Apartheid: Britain's bastard child, an interview with Hélène Opperman Lewis

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Apartheid: Britain's bastard child
Hélène Opperman Lewis
Publisher: Reach
ISBN: 9780620702232

In her 512-page book, Apartheid: Britain’s bastard child, psychologist Hélène Opperman Lewis looks at the vital role humiliation of the Afrikaner by the British played in creating apartheid. Herman Lategan asked her some questions.

It took you 15 years to write this book. Let’s be mischievous and to the point: In fifteen words, what is this book about?

It’s an attempt to understand (not justify) from a psychohistorical perspective why Afrikaners created apartheid in 1948.

Shamed people shame other people. Is that correct? Why is this specific topic on shaming and humiliation so important to you?

It’s important because it proposes to explain the cycles of violence repeated in history, and why we never learn from history. Let me briefly explain:

A core question humans ask themselves is: Who am I ... and where do I belong? Underlying these questions regarding one’s identity is the master emotion – shame. Shame forms the entrance into self.

Let’s define the relationship between shame and humiliation.

Feeling ashamed leaves an alienating and vacuous feeling that one is a bad person, is damaged and will never be whole or healed again. It threatens the core sense of self and identity.

Humiliation is the most powerful (most damaging), and often a longer-lasting, form of shame.

Public humiliation is the worst. From this position, it fosters a desire for vengeance, unless the injustice is properly addressed. The revenge is an attempt to be whole again, to reclaim esteem and restore dignity.

That said, there is, however, a crucial need for moderate shaming in societies, because moderate shame is the glue that holds societies and relationships together, and it serves as a moral gyroscope in our lives.

Yet, the two extreme poles of shaming – excessive shaming and deficient shaming – are counterproductive and destructive. They both lead to the opposite result of moderate shaming: societal breakdown and violence.

Under colonialism and apartheid, there was excessive shaming, while currently there is a shame deficiency. Excessive shame is characterised by extreme criticism of self and others, increased feelings of shame, dogmatism and perfectionism, conformity, prejudice and discrimination, while shame deficiency discourages mastery, is self-centred and is indifferent to the needs of others.

Cycles of violence (avenging/revenge) tend to follow when groups/nations have been humiliated, creating new cycles of trauma and humiliation, which then need to be avenged again. Revenge is the attempt, although futile, to restore lost dignity and honour to large groups. There are ample examples of that in history. This perspective explains the age-old truth that we don’t learn from history.

Take us through the pages of this tome. In the introduction, you write that the humiliation Afrikaners experienced started with the arrival of the British in 1795. Then you ask what compelled the Afrikaners, “a people traumatised by British barbarism” to inflict the legalised racism of apartheid on their black countrymen. What, indeed, and how do narcissistic rage and self-fragmentation play into this?

South Africa’s history is a prime example of repeated cycles of humiliation and trauma, as explained above. Afrikaners, the subject of this book, had continuously been humiliated and traumatised by the British since 1795. This was compounded by the trauma of the Great Trek, an attempt to get away from the British, eventually followed by the Anglo-Boer War, with the unprecedented trauma of thousands of dead children, and the horrific destruction of their livelihood in the two republics, leaving fragmented and broken families thrown into extreme poverty, complete with a daily dose of English scorn – all for the glory of Her Majesty and the riches of the Witwatersrand.

The first attempt to restore their collective self and build esteem was with the 1938 Eeufees. Still suffering from extreme levels of post-traumatic stress disorder and unresolved grief, they nevertheless chose what psychoanalyst Vamik Volkan calls a chosen glory – the Voortrekkers, whom they held in high esteem as examples of courage, independence and pride. (According to Volkan, large groups, after severe trauma and humiliation, tend to revisit their history and exercise either a chosen glory or a chosen trauma to consolidate their identity.)

In the case of a chosen glory, it is someone or a historical incident that they could be proud of, and whose example and values they could/should follow. It’s an unconscious attempt to heal their fragmented collective self and affirm who they are (identity). According to Volkan, depending on the choice, the option of chosen glory builds esteem, while chosen trauma leads to entitlement ideology – you owe me. The Afrikaners never looked at the English to pull them out of their misery. For them, it was eendrag maak mag (strength in unity) and red ’n volk (save a nation). With their being destitute, this, of course, encouraged (or took, if you wish) a certain hard-line determination and mindset to achieve. The positive side of it is admirable, the downside a disaster and regrettable.

One year later, in 1939, they were confronted with South Africa being expected to fight on the side of Britain. Fury set it. They had not forgotten the 1914 rebellion, and the painful memory of Jopie Fourie was still vivid. Still suffering from severe PTSD, the generation that had survived the war and had witnessed the atrocities as young children, and who were now adults – as well as their still-grieving and traumatised parents (no parent ever overcomes the death of a child, worse if it is due to an injustice), and the first generation born from these heartbroken and bitter parents, suffering from transgenerational trauma themselves – rebelled.

They raged against the English and their big capital, and the mere thought of fighting on the ruthless enemy’s side was just too much even to contemplate. The developing split among Afrikaners finally exploded in unremitting rage – feelings abounded, with the dominees right in front. Gone were the days of the cool-headed lawyer leaders. The result: 1948 – and apartheid followed. It’s all too human …

In hindsight, creating the shameful system of apartheid in 1948 was a fatal attempt to rise above their humiliation and fear of survival in a country where they were far outnumbered by black people, their fellow citizens.

Hélène Opperman Lewis

Do you think English-speaking South Africans are still in denial about their role in apartheid? Afrikaners were perhaps conveniently singled out as scapegoats. What is the psychological driving force behind this? Is it their Übermensch mentality and their class-conscious obsession, or just vulgar hypocrisy?

Before answering, let’s clarify the thorny issue of racism first. And let’s be clear – white racism arrived with the arrival of all Europeans in southern Africa. It’s not something that suddenly surfaced in 1948! And it certainly is not something peculiar to southern Africa only!

There are different shades to racism. Firstly, for the British and white English, their racism is mostly covert, rooted in the superior man’s cloak of social Darwinism. It spread its myth of racial superiority to different races – including other white races – cultures, social strata, etc.

The covertness of this prejudice makes it convenient and easy for the perpetrator to deny any prejudice. According to psychohistorian and psychoanalyst Joel Kovel in his book, A psychohistory of white racism, covert racism is more difficult to confront, and, like all unspoken “secrets”, more insidious, and therefore more harmful and damaging in the long run. It renders its victims defenceless and silences them with denial, consciously and unconsciously – a bit like not acknowledging the king has no clothes on.

The second form of racism is overt racism. Afrikaners’ overt racism (apartheid) – the “Whites/Blacks Only” entry signs – were a glaring example of overt racism. It was out there for everyone to see, and could not be denied like covert racism can be. Ironically, it was precisely this overtness of Afrikaner racism that made the struggle possible.

The latter is also the reason why the white English South Africans, in general, deny they are racist, because they think there is only one type of racism – overt. The early Afrikaners’ racism was, however, based on distinguishing between believers and non-believers. The believers, of course, were the chosen ones, and the rest, the unbelievers and sinners, were to be avoided. With Afrikaners being exposed to British prejudice (covert racism) and British humiliation (from 1795), their overt racism became infused with a good dose of racial superiority, too.

What is less well known is that apartheid was introduced formally in South Africa by the British with Cecil John Rhodes at the helm in 1894, with the Glen Grey Act. The Afrikaners tightened the screws after 1948.

Most white English-speaking South Africans conveniently deny their share, their gain and their contribution, directly or indirectly, to apartheid. They don’t understand the difference between covert and overt racism.

Most probably also don’t really even know about the atrocities that have been committed by their forebears in this country. My impression is that “apartheid = Afrikaner” in white English-speaking South African minds. They don’t even think about it twice. You even hear the presumed innocence and the blame and prejudice against Afrikaners from their children’s mouths. Why else is it that every so often, when white people are discussed in the media, it states specifically white English-speaking South Africans and Afrikaners?

Why not just white South Africans? Most Afrikaners speak English, and, anyway, many white South Africans are not English, either. Why the distinction? This is nothing but maintaining an old and convenient prejudice – denying any responsibility. That’s why they were shocked (and still are) about the black fury over the Rhodes statue, and why some don’t understand why listing the “positive contributions” of colonialism infuriates black people. In the world of the humiliated, that is totally irrelevant, psychologically.

You write about psychohistory and how you ended up in New York with the renowned psychohistorian Lloyd deMause. For the sake of clarity, please explain the concept of psychohistory and tell us how you met up with him? (Incidentally, the Afrikaans poet and New York-based psychiatrist Dr Casper Schmidt was also a member of that movement.)

