The Corner People of Lady Selborne
South Africa: HUMAN RIGHTS/HISTORY/SOCIOLOGY
Lady Selborne was a comparatively small place, situated in an area on the slopes of the gentle Magaliesberg mountains to the west of the city centre of Pretoria. The township was approximately two square kilometres in extent. A rivulet called Swart Spruit ran lazily from west to east along the southern border of the township. This was a scenic and fertile area with pleasant weather throughout the year. From anywhere in the township, people had a view of the city centre with the imposing Union Buildings, the seat of government, on the horizon.
By 1942, the multiracial Lady Selborne was home to about 22 000 people, the majority of whom were Northern Sotho, but it also included Nguni, Shangaan, coloured, Indian, white and Chinese people. It was to become the largest Group Areas Act dispossession project in Pretoria.
Author John Seakalala Mojapelo dedicates the book ‘to the 3,5 million victims of the heartless social engineering policy enforced through the pernicious Group Areas Act by the former white minority government in Pretoria, and particularly those in Lady Selborne’.
“Lady Selborne stands in the same league as other iconic multiracial townships like Sophiatown in Johannesburg, District Six in Cape Town and Cato Manor in Durban …. It was called the township of “Clevers” (township city slickers) – it was home for trail-blazers like Dr William Frederick Nkomo, Potlako Leballo, Stephen Sondag Tefu and Philip Kgosana (politicians), Can Themba and Arthur Maimane (journalists), Bob Leshoai and SP Kwakwa (educationists), Ernest “Shololo” Mothle, Joe “Lopez” Ngoetjana and Betty Mthombeni (musicians), and birthplace of international luminaries like Vusi “The Balladeer” Mahlasela and poet/musician/artist Lefifif Tladi … .
“Lady Selborne embodies the cultural heritage of the City of Tshwane and therefore it is vital that the story of this township be conveyed to all the residents of South Africa.
“… . On behalf of the City of Tshwane, the generation of today and the generations to come, a special acknowledgement is given to all those who contributed in collating this record that spans six decades, especially John Mojapelo, who championed this mammoth task with unwavering passion, determination and vision.
Re ya leboga.”