John Tengo Jabavu to Frederick Chesson, March 28 1887, C139/10

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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 / C139-10


Native Opinion
King Wms Town
Cape Colony
28 March 1887

My dear Mr Chesson,

Within a few minutes of the closing of the mail I wish earnestly to call your attention to a Bill which the government has given notice of introducing at the ensuing session of parliament. A complete summary of the measures together with comments appears in Native Opinion of the 23rd instant to which I would draw your special attention. The … of the Bill is a misleading one and the Cape Times a journal which is not inimical to the Sprigg ministry describes it as a Bill under which injustice is cloaked. It is the Bill to deal with the better registration of people entitled to the franchise, but it is so framed as to deprive the whole of the natives of the country of a voice in the responsible government of the Colony. TO my mind no more serious blow has been levelled at the rights of the aboriginal population of the country since British institutions were established. The Committee will have to keep a sharp eye on the bill. A question in the House of Commons might be planned so as to elicit the information whether the government here can of its own accord exclude the majority of the population from a say in the responsible government of the country and establish an oligarchy. I shall send you the draft bill next mail, I am sorry I cannot do so now – not having a copy of the Gazette. These lines are written with the object of giving you a note of warning. We are marshalling the local forces to defeat the measure, but with a Dutch majority in the Cape Parliament we fear the battle will have to be fought out in England and that by your useful society. It cannot be said the bill … for the exclusion of the natives from the franchise is decided and final. Grave results will ensure if the safety valve of representation is tied down.

As I have said there is no time as the mail is closing.

Believe me, therefore to be,
Most sincerely yours,
J. Tengo Jabavu