Psychohistory (PH) is based in psychodynamic psychology (psychoanalytical), which held at its core that present reality, at all times, is influenced by and interacts with the social and personal past of a person’s unconscious.

It is true for individuals and large groups. Psychohistorian Jacques Szaluta explains that, for the psychohistorian, between the “what” and the “why” of history, the “why” of history always comes back to a “why” psychologically. Following this statement, he states: “Seen from this optical angle, history is what men have done; to know why men have done what they have, one must look for deeper motives, not more or less.”

While doing research during my first year for the DLitt in 2001, I came upon the field of psychohistory. Fascinated by it, I took a chance and wrote to Lloyd deMause, then Director of the Psychohistory Association in New York. I told him who I was – an Afrikaner researching why my people created apartheid in 1948. Of course, I didn’t expect to get a response.

But I was wrong. Early the next day, he emailed me back, with an invite to attend the next annual PH convention in New York. I attended, and a whole new world opened up for me. From this followed a course in psychogenics, and meeting with the international Dignity and Humiliation Studies (DHS) in New York and Oslo. DHS focuses particularly on the impact of humiliation historically on nations, showing how humiliation is one of the main reasons for repeated cycles of violence in and between nations/groups.

Will you expand on neuroscience and how trauma changes our brains?

The literature in relevant studies in neuroscience now unquestionably indicates there tends to be permanent changes in the brain after trauma, particularly severe trauma in which the person is unable to escape the situation.

This explains many of the difficulties survivors with PTSD have after severe trauma. The indication is that, in severe PTSD, the body’s stress hormones do not return to the baseline once the danger has passed. The secretion of stress hormones continues; consequently, the fight-flight-freeze signals continue as if the threat is still present.

This expresses as agitation and panic, and, in the long term, wreaks havoc with the individual’s health. It also affects the individual’s relationships, because traumatised brains are constantly on high alert. They tend to overreact to certain signs or a sudden loud noise. Being traumatised means continuing to organise your life as if the trauma is still going on, unchanged and immutable – as if every new encounter or event is contaminated by the past. As trauma expert and psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk notes, “After trauma, the world is experienced with a different nervous system.”

Scans clearly show how images of past trauma activate the right hemisphere of the brain and deactivate the left. This is what happens during flashbacks, too. The sequential and analytical functions of the left brain seem to be dormant, while the visual, emotional, spatial and intuitive functions of the right seem to be active. It thus influences the way the experience is “remembered”. Traumatised people simultaneously remember too little and too much. It therefore makes it enormously difficult to organise one’s traumatic experiences into a coherent account afterwards.

Neuro-imaging also shows that humiliation registers in the brain in the same area as physical pain. The neuro-psychological pathway from humiliation to violence, also called the cycle of violence and revenge, is as follows:

Humiliation leads to decreased self-awareness, which leads to decreased self-regulation, which leads to increased self-defeating behaviour and eventually to violence. This is an attempt to restore dignity.

These psychic wounds are collectively passed on to future generations in inter- or transgenerational trauma, to avenge their forebears’ humiliation and pain.

The essence of trauma, says Van der Kolk, is that it is overwhelming, unbelievable and unbearable – even long after the event.

Can you provide some examples of how certain genocides have damaged the psyches of entire nations?

In the holocaust, the Jews suffered at the hands of the Nazis, but the German people themselves were also hugely traumatised, and are only now able to look at the huge transgenerational impact with which the war trauma left them.

What is less often mentioned is the wounded Russian psyche due to the violent communist regime under Lenin and Stalin, in which millions of Russians died. One only needs to read Secondhand time – the last of the Soviets by Nobel prize winner Svetlana Alexievich to realise the enormous psychic wound that nation carries.

In China, the horror of the Cultural Revolution under Mao left millions dead. It is a past about which few dare speak in modern China.

Then there are the Balkan Wars following the breakup of Yugoslavia, and Rwanda, the Aboriginal people of North America and Australia, the Armenian and Cambodian genocides, ethnic and religious conflicts in Chile, Argentina, Nigeria and Iran. The list goes on.

You have a chapter on the British and their history of humiliating others, such as the great famine in Ireland, eugenics in Australia and so forth. Tell us more ... and there is also a question: Have they learned anything from this?

The consequences of the deeds of the British Empire, upon whom the sun never sets, still reverberate far and wide on the planet. Though the British have a lot to answer for, they seem, in general, to be more focused, historically, on what they consider “progressive contributions” made by themselves to the “savages” – all while, historically, they have enriched themselves through the ”savages’” resources. The latter are expected to be grateful?

The current influx of refugees from failed states in North Africa to Europe and Britain (and the Brexit issue) is an irony of sorts, considering their history under British and French colonialism. A good read regarding this is historian Kwasi Kwarteng’s Ghosts of empire: Britain’s legacies in the modern world. An example is the current genocide in South Sudan that probably – or at least partially – has its roots in Britain’s past involvement in border issues between Nigeria and Sudan. Other examples are Egypt and Israel, Iran and Iraq – all after WWII – and, of course, the South African and Zimbabwean legacy.

Another atrocity was the humiliation of China in the opium wars. The horror of the great famine in India is another story. Particularly significant, though, is the extreme humiliation Britain and France dumped onto Germany at the peace treaty in Versailles after WWI, which is generally recognised as the main cause for the Second World War.

Have they learned anything from it? There seem to be some voices going up in Britain, demanding the British do introspection – have a good look at their past, particularly their mistakes. Who knows how serious that is, or has been taken?

What did John Barrow and Lady Anne Barnard have to say about the local Dutch?

John Barrow published Barrow’s travels, which was hugely popular, reprinted often and standard reading on the ships set for southern Africa. Here are a few of Barrow’s remarks referring to the early Afrikaners from 1795 onwards:

They were lazy, “unwilling to work and unable to think” and stupid, with “no mental resources whatsoever”. They were cowardly, devious and cruel to animals. “They are active only in mischief; and crimes against morality meet with applause if in the end successful. A man who in his dealings can cheat his neighbour is considered a slim mensch, a clever fellow; even stealing is not regarded as criminal, nor does it materially affect the character of a thief.” Et cetera. Page after page …

That this probably is true of some or a few of the early Afrikaners may be so. However, the crude generalisation of all was deeply humiliating and hurtful. The American historian Frederick Hale refers to Barrow as “amongst the first British who laid the foundation of this tradition of ethnic debasement … and launched the standard rhetorical tradition of depicting the Afrikaners as violent, abusive racists”.

Barrow’s close pal was Lady Anne Barnard, a popular socialite in the Cape. In 1799, she describes laying on a “little parade” to impress the locals – the sort of thing, she said, that would suit the Dutch “and [procure] respect from their stupid heads”.

Go figure.

There are so many interesting chapters in this book, too many to mention. Thus, this is a bit of a Sophie’s choice: Which ones were your favourite ones to write, and why?

I don’t think there is a favourite – it was one big, mind-blowing discovery, which led to many emotions in processing it. But there were lighter moments. Like the bizarreness of the Jameson Raid gave me much joy.

To learn how these arrogant jingo schemers made fools of themselves was deeply satisfying. The best bits were the drunken soldiers cutting the wrong wires, and Cecil Rhodes being flustered after getting the news of Jameson’s fatal departure, walking up and down roughing his hair, saying repeatedly to himself, “Now, just be cool.” And when Jameson hit the ground (his soldiers assuming he’d been shot) when he saw his men raising the “white flag” – a desperate attempt using a white apron borrowed from a black woman passing by.

And then, in the conclusion, Dr Van Rhijn’s speech in London, so masterfully told by Naas Steenkamp in his book Op ’n gallop na Buckingham Palace. It just confirmed everything I tried to say in the book.

How do you think Afrikaners are going to heal from their past, and, more importantly, learn from their own past mistakes?

Quite frankly – and I don’t want to be presumptuous – but I suspect the one group in South Africa who most reflects on and agonises about its past, is the Afrikaners. Because there is a perception that Afrikaners are solely responsible for apartheid, they carry the greatest portion of the burden of guilt. Of course, new fears of survival, not least caused by the terrible crime at all levels, bring all kinds of defences to the fore.

What we need to deal with and learn from is why it all happened, and not get stuck in “I told you so” refrains. It’s my hope that this book will be an important contribution in that sense. We owe it to the children and future generations to understand, or they will be stuck in shame and guilt.

