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On-line version ISSN 2309-8392
Print version ISSN 0018-229X

Historia vol.54 n.1 Durban  2009




Monty ... Meets Gandhi ... meets Mandela: The dilemma of non-violent resisters in South Africa, 1940-1960


Monty ... Ontmoet Gandhi ... Ontmoet Mandela: Die dilemma van nie-gewelddadige weerstandiges in Suid-Afrika, 1940-1960



Goolam Vahed

Goolam Vahed is Associate Professor in the Department of Historical Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal He has published widely on Indians and Muslims in South Africa in refereed journals His last book was Inside Indenture. A South African Story, 1860-1914 (co-authored with Ashwin Desai) A biography of Monty Naicker is in publication and should be available in December 2009




This article focuses on key moments in the life of Doctor G.M. "Monty" Naicker (1911-1978), an Edinburgh-educated medical doctor and contemporary of Yusuf Dadoo, who displaced moderate elements in Indian politics in South Africa when he became president of the Natal Indian Congress 1946. Having taken control of Indian politics, Monty adopted Mohandas K. Gandhi's principles of passive resistance in protesting the segregationist land legislation from 1946-1948. Through the 1950s he remained committed to non-violent resistance as he worked with the African National Congress (ANC) to forge non-racial resistance against segregation and apartheid, which was predicated on and backed up by the use of state-sponsored violence. His ideas were relevant in the early joint campaigns of the Congresses Alliance, but by 1960 he had to face the fact that the Alliance was contemplating a turn to violence in the face of state intransigence and increasing brutality. While many of his comrades chose to go the way of armed struggle, Monty remained committed to non-violent resistance. This article examines the dilemma facing activists such as Monty Naicker by examining two key moments in his political life, the Passive Resistance Campaign of 1946-1948 and debates around the ANC's turn to armed struggle in 1960.

Keywords: A.I. Kajee; African National Congress (ANC); apartheid; armed struggle; Dadoo; Defiance Campaign; Doctor Goonam; D.F. Malan; Freedom Charter; Gandhi; Indians; Mandela; Michael Scott; Monty Naicker; Natal Indian Congress; non-violence; passive resistance; segregation; South Africa; Treason Trial


Hierdie artikel fokus op sleuteloomblikke in die lewe van dokter G.M. "Monty" Naicker (1911-1978), 'n mediese dokter wat in Edinburgh opgelei is en 'n tydgenoot was van Yusuf Dadoo, en wat gematigde elemente in Indiese politiek in Suid-Afrika vervang het toe hy in 1946 president van die Natal Indian Congress geword het. Nadat hy beheer van Indiese politiek in die land oorgeneem het, het Monty die beginsels van passiewe weerstand van Mohandas K. Gandhi aangeneem in die protes teen segregasiesionistiese wetgewing van 1946 tot 1948. Gedurende die 1950's het hy tot vreedsame protes verbind gebly in sy samewerking met die African National Congress (ANC) om nie-rassige weerstand teen segregasie en apartheid te bied. Die optrede is met staatsondersteunde geweld begroet. Sy idees was relevant in die vroeë gesamentlike veldtogte van die Congresses Alliance, maar teen 1960 het hierdie alliansie oorweeg om na gewelddadige optrede oor te gaan weens die staat se onversetlike houding en toenemende brutaliteit. Terwyl baie van sy kamerade verkies het om na gewapende geweld oor te gaan, het Monty tot vreedsame weerstand verbonde gebly. Hierdie artikel ondersoek die dilemma wat aktiviste soos Monty Naicker in die gesig gestaar het, deur twee sleuteloomblikke in sy politieke lewe, naamlik die Passiewe Weerstandsveldtog van 1946-1948 en die debatte oor die ANC se oorgang na gewapende stryd in 1960, te bestudeer.

