Today, 'Part 2' of our three-part view on the truth behind the land issue in South Africa.
We're writing these posts in response to requests from several of our clients to cast some light on the issue and to combat some outrageously sensationalist reporting we've seen recently. Today we're looking at the situation between 1400 and 1800.
From around 1400 until the late 19th century, increasingly larger number of groups both from Europe, Asia, the Far East but the vast majority from within Africa, came to settle in what is now South Africa for wide variety of reasons. Many were enslaved or indentured workers, others were fleeing war and persecution, others were seeking their fortunes in the new world.
At the time, there was little pressure on use of land as these groups had in several cases not even met each other or come into conflict as late as the early 1800s. However, by the late 1800s, with the discovery of gold and diamonds in the north of the country and ever-increasing immigration, the land started to become a valuable resource over which several internecine wars were fought.
It's really important to understand that at this time, land was bought and sold between blacks and whites, whites asked for permission to till land from local black chiefs, and blacks were enfranchised (to a degree) in what was then the closest thing to a national government in the Cape.
This is not to say that there was equality and peace but the land itself was never the sole or central reason for the several short-lived wars at this time. There was just as much conflict between whites and blacks (British versus Zulu, British versus Xhosa) as between whites themselves (British versus Afrikaner) and between blacks themselves (Zulu versus Xhosa) and a lot of this had to do with colonial expansion (from whites and blacks) and access to mineral resources.
Many people say that the land issue only really became South Africa's central issue in 1913 - which is where we'll start again tomorrow.
Image: cover of a recently published book 'The Land is Ours' by Thembeka Ngcukaitobi which explores the constituationalist response by black lawyers at the turn of the last century to the loss of land by black peoples in South Africa.