Apartheid is an Afrikaans word meaning “separateness.” Yet, whenever the term is heard anywhere around the world, and especially in the Western World today, the de facto connotation most people will immediately make is with concepts such as hatred, suppression, injustice, tyranny or supremacy. Oftentimes when someone makes a statement of love towards one’s own kin, or promotes the idea of ethno-nationalism in favor of a more secular civic nationalism, one is criticized as having apartheid beliefs, with the understanding that apartheid is an oppressive and inhumane political system that exploits a majority of human beings for the sake of the well-being of an elite. Wikipedia describes apartheid in the first line of its article on the system as “a system of racial segregation enforced by the National Party governments of South Africa between 1948 and 1994, under which the rights of the majority ‘non-white’ inhabitants of South Africa were curtailed and white supremacy and minority rule by Afrikaners was maintained.”1 It is in light of conceptions such as these that the Dutch Reformed (Hervormde) Church in Africa2 recently declared that the policy of apartheid, as implemented in the Republic of South Africa, cannot be theologically justified, and that it recants all previous statements by the church in support of that system as “contradictory to the gospel of Jesus Christ.”3 One of the main purposes for the recent adoption of the Belhar confession by the mainstream Dutch Reformed churches at their general synod was also to emphasize the church’s rejection of apartheid.4
A biblical defense of ethno-nationalism has already been provided on this site, so I will not at length be discussing its moral status. Yet, while it is true that a system can be theoretically morally legitimate but practically unwise (1 Cor. 10:23), in the case of apartheid, it is very much disguised by the liberal propaganda machines that the practical application more often than not corresponded with a solid moral foundation. Now, let me make it clear at this stage that I’m not arguing that apartheid as implemented in South Africa was a distinctly Christian form of government, nor that theonomic civil ethics ever truly played a consistent and decisive role in the legislation. However, as Christians, we should judge all civil governments by the criteria laid down by Romans 13:3, namely that civil governments should “not be a terror to good works, but to evil.” The Belgic Confession explains this more clearly in article 36, when it states: “And being called in this manner to contribute to the advancement of a society that is pleasing to God, the civil rulers have the task, subject to God’s law, of removing every obstacle to the preaching of the gospel and to every aspect of divine worship.”5 When apartheid is measured against this criteria, it does pretty well compared to other modern governments, and is certainly superior to the post-apartheid “rainbow-nation” ideal of contemporary South Africa. Before discussing the system’s approach to race relations, it should be noted that the apartheid governments did a fair job of advancing general Christian ethics in society. For instance, pornography and gambling were banned, Sabbath-day trade was restrained, and abortion and homosexuality were also restricted. Even television, which we all now know has been instrumental in advancing cultural Marxist ideals, was banned until 1976.6 Furthermore, the glory of God was also verbally acknowledged by a fair number of major National Party politicians, most notably the former South African Prime Minister, Hendrik Verwoerd. He said the following in a speech on the fifth anniversary of the Republic of South Africa in Pretoria on May 31, 1966: “The power of inspiration of the Republican ideal was not limited to the achievement of political freedom. On the contrary, it was the inspiration of all our deeds, it was the inspiration of our growth as a nation. It led to our unity, it led to our economic prosperity, and it was based on our faith in God. We placed our future in His hands and received the gift from His hands five years ago.”7.
