The Long, Long Trek of the Afrikaners

The Long Long Trek of the Afrikaners, PDF format


by Shaun Willcock

South Africa’s black Marxist or Marxist-sympathising leaders, with their arrogant assumption that the whole world owes them a cushy living and their hatred of the two white South African nations, the Afrikaners and the English, would do well to study some basic points about South African history: how these groups won their place in the sun.  These groups understood, as the ANC and its alliance partner, the SA Communist party, do not, that moving from poverty to prosperity involves massive effort on their part.  There were no government handouts for the Voortrekkers or their descendants; no free perks for the early British settlers.  To survive at all, these groups – and others – had to struggle and sacrifice like supermen; and SA is immeasurably the richer for it.  How many similar supermen are there in the ANC?  Thus far, we have seen none; nor will we, for Marxism and black African nationalism cannot produce them.


“The Afrikaner tribe at the tip of the continent… is built, and organised, around the instinct for survival.  It has nowhere else to go.” – The London Economist

“As always in South Africa, it is the Afrikaner who stands at the point of the flame.  For him, it is not a matter of win or lose, but of survival or going under.” – N.P. van Wyk Louw, Afrikaans poet

“Would blunders never end upon the Tugela?  Would British officers never learn that they were fighting, not simple rustics, but men of matchless resource and cunning – men with a natural gift for tactics, ever ready, as at Majuba or Tugela Heights, to take advantage of a strategic mistake?” – Donald MacDonald, Australian journalist, after watching a succession of British defeats in the Boer War of 1899-1902

“It is impossible for a people that has fought as the Boers have done to lose their self-respect; and it is just as impossible for Englishmen to regard them with contempt.” – Lord Kitchener

“In World War Two no part of Europe was so devastated root and branch as the Transvaal and the Free State in the South African War.  From the battlefields our people returned only to a country in ruins – devastated and burnt till only nature remained.” – General Jan Smuts, quoted in the Johannesburg Star, 18.6.48

“The rise of Afrikanerdom has been a great historical drama.  I have no wish that it should turn into a tragedy.” – Alan Paton, English South African author

These are traumatic days for the Afrikaners, Africa’s famous, much-debated, much-maligned “White Tribe.”  There are roughly 2,8 million Afrikaners.  They constitute slightly more than half of the White inhabitants of South Africa.  South Africa is the only home they have ever known.  They have no other home than this, a home their ancestors carved out of the wilderness – and to which they and all their people gave a fierce and possessive love.

Today the Afrikaner faces the most challenging phase of all his near-350 years of history in Africa.  Like it or lump it, almost all now accept that the era when the Afrikaner could exercise virtual total control over every aspect of SA life is irrevocably past.  So, willy-nilly, the Afrikaner feels apprehensive, has a sense of being threatened, isolated, beleaguered.  Inevitably, he asks himself: In the “New South Africa,” will the Afrikaner be ploughed under?  Will the new dispensation, whatever that may finally be, sound the death knell of Afrikaner culture, language, identity?

Such fear should be readily understandable.  The Afrikaner knows from his not-too-distant past what it is to go down before superior numbers.  National tragedy is by no means unknown to him.  Total national tragedy is therefore not beyond his imagination.

Those are his fears.  What is the reality?  The reality is that, as few others on this earth, the Afrikaner has been trained and tempered to cope with change, even massive change.  The struggle for survival, for national and personal liberty, has always been part and parcel of his existence.

In the past 200 years in particular, he has built up a truly incredible capacity for endurance.  At rock bottom, these are no weak or faltering lightweights.  On the contrary, they are a people who have behind them a stirring, robust, hard-grained history.  Almost a century ago, General Smuts wrote of ´n eeu van onreg (a century of wrong) suffered by the Afrikaners.  His bitter lament was well warranted.  His was a nation that had truly suffered gotterdammerung, been discriminated against, persecuted, conquered, impoverished and subjugated for the greater part of its existence.

