The Society had taken an interest in South Africa after the war with the Boers had highlighted the position of the black Africans there. The Society joined in campaigns against Chinese Coolie labor in South Africa in the early century. Later, the Society fought for the rights of native laborers in the diamond mines. One issue that tested them severely was the proposal for reserved lands for natives. Philanthropists liked the idea of protecting the natives from exploitation, but the Native Lands’ Act passed in 1914 robbed them of much of the best land, reducing the Natives to the status of helots working in mines, returning to reserved areas. When the early African National Congress campaigned against the Act, the Society used its influence to strong-arm their delegates to accept it in London.
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