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The Political Situation. Schreiner, Olive, 1855–1920.
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page: 25
page: 26

AFRICA BEFORE THE MONOPOLISTS.

South Africa is a country of vast resources. In spite of the dryness of much of our climate, the rocky nature of certain tracts of our soil, taking the whole of South Africa together from east to west, I do not hesitate to assert that not many countries equally desirable and suitable for human habitation will be found. More than a compensation for the dryness of our climate is the absence of the numbing cold of extreme northern and southern lands, which for months in the year renders outdoor labour difficult; page: 27 yet more important is the absence of that moist heat which in tropical countries renders exertion almost impossible to the white man, and exhaustive to the dark. A country with temperate, stimulating climate, which favours the health and energy of Europeans, physically and mentally; which is favourable to the constitution of every species of domestic animal, and is adapted to the cultivation of almost every plant of the temperate and tropical zones; which, above all, is one of the richest, if not the richest, country in the world in precious stones and minerals of all kinds, and which was originally peopled page: 28 only by barbarians—this country has always been attractive to Europeans. For 200 years, Boer and Englishman, we have been populating and steadily taking possession of the land, moving steadily northwards. Our progress has not been made by a series of world-striking coups d'état, it has been slow, but it has been the more healthy, the more sure, the more deeply rooted, because of its gradual and natural development.

Those superb pioneers of South Africa, its Boers, have continued to move, as they have always moved, northward: our English colonists have been steadily building up their vil- villages page: 29 lages, founding their educational institutions, and establishing a liberal and progressive Government. We have not exhausted or even yet opened up many of the mineral resources of our country; they are still here for the use of our own and future generations; but so far as the colonists, Dutch and English, have populated the land, our progress, though slow, has been wholesome; and the land as a whole has been kept free from many of those crushing evils which afflict the older civilisations of Europe, and even affect some of the younger dependencies.

There is a sense in which we page: 30 have been a poor people. We have had no mass of surplus wealth wrung from the labour of a working class, but we have been a very rich people, perhaps one of the richest on the earth, in the fact that grinding poverty, and the enormous and superfluous wealth of individuals, were equally unknown among us. Our people as a whole led a simple but comfortable life; our labouring classes were engaged in no unhealthy occupation; starvation and want were unknown among us; we were progressing steadily, if slowly, and keeping our national wealth for the people as a whole, and for all who should labour among us.

page: 31

But a new element has burst into South African life.

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