John Tengo Jabavu to Frederick Chesson, July 2 1887, C139/11

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Jabavu, John Tengo


Indigenous person




King Williams Town


Cape Colony

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Bodleian Libraries

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MSS. Brit. Emp. S. 18 / C139-11


Native Opinion Office
King Williams Town
Cape Colony
2 July 1887

F.W. Chesson Esq
6 Room Broadway Chambers
Westminster S.W.

My dear Mr Chesson,

Many thanks for your last letter in which you communicated an account of the Jubilee meeting of the APS. The Society has, I am glad to say, done a world of good during the Queen’s reign, and it cannot be denied that the era that Jubilee of which we have been celebrating with marked enthusiasm has been what it is, in respect of the happiness and safety of the weaker races, because it has been rendered so by the unflagging and benevolent labours of the Society of which you are the worthy Secretary.

Our people have arrived at such a stage in their ascent that they must pause to thank the Aborigines’ Protection Society for their … labours.

I shall look up the papers with your letters relating to Mr Irvine and send them on by next mail.

It was most gratifying to me to hear that you will do all you can to help us in the matter of our disfranchisement. I have, by every opportunity, written at great length to Sir Robert Fowler on the subject. I should be glad if you could spare time to see the letter. The affair brooks no delay for it is on the cards to hurry the native disfranchisement bill (falsely called the Registration Bill) through both Houses and to get Sir H Robinson to assent to it on behalf of the Queen without delay, so as to allow of no opportunity of appealing by petition to Her Majesty the Queen, which the natives are anxious to do. The majorities in its favour are simply such as could be expected in a Parliament in which the Dutch element largely preponderates. Arguments are of no avail, and our rights are in imminent danger. It is currently stated in the Colony that at the recent Colonial Conference in London the Secretary of State for the Colonies promised the Cape representatives that they were to have a free hand in dealing with the natives, and this is the first step – to deprive them of a voice in the government of the country so that they may have no means of withstanding bad legislation. I wish you would see Sir Robert Fowler and get him and any other member to put a question in the House of Commons as to whether this right – free hand – went to the extend of allowing the Cape ministry of the day to tamper with the Constitution to the extent of disfranchising the native.

I shall expect to hear from you on this matter by return of mail.

Ever yours most faithfully,
J. Tengo Jabavu