Special Services Battalion of the Lands: the Pongola Irrigation Settlement as social, architectural and cultural history

Whelan, Deborah (2016) Special Services Battalion of the Lands: the Pongola Irrigation Settlement as social, architectural and cultural history. In: Historial Association of South Africa Biennial Conference, 22-24 June 2016, Vereeniging, North West University.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Presentation)
Item Status:Live Archive

Abstract

Following on similar projects in colonial and Union Period Natal in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Pongola Irrigation Settlement was originally conceived of in the late 1920s as a means by which the Pongola River could be channelled to irrigate more land for farming, and at the same time provide a vehicle for young men from poor backgrounds to be exposed to farming and broaden the opportunities for access to agricultural production. These men were part of what was known as the ‘Special Services Battalion of the Lands’ and operated on paramilitary principles.

At the same time, the construction of this major water project in a remote area was challenged by logistical recourse to the Secretary of Lands in Pretoria, since Pongola was located in the Transvaal and that this was a national water project, and the reality of accessing materials for construction from the closest railhead which was at Golela, situated south of the river in Natal. In the middle was the Superintendent of Lands, who acted as co-ordinator for the project.

This paper will use the Pongola Irrigation Settlement to present an interface between social, architectural and cultural histories in order to confirm multi-disciplined approaches towards understanding the complexities of our current context in a post-apartheid South Africa.

Keywords:irrigation settlement, social engineering, agricultural expansion
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V253 Southern African History
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Architecture & Design > School of Architecture & Design (Architecture)
ID Code:29033
Deposited On:15 Nov 2017 07:30

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