Cry of Secession

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"The Union [of South Africa] has failed. We have not been able to build a nation. Let us accept the divorce, end the dogfight." Thus, last week, spoke Heaton Nicholls, 77, grand old man of British South Africa. A lifelong champion of Empire who carried the white man's burden as soldier (on India's North West Frontier), colonial administrator and judge (among the Papuan cannibals), Nicholls was alarmed by Prime Minister Daniel Malan's Boer victory at the polls (TIME, April 27). Heaton's proposal: the predominantly British province of Natal should secede from the Union.

The size of South Carolina, sugar-growing Natal is a lush land where 250,000 Britons rule over 2,000,000 Zulus and 300,000 Indians. Its largest city, Durban (pop. 400,365), has Miami-size beach hotels, slums worse than Manhattan's, and a shopping center that resembles London's West End, except for Zulu ricksha boys in painted cowhorns and feathers.

Heaton Nicholls' plan is for a federal South Africa, split int01) a Boer Republic in Transvaal, Orange Free State and part of Cape Province, 2) a British dominion in Natal and the rest of the Cape. Fire-eating veterans of the anti-Malan Torch Commando back Nicholls to the hilt, but the leaders of the Opposition United Party call his scheme "preposterous," and declare that a British attempt at secession might risk a second Boer War.

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