Part of doing that is understanding why black people are now so furious, and why so much irrationality prevails – which, to a large extent, though not solely, is due to the humiliation we have subjected them to. We need to take responsibility and own up. And for that, we need to apologise and hold their hands where we can. That will enable our healing, too.

If South Africa were a patient at your practice, what would the diagnosis be? And what would you suggest as the way forward?

This being a challenging and interesting question, I consulted with a few colleagues across the board. Here is a summary of the responses:

Diagnosis:

  • Trauma with direct neurobiological and epigenetic influences that should be handled with great care, and awareness of cultural differences and sensitivities that would encompass different worldviews.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder, complicated.
  • Considering the democratic age of South Africa, in terms of all the violent actions and behaviour in terms of service delivery, there is a strong element of oppositional defiant behaviour present, "co-morbid anxiety disorder" (adolescent onset type) with the possibility of unspecified disruptive impulse control, and conduct disorder.
  • If we consider South Africa in total, strong tendencies of trauma and stressor-related disorders are present in which PTSD, acute stress disorder and adjustment disorders present on this spectrum, with mixed disturbance of emotions and conduct.

Treatment:

  • Introduce the traumatic effect and consequences of historic trauma into Life Orientation classes in high school.
  • Hold pain and reconciliation meetings all over South Africa with professional support.
  • It will be productive only if one can enter into authentic conversations, different to how the TRC committees handled things. Conversations of mutual sharing may create hope for discovering and developing communal, shared narratives. Such conversations could bring hope for the discovery and development of our shared humanity. It will, however, only be possible if the mirroring can be done with honest reflection and sharing.

Trauma seems to define the character of South African life – historical trauma, such as that caused by the Mfecane, colonialism, apartheid and the ANC’s people’s war during the struggle; and present traumas, such as murder, rape and inequality. The diversity and inequality of South African life has led to different groups of people reacting to this trauma differently (using different types of defences, to put it psycho-dynamically).

Outcome (Prognosis): Uncertain

And how do you think black South Africans (including the other races, excluding whites) are going to react in years to come (psychologically) to their past humiliation?

The current black South Africans are already in full enactment against the humiliation bestowed on them during British colonialism and apartheid. The golden moment of 1994 is a long-gone memory. We see the full enactment of the younger generations particularly in the student upheavals and the EFF.

We hear it in the chosen-trauma speeches by leaders. The constant reminders of Soweto ’76, Sharpeville, the death of Steve Biko and other incidents; reparation claims and entitlement ideology; take back the land; purification efforts in slogans such as “Away with Western science, white men’s statues, Western ideas”; an insistence on reclaiming the African identity; to be authentic. All this is part of black enactment, in an attempt to heal and repair their collective fragmented self, to affirm who they are – an attempt to regain dignity.

The current political instability and exploitation of opportunities by the political elite –causing a worsening socio-economic situation, leading to the devastating high youth unemployment against a history of deprivation, and desperate families who had high hopes now forsaken by most – makes everything worse. Children not born yet will one day look back … and be ashamed of this period of shameless greed and self-centeredness of those in charge.

Is there a way out? A collective path to individuation? To healing such pain and sorrow? And what is that path?

Psychohistory at least brings us closer to explaining and understanding the psychological “why”. Why large groups instinctively and unconsciously commit atrocities of one or another kind, keeping the wheel of human misery turning. Revenge, leading to new violence – an attempt to restore esteem and lost honour – in the process creating new cycles of violence.

One can only attempt a new and deeper understanding – to learn to grieve over our losses without creating new suffering. The problem, however, is that humans “exist” at different levels of affluence or despair, different levels of consciousness. Until everyone can have a basic sense of safety – psychologically, environmentally and economically – we won’t move forward collectively.

Why could someone such as Nelson Mandela – who grew up as he did under the wide skies and green hills of the Eastern Cape, contained in the safety of his extended family – become such a universal token of hope and moral presence? Of course, it is possible!

How did you go about writing this book amid running a practice as a psychologist?

I scaled down to a part-time practice, lived on my own in beautiful and peaceful Barrydale – and had all the time to work around the clock on the most fascinating, excruciating topic ever!

A silly question, nevertheless important. Why should people buy this book?

People are ready to appreciate the contribution psychology makes in understanding human behaviour. Psychohistory is, in a way, psychology applied to our histories. Afrikaners have a long history of being humiliated and traumatised. It lurks in our DNA. Worse, each generation passes it on.

With the English, we humiliated blacks by excluding them and depriving them of fair opportunities to improve their lives – apartheid. We did to them what was done to us. In turn, they repeat the same. When will it stop? Understanding why is maybe a start …

Karel Schoeman wrote in 1973, “What matters more than your human dignity? I believe you don’t only have the right to insist on the acknowledgement of your humanity and dignity, but actually have a duty to undertake the acknowledgement of it – with all justifiable means available to you.”

The most outstanding comment I have received from people who have read the book is “Everyone in South Africa should read the book.” A movement implementing some of the understanding of humiliation has already begun. It’s called ERD – empathy, respect, dignity. It can be reached on the ERD Facebook page. A website will follow soon.

Is there anything you would like to add?

A black woman once remarked on a TV discussion, “We black people are having all these discussions … when are you white people going to have your discussions? Trying to understand why you did what you did?”

Pondering her words, I thought to myself, she hit the nail on the head.

So, here we are!

Finally, where can readers order copies of the book, and how much does it cost?

The book is available in most bookshops (often less visible, because it seems some bookshops are scared of the word “apartheid”!) and on Amazon, and can be ordered by going to the book’s website, www.bbctransgenerational.com.

The price varies from about R300 to R350.

Also read:

Apartheid: Britain’s bastard child by Hélène Opperman Lewis: book review

Vicki Trowler
Books and writers

"I came to this book interested in inter-/transgenerational trauma, as a South African, and read it as a case study of the Afrikaner as a particular case of such trauma. I left unconvinced, which is a pity." 


Apartheid: Britain's bastard child deur Hélène Opperman Lewis: ’n resensie deur Martie Meiring

Martie Retief-Meiring
Resensies

"Hierdie omvattende, dikwels frustrerende manuskrip kan egter nie summier afgewys word nie. Opperman Lewis vee wyd oor die geskiedenis met baie interessante verwysings, aanhalings, en weliswaar gevolgtrekkings waaroor die leser soms self goed sal wil nadink."

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Kommentaar

  • Wel gedaan me Opperman Lewis. Kan nie wag om haar boek te lees nie. Skuld kan net heel as dit lig kry en ons kan hopelik vorentoe beweeg met gefundeerde insig.

  • Baie dankie dat jy geboekstaaf het wat ek al so lankal sê. Die "boss/boy" of "class distinction" stelsel wat die Engelse op soveel mense anders as hulself in sy kolonies afgedwing het. Jy bring ook duidelike mening aan Totius se gedig, Vergewe en Vergeet: "Daar het 'n doringboompie vlak by die pad gestaan ..."

  • A substantial amount of prejudice and 'vulgar hypocrisy' is self evident within this interview.
    The book’s title itself demonstrates this "Apartheid: Britain's bastard child". Singular. Britain has been responsible for creating two Apartheid children: South Africa and more directly Palestine [highly topical at the moment with 2017 being the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Treaty. A British document that at the stroke of a pen between two people - neither of whom had any rights over Palestine - ceded a well established country such as Palestine was to another people].
    Also topical is the presentation of the ESCWA report written by Richard Falk, a former UN special investigator on human rights in the Palestinian territories who was highly critical of both Israel and the United States, and professor Virginia Tilley of Southern Illinois University in March this year. The essence of the report was that Falk and Tilley found Israel to be an Apartheid State. The report has been subjected to the usual pressure and tactics; though it's findings nonetheless stand.
    It appears that both interviewer and writer may be subject to the same disconnect the writer refers to:
    "My impression is that “apartheid = Afrikaner” in white English-speaking South African minds. They don’t even think about it twice."
    In the very same way even South African's have swallowed the cynically planted Zionist conflation without thinking twice ie: - to be anti-Zionist [an ideology] is to be anti-Semitic [a people].
    My heritage is British and I understood that Apartheid was a colonial ideology and construct that had little if anything to do with being Afrikaans. Quite the contrary: Afrikaans speaking [or Afrikaner] anti-Apartheid activists were formidably dedicated and had my complete respect.
    Too many presumptions and overt gaps for this book to be tackling what it purports.

