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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

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

Tydskr. geesteswet. vol.48 n.2 Pretoria  2008


Suid-Afrika na dertien jaar (1994 -2007) - met spesiale verwysing na analogieë met Litoue


South Africa after thirteen years (1994-2007)- with special reference to analogies with Lithuania



Alex Antonites

Departement Filosofie, Universiteit van Pretoria.




Die Ryk van Litoue sowel as kontemporêre Litoue toon talle analogieë met Suid-Afrika en die Litouers met Afrikaanses. Beide het die afgelope tyd transformasie ondergaan en beide word gekenmerk deur 'n verskeidenheid van kulture. Die Litouse ryk se beleid van verdraagsaamheid ten opsigte van diverse kulture was suksesvol. Die Litouse situasie beklemtoon die belangrikheid van taal en kulturele selfbewussyn. Dit het duidelike parallelle in Suid-Afrika. Sowel Litous as Afrikaans was by tye op die agtergrond, maar albei kulture bly behoue. Die betekenis van 'n nie-outentieke bestaan van Litoue in die Sowjet-era word behandel. Die geldigheid van sowel nasionale as internasionale waardes is by sowel Litouers as Afrikaanses van belang.

Trefwoorde: Litous, nasionale waardes, internasionale waardes, outentieke bestaan, kulturele diversiteit, russifikasie, Vilnius


Several analogies exist between South Africa and Lithuania in general and more in particular between the Afrikaans and Lithuanian peoples. The article contains much history in so far as it is relevant to the analogies. Therefore it is not a historical treatment of Lithuania's history as such. Although the main point of comparison is the Empire, modern and contemporary Lithuania is also discussed, but then seen in continuity with the Empire.
In both Afrikaner and Lithuanian cultures, the important role of heroes in the past is obvious. In South Africa well known examples are Racheltjie de Beer, Piet Retief, Paul Kruger, General de la Rey and many others and in Lithuania these include Gedeminias, Jonas Basanavicius and Roman Kalanta, amongst others. In times of crisis convergence of expressions are noted between hortatory expressions of, for example, Gedeminias and Voortrekker women.
Lithuania is discussed because of its little known qualities. Very few academic studies exist outside Lithuania about Lithuania. This is largely because of the closed Soviet past and a general unfamiliarity with Lithuania. British, Roman, Greek, and other empires are very well known, but very few people are even aware of the existence of the Lithuanian Empire. The late usage of Lithuanian in written works may have played a role in this regard. For the same reason as well as background, a short comparison is drawn between the Lithuanian, Latvian, Sanskrit and Latin languages.
It is taken into account that the idea of federalism started very early in Lithuanian history. This can be seen in the relative independence of groups or areas. This seemed to get stronger in the Empire. Although there was no federal constitution in a modern sense of the word, the philosophy of relative independence for various cultural groups just seemed to be spontaneously taken for granted. Even today many Lithuanians are keen to speculate on a federation with Latvia, Estonia, Belo-Russia and the Ukraine.
The 14th century constituted the culmination of the Empire under the leadership of Gedeminias. Some disanalogies with the two Boer Republics in South Africa, are that Gedeminias occupied large areas of central and Eastern Europe, while the Afrikaners never strived for an Empire. The analogy consists in the multi-cultural realities of both the Empire and later South Africa. Although simple generalizations cannot be made about empires, a significant correspondence exists between such empires and a contemporary multinational state.
Both Afrikaans and Lithuanian people have a high regard2for the value of their two languages. The role of the Lithuanian language in the Empire and afterwards varied. In the Empire it did not play a strong normative, let alone constitutive role. Lithuanian was appreciated, as becomes clear from the fact that the Lithuanian people continued to speak it. However, in rustic times before World War I, the top echelons spoke Lithuanian, but preferred Polish above Lithuanian in official and important written works - even in ordinary private correspondence. The analogy with Afrikaners in the Free State Boer republic is striking. Before the Anglo Boer War, in rustic times, the state president, all important officials, and many private citizens, preferred to write and speak English. The moment that oppression and suppression of Lithuanian by the Tsar and the suppression of Afrikaans in the previous Boer republics by British imperialism became evident, a strong awareness of these languages took place among their speakers: the two languages became part of a strong sense of national identity.
The Lithuanians were remarkably tolerant in cultural, political and religious matters. Although the Convention of Geneva was still far-off in the future, Gedeminias and many followers applied the rules and spirit of Geneva. The Lithuanians besieged Berlin, and several times Moscow. It was in their power to destroy the cities and people, but they did not do so. And the inhabitants of Berlin and Moscow were treated fairly. Initially Lithuanians comprised about 70% of the Empire but very soon this figure dropped to 30%. Most were Slavic ethnic groups, like Polish, Ruthenian/Ukranian, Belo-Russian, and Latvian. The tolerant spirit in the Empire attracted many Russian principalities outside the Empire as well as many Germans and Jews to settle in the Empire. Never did one hear of ethnic cultural oppression or discrimination. Religious freedom was also highly valued and promoted. The Lithuanians eventually became Roman Catholic, while in the (now) Belo Russia and the Ukraine most were of Russian/Greek orthodox orientation. The Lithuanians even tried to unite the Roman Catholic Church and Greek orthodox churches in the Empire. Jews and Muslims settled voluntarily in the empire - no discrimination was experienced. Some attempts to discriminate were severely dealt with by Lithuanian authorities. I think that this is most remarkable for the 14th and 15th centuries. This tolerance and democratic spirit did not persevere for a very short time only; it was not a whim, but instead this spirit lasted for three ages in the Empire. It was not the outcome of western democratic liberal philosophies. Rather, it is something unique and is still current in contemporary Lithuania where the small Russian population is treated2fairly in contrast to Latvia (related to Lithuanian) where a larger Russian population is compelled to learn Latvian. The logo of the Lithuanian and Boer republics is the same.
The Soviet era brought about an inauthentic existence among Lithuanians. Russification as in the Tsar's time was repeated, similar to Lord Milner s Anglicizing of Afrikaners after the Anglo Boer war.
Contemporary Lithuania still breathes the tolerant spirit of the Empire. Much is to be learned for South Africa. Although not perfect, it shows that respect for culture and identity, can work in a multinational state. Post-Soviet Lithuanians as well as post-apartheid Afrikaans people, seem to find meaning in both national and international values in several areas of life.

