Some Early Black Doctors–a Very Politically Active Cohort, 1941-1954 (Clinical Practice)

Some Early Black Doctors--a Very Politically Active Cohort, 1941-1954 (Clinical Practice)

Between 1948 and 1954 increasing government intimidation along with an accompanying intensification of protest politics resulted in older, moderate medical leaders withdrawing from the political frontline. Younger doctors were more radical and their continued political activism led to vigorous repression by the apartheid state, and eventually to scarce medical skills being lost to the people of South Africa. Although an occasional individual continued to study in Europe, World War II made this almost insuperably difficult. Those who did so might have started their studies earlier, like James Stewart Sililo, who qualified LRCP and LRCS Edinburgh and Glasgow in 1944, before setting up practice as the first black doctor in Pietermaritzburg. The second black doctor in the town was Mahomed Motala (1921-2005.) He was born in Dundee, but matriculated in 1938 at Sastri College before studying medicine in Bombay, and qualifying in 1947. His practice in Pietermaritzburg drew patients from surrounding black townships where he became well known for not charging indigent patients. This awareness of his patients’ deprivation led to political activism. Motala revived the branch of the local Natal Indian Congress, and became chairman of the branch, an office he utilised to develop friendly relations with the ANC. In December 1955 the government charged him with treason and he was fortunate that his medical partners kept the practice going for several years until the treason charges were dropped in 1959.

Some Early Black Doctors--a Very Politically Active Cohort, 1941-1954 (Clinical Practice)

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