Nor, in many ways, have they fared all that better in this, the 20th century.  Facing an almost entirely hostile world, they have suffered much ignorance, calumny and misrepresentation.  There are many, both here and overseas, who take a tortured delight in baiting the Afrikaner, who regard Boer-bashing as a sort of elaborate sport: a sport that in turn has reduced our economy to near-ruin, has inflicted world-wide isolation upon us.

Yet, through it all, through those turbulent years, the Afrikaner has survived.  They do not claim to be a nation of heroes: but they have demonstrated in the past that heroic qualities are there.  All this provides them, today, with considerable pliancy when confronted with change.

  The Afrikaner’s remarkable adaptability is all too easily lost from sight.  One has only to examine how this once intensely conservative,[1] Calvinist,[2] rural people in just one generation won their place in modern hi-tech industry, commerce, science and technology.

As Dr G.M.E. Leistner of the Africa Institute has pointed out, foreign observers of present-day SA tend to overlook that a mere half-century ago the Afrikaner was still very much the underdog in this country: the handyman, clerk, ordinary school teacher, the postman, railway porter, road builder, police constable, the subordinate wage-earner generally.  In the early 1930s about one-third of Afrikaners were designated “poor Whites,” many existing at a lower level of material wellbeing than Blacks.

The parents of many of those whose luxury homes, game farms, big Mercedes’ and children at overseas universities are today regarded as the very archetype of White South Africans more often than not in their youth went to school barefoot, their families too impoverished to buy them shoes.

Dr Gerrit Viljoen has recalled: “…at that stage – end of the Forties, beginning of the Fifties – the young Afrikaners had grown up going to school in tents in Pretoria, with the Church providing soup kitchens in winter to keep them from freezing – that standard of under-provision in Black and Brown schools (today) is not all that different from what it had been for us.”

Yet from that unpromising background came Chris Barnard, first surgeon in the world to perform a heart transplant.  With him came Afrikaans physicists, scientists of international renown, admirals, jet pilots, artists, poets, writers of world standard.  Afrikaners can indeed look back on a rich heritage of courage, tenacity, adaptability.

Possessing such qualities, these are not people about to cry quits.  They have survived unbelievable odds before in their determination to preserve their place in the African sun.  They will continue to survive.  And, above all, the many shameful excesses of hatred against the Afrikaner might have been far less frequent had the level of understanding about these tough, gutsy people been higher.  Please read on.

The Afrikaners

Who are the Afrikaners?  What is an Afrikaner?  The objective facts about them are well enough known.  The history of the Afrikaans-speaking section of the SA nation began on a brisk autumn morning in April, 1652, when three small ships under the command of Jan van Riebeeck dropped anchor in the Cape of Storms’ stunningly beautiful Table Bay.

These men, mainly Dutch but some German, were to found the first White community since the days of Carthage and Greece to settle, survive and retain its identity on the continent of Africa.  Van Riebeeck’s instructions were precise.  He was to build a fort to house his 80 men, plant a garden “in the best and fattest land” (one can still walk in it) and “show all friendliness and amiability” towards the indigenous people (Bushmen and Hottentots) in order to buy cattle from them.

As far as the Dutch East India Company was concerned, the new settlement was to be no more than a way station for the Indiamen bound on their long journeys to and from Batavia (present-day Indonesia), providing food, water and a place where sick sailors could recuperate.  Life was no walk in the park for those first South Africans.

They had left behind them the calm, cultured, well-ordered Netherlands for the storm-lashed edge of the civilised world.  They had to build where no White man had built before.  The climate was strange; the soil alien; the landscape wild and undisciplined; communications with the homeland at best tenuous.

But, as the months and years rolled by, they became tough and self-reliant.  Disease, accident and the indigenous people culled and whittled away those who were not.  On April 14, 1657, nine married men were released from the service of the Company, issued with “free papers” and permitted to set up as independent farmers.  From that moment, South Africa’s history took on a new and dramatic turn.

The Struggle Starts

The Company had unleashed forces totally beyond its control, the free burghers soon making it clear that they wished to live their own lives, in their own way, in this new country of their own choice.

