Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 30, No. 7. 1967.

Are we sinful or are they wrong?

page 10

Are we sinful or are they wrong?

Rebellious students are in the news — demonstrating at the London School of Economics, striking in California, rioting in Latin America. Traditionally, they are in the forefront of radicalism. But in South Africa, the political system has thrown up a new breed of student—the Afrikaner students, more reactionary even than the Government which created them.

They have held a demonstration only once in their history—a thousands strong march against "liberalism." They are probably the most Right-wing element in South Africa today.

The young Africaner is taught in home, school, and church to absorb the rigid values of Afrikanerdom—a strict Calvinism, an unshakeable belief in Apartheid as the will of God, a sense of almost divine mission as a volk, and also a fundamental conservatism.

The universities mould the future Afrikaner leaders to this pattern. Largest is the Afrikaans university of Pretoria, where the student coun-cil will fine up to £200 any female student caught smok-ing on the campus, "because smoking, noisiness, and the use of alcohol are not in keeping with the Afrikaner womanhood." Folksinging is banned as well because it "pokes fun at existing institutions and is subversive, communistic and threatens the future of the Afrikaner." Political nonconformity among lecturers does not go unheeded either.

In this article Ian Robertson discusses universities where no students protest. As president of the National Union of South African Students, Mr. Robertson was responsible for inviting Senator Robert Kennedy to the country last year. He was later banned by the Government and is now in England.

At Potcherstroom University, even dancing is prohibited, on or off the campus. When one anonymous student penned a plaintive letter to the Afrikaans press suggesting that "little dance parties with soft drinks" might be held, the correspondence column erupted with indignation for a month.

"Liberalism has entered the citadels of Afrikanerdom," thundered a parent. The issue was settled with a professional statement to the effect that "dancing, being adultery, is sinful." followed by an official pronouncement by Dominee Kempff of the Afrikaans church: "Dance and sex are the same thing. It is not sinful if I dance in the sitting-room! with my wife—not that I do—but the intimacies of marriage must remain private."

Afrikaner students do not participate in the multiracial national union of students: "We are separate nations so we have nothing to discuss, as we have nothing in common."

They have their own Student Bond, a movement so Right-wing that it embarrasses the Government—three years ago, for example it demanded military training for boys and girls from the age of 13. Last year they condemned the American Field Service scholarships as a "liberalistic, humanistic attempt to denationalise the Afrikaner."

Only one crack has been made in the facade—at Stel-lenbosch Afrikaans University, by Senator Robert Kennedy on his visit last June. Faced with an impassive audience, he suddenly rapped: "What will you do if you get to Heaven and find out God is black?"

"It was as if," said a Kennedy aide afterwards, "he'd electrocuted them!" To many it was the ultimate blasphemy, but to some it was real food for thought, and a rebel group was formed to launch a new student newspaper — admittedly Right-wing in tone, but critical none the less. Kennedy had pierced a tiny hole in the monolith.

To the young Afrikaner, the world seems full of hostile "isms," all intent on destroying Afrikanerdom, which can be saved only if Afrikaners stand united until the world realises the lightness of their cause.

And so nearly 60 per cent of South Africa's university population continues to regard uncritical conformity as the highest virtue, and to treat the prevalent ideology as a national sacred cow.

Perhaps nowhere is the sickness of South African society better illustrated than by the sad spectacle of almost 30.000 young people abdicating the universal student role and hugging instead the very chain that binds them.