George Bernard Shaw, playwright, author and social reformer visited South Africa with his wife, Charlotte, for the first time in 1932 to boost the newly formed Fabian Society. He frequently visited the beach in Muizenberg. About South Africa he wrote to Lady Astor: “For sunshine, scenery, bathing and motoring, the place is unbeatable. In Cape Town I did a stupendous one and three quarter hour lecture on Russia – I also made the first broadcast relayed all over the Union of South Africa.” In the broadcast he said he felt as if he “was in the worst kind of slave state … dependent on the labour of others not of my colour…” After having been received like a celeb this rather soured his relations with his hosts. It was also rich coming from someone who wrote on 22 May 1935 in the Manchester Guardian during the anthropogenic famine which killed several millions in the Soviet Union: “… we saw no evidence of economic slavery, privation, unemployment and cynical despair of betterment. Everywhere we saw a hopeful and enthusiastic working class … “.
Continuing his stay in South Africa and on his way to embark for England from Port
Elizabeth, he mistook his accelerator for the clutch and ended up in a ditch in Knysna where he had to stay a month extra to recover.
Here is a poignant photo of the Nobel Prize winner in front of the Muizenberg beach huts, the newly constructed Boyes Drive visible in the background. (Glenn Babb)