In 1688 from France came the first Huguenots, fleeing religious persecution.  Mostly viticulturists or skilled artisans, they brought with them the grape, so founding one of SA’s greatest and most lucrative industries.  They bequeathed us such names as Marais, Fouché, Pinard (now Pienaar), Misnard (now Minnaar), Roux, Joubert, Theron, de Villiers, Crosnier (now Cronje), de Clercq (now de Klerk), Malherbe, du Plessis and du Toit.

In 1795 a new and potent factor entered: the British seized the Cape from the Dutch, thus launching the “century of wrong.”  British possession of the Cape was confirmed by the Treaty of Paris in 1814.  Soon British settlers were streaming in after the Napoleonic Wars… the beginning of the long power struggle between Boer and Brit and Black.

In 1828 the colonial Government promulgated Ordinance 50, giving new rights to Bushmen, Hottentots and mixed race people.  With this came the “Black Circuit” courts through which farmers could be brought to trial at the instance of missionaries and servants.  Resentment ran high.  In 1834 Britain ordered slaves to be emancipated in every part of the Empire.

For the Boers this was the last straw: not so much the actual deed as the circumstances under which it was carried out, making it almost impossible for any slave owner to get his lawful compensation.  And so began the Great Trek, the frontiersmen in their oxwagons setting off with their families, their servants, their cattle and their sheep, in search of a promised land where they could live as they pleased, far beyond (they hoped) the reach of the meddlesome British.


During the decade 1836/46 some 12000 men, women and children left their homes in the Cape Colony: the first repudiation in Africa of colonial rule.  By now these people had become a race of extreme individualists, suspicious of any authority or discipline.  In No Outspan, Deneys Reitz wrote: “Knowing my countrymen as I do, I think the cause of their leaving was not so much hatred of the British as a dislike of any rule.”

There was not one Great Trek, but at least six large ones.  When they set forth, the Trekkers had no idea of their final destination (some thought they would eventually reach Egypt) or how long it would take them.  It is an absurdity, trying to tell the story of the Trek in a few paragraphs.  It was to the Afrikaners what Paul Revere’s Ride, Custer’s Last Stand, Valle Forge and the Alamo – marvellous feats of heroism all – are to the Americans.

The Trekkers encountered huge hardships and danger in the course of their wanderings.  Wagons had to be dismantled and carried over the difficult mountain passes.  There was constant danger from wild beasts.  There was the frequent threat of attack from hostile tribesmen.  Boer women in particular demonstrated the most elemental fortitude.  They left their homes behind them without doctors, teachers or dominees, this lack later to cause noticeable intellectual and cultural isolation and impoverishment.  Mostly, the only book they carried with them was the Bible.

Initially, they settled in Natal but soon found themselves at odds with the Cape Colony.  Cape merchants feared the possible rivalry of Durban where ships from the US and Holland had already started to put in to trade.  To the anger of the Trekkers, the British Government annexed Natal in 1843.  Many trekked back over the Drakensberg to the highveld of the Orange Free State and Transvaal.

New Nation

Once more, British authority followed them.  In 1848 the Free State was proclaimed the Orange River Sovereignty, with a Resident Commissioner to represent the British Government.  By now the Afrikaners, like the first Americans on the other side of the world, had ceased to be Europeans.  They had their own language [Afrikaans], their own lands.  Though they still worshipped their stern Calvinist God,[3] there was no thought of ever going “home” to Europe, because there was no home to go to.  They lived by the Bible and the gun.  A new nation had been born on the face of the earth.

At the Sand (Zand) River Convention of 1852 the British Government recognised the South African Republic (Transvaal) as an independent republic.  The Orange Free State was given independence at the Bloemfontein Convention of 1854.  But, for the next 50 years, crisis followed crisis in Boer/Brit relations.  The Boers beyond dispute were wickedly pushed around.

