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South African History Response Paper One

South African History Response Paper One


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Published by: kathleen on Jan 21, 2010
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Kathleen Fitzgerald When the Nationalist Party won the election of 1948, the party leaders who gained

governance over South Africa were those who had an “alliance with the Afrikaner Party of N.C. Havenga, which [were] essentially those who remained faithful to Hertzog’s legacy.”1 This Nationalist win ushered in the beginning of a new legal age— that of apartheid (lawful ‘separateness’). The apartheid age was a time in which many violent actions and oppressive laws were forced against the black Africans. [[[use quotes from “Mine Boy” or some other personal victim account of apartheid]]] In order to truly understand the ruling class’s motivation for enacting these violent legal measures during apartheid, it is necessary to first comprehend the historical journey that brought the ruling party—the Afrikaners—to that point. By following the BoerAfrikanerNationalist struggles, it becomes clear that the racist ideology which motivated Afrikaner hatred towards the black Africans had existed since the seventeenth century. The forefathers of Hertzog’s Afrikaner radical ideology had always been driven by their biblically-based belief in white supremacy and God’s destined (Manifest Destiny-style) plan for his “Elect” people. But while these Afrikaner predecessors (the Boers) had never hesitated to use violence or force against the black Africans, it was only after living under British rule for over one hundred years that this soon-to-rule Dutch cohort truly understood the value of legal subordination— that is, they recognized how the British (whose comprised a minority of South Africa’s white population) had used laws to force the majority of dissenting whites (the Afrikaners and their sympathizers) to submit to their imperialist, political desires. Thus, the Afrikaners realized they too could utilize a system of laws to subjugate the black majority

Ross, p. 114.


of South Africa to their plans. Furthermore, the British imperial rule also exacerbated the Afrikaner feelings of animosity toward the black Africans. British lawmakers enacted official measures that stripped the Afrikaner of his freedom to deal with blacks however he wished, and the radical Afrikaners accused the British of colluding with the black Africans in order to subordinate the Dutch. Afrikaner frustration with these laws quickly turned to angry rage after the concentration camp atrocities of the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902), from which the Afrikaner people took horrific images and stories to support their claims against the ‘bullying’ British. These long-standing feelings of persecution added to the base racist ideology that the Afrikaners had always possessed. This anger and hatred mixed with their newfound appreciation of legal force to create the perfect motivating palate for the 1948 Afrikaner-dominated South African government to ratify a violent, legalized form of racial insubordination—a form of government known as “apartheid.” From the very beginning of Dutch colonization in South Africa, the Boer/Afrikaner interpretation of the Bible led them to believe they were a part of God’s “Elect” or chosen people, and as such, that God expected them to ensure his plan for their dominance at any cost. By 1690, agricultural and political frustrations with the Cape rule drove settler farmers across the mountains and onto land that was previously that of the Khoikhoi peoples.2 These Dutch farmers immediately identified themselves with the Israelites, as both were distinctly identified as “God’s people,” who suffered in the wilderness, but were actively guided through a history of hardships by God.3 These
2 3

Ross, p. 25. Moodie, Intro., ix. Templin, p. 7 Even much later, in Rev. Coenraad Spoelstra’s 1897 sermond, he says: “Brothers & Sisters, there are repeated instances of the noteworthy similarities which exist between Israel’s history and the history of our land and people.”


Afrikaner predecessors “had confidence that they had a special mandate from God to possess the land, and that God was protecting their faith as well as testing it.”4 For the “Elect,” the first of these so-called “tests” had recently come in the form of the indigenous black African. The black Khoikhoi peoples had first tested “God’s plan” by refusing to supply the Cape colony with sufficient cattle in the earliest days of the Dutch colony. Within one decade of settlement, it became clear “that even under duress the Khoikhoi were unable or unwilling to supply the meat demanded by several thousand.”5 For the Dutch ancestors of the Afrikaner, this was not only intolerable to them, it was also most unacceptable in the eyes of the Almighty. After all, to them, the Bible seemed to support the white Elect’s claim that blacks should aid God’s chosen people as a subservient labor force. The Dutch viewed their Elect status as a guarantee that their culture would remain dominant in South Africa. 6 Since the black Africans were obviously not a part of the chosen people—due to dissimilarities in skin color, religion, and culture—then God must have intended for blacks to assist the “Elect” on their journey towards fulfillment of His Will. Consequently, the Boers saw the black African as a Son of Ham, “destined to be a hewer of wood and drawer of water for his white compatriot.”7 When the black Khoikhoi, however, refused to satisfy this intended role, the more radical of the Boers (who were also the predecessors of the Afrikaners) started to see the black Africans as a threat to God’s plan and their very own way of life. “Because of the divine election of
4 5

Templin, p. 19 Ross, p. 22. 6 Templin, p. 9. Understanding themselves to be God’s Elect people caused them to see cultural destiny as one which should dominate. Because black Africans did not possess the same European culture, it was obvious to the whites that the blacks were not to dominate, according to God’s Will. 7 Moodie, p. 245.


Afrikanerdom, anything threatening [the] Afrikaner…became demonic.”8 Thus, the more radical members of The Elect began to develop a fearful disdain for their unfriendly African neighbors.9 This disdain quickly manifested itself into anti-black violence. The VOC “frequently, and with great brutality, would maintain the authority of the free over the [black] slaves.”10 And later, after the Dutch Boers had forcibly stripped the Khoikhoi of their land in order to make room for farms, the Khoikhoi retaliated by waging a guerilla war against the colonists, which included raiding and burning farmland, driving off the boersmen’s cattle, and often driving the herdsmen off their land.11 When this was done, however, the burgher militias known as commandos responded even more violently with the genocidal practice of ‘extirpatation,’ which they used secretly throughout the eighteenth century; this practice killed hundreds of San and led to many children being taken as de facto slaves.12 The Dutch streak of violence continued with Thus, even before the British imperial rule began in 1806, the Dutch ancestors of the radical Afrikaners were already utilizing violent force to ensure their God-given right to dominate the inferior black race.13 And “from the standpoint of the Afrikaner Christian, all seem[ed] extremely logical, biblical, and thoroughly justified.”14 However, for the most part, these Afrikaners had not really legalized their racially repressive practices. They simply used brute force. But in a modern world, brute force would not have
8 9

Ibid., p. 15. Ibid., p. 15 This disdain soon became fear of the black man and lasted for centuries. “Fear of the black man was everpresent in Afrikaner consciousness.” 10 Ross, p. 23. 11 Ibid. 12 Ibid. 13 Moodie, p. 247. For Afrikaners, there was no need to “argue white superiority—they assumed it.” 14 Templin, p. 296.


worked, if the Afrikaners ever wanted South Africa to be seen by the western world as a civilized nation—and the Afrikaners desperately wanted this to happen. Only after the British imperial rule did the learn/seem to understand how they could use the a smokescreen legal system to enforce their political agenda.

While the Afrikaner ideology gave them a foundation for their racially-driven ideas, the British supplied them with enough of a unifying persecution complex and enough respect for laws that the Afrikaners were then able to turn their racist beliefs into an oppressive system of laws, reactionary, persecuting, and violent in its nature.


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