n Journal for Contemporary History - Japie Neser en die Afrikaner-opstand van 1914-1915 : rebel sonder/met 'n rede?

Volume 39, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0258-2422
  • E-ISSN: 2415-0509



The decision taken by the government of General Louis Botha to actively deploy the Union (of South Africa's) Defence Forces in support of the Allied cause during the Great (later known as the First World) War of 1914-1918, elicited strong negative reactions from a portion of South Africa's white Afrikaans-speaking community. In due course, nearly 12 000 Afrikaners took up arms against their lawful government. One hundred years later, the Afrikaner rebellion of 1914-1915 is still a controversial episode in South Africa's history. In this article the events of 1914 (and their aftermath) are revisited by analysing the reminiscences of two-time rebel, Commandant Jacob Petrus (Japie) Neser. (During the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902 he was a Cape rebel in Boer ranks.) His reminiscences shed light on the rebel activities in the Orange Free State, with special reference to the role played by General Christiaan de Wet. To what extent was Neser a rebel without (or with) a cause? How should the rebellion be evaluated from a military point of view? Is it unfair to label the 1914-1915 rebellion as a farce in the veld? These are some of the issues that are addressed in this study.

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