The Empire and the century/The Prospects of a United South Africa
THE PROSPECTS OF A UNITED SOUTH AFRICA
By G. G. ROBINSON
The Nelson Centenary, which is the occasion of this volume, marks also the close of the first hundred years of British dominion in South Africa. It was just three months after the Battle of Trafalgar that the last of the Dutch commanders surrendered his colony to General Baird. The assertion of British predominance at the Cape was one incident, hardly noticed at the time, in the great struggle against Napoleon's scheme of universal despotism. To-day we are just emerging from another struggle, less imposing in appearance than the war with France, but fraught with consequences just as serious to the Empire; and the scene and cause of it has been that same African colony of which Pitt laid the foundations a hundred years ago. Everything has tended in this latter war to belittle the real magnitude of the issues involved. And since a true understanding of them is the beginning of wisdom in things South African, it may be worth while to repeat very briefly at the outset two or three considerations which affect it.
In the first place, then, the annexation of the Dutch Republics was not merely (as it is often represented, even by its supporters) the inevitable extinction of a backward State which lags behind its progressive neighbours. This was not the case—always a difficult case in the ethics of States—of the 'small nation,' corrupt and inefficient in itself, but with no ambition beyond the preservation of its nationality, and no desire except to be left alone. When the establishment of the great gold industry introduced a new industrial element, mainly British, into their population, the Boer Government had no hesitation in admitting it. The primitive, pastoral ideal of their voortrekker fathers gave way at once to a new ideal of national wealth and importance, to be acquired at the expense of these Uitlanders. So far as its internal administration went, the downfall of the Republican Government was due, not to its exclusion of the foreigner, but to its failure to absorb him.
A second and far more serious consideration is that the whole of South Africa was intimately concerned in the settlement of the Uitlanders' grievances. It was never a purely Transvaal affair. 'South Africa,' wrote Lord Milner before the war, 'can never prosper under two absolutely conflicting social and political systems—perfect equality for Dutch and British in the Dutch Colonies side by side with permanent subjection of British to Dutch in one of the Republics.' The success, in fact, of the Transvaal Government in flouting British prestige had attracted to them all the malcontents and waverers in our own Colonies. A definite anti-British ideal had taken shape—the creation of an independent Dutch South Africa, with its focus at Pretoria and its limits at the sea. Everywhere, from the Cape Peninsula to the Limpopo, the Boer star was in the ascendant. British-born citizens of Cape Colony were daily making obeisance before their Dutch fellow-subjects, and the latter looked to Pretoria for their political guidance. It is hardly too much to say that in the years immediately preceding the war the paramount Power in South Africa was no longer the British Empire, but President Kruger.
Finally—this is the third and most serious consideration of all—far more was at stake in the Boer War even than the loss of South Africa itself. If we can imagine the whole country to be torn away at the Zambesi by some natural convulsion and submerged in the sea, that would be in its simplest form the loss of South Africa, with its territories and its peoples; but that would not necessarily imply the disruption of the whole British Empire. On the other hand, such disruption was, beyond any sort of doubt, the alternative to our successful issue from the war. This was the great test case of an Empire which had just begun to realize its Imperial position. The Colonies were looking on, grown old enough to be willing and able to bear their burden with the Mother Country, but still curious to see what manner of Empire this was to which they belonged. The Powers of Europe were looking on, with no excuse for official intervention, but making no secret of their private sympathy with the Boers. We had no choice in the matter at all. And therefore when Englishmen ask, as they are apt to ask, What, after all, is the good to us of this troublesome South Africa, and why have we lavished men and money to keep it within the limits of the British Empire? the first and simplest answer is that there was no decent alternative. It was a struggle, not for the acquisition of the Transvaal, not even for the salvation of South Africa, but for the existence of the Empire itself—a defensive war, essentially as well as technically, and not an aggressive war.
The fact that war and annexation were inevitable forms no reason why South Africa should remain for ever a useless appendage of the British Empire, a mere passenger in the Imperial boat. On the contrary, all the factors are present there which constitute the essential value to Great Britain of the 'Dominions beyond the seas.' Have the Colonies any use as an outlet for the cramped population of the Mother Country? South Africa furnishes a vast tract of territory in which Europeans can live and work. Is it desirable that the Empire should be able to produce its own equipment within its own limits? South Africa offers a great mineral and agricultural and pastoral country, richer in metals than Australia, more favoured in climate than Canada. Is the command of the sea important, and the possession of harbours and dockyards in all parts of the world? South Africa holds the key of the Southern Ocean, and forms, after Egypt, the second line of communication with India and the East.
