Opposition in South Africa: The Leadership of Z.K. Matthews, Nelson Mandela, and Stephen Biko

By Tim J. Juckes | Go to book overview

3
Hope and Disappointment: Matthews, Nelson Mandela, and the Rise of the Youth

The changes in the society that had occurred since union ( 1910) were the result of both economic and racial forces within the society ( Johnstone, 1976; Slovo, 1976; Wolpe, 1988). The reaction of white workers to capitalist attempts to increase black participation in higher levels of the economy had become a crusade for racial superiority in all sectors of the society. Whites feared that any accommodation of blacks would precipitate a slippery slope of gradual integration--just what educated blacks hoped would happen. The economic depression of the early 1930s compounded this problem by arousing fears of massive unemployment among white blue-collar workers.

For their part, educated blacks had failed to acknowledge the racial motivation behind the segregationist changes. They continued to hope that their educational success and "civilized" behavior (i.e., class position) would win white support for gradual integration. With the passing of the Hertzog Bills in 1936, there were widespread feelings of shock and betrayal. The legislation, especially the explicit denial of the final legal vestige of nonracialism left from the Cape Colony, struck at the heart of black optimism ( Karis & Carter, 1973). Although only empowering approximately 11,000 blacks ( Matthews, 1981), the nonracial, qualified Cape franchise had been a psychological mainstay of their conciliatory strategy. Blacks in other parts of the country, too, had taken encouragement from the Cape system. As long as the Cape franchise system remained in effect, blacks throughout the country could hope that it would be extended to other

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