Original Research - Special Collection: Christina Landman Festschrift

Religious Afrikaners, irreligious in conflicts

Erna Oliver
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 75, No 1 | a5204 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v75i1.5204 | © 2019 Erna Oliver | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 July 2018 | Published: 30 April 2019

About the author(s)

Erna Oliver, Department of Christian Spirituality, Church History and Missiology, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


From the first days of their settlement at the southern part of Africa – from 1652 onwards – the European settlers distinguished themselves from the indigenous people groups by referring to themselves as ‘Christians’. However, this Christian mindset came along with a unique stubbornness that could often be seen as contrary to their faith. This double mindset of the people (religious and stubborn) – of which a significant part was later called the Afrikaners – became the means by which they lived and operated, being called ‘unconsciously religious’. This new nation in the Cape was born Protestant, which carried in itself the notion of factional and schismatic tendencies, with different Protestant churches being formed alongside the original church that came to South Africa. Being devoted Christians on the one hand, and radical individualists on the other, they were in almost constant conflict with the people groups around them and with the government. This article explains how the two characteristics of religion and obstinacy sparked schism and influenced external conflict situations during the formation years of the nation up to the end of the 19th century. The Afrikaners portrayed a mix between their religiosity and their stubbornness, in which they ‘twisted religion to suit their purposes’. The consequences of this unholy bond are still haunting the Afrikaner nation today.


Afrikaners; History; Religion; Calvinism; Schism; Conflict; Obstinacy; Groot Trek; Britain; White tribe


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