These things are the raw material of South Africa's, own prosperity and of her contribution to the strength of the Empire. For the present she has emerged from the melting-pot, an integral part, indeed, of an existent Empire, but still the strangest medley of races and interests and States. Two white races living side by side, with a century of intrigue and warfare behind them; two old British Colonies, two ex-Republics, and the territory of a Chartered Company. The object of this paper is to discuss, in the barest outline, the present relations of these different elements, and the prospect of their consolidation into a peaceful and united South Africa under the British flag.
The first point to realize is the relations of the two white races. The end of the war between them, long as it was foreseen, was oddly abrupt in its result Within a week of the conclusion of peace an Englishman might have walked unarmed in perfect safety from one end of the new Colonies to the other. There is no record since then of the commission of a single crime of violence which could be attributed in any way to feelings aroused by the war. And this very remarkable state of affairs has the one drawback, that—certainly in England, and perhaps to some extent in South Africa as well—it has obscured the existence of a racial problem at all. As a matter of fact, it is quite idle to deny that the great underlying motive in South African politics is still the antagonism of the two white races; and that the war, while it prevented this problem from being solved in favour of the Dutch ideal, did not in itself provide a final and satisfactory solution.
What is the position? Throughout South Africa, whether viewed as a whole or State against State, the races to-day are as nearly as possible equal in numbers. In Cape Colony there is a slight majority of Dutch inhabitants, in the Transvaal a slight majority of British. Natal, which, even after absorbing a large slice of the Transvaal, is still essentially British, balances the Orange River Colony, where there is an overwhelming population of Boers. Rhodesia, where the small white population is almost entirely British, is going through bad times and a constitutional crisis, and is hardly yet a factor in the situation. The position, therefore, from the numerical point of view is not materially different from the pre-war days. The two races are still definite realities. There is no question whatever of the extinction or the absorption of either.
The future relations between the two depend principally upon the Transvaal. Here, in the country which was at once the origin and the closing scene of the war, racial feeling is naturally the most conspicuous and the most acute. The settlement of the problem here means peace throughout South Africa; and, unfortunately, the division of races in the Transvaal is very nearly coincident with other divisions, which tend to aggravate it The British population is congregated for the most part on the narrow ridge of the Rand, and is identified with its great gold industry. The Boers are farmers, and are distributed through the rest of the country. Thus, to the old antagonism of race is added the conflict of interests between mining and agriculture and between town and country. Vitally dependent though the mines may be upon the farmers, and the latter to an even greater extent upon the profits of the mines, the fact remains that the two races are at present divided, not only by tradition and religion and language, but also by differences of occupation and mode of living. An Englishman may live in Johannesburg for years without seeing a Boer, and the acquaintance of the Boer farmers with their British fellow-citizens is often confined to the occasional visit of an official. The two races do not come into personal contact at very many points of daily life.
The result of this separation is that our view of the present relations of the two races is almost entirely dependent upon the attitude of the Boer leaders to the Government of the Colony. It is not a bad clue. The Boers are extraordinarily amenable as a people to organization, and their traditions are autocratic These leaders—some of them survivors of the old Kruger oligarchy, and some new men thrown into prominence by the war—have undoubtedly got their following well in hand; and their own attitude—there is no disguising the fact—has not up to the present been encouraging. They have refused altogether to help in the administration of their country; they have lost no opportunity of disparaging the efforts of the Government; they have recently established a separate political organization for Boers as such. Bearing in mind the solid allegiance of this people to their self-constituted leaders, it is not putting it too strongly to describe the general Boer frame of mind as one at least of passive hostility to the new régime.
And yet the situation, even in the Transvaal, is not by any means so hopeless as it seems at first sight. People are just beginning to realize that they expected too much of the mere conclusion of peace, and that this attitude of the Boers is not in the least surprising. After all, they say, it is only reasonable that any conquered people should feel its position keenly. A people which began its separate existence, as the Boers did, in a national exodus, and ended it in a national war, must clearly have in an unusual degree the qualities of solidarity and self-respect. Hostility was to be expected for some time to come, and ingratitude and misrepresentation are its natural weapons. This is true enough, and such proper appreciation of the real feelings of the Boers is unquestionably the foundation of a better state of things. It should have the advantage, too, of closing the ranks of their British fellow-citizens—at least, where the main question of the future of South Africa is involved. Every sign of disunion on their part is being closely watched. Any serious disunion might very easily revive the old conflict of two separate policies and two rival national ideals. No one really wants a repetition of the war, or of the conditions which preceded it; and the prospect of a peaceful and united South Africa depends primarily upon the determined support of the new regime by the men who are its natural supporters.
