“A Great Invitation”: publics, assemblies and opinion formation in Natal, 1900 – 1910

Presented by
Seminar Date
May 19, 2010
On 10th and 11th June 1908, an assembly of more than 150 delegates from 35 mission stations (reserves) and locations presented a written response to the Rt. Hon. F. R. Moor, as Minister of Native Affairs and to his deputy Under Secretary for Native Affairs, Mr. James Stuart. In the days leading to this meeting, the delegates appointed S. Mini, S. Nyongwana, P. Gumede, Rev. W.G. Mtembu and J.H. Kumalo as their spokesmen. S.E. Kambule chairman and John Dube was the secretary of the assembly. The purpose of the gathering was to discuss what by then had become known as the Moor Bills on Native Affairs. These Bills were meant to: 1). Increase the number of members of the Legislative Council 2). Provide for the better administration of Native Affairs (this involved the appointment of Commissioners by Governor), and 3. Creation and administration of Native Land Settlements The assembly through its representatives rejected all the three bills and requested the Minister of Native Affairs to either review them in light of the views of the assembly or withdraw them completely. According to the assembly none of the three bills addressed their key demands; first, extension of the franchise; second, right to nominate and retire commissioners; three, granting of title deeds to mission reserve residents according to the terms of the original grants. All the three Bills were important but it was on Bill No. 2 that the assembly voiced its objection quite strongly.
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