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AFRICAN LOYALISM AND ITS DISCONTENTS: THE ROYAL TOUR OF SOUTH AFRICA, 1947*

  • HILARY SAPIRE (a1)
Abstract
ABSTRACT

This article explores the late flowering of ‘black loyalism’ during the visit of the British royal family to Southern Africa in the summer of 1947. Whereas most accounts of post-war African politics emphasize the radicalization of political organizations, the growth of nationalism, and grassroots insurgency, this account of African engagement with the royal tour indicates that professed faith in the British monarchy as the embodiment and guardian of the rights and liberties of all peoples living under the crown was more widespread and longer lived than is generally assumed. However evanescent the phenomenon, extensive participation in the ceremonial rituals associated with the tour and the outpouring of expressions of black loyalism underlines the fluidity and unpredictability of black politics in this decade. At such a highly charged moment internationally, with India on the cusp of independence, and political turmoil at home, there was reason to hope that the loyalty of Africans during the Second World War might just be rewarded by the extension of political rights. This article traces the complex legacies and contested expressions of ‘black loyalism’ in what was effectively its swansong.

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Department of History, Classics and Archaeology, Birkbeck, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HXh.sapire@bbk.ac.uk
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*

I would like to express my gratitude to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth ll for her gracious permission to quote from the Royal Archives (RA) Windsor. I acknowledge the invaluable suggestions of Jeremy Krikler, Saul Dubow, Annie Coombes, Bob Edgar, David Feldman, Vivian Bickford-Smith, Albert Grundlingh, Ben Carton, Debbie Gaitskell, Peter Limb, Marianne Elliott, Paul la Hausse, John Lambert, Neil Parsons, Philip Buckner, and the research assistance of Alida Green and Zabeth Botha. This research was supported by a research fellowship grant from the Leverhulme Trust.

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2 Thompson A., ‘The languages of loyalism in Southern Africa, c. 1879–1939’, English Historical Review, 118, 477 (June 2003), pp. 617–50; C. Saunders, ‘African attitudes to Britain and the empire before and after the South African War’, in D. Lowry, ed., The South African War reappraised (Manchester and New York, NY, 2000 ), pp. 140 149; B. Willan, ‘An African in Kimberley: Sol T. Plaatje, 1894–1898’, in S. Marks and R. Rathbone, eds., Industrialisation and social change in South Africa: African class formation, culture and consciousness 1870–1930 (London and New York, NY, 1982), pp. 238–58; V. Bickford Smith, ‘Betrayal of creole elites’, in S. Hawkins and P. D. Morgan, eds., Black experience and the empire (Oxford, 2004), pp. 194–227; W. Nasson, Abraham Essau's war: a black South African in the Cape, 1899–1902 (Cambridge, 1991); Nasson B., ‘Why they fought: Black Cape colonists and imperial wars, 1899–1918’, International Journal of African Historical Studies, 37, (2004), pp. 5570; Spry Rush A., ‘Imperial identity in colonial minds: Harold Moody and the League of Coloured Peoples, 1931–1950’, Twentieth Century British History, 13, (2002), pp. 356–83.

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6 Nasson, ‘Why they fought’, p. 60.

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8 General Secretary, Transvaal Mine Clerks Association to His Royal Highness, June 1925, UW, Champion papers, A922 Ha.

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12 Imvo, 8 Feb. 1947.

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16 Pimlott, Queen, p. 565.

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19 P. Williamson, ‘The monarchy and public values, 1910–1953’, in A. Olechnowicz, ed., The monarchy and the British nation 1780 to the present (Cambridge, 2007), pp. 238–9.

20 S. Dubow, ‘Introduction: South Africa's 1940s’, in S. Dubow and A. Jeeves, eds., South Africa's 1940s: worlds of possibilities (Cape Town, 2005).

21 Untitled poem in Loyalty and royalty: a pictorial record of the royal family's meetings with the Bantu people of South Africa (Johannesburg, 1947).

22 Imvo Zabantsundu, 13 Mar. 1947.

23 Jordan K. Ngubane to A. B. Xuma, 18 Mar. 1946, UW, A. B. Xuma papers, AD 460318.

24 Inverchapel to Bevin, 24 June 1947, The National Archives, UK, Dominion Office 110/1430.

25 Dubow S., ‘Smuts, the United Nations, and the rhetoric of race and rights’, Journal of Contemporary History, 43, (2008), pp. 4574.

26 Cannadine, Ornamentalism, pp. 114–18.

27 D. Morrah, ‘The monarchy in the Commonwealth: from king-emperor to head of the Commonwealth’, in The Round Table empire to Commonwealth, 1910–1970 (Diamond Jubilee number, Nov. 1979), pp. 490–500.