Next to realizing the continued existence of this national Boer spirit comes the discovery of some means of turning it to good account. The new Government has recognised from the first that there is one object at least for which Boers and British can work together without loss of self-respect—and that is the material prosperity of their common country. The whole of the efforts of the Administration have been concentrated upon this one object in its various forms, and the solution of the racial problem will stand or fall by its attainment. The development to its utmost of the mining industry—not, it may be added, in order to enrich a handful of 'Park Lane capitalists,' but because the whole prosperity of South Africa depends, to an extent which can hardly be realized in England, upon the activity of the mines. The encouragement of a policy of land settlement—again, not from any idea of ousting or outnumbering the Boers, but in order to introduce a new and progressive element into the life of the veld, and to give British as well as Boers some stake in the land. The equipment of scientific departments of Agriculture and Forestry and Irrigation. The inauguration of a wide scheme of local self-government. The construction of public works without number. If anyone cares to read the whole story of this bewildering activity of the last three years, it is written in countless Blue-books and administrative reports. There are only two points in it to which I would call attention here, because they have a special bearing on this question of the cohesion of the two races.
The first is the improvement of means of communication. Something like 800 miles of new railways have already been constructed in the two Colonies since the war; another 800 are in course of construction; and provision has been made for nearly 500 more. Thirteen hundred miles of roads have been made fit for traffic in the Transvaal alone, and twenty-seven permanent bridges have been built in their course. The second point is the establishment from the days of the war itself of a broad and comprehensive system of free education. The building of 'half a dozen very large town schools, between twenty and thirty town schools of average size, and no fewer than 152 farm schools' (I take these figures, like the others, from Lord Milner's great apologia for the Transvaal Administration in his farewell speech at Pretoria)—this speaks for itself. So does the fact that the number of children being educated in these Government schools is already more than twice the number of the best of the pre-war days. Railways and education—these above all are the means which are the most obviously destined to bring town and country together, and to give the rising generation a common tradition and a common language.
And as for results, it is frankly impossible in this matter of the two races to paint as yet a glowing picture of confidence and harmony restored. All that can be said at present is this: British and Dutch are at last coming to understand one another's point of view. They are daily found in closer personal contact. The country is beginning to wear, as it never did before, the aspect of a progressive and civilized State; and more Englishmen are deciding every year that it is a place in which they can settle down and make a home for their children. The backveld Boers are learning to think for themselves, and to admit that, after all, it is no very desperate fate to live under a Government which respects their worldly goods, their language, and their religion, and has done a vast deal more for them besides than they ever really expected. Further than this it is impossible to go. But at least there is nothing to dissipate the hope that the two races, living for the first time on terms of perfect equality, will eventually join hands in a strong sentiment of affection and pride for South Africa.
I turn from the relations of the two white races to the relations of the five South African States. Here at any rate we have an obvious unmistakable advantage as a result of the war. The disappearance of the Dutch Republics means the disappearance of an official nucleus for anti-British intrigue. The administration of the two central States is for the first time in friendly hands. The aims and ambitions of all the States are—broadly speaking—in harmony. President Kruger did a good deal in the closing years of his reign—in his conduct, for instance, of the franchise negotiations—to damage his reputation as an astute diplomatist. And therefore people are apt to forget the extraordinary skill which he had long displayed in setting his neighbours by the ears—in playing off the Cape against Natal, and Portuguese interests against both. No doubt the possibilities of official discord still exist to a very obvious degree; but at least it is half the battle to be rid of the desire for discord as such.
