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  • PAUL NUGENT (a1)


This article addresses the struggle between the temperance and wine interests in South Africa during three phases: 1890–1920, 1920–48 and 1948–65. It argues that divergent outcomes were rooted in a combination of differential levels of internal cohesion and the configuration of the political arena within which the protagonists manoeuvred for advantage. Conflicting interests within the wine industry hindered collective action, whereas the temperance movement derived strength from its decentralized modes of operation and international connections. The latter pioneered mass action alongside the art of lobbying. After 1948, the wine industry turned the tables by cementing a special relationship with the National Party, while tapping into popular nationalism, youth culture, and emergent consumerism.


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The research for this article was funded by a Leverhulme Trust Fellowship in 2009. The project is entitled ‘Race, Taste and Power: The Cape Wine Industry’.



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1 For key historical appraisals, see van Onselen, C., ‘Randlords and rotgut, 1886–1903’, History Workshop, 2: 1 (1976), 3389; C. Ambler and J. Crush, ‘Alcohol in Southern African labor history’; J. Baker, ‘Prohibition and illict liquor on the Witwatersand, 1902–1932’; P. Bonner, ‘Back to the fence: law, liquor and the search for social control in an East Rand town, 1929–1942’; and D. Moodie, ‘Alcohol and resistance on the South African gold mines’, all in J. Crush and C. Ambler (eds.), Liquor and Labor in Southern Africa (Athens and Pietermaritzburg, 1992).

2 Hausse, P. La, Brewers, Beerhalls and Boycotts: A History of Liquor in South Africa (Johannesburg, 1988); and ‘Drink and cultural innovation in Durban: the origins of the beerhall in South Africa, 1902–1916’, in Crush and Ambler, Liquor and Labor; I. Evans, Bureaucracy and Race: Native Administration in South Africa (Berkeley, 1997), 132.

3 On the rise of bottled beer, see Mager, A. K., Beer, Sociability and Masculinity in South Africa (Bloomington, 2010). On brewing in rural areas, see H. Bradford, ‘“We women will show them”: beer protests in the Natal countryside, 1929’, in Crush and Ambler, Liquor and Labor; and McAllister, P., Building the Homestead: Agriculture, Labour and Beer in South Africa's Transkei (London, 2001).

4 In his class analysis of the rise of Afrikaner nationalism, Dan O'Meara pays some attention to wine producers, but their importance is viewed in terms of their contribution to capital formation. Neither he nor Deborah Posel is particularly interested in alcohol. O'Meara, D., Volskapitalisme: Class, Capital and Ideology in the Development of Afrikaner Nationalism, 1934–1948 (Cambridge, 1983), 208; Posel, D., The Making of Apartheid, 1948–1961: Conflict and Compromise (Oxford, 1991).

5 Adhikari, M., Not White Enough, Not Black Enough: Racial Identity in the South African Coloured Community (Athens, 2005), 26, 197; fn. 95.

6 The classic instance was Theophilus Schreiner who defended political rights for all, but campaigned for prohibition for Africans and Coloureds with special exceptions. V. Cohen, ‘The public career of Theophilus Lyndall Schreiner: a study of the causes he espoused’ (unpublished BA Hons. long essay in History, University of Cape Town, 1980).

7 ‘Wine and Shebeens in Soweto’, Wynboer (Oct. 1978).

8 An attempt at redressing the balance is Berger, I., South Africa: A World History (Oxford, 2009).

9 Swart, S., ‘“High horses” – horses, class and socio-economic change in South Africa’, Journal of Southern African Studies, 34:1 (2008), 193213.

10 Surprisingly, Iriye does not mention temperance. Iriye, A., Global Community: The Role of International Organizations in the Making of the Contemporary World (Berkeley, 2002).

