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This seminar explores the strategies taken up by black farmers to re-acquire, secure and
manage their property in the early 20th century. In particular, it focuses on how black South Africans navigated credit networks in order to invest in land-buying syndicates. Credit practices are often overlooked in discussions about property – both present land reform debates and in histories of land struggle. Yet credit is key to understanding how black South Africans developed forms of property that contested the dominant property system established under the Union and apartheid governments. The towns of Driefontein and Daggakraal in Mpumalanga serve as my main case study. In 1912, black farmers came from around the country to buy into a collective property scheme set up by ANC founder Pixley ka Seme’s Native Farmers’ Association (NFA). Residents of these towns fought an intensive and ultimately successful battle against forced removals in the 1980 – and many of the descendants of the NFA land buyers still own land there today.

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