| The British
|The British Era -
|When the British arrived in 1795,
Cape Town was essentially a 'Company Town', closely controlled in all aspects
of life by the VOC. The rural areas were distant and largely independent of the
town. Slaves were the backbone of the small economy.
In 1910 Cape Town was an imperial capital of a large and
strategically important colony. It's population was heading for two hundred
thousand. The abolition of monopolies and slavery had led to greater economic
freedom, and liberalism encouraged a free society. It had a large and active
commercial class, civil society and local political movements.
Slavery had been abolished and a highly complex multi-cultural society had
emerged, stratified into widely differing classes and identities. Whites
dominated the upper classes but whites were also present in the lower classes,
and there were non-whites in professional occupations. Racism was on the rise
and beginning to inform political policy, but was not yet the determining
factor of Cape Town society.
A strong liberal tradition was established in the town in the first half of the
century by the emerging British middle class. Their efforts led to the growth
of many centres of education, religion and publishing, many of which continue
to this day.
The middle class also established strong business institutions,
several of which are still trading. With active imperial officials, they helped
to push through programmes that created the modern city and its infrastructure.
Their welfare work gave rise to charitable works and church missions that
created a more compassionate society.
As self-government developed in the second half of the century the combination
of emerging English chauvinism and Afrikaner conservatism led to a less
compassionate and more overtly racist and prejudiced society. The discovery of
diamonds and then gold, then the South African War created successive economic
Workers came from rural areas and across the continent to find
work. A significant black population began to grow. The benefits of these
booms, however, were not shared, and the divisions of wealth became more
extreme with slums growing around the city. On health grounds the first
'township' was set aside for blacks outside the city.
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· Culture ·
In this period of Cape History:
A City Develops
The Rise of
The End of British Rule