    • Thank goodness you mention these things. Your insight is most appropriate reassuring and intelligent.
      Well done

    • Andrew le Roux

      What are you on about? It's a South African commentary, by a South African for South Africa: highly topical, relevant and necessary. Take your crusade elsewhere or, better yet, go write your own book.

    • Mary Weilert (1866 - 1949)

      "Hypocrisy" and "prejudice" may not reside with the author and interviewer of this article, but with the reader, who is shocked by the tenor of the arguments forwarded and the title of the book, which she finds "vulgar". Am I right in presuming that "Cindy" seems unable to believe that any kind of racism is to be found among English-speaking South Africans?

      I strongly urge her to read this riveting book, which might just challenge her confident, self-congratulatory assumptions.

      • I did not express shock and was quoting from the interview in my use of terms such as 'vulgar', 'hypocrisy' and so on.

        My tone and point was neutral. To rephrase:-

        The title of the book is "Apartheid: Britain's bastard child".

        This is incorrect as Britain has spawned two Apartheid children not one. I am not commenting on the contents of the book, but on the factual inaccuracy of the book title.

        The rest of what I set down, is by way of substantiating why it is inaccurate. As well as how this often comes about in relation to Palestine.

        A comment made elsewhere on this thread further supports why one should draw attention to this routine omission. It's assumed that I am embarking on a "crusade" by pointing out an error.

        I doubt that such a response would be drawn if I was referencing two Western countries. Since there is much in this thread that touches on the nature of prejudice; it is pertinent to question why terminology such as "crusade" most usually appears when one is referring to Middle Eastern subjects. [Crusades also took place within Europe, for example, in Germany, Austria and Scandinavia].

        I concluded my previous post by saying that if something as important as a book title of a historical book is objectively incorrect, that I personally would be wary of the book.

        It's therefore redundant to advise me to read the book.

    • Ruud Kapteijn (an 'outlander')

      I find your arguing a bit confusing, though you seem to have the knowledge about what the book is about, did you read it?
      If so, please fill in the gaps in Opperman's story and theory, consistently and understandable;I am looking forward to it.

    • Hélène Lewis

      If you have read the book you will know it covers the period 1795 - 1948, so I can only assume you have not read it.

    • Cindy, your reaction is typical of a guilty party that is so oversensitive for the truth that you would rather criticize before you have even read the book - thinking it will go away. Just read the book ...

    • Well articulated observations, Cindy.
      The generalisations within the interview are worrying.

      I am in firm opposition to the singular driving force behind colonialism, which was (and still is) the unbridled selfishness and greed of those who appointed themselves as guardians of The British Empire.

      I will not, however, allow myself to be drawn toward generalisations that would cause me to hate all English people.

      Sadly, those who profited the most from 'British' cruelties are from a sector of society wherein that trend continues to this day ...

      This is not a black/white or English/Afrikaner issue ... It is not an issue that everyday people need to seek psychological answers for.
      It is simply an issue that involves all the people of the world standing up against the selfish and greedy rulers of the world as it now exists.

      • One trillion likes Conrad ... YOU nailed it! Reality is something we have to face the way it is and NOT the way we want it to be. To start with Trump, white or Afrikaner bashing to give an argument or statement value is an exercise in futility. Must say I was quite amazed that neither Freud nor Pavlov were brought into the equation ... Our world's current mess has NOTHING to do with race and everything to do with greed, attitude and behaviour of PEOPLE ... Justifying actions either way and marrying those justifications with generalizations is totally and utterly not going to help our world to face our "NOW" realities ...

    • Stephanie van Niekerk

      Good grief, Cindy! I read your diatribe and it reminds me of a meeting of Trotsky supporters years ago in Toronto that I unfortunately observed. They stood up, one after the other, and yelled (at the Russian woman who was there to give information about the situation in her country at that time) ... often apropos of nothing ... slogans, ideas from books they had read, their own misunderstandings and regurgitated garbage. They didn't listen to the woman who spoke. They believed that they, who lived in Canada, knew more about what was going on in her country than she did. It was so embarrassing and pathetic because they had no idea what the POINT was. They didn't listen. They didn't think. They were not there to learn anything but to hear their own voices spouting gobbledygook. First, ask yourself what this book is actually about ... why was it written and about whom ... (a tip - it was not written about Palestine). Secondly, a wise old woman once told me never to speak about something I know nothing about. This advice may stand you in good stead in the future.

    • You are in denial and angry about this book. Why should a book about the Afrikaners have anything to do with Palestinians? The British slaughtered millions of Native Americans, Africans, Asians, Australian Aborigines, New Zealand Maoris and not to mention the Irish, Scottish and the Welsh who were some of the first to face English brutality. No my dear, please research your British history very carefully before even attempting to speak about any other country, your history swims in vast oceans of blood.

  • Wow! Ek verstaan nou baie beter na die lees van hierdie artikel. 'n Boek wat ek beslis gaan aanskaf.

  • Why when apartheid is discussed is it always a case of black and white? There were huge swathes of coloured or mixed communities which were affected ... South end in PE as a prime example. What about those who fell between the lines of black and white and who, within the same family, had all shades from fair, olive to dark. Who were the mix of Africana, British with Malay, Indian blood etc. Families were ripped apart and the "shame' they were made to feel for not being "pure white", if that does actually exist in those who have been in SA since colonisation, stays with their offspring to this day. I have a brother who hides this from his children, not because he is inherently prejudiced but because he has absorbed the "shame" ... His children are "white" and that is how they are seen in the UK. All colonies have mixed ancestry. My family were split because some were fair enough to pass as white and chose to and those who weren't had to be labelled mixed ... It was so arbitrary and it tore my family apart. For black people I don't doubt it caused anguish and humiliation, but not the same level of identity confusion as those who were mixed. There are whites in SA to this day who have coloured ancestry but are in denial. Maybe it would help if those people stood up to be counted and dispelled the myth of a pure white South African race.

    • Sara, this is such an important point, and one I wonder about too. The lack of nuance in the discourse, the sledgehammer approach that does not seem to admit of other experiences, other suffering, other exclusion ... we need to deal with that.

      • Hélène Lewis

        The book is about Afrikaners and their experiences. I'm an Afrikaner and have a right to express things that touched our collective psyche. So please go ahead and do the same for your people. I can only express what is in my people's psyche and experience. If you understand or have any knowledge of depth psychology, you will understand it. If you've read the book, you won't make statements like this.

        • Barbara Georges

          My mother was an Afrikaner, the dark one in a family of blue-eyed blondes. I think the Coloured people's story is much the same as that of the Afrikaners - they both have Afrikaans as their home language and are generally Dutch Reformed. Religion is a more important factor than race in defining a people - you are what you think, believe, etc.

      • Suenel Bruwer-Holloway

        Mandi, the suffering of other groups (I wonder which ones you have in mind) has been scrutinised ad infinitum, although what that has to do with and why you feel this book has to take it on, defeats me. What you perceive as sledgehammer I perceive as restraint: the author sticks to the subject matter under discussion. It must have been difficult to not roam outside its remit, as the tragedy of world history offers us devastatingly plentiful examples. The story of centuries of Afrikaner suffering at the hands of the British has been a taboo for too long. The image of the English as well-intentioned liberal saviour spreading civilization from India to Africa, China to Australia must be preserved at all costs - even if the destruction of nations (of which the Afrikaner is one, just like the Zulu and the Xhosa and the Shona) is one of those costs; under no circumstances must we face that! The Afrikaner, a tribe of Africa that arose from this soil, went directly from victim to perpetrator, and became the whipping boy of the world, and the English got away scot free (and very wealthy). (That is why I am firmly behind the Colonialism Must Go Campaigns. Unfortunately people are ill-informed about their own past and these movements are indeed lacking in nuance, resulting in the baby being thrown out with the bathwater). However, in essence the implication of your comment is that this status quo must continue. Maybe lack of nuance is projection rather than fact. I find, on the contrary, that the how and the why shape our realities as much as the what of experiences. This is something the book thoroughly explores.

    • Barbara Georges

      Sara, you are so right. You were always the meat in the sandwich and still there is this prejudice from both white and black. My niece's son is mixed race and his black nanny tried to kill him when he was a baby. I have seen whites and blacks look askance at my niece and her lovely boy. As a South African born 'white' whose mother was denied entrance into Berea Girls High circa 1940, because 'we don't take Coloureds' - so the English head mistress informed her - I am 100% with you.

  • Ek dink die boek moet 'n voorgeskrewe handboek op matriekvlak gemaak word. Uiteindelik iemand wat kyk na die Why en daaruit kan ons die How uitwerk. How are we going to repair our nation.