Key concepts: Lithuanian, national values, international values, authentic existence, cultural diversity, russification, Vilnius


Full text available only in PDF format. 



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1 Die glybaan argument staan ook bekend as die domino-argument. In Engels is dit bekend as die slippery slope argument. Dit hou in dat indien een negatiewe saak toegelaat word om te gebeur, dit geleidelik tot 'n kettingreeks van negatiewe gevolge gaan lei wat uiteindelik katastrofies kan wees. Dit is die spreekwoordelike "gaatjie in die dyk" argument.
2 Teorie of teoretiese verwysingsraamwerk dui op 'n fundamentele raamwerk wat vergelykbaar is met die gedagte van 'n paradigma. Dit behels die basiese veronderstellings, ontologie, metodologie en tegniese van 'n bepaalde perspektief op die werklikheid wat nagevors of bestudeer word. Binne hierdie raamwerk word gegewens of sake gemtersepteer en/of verklaar. Dit dui op hoe die wetenskaplike sy/haar wêreld sien. Dit maak dat bepaalde afleidings, argumente en analogieë of strukture sin uitmaak. Mens sou kon sê die teorie is primer iets hermeneuties. Dit geld sowel natuur- as geesteswetenskappe. Hiermee word die positivistiese verstaan van teorie as slegs 'n hoër vlak van natuurwetmatigheid of 'n versameling van natuurwette afgewys.
3 Die artikel maak dikwels gebruik van die terme Afrikaner en Afrikaanses. Afrikaanses omvat Afrikaner maar nie andersom nie. Afrikaners is mense wat hul identifiseer met kultuur-historiese waardes soos byvoorbeeld die Groot Trek, die Anglo-Boere Oorlog, en nog meer. Bruin Afrikaanses gaan hul nie noodwendig hiermee identifiseer nie, hoewel dit hul vry staan om dit te doen en dit ook kan gebeur. Hul deel 'n gemeenskaplike taal met Afrikaners. Dis baie waarskynlik dat Afrikaanses, veral bruin Afrikaanses, mettertyd ook ander waardes met Afrikaners begin deel. Dit kan so mettertyd verdere inhoud kry soos wat blyk uit albei wat in meer as een opsig saamwerk en groepeer rondom sake soos erkenning deur die owerheid op sosiale en andere gebiede, demokrasie en andere. Ook hier kan taal mettertyd meer waarde as net 'n spreektaal kry. Afrikaanses is dan veral mense wat sedert 1994 meer bekend begin word het. In die artikel sal die twee terme Afrikaners en Afrikaanses dienooreenkomstig gebruik word, dit is soos wat dit in 'n betrokke situasie en tyd van toepassing is.
4 Die USSR staan vir Unie van Sosialistiese Sowjet Republike. Ook bekend as die Sowjet Unie.
5 Die Wit-Russe van Wit-Rusland se taal is verwant aan Russies, en hul kan mekaar oor en weer redelik goed verstaan. In Russies en Wit-Russies is hul bekend as Belo-Rus en in Engels Belo Russia. Na onafhanklikheid in 1991, het die staat 'n sterk outokratiese regeringsvorm ontwikkel met 'n sterk gesentraliseerde staatsgesag. Litoue oefen sterk invloed op Wit-Rusland uit om te demokratiseer.
6 Outeur self se grootouers het Litoue verlaat voor die Eerste Wêreldoorlog. Hulle was egter Rooms Katoliek. Van omtrent 100,000 Jode in Litoue is die meeste tydens die Nazi besetting van Litoue in die Tweede Wêreldoorlog geëlimineer sodat dat daar vandag omtrent net nog 300 Jode oor is in Litoue.
7 Die volgende gebiede en hul name verdien verheldering soos Wit-Rusland by Voetnoot 5) hierbo. In die tyd voor en met Gediminas was daar 'n groot Slawiese gebied oos van Litoue en Pole bekend as Kievan Rus. Oekraïne, Wit-Rusland het nog nie bestaan nie. Vandag se Oekraïne en Wit-Rusland, die Prinsdom van Novgorod, die Suid westelike gebied met Volhenië en Rutenië en die groot Prinsdom van Moskou was deel van Kievan Rus. Kief (vandag die Oekraïne se hoofstad) was Kievan Rus se hoofstad en die dominante sentrum. Kievan Rus het bestaan vanaf 880-middel I2de eeue. Tussen 980-1015 bereik Kievan Rus sy hoogtepunt met prins Vladimir die Grote. Die swaartekrag van Kievan Rus verskuif ook vanaf Kief na Novgorod. Hierna verbrokkel Kievan Rus met die Tartaarse en Mongoolse aanvalle. Novgorod word onafhanklik, terwyl Volhenië en die gebied wat nou as Oekraïne bekend staan, deel word van die Litouse Ryk. Lg. twee gebiede se Slawiese taal was reeds besig om in Oekrai'nies te ontwikkel. Ruteens is vir alle praktiese doeleindes Oekraïnies. Die Noord Ooste met Moskou as sentrum, se Slawiese taal ontwikkel tot Russies, terwyl die Slawies van Novgorod en die gebied net oos van Brest- Litovsk, ontwikkel tot Wit-Russies.
8 Kyk Voetnoot 7 hierbo.
9 Kyk Voetnoot 7 hierbo.
10 Die Oekraïne het as staat nog nie bestaan nie, maar die etniese groepe en taal het reeds begin vorm. Oekraïniërs, Wit-Russe en Russe sal mekaar oor en weer kan verstaan.
11 Kyk Voetnoot 7 hierbo.
12 Of dit teologies gesien die regte manier is dat die politieke owerheid kerklike eenheid behoort te proklameer is 'n ander saak. Feit is egter dat die Litouse owerheid op 'n bepaalde tolerante manier gedink het.
13 Kyk Voetnoot 7 hierbo.
14 Die Pole het gepraat van Wilna en nie Vilnius nie. In die Eerste Afrikaanse Skoolatlas van A.K. Bot en P.J. Kloppers in die 1925-uitgawe, word Vilnius ook as Wilna aangedui (Kyk bl. 21, 26 en 27). Dit weerspieël die kultureel-politieke situasie na Wêreldoorlog I baie goed, toe Vilnius aan Pole oorgedra is.
15 Oekraïene se onafhanklikheid na die Eerste Wêreldoorlog was van baie korte duur. Enkele jare na die Bolsjevistiese Revolusie van 1917, is die Oekraïene ingeskakel in die USSR en word dit 'n Sowjet Republiek.
16 Die Sowjet Unie het wel dorps- en stadsname in nuut beheerde gebiede verander, byvoorbeeld in Kalinin Oblast (vroeëre Oos-Pruise) het Königsberg (Kant se geboorteplek) Kaliningrad geword. Tog is geen dorps- of stadsname in die drie Baltiese state verander nie.
17 In Letland is daar 'n Russiese bevolking wat omirent net so groot is as die Lettiese bevolking. Hierdie Russe is kragtens Letlandse wetgewing verplig om Letties aan te leer. Indien nie, is hul hul stemreg kwyt.
18 Die feit van die Litouse militêre teenwoordigheid in Afghanistan is my meegedeel deur Estela Gruzdiené tydens 'n gesprek met haar. Gruzdiené is dosent aan die Militêre Akademie van Vytautas Magnus Universiteit in Kaunas, Littoue.
19 "The great argument" verwys na die glybaan of domino argument.



