Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe
On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
VAN DER MERWE, J.P. Morality as a part of Afrikaner values. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2009, vol.49, n.2, pp. 237-250. ISSN 2224-7912.
What is morality? The Verklarende Handwoordeboek van die Afrikaanse Taal describes it as: "That which relates to the sense of what is good and right (moral)". "Moral" is further defined as: "According to good mores: virtuous." The question that arises is: Who or what decides what is good and right, or what is virtuous? For example, there is a Khoi-San saying that goes: "Good is when I steal other people's wives and cattle; bad is when they steal mine" (Stewart 2004:184). From the point of view of a variety of human-scientific articles, it seems that the social group's morality is dictated at times by God, the church, the government and/or the ethnic group - and now, it seems, by the secular community, with its post-modernistic perspectives. It also seems that perceptions regarding morality and virtuousness are relative in nature, because different social groups have different value-orientations at various times. In Nietzsche's framework of thought, value is relative, provisional and time-bound. Nietzsche (1917:87) does not interpret the human being as a static, secluded substance. Moreover, the essence of human life does not lie embedded within the notion of self-preservation - it is contained in self-conquest and the realisation of the potential that is inherent within oneself. Thus, Nietzsche also refers to the human being as a creator. In the light of these convictions, according to Nietzsche, values are nothing other than perspectives that stimulate and direct the self-transcending triumph of the human being. In this sense, values comprise the conditions for the self-transcendent acts that are possible on the part of the human being. The existence of value lies in the fact that it guides the human being in his/her self-conquest. Values are not given objectively to human beings; rather, they originate from the subjective character of human life itself. This means that value is not an isolable entity that exists independently of the human being. What manifests itself as value, is that which stimulates the self-transcendence of human life, within a functional context (Menchken 1920:14-25 and Pitcher 1966:34-37). Although commentators differ regarding the question as to what the full impact of the post-apartheid dispensation was - and still is - on the Afrikaner, it is indisputably true that the political and social transformation that South Africa has undergone since 1994 has indeed been far-reaching in nature; and to a large extent, it has taken the majority of Afrikaners by surprise. Clearly, Afrikaners were not prepared for the changes that ensued, with the result that now, after a period of 14 years; they are being urgently confronted with the need to reflect on their values, moralities, solidarity, role and place in the new South Africa. According to this article, it seems that values and moralities, even amongst Afrikaners, are becoming increasingly dynamic in nature, and that individuals within Afrikaner ranks are diversifying to a greater extent, in terms of the determination of their own values and moralities. Professor P.S. Dreyer (in Nel 1979:39) writes: "In reality and in practice, however, it is always within a concrete situation of time and space that we must appraise, and obey or disobey, the demands of the prevailing values and moralities. The concrete situation of time, in the last instance, signifies history and space, as well as the state and condition of the country as the physical horizon within which the human being is obliged to live" (own translation). The new South Africa, with its liberal constitution, has undoubtedly played a contributing role in causing the modern-day Afrikaner to become more free-thinking in respect of moralities and value-judgements. Young Afrikaners are increasingly beginning to feel at home in the globalised society in which post-modernistic life- and world-views are the order of the day. It can thus rightfully be said that white Afrikaners are indeed outgrowing their narrow, conservative Christian values and norms. This does not mean that young Afrikaners are less Christianity-oriented. All that it means is that Afrikaners' perceptions and value-judgements in respect of Christianity have also undergone a metamorphosis since 1994.
Keywords : Morality; Values; Afrikaner; post-apartheid; South Africa; religion; postmodernism; Christianity; nationalism; Afrikaner culture; globalisation.