Lord Milner and the S.A. State
The years between 1886 and 1910 were amongst the most dramatic in the history of southern Africa. Mineral discoveries at Kimberley in 1868, followed by the more important discovery of vast seams of deep-level gold on the Witwatersrand in 1886, inaugurated an industrial revolution whose socio-economic and political repercussions constitute the major themes of Southern Africa's twentieth-century history. Whereas at the beginning of the period, the region was still composed of a cluster of British colonies, Afrikaner republics, African protectorates and kingdoms, by 1910 the entire area as far north as Katanga was under British rule, and the societies of the sub-continent were being increasingly meshed into a single political economy. It was a political economy, moreover, in which the vision expressed by Sir Alfred Milner in 1897 of ‘a self-governing white community... supported by a well-treated and justly governed black labour force from Cape Town to the Zambezi’ was being given effect —even if there is room for doubt about the precise definition of 'well-treated and justly governed'. A major colonial war (familiar to most as the Boer War) — perhaps the costliest in lives and money during the ‘scramble’ for Africa — against the Afrikaner republics, as well as numerous ‘little wars’ against African people, had led to the creation of a new colonial state south of the Limpopo. Moreover, with the unification of South Africa in 1910, boundaries were drawn and a stale system brought into being whose characteristics were to provide the foundation for the capitalist development of South Africa and imperial ambitions in the region for the next half-century and more.
African Studies Seminar series. Paper presented June 1979
South Africa. History. 1836-1909