The union of South Africa that took place in the year 1910 led to the development of the present-
day Republic of South Africa. It happened on 31 st May 1910 when the natal, the Orange River,
the Transvaal, and the cape colonies were unified. The unification also involved the territories
that belonged to the Orange Free State and the South African Republic. The Union of South
Africa became a signatory of the Treaty of Versailles, which made the union be one of the
members that founded the League of Nations. 1
How the 1910 union of South Africa contributed to the emergence of a nation
The reconstruction process involved the creation of efficient administrative structures, and a
good relationship was created between the mining capitalists in the country with the Afrikaner
politicians. They helped in the improvement of the economy, particularly through the
consolidation of the economic dominance of gold. The reconstruction also ensured the
prevalence of the settle minorities at the expense of the black majority in the country, which
made the whites to continue ruling the Africans in the territory. The leaders came up with a new
constitution that barred the Africans from political power. The black societies were then taxed
more heavily and policed in such a way that their freedom was curtailed to a big extent. The
policies that were constituted during reconstruction led to the development of racial segregation
at the expense of the black majorities. The incidences of racial discrimination intensified after
1910, which had a toll on the lives of the people in South Africa. Both the Afrikaner and the
Black Nationalism made use of the new political vehicles. The fight against the employees and
1 Thompson, Leonard Monteath. A history of South Africa. Yale University Press, 2001. P. 110-153
the government by the Afrikaner republic diehards and the syndicalist white workers which led
to the Rand revolt that took place in 1922. 2
During reconstruction, High Commissioner Milner moved his headquarters, which were at the
time located in Cape time, taking them to Pretoria. The plan to fill the Transvaal with the British
settlers failed, and in so doing, the feelings of the Afrikaner nationalism were intensified.
Opposition to the Milnerism way of leadership emerged with the formation of political groups
that were led by the former Boer generals: J.B.M. (Barry) Hertzog, Jan Smuts, and Louis Botha.
The Afrikaner parties then won the elections that were carried out in Transvaal in the year 1907,
which meant that there was some progress in the quest to have a free country that would be
governed by the Africans.
Milner’s political design failed to take shape, but his plan for economic and social engineering
was successful. He managed to recover the economy and to restore the profitability of the mines.
Milner then lowered the rail rates and the tariffs that were being charged on the imports. He then
made sure that he got some free labor to the mines by importing 60000 indentured Chinese
indentured laborers as a result of the resistance of the black migrants to undergo salary cuts.
However, his experience of importing the Chinese laborers to work on the mines sparked some
political outcries in the Transvaal and in Britain. Some of his economic principles are still being
applied in the country to date. The bargaining power of the black workers was then cut down as a
result of the competition. The Victory of the Afrikaner party made the whites to promote the
reconciliation between the Afrikaans and the English speaking whites. 3
2 Thompson, Leonard Monteath. A history of South Africa. Yale University Press, 2001. P. 110-153
3 Thompson, Leonard Monteath. A history of South Africa. Yale University Press, 2001. P. 110-153
During the union of South Africa, most Africans in South Africa identified with the British
because the latter assured them of equality. However, when the Treaty of Vereeniging was
signed, such privileges were done away with. Political protests were then stimulated among the
blacks, which were a major step towards the formation of a permanent black political
During the Union of South Africa, the foundation for political organizations that could favor the
blacks was made, which was important for the development of the current South African
country. It also made a foundation for the fight for independence that would make it possible for
the Africans to form their own government.
4 Thompson, Leonard Monteath. A history of South Africa. Yale University Press, 2001. P. 110-153
Thompson, Leonard Monteath. A history of South Africa. Yale University Press, 2001.