28 World Review, 11 Feb. 1947.

29 Pimlott, Queen, p. 111.

30 Inkundla ya Bantu, 6 Mar. 1947.

31 Indian Opinion, 21 Feb. 1947.

32 W. K. Hancock, Smuts: the fields of force, 1919–1959 (Cambridge, 1968), p. 495.

33 T. Lodge, Black politics in South Africa since 1945 (Johannesburg, 1983), ch. 1.

34 C. Bundy, ‘Land and liberation: popular rural protest and the national liberation movements in South Africa, 1920–1960’, in S. Marks and S. Trapido, eds., The politics of race, class and nationalism in twentieth-century South Africa (London, 1987), pp. 254–85.

35 Grundlingh L., ‘Soldiers and politics: a study of the political consciousness of black South African soldiers during and after the Second World War’, Historia, 36, (1991), pp. 5566.

36 Lascelles to Macdonald, 30 May, 1947, RA PS/PSO/GV1/C282/7.

37 Pimlott, Queen, p. 117.

38 Torch, 3 Mar. 1947.

39 Life, 19 Mar. 1947.

40 Inkundla, 6 Mar. 1947, 17 Apr. 1947.

41 Secretary for native affairs to the minister for native affairs, n.d., 1946, NA: NTS 7618 112/378 vol. 1.

42 Secretary of native affairs to secretary to the prime minister, Mar. 1946, NA: NTS 9328 112/378 vol. 2.

43 Chief Native Commissioner (CNC) Natal to the secretary for native affairs, 26 Oct. 1946, NA: NTS 7619 112/378 vol. 2.

44 CNC, northern areas to the secretary to the prime minister, 17 Jan. 1947, NA: NTS 7619 112/378 vol. 2.

45 Ranger, ‘Invention’, pp. 229–33.

46 Imvo, 19 Apr. 1947.

47 Imvo, 15 Mar. 1947.

48 ‘Notes on native tribes Zululand and Northern Transvaal’ (n.d.), NA: Department of Bantu Affairs and Development (BAO) 112/378 vol. lll.

49 McKinnon A., ‘Chiefly authority, leap-frogging headmen and the political economy of Zululand, South Africa, ca 1930–1950’, Journal of Southern African Studies, 27, (2001), pp. 567–90.

50 Ilanga, 1 Mar. 1947.

51 J. Iliffe, Honour in African history (Cambridge, 2005), pp. 143–4; T. Cope, ed., Izibongo: Zulu praise poems (Oxford, 1968); Kresse K., ‘Izibongo – the political act of praising: political socio-regulative discourse in Zulu society’, Journal of African Cultural Studies, 11, (1995), pp. 171–96.

52 S. Marks, The ambiguities of dependence in South Africa: class, nationalism and the state in twentieth-century Natal (London, 1986), pp. 19–20.

53 Ilanga, 5 Apr. 1947.

54 Report of the Native Affairs Department for the years 1945–1947, Union Government No. 14/1948.

55 Ilanga, 15 Mar. 1947.

56 Rand Daily Mail, 19 Mar. 1947.

57 Rand Daily Mail, 11 Mar.1947; Star, 12 Mar. 1947; Mochochohono, 22 Mar. 1947.

58 Quentin Whyte, assistant director, South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) to the town clerk, Springs, 2 Aug. 1946; director, SAIRR to the secretary to the prime minister, 14 June 1946, NA (SA) Municipality of Springs 2/1/3 C411.

59 ‘Re royal visit to Johannesburg on April 1st’ signed by W. Pela, 23 Feb. 1947, NA: NTS 9329 112/378; manager, Native and Asiatic Administration Department to the Pretoria town clerk, 26 June 1946: NA: NTS 9477 16/49.

60 Ilanga, 22 Mar. 1947.

61 Imvo, 8 Mar. 1947.

62 Umteteli, 5 Apr. 1947; Bantu World, 5 Apr. 1947.

63 Ilanga, 12 Apr. 1947.

64 Imvo, 22 Mar. 1947.

65 Ilanga, 22 Mar. 1947.

66 Inkululeko, second issue, Apr. 1947.

67 Imvo, 19 July 1947.

68 Morrah, Royal family, p. 107.

69 Shawcross, Queen Elizabeth, p. 618.

70 S. M. Molema,' Mafikeng: a retrospect', UW, ANC papers Fa 51–64.

71 South African Outlook, 1 Apr. 1947.

72 Guy J, ‘A paralysis of perspective: image and text in the creation of an African chief’, South African Historical Journal, 47 (Nov. 2002), p. 57.

73 L. Switzer and Il Ukpanah, ‘Under siege: Inkundla Ya Bantu and the African nationalist movement, 1938–1951’, in L. Switzer, ed., South Africa's alternative press: voices of protest and resistance, 1880–1960s (Cambridge, 1997).

