n Historia - White farmers and African labourers in the pre-industrial Transvaal

Volume 55, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0018-229X
  • Author J.S. Bergh
  • Source : Historia, Volume 55, Issue 1, May 2010, p. 18 - 31
  • Accreditation : Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET)
    SciELO SA
    The International Bibliography of Social Sciences (IBSS)



In recent decades a number of scholars have provided penetrating perspectives on the relations between officialdom, white farmers and African labourers in pre-industrial southern Africa. Some observations, particularly those of Trapido, Delius and Ross, are relevant to this paper. Trapido's article, written in 1980, "Reflections on Land, Office and Wealth in the South African Republic", identifies "important trends for the understanding of the structures and dynamics of the community of white settlers in the Transvaal from around the 1850s onwards ... [and] succeeds in analysing complicated social relations in a remarkably clear-cut way". In his work, The Land Belongs to Us (1983), Delius deals in two separate chapters with "migrant labour" and "land, labour and legislation" in connection with the Bapedi domain. Although Delius largely restricts himself to the eastern Transvaal region and this article focuses mainly on the central districts, his analyses of labour relations and related matters are obviously relevant. Further, his article written in collaboration with Trapido, "Inboekselings and Oorlams : The Creation and Transformation of a Servile Class", together with other contributions on this subject, is of decided interest to this analysis. Ross makes a thought provoking contribution from another perspective in a chapter on "The Origins of Capitalist Agriculture in the Cape Colony : A Survey". Although some historians are of the opinion that Ross "perhaps overstates his case in suggesting that fully capitalist relationships were established in such areas by the 1860s", his analysis still presents stimulating perspectives on the history of pre-industrial Transvaal. In addition to these publications, a few older contributions on this theme still provide useful surveys.

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