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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:South African Blacks in a Small Town Setting: The Ironies of Control in Umtata, 1878-1955
Author:Redding, Sean
Periodical:Canadian Journal of African Studies
Geographic terms:South Africa
urban areas
middle-sized towns
Ethnic and Race Relations
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/485403
Abstract:Most studies on urban segregation in South Africa have examined the major urban areas of Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban because these cities have embodied the concurrent trends of proletarianization and urbanization. Yet the larger cities were not typical of South Africa, especially before the economic growth of the 1950s and 1960s. This article examines the interaction of whites and blacks, colonizers and colonized, in the small-town setting of Umtata in the Transkeian region of the Cape Colony. It deals with the transition of Umtata to a colonial town (1878-1902), informal segregation and inadequate housing during the period 1902-1923, and the struggle over black land rights in the years 1923-1955. It shows that Umtata was a mixture of rural and urban elements, combining attempts by local authorities to emulate the segregation established in the larger cities with a context that ultimately doomed segregation. Residential segregation failed for a number of reasons: Umtata's position in a black rural area; the costs involved; the presence of a politically sophisticated black middle class; and divisions within the white community. This failure of racial segregation in Umtata can be seen as a metaphor for the subsequent breakdown of the apartheid system in greater South Africa. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in French.