At the same time it is just worth remembering, before finally taking leave of the racial question, that that unofficial organization which has taken the place of the Republics as the nucleus for anti-British effort has still a certain predisposition to keep the various British Governments at loggerheads. The Boer population takes very little personal interest in the questions at issue between the States. They are questions in the main of rival points and railway rates and tariffs, questions, that is, affecting primarily the commercial, and therefore the British, community. No doubt the Boer farmers are concerned in their settlement too. But, then, they are not always allowed by their leaders to have a clear vision of their true interest; and, to do them justice, they would often be ready, even if they saw it, to sacrifice it to their political creed. The well-worn abuse, in the Dutch press, of the Rand and its capitalists has this additional object, that it may stimulate that jealousy of the Transvaal which is already strong enough in the coast Colonies. Political as well as material considerations—they are inextricably intertwined all through the chapter—require that States as well as individuals should present a united front.
Federation is so plainly the natural goal to which South Africa is tending that adventitious mischief-making can hardly delay it when the time is ripe. And certainly, if such a union of neighbouring Colonies is anywhere a desirable thing, it is more than usually desirable here; for South Africa is essentially one social and economic whole, and the State jealousies are a real drawback to her prosperity. There has never been any question of the internal advantages of federation. Men talked of it so long ago as the seventies—and that is a long time in the history of South Africa—and Lord Carnarvon's abortive Act provided the necessary machinery. An independent, but still a federated, South Africa was the object of Dutch intrigue during the twenty years that followed. To-day we are for the first time within measurable distance of federation under the British flag; and if we hear less about it, it is because men realize its difficulties better, and approach it on different lines. South Africa is moving slowly but surely towards federation, not by the invention of schemes and constitutions, but by the gradual removal of the countless rivalries and restrictions which form a solid material barrier against the best intentions in the world.
Certainly the last three years have shown an ever-increasing disposition on the part of the foremost South African statesmen to meet in friendly discussion of the outstanding points of intercolonial difference. Of the formal meetings of this kind the most notable has been the great Conference which assembled at Bloemfontein in March, 1908, just nine months after the close of the war. Here, under the presidency of the High Commissioner, met for the first time representatives of all the South African Colonies, the Prime Ministers of Cape Colony and Natal, and the heads of the Administration of me new Colonies and of Rhodesia, and one immediate result was a Customs Union embracing the whole of British South Africa. No doubt it is easy to exaggerate the completeness of this Union. Under the present arrangement each Colony keeps its own separate receipts, the collection being made at a price by the coast Colonies on behalf of their inland neighbours. It is a wasteful system, and still admits of friction; but it was impossible in the abnormal conditions prevailing after the war to bring the various States into even line, and each claimed separate temporary modifications of the Convention for its own special benefit. A true Customs Union will pool the receipts, and distribute them to its members on a fixed basis of calculation, the expenses of a single Customs administration being similarly distributed. But when all is said, the Union of 1908 remains no inconsiderable achievement, when it is remembered that the Customs differences of the Australian Colonies were still provoking troublesome controversy, even after federation. And the assembling of such a Conference at all was in itself a sufficiently satisfactory sign of the times.
A far more serious cause of quarrel is the struggle of three coast States—Cape Colony, Natal, and Portuguese East Africa—for the traffic of the inland Colonies in their ports and over their railway systems. There will be enough and to spare for all of them, and the real problem is to apportion the shares in the most economical way. But unless the railways can all be placed under a single authority it will be difficult to prevent a wasteful war of competition for the whole. Delagoa Bay, with its practically unlimited harbour and its shorter railway route to Johannesburg, is the bugbear of the British coast Colonies, and places the Transvaal in a position to treat with them on at least an equal footing. Party politics in Natal, and to some extent in Cape Colony also, are divided by competing schemes for the development of their railways and harbours. The two Colonies are divided against one another by the competition of Port Elizabeth and East London with urban. Both agree in a common denunciation of the Transvaal for saving herself to the advantage of a seaport which is Portuguese. South Africa as a whole—and this hard geographical fact is, after all, the dominant factor in the situation—is not so well supplied either with ports or railways that she can afford to lose anything through jealousy; and the only practical way in which she will make the most of her resources is to place the management of the whole under a single Federal Board, of which the existing Railway Committee of the Intercolonial Council may perhaps form the nucleus. In other countries the federation of railways has been the climax of the federation of States. In South Africa it seems inevitable that it should be a preliminary step.
Most serious, perhaps, of all the requirements of a peaceful and United South Africa is the adoption of some uniform policy towards her vast native population. The Native Problem must clearly be of paramount importance to a country which up to the present has been harassed at least once in a decade by a serious native war, and in which the white inhabitants are to-day outnumbered by the black in the proportion of five to one. It was the conflict upon this question, more than any other, between the Downing Street ideal and the Dutch colonial ideal, that led to the Great Trek and the establishment of two antagonistic political systems in South Africa.
