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By Harold Jack Simons, R.E. Simons

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Extra info for Class and Colour in South Africa, 1850-1950 (African)

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The Knights of Labour faded away. But its vision of a war on two fronts, against Monopoly Capital and Cheap Coloured Labour, guided the thinking of organized white labour for many decades to come. There was no doubt about the preference of the owners for cheap and docile workers whose wages could be pegged for thirty years or more at an average rate of 3s. 5d. a day, while the average wage of white miners rose in a few years from x6s. 8d. to 22S. 6d. a shift. Africans paid 2s. a month in 'pass' and hospi tal fees, received free quarters and medical care, and spent about Is.

Writing in Imvo's editorial columns, Jabavu claimed that the bill, in addition to being 'the severest blow' yet aimed at his people, would 'establish the ascendancy of the Dutch in the colony for ever' by disfranchising the English party's 'devoted allies'. While the Afrikaner press deplored 'the impudence of the Kafir', Sprigg told the House that Imvo was 'libellous and seditious'. Yet Jabavu had leaned over backwards to show that he was no radical. ' A petition to the Queen, protest meetings, a conference and talk of a deputation to England followed the passing of the act.

But free workers who inhabited the slums and shanties of industrial towns acquired the insights, maturity and hardness of will needed for survival in a harsh environment. Neither class nor national consciousness developed among the inmates of Kimberley's compound-jails. De Beers' monopolistic structure and political influence en abled it to rationalize mining techniques and enforce strict control of workers, output, markets and prices. Working costs dropped by half in the decade after amalgamation, to ios.

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