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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Complex negotiations in local governance: the municipal beer hall debate in East London, 1956 to 1962
Author:Atkinson, DoreenISNI
Periodical:New contree: a journal of historical and human sciences for Southern Africa
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:local councils
Abstract:During the 1950s, East London (South Africa) was governed by a City Council, which was elected by whites only. A substructure of the City Council, the Native Affairs Committee, supervised the administration of the African township, Duncan Village. Black residents were represented on a 'Native Advisory Board', which was elected on the basis of wards in Duncan Village. During the 1950s and 1960s, the East London Council attempted to implement a municipal beer production monopoly. The Councillors wanted to control beer production in the hope that it would enforce some moral standards in township conditions, exert some control over African urban residents, as well as finance township improvements. Their mixed moral and self-interested motives in enforcing this policy were countered by the black representatives, who played their cards so well that they caused chronic disagreements in the ranks of the white city fathers. Consequently, the white officials' ultimate victory not only took a whole decade to achieve, but when it eventually materialized, it was highly circumscribed. The beer issue reveals the multiple relations of power and morality between the white political elite and their African underlings and provides a snapshot of a society in transition. In the course of this process of change, the ambiguities inherent in paternalism increasingly bedevilled coherent social reform. Paternalism, in its various guises, informed moral perspectives right up until the 1980s. But from the 1960s it became increasingly coercive, and eclipsed the glimmerings of universalist and liberal reasoning which characterized some of the social reformers of the 1950s. Ref., sum. in Afrikaans. [ASC Leiden abstract]