The Native Land Act of 1913 is generally considered one of the first major laws of apartheid. Generally, the mainstream media refers to this act as a suppressive measure by which whites forced black people into reserves and prevented all blacks from buying property outside of the areas reserved for them. The media will claim they were given only 7% of the land, and that these were the areas with no mineral riches. Mike Smith, a little-known political commentator from South Africa, describes this misconception as “a blatant lie and can be attributed to the lack of reading ability or legal comprehension of the journalists and historians of our time.” Smith also offers some valid arguments against this distorted perspective on history. Firstly, one of the biggest platinum mines in the world runs through the former homeland of Bophutatswana, and the nationalist government had no problem with granting the fullest rights to the Tswanas in that area, despite their already having a very large independent country, Botswana, granted them by the British. Furthermore, the largest part of South Africa (in which whites lived), called the Karoo, is a semi-desert comparable to Arizona. Blacks settled in the northern and eastern part of the country, which has a sub-tropical climate, as well as high rainfall in the summer and consequently a very fertile soil. The land granted them by the act of 1913 included those areas they freely chose to inhabit.8 It is also a fact that white Europeans, who settled the country from the south, and black Africans, who came from the north, are contemporary settlers of the area today known as South Africa.9 It was not as if the homelands where blacks received full political rights and self-determination were given to them by the white government, but their independence was merely acknowledged by the National Party government. In fact, when one understands that the apartheid policy towards blacks in general, but especially to the black homelands, was essentially a foreign policy rather than a genuine internal affair, one really begins to see through the many lies going around about apartheid. The black Bantustans were not the creation of a white government at all, but were merely acknowledged by the white government and recognized as independent countries. In fact, many whites who were living and owning property in those areas were forced by their own government to sell it and move elsewhere. But liberals twist the facts to such a degree that the help the National Party government gave to the black homelands in establishing functional governments, is purported as “forcing” blacks into reserves. However, the entire lie about the Native Land Act of 1913 was originally based on a 1914 book by Sol Plaatjie, in which fictional “evidence” of black dispossession in South Africa is given.8
The truth (as opposed to the lies of liberals and communists like Julius Malema) is that white people didn’t steal any land from the blacks. In the context of contemporary South Africa, with a black majority of about 40 million black people living all over the country (compared to just over 4 million whites) the 1913 Land Act would seem grossly unfair, but this is because of a deliberate attempt by liberals to blind the people to that which the 1913 Land Act truly was. This piece of legislation must be seen in the context of 5 million blacks virtually all still living in their homelands,11 with a small minority being guest workers in the former Boer Republics and British colonies. It is a well-known fact that there was never a major emigration of black people to white areas before the 1950s. The argument often made by liberals is that since the black population has increased tenfold today, then they must be given a larger portion of the land, but that does not hold water at all. In fact, this is essentially the same position as the German National Socialist Lebensraum policy which liberals claim to oppose as evil. This is as good as saying that if the current Dutch population of 16 million increased to overtake the German population of 80 million, they could rightfully demand a larger portion of Northern Europe, which is, of course, absolutely ridiculous.
This is part one of a two part series. In part two, I will give an overview of the effects of the implementation of the policy of Separate Development by the National Party in the late-colonial and Republican eras (1948-1990) and in so doing, continue to show that those who decry apartheid as inherently sinful and anti-Christian need to repent of judging a political system based on lies and a heretically reinvented Christian morality, rather than the biblical criteria laid down in Romans 13:3.
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apartheid ↩
- This church is a denomination originally formed by the Boers of the Transvaal in the nineteenth century who were refused the services of ministers from the Dutch Reformed Church in the Cape, simply because of their migration out of the British Colony. See http://www.nhk.co.za/cms/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=58&Itemid=64. ↩
- http://m.news24.com/volksblad/Suid-Afrika/Nuus/Kerk-staan-vas-by-besluit-oor-apartheid-20111005 ↩
- http://www.dieburger.com/Suid-Afrika/Nuus/Kerk-se-ja-vir-Belhar-20111013 ↩
- http://www.reformed.org/documents/index.html?mainframe=http://www.reformed.org/documents/BelgicConfession.html ↩
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apartheid#Conservatism ↩
- http://hendrikverwoerd.blogspot.com/ ↩
- http://mspoliticalcommentary.blogspot.com/2011/06/opening-pandoras-apartheid-box-part-32.html ↩
- http://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/we-are-all-settlers-in-sa-1.366860 ↩
- http://mspoliticalcommentary.blogspot.com/2011/06/opening-pandoras-apartheid-box-part-32.html ↩
- http://www.sahistory.org.za/social-histories/census-south-africa ↩