  • Suenel Bruwer-Holloway

    White Afrikaans South Africans have either a Khoi or Malay 'oermoeder', but facts have never stood in the way of psychological reality that leads to enactment. There is always a megalomaniac waiting in the wings to exploit the wounded psyche of a group for his own political ends. The best way of jumping over our own shadow is to blame some other group - the Jews, the blacks, the Afrikaner. Currently apartheid is the chosen trauma that justifies any and all wickedness. Sadly I don't think we can heal our nation. We all have blood on our hands. The real question is: How is it possible that the English convincingly maintain (for centuries and internationally) that they do not?

  • We ( whites) need a platform on TV etc where this is discussed. The SABC has sidelined a lot of programs that need the whites to participate. It will take a long time to change a mindset in this country, for people to stop fighting each other and realise that we can all uplift each other.

  • A van der Hoogen

    Baie insiggewend. Ek werk tans in die Midde-Ooste in 'n land waar bykans 200 verskillende nasionaliteite werksaam is. En waar 'n soortgelyke Britse mentaliteit van "ons-is-beter-as-ander" nog steeds hoogty vier. Dikwels word Britse paspoorthouers bevoordeel, juis omdat hulle die paspoort besit en gesprekke tussen die "ander" draai dikwels om die punt.

  • Johannes Comestor

    Die boek is in Engels maar ek vind dit ironies dat twee Afrikaanssprekendes (Opperman is 'n oud-Suidwester/Namibiër) hierdie gesprek op LitNet in Engels voer. Dit herinner aan drie Afrikaanssprekendes wat onlangs op LitNet in Engels oor Afrikaans aan die Universiteit Stellenbosch geredekawel het. As Afrikaans ons werklike erns is, behoort ons Afrikaans te benut wanneer dit enigsins sinvol is. Die gebruik van Engels en die nie-gebruik van Afrikaans word as polities byderwets beskou maar Afrikaanssprekendes behoort hulle teen sodanige misplaaste byderwetsheid te verset.
    Reeds op 22 April is daar op Praag/Rubrieke 'n omvattende bespreking van hierdie boek gepubliseer: Leon Lemmer, "'n Sielkundige ontleding van Afrikaners."

    • Hélène Lewis

      Johannes, twee dinge:
      1) Dink jy nou werklik die engelse publiek sou die boek of onderhoud lees as dit in Afrikaans was? Dit wil my voorkom jy mis die punt heeltemal.
      2) Ek het Leon Lemmer se bespreking gelees op Praag. Hy maak dit duidelik reg aan die begin dat hy sinies is oor die sielkunde en dit basies as nonsens beskou. Nouja, dis sy goeie reg. Ons het egter niks vir mekaar te sê nie en daar kan geen gesprek wees tussen ons nie. Sy ander siening dat die boek te dik is ens stem ek mee saam, maar ongelukkig kon dit nie anders nie. Vir baie lesers is dit egter glad nie 'n kwessie nie, maar vir iemand wat met die basiese aanname van vernedering en onverwerkte trauma 'n probleem het, moet dit pynlik wees. Nietemin, 'n opvolg, wat ek hoop sal gebeur, kan beslis meer kompak wees, veral omrede hierdie uitgawe reeds die lig gesien het. Ek hoop dis moontlik om uit te bring. Ek waardeer ook alle terugvoer waar ek iets feitlik, histories of andersins, verkeerd gehad het. Dit kan NIKS aan die kern van die boek verander nie.

      • Christine Helene van Veggelen

        Ek gaan jou Genant noem ... dankie vir hierdie onderhoud, en jou boek. Baie dinge is nou meer duidelik, en ja ek is van voorneme om die boek aan te skaf. Ek bid dat ander wat ook gekwets en getraumatiseer was deur ’n stelsel wat net vir sommiges gewerk het, hierdie skrywe aan boord sal neem ... al is dit net om gesprekvoering te inisieer. Ek werk ook in die Midde-Ooste, en ervaar dieselfde bevordering van diegene met ’n "rooi" paspoort ... hulle glo inderdaad dat ons by wyse van ons land van herkoms agtertangs is, en onmoontlik enige form van intelligensie of opvoeding kan hê ...

    • Gogo de Bruin

      Ek kan aan ten minste twee redes dink:

      1. Ons weet almal dat baie wit Engelssprekendes maak of hulle nie Afrikaans kan praat of lees nie selfs al het hulle dit tot in matriek as skoolvak gehad. Dalk is hierdie 'n (ydele?) poging om dit onder 'n paar se aandag te bring.
      2. Hierdie twee Afrikaanssprekendes (soos baie ander) bewys dat dit inderdaad moontlik is om die letsels van kolonialisme te oorkom en positiewe gebruik te maak van iets wat op jou afgedwing is. (Eintlik is die uitslag van die CT17 kriekettoernooi nog 'n veel beter voorbeeld.)

    • Stephanie van Niekerk

      Beste Johannes - ek is verlig dat hierdie onderhoud in Engels is. Ek het swart jongmense in my klas - van wie 'n paar baie kwaad is. Ek wil probeer om hierdie insigte aan hulle oor te dra, sodat hulle hul woede en haat beter kan verstaan, en sodat ek moontlik 'n aanknopingspunt kan vind in terme van hulle, en my eie, verlede. Spesifiek een weier om enigiets met Afrikaans te doen te hê en die ander verstaan dit eenvoudig nie. Hierdie inligting sou dus nie vir hulle beskikbaar wees as dit in my taal was nie - en sou moontlik nie positief ontvang wees as ek dit persoonlik (mondelings) aan hulle probeer oordra nie. Dit moet baie sensitief hanteer word, maar ek hoop dat ek die regte manier sal vind om die insigte aan hierdie jongmense beskikbaar te maak. Dalk help dit hulle en dra dit op 'n weier vlak vrugte. Dit sou alleenlik in Engels moontlik wees.

  • Herman Lategan

    Johannes Comestor, jy vind dit ironies dat twee Afrikaanssprekendes hierdie gesprek op LitNet in Engels voer. Sic transit gloria mundi!

    Gewoonlik antwoord ek nie op sulke kletspraatjies nie, maar jy maak aannames wat verstom. Jy ken my nie. My huistaal die afgelope 30 jaar is Engels, my tersiêre onderrig was in Engels, en ek het vir oor die 20 jaar vir die Engelse media gewerk (en skryf steeds vir hulle). Ek skryf sporadies in Afrikaans, alhoewel die afgelope paar jaar meer as tevore.

    Verder is hierdie boek in Engels geskryf en het die onderhoud in Engels plaasgevind sodat lesers wat Afrikaans nie magtig is nie, toegang tot die onderhoud kan hê. Die hele strekking van die boek gaan dan juis oor die sielkundige invloed wat die ENGELSE op Afrikaners gehad het, gedurende ʼn sekere tydperk in ons geskiedenis. ʼn Mens wil tog hê hulle moet dit kan lees?

    Verder: Die feit dat daar reeds ʼn resensie op Praag se webwerf verskyn het, is obiter dicta. Hierdie is ʼn onderhoud met die skrywer, nie ʼn resensie nie. Jou predikantagtige houding wat Afrikaans betref is jammer. Dit sit ʼn mens skoon af van die taal.

    • Johannes Comestor

      Vir my gaan dit om die funksionaliteit van Afrikaans en nie om die opsionaliteit daarvan nie. Opperman as outeur is meer betrokke by hierdie saak as Lategan as onderhoudvoerder. Tog het Opperman met baie meer grasie as Lategan op my goedbedoelde, pro-Afrikaanse opmerking gereageer. Ek het nie geweet dat Lategan eerder Engels as Afrikaans is of wil wees nie. Wat ek geskryf het, word deur Lategan "kletspraatjies" genoem. Volgens die HAT beteken klets: bogpraatjies, onsin praat, sommer praat om te praat, babbel. Lategan beweer ook dat ek 'n "predikantagtige houding" het. Volgens die HAT beteken predikantagtig: soos 'n predikant, veral in slegte sin; prekerig. My beweerde prekery was dermate so oordrewe dat Lategan weeklaag: "Dit sit 'n mens skoon af van die taal." Dan sit sy liefde vir Afrikaans baie vlak en kan dit as verduideliking vir sy oorwegend Engelse oriëntasie dien. LitNet-lesers moet maar self besluit of ek my aan kletspraatjies en prekerigheid skuldig gemaak het.

