chapter  VI
18 Pages


JAMES BRYCE once accurately remarked that 'No branches of historical inquiry have suffered more from fanciful speculation than those which relate to the origin and attributes of the races of men ... Hypotheses are tempting because, though it may be impossible to verify them, it is, in the paucity of data, almost impossible to refute them.'2 Although Victorians agreed upon the importance of racial theories and conflicts, there was a vagueness as to the exact meaning of the word 'race' which brought, as we have seen, a dangerous confusion between biological and cultural concepts. Nor was 'racism' a much more precise term. (The modern dictionary definition, a 'tendency to racial feeling', an 'antagonism between different races of men', only states the obvious. O. Mannoni's verdict that 'racism' is 'simply a rather poor rationalization of our feelings of indignation' is more helpfu1.3 It is not, however, and never has been, merely a matter of black and white. The race question of South Africa at the beginning of the twentieth century was essentially

the friction eXIstmg between two opposed groups of white men. Not until the nineteenth century did racism begin to acquire its popular association with colour prejudice.