Afrikaner Nationalism Essays About Education

Afrikaner nationalism is a political ideology that was born in the late nineteenth century among Afrikaners in South Africa; it was strongly influenced by anti-British sentiments that grew strong among the Afrikaners, especially because of the Boer Wars.[1]

According to historian T. Dunbar Moodie, Afrikaner nationalism could be described as a kind of civil religion that combined the history of the Afrikaners, the formalised language (Afrikaans) and Afrikaner Calvinism as key symbols. A major proponent of the ideology was the secret Broederbond organisation and the National Party that ruled the country from 1948 to 1994.[2] Other organisations aligned with Afrikaner nationalist ideology were the Federation of Afrikaans Cultural Organisations (Federasie van Afrikaanse Kultuurvereniginge, FAK), the Institute for Christian National Education and the White Workers' Protection Association.[3]

Formulating the ideology[edit]

One of the first champions of Afrikaner nationalism was ordained minister Stephen Du Toit of the Dutch Reformed Church, who was also one of the founding members of the Broederbond as well as the publisher of Die Afrikaanse Patriot newspaper.[1] In his writings, Du Toit put forward the notion that Afrikaners were a distinct nationality with a fatherland (South Africa) and their own language (Afrikaans) and that the volk's destiny was to rule South Africa.[4]

Dutch Reformed Church[edit]

Religion, especially Afrikaner Calvinism, played an instrumental role in the development of Afrikaner nationalism and consequently the apartheid ideology. The Dutch Reformed Churches of South Africa were involved throughout the 18th century in a constant battle against modernism and modernity. They aligned with the conservative views of Abraham Kuyper, who emphasised God's authority over separate spheres of creation. These spheres, for example historical nations, had to be preserved and protected from liberalism and revolutionary ideologies.[5] Kuyper also rejected the Enlightenment with its emphasis on human rationality and individuality and thought that it had led to the ideals of equality, fraternity and freedom of the French Revolution. In his view, all these ideas challenged God's authority.[6] Afrikaner theologians worked from this foundation and defined a number of political, economic and cultural spheres that had their separate, independent destinies.[5] The Afrikaner history was also reinterpreted through a Christian-nationalistic ideology. Already Paul Kruger, president of Transvaal and a founding member of the Gereformeerde Kerke van Zuid-Afrika or 'Dopper Church', referred to it as "sacred history" with volk as the chosen people, where the Great Trek was seen as the Exodus from the British rule in Cape to the Promised Land of the Boer Republics.[7]

Secular Afrikaner nationalism[edit]

During the 1930s and 1940s many intellectuals partook in the theoretical formulation of Afrikaner nationalism. Nicolaas Johannes Diederichs, who later became South Africa's president, formulated Afrikaner nationalistic ideology in his book "Nationalism as a Worldview and Its Relationship to Internationalism" through Kuyperian theology. According to Diederichs, God created nations and these nations had a God-ordained right to exist as separate entities. Therefore, Afrikaners could refuse a "British-designed" South Africa in which they would co-exist with other ethnic groups as a minority.[3] Geoffrey Cronje developed these ideas further and argued, that as long as the Afrikaner existed as a minority in a racially and culturally different environment, they could not allow the black majority to develop economically or politically, since this would lead to black domination. He acknowledged this as unjust and unchristian, and as a solution offered total segregation, that is apartheid, between the blacks and the whites.[3]

The Afrikaner nationalist intelligentsia, along with the National Party and the Broederbond, ended up formulating a radical nationalistic policy which rejected British hegemony in economics and politics as well as ethnic mengelmoes ("mess") induced by the transportation of black migrant workers around the country. Their solution was a drastic reordering of the South African demographic map with a dominant Afrikaner Republic not influenced by British imperialism. However, because of the opposition of the urban middle class they did not propose a return to conservative, pre-modern Boerpastoralism.[3]

Afrikaner nationalism and race[edit]

Initially during the 19th century, the position of the Dutch Reformed Church on the nationalist issue was more pragmatic than ideological and, for example, in South Africa, racial segregation was accepted as a harmonious way of administering heterogeneous community. The economic depression in 1905–09 changed this attitude when a new group of "poor whites", mostly Afrikaners, emerged.[5] By 1939 the racial segregation had been made into a church dogma:

"The policy of segregation as advocated by the Afrikaner and his church is the holy calling of the Church to see to the thousands of poor whites in the cities who fight a losing battle in the present economic world...The application of segregation will furthermore lead to the creation of separate healthy cities for the non-whites where they will be in a position to develop along their own lines, establish their own institutions and later on govern themselves under the guardianship of the whites"[6]

