|Bringing back our forgotten giants|
|Dr Abdullah Abdurahman: South Africa’s First Elected Black Politician |
|Dr Abdullah Abdurahman (1872–1940), beloved by the people of District Six, for whom he fought so hard, is a forgotten giant of the fight for justice. The grandson of slaves, he was the first person of colour ever to be elected to political office in South Africa. Dr Abdurahman trained as a doctor in Scotland, returning to the Cape with a Scottish wife. Nellie and he were powerful partners – and their daughter, Cissie Gool, was among the most important political figures of her generation. Drawing on previously undiscovered material, this biography lifts Dr Abdurahman from the obscurity into which he has so unjustly sunk – revealing his life against the background of the times in which he lived.|
|Promise and Despair: The First Struggle for a Non-Racial South Africa|
|‘The characters, backgrounds and qualities of the main actors from that time come to life with an almost contemporary vividness, indicating the deep structure of South Africa’s polity and the enduring relevance of this seminal period in its history.’ – Mail & Guardian |
For almost a century before the democratic election of 1994, some black people were allowed 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 Union. 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. 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. This is the story of the founding of the first South Africa, with all its promise and despair.
|Martin Plaut is Senior Research Fellow at the University of London. Born in Cape Town, he reported extensively from Africa, retiring in 2013 as African Editor, BBC World Service News. He has advised the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, the US State Department and the European Parliament. He led the Africa programme of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) and is an active member of the Royal African Society.|
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