11 Harrison, B., Drink and the Victorians: The Temperance Question in England (London, 1971), 101–4, 196–9.

12 By the 1920s, the WCTU had affiliates in more than forty countries. It operated across the Empire, but also played a significant role in Japan. Tyrrell, I. R., Woman's World/Woman's Empire: The Woman's Christian Temperance Union in International Perspective, 1880–1930 (Chapel Hill, 2006), 2; Lublin, E. D., Reforming Japan: The Woman's Christian Temperance Union in the Meiji Period (Vancouver, 2010).

13 Tyrrell, I., Reforming the World: The Creation of America's Moral Empire (Princeton, 2010), 211.

14 Jennifer Pearce, ‘The origins of the temperance movement in Cape Town in the 1880s’ (BA Hons. Long Essay, History Department, University of Cape Town), 11.

15 On the significance of Leavitt's tour, see Tyrrell, Woman's World, 1.

16 Amanda Tiltman, ‘The Woman's Christian Temperance Union’ (unpublished BA Hons. dissertation in Economic History, University of Cape Town, 1988), 2–3.

17 Emilie Solomon, who served as president of the Cape WCTU and was national president from 1919 to 1925, was elected vice-president of the World WCTU from 1925 to 1931. Tyrrell, Woman's World, 72.

18 In company with Rev. A. J. Cook of SATA, Johnson was alleged to have travelled 7,000 miles and to have addressed 55,000 people. National Archives of South Africa, Cape Town (CA) A1696/98, ‘A Brief History of the Women's Christian Temperance Union in South Africa’ (Cape Town, 1925), 35; Tyrrell, Reforming, 217.

19 Tyrrell, Reforming, 215. Under local option, voters in a locality would receive the right to vote for a ban on liquor sales.

20 They maintained an acquaintance with international events through the Afrikaans press. On the press and Afrikaner nationalism, see Giliomee, Hermann, ‘Western Cape wine farmers and the beginnings of Afrikaner nationalism, 1870–1915’, Journal of Southern African Studies, 14:1 (1987), 60–1.

21 In 1878, a Wine Farmers Association had been established to oppose an excise tax on brandy, but it did not endure.

22 McCracken, J. L., The Cape Parliament, 1854–1910 (Oxford, 1967), 50–1, 110–12.

23 On Abdurahman, see Bickford-Smith, V., Ethnic Pride and Racial Prejudice in Victorian Cape Town: Group Identity and Social Practice, 1875–1902 (Cambridge, 1995), 205, 213.

24 J. McKinnon, ‘Women's Christian Temperance Union: aspects of early feminism in the Cape, 1889 to 1930’ (unpublished MA thesis, UNISA, 1995), chap. 4.

25 P. Scully, ‘Liquor and Labor in the Western Cape, 1870–1900’, in Crush and Ambler (eds.), Liquor and Labor.

26 On the ambiguities surrounding emancipation, see Scully, P., Liberating the Family? Gender and British Slave Emancipation in the Rural Western Cape, South Africa, 1823–1853 (Oxford, 1998); and Dooling, W., Slavery, Emancipation and Colonial Rule in South Africa (Scottsville, 2007).

27 Pearce ‘Origins’, 14.

28 Act to Amend the Law Relating to the Sale of Intoxicating Liquors (Act 25 of 1891), published in P. T. Jones (ed.), The Liquor Laws of the Colony of the Cape of Good Hope With Notes of Cases Decided Thereon (Cape Town, 1907), 89–91.

29 The final Act defined a ‘native’ as ‘any Kafir, Fingo, Basuto, Damara, Hottentot, Bushman or Koranna’. See Act to Amend the Law Relating to the Sale of Liquor (Act No. 28 of 1898), article 5, in Jones, Liquor Laws, 111.

30 The WCTU submitted 28 petitions in support of the 1898 Act. McKinnon, ‘Women's Christian’, 114. White women did not acquire the full franchise until the Women's Enfranchisement Act of 1930. A relatively small number of Coloured and African men who met the qualifications could vote.

31 The expression is borrowed from Harrison in relation to the pub. Drink and the Victorians, 297–8.

32 A. Joelson (ed.), The Memoirs of Kohler of the K.W. V.: Politician, Traveller, Founder of the South African Wine Industry (London, 1946), 75.

