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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Liquor and Leadership: Temperance, Drunkenness and the African Petty Bourgeoisie in South Africa
Author:Cobley, Alan G.
Periodical:South African Historical Journal
Geographic term:South Africa
alcohol policy
History and Exploration
Politics and Government
Health and Nutrition
Abstract:The brewing of many forms of alcohol is an ancient tradition among African people. In Bantu-speaking societies it was seen as an essential substance in both dietary and ritual terms. By contrast, European attitudes to alcohol in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were increasingly negative. A powerful temperance movement emerged which was dedicated to combat what it saw as the harmful moral and social effects of alcohol. The emerging class of Christianized, educated Africans on the mission stations of the eastern Cape, Natal, and elsewhere in South Africa, was caught between these contending pressures. On the one hand, temperance bodies, in particular the Independent Order of True Templars (IOTT), were supported energetically by many prominent African leaders. The temperance movement can even be seen as one of the 'precursors' of African nationalism. During the 1950s the Congress Youth League's commitment to high moral standards, personal integrity and self-discipline became the credo of the ANC itself. On the other hand, the African petty bourgeoisie was subject to the same pressures which drove members of the African working class into hard drinking. The author offers examples of the destructive role of alcohol among chiefs, and among ANC, Communist Party of South Africa, and trade unions leaders. Notes, ref.