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Faction Fights, Student Protests, and Rebellion: The Politics of Beer-Drinks and Bad Food in the Transkei, South Africa, 1955–63

  • Sean Redding

This article examines two cases of conflict from the Transkei region of South Africa. In the first instance in 1955, young men caught up in a stick fight after drinking beer were arrested, tried, and convicted, and they received harsh sentences of six months of hard labor. In the second case in 1961, boys at an elite school in Umtata protested their poor food and lodging arrangements, set fire to the school library, and threatened to kill the headmaster. While they were convicted, their punishment of caning was considered a very light sentence. These two cases illuminate the emerging nature of youthful resistance to the inception of home rule that was later to give rise to the Bantustans, as well as the response by state officials seeking to cope with the enlarging rural opposition to the structures of apartheid. The paradox of the strikingly different sentences is examined and explained.


Cet article examine deux cas de conflit dans la region Transkei en Afrique du Sud. Dans la premiere occurrence en 1955, des jeunes gens pris dans une bagarre à coups de bâtons après avoir bu de la bière ont été arrêtés, mis en procès, condamnés, et ils ont reçu des sentences dures de six mois de travaux forcés. Dans la deuxième occurrence en 1961, des garçons d'une école réservée à l'élite à Umtata, après avoir protesté contre leurs conditions de vie, ont mis le feu à la bibliothèque de l'école, et ont menacé de tuer le principal. Bien qu'ils aient été condamnés, leur sentence de cannage fut considérée comme très légère. Ces deux cas éclairent à la fois la nature émergente de la résistance des jeunes à la création de la “home rule” (qui engendra la création des Bantustans), et également la réponse des officiels de l'état tentant de faire face à l'opposition montante dans les campagnes contre les structures de l'apartheid. Le paradoxe entre la nature des deux sentences est examiné et expliqué.

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Archival References

BAO National Archives, Pretoria Archives Depot, Records of the Department of Bantu Administration and Development.
ECO Cape Province Archives, Cape Town Archives Depot, Records of the Magistrate of Engcobo district.
CMT Cape Province Archives, Cape Town Archives Depot, Records of the Chief Magistrate of the Transkeian Territories.
COF Cape Province Archives, Cape Town Archives Depot, Records of the Magistrate of Cofimvaba district.
LBE Cape Province Archives, Cape Town Archives Depot, Records of the Resi-dent Magistrate of Libode district.
MFE Cape Province Archives, Cape Town Archives Depot, Records of the Magistrate of Mount Frere district.
NEC National Archives, Pretoria Archives Depot, Records of the 1932 Native Economic Commission NKE Cape Province Archives, Records of the Resident Magistrate of Nqamakwe district.
NTS National Archives, Pretoria Archives Depot, Records of the Native Affairs Department.
SAP National Archives, Pretoria Archives Depot, Records of the South African Police.
UTA Cape Province Archives, Cape Town Archives Depot, Records of the Magistrate of the Umtata district.

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African Studies Review
  • ISSN: 0002-0206
  • EISSN: 1555-2462
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