The Afrikaner state as a Christian civilisation thus had a divine right to stay separate and rule the surrounding "heathen" nations.[7][8]

Afrikaner nationalism and national socialism[edit]

Afrikaner nationalism and Nazism had common roots in religio-nationalism and Pan Germanism and therefore the racist elements of the former were easily assimilated into the earlier.[citation needed] For example, Afrikaner criticism of the capitalistic system inter-war period was quite anti-Semitic.[9][10] Many Afrikaner nationalists also viewed a Nazi German style strong government as necessary to protect the volk. Just before, and during World War II, these sentiments led to the appearance of a number of pro-Nazi Afrikaner nationalistic organisations, such as the Ossewabrandwag and its paramilitary wing Stormjaers.[11]

Afrikaner nationalistic politics[edit]

J. B. M. Hertzog led the National Party to the 1915 and 1920 elections under the slogan "South Africa first" to create a South Africa independent from the British influence.[13] In the 1924 elections he defeated the South African Party led by Jan Smuts, after Smuts had used force to end the Rand Revolt of white miners in 1922, and stayed in power for 15 years in a coalition government with the Labour Party. During his reign, he steadily promoted Afrikaner nationalism while deepening the racial segregation in the country.[14]

Broederbond[edit]

During the 1930s a group of Broederbond members shaped the Afrikaner nationalistic ideology, by trying to create a common "Christian-nationalistic" identity for all white, Afrikaans speaking South Africans as well as introducing the idea of Volkskapitalisme (people's capitalism) that tried to take control from the "British" or "Jewish" foreign economic system and to adapt it to Afrikaner's national character.[15]Volkskapitalisme strived to improve the economic conditions of the Afrikaners who in general at the time were less well-off than the English-speaking whites in South Africa. In practice the program consisted of utilising the Afrikaner capital into new and existing Afrikaner businesses. Although volkskapitalisme managed to develop some Afrikaner businesses, such as Sanlam and Volkskas into corporate giants that still have a central role in South African economy, in the end the economic benefits for the majority of the poor Afrikaners were slim.[15]

Despite the efforts of the Broederbond activists to "Afrikanerise" South Africa, the uptake of this new Christian-nationalistic Afrikaner identity was slow and unenthusiastic. According to electoral studies, the majority of the target group (white, Afrikaans speaking South Africans) did not vote for the Afrikaner nationalistic National Party until the early 1960s.[15]

Popular media[edit]

During the 1930s and 1940s Afrikaner nationalists constructed an "imagined community" of the Afrikaner with maps and narratives of its heroic past, moral purpose and a place among other nations. These ideas were spread through new emerging Afrikaner print media, such as the Christian-nationalistic journal Koers (Direction) and a more popularised Inspan, magazines such as Huisgenoot, books published by the Burger Boekhandel publishing house and the newspapers Die Burger, Transvaler and Volksblad.[3] The usage of Afrikaans instead of Dutch was aggressively promoted throughout the 1920s especially in white schools.[16] The Bible was translated into Afrikaans by J. D. du Toit, E. E. van Rooyen, J. D. Kestell, H. C. M. Fourie, and BB Keet in 1933.[17][18]

Rise to power[edit]

The South African opposition during the World War II of the country's involvement in the war against Nazi Germany led to the National Party's rise to power in the 1948 elections, to the implementation of the apartheid politics in the country and finally to the culmination of Afrikaner nationalistic mobilisation in 1961 when the country resigned from the British Commonwealth and became a republic.[13] The National Party government implemented, alongside apartheid, a program of social conservatism. Pornography, gambling, and other such vices were banned because they were thought to be elements contrary to the "Afrikaner way of life".[11] Even adultery and attempted adultery were banned (by the Immorality Amendment Act, Act No 23 of 1957).[19]

Emerging conflicts[edit]

During the 1960s a split emerged in the Afrikaner electorate over the issue of how to preserve a distinct identity in a multi-ethnic society: one faction insisted on preserving the national identity through strict isolation, while others thought that such barriers needed to be relaxed. As a sign of this, in the 1970 election a radical splinter group from the National Party, Herstigte Nasionale Party, got 3.59% of the vote compared to the National Party's 54.86%. The gulf widened further during the 1980s partly because of the international pressure against apartheid.[13]

One notable Afrikaner nationalist organisation was the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB), a political and former paramilitary group. The group had the support of an estimated 5–7 percent of white South Africans in 1988.[20] The organisation was beset by personal and militant scandals in the late 1980s and early 1990s that led to diminished support. This organisation was however never able to garner substantial Afrikaner support, which was held by the National Party until its dissolution.

