Making a Voice: African Resistance to Segregation in South Africa

By Joyce F. Kirk | Go to book overview

6
Urban Locations, Political Power, and
the "Native" Free State at Korsten

Introduction

Between 1902 and 1905 the Africans at Port Elizabeth struggled to maintain their rights to freedom of movement, to choose where they wanted to live, to own property, to vote, to build their own homes, to own businesses in a free enterprise system, in essence, to maintain control of their own lives in the urban areas. Maintaining these rights was becoming more and more difficult for the black residents as the question of segregating all of the Africans at Port Elizabeth in one "location" assumed major proportions for the colonial government. To this end, the Native Reserve [Urban] Locations Act No. 40 of 1902 was passed.1 On one hand, the legislation aimed to correct the problems at Uitvlugt, the African location created under the Public Health Act at Cape Town, by legalizing it. On the other, it authorized the establishment of a state location at Port Elizabeth and required the black population to live there, except for the exempted.

The Act stipulated that the Cape Governor could proclaim "native" locations in or near urban areas, while Africans were not compelled by law to move into the location, they could no longer legally live within the Municipal boundaries. So non-exempted Africans would have to move into the segregated location or find lodgings beyond the boundaries of municipal jurisdiction. Exempted were domestic servants living on their employer's premises, registered voters, and natives who had been issued special permits by government officials. Significantly, the legislation affected all Africans and the non-exempted included the African property holders, many of them members of those black families who aspired to upward mobility in the colonial society. Many were also members of the African middle class that had begun to emerge in the nineteenth century. Despite owning property they too would have to live in the location or move beyond the municipal boundaries.

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