Sleutelwoorde: A.I. Kajee; African National Congress (ANC); apartheid; Dadoo; Doctor Goonam; D.F. Malan; Freedom Charter; Gandhi; gewapende stryd; Hoogverraadverhoor; Indiërs; Mandela; Michael Scott; Monty Naicker; Natal Indian Congress; passiewe weerstand; segregasie; Suid-Afrika; vreedsaam; Weerstandsveldtog



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1 C Shukla (ed), Reminiscences of Gandhiji (Vora Publishers, Bombay, 1951) Accessed at Links ]" target="_blank">http://www gandhimuseum org/sarvodaya/ articles/owe htm
2 See K Goonam, Coolie Doctor (Madiba Publishers, Durban, 1992)         [ Links ]
3 Goonam, Coolie Doctor, p 42
4 I C Meer, Ismail Meer. A Fortunate Man (Zebra Press, Cape Town, 2002), p 47         [ Links ]
5 Call, February 1940
6 Call, July 1940
7 Call, July 1940
8 D Bagwandeen, A People on Trial. The Struggle for Land and Housing of the Indian People of Natal, 1940-46 (Madiba Publishers, Durban, 1991), pp 50-57         [ Links ]
9 P Raman, "Being Indian the South African Way: the Development of Indian Identity in 1940s' Durban", in A E Coombes (ed), Rethinking Settler Colonialism. History and Memory in Australia, Canada, Aotearoa New Zealand and South Africa (Manchester University Press, Manchester, 2006), pp 193-206         [ Links ]
10 Bagwandeen, A People on Trial, p 142
11 L Lloyd, "A Family Quarrel: The Development of the Dispute over Indians in South Africa", The Historical Journal, 34, 3, 1991, pp 703-238         [ Links ]
12 Bagwandeen, A People on Trial, p 142
13 Guardian, 14 July 1945
14 Leader, 12 January 1946
15 Indian Views, 19 September 1945
16 Leader, 20 October 1945
17 E Roux, Time Longer Than Rope. A History of the Black Man's Struggle for Freedom in South Africa (University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, 1966), p 360         [ Links ]
18 Leader, 27 October, 1945 Accessed at University of Fort Hare Archival Collections http://www liberation org za/naicker president
19 Monty's delegation included George Singh, MR Parekh, BA Maharaj, BD Lalla, I M Bawa, E H Ismail, B Goordeen and M D Naidoo
20 Indian Views, 14 November 1945
21 Leader, 6 April 1946; in D N Cachalia, "The Radicalisation of the Transvaal Indian Congress and the Moves to Joint Action, 1946-1952 " BA Honours, University of the Witwatersrand, 1981, p 45
22 Meer, Fortunate Man, p 95
23 Joint statement by Dadoo and Monty Naicker after a meeting of the PRC, in Passive Resister, 11 December 1947
24 F Troup, In Face of Fear: Michael Scott's Challenge to South Africa (Faber and Faber, London, 1950), pp 128-129         [ Links ]
25 "Power of Satyagraha", in R K Prabhu and U R Rao (eds), The Mind of Mahatma Gandhi, revised edition (Ahemadabad, India, 1967) Accessed at http://en.wikipedia org/wiki/Satyagraha#cite note-9         [ Links ]
26 M K Gandhi, "The Law of Suffering", Young India, 16 June 1920 Accessed at http://en.wikipedia org/wiki/Satyagraha#cite note-9         [ Links ]
27 16 September 1948 From Shukla, Reminiscences of Gandhiji
28 Passive Resister, 11 December 1947
29 Leader, 5 June 1948
30 S Bhana, Gandhi's Legacy. The Natal Indian Congress (University of Natal Press, Pietermaritzburg, 1997), pp 78-79         [ Links ]
31 http://www anc org za/ancdocs/history/congress/passive html
32 Leader, 7 June 1947
33 Meer, Fortunate Man, p 146
34. Indian Views, 5 December 1956
35 New Age, 16 November 1961
36 Part of the speech is quoted in New Age, 16 November 1961 The full speech in Monty's handwriting is part of the Monty Naicker Collection kept by his son Kreesan
37 New Age, 14 December 1961
38 P Rule, Nokukhanya - Mother ofLight (The Grail, South Africa, 1993), p 122         [ Links ]
39 Quote from N Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom (Abacus, London, 1994), p 321         [ Links ]
40 A Appadurai, "Gandhi's contribution to Social Theory", The Review of Politics, 31, 3, July 1969, pp 312-328         [ Links ]
41 G W Seidman, "Blurred Lines: Nonviolence in South Africa", Political Science and Politics, 33, 2, 2000, pp 161-167         [ Links ]
42 Gandhi offered Satyagraha non-violence as a method of combating oppression and genocide, stating:
"If I were a Jew and were born in Germany and earned my livelihood there, I would claim Germany as my home even as the tallest Gentile German might, and challenge him to shoot me or cast me in the dungeon; I would refuse to be expelled or to submit to discriminating treatment And for doing this I should not wait for the fellow Jews to join me in civil resistance, but would have confidence that in the end the rest were bound to follow my example If one Jew or all the Jews were to accept the prescription here offered, he or they cannot be worse off than now And suffering voluntarily undergone will bring them an inner strength and joy the calculated violence of Hitler may even result in a general massacre of the Jews by way of his first answer to the declaration of such hostilities But if the Jewish mind could be prepared for voluntary suffering, even the massacre I have imagined could be turned into a day of thanksgiving and joy that Jehovah had wrought deliverance of the race even at the hands of the tyrant For to the God-fearing, death has no terror " Source: MK Gandhi, "The Jews", Harijan, 26 November 1938 (The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi vol 74, p 240)
When Gandhi was criticised for these statements he responded in another article, "Some Questions Answered": "Friends have sent me two newspaper cuttings criticizing my appeal to the Jews The two critics suggest that in presenting non-violence to the Jews as a remedy against the wrong done to them, I have suggested nothing new What I have pleaded for is renunciation of violence of the heart and consequent active exercise of the force generated by the great renunciation " Source: M K Gandhi, "Some Questions Answered", Harijan, 17 December 1938 (The Collected Works ofMahatma Gandhi vol 74, pp 297-298)         [ Links ]
Anticipating a possible attack on India by Japan during World War II, Gandhi recommended satyagraha:
"... there should be unadulterated non-violent non-cooperation, and if the whole of India responded and unanimously offered it, I should show that, without shedding a single drop of blood, Japanese arms - or any combination of arms - can be sterilized That involves the determination of India not to give quarter on any point whatsoever and to be ready to risk loss of several million lives But I would consider that cost very cheap and victory won at that cost glorious That India may not be ready to pay that price may be true I hope it is not true, but some such price must be paid by any country that wants to retain its independence After all, the sacrifice made by the Russians and the Chinese is enormous, and they are ready to risk all The same could be said of the other countries also, whether aggressors or defenders The cost is enormous Therefore, in the non-violent technique I am asking India to risk no more than other countries are risking and which India would have to risk even if she offered armed resistance " Source: MK Gandhi, "Non-Violent Non-Cooperation", Harijan, 24 May 1942, p 167 (The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi vol 82, p 286; interview conducted 16 May 1942)         [ Links ]
All accessed at http://en wikipedia org/wiki/Satyagraha#cite note-16
43 R Bernstein, Memory Against Forgetting (Viking, London, 1999), p 232         [ Links ]
44 M P Naicker, "From Gandhi to Mandela In Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the Formation of the NIC by Mahatma Gandhi", Sechaba, 3, 5, May 1969, in L Naidoo, "Don't Mourn, Mobilise! A Biography of the late M P Naicker", unpublished manuscript, pp 57-59
45 Post, 4 September 1960
46 M Fullard, "State Repression in the 1960s", in The Road to Democracy in South Africa I (1960-1970), (Zebra Press, Cape Town, 2004), pp 341-390         [ Links ]
47 Meer, Fortunate Man, p 225
48 Meer, Fortunate Man, pp 223-224
49 N Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom (Abacus, London, 1994), p 433         [ Links ]
50 Leader, 18 November 1977
51 Leader, 16 December 1977
52 Raman, "Being Indian the South African Way", p 202
53 G Runkle, "Is Violence Always Wrong?", The Journal of Politics, 38, 2, May 1976, pp 367-389         [ Links ]
54 See Seidman, "Blurred Lines: Nonviolence in South Africa", pp 166-168; S Zunes, "The Role of Non-Violent Action in the Downfall of Apartheid", The Journal of Modern African Studies, 37, 1, 1999, pp 137-169        [ Links ]

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