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Basutoland in Transition

    Naturevolume 135page1028 (1935) | Download Citation



    FUNDAMENTAL changes in the life and economy of the natives of Basutoland are foreshadowed by the report (Cmd. 4907. H.M. Stationery Office) of the Commission, of which Sir Alan Pirn is chairman, appointed by the Secretary of the Dominions to inquire into the financial and economic position of the country. The recommendations are drastic and affect almost every aspect of native life. The gravity of the financial situation, which dictated the appointment of the Committee in the first instance, shows no sign of alleviation, and even in the improbable contingency that the proposals are entirely set aside, the force of circumstances alone, it would seem, will bring about disastrous changes which will lead to the breakdown of native culture and the system of administration. The spirit of independence and pride of race characteristic of the Basuto people should be preserved at all costs as the essential condition of their future progress. Their spirit is explicitly recognised in the Report as a dominant factor in the problem of reform; but it is pointed out that, unless rightly directed, it may prove an obstacle in the way of advance towards the goal the Commission has in view, the creation of a real system of ‘indirect rule’. In the multiplicity of topics discussed and of ameliorative measures suggested, this is the major issue. While the financial situation of the Protectorate has undoubtedly complicated its political future, the internal situation and the formulation of a settled administrative policy which will afford opportunity for the development and utilisation of the admittedly favourable traits in native character and culture must obviously be a prior consideration to that of the eventual transfer of responsibility to the Union of South Africa.

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