The story of Nelson Mandela’s and the African National Congress’ triumph over Apartheid in South Africa is well known. All but forgotten are the African leaders who spoke against the system of white rule in its infancy. The founders of the ANC were members of the Natives Representative Council, a legislative adjunct of South African Parliament elected by Africans between 1937 and 1950, when the Council was abolished. Their speeches during Council sessions document their eloquence and quiet dignity when facing their oppressors, who used the speeches to make aspects of Apartheid more acceptable.
In November 1946, the Council sent its Freedom Resolution to the UN, stating they would no longer cooperate with the South African government unless Africans were given complete equality and segregation was abolished. The speeches of the NRC are published here for the first time, along with discussion of the Council’s elections, its members and the white government who used the NRC’s rhetoric to its own ends. The role they played in the formulation of the apartheid policy has hitherto been overlooked. Apartheid’s progenitor, Dr. WWM Eiselen listened to their speeches and incorporated the issues they discussed in an attempt at making this new policy acceptable to the black people of South Africa.