British Empire
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Memo about a political manifesto published in South Africa in 1929
(Catalogue ref: CO 323/1034/8)
  • A manifesto is a document that sets out a set of political ideas. This document is actually a report on the manifesto sent to the British government by the Anti-Slavery and Aborigines Protection Society in July 1929.
  • The Society was anxious to make the British government aware of what was happening in South Africa at this time.
  • By 1929 South Africa was a self-ruling state called a Dominion. The British withdrew from South Africa in 1910 and left the running of the country to the white African settlers. Some of these were descended from Boers; others were descended from British immigrants.
  • The manifesto was complaining about the fact that non-white citizens of South Africa were second-class citizens. They were not allowed to vote. There were restrictions on where they could live. They were banned from certain jobs.
  • These restrictions applied to black South Africans, but also to the many Chinese and Indians who lived there. Most of these immigrants had been brought to South Africa by the British as labourers.
  • Restrictions like these were common in the Dominions. In Canada the settlers denied the vote to Native Americans after the British left. In Australia Aborigines were denied the vote as well.
  • The British government did protest about the actions of the South African government. However, this source shows that by 1929 discrimination in South Africa was getting worse rather than better.
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