The First Black Challenges

Land hunger and labour demands prompted Africans during the 1920s and 1930s to take to Zionism or Ethiopianism in great numbers. In 1921 there were some 50 000 adherents of Zionist or Ethiopian bodies, out of a total of 1.3 million African Christian converts. By 1936 their numbers had jumped to over a million, the vast majority of whom were in the countryside.

One of the instigators of the aggressive expression of apartheid, which was allied to Afrikaner nationalism and originated in the 1930s in the DRC of the Orange Free State, was the missionary leader J.G. Strydom (no relation to the later prime minister). He was a truculent nationalist who believed that only the most aggressive evangelisation of blacks could save the Afrikaner ‘volk and fatherland’ from egalitarian notions propagated among blacks by communists and English-speaking missionaries. In 1935, the Union-wide DRC adopted as its official Mission Policy a more moderate version of apartheid; it hoped that the policy, which called upon whites to make significant sacrifices for blacks’ advance, would win the support of blacks as well as international public opinion.

Both the Afrikaans-speaking and English-speaking missionaries continued to influence the government’s racial policy and the resistance to it beyond 1948, (See, The post-1948 influence of missionaries).

The hopes for black education

Urban life

Black farm workers

A crisis in the reserves

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