Selope Thema expressed the view to Parliamentary Committees and elsewhere that the new elite and not the chiefs who were the leaders of African political opinion and Seme strongly attacked Thema and his ilk for claiming that the leadership of Congress belongs to the educated classes only. This did not mean however, that Thema and his associates were intent on expunging tradition or traditional identities entirely. Instead they recast narrowly parochial chiefdom based allegiances into a more widely embracing North Sotho identity. This North Sotho identity was fashioned by, and served as the political vehicle of, a new generation of the elite. They crafted their own distinctive Afrocentric response to Eurocentric conceptions and impositions. They did this largely through the medium of their own vernacular languages. Hence this development has gone almost entirely unobserved by those who utilized sources written exclusively in European languages. Their impact on the politics and the wider social life of the period was nonetheless immense.

On 17 June Matseke, Thema and their political allies orchestrated a political coup. After summoning a meeting of the Transvaal African Congress to discuss the revival of the TAC, they held the first election of provincial office bearers to have taken place since 1928. The

TAG like the national body, had been almost wholly moribund for the previous two years. The bulk of the delegates present were urban representatives from the Johannesburg and Pretoria branches. No Transvaal chief attended. All indications suggest that there was a preponderance of North Sotho Kgatia delegates present. The meeting was thus dominated by the North Sotho elite. Makghato in a subsequent letter to Umteteli wa Bantu recalls his growing realization that we are here to build a Kgatia Congress (the Kgatia being a Tseana speaking group in the North, North Western Transvaal closely aligned to the Pedi) Peter Matseke, a Kgatia ex farm laborer from the Pretoria district was elected President. Thema, the Pedi ex farm laborer was voted in as bis deputy. Almost no Nguni speaking Ndebeles (as the North Sotho labeled them) were elected into office. Makgatho and Ms supporters refused to accept the outcome of the election. They claimed that the chiefs had not been properly notified and attacked the exclusion of non Sotho and non Tswana. They constituted a rival Provincial Congress and Cabinet which was dominated by long term Xhosa, Zulu, Swazi and South Sotho Congressites on the Rand. Ironically several like Mvabasa had been leading Transvaal supporters of Gumede and the League of African Rights. Now the radical wing of congress in the Transvaal had splintered along ethnic lines.

The contestation which ensued between these different combinations of Afrocentricism and Eurocentricism paralyzed African politics until the late 1930s. As a result this period has been characterized as a time of apathy and inertia. In reality, exactly the opposite was the case. Repeated attempts at political revival and regeneration were attempted, cast in these different and slightly conflicting frames. All foundered on the same reef of mutual incomprehension and intolerance. The factors that brought them together once again are the subject of another paper.

 

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