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The Interrelation of Colour


By 1969, international public opinion had begun to turn against the apartheid policies of the white minority regime in South Africa. This included leaders of the international scout movement who had originally been relatively sympathetic to the South African scout authorities' claim that they had no choice but to respect their government's racial policies on the grounds that the Second Scout Law ordered them to be loyal. This statement on the "Interrelation of Colour" was a senior European scout official's attempt to portray the four segregated South African scout "sections" (European, African, Coloured, Indian) as separate but equal. His reference to "race purity and race pride" as virtues is indicative of the attitudes of the South African scout leadership during this period. Also note that while the European, Coloured, and Indian sections all followed essentially the same policies, the African organization had a separate training curriculum "better suited to the background of the African boy." This shows that the South African Scout Association still did not believe that Africans could become fully-fledged scouts or join "modern" South African society on equal terms.

This source is a part of the African Scouting (20th c.) teaching module.


The preamble to the Constitutions of the four Associations within the Boy Scouts of South Africa makes clear the movement's policy in [racial matters]. It reads:

Here then is the true conception of the Inter-relation of colour. Complete uniformity in ideals; absolute equality in the paths of knowledge and culture, equal opportunity for those who strive; equal admiration for those who achieve; in matters social and racial a separate path, each pursuing his own race purity and race pride; equality in things spiritual, agreed divergence in things physical and material.

. . .

Each of the race groups has its own Association, with its own Chief Scout's Commissioner and Headquarters Council. These Councils are empowered to make their own plans and formulate their own programmes, subject only to the overriding control of the Chief Scout, on matters of policy.

. . .

The European, Coloured and Indian sections have, despite their option to differentiate, adhered to a common form of training for boys. The African section on the other hand has exercised its option to devise a programme better suited to the background of the African boy.


Wilson, G.C. Gillies, SAHQ Commissioner for Training. "A Brief Guide to the Aims History, Principles, and Methods of the Boy Scouts of South Africa." Position paper. South Africa, 1969. South Africa Scout Association Archives, University of Capetown, BC 956/A/CSIC, 1969. Annotated by Tim Parsons.

How to Cite This Source

"The Interrelation of Colour," in World History Commons, [accessed February 22, 2024]