Durban: A Study in Racial Ecology

Durban: A Study in Racial Ecology

Durban: A Study in Racial Ecology

Durban: A Study in Racial Ecology

Excerpt

Durban is a fascinating city. It lies on the eastern coast of South Africa, and while its vegetation is as luxuriant as any of the sea-ports to the north, it is spared their oppressive heat. The coastal flats rise relatively sharply to that fine line of hills known as the Berea, with seaward-facing slopes densely covered with splendid trees, among which the early settlers built their homes. They also imported brilliant creepers and trees from other countries, notably the blue jacaranda, the scarlet flamboyant, the orange bignonia venuta, and bougainvillias of many hues.

The character of the city is changing, and its colourful trees are yielding place, on the coastal flats, to tall and modern buildings, on the Berea, to big blocks of apartments. The population, which was 60,000 when I was a boy at school, now exceeds half a million souls, and it is expected to reach the million in the 'seventies. This population is colourful itself; in this year, 1957, it is fairly equally divided amongst the Europeans (whites), Africans (the original natives), and the Indians (most of whom are the descendants of Indians brought here as plantation labourers from 1860 onwards). The city also contains a small number of Coloured people, of the group that is so numerous in the Western Province of the Cape.

There is no need for me to explain what happens when a multi-racial city of 60,000 people becomes a city of half a million. It is fairly easy, and not unnatural, for the different racial groups in a small city to keep more or less to themselves. But as the city of Durban expanded, growing groups encircled and by-passed other groups that had once . . .

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