Hayward Young & Co

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A Blog Post

Land Act

If Botha’s and Smuts’ policy of alignment with the imperial power brought prosperity to South Africa, it was frequently at the expense of the largely voteless African population. The Union government lost little time in moving to reduce the land area to which African people could lay claim. African sharecroppers and those renting land from white owners were turned out, and Africans could no longer buy land outside the area reserved for them. It was neither the first nor the last of a long series of dispossessions. [3]

This land will be folded like a blanket
Till it is like the palm of a hand….

Yes, we fold up our knees
It is impossible to stretch out, because the land has been hedged in.

Lo mhlab’ uza kusongwa ngokwengubo,
Ube ngangentende yesandla….

Sisong’ amadolo singabi nak’ ukunaba,
Kub’ umhlab’ ufinyeziwe.

by St. J. P. Yako [4]

[3] Cape Africans retained their rights until 1936. The Surplus People Project estimated that 3.5 million blacks were actually removed during the years 1960 to 1983. See L Platzky and C Walker, The Surplus People, Forced removals in South Africa, Ravan Press, 1985.

[4] Written in Xhosa about 1958. From “The Contraction and enclosure of the land” in Umtha welanga, Lovedale Press, or Ophir, 1958.