In the 1990s the National Party acknowledged the failure of its ethnic project and under the leadership of F. W. De Klerk dismantled the political system set up from 1948. After apartheid, Afrikaner nationalism has lost most of its support.[15]

After apartheid[edit]

Although it has mostly disappeared from publicity, Afrikaner nationalism is kept alive through such political initiatives as the Cyber Republic of the Boer Nation, which claims to be "the only white indigenous tribe in Southern Africa" and has tried to appeal to the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations for the protection of cultural, linguistic and religious rights of people around the world.[22] Also some marginal right wing political parties, such as the Herstigte Nasionale Party, still declare their goal to be the "unashamed promotion of Afrikaner nationalism".[23]

Front National (South Africa); a political party in South Africa has also emerged in the post-apartheid years harbouring Afrikaner Nationalism. the party is linked to South Africa Today a media outlet that reports about South African farm attacks and other things that affect white South Africans.

The tradition of Christian-national education is continued by the Movement for Christian-National Education (Afrikaans: Beweging vir Christelik-Volkseie Onderwys) which educates the youth of the Boere-Afrikanervolk in the Afrikaner Calvinist tradition, Boer culture and history as well as in Afrikaans language.[24]

The Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging had been largely inactive in South Africa since the demise of apartheid, although in 2008, the organisation was reactivated and is actively seeking an Afrikaner secessionist state within South Africa.[25] On 3 April 2010, Eugene Terre'Blanche, leader of the AWB, was murdered on his farm.[26]

Afrikaner nationalist parties[edit]

Former Afrikaner nationalist parties[edit]

See also[edit]

Voortrekker Monument, Afrikaner nationalistic monument in the honour of the people that took part in the Great Trek. The architect Gerard Moerdijk described it as a "monument that would stand thousands of years to describe the history and the meaning of the Great Trek to it descendants".[12]
The "Vryheidsvlag" (Freedom Flag), registered in 1995 with the South African Bureau of Heraldry as the flag of the Afrikaner Volksfront.[21]

Origins of Afrikaner Nationalism

- although many Afrikaner historians have contended that Afrikaner nationalism began much earlier and was an important factor in the Great Trek, this idea was shot down by F van Jaarsveld in The Awakening of Afrikaner Nationalism. The trekboers certainly had important feelings of group identity: a belief that they were not only different but also superior to the indigenous peoples, a sense of difference from the British, and an abhorrence of the so-called ‘liberal’ policies in the Cape Colony. However, there was no dominant sense of national identity. Factionalism was very strong among the Voortrekkers, especially those who crossed the Vaal River. There, personal loyalties to individual leaders often took precedence over group identity, and Orange Free Staters at times feuded with Transvaalers. However, they always united against the Africans, and in their skirmishes with each other, they avoided shooting each other.

- moreover, Afrikaners in the Cape, especially in the western province areas and Cape Town, while recognising a degree of kinship with the trekboers and Voortrekkers, regarded them as rather uncouth and wild. There was no sense of national identity to bridge the social gap.

- the most important event to change this and to stimulate the growth of Afrikaner nationalism was the British annexation of the South African Republic (Transvaal) in 1877 by Theophilus Shepstone. The deepest effects of this event were on Afrikaners in the Transvaal, but there were effects on Afrikaners elsewhere as well.
- the political situation in the South African Republic (SAR) was very confused and demoralised; there was a political crisis. This probably helps to explain why there were hardly any reactions initially to Shepstone’s action. Protests were few and rather perfunctory.

  • most of the Boers were alienated from the president, Burgers; Burgers had been tried for heresy in the Cape NGK and his conviction had been overturned only as a result of intervention by the civil court. Yet, most Transvaalers were even more conservative theologically than the NGK.

    - at his inauguration, he arranged a ball (i.e., dancing!) that scandalised the very conservative Doppers. Later, when an enormous gold nugget was found, he had it minted into gold coins with his image as president on it; to the conservative Doppers that was too close to being a graven image as forbidden in the Bible.

  • the Pedi had defied the government. The government depended primarily upon the militia-like commando system for most of its military forces, but there had been very lukewarm support from the burghers, As a result, the government had been unable to punish the Pedi and subordinate them. There were also rumours that the Zulu might launch attacks into the SAR.

