1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Natal

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Natal (see 19.252). — At the 1911 census the pop. of Natal, S. Africa, was 1,194,043, of whom 98,114 were whites, 953,398 Bantu, 133,439 Asiatics and 9,092 of mixed or other coloured races. Compared with 1904 the white pop. — which between 1891 and 1904 had nearly doubled — was practically stationary; there was an actual increase of 1,005. In 1918 a census of the whites showed that they numbered 121,931, evidence that the check in their increase had been temporary only. Natal, though the smallest, is the most densely populated province of the Union, with 37.40 persons to the sq.m. in 1918. The white and Asiatic pop. is mainly concentrated in Natal proper; of the Bantu 214,969 lived in Zululand at the 1911 census. Of the total coloured pop. in 1911 only 13.84% were returned as Christians (compared with 44.20% in the Cape). The chief towns were Durban (89,998) and Pietermaritzburg (30,555; in 1919 35,322). Ladysmith ranked next with 5,594 inhabitants. Pietermaritzburg, the capital, has handsome public buildings, including those of the provincial council and Natal University College.

The change from the status of a self-governing colony to a province of the Union affected Natal politically more closely than any other province since in it alone were the great majority of the white inhabitants of British descent. In the first Parliament of the Union the Natal members took an independent position, and the firm attachment of Natalians to the British connexion continued an unchanging factor in the S. African situation. Provincial administration was, however, carried on upon non-party lines (for the provincial system of administration see Cape Province). The first administrator was Mr. C. J. Smythe, who had previously held office as Colonial Secretary and as Prime Minister of Natal. Mr. Smythe, who was reappointed for a second term in 1905, died in 1918 and Mr. G. T. Plowman succeeded to the post. The revenue raised in the province, derived chiefly from transfer duties and licences, increased from £118,000 in 1912–3 to £172,000 in 1917–8, the subsidies from the Union Government varying from £361,000 to £375,000. Over half the total expenditure was on education, the sums spent for that object rising from £169,000 in 1912–3 to £285,000 in 1917–8.

Natal was deeply interested in the question of Indians in S. Africa. Of the 152,309 Asiatics in the Union in 1911, no fewer than 149,791 were British Indians and of these 133,048 lived in Natal, where they had rendered possible the development of the sugar, tea and wattle industries, as well as providing labour for the coal-mines, railways and other public works. Besides labourers, there were many Indians engaged in professions and commerce. White S. Africans in general opposed the further increase of Asiatics in the Union; while, in 1911, the Indian Government, long dissatisfied with the attitude of Natal to Indians, prohibited the recruitment of indentured coolies. The Indians both in Natal and the Transvaal complained of many grievances, among them of the poll tax imposed in Natal on all non-indentured Indians. Their cause was championed by Mr. M. K. Ghandi, then resident in S. Africa. Arising out of the agitation, riots and disturbances occurred in Natal in 1913. Some 2,700 Indians started to march to Johannesburg. About 500 were stopped on the border; the rest entered the Transvaal, but were eventually induced to return. In 1914 the poll tax on Indians in Natal was abandoned while the Union passed legislation designed to prevent, with some few exceptions, the entry of further adult male Asiatics into S. Africa and to restrict Asiatics to the provinces in which they were resident. The so-called Smuts-Ghandi agreement of the same year was designed to guard the vested interests of Indians already in the Union (see, further, South Africa).

A notable element in the progress of Natal has been the development of coal-mining. The output, which in 1910 first exceeded 2,500,000 tons, rose to over 3,000,000 in 1916, but fell to 2,600,000 tons in 1918, the decline being attributed to the effect of the influenza epidemic of that year. In 1919 the output was 2,800,000 tons. Natal coal is of excellent quality,, and commands high prices — double that of Transvaal coal. In 1918 the output was valued at £1,358,000.

(F. R. C.)