Sunday, May 30, 2010

South Africa: 100 Years Old Today!

On 31st May 1910 the Union of South Africa came into existence. Of all the many landmarks that make up South African history, this was the moment the country as it stands today came into being.

No doubt this will be but a footnote in the ANC's diary, but I think it worth a mention for a variety of reasons. The Union was the result of nine years of negotiations between the various political factions in the formerly diverse colonies, and in my view the Union represented a great victory for common sense and peacemaking following a destructive and bitter war.

South Africa was not to be like the other Dominions - one fact that has created real problems since - and was more centralised than Canada or Australia, with their distinct and independent provinces. Rhodesia was given the option to join in 1922 (but rejected 60-40), and Walvis Bay was given away in 1921, but otherwise the borders remain as they were drawn up in 1910.

Love it or loathe it, the Union lasted exactly fifty one years- and 100 years ago today, the South Africa as we know it was born.

4 Opinion(s):

Krokodil said...

As you correctly point out, SA became a union and, therefore, a more centralised political entity, not a federation, which in my view would have been preferable.

Of course, the ex Boer Republics and former Crown Colonies were not exactly culturally homogenous, but I believe that federation would have led to either a welcome restraint on the control of central government, or the break-up of the SA state - which I think today no-one would have seen as such a bad thing.

It is less likely that the abuses of apartheid would have occurred under a federal system and, in the modern dispensation, the ANC-ruled state would also be less prone to that gang's corruption and abuse of power. Whether federalism of any meaningful form would have remained under the ANC long term is, of course, a matter of conjecture.

Anyways, happy birthday South Africa!

Krokodil said...

I meant, of course, "happy centenary South Africa".

Anonymous said...

Here was my contribution to the centenary "celebrations".

Anonymous said...

Huh? Where's my comment on this post? The others have been updated!