  • the government was virtually bankrupt. Trying to break free of British pressure and influence, Burgers had attempted to have a railway built to Lourenço Marques. He had borrowed money in Europe and purchased some railway rolling stock. However, the money ran out before construction could really begin and the rolling stock rusted away in Lourenço Marques. Other loans had been made from a Cape bank and the SAR’s bankers were unwilling to lend more money. Some civil servants had not been paid for months.

  • Burgers issued a token protest, but later accepted a pension to retire from politics and return to the Cape Colony. Even Paul Kruger, who was vice-president and already the most influential leader, reacted in a very muted manner; in fact, he quickly left town on Shepstone’s arrival to avoid being present at the annexation.
- thus, initially, it seemed that the annexation might be successful. It helped when Shepstone used the substantial grant from the British government to pay the back salaries of civil servants and other creditors of the government.

- over the next years, the situation began to change:
  • in an effort to build support among the Boer population, Shepstone set out to remove all threats from African peoples. The Pedi were attacked and conquered. Shepstone also turned on the Zulu and assisted in fomenting the Anglo-Zulu War. Thompson emphasises Shepstone’s role, but I think Sir Bartle Frere, governor of the Cape Colony and high commissioner in southern Africa, did not need too much encouragement. Frere had been a governor in India during the Indian Mutiny; he became convinced that the Zulu were organising a similar grand conspiracy among Africans in southern Africa to drive out the white man.

  • the costs of the wars plus the large scale of government (relative to the scale of revenues) meant that the British government was greatly dismayed at the cost of this new colony. Shepstone was replaced by a man sent out from Britain to reduce expenditures and to increase taxation. The abhorrence of taxes was deeply rooted in trekboer thinking. This was the last straw as far as acceptance of the colonial government put in place by the annexation. It was a refusal to pay new taxes that was eventually the spark which ignited outright resistance and rebellion.

  • a big question has always existed as to whether or not the majority of Boers could have been won over to acceptance of the annexation; however, not only would the new colonial government have had to avoid raising taxes (which would have meant continuing subsidies from the imperial government) but would also have had to maintain all the racial discrimination and inequity which was an integral part of the society in the Transvaal. Boers there would never accept the ‘liberal’ policies of the Cape.
- while Shepstone had quickly pursued a ‘hawkish’ native policy in crushing the Pedi and the Zulu, some historians have argued that in fact this was really counterproductive. The elimination of these two serious concerns probably lessened the feeling that the Boers needed to be linked up with Britain for assistance. It’s not clear that the Boers had felt that threatened. In any case, the war against the Pedi ended that problem and at the same time greatly worsened the fiscal position of the colonial Transvaal administration.

- a key element though was a series of 3 national meetings held by the Boers 1879-80. All factions came together and feelings of identity, unity and trust developed very dramatically. Leaders such as Kruger and Joubert gained new prestige, and the Boers were mobilised into demanding a return of their republican independence. Initially, their response was to send delegations to the British government (they were encouraged because Gladstone’s Liberals, who had strongly criticised the Disraeli government’s South African policies—the Zulu war and the annexation—had just come to power).

- while not happy with the annexation, the Gladstone government was not prepared to reverse it. The stalemate that resulted was broken by the incident of Bezuitenhoud’s wagon. Attacks on detachments of British troops erupted in many areas. As a result, British troops had to withdraw from the Transvaal. When a force of British troops attempted to reenter the Transvaal, they were decisively defeated at the battle of Majuba Hill.

- as a result of these events, a feeling of national identity emerged and developed enormously. In addition, the idea of being a ‘chosen people’ receiving special attention from God were revived and given a great boost. The victories over British forces were interpreted as evidence of divine intervention.

- moreover, the Gladstone government decided to withdraw as soon as resistance emerged and before Majuba Hill. In spite of outrage in both Britain and among English settlers in South Africa, it proceeded to grant autonomy and limited independence to the Boers of the Transvaal. This restoration of their South African Republic cemented the belief in divine protection and destiny. When war was determined in 1899, many looked back to this as proof that they could again proceed with confidence. After all, even though they were very small in comparison with the British Empire, they had God on their side and God had given them victory in the ‘First war of independence’.

