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LAND! LAND! LAND! There is a lot of talk about land in South Africa today. It looks like some people have been asleep about this important national asset. Others who talk about land today in this country did their part in betraying the land question.

For the benefit of those who are genuinely concerned about this fundamental question I revisit the problem of land dispossession of Africans in South Africa. It stems from a mutilated history, the manipulation of international law and, of course, from those who betrayed the land question in South Africa in June 1955.

I will come to that later. But for now let me state that land dispossession of the African people did not fall from the sky. It formally started with the European Berlin General Act of 26 February 1885.This was at the Berlin Conference. It was when Belgium’s King Leopold reminded his fellow colonialists on the verge of stealing the whole continent of Africa except modern Ethiopia that: “We are here to see how we should divide among ourselves this magnificent African cake.”

From that time seven Western European countries agreed to divide Africa among themselves into “Portuguese” Africa, “Spanish” Africa, “German” Africa, “French” Africa, “Belgian” Africa, “Italian” Africa, “British” Africa. South Africa (Azania) became part of “British” Africa. Somalia, a tiny African country, had the misfortune of becoming “French” Somaliland, “Italian” Somaliland, and “British” Somaliland.

Azania became a “British” territory with four colonies it renamed Cape colony, Natal, Orange Free State and Transvaal. All funny colonial names because Natal means “Christmas Day;” Vasco da Gama had passed through there on 25 December 1497. “Orange Free State”- there are no oranges here. Moreover, a colony could not be “free state” at the same time. Transvaal simply meant “across the Vaal.” This was the name of an African river called Lekoa in the Sesotho language.

The British colonial law which created the union of these four colonies was cited as the Union of South Africa Act 1909. It was passed directly by the British Parliament on 20 September 1909. It excluded and racially discriminated against Africans. Through the Native Land Act 1913, the parliament of these colonial settlers allocated 93% of the African land to themselves. They were numbering 349,837 souls. This colonial parliament allocated the remaining 7% of land to over five million African owners of this African country.

Section 44 of this Union of South Africa Act 1909 stated the qualifications of members of the assembly very clearly. “The Qualifications of Members of Assembly (Parliament)….He must be a British subject of European descent.” Continue Reading

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