Sugar and Settlers: A History of the Natal South Coast

From a wealth of archival sources, Du eruditely narrates what is arguably the seminal chronicle of the South Coast’s development. He comprehensively unravels the kaleidoscope of personalities and unpacks the various interests that impact this otherwise parochial backwater. Black Africans, white settlers, Indian labourers competed for the agrarian “playing field” that was dominated by sugar cultivation. – Dr Scott Everett Couper -Author of Albert Luthuli: Bound by Faith

Duncan Du Bois provides a detailed and fascinating history of a hitherto much-neglected part of what was the colony of Natal. Based primarily on original archival research, he traces the southward advance of the white settler frontier settler and its sugar-based economy from Isipingo to the  Mzimkulu river and, without the sugar engine, to the Mtamvuna.

This study highlights challenges faced by the settler enterprise which were not unique to that particular region, but crucial in shaping history. These included rugged geography, slow infrastructural development, insufficient investment capital and heavy demand for labour to meet the needs of plantation agriculture. The settler economy’s relations with the reliance on indigenous African people and imported Indian workers, therefore, constitute further dimensions of the book.

As such it is a valuable addition to the history of white settlement and its impact, both human and environmental, on southern Africa – W.R.(Bill) Guest – Professor Emeritus Historical Studies, University of KwaZulu Natal, Pietermaritzburg

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