Courtesy Reuters

Fear in Africa

THE dark people who came to South Africa through Monopotapa are the Basuto-Bechuana and the Zulu-Xosa. They all have Negro, Hamite and Semite blood. In America they would be described as Negro or colored. In South Africa they are called Kaffirs, Bantus, Natives, Africans.

They arrived with the name, given them by the Arabs, of Kaffirs -- unbelievers. The Xosa wars were the Kaffir Wars; where the Xosas lived was Kaffirland; until a generation ago, officials and missionaries called them Kaffirs. Tiyo Soga, the first Christian Xosa minister, having married white, said in his testament to his children: "If you wish to gain credit for yourselves -- if you do not wish to feel the taint of men which you sometimes may be made to feel -- take your place in the world as colored, not white, as Kaffirs, not Englishmen."

The word Kaffir is, however, not liked today, and (though they no more originate in South Africa than the Europeans, and probably came after them) they are now officially and generally called Natives.

The term Bantu means simply people -- that is, not dumb animals. The latest expression -- used by dark intellectuals and their European friends -- is African. This is correct on the analogy of Europeans. But it gives the colored folk no home or nationality: for the white people alone are South Africans. And it cannot be translated into the official language, Afrikaans, because the people, once known as Dutch or Boers, are now the sole Afrikaners.

The fact is that the inhabitants of the Union of South Africa need a national name as badly as do the inhabitants of the United States of America.


It was the Xosas the Boers first met as they were trekking east and the Xosas, having descended to the Cape southeast, were trekking west; and almost at once it was arranged that black and white should separate: the Great Fish River was made the inviolable (but of course violated) boundary

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