William Adams to Frederick Chesson, 6 May 1878
Archive location: Bodleian Libraries, MSS. Brit. Emp. s. 18 / C123 – 59
Author(s): William Adams
Recipient(s): Frederick Chesson
Sent from: Natal
Date: 6 May 1878
6 May 1878
My dear Sir,
I see by the papers that a deputation from your Society waited on Sir M. Hicks Beach. His reply would be very satisfactory, if the present laws under which the kafirs in Natal live were at all in consonance with those of civilized communities, but as it is under the present code (still unwritten) they will never come out of barbarism, they will never be brought into ‘the state of civilization in which the colonists’ are. Sir Michael deprecated the ‘debasing customs’ being supressed in such a manner as ‘to excite their (the natives) apprehensions and defeat any attempts to draw the natives on to’ civilization. We colonists should like to know what attempts either the home government or its deputies here have made to civilize the kafirs? Those in power at home either cannot see, or do not want to see the necessity for an immediate change in kafir policy in Natal. We who live among them are constantly pained by seeing the efforts of those willing to live in conformity with the teachings of Christianity, frustrated by the abominable kafir laws, and by law 28 1865 the hands of those who wish to benefit them are tied. This law bears especially hard on unmarried girls if they wish to petition they are stopped by Sec 33. Can you do nothing for them in this matter, we colonists have no power.
In spite of the difficulties and obstacles kafir men still petition and are still exempted in small numbers whenever the executive council meets, once in three months.
I do not propose to trouble you with a long letter this time I enclose copy of a letter received by Mr Gibbs, it needs no comments, besides this. I have received considerable encouragement from my fellow colonists, through none from the government, and I should find it very useful to have a few copies of the pamphlets your Society has printed on affairs in Natal to distribute.
You would find the people of Natal your best helpers in securing justice where needed. The officials are bound to be against you since all their interest lies in opposing reform, for it would do away with many of their [endowments?] and much of their power.
There are some people who misrepresent your Society to colonists, and us to you, so that in cases which legitimately call for your interference, we are afraid to invoke it.
I have much to say about a grant for the school here but will not enter into the subject now.
Accept our thanks for your Society’s action so far.
My dear Sir
F.W. Chesson Esq
Sect Abo Pro Society
17 King Williams Street