Promise and Despair

The first struggle for a Non-racial South Africa.

Most people believe that black South Africans obtained the vote for the first time in 1994. In fact, for almost a century suitably qualified black

people had enjoyed the vote in the Cape and Natal, and in certain constituencies had decided the outcome of parliamentary elections. Little

wonder, then, that when the first South Africa came about in 1910, black people were keen to

see the principle of non-racialism entrenched in the constitution that was drawn up for the new



This is the story of that struggle. Its centrepiece is a lively account of the delegation that travelled

to London in mid-1909 to lobby for a non-racial constitution. Led by a famous white lawyer

and former prime minister of the Cape, Will Schreiner, brother of the novelist Olive Schreiner,

it included some of the great African and Coloured leaders of the day, who were perhaps

equal in stature to the great black leaders who helped found the second South Africa in 1994.

The story played out in London, Cape Town and Pretoria; but its outcome was the

result, too, of protests in India and of debates in England and Australia. Many of the

Africans involved in this story went on to found the African National Congress, but

there were other participants, including MK Gandhi, whose own fight for the rights

of Indian people in South Africa is woven into this story. The book concludes with a

discussion of why Gandhi was finally able to leave South Africa in 1914 victorious,

while other parties and movements, including the ANC, were unable to resist the

tide of white racism.

This is the story of the founding of the first South Africa, with all its promise and



Parameters of Book: 
Author: Martin Plaut
ISBN: 978-1-4314-2375-0
mobi file ISBN:  
Size (mm): 235x155mm
Pages: 288pp
Format: Trade Paperback
Colour: Black and White
Rights: World Rights
Language: English
Publication Date: April 2016