Hermann Giliomee dissects the forces that shaped a 'maverick African' nation

29 January 2020 - 12:12
The Shaping of the Afrikaners.
Maverick Africans: The Shaping of the Afrikaners.
Image: Supplied

“The emotional debate about South Africa's past of colonialism and apartheid draws heavily on the assumption that our history differs little from that of other Western colonies where the land was forcibly taken from an indigenous population which was decimated or completely marginalised. A comparative study of colonialism, however, reveals several features that have made South Africa exceptional ... ”

Hermann Giliomee, pre-eminent SA historian, dissects the forces that shaped the Afrikaners into an unusual “maverick African” nation. In part one of this collection, he analyses long-term forces, such as the powerful legal position of Afrikaner women, the expanding frontier that gave rise to individualism and, later, republicanism, and the struggles about race inside the Dutch Reformed Church. 

The second part examines controversial aspects of more recent Afrikaner political history, including the alleged civil service purges after 1948, Nationalist corruption, the Absa “Lifeboat” and the quality of Afrikaner leadership. Finally, there is a chapter on the “broken heart” of the Afrikaner community. 

Giliomee's best-selling The Afrikaners was published to international acclaim and adapted into a popular television documentary. He was a Fellow at Yale in Connecticut, the UK's Cambridge and the Woodrow Wilson Centre in Washington DC.