Now, it may frankly be admitted that there is no very marked divergence in South Africa to-day between Boer and British opinion upon the broad aspect of the native problem. Colonial feeling is on the whole sympathetic to the education and development of the Kaffir. On the other hand, it is quite unanimous that there is to be no question of equality, either social or political, between the white and the black races. Nor is there in practice any question of social equality in any part of South Africa. The question, however, of the political rights of natives has been hopelessly complicated by the divisions of the white population in the past The constitution granted to Cape Colony in 1858 admitted the natives to the franchise on equal terms with the white inhabitants—that is to say, with a low property and educational qualification. This policy was in accordance with British traditions, and, as a matter of fact, it was endorsed, when the time for self-government came, by the people of the Colony themselves. Natal followed suit in theory, but has succeeded in practice in evading the obligations of its charter. Rhodesia is bound by the same law as Cape Colony, but its native population has not yet advanced to the requisite standard of progress. On the other hand, the two Dutch Republics gave no rights to their natives at all, and the Transvaal and Orange River Colony are debarred by the terms of Vereeniging from modifying this tradition until the days of responsible government. Thus there has grown up the widest possible divergence in the practice of the five South African States in this crucial problem of the native franchise; and other incongruities, in questions of land tenure and education and so forth, have followed in its train.
The present position of the problem is entirely dominated by the situation in Cape Colony, where the native vote is now sufficient to turn the scale in a large number of constituencies. It is a situation of grave peril, as men of all parties are prepared to admit; and the peril is not by any means confined to Cape Colony itself. The natives throughout South Africa are in close communication with one another. Absolute disparity of treatment on the two sides of an artificial line can only result in perpetual agitation and unrest from end to end of the country. 'South Africa can never prosper under two conflicting political systems;' it is as true of the native population to-day as it was of the white races before the war, and the adoption of a uniform native policy is a vital and immediate necessity.
Happily, the first great stride in the direction of common action has recently been made through the work of the Native Affairs Commission, itself the offspring of the Bloemfontein Conference. For a year and a half the greatest experts in native questions of all the South African Colonies have been travelling through the country, engaged in a close investigation and discussion of the whole vast problem of native administration; and the report of the Commission, published early in the present year, is admittedly a monument of collective wisdom, and likely to form the basis of coherent policy in the future.
Besides these heroic efforts, the last three years have seen minor conferences innumerable between the statesmen of the different Colonies. Railway matters have furnished the ground for most of them—the apportionment of rates on the old through lines from the coast, and the construction of new lines to the benefit of more than one Colony. At the present moment, for instance, as the result of such conferences, the Government of Natal are extending their railway system into the Orange River Colony, to the mutual advantage of the latter, which needs railways before everything else, and of themselves, who desire to push their trade from the coast. Irrigation again, most pressing requirement of that dry and thirsty land, is a matter in which individual State action is neither possible nor desirable. The two great rivers of South Africa, the Vaal and the Orange, form State boundaries, and the disposal of their waters is even now forming the subject of intercolonial commissions. As other signs of the growth of joint action, it may be added that a meeting of law officers has already considered the possibility of identical legislation in such matters of common interest as alien immigration and of the formation of a common South African Court of Appeal, and that more than one conference of educational experts has resulted in the gradual approximation of the different codes. Naturally, the success of these things depends to an enormous extent on the personal element South Africa has been singularly fortunate of late in the fact that the administration of her self-governing Colonies has been in the hands of men who are able to see beyond the limits of their immediate surroundings.
It is idle speculation to forecast the date of a definite federation of South Africa, and it is just as idle to attempt to hurry it. The Transvaal and the Orange River Colony have been wisely started on their career with something of a federal bond in the Intercolonial Council. Possibly the rest may come by stages, too. It has been suggested, for instance, that a union between the new Colonies and Natal, which have comparatively few outstanding points of difference, might be reinforced later by the adhesion of the Cape, where there are special conditions and difficulties, and of Rhodesia. But, whatever happens. South African statesmen are already taking the only sane course of clearing the ground in advance. A Customs Union is an accomplished fact. A Railway Union is at least in the air—an arrangement, that is, under which the trunk lines, at any rate, shall be. controlled and their profits pooled by a Federal Board. There is at last some prospect of a uniform native policy. So far as the adjustment of local interests is concerned, it need not be a very difficult matter, when the time comes, to fit the coping-stone of a formal federation.
