From 1948 to 1994, Apartheid was forced upon South Africans by the then governing party, the National Party (NP). In 1965, a representative from the South African embassy, Professor Manning, attended the University of Southampton to lead a talk on the ‘The Justification of Apartheid’. As part of our 80th Anniversary series, we take a look back at this event.
Wessex News, March 1965
Professor Manning (representing the South African Embassy) drew a large audience to the Education Department on Tuesday evening, for his talk on ” The Justification of Apartheid.” This talk turned out to be as lively as most people had expected it to be.
After saying what a great task he had set himself in trying to justify apartheid, he said he would feel satisfied if people thought objectively about the points he would raise. Apartheid should be looked at in perspective, and not in the biased way so characteristic of the opponents of this policy.
He felt that the white races had a right to preserve their group identity. He could see no moral justification for the retention of power in the hands of the white electorate to prevent a possible future black government. He felt that this was perhaps an excusable attitude on the part of a white minority, was for him, sufficient justification to exclude the African from the central government.
Professor Manning then spent rather a long time describing the evil influences of the British in early South African politics. The ‘apartheid’ policy, he said, was a ghastly policy inherited from the British, who had started it in South Africa. Now, realising the evil aspects of some parts of the policy, acceptable to the electorate.
Whether or not Apartheid is morally justified, it is politically good – this is what matters. World opinion is unable to see this. President Kennedy is too dependent on the Negro vote for his own ends to support apartheid, and Mr MacMillan is too dependent on the US to speak for Apartheid.
He felt that Dr. Verwoerd meant well for the South African non-whites. For the first time a definite policy had been formulated to meet the needs of the non-white races. Perhaps in ten years we would realise how true his present analysis is.
Question time was fiery. Somehow, one could not but admire Professor Manning for even giving the talk. What puzzled the audience seemed to be his agreement with almost every question condemning apartheid. The situation was ugly, very ugly, injustice was being done, but there was a white minority which had to be preserved.
One could but feel sorry for the man. Like the white electorate, which he called short-sighted, he himself seemed to be this plagued by the same disease. Apartheid was not justified that night – can it ever be?
Of course, some of the language used in this article was of its time. We have made an executive decision to keep the original text used, in order to preserve the telling of History.