South Africa in those days consisted of four governmental units–Natal, the Orange Free State, the Transvaal, and the Cape Colony. The first and last of these were ruled by Britain, but the Orange Free State and the Transvaal were independent republics, ruled by Dutch settlers known as Boers, who had come to the region in the previous century and had a long history of antagonism with the more powerful British. The Indian population was concentrated in Natal, and consisted largely of unskilled laborers working on sugar and coffee plantations. There was also a growing merchant class within the community, however–made up largely of Muslims from India's west coast– whose rapidly increasing numbers caused concern both to the Boers and the English merchants. South Africa was already showing that tendency toward racist policies that
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