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Today in history: SA holds referendum

Today in history: SA holds referendum

Wednesday, 5 October 1960

The South African government led by National Party (NP) held a referendum in which white voters  decided whether South Africa should remain a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations or declare  a republic.

The voting age restriction was lowered to eighteen years and included the white voters in South West Africa (now Namibia). The two former Boer republics, Transvaal and Orange Free State (now Free State), and South West Africa, voted in favour, while the Cape Province, though also in favour, had a smaller majority. Natal (now kwaZulu Natal), which was inhabited by more English-speaking whites than Afrikaners, voted against it.

The opposition United Party (UP) actively campaigned for a ‘No’ vote, while the smaller Progressive Party appealed to supporters of the proposed change to ‘reject the republic’, arguing that South Africa’s membership of the Commonwealth, with which it had privileged trade links, would be threatened. The result was 52 per cent in favour of a republic.

Source:South African History Online


South African poet, writer and BCM member Mafika Gwala was born today in the town of Verulam, KwaZulu-Natal. Soon after joining the University of Zululand, he chose to rather devote his time to political activities firstly joining National Union of South African Students (NUSAS) that later split to form the South African Students Organisation. Sometime during 1966 and 1967 Gwala began to write his first poetry and “The Classic” – a Black literary magazine – published his first piece.

A poet and writer, Gwala made people think on what it is to be Black and examine their self-identity. Later in life he examined how South Africa had changed and there was the same space for him and his writing as before. He passed away on 7 September 2014.

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