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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
Print version ISSN 0041-4751

Abstract

TERBLANCHE, Otto. The Dutch academic boycott against South Africa: An analysis. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2016, vol.56, n.4-2, pp.1113-1127. ISSN 2224-7912.  http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/2224-7912/2016/v56n4-2a2.

The year 1960 was a watershed in South Africa´s history. The shootings at Sharpeville, 21 March 1960, had a negative impact on South Africa's foreign relations. South Africa and the Netherlands became estranged. The boycott and sanctions movement would set in. In 1962 the UN General Assembly set up the Special Committee against Apartheid. In 1968 the General Assembly asked all member states to suspend cultural, educational and sporting exchanges with South Africa. In 1980 the General Assembly adopted a resolution asking all member states to take steps to prevent all cultural, academic, sports and other exchanges with South Africa. A similar resolution was adopted in 1983. The European Community adopted a series of measures in 1985, inter alia to discourage cultural, sporting and scientific contacts with South Africa. The Soweto uprising in 1976 and the death of Steve Biko in 1977 led to an outcry in the Netherlands. The Dutch government thus froze the Cultural Accord with South Africa in 1977 and it was finally abandoned in 1981. The Anti-Apartheidsbeweging Nederland (AABN) (Anti-aparthed movement of the Netherlands) published in 1980 a Zwartboek over wetenschappelijke kontakten tussen Nederland en Zuid-Afrika (Black book concerning scientific contacts between the Netherlands and South Africa). The AABN strongly condemned scientific and academic contacts between the Netherlands and South Africa. They were also very supportive of the African National Congress (ANC). Dr. Zola Skweyiya of the scientific bureau of the ANC visited the Netherlands in 1980. He was received with open arms at Dutch universities. The Dutch universities were a formidable ally in the anti-apartheid struggle. The Rev. C.F. Beyers Naudé received an honorary doctorate in 1972 from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU). The VU severed its ties with Potchefstroom University in 1974 and 1976. White South African academics were no longer allowed to lecture at the VU. The ANC stalwart, Govan Mbeki, received an honorary doctorate in 1978 from the Universiteit van Amsterdam (UvA). The ceremony was a demonstration of solidarity with the ANC and its leaders. The Govan Mbeki Fund was launched in 1977 to support South African students financially who could not complete their studies because of apartheid. The ANC was very much involved with the fund. The President of the ANC, Oliver Tambo, was invited to give a speech at the opening of the academic year in 1983. The Rijksuniversiteit Utrecht (RUU) severed its ties with South African academic institutions in 1979. A bust of Paul Kruger was stolen from the Senate Chamber in 1979. Kruger was seen as a symbol of the apartheid policy. Winnie Mandela received an honorary doctorate from the RUU in 1986. This gesture was widely criticized. An anti-apartheid fund was also launched in 1986. The Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (RUG) severed its ties with South African academic institutions in 1978. A follow up motion to that effect was accepted in 1985. The only contact that was acceptable was contact that was supportive of the anti-apartheid struggle. A Winnie Mandela Fund was launched in 1986 to support students that had to flee South Africa because of apartheid. The Rijksuniversiteit Leiden (RUL) severed its ties with South African academic institutions in 1978. The Dutch universities with the aid of the anti-apartheid organisations did their utmost to isolate and boycott white South Africa. In this process they were very supportive of the ANC. The Dutch academic boycott had a negative effect in many ways. Many white South African students could no longer study at Dutch universities. Dutch as an academic language in South Africa would also lose ground. The same applied to Afrikaans in the Netherlands. The younger Afrikaans-speaking academics would pursue other academic avenues in the broader European and American context.

Keywords : The Netherlands; South Africa; Cultural Accord; apartheid; anti-apartheid; African National Congress (ANC); academic boycott; United Nations; Amsterdam; Anti-Apartheidsbeweging Nederland (AABN); Dutch universities; Potchefstroom University.

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