Long Walk Original Manuscript (Image #109) - Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory
Welcome to the Nelson Mandela Digital Archive Project. Our aim is to locate, document, digitise, and provide access to all archival materials related to Nelson Mandela. This is a work in progress. Here is a selection of materials arranged in exhibits for your enjoyment.
Title: Long Walk Original Manuscript (Image #109)
Transcript: The reaction of the Coloured people to the Separate Representation of Voters Act ws swift. They realised that the measure was the first step in a comprehensive plan to rob them of their voting rights. They resisted the move on the simple ground that the government had no moral justification whatsoever for taking away their birth right and hit back by holding a series of protest meetings and demonstrations. For whites the new law sparked off a constitutional crisis in which the contending parties fought it out inside and outside the parliament. Here the main issue was not so much the taking away of the rights of the Coloureds as the threat to the English language which the law represented. Government opponents argued that the new measure was invalid in as much as it had not been passed at a joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament in accordance with the provisions of Section 152 of the Constitution. The strongest attack from the whites outside parliament came from the Torch Commando and the Springbok Legion, both of which were organisations of ex servicemen from the Second World War.
Thus the Separate Representation of Voters Act portrayed the government as the common enemy of the people of South Africa, concerned not just with the preservation of the general policy of apartheid but, more particularly, with the entrenchment of Afrikanerdom and in which the interests of the Afrikaners would precede those of other national groups, black and white. The opposition to the Act was evidence of the realisation that apartheid was incompatible with racial peace and harmony and the whole issue brought the Coloureds closer to the other oppressed groups. The Franchise Action Coucil which took the initiative in organising the mass demonstrations, worked
Extent and Medium: 1 page