8 NOVEMBER 1899, Huge swarms of locusts invade Kimberley.
8 NOVEMBER 1905, Massive fire destroys EW Tarry’s Works.
8 NOVEMBER 1918, Spanish Flu Relief committee formed.
8 NOVEMBER 1952, Mayibuye Uprising in No 2 Galeshewe – 13 killed.
(Also see further information from the McGregor Museum below this story)
DID YOU KNOW
There were several popular uprisings in Kimberley during the 20th century, the most notable being that of Saturday 8 November 1952, some nine years before Sharpeville, when the residents attacked the visible signs of the apartheid rulers, burning buildings, houses, and vehicles before the SA police opened fire, killing at least 13 and wounding 78.
Known today as the Mayibuye Uprising, it was attributed by the authorities to complaints about the quality of the beer being sold in the beer halls of Number 2 Location. That some 11 members of the ANC were arrested shortly afterwards, including Dr M S Molema, the Treasurer-General of the ANC, and coupled to the fact that there were similar happenings in East London and other towns suggest otherwise. African Writer’s Association member Ronnie Joel, in “Straight Talk”, his first and only newsletter aimed at the black population of Kimberley, and the first attempt at a black newspaper since the halcyon days of Sol Plaatje, wrote on the uprisings.
The Uprising was in fact part of the nation-wide Defiance campaign, launched by the ANC, the South African Indian Congress and the African People’s Organisation on 26 June 1950. Among the many laws passed by the apartheid government which lead to the campaign, was the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act (1949), Population Registration Act (1950), Group Areas Act (1950), Bantu Authorities Act (1951) and the Pass Laws Act (1952). Dr. Arthur Letele and a group of volunteers the day prior to the popular uprising had sat on the “Europeans Only” benches at the Kimberley railway station in an act of defiance against the segregation laws. Dr Letele and six others – Sam Phakedi, Pepys Madibane, Olehile Sehume, Alexander Nkoane, Daniel Chabalala and David Mpiwa – had been arrested. A larger group of protestors had blocked the entrance for the Whites at the Post Office on Market Square.
The Mayibuye Uprising in Kimberley had begun on 8 November 1952 at the Municipal African Beer Hall in No. 2 Location, Galeshewe, when men shouted political slogans, giving the Defiance campaign salute and were ordered out of the Beer Hall. Many more people arrived and began stoning the building. The Police then arrived on the scene and opened fire on the crowd.
Some six buildings, valued at ₤50 000 were destroyed. There was a sympathetic uprising in Greenpoint on the same day, which caused great anxiety among the white populace of Kimberley, many of who went to the Kimberley Regiment Drill Hall in anticipation of a military call out.
On Monday 10 November there was a mass funeral at the West End cemetery when most were buried.
The Mayibuye Uprising is now remembered by a sculpture of a clenched fist with a raised thumb in Galeshewe. This sign symbolised the Defiance Campaign and stands at the site of the uprising. It was unveiled on 8 November 2002.
Pictured is the Mayibuye memorial, and a mural depicting the uprising at the former Abantu-Batho Hall.
Other sources of information
South Africa History Online – Mayibuye Uprising
The photo of the Mayibuye Memorial was source Bring in the Light by Sonja Kruse
POST FROM THE McGregor Museum Facebook Page on 8 November 2017
Today is the 65th anniversary of the Mayibuye i-Afrika Uprising, Kimberley, 8 Nov 1952.
The Mayibuye Uprising that took place on Saturday 8 November 1952 in Kimberley’s No 2 Location was not an isolated event but resulted from the intensification of oppressive policies against African people in South Africa, and people’s response to it.
The Defiance Campaign was launched jointly by the National Executive Committees of the African National Congress and the South African Indian Congress at their meeting held on 31 May that year in Port Elizabeth. People in every city, town and farm were called upon to defy the inhumane laws being enacted – amongst them, the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act (1949), Population Registration Act (1950), Group Areas Act (1950), Bantu Authorities Act (1951) and the Pass Laws Act (1952).
Dr Arthur Elias Letele, as No 2 Branch Chairman and National Treasurer General of the ANC, was to spearhead the local Defiance Campaign, which began on 17 September 1952 when some 30 Galeshewe residents entered Kimberley station and sat on seats reserved for ‘Europeans Only’. A week later citizens were arrested for not carrying passes. Unrest occurred in early November in Greenpoint (Kimberley) where people objected to the beer halls that were said were demoralising African people and causing much domestic unhappiness.
Four days later, on 8 November, people took to the streets in No 2 (Galeshewe), torching a municipal police vehicle and three lorries, also setting fire to buildings. As residents marched towards town, police opened fire. Thirteen were killed and another 78 wounded.
A mass funeral service took place on open ground outside the old Methodist Church at the corner of Mzikinya, Rhabe and Sanduza Streets, and the dead were buried at West End Cemetery – their graves now marked as provincial heritage sites. On 8 November 2002 Northern Cape Premier Manne Dipico inaugurated the Mayibuye Memorial (pictured) in Galeshewe.
Dr M.S. Molema, National Secretary of the ANC, J.G. Matthews, M. Matjie, and eight members of the Galeshewe Branch of the ANC (S. Sesedi, D. Chabalala, A. Letele, A. Nkoane, Fr A Sehume, P. Madibane, D. Mphiwa and S. Phakedi) [some pictured] were arrested on charges of contravening the Suppression of Communism Act.
Archdeacon Wade of St Matthew’s Church (also pictured), as a witness at the subsequent inquiry, placed the blame squarely on the policy of apartheid – including poor housing, lighting and public transport, together with “unfulfilled promises” – which he said “brought about the conditions which led to the riots.”