« PrécédentContinuer »
POPULATION AND FEDERATION.
IN a former chapter I endeavoured to give a rough idea of the geographical districts into which has been divided that portion of South Africa which Europeans have as yet made their own. I will now attempt to explain how they are at present ruled and will indulge in some speculations as to their future condition.
How the Cape Colony became a Colony I have already described. The Dutch came and gradually spread themselves, and then the English becoming owners of the Dutch possessions spread themselves further. With the natives,Hottentots as they came to be called,-there was some trouble but not very much. They were easily subjected,very easily as compared with the Kafirs, and then gradually dispersed. As a race they are no longer troublesome ;— nor are they very profitable to the Cape Colony. The labour of the Colony is chiefly done by coloured people, but by people who have mainly been immigrants,-the descendants of those whom the Dutch brought, and bastard Hottentots as they are called, with a sprinkling of Kafirs and Fingos who have come from the East in quest of wages. The Colony is divided into a Western and Eastern Province, and these
remarks refer to the whole of the former and to the western portion of the latter district. In this large portion of the Colony there is not now nor has there been for many years anything to be feared from pugnacious natives. It is in the eastern half of the Eastern Province that Kafirs have been and still are troublesome.
The division into Provinces is imaginary rather than real. There are indeed at this moment twenty-one members of the Legislative Council of which eleven are supposed to have been sent to Parliament by the Western District, and ten by the Eastern;-but even this has now been altered, and the members of the next Council will be elected for separate districts, so that no such demarcation will remain. I think that I am justified in saying that the constitution knows no division. In men's minds, however, the division is sharp enough, and the political feeling thus engendered is very keen. The Eastern Province desires to be separated and formed into a distinct Colony, as Victoria was separated from New South Wales, and afterwards Queensland. The reasons for separation which it puts forward are as follows. Capetown, the capital, is in a corner and out of the way. Members from the East have to make long and disagreeable journeys to Parliament, and, when there, are always in a minority. Capetown and the West with its mongrel population is perfectly safe, whereas a large portion of the Eastern Province is always subject to Kafir "scares" and possibly to Kafir wars. And yet the Ministry in power is, and has been, and must be a Western Ministry, spending the public money for Western objects and ruling the East according to its
pleasure. It was by arguments such as these that the British Government was induced to sanction the happy separation of Queensland from New South Wales. Then why not separate the Eastern from the Western Province in the Cape Colony? But the western people, as a matter of course, do not wish to see a diminution of their own authority. Capetown would lose half its glory and more than half its importance if it were put simply on a par with Grahamstown, which is the capital of the East. And the western politicians have their arguments which have hitherto prevailed. As to the expenditure of public money they point to the fact that two railway enterprises have been initiated in the East,-one up the country from Port Elizabeth, and the other from East London, whereas there is but the one in the West which starts from Capetown. Of course it must be understood that in the Colonies railways are always or very nearly always made by Government money. The western people also say that the feeling produced by Kafir aggression in the Eastern Province is still too bitter to admit of calm legislation. The prosperity of South Africa must depend on the manner in which the Kafir and cognate races, Fingos and Basutos, Pondos, Zulus and others are amalgamated and brought together as subjects of the British Crown; and if every unnecessary scare is to produce a mixture of fear and oppression then the doing of the work will be much protracted. If the Eastern Province were left alone to arrange its affairs with the natives the chances of continual Kafir wars would be very much increased.
Arguments and feelings such as these have hitherto availed
to prevent a separation of the Provinces; but though a belief in this measure is still the eastern political creed, action in that direction is no longer taken. No eastern politician thinks that he will see simple separation by a division of the Colony into two Colonies. But another action has taken place in lieu of simple separation which, if successful, would imply something like separation, and which is called Federation. Here there has been ample ground for hope because it has been understood that Federation is popular with the authorities of the Colonial Office at home.
It will hardly be necessary for me to explain here what Federation means. We have various Groups of Colonies and the question has arisen whether it may not be well that each group should be bound together under one chief or Federal Government, as the different States of the American Union are bound. It has been tried, as we all believe successfully, with British North America. It has been recommended in regard to the Australian Colonies. It has been attempted, not as yet successfully, in the West Indies. It has been talked of and become the cause of very hot feeling in reference to Her Majesty's possessions in South Africa.
I myself have been in favour of such Federation since I have known anything of our colonial possessions. The one fact that at present the produce of a Colony, going into an adjacent district as closely connected with it as Yorkshire is with Lancashire, should be subjected to Custom duties as though it came from a foreign land, is a strong reason for such union. And then the mind foresees that there will at
some future time be a great Australia, and probably a great South Africa, in which a division into different governments will, if continued, be as would be a Heptarchy restored in England. But it is this very feeling, -the feeling which experience and foresight produce among us in England,which renders the idea of Federation unpalatable in the Colonies generally. The binding together of a colonial group into one great whole is regarded as a preparation for separation from the mother country. It is as though we at home in England were saying to our children about the world;"We have paid for your infantine bread and butter; we have educated you and given you good trades; now you must go and do for yourselves." There is perhaps no such feeling in the bosom of the special Colonial Minister at home who may at this or the other time be advocating this measure; but there must be an idea that some preparation for such a possible future event is expedient. We do not want to see such another colonial crisis as the American war of last century between ourselves and an English-speaking people. But in the Colonies there is a sort of loyalty of which we at home know nothing. It may be exemplified to any man's mind by thinking of the feeling as to home which is engendered by absence. The boy or girl who lives always on the paternal homestead does not care very much for the kitchen with its dressers, or for the farmyard with its ricks, or the parlour with its neat array. But let the boy or girl be banished for a year or two and every little detail becomes matter for a fond regret. Hence I think has sprung that colonial anger which has been entertained against Ministers