1887

n South African Journal of Cultural History - E.L.C. Watson se pionierstog deur Suid-Afrika (1912)

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Abstract


The pre-First World War era in South Africa can undoubtedly be characterised by a number of aspects. However, two widely divergent aspects with a common denominator have been selected as the topic. On the one hand there was the struggle for women's rights and on the other hand the boom in motorcycling. The expedition by Ms E.L.C. Watson linked these two poles.
The advent of the bicycle brought about a radical change. Suddenly the traveller had complete freedom of choice about the distance and route he wanted to travel. In the light of the Victorian era with all its restrictions, this new freedom of movement was very alluring. The motorcycle evolved out of the bicycle. Following the first Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy) in 1907, there was no stopping the popularity of the motorcycle. This influence was felt even in South Africa. It was in this that Ms E.L.C. Watson did her pioneering work by becoming the first person to travel through South Africa by motorcycle. Her trip can be regarded as a continuation of the emancipation of women that had caused thousands of women to turn to cycling a decade earlier.
Rapid industrialisation led to the emergence of socialism, which protected the rights of workers. People became more liberal in their thinking. An example of this was women who pressed for suffrage. In Edwardian Britain, Watson was a modern and innovative woman. She was actively involved in women's rights and poverty issues in England and also wanted to make a contribution in this regard in South Africa. However, she found that the wounds caused by the Anglo-Boer War had not yet healed. In view of so much political turmoil the women's suffrage movement was not a priority for the South African government.
Her expedition unfortunately did not enjoy much media coverage. The poor reporting left a huge void. Her impressions of the country and its people, full reporting on her public appearances, and her views on South African women and labour issues in particular would have been invaluable.

Daar is sekerlik baie aspekte wat kenmerkend kan wees van die pre-Eerste Wêreldoorlog-era in Suid-Afrika. Twee wyd uiteenlopende aspekte met 'n gemene deler is egter as onderwerp gekies. Aan die een kant was die stryd om vroueregte en aan die ander kant die bloeityd in motorfietsry. Te midde hiervan kan die ekspedisie van me. E.L.C. Watson beskou word as een wat hierdie twee pole na mekaar toe getrek het.


Die koms van die fiets het 'n radikale omwenteling meegebring. Skielik het die reisiger volkome vryheid van keuse gehad oor die afstand en roete wat hy wou aflê. In die lig van die Victoriaanse tydperk met al sy beperkings, was hierdie nuwe vryheid van beweging uiters aanloklik. Uit die fiets het die motorfiets ontwikkel. Nadat die eerste Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy) in 1907 gehou is, was daar geen keer meer aan die gewildheid van die motorfiets nie. Selfs in Suid-Afrika is hierdie invloed gevoel. Dit was in hierdie (tydgees) dat me. E.L.C. Watson haar pionierswerk gedoen het deur in 1912 die eerste persoon te word om met 'n motorfiets deur Suid-Afrika te toer. Haar motorfietsrit kan as 'n voortsetting van die mate van vroulike emansipasie beskou word toe duisende vroue hulle 'n dekade vroeër tot fietsry gewend het.
Vinnige industrialisasie het gelei tot die opkoms van sosialisme wat die regte van die werker beskerm het. Die denke het liberaler geword. Vroue wat op stemreg aangedring het, was 'n voorbeeld hiervan. Watson was in Eduardiaanse Brittanje 'n moderne en innoverende vrou. Sy was aktief by vroueregte- en armoedekwessies in Engeland betrokke en wou ook graag in Suid-Afrika 'n bydrae in dié verband lewer. Wat sy hier gevind het, was dat die wonde van die Anglo-Boereoorlog nog te rou was. Met soveel politieke onstuimigheid was die vrouestemregbeweging nie vir die Suid-Afrikaanse regering 'n prioriteit nie.
Haar ekspedisie het ongelukkig nie veel mediadekking geniet nie. Die gebrekkige beriggewing het 'n groot leemte gelaat. Haar indrukke van die land en sy mense, volledige rapportering oor haar openbare optredes, en haar siening van veral die Suid-Afrikaanse vrou en arbeidskwessies sou van onskatbare waarde gewees het.

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/content/culture/21/2/EJC30705
2007-11-01
2016-12-04
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