- another significant result of the entire incident of the annexation was that it helped to build a sense of persecution. A sense of persecution feeds nationalism:
  • Polish nationalism in the 19th C,
  • other Slavic nationalisms in the the 20th C,
  • Palestinian nationalism,
  • even to an extent in Quebe�ois nationalism in the 1960s and 70s, and
  • Hitler used the Treaty of Versailles and the ‘international Jewish conspiracy’ to build a sense of persecution and maltreatment among Germans after World War 1.
- the 1877 annexation added an entire new chapter to the sense of grievance—they still nursed all the grievances of the Voortrekkers. In the years that followed, new grievances kept the sense of persecution growing— attempts by Britain to reassert ‘suzerainty’ in spite of the Treaty of London 1884, the Jameson Raid, and then the war 1899-1902. In the latter, the women and children who died in the concentration camps added many thousands of ‘martyrs’.
- Boers in the Free State were of course sympathetic to what had happened to the Boers in the Transvaal. However, there had been more than one bout of hostility between the 2 Boer republics in the decades up to this point. On many aspects there were differences in outlook and opinion. Many Free Staters seem to have been willing to accept the annexation carried out by Sir Harry Smith at mid-century. Relations with the Cape Colony had been much closer and on-going.

- however, in the 1880s as British imperial fervour began to mount and became a more recognised threat, the Free State and the SAR began to draw closer together. This became so close that as tensions rose during the 1890s (and the conflicts were almost exclusively with the government of the SAR, not the Free State), the Free State was willing to go to war to support their brothers in the SAR.
- the 1870s saw the emergence in the Cape of a proto-nationalist movement; it had started before the annexation of the SAR in 1877, but the annexation stimulated a good deal of outrage among Afrikaners and thus contributed to the movement.
- Afrikaans (at the time almost always referred to as ‘die Taal’—the Language) was a spoken, not a written language. It was a simplified version of Dutch which probably had originated among the slaves and/or Khoikhoi servants. Because young children were raised mostly by nannies, this was the language most whites learned first. Over many generations, the Taal was usually the first language of young children. Dutch remained the official language of government and the Dutch Reformed Church and thus it had to be learned later. Dutch was the written language.

- the Taal movement was dedicated to making Afrikaans a written and respectable language. It began with the founding of ‘Genootskap van Regte Afrikaners’ (Society of True Afrikaners) in 1875 ‘to stand for our language, our nation and our land’. The two most prominent leaders in this movement were the Du Toit brothers (Rev. S. J and Daniel) in Paarl. The argument was that it was humiliating and demeaning that their mother tongue had no status and was not respectable. Moreover, it meant that Afrikaners could never express themselves in a written form in the language that was most basic and most natural to them.

- thus, the du Toit brothers wanted to make Afrikaans a written language and to provide a literature in Afrikaans. Of course, the most important piece of literature was the Bible and translating the Bible into Afrikaans was one of the first projects. They also established a newspaper in Afrikaans, Die Afrikaanse Patriot, and began publishing books and pamphlets. One of the early books was Die Geskiedenis van ons Land in die Taal van ons Volk (The History of our Country in the Language of our People).

- there was a great deal of opposition among Afrikaners to this movement. Jan Hofmeyr always was opposed to substituting Afrikaans for high Dutch. Others thought it was sacrilege to render the Bible into what they regarded as a patois. Nevertheless, over time in the 20th C, this elevation of Afrikaans became one of the most unifying elements for Afrikaners and the most fundamental aspect of common identity.
- there was also a trend on the part of Afrikaners in the Cape to assert themselves in political affairs. Up to the 1870s, politics had been almost entirely left to English whites and to those Afrikaners who were educated and fluent in English. The official language was English and that was the language of debate.

- Jan Hofmeyr and some associates had been trying to get Afrikaners more interested in political matters for over 10 years. They were associated with a Dutch language newspaper, Zuid Afrikaan. In 1878, Hofmeyr and some associates organised the Zuid Afrikaansche Boeren Beschermings Vereeniging (South African Farmers’ Protection Association). The basis for its founding was to protect the interests of the wine farmers. In order to pay the costs of the last Xhosa War in 1877-78 and then the Gun War with the Basotho, the Cape government levied an excise tax on brandy. Opposition to this tax was a great mobiliser of the wine farmers and they quickly emerged as a very significant force in Cape politics.

