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Laura Evans

Apartheid and the project of self-governing bantustans was not a peculiar invention by Afrikaner nationalist ideologues but drew heavily on the prevailing global idioms and state practices of the late colonial period. This chapter locates apartheid in a global perspective. It explores the global circulation of idioms of ‘development’ and trusteeship in the first half of the twentieth century and their significance in shaping segregationist policy in South Africa; it situates bantustan ‘self-government’ in relation to the history of decolonisation and the partitions and federations that emerged as late colonial solutions; and it locates the tightening of rural village planning in the bantustans after 1960 in relation to the elaboration of anti-colonial liberation struggles, repressive southern African settler colonialism and the Cold War. Far from developing policies that were at odds with the global ‘wind of change’, South African apartheid during the 1960s and 1970s reflected much that was characteristic about late colonial strategy.

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Laura Evans

Relocation to the bantustans wrought profound changes in the lives of those affected and had critical implications for politics and society in the bantustans. This was no more true than in the Ciskei, where mass relocation from across the Cape had the impact of doubling the population density of this bantustan during the 1970s alone. Sada and Ilinge were first established as a product of apartheid’s repressive social engineering, yet they nevertheless became complex and multi-faceted social spaces that were made by the diverse people who came to live there. While some people were forced by the state to move, others came to join families; to access education; to build independent households; to bolster livelihoods. Having experienced removal, dislocation and loss, many made what they could of their unchosen circumstances and established new homes and lives around them. Relocation had unintended outcomes for the state, as these dense settlements became key sites of struggle against the regime and were closely linked within the networks of the liberation movement. While state neglect and economic marginality continue to shape the daily struggles of the residents of Sada and Ilinge, the structural conditions that they face do not define the lives that are lived and the histories that are made there.

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Laura Evans

The state’s coercive regime of relocation imposed widespread hardship and trauma. People refused to comply where they could, and many angrily rejected the premise of ethnic ‘self-government’ that the regime employed to legitimate its grossly unjust practices. Yet, faced with the threat of police violence, few were able to refuse the repressive regime of bantustan relocation. Nevertheless, those who moved to Sada and Ilinge exercised their agency and negotiated relocation even in circumstances where there was very little room for manoeuvre. Their circumstances were diverse and they attached a range of different meanings to their experiences. This chapter explores the impacts and the meanings of farm evictions, urban removals, and the banishment of political prisoners to Sada and Ilinge. For those removed from settled lives in urban areas, forced removal involved great losses. For others in more precarious circumstances – new migrants to town and farm dwellers facing constant eviction – moving to a resettlement township brought some limited gains, particularly in terms of finding more secure tenure. The ordeals of banished political prisoners and their families have been often elided in the academic literature, yet their experiences demonstrate how political repression was woven into the project of bantustan relocation.

Series:

Laura Evans

For farm dwellers eking out a living in the white-dominated countryside, moving to the relocation townships precipitated an ambivalent mix of experiences. This chapter explores how gendered and generational relations and changing aspirations informed the ways that farm dwellers negotiated, experienced and remembered processes of relocation to Sada and Ilinge. The apparent ‘voluntarism’ of farm dwellers’ relocation may be located within an understanding of the necessary repertoires of itinerancy that were adopted by black South Africans amid the exploitative regimes of settler colonial agriculture, as families in the region continued to practise settlement strategies that bridged the rural reserves and the white owned farms. Farm dwellers’ relocation must be examined in relation to processes of agrarian change and its uneven implications for men and women, young and old. If relocation cemented the status of younger male migrants as breadwinners, while presenting opportunities to access housing and education, for others the experience of relocation was rather more paradoxical. For women and non-migrant men leaving paternalistic relations on farms for the relocation townships, newfound personal freedoms were accompanied by unemployment, a battle for survival and periodic employment on wages that barely enabled subsistence.

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Laura Evans

The relocation of black South Africans to townships in the rural bantustans was one of the defining and most brutal aspects of apartheid. Survival in the ‘Dumping Grounds’ examines the makings and the meanings of relocation into Sada and Ilinge, two rural relocation townships located in the Ciskei bantustan. These townships, and others like them, have often been represented as the ‘dumping grounds’ of apartheid. While this discourse condemns apartheid in no uncertain terms, it also has the effect of homogenising the diverse experiences of those who experienced relocation and remade their lives in these places, and elides their historical agency. By examining the variety of experiences that relocation produced, the meanings people attached to it and the strategies they employed to negotiate this process, this book demonstrates how the residents of Sada and Ilinge – and not only the apartheid state – shaped this history. The regimes and repertoires of apartheid relocation were complex and multifaceted. By tracing the makings and the meanings of relocation in the Ciskei, this book explores bantustan relocation as a vital process in the making of apartheid. This introduction outlines the historiographical contribution of the book; its methodological approach; the sources employed and the scope of each chapter.

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Laura Evans

This chapter examines the local drivers of the apartheid relocation regime and traces the emergence of the Ciskei relocation townships that were established so shambolically during the 1960s: Sada, Dimbaza and Ilinge. If the global context informed the evolution of policy, state praxis was nevertheless driven by the overlapping local imperatives of labour control, racial segregation and political repression under a modernising settler colonial state. The ‘second phase’ (Posel, 1997) of apartheid – characterised by the centralisation of the state’s influx control regime and the expansion of its capacity to exert control and repress dissent through forced removals to the bantustans – did not radiate from the central locus of power in Pretoria, nor emanate from any ‘grand plan’ of apartheid ideologues. Rural ‘rehabilitation’ plans for dense residential settlements in the Ciskei long predated forced removals. Further, the draconian influx control regime in the Western Cape – which further hardened in the wake of the events at Paarl (1962) as racial segregation was turned to the project of state repression and colonial counter-insurgency – played a crucial role in accelerating resettlement in the Ciskei and had significant implications for the elaboration of the bantustan project at large.

Series:

Laura Evans

Poverty and the politics of survival bolstered the making of the bantustan state in Sada and Ilinge. Given the upheavals of relocation, the terrible living conditions that prevailed in the townships and the deep poverty experienced by the majority of residents, the limited resources that the state provided underpinned the production of new regimes of state power. Amid agrarian change and widespread farm evictions, the movement of former farm dwellers to the Ciskei was a key dynamic in making of new matrices of power in the Ciskei. This chapter shows how the racist, modernist project of the apartheid state translated into everyday administrative interventions in the Ciskei’s relocation townships. It traces the expanding reach of the apartheid state in Sada and Ilinge, first under the Department of Bantu Administration and Development and later under the Ciskei regime. The extension of the state’s territorial power through relocation and the patronage of rations, pensions, housing and the allocation of work contracts played key roles in extending the presence of the Ciskei state on the ground. While bantustan elites may have sought legitimation from the performance of ‘tradition’, however invented, their authority stemmed more from their status as clientelists of a modern colonial state.