74 Umteteli, 22 Feb. 1947.

75 Ilanga, 25 Jan. 1947.

76 Inkundla, 27 Feb. 1946, 3 (Zulu), 3 Sept. 1946, 6 (Zulu), cited in Switzer and Ukpanah, ‘Under siege’, p. 249 n. 115.

77 Ilanga, 15 Mar. 1947.

78 The Torch, 7 Apr. 1947.

79 Inkundla, 16 Apr. 1947.

80 Rand Daily Mail, 8 Apr. 1947.

81 Bantu World, 26 Apr. 1947.

82 Inkululeko, second issue, Apr. 1947.

83 Cape Standard, 25 Feb. 1947.

84 Torch, 24 Feb. 1947.

85 Reynolds Illustrated News, 27 Oct. 1946.

86 Inkululeko, first issue, Feb. 1947.

87 Cape Standard, 21 Apr. 1947.

88 Torch, 3 Mar. 1947.

89 Torch, 24 Mar. 1947.

90 Indian Opinion, 14 Feb. 1947.

91 Cape Standard, 4 Feb. 1947, 11 Feb. 1947.

92 Obed S. D. Mooki, secretary Orlando advisory board, ‘Reasons for adjournment’, NA: NTS 5732.

93 Leader, 1 Mar. 1947.

94 Morrah, Royal family, p. 92. See accounts in Leader 22 Mar. and 1 Mar. 1947.

95 R. T. Bokwe to A. B. Xuma, 26 May 1947, UW historical papers, A. B. Xuma papers AD843L.

96 Provincial secretary, ANC Natal to L. P. Msomi, Native Representative Council (NRC) Natal, 25 Feb. 1947, UW, Champion papers, A922 Da.

97 Secretary for native affairs to chief native commissioner, Pietersburg, 20 Feb. 1947, NA: BAO 7619 112/378 vol. lll.

98 Confidential report by brigadier for the commissioner of the South African Police (SAP), ‘Indian, communist and Native boycott in connection with the royal visit of their majesties the king and queen and princesses …’, SA 1947, NA, Smuts papers, A1 168 vol. clxvlll, C6/2427/7.

99 Bantu World, 18 Jan., 1 Feb., and 8 Feb. 1947.

100 Guardian, 30 Jan. 1947.

101 Passive Resister, 24 Jan. 1947.

102 Umteteli, 1 Mar. 1947.

103 Dispatches from the United Kingdom high commissioner in South Africa, 10 Mar. 1947, RA PS/PSO/GVl/PS/VISCOM/8100/68/4.

104 Erasmus and Gibson to manager Non-European Affairs Department, Johannesburg, 27 Jan. 1947, NA: NTS 9329 112/378.

105 Director of native labour to secretary for native affairs, 5 Feb. 1947, CAD: BAO 7619112/378 vol. lll.

106 Bantu World, 15 Feb. 1947.

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117 D. Gaitskell, ‘Race, gender and imperialism: a century of black girls' education in South Africa', in J. A. Mangan, ed., Benefit bestowed? Education and British imperialism (Manchester and New York, NY, 1988), pp. 150–73; T. Lodge, ‘Codes of conduct: Mandela's politics’, talk given to SAVUSA, University of Groningen, 29 Nov. 2006, and African Studies Centre, Leiden, 30 Nov. 2006, www.ascleiden/Pdf/paper-Lodge, accessed 28 Sept. 2010.

118 Gish, Alfred B. Xuma, p. 116.

119 T. Lodge, Mandela: a critical life (Oxford, 2006), p. 37.

120 Sampson, Mandela, p. 51.

121 Sunday Times, 30 July 2006, serialization of Colin Burgess's Behind palace doors (London, 2006).

122 Iliffe, Honour, pp. 215–16; see also Lodge, ‘Codes of conduct’.

123 Iso Lomuzi, 3, 2 (1934), serial 6.

124 Switzer and Ukpanah, ‘Under siege’, p. 234.

125 Loyalty and royalty.

126 Imvo, 8 Mar. 1947.

127 Ilanga, Feb. 1947.

128 Secretary, Bantu Ex-Servicemen's Association to the secretary for native affairs, 3 Mar. 1947, NA: NTS 9328 112/378 vol. 2.

129 Imvo, 15 Jan. 1947.

130 Bantu World, 5 Apr. 1947; Umteteli, 5 Apr. 1947.

131 Ilanga, 15 Mar. 1947.

132 Bantu World, 16 Jan. 1947.

133 Mochochonono, 1 Mar. 1947.

134 Ranger, ‘Invention’, p. 243. By contrast, too, in India, by the 1920s, imperial and monarchical rituals of political authority were challenged by nationalists. See Haynes D., ‘Imperial ritual in a local setting: the ceremonial order in Surat, 1890–1939’, Modern Asian Studies, 24, (1990), pp. 4923–527, and Kaul C., ‘Monarchical display and the politics of empire: princes of Wales and India 1870–1920s’, Twentieth-Century British History, 17, (2006), pp. 464–88.

* I would like to express my gratitude to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth ll for her gracious permission to quote from the Royal Archives (RA) Windsor. I acknowledge the invaluable suggestions of Jeremy Krikler, Saul Dubow, Annie Coombes, Bob Edgar, David Feldman, Vivian Bickford-Smith, Albert Grundlingh, Ben Carton, Debbie Gaitskell, Peter Limb, Marianne Elliott, Paul la Hausse, John Lambert, Neil Parsons, Philip Buckner, and the research assistance of Alida Green and Zabeth Botha. This research was supported by a research fellowship grant from the Leverhulme Trust.

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