  • Suenel Bruwer-Holloway

    Op 'n ligter noot deel ek graag die reaksie van 'n vriend in Engeland, 'n gerespekteerde Britse joernalis wat besig is om die boek te lees:
    I am not sure that apartheid should be construed as “Britain’s bastard child” - Britain cannot deny parenthood, its DNA is all over apartheid.

  • Welgedaan Héléne! Dit is vir my 'n helende ervaring om die boek te lees. Ek sien ons Afrikaner-geskiedenis met 'n groter mate van 'verstaan'. Dankie, voorwaar 'a labour of live' .

  • Na my mening bereik Opperman dit wat nodig is, die opwek van ondersoekende denke - soms ongemaklik, seer en selfs woede. Daar is geen goeie rede hoekom die waarde wat individue uit hierdie werk put gelykmatig of ooreenstemmend moet wees nie. Wat Opperman bereik het deur die blote aanwakker van ontleding en selfondersoek is prysenswaardig. Welgedaan.

  • In my previous comment, I meant Héléne's research being a 'Labour of Love' - seen from the Afrikaner psyche angle, I understand her pain in dealing with the subject matter and yet doing this important work to bring understanding and making an important contribution towards the South African nation building process. Coming from an Afrikaner family traumatized by the Anglo Boer War, I now better understand the 'madness' in my own family. The unstoppable endeavors towards wealth to smooth over the pain and humiliation of the past. The preoccupation with the British, having tea with the Queen and the Royals, the hats to Ascott and the Charity Ball's. However, without being aware of it, they have become the perpetrators themselves, inflicting pain and humiliation and perpetuating the cycle. To me, this book is important in the following ways: on an individual level, I need to heal and therefore I need to understand - this book is a great tool in my healing kit; to bring understanding to the collective in South Africa - if the vision is truly to find solutions and build a peaceful and prosperous country inhabited by a dignified people, then we need to start by 'understanding' and plot a way forward - but of course, it may not be the intention of those in power? The positive is though, we could always start to heal on an individual level and wait for the critical mass to do it's work.

  • HJ van den Berg

    Johannes, ek wou kommentaar lewer op jou inset. Maar ek vermoed dit is net so sinloos as om hierdie boek in Afrikaans alleenlik te publiseer of dit in afsonderlikheid te plaas van Dié Afrikaanssprekende volk van Suid-Afrika.
    Wel gedaan en ek dink dit is tyd dat ons as ’n Afrikanernasie verantwoordelikheid vat vir ons insette, jammer sê en hande vat saam met elke ander volk wat deur die selfde trauma as die Afrikanervolk gegaan het, anders gaan hierdie land van melk en heuning brand. My roep op Afrikaners is om hulle trots te sluk, ophou om hulle self jammer te kry en vir die hele wêreld te wys wie ons regtig is en waartoe ons in staat is. Ons het baie verkeerd gedoen, dit is tyd dat ons wys, ons weet wat reg is en die ander volke leiding gee uit hulle eie leiding en ons sin. Ons wil dan mos sê kyk na hoe goed ons is. Kom ons doen meer om dit te bewys, en kla minder. Iemand moet verantwoordelikheid vat vir hierdie land om nie te brand nie.
    Until everyone can have a basic sense of safety – psychologically, environmentally and economically – we won’t move forward collectively.

    • Lynette Ellis Lochenkov

      Jou laaste paragraaf sê alles. Well said! Mag ons almal in hierdie land veilig voel.

  • Ludwich van Mulier

    Dit is een veelbelovend boek. Ik zal het beslist aanschaffen en lezen. Als zwarte man heb ik in het voorjaar 2017 voor het eerst Zuid-Afrika bezocht en kennisgemaakt met de beschadigingen door APARTHEID. Uit de gehele discussie blijkt, en ook uit mijn waarnemingen en gesprekken met "Witten" in Zuid-Afrika, dat de zwarte mens aldaar twee kolonisaties tegelijk te verduren had; een Britse en een Nederlandse. Een heel mooi land en betoverende natuur. Ik heb bewondering voor allen die pogen de 'zieke geest van apartheid' te ontleden en te genezen. De grootste les die ik geleerd heb bij het aanschouwen van de menselijke scheefgroei door Apartheid, is dat etnisch profileren de meest achterlijke bezigheid van de mens is, die nergens toe leidt. De gruwleijkste vorm van tijdverlies. Vrijwel alle witten die ik sprak in Zuid-Afrika, deden hun best, uit plaatsvervangende schaamte, de Apartheid een menselijk historisch' gezicht te geven of zich er van te distantiëren door rationalisatie. Zwarten die ik sprak waren, verward, of moe van verzet tegen apartheid, genezing duurt hen te lang, men eist onmiddellijke resultaten of escapisme, vlucht naar elders. Enkelen, zwarten en witten zien door analyse en correctie nog licht in de tunnel en zijn de kiemen van een nieuwe toekomst. Zuid Afrika is voor mij veelbelovend omdat kritische evaluatie van de relatie kolonialisme/apartheid, Afrika versus Europa vooruit loopt op de universele discussie tot uitbanning van armoede, racisme, en oorlog.

  • Suenel Bruwer-Holloway

    Groups: Both Israeli and South African apartheid were precipitated by the collective fear of extinction. Individuals: The knee-jerk to hide shame (from ourselves) is like a lightning conductor - in the nanosecond before it strikes we have formulated why it does not strike us; our defences are instantaneous.This book has the courage to explore entrenched taboos. Bring it on Helene! Only if we go into the shadow will our compassion have substance. Neither bleeding heart nor xenophobe, liberal intellectual nor prejudiced patriot (and I have been closet editions of them all in my time) can escape the universal eternal cycle of human pain and enactment and pain and enactment ... Let us at least try to understand ourselves, be a bit more conscious of why we do things; then maybe ... hopefully we can break the pattern.

    • Hélène Lewis

      As psigohistorikus is dit belangrik om daarop te wys dat Verwoerd nié 'n Afrikaner was nie. Dit beteken hy het nie die Afrikaner se kollektiewe geheue psigogeneties gedra nie - dit was nie in sy bloed nie, soos Jansen sê. DF Malan bv het ná Verwoerd se verkiesing 'n opmerking gemaak, dat Verwoerd as keuse 'n fout was ... dat hy (Verwoerd), nie hart het nie, bedoelende iets ontbreek aan empatie.
      Terloops, Hitler was ook nie 'n Duitser nie, en Napoleon nie 'n Fransman nie.

  • Ek wens ek kon hierdie onderhoud wyer deel as net op sosiale media. Dankie vir die insiggewende onderhoud en blootlê op ’n interessante veld van studie: Thanks Herman Lategan for an exceptional interview that is really accessible, yet with academic depth.

    • Stephanie van Niekerk

      Louisie, ek het dit per e-pos aan verskeie mense gestuur en wonder steeds hoe ek meer daavan kan bewus maak.

  • Christelle Stone

    Kan nie wag om die boek aan te skaf en te begin lees nie.
    En almal wat ek ken gaan een in hul Kerskouse kry!
    Wat 'n heerlike boek vir 'n boekklub ... mmm!

  • Marion Taylor

    My mother's mother was Afrikaans, her father of 1820 stock, my father of English stock was posthumously awarded the Luthuli award last year for his anti- apartheid work. My father was transferred for work to Rhodesia in 1966. Every Christmas my mother drove us five kids to Cape Town for Christmas. She zig-zagged from one boer war cemetery to the next, all the way down, saying 'you see what the English did to us, you see what the English did to us'. I was the eldest of five and only 11 years old when it started. I have an indelible memory of a gravestone of a very small girl in the concentration camp cemetery in Winburg. My mother was born in 1935. I was born in 1955. Still in living memory of the British slaughter of innocent men, women and children.

    • Hélène Lewis

      Sheila wishful thinking won't let realities dissapear. And besides Jesus was easily one of the best examples ever to fight against injustice until the end, paying a high price for it.

      That you're tired of racism ... I understand. We all are.

  • Pierre Schnehage

    'n Boek wat kan bydra tot hierdie gesprek (as jy Duits magtig is) is Die Vergessne Generation deur Sabine Bode.
    En Family Constellations deur Bert Hellinger kyk na die oordrag en heling ('n metode) van transgenerasie-trauma.

