The Black Man's Place in South Africa eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 102 pages of information about The Black Man's Place in South Africa.

Professor R.R.  Marett in his handbook on Anthropology says, in discussing the subject of race, “You will see it stated that the size of the brain cavity will serve to mark off one race from another.  This is extremely doubtful, to put it mildly.  No doubt the average European shows some advantage in this respect as compared, say, with the Bushmen.  But then you have to write off so much for their respective types of body, a bigger body going in general with a bigger head, that in the end you find yourself comparing mere abstractions.  Again, the European may be the first to cry off on the ground that comparisons are odious; for some specimens of Neanderthal man, in sheer size of brain cavity, are said to give points to any of our modern poets and politicians....  Nor, if the brain itself be examined after death, and the form and number of its convolutions compared, is this criterion of hereditary brain-power any more satisfactory.  It might be possible in this way to detect the difference between an idiot and a person of normal intelligence, but not the difference between a fool and a genius."[10]

In his book, “The Human Body,” Dr. Keith, in dealing with racial characters, begs his readers to break away from the common habit of speaking and thinking of various races as high and low.  “High and low,” he says, “refers to civilisation; it does not refer to the human body."[11]

The foregoing authoritative opinions serve to show that the Bantu, as compared with other races, labour under no apparent physiological disabilities to hinder them in the process of mental development.  Let us now consider in the light of modern psychology upon first-hand and reliable evidence the allegation of mental inferiority that is constantly brought against these people.


The white man has conquered the earth and all its dark-skinned people, and when he thinks of his continued success in the struggle for supremacy he feels that he has a right to be proud of himself and his race.  He looks upon the black man as the fool of the human family who has failed in every way, whereas he, the lord of creation, has achieved the impossible, and this comparison which is so favourable to himself naturally leads him to set up achievement as the sole test of ability.  If asked why the African Native has never accomplished anything at all comparable with the feats of the European or the Asiatic the average white man will answer, without hesitation, that it is because the Native has always lacked the necessary capacity.

The average white man has a more or less vague notion that his own proud position at the top of human society is the result of the continuous and assiduous use of the brain by his forefathers in the struggle for existence under the rigorous conditions of a northern climate during thousands of generations by which constant exercise the mental faculty of his race grew and increased till it became, in course of time, a heritable intellectual endowment, whereas the Natives of Africa by failing always to make use of whatever brain power they might have been blessed with in the beginning have suffered a continuous loss of mental capacity.

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The Black Man's Place in South Africa from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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