But let it never be forgotten that this adjustment of local differences, necessary and desirable as it is, is not in itself the be-all and end-all of federation to-day. Certainly it is an obvious practical object, absolutely necessary as a preliminary stage, and apt, because it is so obvious, to overshadow higher considerations. And yet a federation of South Africa, radiating from the Transvaal and containing all the elements of inequality and exclusiveness which marked the Transvaal Government, was not so very remote in the days before the war. A federation of South Africa might still, in conceivable circumstances, be the greatest misfortune which could happen. There is no special magic in the word itself. A true federation under the British flag implies far more than the harmony of the contracting Governments, and when it comes upon South Africa it must mean the practical consolidation there of the British position, the consummation of the ideal of justice and equality for which the war was fought, the strengthening and simplification in that part of the world of the machinery of the Empire.
The question of the ultimate relations between South Africa as a whole and the Mother Country possesses peculiar snares and pitfalls for the student of colonial development The old conception of an Imperial federation is passing away—the conception, that is, of a hard and fast system of obligation and contribution to an omnipotent Imperial Government in London. In such a system there was no room for a constructive local patriotism; and in two different parts of the Empire, at least, local patriotism has recently assumed proportions which can neither be neglected nor crushed. Modern thinkers are seeking to turn to good account the nascent spirit of nationalism which is already conspicuous in Australia and Canada. A new ideal is making its way, in which the great groups of Colonies shall be the partners, and not the subject States, of an organic Empire, free to develop to the utmost their own defensive and industrial and commercial resources, indissolubly bound together by the ties of common interest and common sentiment.
If this be sound doctrine, then it must be admitted that we have need to walk more warily than elsewhere in our dealings with South Africa. Here the conditions are altogether different from those of the other Colonies. The spirit of nationalism is there, it is true. Unfortunately, it has been regarded as the monopoly till now of one particular section of the population, and that the section which is least of all concerned to construct out of local patriotism a coherent British Empire. 'A national party,' 'the national language,' 'education on national lines'—these phrases, harmless enough in themselves, have a special and sinister significance in South Africa. They are the chosen watchwords of a creed in which the Imperial connection has no place.
And if the internal circumstances of South Africa are radically different from those of Australia and Canada, so also has been the history of her relations with the Mother Country. Quite apart from any deliberate feeling of hostility to Great Britain, it is impossible to ignore the fact that Downing Street does still stand to the ordinary South African mind for spasmodic, vexatious interference, and that it will take years of sympathy to efface this impression. We are reaping in the mistrust of our colonists the fruits of a long series of 'regrettable incidents' in the past. It is still more impossible to forget that one great political party in England—the party, too, which is identified by tradition with the encouragement of free colonial development—has even in these latter days done an incredible amount of harm by trying to thwart the wishes of a South African Colony in her own domestic affairs. Such episodes as the Chinese labour debates in the House of Commons, may do much to develop a spirit of nationalism in South Africa, but they will develop it at the expense of the Imperial connection.
Fortunately, the general trend of opinion in England is towards a greater respect for her Colonies. The Mother Country has given of the best of her statesmen to govern South Africa. She has recently bestowed upon the Transvaal a constitution which, within three years of a desperate racial struggle, is surely a monument of confidence and liberality. There has been no haggling over the contribution of the new Colonies to the cost of the war. That bone of contention has wisely been relegated without any kind of bargain to the people of the Colonies themselves. And the Colonies on their part are sensible of their responsibilities. It is little enough that they are able to do at present. But at least they have shown unanimous determination to admit from the outset the principle of reciprocal obligation. The Customs Conference of 1903, for instance, adopted without dissent a resolution in favour of preferential treatment for the Mother Country; and this resolution has found effect in the tariff of the five signatory Colonies.
The personal relations between England and South Africa become closer every year. You may find more South Africans in London to-day than ever before, and more visitors from home on the battlefields of Natal. This year a Transvaal team has competed at Bisley, with marked success, and the British Association has sailed en masse for Cape Town. Better mutual acquaintance is assured; and that, after all, is the foundation of a better mutual understanding.