33 The Liquor Laws Licensing Act of 1883 had permitted the sale of light wines from grocery stores. McKinnon, ‘Women's Christian’, 120.

34 Schreiner argued that this action provided the fitness of women to receive the vote. McKinnon, ‘Women's Christian’, 121–2.

35 ‘The wine farmers: anti-temperance crusade’, Cape Argus, 9 Sept. 1907.

36 Act to Provide for the Sale Without a Licence of Certain Liquors Made by Persons Engaged in Viticulture on their Own Property (Act No. 8 of 1907) article 2, in Jones, Liquor Laws, 127.

37 McKinnon, ‘Women's Christian’, 123.

38 CA AGR 498 C.67 ‘Cape Wine Commission and Lord Blyth's report on Cape Wine Industry’ (1909).

39 The Bond had historically drawn support from the wine farmers. Giliomee, ‘Western Cape’, 44–8.

40 Although McKinnon rightly observes that Merriman rejected the right of women to petition in chauvinistic terms, her claim that he treated the farmers preferentially is questionable. ‘Women's Christian’, 121–2.

41 The figure is cited in D. J. Van Zyl, KWV 75 Jaar (Paarl, 1993), 20.

42 ‘Wine farmer's demonstration: a great gathering’, Cape Times, 15 Apr. 1909.

43 This quote from the South African News is reproduced in Joelson, Memoirs, 76.

44 McKinnon, ‘Women's Christian’, 125.

45 In 1908, English-speakers still made up 54 per cent of MPs. McCracken, Cape Parliament, table 3, 53.

46 Very little temperance material was translated into Afrikaans before the War. Ruby Adendorff, one of the leaders of the WCTU, eventually published Alkohol – Wat Dit is en Wat Dit Doen (Paarl, 1946).

47 McKinnon, ‘Women's Christian’, 92–4.

48 The committee's official title was the Select Committee on Drunkenness in the Western Districts of the Cape Province. Cohen, ‘Public career’, 28. The Baxter report recommended regulation of the dop.

49 Cohen, ‘Public career’, 29.

50 McKinnon, ‘Women's Christian’, 129.

51 Joelson, Memoirs, 83.

52 One leaguer is the equivalent of 578 litres. Union of South Africa, Report of the Wine Commission (Pretoria, 1937) [U/G. No 25, 1937], 8; Van Zyl, KWV, 13.

53 He made an exception of Mr Jooste of Jooste & Bryant who even made a loan to the KWV. Joelson, Memoirs, 88.

54 Boonzaier's cartoon image of Hoggenheimer, representing a fictitious Jewish mining magnate, became a regular feature in Die Burger. H. Giliomee, The Afrikaners: Biography of a People (London, 2003), 331. The over-representation of Jews in the trade did not go unnoticed.

55 Distell Archive, Stellenbosch, South Africa (DA), ‘The House of Sedgwick’ (unpublished typescript, 1951), 29.

56 Ibid. 31.

57 The major players signed up, notably E. K. Green, CWBC, Collison's, Sedgwick and Co., and the Van Ryn Wine and Brandy Co. Van Zyl, KWV, 26.

58 The Wine Commission cites a figure of £30 per leaguer. Wine Commission, 9.

59 The CWBC acquired Collison's, while Jooste & Bryant from Johannesburg acquired Sedgwick. DA, ‘House of Sedgwick’, 18.

60 Fridjohn, M. and Murray, A., Conspiracy of Giants: The South African Liquor Industry (Johannesburg, 1986).

61 Wine Commission, 25.

62 Union of South Africa, Report of the Cape Coloured Commission of Enquiry [U. G. 33/1945], 11.

63 Interview with Danie Malan, Allesverloren, Riebeeck-Kasteel, 2 Nov. 2009. S. F. Malan became a longstanding KWV director.

