Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Foreword

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pp. ix-xii

Historians who focus on South African history do not normally write autobiographies. Even CW de Kiewiet, the only South African historian who to my mind has come close to the elusive category of genius, never wrote about his own life. WM Macmillan, who together with De Kiewiet carried the liberal flag in the 1930s and 1940s, did write about his South African years, but he was neither born in this country nor died here. Phyllis Lewsen’s autobiography, Reverberations: A Memoir, appeared in 1996. Arthur Keppel-Jones’s...

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Chapter One Origins

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pp. 13-25

It was religious persecution that forced the Guillaumé family to flee France. Between 1670 and 1700 around 300 000 Huguenots bade their motherland farewell after long-standing discrimination and deadly attacks. The refugees settled in the Netherlands, the German states, England, Scotland, Ireland, Scandinavia, the American colonies and other predominantly Protestant countries. In 1688 some 200 Huguenots arrived at the Cape of the Good Hope from the Netherlands....

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Chapter 2 “The song of a nation’s awakening”

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pp. 26-47

My parents were Gerhardus Adriaan Giliomee (1905–1986), born in Villiers in the Free State, and Catharina Gesa Giliomee (1903-2001), whose birthplace was the farm Grasberg, near Nieuwoudtville on the Bokveld Plateau. My paternal grandfather’s participation in both the Anglo-Boer War and the Rebellion of 1914-15 had shaped my father politically. Notable political influences in my mother’s case included her German father, Hermann Buhr, and the colonial patriotism that had developed among Cape Afrikaners in the...

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Chapter 3 A university with attitude

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pp. 48-62

In 1956 I enrolled as a student at the University of Stellenbosch (US) with no expectations of becoming an academic. As my aptitude for maths was nothing to write home about, I did not do particularly well in the final matric examination. My brother Jan and my sister Hester would later enjoy reminding me that both of them had obtained a better symbol than I did in their matric exams. In his history classes my father told the story of the past well, and was respected by his friends for his political judgement. I decided to choose history as one of my major subjects....

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Chapter 4 Apprentice

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pp. 63-90

Prof. HB Thom had been rector of the US when I enrolled as a first-year student in 1956. In 1967, his shadow still hung over the History Department which he had headed from 1937 to 1954. His writings were not the “volksgeskiedenis” Gustav Preller had produced at the beginning of the century, but a form of academic historiography with a clear nationalist agenda. Among the documents preserved in Thom’s private papers is a letter from a student who thanked him because his classes had transformed him from a “louwarm” (lukewarm) to a “vuurwarm” (red-hot) Afrikaner.28...

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Chapter 5 “A snake in our midst”

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pp. 91-115

My move away from apartheid and, along with it, from the National Party came about in an unusual way. As I have mentioned before, in mid-1964 I started working at the Department of Foreign Affairs as third secretary and cadet in the diplomatic service. My task was to summarise the reports of the heads of mission in a weekly bulletin and distribute it among senior members of the department.
These reports dealt particularly with South Africa’s international image. I could see virtually week by week how the West’s initial wait-and-see attitude...

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Chapter 6 Civil war in “The John”

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pp. 116-145

Before I left for Yale University in January 1973, my intention had been to remain in the History Department of the University of Stellenbosch until my retirement. Moreover, I had been especially keen to become involved in the Afrikaner debate on apartheid and nationalism. Ten years later I was in the employ of the University of Cape Town as professor of political studies, a subject I had never studied, and virtually all my popular and academic writing was now conducted in English....

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Chapter 7 Among the English

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pp. 146-159

Up to the 1970s the debate within the Afrikaner nationalist movement had centred on how the Afrikaners could assert themselves and raise their status vis-à-vis the English community. It encompassed various spheres of Afrikaner life: businesspeople wanted to prove that they, like the English, could build successful enterprises without state support; universities and schools wanted to prove they could become the equal of English institutions; the leading Afrikaans writers, poets and dramatists wanted to prove Afrikaans could be a...