- the Rev. S. J. du Toit also wanted to achieve greater political influence for his movement, and in 1880 he founded the Afrikaner Bond.
- Hofmeyr did not agree with many aims of du Toit. Hofmeyr was adamantly opposed to promoting Afrikaans; he thought Dutch much better. While he wanted more local autonomy and less interference by the Imperial government, he was more content to stay within the British Empire. In fact, in later years, he played a prominent role at a couple of colonial conferences. At the Ottawa Conference in 1892, he put forward a proposal to establish a system of preference tariffs for the British Empire as this would provide new markets for Cape farmers. Imperial preferences became a favourite proposal of imperial federationists as a means to draw the British Empire together and halt the drift towards independence of the dominions.
- for a time, the 2 organisations were in competition. Then, in 1883, Hofmeyr was instrumental in merging his organisation into the Afrikaner Bond, but it was really a reverse takeover. Hofmeyr was a much better politician than du Toit; increasingly, Hofmeyr’s leadership prevailed and du Toit was for all significant purposes set aside. The Afrikaner Bond became Hofmeyr’s organisation; as a result, the Bond promoted the more moderate nationalism of Hofmeyr.

- however, the language movement continued. S. J. du Toit was persuaded to go to the SAR and become director of education. However, his more radical ideas on preserving the Afrikaans language and customs by using the schools as well as some of his other ideas got him into conflict with Kruger’s government; he subsequently resigned and returned to the Cape. However, his brother continued publishing and establishing Afrikaans. It was only in the 20th C that Afrikaans took precedence over Dutch; Afrikaans did not replace Dutch as the second official language (besides English) in the Union until about 1920.
- the Bond became the 1st true political party in the Cape. The Bond never had an absolute majority in the Cape parliament but very close. The rest of MPs were divided into a number of regional and other factions, including the so-called ‘friends of the natives’. As a result, by the early 1880s, it was clear that no government could be formed or remain in power without the support of the Bond. However, Hofmeyr would never agree to form a Bond government; he feared that his members did not have the experience, but also that power would bring out conflicts and competition within the Bond. Instead, he was content to make alliances with one faction or other among the English speaking politicians who would then form the government; in return Hofmeyr got concessions on legislation and policies. Thus, Hofmeyr was said to be the king-maker, but always refused to be king!

- as a politician, Cecil Rhodes too had to adapt to this fact of life. He courted Hofmeyr and the Bond; they provided him with the support necessary to become prime minister and supported his two governments until the Jameson Raid in Dec. 1895.
- moreover, in the period before the Jameson Raid, Hofmeyr and the Afrikaner Bond supported Rhodes’ government in disputes with the SAR government. When some Boers were beginning to talk of solving their problems of inadequate land by trekking farther into central Africa, this clashed with Rhodes’ plans for expansion of British colonization into the area; great pressure was applied to Kruger’s government to halt this. Instead, Rhodes vigourously recruited Afrikaners from the Cape to join his Pioneer Column of settlers which invaded part of modern Zimbabwe to establish Rhodesia in 1891. In fact about a third of the settlers were Afrikaners from the Cape.

- even greater clashes of interest arose. The new wealth of the gold mining had enabled the SAR to finally realize the dream of access to a port free of British control by building a railroad to Lourenço Marques in the 1890s. However, the rapid development of Johannesburg and the Rand made it a huge and growing market both for overseas goods and for local produce. Both British colonies of Natal and the Cape Colony were building railroads into the interior as access would enable the collection of customs duties on imports, provide revenue for the railroads which were government owned and provide markets for agricultural products of their farmers. The Orange Free State had also worked out a deal with the Cape Colony to allow the Cape railroads to be extended through the Free State to the Vaal River boundary with the SAR.

- Kruger’s government, however, was trying to protect the railway to Lourenço Marques and was trying to eliminate dependency on British controlled ports. It was also trying to use the concessions policy to build up some industries in the SAR.
- this system of granting monopolies by the Kruger government became one of the most complained of issues among the uitlanders; each ‘concession’ gave exclusive, monopoly rights to market specific products or services—dynamite, distilling of alcoholic beverages, jam, street cars in Johannesburg, water works for Johannesburg, etc. There were 2 main objectives:
  • It was an attempt to get a Boer presence in the business sector of the economy; most concessions were granted to Boer burgers (often friends and relatives of members of the governmentt). It was recognised that these people would have to enter partnerships with foreigners to develop the businesses.
  • It was an attempt to get industry and manufacturing started in the SAR rather than just import everything. In the case of distilling, it would also provide a market for Boer farmers’ grain.
- most attention has focused on the dynamite monopoly because that was the one that mining companies disliked the most because the massive use of explosives made dynamite an important factor in mining costs. The monopolies allowed the holders to raise prices to high levels and thus they became a major source of complaint. However, to protect the liquor concesssion, high tariffs and other restrictions were put on brandy from the Cape which affected the vintners from the Cape, most of whom were Afrikaners and supporters of the Afrikaner Bond.