The position was intolerably complicated by the discovery of diamonds on the Orange River in 1867.  “Gentlemen,” said the British Colonial Secretary, “This is the rock on which the future success of South Africa will be built.”  Indeed, a quarter of a billion carats were to be dug out in the next century.  But, since the diamonds lay in Afrikaans lands, the British simply declared they were annexing these lands.  British and foreign miners came pouring in.

Golden Prize

In 1877 Whitehall suddenly announced the annexation of the Transvaal but, to the astonishment of the world and the fury of Westminster, the Transvaal Boers, with numerically far inferior forces, outwitted and defeated the British Army in a series of engagements culminating in the victory of Majuba.  Their self-government was restored, at first subject to British suzerainty.  This was lifted in 1884.

In 1887 the richest gold deposits in the world were discovered in the Transvaal.  Still more British and foreign miners came flooding in to dig up the Voortrekkers’ homeland.  Now, both Boer republics were glittering prizes.  From being stubborn little farmer “principalities” of no serious interest to the outside world, they were transformed almost overnight into fabulous repositories of incalculable mineral wealth, sparking white-hot interest on the part of powerful financial circles in Johannesburg and London.

In 1895 two multi-millionaires, Cecil John Rhodes – a plotter and a traitor – and his friend Alfred Beit, in collusion with British Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain and the scheming Lord Milner, conspired to take over the Transvaal for themselves and the Empire.  Their rationale for hostilities and eventual casus belli?  The alleged denial of franchise rights by President Kruger to the mainly English-speaking uitlanders, a fraudulent invention as the Boer leader well understood.

“Their rights?  Yes, they will get them – over my dead body,” proclaimed Kruger.  And he added, ominously: “The Republics are determined, if they are to belong to England, that a price will have to be paid  that will stagger humanity.”

Disgraceful Struggle

So was set the stage for the disgraceful struggle involving a tiny White nation and the most powerful and acquisitive empire in the world.  War came in 1899.  It cannot be too strongly stressed that it was not the British who fought the Afrikaners.  It was the international money powers who manipulated the British Government of the day to send English, Welsh, Scotch and Irish soldiers to fight and die on the battlefields of South Africa.  Stripped down to basics, the Boer War was a criminal act of cosmic proportions.    Not all were fooled by the conspirators and their chicanery.

On December 18, 1898 – before the outbreak of war – Lieutenant-General William Butler, then Commander-in-Chief of British Forces in SA and Acting High Commissioner during Milner’s absence in England, wrote from the Cape to the Secretary of the Colonies: “All the political questions in South Africa and nearly all the information sent from Cape Town are being worked by what I have already described as a colossal syndicate for the spread of false information.”

Totally disgusted with the treachery of those whom he termed “the train-layers setting the political gunpowder,” Butler, an Irishman who had served the Empire loyally and with distinction in India, Canada, West Africa and elsewhere, resigned his post immediately after Milner’s return and returned to Britain.

Similar comment came from J.A. Hobson, the Hampstead intellectual, classical scholar and Manchest Guardian correspondent who visited the Transvaal just before the outbreak of war.  He, too, warned that “finance-capitalists” were seeking war for their own ends.  He wrote: “We are fighting to place a small international oligarchy of mine owners and speculators in power in Pretoria.  Englishmen would do well to recognise that the economic and political destinies of South Africa are, and seem likely to remain, in the hands of men, most of whom are foreigners by origin, whose trade is finance and whose trade interests are not British.”

Infernal Alliance

In his well-documented book, The Boer War, Thomas Pakenham says this about the causes of the conflict: “First there is this golden thread running through the narrative, a thread woven by the ‘gold bugs,’ the Rand millionaires who controlled the richest gold mines in the world.  It has been hitherto assumed by historians that none of the ‘gold bugs’ was directly concerned in making the war…. I have found evidence of an infernal alliance between Sir Alfred Milner, the High Commissioner, and the firm of Wernher-Beit, the dominant Rand mining house.  It was this alliance, I believe, that gave Milner the strength to precipitate the war.”

The outcome was inevitable.  Britain was the world’s greatest military power and, in the course of the three-year struggle, put 448 000 troops in the field (as many as the US had in Vietnam and Napoleon employed in Russia in 1812), this against 87000 Boers.

It was in this conflict that the Boers introduced modern guerilla warfare.  To counter this Kitchener unleashed his policy of devastation, aimed at starving the Boer commandos out, at creating a situation where hunger would force them to surrender.  It was a new strategy which would later be known as the “scorched earth” policy of the Russian armies in World War Two.

Before the War finally ended in 1902, 30 000 farms lay in ruins.  In some cases, such as Bothaville, Ventersburg, Frankfurt, Lindley, Fouriesburg, villages were totally destroyed.  Vrede, Reitz, Senekal, Dewetsdorp, were others which fared little better.  The correspondent of The Daily Chronicle, 25.5.1900, wrote: “From end to end the Orange River Colony lies ruined and starving.”

The Boers were never finally defeated in the field.  A peace treaty was not signed until the women, children and old men of the Afrikaner nation were herded into the unhealthy and badly run British “relocation” or concentration camps.  Of the estimated 60 000 prisoners held by the British, some 20 000, 4000 women and 16 000 children, succumbed to famine and disease.  Later, updated figures put the total at 26 000.  Whatever the number, it was a harsh action against an enemy noted for humane treatment and honourable deportment.

The first of six reasons given by the Boer delegates at the Vereeniging Peace Conference for the discontinuation of the war read: “Firstly, that the military policy pursued by the British military authorities has led to the general devastation of the territory of both Republics by the burning down of all means of existence, by the exhausting of all resources required for the maintenance of our families, the existence of our armies, and the continuance of the war.”


“The frightful mortality of the concentration camps was the second reason given for laying down arms.  “Secondly, that the placing of our families in the concentration camps has brought an unheard of condition of suffering and sickness, so that in a comparatively short time about 20 000 of our beloved have died there, and that the horrid probability has arisen that by continuing the war our whole nation may die out in this way.”

Obviously, the potential extermination of their entire nation could not be viewed with equanimity by the Boer leaders.  Writing in the London Times, 13.12.1903, Lord Courtney commented: “When they heard of the horrors which had been heaped upon those closest and dearest to them – deserted in the field, robbed of provisions, clothing and covering – then their resolution gave way and they accepted peace.”

The Anglo/Boer War was the Afrikaners’ Holocaust, resulting in the deaths of perhaps 20% of the total Afrikaner population of the Transvaal and Orange Free State – most of them women and children.  It ruined their farms and their country.  The Afrikaners have never forgotten the martyrdom of their people.  The whole land was filled with sorrow and misery: but the spirit of the people was undaunted.  The Afrikaners were filled with an inexorable determination to survive.

This was a conflict on which no Britisher could look back with pride.  But it did have one overwhelming effect.  It created the Afrikaner nation.  The moral victory was theirs.  The Boer War may have been the Afrikaners’ greatest tragedy.  It was also their finest hour.

It brought a pastoral, agrarian, unsophisticated and very private people into contact with the outside world in the most bitter way.  The war was, for the Afrikaners, to prove the great divide between the traditional and the modern social orders.

And that war could carry great warnings for us today.  For the crisis that South Africa faces today is in many ways reminiscent of that in which the burghers found themselves 91 years ago… with, indeed, certain of the same sort of players calling the shots.  They are, of course, the international money men.

Throughout the first half of the 20th Century poverty and degradation were the lot of SA’s predominantly Afrikaans “Poor White” community.  This group, unskilled, uneducated, malnourished, weakened by malaria and bilharzia, was prevented by the existence of a huge body of cheap Black labour from becoming an established class of labourers and wage earners.  But already the first self-help groups were being formed.

The Broederbond formally came into being on June 5, 1918.  Its objectives?  “The uniting of Afrikaners throughout the country; the desire for the upliftment of our nation, and the need to work together to remove differences… and to establish a healthy and forward-looking community.”  It sought to arouse “the self-awareness of the Afrikaner, and the inspiring of love for his language, history, traditions, country, nation and religion.”[4]

Three years later came the next disastrous setback.  The post-war boom collapsed in 1921.  Hardest hit were the Afrikaners in the rural areas.  Here about 30% of the White population belonged to a landless squatter class known as bywoners, living precariously on the land of others, but neither as wage earners nor tenants, a system more typical of the 14th rather than the 20th Century.  Cursed by drought, locusts and the cattle plague, rinderpest, these particular “poor whites” now started flocking to the cities, where they created dreadful slums.  The problem was vastly accentuated nine years later, with the onset of the Great Depression.


South Africa, with its over-concentration in mining and agriculture, was hard hit indeed.  As world markets collapsed, maize exports earned only £523 000 in 1931, against £3 520 000 in 1925.  An army of unemployed began appearing on city streets.  Almost unbelievably, hitherto stable families faced starvation.  Professional men were among those begging for food.

Soup kitchens were opened, distribution of food parcels begun.  Major cities pleaded with jobseekers to stay away as they had more than enough workless of their own.  Early attempts to help the constant inflow of the rural destitute included founding of the Johannesburg suburb of Vrededorp.  The Poor Whites increased in such numbers that in 1930 they were estimated at 150 000.  Magazines and newspapers carried articles on “How to Live on a Shilling a Day.”

Jobs were specially created.  There were roads to be built, railway lines, dams, afforestation schemes.  The SA Railways (SAR) absorbed thousands of unemployed.  In 1924 the SAR employed 4760 White labourers.  Seven years later this figure jumped to 16 248.  By 1932 188 000 Whites alone were registered at unemployment bureaux across the country.  Of 45 000 handymen and unskilled workers who had registered, a mere 5000 were given jobs.

A large number of cultural and self-help organisations were established in these years: the Reddingsdaadbond (literally Rescue Operation Alliance, representing a concerted Afrikaans action to extract themselves from their dreadful dilemma); the FAK – Federasie van Afrikaanse Kultuurvereniging; the SA Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns; the ATKB; AKPOL; the SAVF; Dames Aktuel; Jong Dames Dinamiek and many more.

Carnegie Report

The first detailed, scientific study of the Poor White problem nation-wide was made by SA investigators financed by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.  The Commission issued a five-volume report on its findings in 1932.

A “Poor White” was designated as “someone of European descent who could not support himself according to even a moderate European standard of civilisation.”  At the time of the investigation, the Commission estimated that 300 000 of the White Community, 17,5% of the total number, were “very poor.”  One in every four Afrikaners was a “Poor White,” it was stated.

After intelligence testing of more than 15 000 pupils in 170 schools, many of them from Poor White homes, the Commission said that this “leads to the conclusion that a greater part of them constitute a human material which need not be a burden, but which may, granted a sound State policy, become a decided asset to the Union.”

By now, relief schemes were in full blast, with tens of thousands of men employed on railways, roads and irrigation schemes.  They were given free housing and paid at the rate of 3s. to 5s. a day.  In this manner, over the years, great numbers were assisted to reach a higher level of subsistence.

While acknowledging the need for such crisis assistance, the Commission stressed the danger of indiscriminate giving of State and charitable doles to the Poor Whites.  It stated that “the spirit of dependence on the State on the part of the poor, and even of the more privileged classes, has grown to such an extent that it may almost be called a national malady.”  The opinion was also quite widely mooted at this time that those who accepted Government assistance should forfeit the right to vote.

The Commission did not consider that the best place for Poor Whites was necessarily on the land.  Indeed, the Commissioners stated that industrial work in the towns was “one of the most potent means of bringing about their economic rehabilitation.”

Industrial Salvation

World War Two drew yet further thousands of Afrikaners to the cities.  The huge jump in industrialisation during and after World War Two fully substantiated the opinion of the Commissioners: that it was here the Afrikaners had to look for their economic salvation.

In 1948 the Afrikaners recaptured what they had lost on the battlefields: control of their own country.  Now well and truly back in the driving seat, the Afrikaners began changing their blue collars for white.  They began moving off the farms and into the cities, where most of them now live.  In 1900 only 10% of Afrikaners lived in the urban areas.  By 1970 the proportion was almost exactly the reverse, with only 12% still living on the platteland.  Poor Whitism, as a national problem, slowly disappeared.

The influence of education on the upward mobility of the Afrikaner has been profound.  As late as 1945, there were only some 14 000 White university students in the entire country.  This rose to 30 000 in 1960; 55 000 in 1970; 83 000 in 1980 and 100 245 in 1988.  But even after 1948 the domination of the cities by English speakers persisted.  There was, for many years, no place in that world of business and money for the Afrikaners, whose talented sons instead found success in law, politics, academe and the arts.

Slowly, led by “wonder boy” Anton Rupert, the Afrikaners began making their breakthrough.  Apart from the Rupert empire, we saw the rise of Sanlam, Volkskas, Federale Volksbeleggings, General Mining, Perskor, Nationale Pers and many more.  Today, in their conquest of the “commanding heights” of banking, industry, mining, commerce, there is little to choose between the Afrikaner and his Anglo counterpart.

We will end on another quote from Dr Leistner: “The Afrikaner did not receive ‘development aid’ from a solicitous world community.  They wasted little time or energy indulging in self-pity for being victims of British imperialism.  Rather did they activate a spirit of national pride and cohesion among their downtrodden but highly individualistic people.  Enthusiastic young intellectuals and businessmen set up financial institutions to mobilise Afrikaner savings.  Today giant corporations testify to the determination and acumen of these pioneers…”

For the ANC the lesson surely is: “Go, and do likewise.”

Originally published November/December 1990; republished October 2011

Aida Parker was a highly articulate, conservative South African journalist, whose Aida Parker Newsletter was read around the world before she passed away in 2002.  Her excellent writings should not be forgotten.  This article is taken from The Aida Parker Newsletter, Issue No. 140, November/December 1990, published by Aida Parker Newsletter (Pty) Ltd., Auckland Park, Johannesburg, South Africa.  Consent was granted for the use of this material, providing acknowledgment was made of the name of the copyright holder: Aida Parker Newsletter (Pty) Ltd.  It has been slightly edited for publication here.



[1]. “once intensely conservative”: Parker uses the term “conservative” in the negative sense that at one time the Afrikaners were virtually isolated from the rest of the western world, not in the sense of being politically conservative; for she herself was a political conservative.

[2]. “Calvinist”: Parker uses this term in the negative sense here.  Christians, believing in the wonderful doctrines of sovereign grace (including election, particular redemption, and irresistible grace), are often referred to as “Calvinists”, after the Protestant Reformer John Calvin, who taught them; but this is an unfortunate term, not only because these doctrines are biblical, and were not invented by Calvin, but also because Calvin also held to various false doctrines, so that the term is often used to mean much more than merely an adherence to the doctrines of grace.  In South Africa, the Afrikaners’ once widely-held belief that they were a special, divinely chosen people, and their particular theology of God, which was often a misrepresentation of the biblical doctrines known as “Calvinism”, caused the term “Calvinist” to be applied to them in a negative sense.  Their interpretation of Calvinism, and their particular interpretation of the Old Testament revelation of God, caused them to often emphasise the justice and terror of God more than His love and mercy, thereby developing a theology of God that all too frequently left people with the impression that God was a stern, cold, distant, joyless God.  Sadly, this faulty theology had serious practical ramifications; and in South Africa to this day, when the term “Calvinist” is mentioned, it is understood by the man in the street solely in this incorrect sense.  And it is in this sense that Aida Parker makes use of it here.

[3]. See endnote 2 above.

[4]. Tragically the Broederbond was more than this: it was a secretive, almost Masonic-type organisation with political objectives and operated behind the political scenes as a shadowy force within Afrikaner politics.


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