Rev. Michael Scott tells of mass arrests and forced labour
THE Rev. Michael Scott, champion of the natives of South Africa before the United Nations Assembly, warned a packed audience in London on Monday that " the Christian spirit and all that it has sought to accomplish in South Africa is being threatened by a false theory and practice of race rule."
Three thousand people crowded into the Central Hall, Westminster, to hear speeches on the Colour Bar by this Anglican missionary, and by a Catholic— Mr. A. C. F. Beales—and a Jew, Mr. Victor Gollancz.
Hundreds unable to gain admission waited outside until Mr. Scott came to speak to them.
The meeting was organised by Christian Action, whose chairman. Canon Collins, of St. Paul's, presided.
Mass arrests. forced labour and physical cruelty inflicted upon Africans by the whites were described by Mr, Scott.
" The work of healing and education is being overborne by the terrible consequences of unjust laws and the whole State system of race discrimination," he declared.
" Britain has a direct responsibility in many of the African territories, amongst them Basutoland. Bechuanaland and Swaziland, and she has a sacred trust towards the people of those territories.
"Sooner or later — very soon, in fact -shewill be faced with the choice between two kinds of civilisation—the one erected on the basis of a colour bar. extending throughout the social and economic life, and the other on a basis of a more civilised order. of equal opportunity and cooperation between black and wh he. .
"If anyone should say that theology doesn't matter. or philosophy doesn't matter, let him conic to South Africa and see how much it matters what a man believes and thinks about the nature of God and about the nature of his fellow man.
"There you will find a theoretical and effective colour bar which is crucifying our country and obstructing the natural. social and economic development of all races, the white race included.
" You will find there a vast network of laws and customs designed to keep the non-white races subservient, laws which have as their purpose the prevention of man from exercising his divine skills and talents because he is black as God made him black.
" You will find a whole race of people who have been tricked and dispossessed of their lands until they, this race who number four-fifths of the whole population, own now less than 13 per cent. of the land.
And this trickery, whereby these people were dispossessed, has been consolidated by Acts of Parliament, by a Constitution and the whole judicial apparatus which these people have no power to alter.
"These voiceless, landless people are being driven more and more into the unwilling servitude of another race. . .
"In the mines, on the farms. they are obliged to live in locations set apart from the ruling race, built by white workers at a wage of four shillings an hour for those whose wages are four shillings a day, Uprooted from their tribal life, frequently forced to live away from their families, given no hope of a better life, they are nevertheless expected to behave to the white man wtih humility and respect. . .
" There is the Mines and Works Act which prohibits the native peo pies from becoming skilled machine operators in the mines.
" There are the land laws which have deprived the Africans of their rights and title in land, and there arc the Pass Laws which control their movements from town to country or country to town in search of work, and others which exclude them from being recognised as members of trade unions. . .
"The effect of this whole State system of racial discrimination is the wholesale incrimination of thousands of people.
" The Pass Laws and Master and Servants Act are like the laws against the English peasantry in the reigns of Edward III and Richard II.
" They are resulting in everincreasing mass arrests of Africans who are found without one or more of up to twelve pieces of paper they can be required to carry.
" They may then be condemned to forced labour on farms and work colon jet.
" In the course of a normal year, before the present Government's policy of increasing repression began, there were 861,269 convictions, mainly amongst Africans. who number eight and a half million in a total population of eleven millions. .
" A little while ago three Transvaal farmers were convicted of assaulting an elderly native who died of his injuries. They were fined 430, £15 and £7 10s. respectively.
" The Rand Daily Mail compared this total of £52 10s. for a man's life with £125 that was imposed on two natives for not marking the retail selling price on goods they were displaying for sale.
"The farmers in the Leslie district and elsewhere have now subscribed capital to build a privately-owned gaol which will provide convict labour gangs for the farms.
"This was recently opened by the Minister of Justice. . .
" In some ways perhaps slavery was preferable to the conditions imposed upon some of the African farm labourers in South Africa today.
" At least one feels that it was to someone's self-interest to house and feed them and their families, and even train them in some craft. They were at any rate as valuable as the cattle, . .
"What are Christians going to do in this situation ? . We must find
some effective form of resistance to this evil which has behind it all the force of a modern State and the law...
" The facts are that these peoples are going to be driven into the path of wrath and hatred and crime by the irresponsibility of our statesmen and by the abandonment of principles by our political parties in South Africa.
" They are setting up a festering sore in the part of Africa which, if it is allowed to go on, will infect the whole blood stream of the continent and poison race relations throughout Africa. .
" What can be the African's conception of our white civilisation when Mission schools educate them to become civilised human beings and to develop skills and talents, and the Christian gospel invites them to become our brothers, members with us of the Body of Christ, inheritors with us of the Kingdom of Heaven, while the laws of South Africa arc designed to keep their whole people despised, as a subservient, inferior race?
" Britain should be warned that both in politics and religion all the counsels of moderation and tolerance are becoming discredited in face of a doctrine and practice of racial hatred and contempt. " Unless this doctrine is rooted out, the Africans themselves will he driven to extremes of nationalism, and racialism, too." Mr. Gollancz said that whatever a man's faith " there can be no religion until we realise that the love of God and love of our fellowmen are precisely the same thing." Mr. Scales. former chairman of the Sword of the Spirit. said that many Europeans condone the colour bar because they fear they will be swamped by the coloured races unless these are kept in subjection. This view cannot be held by true Christians : on the contrary, many believe that the future of Christianity may lie with the coloured peoples. Mr. Scales added : " The time may come—and I look forward to it with abselute serenity — when we may have a coloured Pope."