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Chapter 8 “All the voices of this land”

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pp. 160-179

On my departure from the University of Stellenbosch I lost an important link with the Afrikaans community. The loss of this channel was exacerbated by the fact that both Die Burger after Piet Cillié’s retirement and Rapport were no longer keen to publish my articles and those of other academics who were critical of the government. If you wanted to publish in Afrikaans, you had to start your own magazine and find your own readership....

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Chapter 9 “Witness to momentous times”

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pp. 180-207

From the early 1980s two urgent challenges dominated the political debate: a negotiated settlement and black urbanisation. The relation between the two had not been fully understood until the realisation sank in that a white government was incapable of dealing with rapid black urbanisation. Between 1946 and the 1970s the black population had doubled, and it would double again between 1970 and 1996. While the number of black people increased from 8 million to 31 million between 1946 and 1996, white numbers grew to...

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Chapter 10 End of the party

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pp. 208-228

Shortly after the “liberation election” of 1994, the NP invited me to analyse the results at a special meeting of the party caucus under De Klerk’s chairmanship. I observed a sense of relief among the participants, but also concern. The 20% of the total vote the party had won was considerably more than the 14% at which its support had stood a few months before the election, but far short of the 30% the leaders had expected on the eve of the election....

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Chapter 11 An uncommon biography

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pp. 229-244

I embarked on my book on the history of the Afrikaners in 1992, a year or so after the publication of The Mind of South Africa by Allister Sparks. As a popular history, Sparks’s book probably had a greater influence on international opinion-formers than any other work in the early 1990s. I was not impressed. In a comprehensive review in the magazine SA International in 1991, I argued that the book rehashed all the old stereotypes and myths about Afrikaner history. It seemed to be aimed at lending credibility to the ANC’s struggle against...

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Chapter 12 Almost neighbours

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pp. 245-265

As a young lecturer during the 1970s, I increasingly became aware that coloured people had all but been written out of the Afrikaners’ history – whether as a community or as a class. Of the great many theses and dissertations completed at the US History Department in the preceding seventy years, only a handful dealt with coloured history. It was almost as if there was something that inhibited me, as well as other Afrikaner historians, from properly investigating the entwined historical roots of the two communities.153...

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Chapter 13 New history

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pp. 266-275

South Africa has a colourful past, with a multitude of records left by travellers, visual artists, photographers and writers who attempted to capture aspects of the country, its people and their unique history in word or image. Strangely enough, the first illustrated history books aimed at the general public only appeared as late as the 1980s. Hence I looked with interest at two works that were produced in quick succession during the last years of white rule....

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Chapter 14 Surrender without defeat?

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pp. 276-312

My book on the Afrikaners covered such a wide field that there was no room to describe the last leaders’ strengths and weaknesses, their special bond with the Afrikaners, or their respective solutions to the mounting political crisis. When I was working on the 2003 HF Verwoerd memorial lecture, however, a seed was planted for a book that would appear ten years later: The Last Afrikaner Leaders: A Supreme Test of Power (Tafelberg, 2012)....

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Chapter 15 To know who you are

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pp. 313-344

In 1998 I resigned from the University of Cape Town (UCT) with the aim of completing my book on the Afrikaners over the next three or four years. Resignation was an easy choice. My classes on problems related to democratisation in South Africa and in other developing countries no longer offered the same challenge as in the 1980s and early 1990s, when the possibility of a peaceful transition in the country had been a burning issue....

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Chapter 16 Proud and ashamed

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pp. 345-349

During a stay in Israel in 1987 I made the acquaintance of Meron Benvenisti, former deputy mayor of Jerusalem and administrator of East Jerusalem. With his sharp intellect and charismatic personality, he immediately reminded me of Van Zyl Slabbert, who had walked out of the white-controlled Parliament in protest shortly before.
Benvenisti, a medievalist with a doctorate in conflict management, had been a newspaper editor before entering politics in 1972. A mere six years later he...

Acknowledgements

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p. 350

Books by Hermann Giliomee

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p. 351

Index

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pp. 352-366