- the policy achieved much less than the government hoped:
  • most Boers who were granted a concession were content to make a quick profit by selling the concession and few stayed in the businesses;
  • most concessionaires evaded doing too much manufacturing and continued to import most products (including dynamite). The concessions were used mostly to raise prices and profits.
- we’ll discuss this later because it was also among the ‘uitlander grievances’ which figured prominently in the ostensible reasons for Milner’s actions in provoking the war in 1899.


- as a result, the SAR government was reluctant to allow colonial railways in; under a good deal of pressure it finally agreed to allow both colonies to extend their railways to the borders but from there to Johannesburg, the Netherlands Railway (the company which built the railway to Lourenço Marques) would make the connection. However, the rates for this short distance were made extremely high and made goods from the Cape ports uncompetitive.
- the Cape Colony attempted to get around this by unloading goods at the border and hauling them by wagon the 50 miles or so to Johannesburg. There was no road bridge over the Vaal River which was the border; wagons had to make their way across by fords, which in South Africa are called ‘drifts’. The SAR responded by closing the drifts to all goods traffic. This created what became known as the Drifts Crisis in October 1895.

- there was a great deal of anger, not only in the Cape but also in the Orange Free State among Afrikaners, at this protectionism and exclusion. The Afrikaner Bond supported the strong stand by the Rhodes government urging action, even war, if the drifts were not reopened. Eventually, the SAR did relent, and the crisis passed. However, there were lingering clashes of interests. Afrikaners outside the SAR wanted access to the markets of the Rand and to share in the wealth being generated by the gold mining; the SAR government wanted to preserve markets for its own farmers, build up manufacturing to help employ its landless white burghers, and make itself as free as possible from influence by the British.

- the point is that a common Afrikaner nationalism and identity that united most Afrikaners in South Africa had not developed yet. Both pathways of Afrikaner nationalism (i.e., the Taal movement and the national identity forged in the SAR) had their origins in the 1870s, but it was only with later events that this Afrikaner nationalism was fully established and increasingly encompassed Afrikaners everywhere in South Africa. The Jameson Raid, launched late in December 1895, initiated what might be called a tectonic shift and massive polarization between Afrikaners and British settlers in South Africa. This continued in the period that followed up to and during the war 1899-1902. It was out of this polarization and conflict that Afrikaner nationalism emerged.
- in this course, we are frequently referring to various kinds of nationalism—Afrikaner nationalism and African nationalism especially. However, we need to develop an analytical approach because ‘nationalism’ is a term which is used to label a wide variety of movements and phenomena (indeed, to cover a multitude of sins.). Afrikaner nationalism and African nationalism involve very different characteristics and are even polar opposites. But there are internal differences in each. For example, there are important differences between the Afrikaner nationalism of Gen. Hertzog and that of D.F. Malan and Dr. Verwoerd. Moreover, African nationalism involves different manifestations between the mainstream ANC approach and the Pan Africanist approach.

- in Canada too we are aware of widely different meanings of the term ‘nationalism’ and nation. There is a Canadian nationalism that insists that Canada is a separate entity which has sufficient common characteristics that it should remain united. The Quebec separatists deny this, and claim that the ‘Quebeçois nation’ is distinct and must become independent from Canada. Finally, more and more the native people are describing themselves as ‘nations’. Obviously, there are a variety of very different meanings being attached to these words. Because the term has such different meanings, it threatens to lose all meaning.

- I have found the following Spectrum of Nationalism a useful way to bring some sort of analytical order to understanding the different phenomena labelled as ‘nationalism’.

- in locating specific nationalisms along the spectrum, it is important to pay close attention to how the ‘nation’ is being defined and to how membership is determined.
- the ‘nation’ is delineated by an existing state which is recognised internationally (e.g., by membership in the United Nations) and which has recognised geographical boundaries. Anyone born within those boundaries has the right to claim citizenship (i.e., membership). This seems obvious because that is how things are arranged legally. But exclusive definitions of ‘nation’ may not require a state or geographical boundaries. Nor do all states accord full membership to people living within their national boundaries. Thus, to be inclusive, there must be no exceptions or less than full rights because of ‘racial’, linguistic, religious, gender, etc. differences.

