Maria Bond to Frederick Chesson, 28 February 1880

Maria Bond to Frederick Chesson, 28 February 1880

Archive location: Bodleian Libraries, MSS. Brit. Emp. s. 18 / C126 – 37

Author(s): Maria Bond

Recipient(s): Frederick Chesson

Sent from: Ireland

Date: 28 February 1880

6 Hatch Street


Feby 28 1880


Dear Sir,


I wish to draw your attention to the injury that is being done to the kaffir race in many parts of the Cape Colony by the unrestricted sale of intoxicating drinks among them by the English.


Sir George Grey’s act forbidding the sale of intoxicating drinks with natives was abrogated when kaffraria was annexed to the Cape Colony in 1866. Before this it was a Crown Colony.


In each district there is a licencing board to which applications are made to open canteens. By the act of 1875 no new licence could be granted without a memorial presented to the board, signed by two thirds of the rate payers of the district in favour of the application.


This act however does not prevent a canteen being opened among a native population, as the kaffirs are not rate payers (generally) and no attention whatever is given to any memorials they may send in protesting against the opening of a canteen among them.


If I could give you the full particulars of the constitution of the licencing board and its powers of granting or refusing renewals or … licences you would see the … manner in which the act affects the natives.


U have had 18 years experience among the kaffirs in different places and among various tribes and among them all I have found it to be the common practice with the men and frequently with the women to spend the greater part of their time at the nearest canteen.


In some cases these canteens are opened where there are no Europeans living near, and are supported almost entirely by the sale of drinks to the kaffirs.


I have been repeatedly told by persons who keep these places that ‘canteens greatly benefit the colony by encouraging a habit of drinking among the natives and thus diverting their thoughts from war.’


Anyone who knows the Eastern Province will bear out my assertion that … may at any time be witnessed at these canteens which would not be tolerated in an English town and which are a disgrace to the English name.


Every Saturday evening on the roads leading from the canteens to the kaffir kraals you meet rows of men women and children carrying bottles of brandy to be drunk at their huts on Sunday, as the canteens are not opened on that day.


I have heard natives say that these canteens are put up among them in order to effect their ruin as they have already effected the ruin of the hotentots.


They have frequently asked me why the government allows brandy to be sold to them. They know well that the government which has disarmed them could if it were willing [shut?] down the canteens or forbid the sale of any intoxicating drinks to the native races in the Eastern Province.


Apart from any considerations of Christian duty or even of humanity, what could be more … than a policy which fills our prisons and hospitals with natives, while the resources of the colony are undeveloped for want of labour?


The fact that brandy is a colonial product and that a large and influential class of colonists are benefited by its consumption, renders it very improbable that any steps will by taken by the colonial legislature in the way of restricting the sale unless strong pressure could be brought to bear on them.


I trust that you will use what influence you have in endeavouring to put a stop to a practice which is doing incalculable evil to the kaffir races and is a source of weakness to the colony.


I am


Yours faithfully

Maria [G?] Bond