compound, noun

English, Indian English, Malay, Dutch, Portuguese, French, Show more Special sense of general English compound ‘the enclosure within which a residence or factory (of Europeans) stands, in India, China, and the East generally’ (OED). The ultimate etymology is disputed: originally Indian English, probably adaptation of Malay kampong, kampung enclosure, village (Dutch orthography kampoeng). Earlier theories were that the word was an adaptation of Portuguese campanha or French campagne country, or of Portuguese campo field, camp.
1. A (fenced or walled area enclosing) single-sex living quarters in which migrant labourers, usually miners, live for the duration of their contracts. Cf. hostel sense 1 b. Also attributive.
1886 G.A. Farini Through Kalahari Desert 28He..goes to seek for some Kaffir friends of his at the mines, and finds his way into a compound. Arrested for being there without permission,..he..eventually gravitates to the prison.
1892 The Jrnl 15 Sept. 2A large new compound, built by the Nigel G.M. Company, a good solid structure built of stone and is capable of housing over 800 kafirs.
1895 A.B. Balfour 1200 Miles in Waggon 67The Kaffirs who work in the mines are kept in compounds during the whole time they engage to work in the mines, never being allowed to go outside, for fear of diamond stealing.
1903 Ilanga 10 Apr. 3I went over to the kafir store in the compound of the City and Suburban Mine, Johannesburg.
1910 J. Runcie Idylls by Two Oceans 38He went to the Falls, saw the Chinese compounds, saw how they washed diamonds.
1918 H. Moore Land of Good Hope 18The native workers, at this and all South African mines, live in ‘compounds’: huge enclosures surrounded by high walls.
1926 M. Nathan S. Afr. from Within 298Inspection of a mine ‘compound’ enables one to compare the life of the natives under a system of control with that led by them in the freedom of their kraals.
1936 Williams & May I Am Black 120The compound was a large square around which were the sleeping houses of the black miners, arranged in long, low dormitories in which twenty or thirty men had their sleeping bunks.
1949 J.S. Franklin This Union 184The work on our farms and in our gold mines and in our industries would come to a complete standstill without the Native. And so he is to come in for a period or periods unaccompanied by his women-folk and his family, and he is to be herded in compounds.
1952 Drum Mar. 7We were led into a compound surrounded by a high stone wall, given a blanket each and told to sleep in one of the low, dirty, mud-walled, long rooms by a black foreman.
1974 A. Fugard Dimetos & Two Early Plays (1977) 93There’s no women in those compounds and they don’t let you out.
1977 J. Sikakane Window on Soweto 12Compound shops were also provided for African miners to buy food and clothing thus further restricting their movement to the mining premises only.
1980 M. Lipton in Optima Vol.29 No.2, 99Housing men in barracks or compounds, under close surveillance, for the duration of their contracts, originated in the 1880s on the diamond mines at Kimberley.
1989 L. Vogelman in Weekly Mail 20 Jan. 18Compound living deprived them of their privacy, adequate food, comfortable sleeping conditions, appropriate living space, and heterosocial and heterosexual relationships.
1991 Sunday Times 10 Nov. 28We tend to prefer the pleasure of word games to the pain of acknowledging what a century of neglect has done to our urban African population, the same conniving mentality that transforms locations into ‘townships’, compounds into ‘hostels’, and shebeens into ‘taverns’.
2. combinations Mining.
compound manager, the official supervisor of a mine compound;
compound system, the system of housing and controlling migrant labourers in especially constructed, enclosed living quarters.
1892 J.E. Ritchie Brighter S. Afr. 209He commenced a new career as compound-manager for the great diamond company at Kimberley known as De Beers.
1908 D. Blackburn Leaven 205Sidney Dane, Compound Manager of the New Yankee Gold Mining Company, Limited was..a Natalian.
1911 T.L. Carter in Best of S. Afr. Short Stories (1991) 64Bacon Sothern, the compound manager,..passed as an expert in the Chinese language, and..had been engaged to superintend the yellow men at this mine.
1946 Tribal Natives & Trade Unionism (Tvl Chamber of Mines) 6All matters affecting Native employees as mine residents are under the administration of the compound manager of each mine.
1968 L.G. Green Full Many Glorious Morning 26Two hundred mine natives were in danger of starvation. The resourceful compound manager sent them out into the veld to collect locusts.
1986 P. Maylam Hist. of Afr. People 147The compounds were tightly controlled. Each fell under the authority of a white compound manager who maintained discipline and kept pressure on workers to carry out their shifts.
1887 J.W. Matthews Incwadi Yami 218The enormous cost of the searching and detective departments will to my mind be done away with if the ‘compound system’ inaugurated by the Central Co. in the Kimberley mine can be carried out by other companies.
1891 R. Smith Great Gold Lands 77This searching system appears to have been ineffectual. For what is called the ‘Compound System’ was adopted in preference to the other by the great mining companies.
1913 C. Pettman Africanderisms 128Compound system, The requirements of the labourers confined in the compounds are met within the compound, provisions being made for the supply of all necessaries, even to hospital and church accommodation.
1936 Cambridge Hist. of Brit. Empire VIII. 778Great temptations were offered to the natives by illicit diamond buyers to steal and sell part of the stones found, the losses being estimated at from £500,000 to £1,000,00 each year before the introduction of the compound system by De Beers in the ’eighties.
1948 A. Paton Cry, Beloved Country 80The compound system..brings men to the towns without their wives and children, and breaks up the tribe and the house and the man.
1952 Drum Mar. 4It is impossible to prevent abuses of the employment of contract labour with the accompanying compound system.
1986 Frontline June 20Out of the needs of the mines sprang the mine compound system, rigidly controlled migrant labour, and all the rest of it.
1989 Reader’s Digest Illust. Hist. of S. Afr. 357The AMWU called for regular wage increases..and the total abolition of the compound system.
A (fenced or walled area enclosing) single-sex living quarters in which migrant labourers, usually miners, live for the duration of their contracts.
Hence compound transitive verb rare, to confine to a compound; compounded participial adjective; compounding verbal noun.
1892 The Jrnl 6 Sept. 2We suppose..that nothing short of compounding the natives will prevent the drunkenness and violence that are now so scandalously rife.
1897 H. Raymond B.I. Barnato 83I would like to say a word about..the compounding of natives. The compound system..has been a very good thing for the moral and social well-being of Kimberley.
1989 Reader’s Digest Illust. Hist. of S. Afr. 175The ‘solution’ they hit upon was to house Africans in barracks, or closed compounds...Many shopkeepers objected, saying that this deprived them of legitimate custom. Rhodes..pressed on, placating the Chamber of Commerce with assurances that the mining companies would buy all that they required for the compounded Africans from the Griqualand West dealers only.
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