Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 06.28.18While the South African War had a significant effect on the Scots in southern Africa in terms of their sense of imperial identity (see previous post), it also had a direct effect on Scottish ethnic associational culture there: it served to boost the idea of federation. First proposed in the early twentieth century, federation was framed as a unifying movement in what was a fractured society. Perhaps as one might expect, however, association members were more concerned with bringing their own lives back on track after the war, and hence no action was taken immediately.

The outbreak of the First World War provided another impetus, however, and the Federated Caledonian Society of South Africa was eventually established in 1918. Initially, it operated only in the Transvaal, but it soon extended its reach when associations from other parts of South Africa requested affiliation.  In the post-war period federation gave stability to associational endeavours, and helped consolidate Scottish activities in a large area.

One past Chief of the Federation was Stewart Raeburn. Originally of Macduff, he spent his early life in Aberdeen before making his way to South Africa in 1902. He initially resided in Cape Town and Krugersdorp, but then went to Benoni in the Transvaal to join the New Fleinfontein Mine, becoming ‘one of the leading figures’ in the district. Raeburn, like many other Scots involved in the Federation, was keen to keep alive the memory of pioneer Scots in Africa, facilitating initiatives that would aid in that endeavour. Particularly important in this respect was the memory of David Livingstone. Hence, in the early 1930s, the Federation was actively involved in raising funds for a monument—a statue of Livingstone—near Victoria Falls.

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