64 Rev. A. J. Cook, ‘The American experiment and its meaning for South Africa’, in The Drink Problem in South Africa: Addresses and Papers Delivered at the Local Option Congress Held at Cradock on December 5th and 6th, 1923 (Cape Town, 1924), 99.

65 Miss E. Solomon, ‘Alcohol and the home’, in ibid. 60.

66 Resolutions in ibid. 176.

67 Perold moved to the KWV in 1928. Kenney, R. U., Abraham Izak Perold: Wegwyser van ons Wingerdbou (Cape Town, 1981).

68 Perold, A. I., ‘The social aspect of the liquor problem’, in Wine and Drunkenness: The Social Problem of the Day (Cape Town, 1924), 162.

69 W. C. Winshaw, ‘The effect of prohibition in America’, in Wine and Drunkenness, 10.

70 Dr C. Louis Leipoldt, ‘The medical aspect of the moderate consumption of alcohol’, in ibid. 116–36.

71 Van Zyl, KWV, 36.

72 Ibid. 45–9.

73 Jan Smuts moving second reading of the Wine and Spirits Control Bill, Assembly Debates, 6 Feb. 1924, column 106.

74 Bisset (MP for South Peninsula), Union of South Africa, Debates of the House of Assembly (Pretoria), 8 Feb. 1924, column 145.

75 Le Roux van Niekerk (MP for Waterberg), Debates, 6 Feb. 1924, column 121.

76 Nathan (MP for Von Brandis), Debates, 7 Mar. 1924, column 708.

77 W. H. Stuart (MP for Tembuland), Debates, 8 Feb. 1924, column 148. Will Stuart was the only son of Katie Stuart, who was active in the IOGT and SATA, following in the footsteps of her uncle Theophilus Schreiner. I am grateful to Liz Stanley for clarification.

78 Tielman Roos (MP for Lichtenburg), Debates, 7 Feb. 1924, column 129.

79 Tielman Roos (Minister of Justice), introducing second reading of Liquor Bill, Debates, 10 Feb. 1926, column 460.

80 The exemptions covered a period of 12 months. Act to Consolidate and Amend the Laws for the Control of the Supply of Intoxicating Liquor (Liquor Act) (No. 30 of 1928), section 101 (3).

81 Shear, K., ‘“Not welfare or uplift work”: white women, masculinity and policing in South Africa’, Gender and History, 8:3 (1996), 393415.

82 P. Scully, ‘White maternity and black infancy: the rhetoric of race in the South African women's suffrage movement, 1895–1930’, in Fletcher, I. C., P. Levine and L. R. N Mayhall (eds.), Women's Suffrage in the British Empire: Citizenship, Nation and Race (London, 2000), 74.

83 Scully, ‘White maternity’, 76.

84 Martens, J. C., ‘Conflicting views of “Coloured” people in the South African Liquor Bill debate of 1928’, Canadian Journal of African Studies, 35: 2 (2001), 313–38. Major G. B. Van Zyl referred to a petition signed by 10,344 Coloured people, many of whom were temperance supporters, objecting to any distinction on the basis of color. Van Zyl (MP for Harbour), Debates, 20 Feb. 1928, column 1181–2.

85 Cape Africans lost the qualified franchise in 1936, while Coloureds were taken off the common voters roll in 1956.

86 Wine Commission, Table II, 12.

87 Union of South Africa, Commission of Enquiry Regarding Cape Coloured Population on the Union (1937).

88 Red die Kleurling Volk! (Cape Town, 1937), 6.

89 Its members included Sidney Waterson who was an MP and a member of the Board of Sedgwick. DA, ‘House of Sedgwick’, 21. It also included Alfred Appleyard, the manager of Rhodes Fruit Farms.

90 Kohler recalled that in 1924 the wine merchants had circulated pamphlets at a gathering of farmers in Worcester, which had been called to consider the proposals for regulation, in an effort to encourage members to break ranks. Suid-Afrika, Unie Van, Verslag Van die Gekose Komitee oor die Kontrole oor Wyn en Spiritualeë Wysigingswetsontwerp (Cape Town, 1940), 38.