Alex Antonites is professor in die Departement Filosofie aan die Universiteit van Pretoria. Sy spesialiteitsgebiede is Wetenskapsfilosofie, Wysgerige Antropologie, Bio-etiek in besonder Diere-bewussyn en Diere-etiek en Middeleeuse Wysbegeerte. Sy wetenskapsfilosofiese belangstelling fokus tans sterk op die Evolusieteorie. Verskeie referate is gelewer by nasionale en internasionale kongresse. Insgelyks het talle artikels verskyn in nasionale en internasionale vaktydskrifte. Hy het op die redaksie van die Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif vir Wysbegeerte gedien asook Phronimon. Hy is lid van die Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns, die Suider-Afrikaanse Vereniging vir Filosofie, die Wêreld Fenomenologie Instituut, die Viktor Frankl Instituut en die Seti-League.

Alex Antonites is professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Pretoria. His fields of speciality are Philosophy of Science, Philosophical Anthropology, Bio-ethics, especially Animal Minds and Animal Ethics as well as Medieaval Philosophy. His Philosophy of Science interest presently focuses on the Theory of Evolution. Numerous papers have been read at national and international conferences; in addition, various articels have appeared in national and international journals. He served on the editorial board of the South African Journal of Philosophy and of Phronimon. He is a member of the South African Acadamy of Science and Arts, the Philosophical Society of Southern Africa, The World Phenomenology Institute, the Viktor Frankl Institute and the Seti League.

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