  • Suenel Bruwer-Holloway

    Sheila, while I respect your Christian belief, I want to point out that this book upholds the opposite of racism. It tells the universal story human consciousness. This is a case study of one group ( admittedly one with which many of us can identify, hence the apposite and often painful responses) but the memory of all people is hard-coded into our genetic structure. Jesus was a revolutionary thinker and his shocking doctrine of unconditional love when the Roman era functioned on "might is right" principles, changed thinking in the world. Many people resisted it as you and many others will resist the latest neurological research that examines the brain activity that precipitates our behaviour. You can try to cancel decades of scientific knowledge like Trump has just cancelled it in connection with climate change, but that does not alter the tragedy playing out before our eyes all over the world. Humiliation as pathway to violence is the same as the Biblical 'sins of the fathers visited on the sons'. It is just the vocabulary that is a bit different; the process is inescapable. No ready-made password unlocks this conundrum. Isn't it better to try and UNDERSTAND the occult nature of our motives? Forgive the corny pun, but there is no hope for the Christ light while denial remains a river in Egypt. Politics is a wasteland of denial; this book is deeply apolitical.

  • Dit gee my die gevoel dat navorsing en teorie wat van toepassing is op die individu, net so oorgedra is na 'n hele groep of 'n hele bevolking. Die groot veralgemening. Vaagweg roer die gedagte dat die boek die gerieflike verskoning vir apartheid probeer wees.

    • Hélène Lewis

      Hi Anton, om so 'n stelling te maak wys ongelukkig op onkunde rakende groepsielkunde. Jou tweede punt getuig van dieselfde onkunde. Feit is om iets sielkundig te verduidelik was nog NOOIT 'n verskoning vir 'n onreg nie.
      Miskien moet jy jouself bietjie op hoogte bring, eerder as om sulke sinlose stellings te maak.

  • Carina Stander

    Hélène, Herman - geluk met 'n uitstekende onderhoud. Ek het dit met groot aandag en waardering gelees. Dit het my herinner aan die woorde van Richard Rohr: If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it. Dit is dalk ook een van die belangrikste rolle van ons skrywers/ kunstenaars/ filmmakers: om onsself in die skoene van voormense en nageslagte te kan (ver-)plaas, en in die vel van die Ander. Ek, wat gelukkige jare in Brittanje deurgebring het, het daarom gewonder wat die oorsaak van die Engelse wond voor 1795 sou wees, die wond wat oorgedra is van geslag tot geslag en land tot land - sekerlik die vernederende hantering van die Britse werkersklas van desjare? Nogmaals geluk met hierdie insigryke stuk skryfwerk. Mag dit wyd gelees word en gaan van krag tot krag.

    • Hélène Lewis

      Dankie Carina vir jou nadenkende kommentaar.
      Dis inderdaad so. Eerder as on te dink ons het al die antwoorde moet ons liewer vrae vra. Vir my het alles met 'n vraag begin, en het dit my heel onwetend en onbepland op 'n lang, dikwels rou, maar ook wonderbaarlike pad geneem, wat ek bevoorreg genoeg was/is om te deel.

    • Carina, van die Engelse geskiedenis weet ek maar net hier en daar, maar ek weet dat wreedheid en verskriklike veldslae deur al die eeue deel was van hul geskiedenis. Ek dink aan Phillipa Gregory se The Red Queen, en ook ander in haar skrywes wat dit baie oortuigend fiktief uitbeeld. Ek weet dat die Franse die Engelse haat vir verskriklike wandade wat invallende Engelse teenoor die Franse landelike bevolking gepleeg het in die tyd van Joan of Arc. En die Engelse self het weereens weer gelei onder invalle van die Saksers, die Vikings, en ook die Normans. Gaan lees ook Julian Rathbone se The Last English King vir daardie perspektief. Engeland is eintlik 'n konglomeraat van baie identiteite, saamgestel deur baie jare se bloedvergieting. Verklaar dit hoekom hulle hul oppermag koloniaal misbruik het? Wie weet - die Belge was dikwels veel erger, die Hollanders nie juis engele nie, beslis ook nie die Franse en Spanjaarde nie. Om nie te praat van wat die Duitsers in Namibië gedoen het nie - totale genocide van die Herero en Namaqua, wat natuurlik nie juis die SA geskiedenisboeke gehaal het nie. Daar was nou onlangs 10 top wandade deur die Engelse gepleeg wat belig is - en die Tweede Vryheidsoorlog is 10de op die lys: http://listverse.com/2014/02/04/10-evil-crimes-of-the-british-empire/

  • Ruud Kapteijn (an 'outlander')

    Beste Anton,
    As jij die boek gelees het, sal jij sien hoe ontereg die commentaar is. Verklaring is nie apologetisch nie.

  • Suenel Bruwer-Holloway

    Anton, nou het jy die kat aan die stert beet. Daar is niks gerieflik aan 'transgenerational' trauma nie; in teendeel niks veronmag mense meer nie. Daar is geen sprake van verskoning nie - apartheid is 'n aanstootlike bewind. Ethnography, psychology, drama, poetry, art, philosophy, pedagogics, even anthropology (that is considered a less soft-edged subject) has always known some deep universal eternal truths about the human psyche, that are at last borne out by 'hard' neuroscience. Psychohistory can not be reduced to generalisation-with-impunity. Have you never wondered why groups visit horror on others groups? WHY the Germans, an advanced culture with a highly developed consciousness, a vast body of literature, great music ... perpetrated the holocaust or what prompted the genocide in Rwanda, why the French Revolution was so cruel, or for that matter what prompted the formation of ISIL? Surely the individual child soldier's experience is still and more horribly valid when a whole group of them operate together. I am not a neuroscientist nor a psychologist, but as mere teacher I have witnessed the group soul operate, and when I face an untenable classroom dynamic I find it instructive to plug into Jung's collective unconscious. Psychohistory does not apply blindly. Of course it examines the formative forces of the individual's psyche but why on earth would these become invalid in a group?

    • Agree, Suenel, but why the inverted commas around 'hard' ?
      Surely the fact that - to put it crudely - one can measure feelings, should not be uncomfortable any more.

      • Suenel Bruwer-Holloway

        Spot on, Carel. Remove my inverted commas forthwith! We so want to believe we are rational beings and that we choose how we behave. I often get into trouble when I bring up the possibility of a flight/fight/freeze reaction in humans. Interestingly Late Onset Irrational Rage is being studied as a syndrome in inbreeding. Now there is a psycho-his-story that must be told if we are to understand the fury that erupts in the world every now and then; a story that makes me most uncomfortable and that I would much rather avoid. The affective consequences are more difficult to pin down than the physical ones like infant mortality, mental handicap, hermaphroditism, the legion of congenital diseases - hence genetic testing before marriage/having children in specific groups (a o Jewish communities). Certain cultures encourage uncle-niece intermarriages, and when cousins have already parented the niece you can imagine the problems. I find it a distasteful subject (why? - something squeamish in my conditioning that I must face) ... However, we would be wise to examine the emotions that we inherit, no? More and more we acknowledge the value of feelings as guides to truth. Thank you for holding up a mirror to me.

    • Hélène Lewis

      Dankie Suenel en almal wat probeer verstaan en nie net na hulle eie skaduwees teen 'n muur vas staar nie. Staan terug en begin wonder ... oor jouself en die lewe. Ons kan mos beter doen as om heeltyd die geskiedenis te herhaal. Suid-Afrika was in 1994 as die wonder van die wêreld beskou. En nou? Kom ons wys weer wat kan gedoen word! Ek is reeds deur verskeie universiteite genader om psigohistorie in SA te bekyk. Daar is hoop want jong mense kyk anders na dinge. Hulle lewens lê voor. Dis 'n baie lang pad, en miskien nie in baie van ons se leeftyd nie, dog mens kan tog êrens begin! Is dit nie wat mens vir kinders toewens nie - meer as dit, verskuldig is.

  • Suenel Bruwer-Holloway

    Barbara, everything you write is true and begs examining. However, not every book can deal with every subject. Goodness! Surely a book is about what it is about; why must this one be an exception? It is a case study that cannot possibly address every other case under the sun, and does not pretend to do so. Underlying many comments, I spy with my little eye some deep resentment that somebody DARES to say that the Afrikaner is also human, also bleeds when cut, also has painful reasons for doing things other that sheer inherent evil. Systematic demonization has so effectively established that the Afrikaner MUST be the bad guy, that the possibility of a more comprehensive look at history makes people uncomfortable. Great! This is always a good sign to me. "Die waarheid maak seer." I also dislike a grain of sand in the shell of my complacency, but eventually I am grateful for the pearl.

