n Journal for Contemporary History - Wie en wat was die verligtes? Die bydrae van At van Wyk en ander verligte Afrikaners

Volume 34, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0258-2422
  • E-ISSN: 2415-0509



In the years after 1948, apartheid was used as a "political instrument" to bring about Afrikaner unity which would foster an exclusive Afrikaner nationalism and ensure Afrikaner domination. As early as 1949, dissident Afrikaner Nationalists were expressing doubts about the morality of apartheid and trying to change Afrikaner thinking. By 1966, "verligtes" (such as Van Wyk Louw, At van Wyk and certain newspaper editors) were urging reform and working for a change in political views. On account of his upbringing and early convictions, At van Wyk at first believed that NP leaders "knew" what was best for the Afrikaners; but later he came to realise that apartheid could only result in humiliation and impoverishment. This was the start of a painful pilgrimage away from his passive acceptance of the destructive forces unleashed by apartheid, yet he never committed himself to multiracial development; what he envisioned, rather, was a just division of power. Despite their estrangement from the NP, the influence of the "verligtes" grew. They did not share the view that Afrikaner power could only be maintained by legislation. From the seventies onward they believed that negotiations with the ANC were essential for the achievement of a democratic system. Their chief heritage was an openness to change, within which Afrikaners could achieve a just share of a democratically elected government in 1994 and survive in their own right.

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