South Africa—Another Viewpoint

Both in the secular and in the religious press South Africa is very much in the news at present. Almost unanimously the white minority government is condemned for its apartheid policy and for its recent actions in suppressing terrorism and rebellion on the part of those who have chosen these means of attempting to bring an end to apartheid. TheStandard Bearer has not commented substantively on the whole matter, but has only hinted from time to time that we were not hearing the whole story about South Africa in our press. Besides, we have criticized and expressed our disagreement in book reviews of the stance taken by various Reformed churches and leaders and writers with respect to apartheid and the alleged “heresy” of apartheid.

Recently Prof. Hanko shared with me a letter which he had received from a South African reader of both our Standard Bearer and our Protestant Reformed Theological Journal, a man with whom Prof. Hanko has occasional correspondence. I may add that this correspondent is not one of the “Dutch” South Africans. Because this letter is personal and was not intended for publication, I will not mention the correspondent’s name, nor quote the entire letter. However, he makes some very interesting comments about the situation in South Africa; and in doing so he furnishes a different viewpoint. I thought our readers would be interested in his viewpoint.

His comments begin as follows:

“It has been very interesting to note some odd (i.e. occasional, HCH) comments on the situation here in South Africa in the Standard Bearer. Quite in contrast to the anti-South Africa stance taken by the media (which in my opinion is very nearly 100% left-wing throughout the world). The violence that is occurring in S.A. today is without doubt instigated from outside the country, but with underground communist agitators inside the county, aided and abetted by the Rev. Trouble Makers, Bishop Tutu and Dr. Alan Boesak. Both of these gentlemen proclaim themselves true leaders of their people, but in fact their following is very small indeed. But they are experts in inflammatory speeches and rabble rousing. The furtherest thing from their thoughts is the calling of men and women to repentance and faith in Christ.”

He then sheds light on the tribal situation in S.A. which makes it plain that the situation there is by no means the same as with the racial (black vs. white) situation in our own country in the integration struggle. He writes as follows:

“What many outside S.A. fail to understand is the fact that we have about 13 main tribal groupings who speak different languages and have different cultures. Among these tribes there are many responsible men who are the truly elected leaders of their people, (but) known to the outside world as stooges of the Pretoria regime (the Botha government, HCH). This, of course, is typical left-wing jargon which clouds the issues. I often think it is strange how little notice is taken of Chief Buthelezi, the leader of the Zulu nation, which is the largest group in S.A. A man of high integrity and, as I understand it, a Christian. Believe me, he is very critical of many aspects of affairs in this country, but nevertheless is willing to cooperate and work towards solutions that will do away with many of the difficulties.”

Our correspondent has this to say with respect to the integration situation:

“We hear strange comments from people who profess to be experts on S.A. For example, it seems that it is widely believed that we cannot use the same shops, that we cannot use the same restaurants and so on. All this is, of course, nonsense. Restaurants are open to whoever can afford to pay; most hotels are open to all again for those who can afford to pay; there is no restriction on shopping. Most sport is open to all races; for example, soccer is totally integrated; athletic meetings always have people from all races . . . .”

With respect to the real problem he writes:

“All these things are really superficial. The main problem, as far as I am concerned, in S.A. is the desperate slide into humanism and the consequent blatant materialism that can be seen on every hand. The splendid Calvinistic heritage that this country has is being thrown overboard at an alarming pace. The Reformed churches are riddled with dead orthodoxy, holding to the form—and in many cases not even that—but no real belief. The only true Christian university is Potchefstroom, with Stellenbosch, in Cape Town, a pretty long way behind. But otherwise the universities are homes for pathetic liberal theologians who propagate their strange ideas almost in step with the humanistic philosophers who propagate their doctrines of despair.”

Finally, he puts the “state of emergency” which the S.A. government has declared in perspective, as follows:

“It may interest you to know that this ‘state of emergency’ that everyone seems to be so hysterical about affects 26 magisterial districts out of 200-odd magisterial districts in the country. The trouble by-and-large is black against black; in Durban they (the black agitators) infiltrated the Indian areas; and the latest, in Cape Town, have infiltrated the colored areas. So you can see the authorities have an enormous task to maintain law and order, which is, or course, the prime function of government. Dr. Alan Boesak has now been arrested, and he has been asking for this for a long time. This government will not lock up anybody for disagreeing with their policies either publicly or privately; but they will not tolerate people who go out of their way to undermine government, tell blatant lies, and deliberately cause trouble.”

A different viewpoint, and a different picture!

But there is another matter involved here to which we will call attention next time.

—HCH