Port Elizabeth is located on the eastern cape of South Africa. It is known for its
beautiful beaches, but also has a rich political history during the reign of
apartheid. Several boycotts, riots and arrests took place there.
In the 1950’s world of “MASTER HAROLD”...and the boys, Port
Elizabeth was one of the last major urban areas of South Africa to
remain relatively open to black South Africans.
Conditions worsened in rural areas due to drought and increased land
shortages as the years wore on. As a result, Port Elizabeth became overcrowded with poor
black South Africans, many of whom lived deplorably. Finding housing was
difficult which most likely explains why Sam and Willie had to live in the
boarding house owned by Hally’s
parents. By the end of the 1940s, the area was home to South Africa's
poorest black population, and had become a hotbed for diseases like
tuberculosis. The City Council attempted to deal with the issue of overcrowding
by demolishing the shanty residences of black South Africans. In 1949, black
South Africans choosing to move to Port
Elizabeth were forced to register their presence with
the municipality. By 1950, these regulations had been implemented for much of Port Elizabeth's "local" (those who were from
the neighboring Cape Town
province) population as well.