n Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe - IS 'T ONS ERNST? Na 100 jaar : die relevansie vir vandag van Onze Jan se Stellenbosch-lesing van 6 Maart 1905

Volume 45, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0041-4751


On March 6, 1905 the leader of the Afrikaner Bond in the Cape Colony, Jan Hendrik Hofmeyr delivered an epoch-making address to the students of Victoria College in Stellenbosch. This address is acknowledged on the statue erected for Hofmeyr on Cape Town's Church Square as early as 1920. Hofmeyr addressed the sensitive issue of language rights in the Cape Colony after the British victory in the Anglo Boer War and on the eve of unification. It can be rightfully claimed that his speech is fundamental to the securing of equal language rights for English and Dutch in the Constitution of 1910 and eventually for equal language rights in the current South African Constitution. Hofmeyr, who led the political campaign for equal language rights in the Cape Parliament since 1882, was by 1905 deeply concerned by the erosion of language rights under the new British colonial system, not only in the Cape Colony but in all four British colonies. His address was a wake-up call to the Dutch colonists to insist on their legal language rights and to promote the Dutch language in all public spheres. This article is a comparison of the situation in 1905 and today. It concludes by identifying three differences and five similarities between the two periods.

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