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n South African Journal of Cultural History - Telling telegrams : another dimension to Paul Kruger?

Volume 31 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1011-3053

Abstract

Over the past century the type casting of President SJP Kruger has remained largely unchanged. Generally, he is portrayed as a kind of people’s (volks) hero whilst on the other hand he is depicted as an ignorant Boer tyrant. Consequently, it can be argued that his character has crystallised around a dualistic representation where the “common” Kruger is perceived in primarily positive or negative terms. This representation is particularly apparent in the period before and during the Anglo-Boer South African War of 1899-1902 as Kruger represented the epitome of Boer Republican independence. Nevertheless, this general stereotypical representation of Kruger consequently resulted in the downplaying of some of his other characteristics. An analysis of a selection of Kruger’s wartime telegraphic correspondence from May 1900 to September 1900 – Kruger’s so-called crisis period – demonstrated the need to challenge this general representation. Not only do Kruger’s war telegrams point to a more “humane” side of the President but they also emphasizes the value of the war telegram as a historical source. This article therefore fi rstly endeavours to demonstrate how Kruger has been depicted in a selection of works written by both contemporary and twentieth century (and later) authors. In addition, it seeks to investigate the character of the “wartime Kruger” as is refl ected in his war telegrams.

Treffende telegramme: ’n Ander dimensie van Paul Kruger?

Die tipering van president SJP Kruger het in die laaste eeu tot ’n groot mate onver anderd gebly. Oor die algemeen is hy voorgestel as ’n tipe volksheld terwyl hy aan die ander kant voorgestel is as ’n onkundige Boere despoot. Gevolglik kan daar aangevoer word dat sy karakter gekristaliseer het rondom ’n tweeledige tipering waar die “algemene” Kruger voorgestel word in hoofsaaklik positiewe en negatiewe terme. Hierdie voorstelling is veral opvallend in die periode voor en tydens die Anglo-Boere Suid-Afrikaanse Oorlog van 1899-1902, terwyl Kruger as die verpersoonliking van Republikeinse onafhanklikheid gestaan het. Nietemin, lei hierdie stereotipiese voorstelling van Kruger daartoe dat ander aspekte van sy karakter gevolglik onderspeel word. ’n Analise van ’n keur van Kruger se telegrafi ese oorlogskorrespondensie van Mei 1900 tot September 1900 – Kruger se sogenaamde “krisis periode”- het getoon dat daar ’n behoefte is om die algemene uitbeelding van Kruger uit te daag. Kruger se oorlogstelegramme ontbloot nie slegs ’n meer menslike sy van die President nie, maar beklemtoon ook die waarde van die oorlogstelegram as ’n historiese bron. Hierdie artikel poog eerstens om aan te dui hoe Kruger voorgestel is in ’n verskeidenheid van publikasies wat geskryf is deur beide kontemporêre en twintigste-eeuse (en latere) skrywers. Daarbenewens, word gepoog om die karakter van die “Oorlogstydse Kruger” te ondersoek soos weerspïeel in sy oorlogstelegramme.

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/content/journal/10520/EJC-99b2302a4
2017-07-01
2019-04-20

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