Original Research

Kuyper and Apartheid: A revisiting

Patrick Baskwell
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 62, No 4 | a401 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v62i4.401 | © 2006 Patrick Baskwell | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 September 2006 | Published: 02 October 2006

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Patrick Baskwell, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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Was Abraham Kuyper, scholar, statesman, and university founder, the ideological father of Apartheid in South Africa? Many belief so. But, there are others, amongst them George Harinck of the Free University in Amsterdam, who don’t think so. The article argues that there is an element of truth in both opinions. Kuyper did exhibit the casual racism so characteristic of the Victorian era, with its emphasis on empire building and all that it entailed. Kuyper was also directly responsible, ideologically, for the social structure in the Netherlands known as “verzuiling” or “pillarization” in terms of which members of the Catholic, Protestant, or Socialist segments of society had their own social institutions. This pillarizing, or segmenting, of society was, however, always voluntary. This is not true of the pillarizing or segmenting of South African society known as Apartheid. While there are similarities between Apartheid and “verzuiling”, especially in their vertical partitioning of the individual’s entire life, the South African historical context, the mediation of Kuyper’s ideas through South African scholars, the total government involvement, and therefore, the involuntary nature of Apartheid, point to their inherent dissimilarity. Apartheid was simply not pure Kuyper. Hence, while the effects of Kuyper’s ideas are clearly discernable in Apartheid policy, the article aims at arguing that Kuyper cannot be considered the father of Apartheid in any direct way.


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