www.capetown.at Roddy Bray's Guide to Cape Town  
Click for Home Page
Click for Cape Town City Guide

Click for Heritage
SA Flag - Click for MP3 downloads
Audio Guides
Click for Directory of Cape Town Weblinks
Penguin at Boulders - click for Photos
Click for Storyletters

The British Era
(page 6)
The Rise of Prejudice
With the development of self-government the liberal influence began to diminish. Political power had shifted to the local population, which was mostly conservative and Afrikaans. The Cape government was dominated by the 'Afrikaner Bond', a group of influential Afrikaner leaders focused upon promoting Afrikaner interests.

British influence was also changing. Throughout the Empire, liberal confidence was giving way to jingoism as economic rivalry developed with Germany and the United States. Furthermore, the 'scramble for Africa' had begun: European rivalry expressed in colonial conquest. To justify this race for African territory, a popular version of Darwinism was giving rise to bigoted ideas of racial superiority. Such ideas fuelled a new mood of negativity in Cape Town toward non-Europeans.

Some newspapers, like the Cape Argus, continued to appeal to public sympathy for the poor, attacking the role of slum lords like Wicht. But others, like the Cape Times, wrote damning accounts of the 'moral pollution' of poor neighbourhoods, laying the responsibility for the conditions at the door of the poor themselves.

Increasingly, such views carried racial overtones. The Malay were no longer characterised as 'quiet' but 'rebellious, lazy, ignorant'. Blacks too, were labelled as 'indecent' and 'immoral'. The 'Lantern' carried an exposé in 1881 of the 'profanity, drunkenness and immorality' of blacks living in a slum in Woodstock.

There were increasing calls for 'order' and 'control' to be exerted over these unruly, diseased and violent people, as they were caricatured.

The battle between liberal sentiment and conservatism was fought out among politicians in the municipal and Cape governments. Liberals tended toward greater action, and thus expenditure to alleviate social problems, but were countered by the financial interests of rate payers.

Factions earned names like 'the dirty party' and the 'clean party'. It was only in the 1890s that adequate water, drainage and sewerage were introduced, under considerable pressure from the colonial health authorities.

Go to the next page >>>>>>

© www.capetown.at 2008. You may print this article for personal use; if for reproduction please acknowledge 'www.www.capetown.at.co.za'. You may not use this material for any electronic media except with written permission. www.capetown.at accepts no responsibility for inaccuracies or the work of service providers.


Heritage Sections
· Culture ·
· Environment ·
History · Society
Personalities · Areas

In this period of Cape History:



Reform Movement

Afrikaner Reaction

A City Develops

Imperial Capital

The Rise of Prejudice

Boom Years

The End of British Rule


Bibliography & Contacts


Return to top