An African American in South Africa: the travel notes of by Ralph J. Bunche

By Ralph J. Bunche

Ralph Bunche, who bought the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950, traveled to South Africa for 3 months in 1937. His notes, that have been skillfully compiled and annotated by means of historian Robert R. Edgar, offer targeted insights on a segregated society.

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Extra resources for An African American in South Africa: the travel notes of Ralph J. Bunche, 28 September 1937-1 January 1938

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It set down three conditions for accepting applicants: "1) that the permit would be temporary only. 2) that he or she would be attached to some organization preferably in the hands of white people. "63 For instance, government officials delayed granting a visa to Max Yergan until the Ghanaian educator, James Aggrey, interceded to assure them he was a safe risk. 64 Although Bunche's permit issue had been resolved, the problem of transportation to South Africa was not. The Holland-Africa Line, the shipping company he had booked for his trip to South Africa, had already complicated his plans by requiring him to put down a deposit for a return fare in case he did not get a landing permit and immigration officials turned him back in Cape Town.

59 Bunche was not the only African American who had to maneuver his way through a bureaucratic thicket to enter South Africa. " After the Anglo-Boer War, first the British and then the South African government strictly limited Page 18 the number of African Americans admitted into South Africa. 61 European missionaries reinforced this image. The Dutch Reformed Church Secretary for Mission, Rev. A. C. Murray, expressed a common sentiment: "American Negroes have done a great deal of harm to mission work and also politically here in South Africa.

Ethiopia's plight had aroused passionate outrage and concern in the African-American community. He contemplated taking a side trip to Ethiopia. Though Herskovits warned him, "though you might get in, getting out again would be something else,"52 Bunche decided against the tripnot because of the risks, but because it would reduce the amount of time he could spend elsewhere. Bunche unexpectedly had to devote a lot of energy in London to arranging permission to enter South Africa. He thought he had already Page 16 settled the issue when he arranged for a South African visa in Washington.

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