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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

versão On-line ISSN 2224-7912
versão impressa ISSN 0041-4751


SCHOLTZ, Leopold. The problem of historical guilt in South Africa. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2022, vol.62, n.1, pp.72-91. ISSN 2224-7912.

South Africans are very quick to accuse one another of having been very bad in the past. Afrikaners are accused of severe race discrimination in the form of apartheid. They are portrayed as uniquely evil, almost as bad as the Nazi's in the Second World War. At the same time, especially the ANC/SACP is accused of severe transgressions, such as terrorism in the name of a freedom struggle, supportfor a totalitarian system in the form of Marxism-Leninism, and extreme intolerance of deviant viewpoints in the liberation movement. It would be wrong to view the matter in a simplified way, as the problem of historical guilt is a complex one. In this article, the problem is, firstly, examined from an ethical perspective. Apartheid must be recognised as - when viewed from a Christian viewpoint - immoral and wrong. The policy is examined in detail, with the conclusion that, while there were fleeting moments in which things could have developed more positively, these moments were still-born. Subsequently, the accusation that apartheid was akin to Nazism is examined. It is concluded that, while there were superficial similarities, the differences were too deep, in principle, to be taken seriously. Another aspect that should be seriously considered is why the Afrikaners actually acted in a particular way. Without defending what they had done, it is clear that they, in their own minds, were convinced that the very survival of Afrikaners as a people was at stake amidst threatening historical circumstances exemplified by the political, cultural and economic onslaught of British imperialism, as well as the looming shadow of a vastly superior majority of black people. Lastly, there is the question as to whether the ANC/SACP also has historical guilt to carry. In the light of the way in which the very Kremlin-loyal SACP during the years took over the leadership of the alliance, the answer must be yes. The alliance wanted to replace apartheid with Communism, a policy which has as severe ethical problems as may be ascribed to apartheid. Also, the alliance handled dissenters in an extremely intolerant way by locking them up in concentration camps, where they were treated very cruelly. It is hoped that a nuanced treatise like this could promote a public debate in South Africa.

Palavras-chave : Apartheid; communism; ANC/SACP; Nazis; Karl Jaspers; Alfred Nzo; Oliver Tambo; Nelson Mandela; President FW de Klerk; Afrikaner nationalism; Lenin; Gandhi; Albert Luthuli; Kabwe; MK; Chris Hani; TRC; Joe Slovo.

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