- moreover, the ‘nation’ in this approach is perceived as being like a club or voluntary association. The members come together on the basis of a number of principles and common values. This is the thread that enables individuals of heterogeneous backgrounds and characteristics to come together and unite. The principles and common values may be expressed explicitly as in the United States in the constitution and its Bill of Rights. In England there was never a written constitution, but they did have a series of legal documents (Magna Carta, Petition of Rights, Bill of Rights, etc.) and a long accumulation of precedents and conventions which embodied common values and principles and thus were more implicit; however, the British have long referred to this as their ‘unwritten constitution’.

- with this conception of voluntary association, the ‘nation’ may be open for individuals to join if they accept and are prepared to abide by the principles upon which the nation is founded. Thus, the nation is open to immigrants who can, in a relatively short time, acquire full membership/citizenship.

- in this conception, the ‘nation’ is defined by its members—who they are and what they believe in. As a result, the nation can change over time. Large numbers of immigrants can change the nation in a superficial physical sense; even more if values and principles change, then laws and way of life can also undergo very significant transformation.

- the US and Canada today stand as examples of the most inclusive ‘nations’. While neither is a perfect example, both are considerably more inclusive than they were in times past; African Americans and African Canadians were for a long time denied many rights and opportunities and thus were accorded less than full membership/citizenship. This was also true of native people. Asian people were not welcome and vigorous efforts were made for a long time to keep them out.

- inclusive nations are heterogeneous. Also, individual rights usually have high priority. In fact, as in the US and increasingly in Canada, we perceive of the nation as a collection of individuals who live and work together primarily to preserve and extend individual rights and freedoms.
- this approach is restrictive in specifying characteristics and aspects which qualify for membership (language, culture, religion, race, etc.). At the extreme, several characteristics are required.

- the ‘nation’ has a definite mystical quality. It is a kind of supernatural entity. In some ways it is like God because it is both imminent and transcendent. That is, it exists in the members because the members have the national characteristics (by inheritance, by learned experience or both); but the nation also transcends individuals who are rather ephemeral. Thus the nation is more than the sum of its parts and has an existence which is long-lived, almost eternal.

- the nation in this sense does not require a state or boundaries in order to exist. However, acquiring a state with independence and boundaries are usually a primary goal because these give the nation much greater scope for self-defence, self determination and self perpetuation. In Canada, this is what separatists in Quebec claim and what they are striving for.

- in this conception, it is the ‘nation’ which defines the members, not the other way round. It is from the ‘nation’ that individuals get their language, their culture, even their genetic characteristics. Because of this, high priority is placed on the preservation (including avoiding contamination by assimilation and intermarriage) of these characteristics. Thus, individual rights are usually downplayed and even denigrated. It is the rights of the collectivity, the ‘nation’, which are important and which take precedence whenever they collide with individual rights. For example, parental rights to determine language of instruction for their children are usually legislated against; children are the next generation of members and the nation needs them in order to perpetuate itself. Thus, the needs of the nation take precedence over the wants and rights of parents.

- in extreme forms, as in German nationalism under the Nazis, the nation becomes the be-all and end-all. Individuals are significant only in so far as they contribute to the well-being of the ‘nation’. Their lives are unimportant in themselves. For males, their significance is simply to fight and if necessary to die for the defence or expansion of the nation; for females, it may be simply to produce the next generation, especially soldiers.

- because membership is defined by very specific characteristics, the ‘nation’ is very homogeneous.
  • S. African history in the 20th C can be looked at from an intellectual history point of view as a series of struggles of different kinds of nationalism to determine the nature of South African society.

  • Afrikaner nationalism under Dr. Malan and Dr. Verwoerd lies at the extreme end of exclusive nationalism. There are a lot of parallels and similarities between that Afrikaner nationalism and the extreme German nationalism of the Nazis.

  • the ANC has almost always stood for the broadest of inclusive nationalisms in which race, colour, religion, etc. would be irrelevant, although in the earlier era, they were prepared to accept ‘Christianity’ and ‘civilisation’ as limiting criteria, the latter being equated with minimal educational and assimilation criteria.

  • however, since the 1940s there was an ‘Africanist’ faction in the ANC and which broke from the ANC to form the Pan Africanist Congress in 1958. It was considerably more restrictive than the ANC but not exclusive like Afrikaner nationalism.

  • more recently in the Inkatha Freedom Party, we have seen an ethnic Zulu nationalism which lies much closer to the exclusive end of the spectrum.


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