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The apartheid mentality was not just a matter of racial superiority -- it was an actual religious belief, the belief (supported until the bitter end by the Dutch Reformed Church) that Afrikaners were "the chosen people."

Yes, many of the practices of apartheid were in place before the National Party came to power in 1948, and yes the laws put in place by the British were discriminatory in the extreme, as they were in other British African colonies.  (And elsewhere, as you point out.)

But the degree to which the Afrikaner-led NP solidified and systematized (is that a word?) the separation of the races bordered on the pathological.  Actually, forget the border, it was pathological.  It was also long-planned and carefully orchestrated, based on an ideology of total domination.  (See Broederbond and baasskap.)

The "separateness" divided not just racial groups, but ethnic/language groups within racial groups, to the extent that the "white neighborhoods" were either Afrikaans-speaking or English-speaking or mainly Jewish, while the black "group areas" were ethnically segregated, so one area of a township was mainly Xhosa while another was Sotho and the single-sex hostels might have been Zulu, etc....

But back to the Dutch legacy in South Africa...  I don't think it was necessarily an isolated example (the Indonesians, after all, inherited a discriminatory dual legal system from the Dutch colonizers), but neither can you say that what the Afrikaner nation became is entirely a product of its Dutch legacy.  Yes, I think the Afrkaner apartheid pathology grew from European seeds (British and Dutch and Huguenot), but it developed domestically in South Africa into what it became, nurtured by an isolated (and, initially, largely illiterate) Afrikaner population, in much the same way that the Afrikans language evolved out of Dutch -- a product of both its ancestry and its environment.

In history, it just all stacks up against the whole of western imperialism.

Yeah, it does.  You should hear me rail on about the Belgian Congo, or what Germany did in Namibia.... Oh, and it's not quite analagous, but the Americo-Liberians' treatment of the Malinké was nothing to brag about...

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Thu May 10th, 2007 at 12:46:49 PM EST
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