    • Barbara Georges

      Suenel, my mother was Afrikaans, born Steenkamp; her mother, Du Plessis, tracing back to 1688 when Jean Prieure Du Plessis arrived at the cape with his wife Madeleine. My father was born in South Africa of a French Australian father and German born mother. I am not English and think that China, India, Africa all have much for which to point the finger at the English - my family too has much for which to dislike the English - my great grandmother, Susannah Johanna Maria du Plessis and her son, Pieter du Plessis were interned in one of the English concentration camps during the Anglo-Boer war, and suffered starvation and abuse. I heard it first hand. The interview mentioned the Jews, Germans and Russians - for me, mentioning the Coloured people was no different than the author speaking of the former group. I always felt that if the Coloureds had been accepted as Afrikaners, which they are linguistically and culturally, there would have been more of us. The English also refused to allow Irish fleeing the famine into South Africa. What a difference that would have made. I now live in France with my French husband and love it here. When I left SA I told my family that to remain in SA meant becoming ANC and Black and that was unthinkable for me. As much as possible I have returned to my predominantly French roots.
      Hopefully this clarifies your impression that I am against the Afrikaner. I am most certainly not and have written to disparate leaders throughout the world - among them: the PMs of many English speaking countries; the president of France; our local archbishop; Putin; Trump and even the pope - bringing the plight of poor whites to their notice.

    • Hélène Lewis

      Jeanette laat weet my asseblief watter boekwinkels praat jy van dat ek kan opvolg. My epos is: hlobook@gmail.com Ek gaan jou boodskap deurstuur aan die verspreider. Die maandelikse terugvoer wat hulle my gee is dat dit wyd versprei is! Maak mens moedeloos. Intussen kan jy dit direk van die verspreider bestel. Gaan net na http://www.bbctransgenerational.com druk op 'purchase' en dan op xaviernagelagencies
      Jammer oor die frustrasie!

    • Hélène Lewis

      Ja Jeanette. Ek was verby woede soos ek dinge ontdek het; die leuens van Milner en kie, die konstante beledigings en verdraaiings in die internasionale pers; en toe die ergste: woonhuise wat afgebrand word voor huilende kindertjies klouend aan hulle ma's terwyl duisende diere gedood en vermink word. Die verslae en ontaarde mense gejaag en op vuil trokke na die kampe ... en en ... slaaplose nagte en die konstante gehuil van honger en siek kinders en die eindelose sterftes. En dit vir GOUD!? En dan moet mens normaal bly ... en vergewe en vergeet? En bly verneder word? Aikôna!

  • Stephanie van Niekerk

    I believe this article to be about one of the most important works written in a long time. If only we could all let go of our own assumptions and beliefs for a little while, and pay attention to the research and information, we may achieve a collective positive result that spreads. The saying: "Get over yourself", is of primary importance in this case. Let's open our minds and use this work as a learning opportunity with regard to ALL human beings, not just some. I know what damage was done to the Afrikaners by the British. I listened to my parents and grandparents, and the trauma they expressed, when I was a child - the loss of family members in the concentration camps, the abuse shouted at them on the streets, the attempts at shaming them because of who they are and preventing them from speaking their language. I know what effect the oppression had on previous generations, and on me. I've experienced the humiliation because I'm Afrikaans, and therefore not good enough. People in other countries literally stepping back from me with an expression of disgust on their faces when they found out where I was from during the years of apartheid; being verbally attacked in public; the rejection by my "go for English" father-in-law. Blatant discrimination that didn't consider my personal beliefs. I was simply seen as evil and therefore an abomination to be avoided. Not so different from what other races in South Africa went through, I believe, and thus the cycle continues. This article explains so much. Read it again ... we can all learn from it.

    • Suenel Bruwer-Holloway

      Stephanie, I can identify with your experiences. The abject poverty of Afrikaans people after the Anglo Boer War and the utter dependency on the fickle goodwill of the British overlord, the negation of our language as medium of self-expression, the assumption that our culture is inferior and our property really only some magnanimous servitude arrangement granted by some distant Monarch, are deeply felt humiliations we share with our desperate black compatriots. Another value we have in common is the way our identities are tied to the soil we have sprung from. The Land. Mother Africa. This is something the European mentality who still thinks of home as Britain and of Africa as some resource to be exploited, will never understand. My genetic conglomerate has been at the Cape for longer than the Xhosa. I am an African. My people lost their farms in Kitchener's Scorched Earth policy and were forced to migrate to cities (mainly to work on the mines). Family from the Cape Colony who had joined the Boers to fight the mighty Empire, also lost their farms - those that returned were shot as traitors because they were British Citizens. A large % died in Britain's Concentration Camps. None of this justifies what followed (apartheid), but it does explain the fear underlying the creation thereof. Always a good idea is to ask qui bono? Scratch at the surface and you will find more representatives of the "nation of shopkeepers" than Afrikaners. Yet it is Afrikaans people that are treated as pariah dogs. When people make mean generalisations about us with equanimity and I object, the reaction is that I should be flattered that they assumed I was not really an Afrikaner!

      • Stephanie van Niekerk

        Suenel - our families have so much in common. The concentration camps, working the mines, farms lost, the mining strike, the incredible poverty. One of my grandfathers, who was a member of the Ossewa Brandwag in Krugersdorp, and thus involved in blowing up bridges and train tracks during the World War (!), was a miner. He died from lung disease as a result. The other was a tailor in a small town in the Free State and the fabric dust packed in his lungs - he died of that. I often laugh cynically when people speak of the "fact" that I'm a "privileged white person". I've never had more than what I've needed to survive. If my family is "privileged", it is because we scraped and borrowed and applied for bursaries in order to study and educate ourselves, because we worked extremely hard to earn what we have. I really appreciate your remarks above. We share a common history.

  • Jolane Mokwele

    I agree with the author, we all need to heal from the wounds of the past, we need to come together and show the world that it can be done. Let us all stop the violence, not just physical violence but psychological, lets stop the humiliation and shaming of one another. Let us build a better South Africa, actually the best South Africa. It belongs to all of us, black, white, indian, asian. Together we can do it. This book gives me hope. If it can be diagnosed then it can be treated.

    • Suenel Bruwer-Holloway

      Jolane, your comment gives me hope! It is painful to look at our shadows; it takes courage. Only if we diagnose, if we know the underlying causes of the illness can we treat it. This country has enough for us all, if we can find the love to stop justifying greed and hatred. Entitlement in whatever form it rears its ugly head is fuelled by blame.

    • Hélène Lewis

      Thank you Jolane and thank you Stephanie.
      Though the book is a psychohistorical perspective on Afrikaners 1795-1948, as a case study - the message is actually UNIVERSAL. It's universally applicable to ALL people and ALL groups. It's the human story of repeated misery. To try and understand why.
      The purpose is precisely that we white people, all of us - should understand at a deeper and compassionate level how black people feel, who had been traumatised, amongst themselves ... AND between races. And how they had to endure humiliation for decades! And with them in power now, the message is to them: beware the repeat of the cycle!
      I'm encouraged by those who got the message, and won't be discouraged by those who responded, and clearly totally misses the point. We can all just do what we can, right?

      • Stephanie van Niekerk

        Thank you, Ms Lewis. You've done very important work. I wish that those who need your information the most, may actually read and understand it ...

      • Barbara Georges

        The book sounds excellent and I shall certainly purchase it as soon as I can.
        Meanwhile, has anyone read Harry Booyens' book Amabulu? I found it historically very helpful as it is the history of my Afrikaans ancestors too and lends insight into the very real historical grievances of the Afrikaner.

        • Johannes Comestor

          Ek slaan Harry Booyens se boek, AmaBhulu, histories hoër aan as Opperman se boek. 'n Omvattende bespreking daarvan is in Leon Lemmer se rubriek op Praag (1.02.2015) gepubliseer.

  • Jeanette Snyman

    Me Lewis, dankie vir terugvoer. Het juis gister in Die Burger se briewekolom u boek "bemark"- voel dit moet so wyd moontlik gelees word. Wat van 'n onderhoud op Kwêla of Ruda se program?

  • Hélène Lewis

    Oxford historian, Yuval Noah Harari remarks in: Sapiens - A Brief History of Humankind p.444:

    "Most history books focus on the ideas of great thinkers, the bravery of warriors, the charity of saints and the creativity of artists.They have much to tell about the weaving and unravelling of social structures, about the rise and fall of empires, about the discovery and spread of technologies. Yet they say nothing about how all this influenced the happiness and suffering of individuals. This is the biggest lacuna in our understanding of history. We had better start filling it."

  • Reageer

    Jou e-posadres sal nie gepubliseer word nie. Kommentaar is onderhewig aan moderering.


     

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