91 Wine Commission, 91.

92 Ibid. 90.

93 Ibid. 100.

94 Red die Kleurling Volk, 11.

95 Report of the Cape Coloured Liquor Commission of Inquiry.

96 Ibid. 2.

97 Ibid. 18.

98 This is told through the debate over the imported American Saddleback in Swart, ‘High horses’.

99 The Women's Christian Temperance Union in South Africa 1889–1989 (Cape Town, undated), 49.

100 The war years had witnessed pressure on wages as well as consumer shortages. N. Nattrass, ‘Economic growth and transformation in the 1940s’, in S. Dubow and A. Jeeves (eds.), South Africa's 1940s: Worlds of Possiblities (Cape Town, 2005), 26–8, 33.

101 ‘Chairman's Address at Cape Province Convention by Mrs M. E. Duguid’, White Ribbon, 64:1, (Nov/Dec 1957).

102 The pages of Die Wynboer in the 1960s and 1970s regularly promoted wine through glamour, featuring successive Miss South Africas alongside fashion models. The WCTU fought back with its own advertising campaign, including an iconic poster that read ‘You May Think Alcohol Puts Springs Under You But It Always Lets you Down’, Women's Christian, 60.

103 Pennock, P., ‘“The number one social problem of our time”: American Protestants and temperance politics in the 1950s’, Journal of Church and State, 53: 4 (2011), 8.

104 Van Zyl, KWV, 162–6.

105 W. C. Winshaw founded SFW in 1924, but the company was relaunched in 1926.

106 In the 1960s, André J. Du Toit, was a member of the Broederbond, as was Avril Malan.

107 Witz, L., Apartheid's Festival: Contesting South Africa's National Pasts (Bloomington, 2003).

108 Van Zyl, KWV, 54–5.

109 The Burgundy festivals were a response to the crisis of the 1930s. Whalen, P., ‘“Insofar as the ruby wine seduces them”: cultural strategies for selling wine in inter-war Burgundy’, Contemporary European History, 18:1 (2009), 67–98. The Cape festivals were so similar that it is difficult to believe that they were not a direct copy.

110 This commission was chaired by Avril Malan, a former academic and MP. Report of the Commission of Enquiry on the General Distribution and Selling Prices of Liquor, May 1960 [Malan Commission], unofficial translation by the Western Province Bottle Store Keepers Association, 10.

111 Ibid. 25.

112 Ibid. 39.

113 Contrary to temperance claims, it considered that: ‘There is little proof that the consumption of natural types of drink alone can create alcoholics.’ Ibid. 48.

114 Ibid. 73.

115 This was achieved with remarkable speed in the case of beer, but wine sales increased only slowly. Mager, Beer.

116 Minister of Justice, John Vorster, introducing second reading of the Liquor Laws Amendment Act, in Unie Van Suid-Afrika, Debatte van die Volksraad (Pretoria), 10 June 1963, column 7912.

117 Vorster noted that the KWV was not permitted to sell wine inside South Africa under the ‘gentleman's agreement’.

118 ‘Algemene gesindheid teenoor wyn is nie reg nie’, Die Wynboer, Mar. 1960, 3.

119 Bowker (MP for Albany), Debatte, 10 June 1963, column 7931. The French wine industry under pressure from a campaign against alcoholism that denied the specific virtues of wine. M. Demossier, Wine Drinking Culture in France: A National Myth or a Modern Passion? (Cardiff, 2010), 59.

120 The most significant was that grocers’ licences would only be granted in magisterial districts where the sale of natural wine represented less than 40 per cent of sales. Vorster, Debatte, 10 June 1963, column 7917.

121 Van Zyl, KWV, 134.

* The research for this article was funded by a Leverhulme Trust Fellowship in 2009. The project is entitled ‘Race, Taste and Power: The Cape Wine Industry’.



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