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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Black landlords, their tenants, and the Natives Land Act of 1913
Author:Moguerane, Khumisho
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies (ISSN 1465-3893)
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:land tenure
property rights
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/03057070.2016.1148954
Abstract:This article uses an important family archive - that of the Molemas, educated and influential Barolong notables - as a key source in analysing the relations between black landlords and their tenants in the Molopo Reserve. Silas Molema was one of the most influential Barolong chiefs, whose territories spanned 'British Bechuanaland' (incorporated into the Cape in 1895) and the Bechuanaland Protectorate. The Molopo Reserve had negotiated a status guaranteeing a substantial level of autonomy at the time of incorporation. Molema, like other members of the Barolong nobility, included white settlers among his tenants; and the family papers contain a wealth of detail about leasing arrangements and social relations between the parties. In 1903 the Divisional Council of Mafeking imposed a Dog Tax on residents of the Molopo Reserve, a measure contested in court by the Barolong chieftaincy. The case concerned the imposition of the tax but, more broadly, the powers of the Cape/Union government over the Reserve. In 1904, the court found in favour of Barolong; the Cape colonial government responded with proclamations intended to make the Molopo Reserve subject to the control of the Divisional Council, and therefore the government. The article argues that this litigation impinged directly on the set of interests and manoeuvres that culminated in the passage of the Natives Land Act in 1913 - a story hitherto unobserved by historians. It argues further that the Natives Land Act of 1913 was a cornerstone instalment towards territorial segregation in South Africa. Its proposition is that the Natives Land Act of 1913 was intended to demarcate and fix the geographical boundaries of countryside that the colonial government wished to make 'black' in a context of racial fluidity in the early 20th century. The Act effectively installed the colonial government as the 'supreme chief' and principal landlord in the territory the Act defined as 'Scheduled Areas'. This enabled it to intervene in African reserves directly as a sphere of 'native administration'. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]