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Smuts at Eighty

Courtesy Reuters

ON MAY 24, 1950, General Jan Christian Smuts became 80. General Smuts' political followers alone celebrated his eightieth birthday. As he could not be everywhere on the same day, May 23 was allotted to Johannesburg, the 24th to Pretoria, and later days to Capetown and Durban. No day was allotted to Bloemfontein, the capital of the Orange Free State, because General Smuts has only one Parliamentary follower in the Free State and not many other supporters, and the celebrations were not national, they were partisan. No member of the government sat or stood beside him to wish him a few more years of life. That was the position after General Smuts had striven for a Union of Brothers in South Africa, a Union of States in the Commonwealth, a League of Nations, a United Nations.

But it was his friends, not his political opponents, who all but made it his last birthday. May is

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