South Africa granted a measure of self rule to several black enclaves. This did not satisfy world opposition to apartheid, but that does not mean there was not some achievement during the 17 years of existence. There was also complications when they were forced back in to the new South Africa. So slip on your smoking jacket, fill your pipe, take your first sip of your adult beverage, and sit back in your most comfortable chair. Welcome to todays offering from The Philatelist.
I do like stamps that show off otherwise unknown industry in far off places. Here we have a plastic bag factory. There must be a lot of those all over the world but I have never seen any. This issue also had stamps for a lady’s hosiery factory and a place that spray painted metal beds. Economic activity in the Bop, as it was unofficially known, is more remembered for platinum mines and the Sun City Resort, neither of which was part of the stamp issue. I am glad they showed more obscure endeavors. It does a good job of communicating that there is more going on than you know.
Todays stamp is issue A36, a 15 South African cent stamp issued by the semi independent Tswana people homeland of Bophuthatswana on October 25th, 1985. It was part of a 21 stamp issue in various denominations showing industry. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth 35 cents.
The Bop got its independence in 1977. It was a string of disconnected enclaves. It had a black government including a tribal chief, Lucas Mangope, as an elected President. No country recognized the black South African homelands under UN pressure to oppose Apartheid. The UN worried that recognizing the black homelands meant also recognizing white ruled South Africa. The reality was that the Bop had dealings with neighboring Botswana and Israel through De Beers. The homeland was better situated than many African areas with revenue from platinum and other mines. They also took advantage of their independence to open the Sun City Resort and Casino that provided revenue and much employment. Gambling was otherwise illegal in South Africa and Sun City was an easy drive from several large South African cities. It was open to white and black.
The revenue saw Bop build a large civil service and police. This added complication when white rule was coming to an end in early 90s South Africa. The intention was that the homelands would take part in the first multiracial South African elections and then rejoin new South Africa. People in the Bop including the civil service and President Mangope wondered what that meant for them, their jobs and their pensions. The ANC stroked the fears and the Civil Service went on strike. Mangope ordered his police to put down the strike and announced that they intended to skip the election and stay independent. The police mostly sided with the strikers. Mangope then invited in Right wing armed Boers to beef up what remained of his police. This was a big mistake as the police were not willing to work with them and the resulting looting was enough to bring in the South African police and end the Bop government. Interesting the looting was more aimed at the large shopping mall than the government buildings. Mangope was replaced in the interim by the South African Ambassador.
In modern South Africa, Mangope formed a small conservative. black political party that represented the Tswana tribe, He died in 2018 and his statue still stands in his hometown. It had been moved there from the old Bop government complex in 1994. So far at least, it is still okay to remember fondly the history of the Bop and it’s President.
Well my drink is empty and I will pour another to all the small forgotten factories that provide so much needed employment. More stamp issues like this please. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting