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.”