Let Mrs Mafekeng stay : an evaluation of the Paarl riots of 1959

Rommelspacher, Amy (2017)

CITATION: Rommelspacher, A. 2017. Let Mrs Mafekeng stay : an evaluation of the Paarl riots of 1959. Historia, 62(1):48-72, doi:10.17159/2309-8392/2017/v62n1a3.

The original publication is available at http://www.scielo.org.za

Article

In South African historical research, the Paarl riots of 9 -10 November 1959 have been viewed fleetingly as an episode centred around Elizabeth Mafekeng¹, a trade union activist of the 1940s and 1950s. On closer examination, however, most of the participants in the events, Coloured people², seem to have drawn to them for multifaceted reasons which question assigning their cause to the banishment of Mafekeng alone. The Cape Times, Cape Argus, New Age, Die Burger and Paarl Post newspapers were examined for information concerning the riots. The Paarl Magistrate’s Criminal Records also provided insight into the nature of the unrest, while secondary literature concerning the Coloured population was also studied. The basis of the involvement of local inhabitants in the events was found to have been divided. Their participation could not be pinned down to one person or a single cause. Instead, a depiction and investigation of the full account of the events reveals three main groups that could be identified within their collective body. There were those who were actively involved; those who consciously separated themselves from the proceedings; and those whose participation did not seem to be politically motivated. The events appear to be more complex than they have been remembered.

In Suid-Afrikaanse historiese navorsing, is die Paarl onluste van 9-10 November 1959 vlugtig gesien as ’n episode gesentreer rondom Elizabeth Mafekeng, ’n vakbond-aktivis van die 1940’s en 1950’s. Met nadere ondersoek, het die meeste van die deelnemers, Kleurling mense, vir veelsydige redes in die gebeurtenisse betrokke geraak. Dit begin om dus te bevraagteken of die verbanning van Mafekeng alleen hulle na die onluste getrek het. Die Cape Times, Cape Argus, New Age, Die Burger en Paarl Post koerante is vir inligting oor die onluste ondersoek. Die Paarl-landdroshof Kriminele Rekords verskaf insig in die aard van die onrus, terwyl sekondêre literatuur, met betrekking tot die Kleurlingbevolking ook bestudeer is. Die basis van die betrokkenheid van plaaslike inwoners in die gebeure is gevind om van ’n gedeelde aard te gewees het. Hul deelname kon nie vasgepen wees aan een persoon of ’n enkele oorsaak nie. In plaas daarvan, gee ’n uitbeelding en ondersoek van die volle rekening van die gebeure tekens van drie hoofgroepe, wat geïdentifiseer kan word binne hul kollektiewe liggaam. Daar was diegene wat aktief betrokke was; diegene wat hulself doelbewus geskei het van die gebeurtenisse; en diegene wie se deelname nie polities gemotiveer gelyk het nie. Die gebeure blyk meer kompleks as wat dit onthou is.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/104375
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