Seen elsewhere: How was (and is) it possible for Afrikaners to believe the lies?

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Photograph: Pixabay


Herman Wasserman writes on Facebook:

In the past I’ve often wondered how it was possible for Afrikaners to believe the lies of the apartheid government for so long. How they (I include myself, having grown up in that community) managed to believe in an alternative reality and, even when facts were presented to them, still found ways to rationalise oppression and convince themselves that God was on their side.

It took a whole military-economic-religious complex to keep it going, of course, and there was strong self-interest that drove the structural racism underpinning the apartheid system, but I think at the core of how ordinary people were socialized into support for apartheid lay a mix of religion, fear, ignorance and, mostly, a strong desire to belong. It was cold outside the laager. The appeal of group identity and the fear of being ostracised are powerful drivers.

Reading through comments of Afrikaans anti-vaxxers (surveys have shown them to be the most vaccine-hesitant group in the country) on social media, I see many of the same motivations at play.

The lines between the camps are hardening, the distance growing. Countering vaccine hesitancy, conspiracy and fears with facts therefore has its limitations.

Pro-vax messaging will have to take account of social and cultural determinants to be successful. But, as in the past, it's time to take a stand.

See also:

Die sielkunde agter samesweringsteorieë

Herman Wasserman en die infodemie: Disinformasie in die Globale Suide

Jy is ’n belangrike deel van die nuwe wapenwedloop

Max du Preez oor vrye spraak en geloofwaardige joernalistiek

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  • AGH van Der Walt

    One can probably also ask why the Germans were so keen to follow Hitler? Or perhaps it has something to do with the centuries old belief in Aryan superiority that can be traced back to the Roman historian Tacitus around 80 AD. How about analysing the English belief in White Supremacy going back to the 1500's and their treatment of the Irish and African slaves in America? Or perhaps because everything Afrikaans is fair game today Afrikaner bashing is the flavour of the new South Africa.

  • Kan nie volg watter kant jy sit nie. Skryf jy vir die Afrikaanse person in Engels of praat jy oor hulle? Afrikaners wat Apartheid ondersteun het vs Antivaxx. Is dit nou weer Afrikaners wat behoort te glo in vaxx of nie? In of uit groep. Vertrou in regering of behoort hulle nie?? Watter groep is in en watter groep is uit?

  • Tipiese linkse libargumente - stoei seker maar om om te oorleef, daarom die gereelde kritiek en swartsmeer van Afrikaners. Foeitog!

  • Stoffel van der Merwe

    Wasserman se siening is ongelooflik oorvereenvoudig en naïef. Waar was hy toe die groot debat oor die toekoms in Afrikanerkringe voortgestu het?

  • AGH van der Walt slaan die spyker op sy kop! Wat ons Afrikaners aan ons mede-landsburgers gedoen het, is onvergeeflik, maar dit maak ons as volk nie slegter as die Britte van die koloniale era of die Duitsers van die Nazitydperk,of die slawetydperk van die Amerikaners nie. En dan praat ons nie van die huidige Midde-Ooste nie. Ons is en was nie beter of slegter as die res van die wêreld nie.

  • Daar is min goed meer irreterend as 'n ontgogelde lid van die samelewing. Hy is skaam kwaad en hartseer oor sy herkoms/afkoms en agtergrond. Onthou grond kan jy koop, agtergrond nie. Hy is nog vis nog vlees. Soekend swerwend in die dorre alleenheid van sy eie ontnugtering. Mens sien nogal baie siele wat uitgeruk is en dan is hulle kwaad. Die groot generaal/spreekbuis van die regime se oud soldate is ook in dieselfde kategorie. Staan sterk in jou oortuiging, en hou daarby.

  • Gustaf Claassens

    Mens kyk, lees en leer. Hier is dit 'n geval van jy lees, skud jou kop en beweeg aan.

  • Is the current situation now better? They weren't lied to at all. All the so-called "apartheid propaganda" has proven to be true. Anyway, the Afrikaner just acted as "baasboy" to bigger economic interests who held the real power in the country and conveniently passed on the blame while their children immigrated overseas, often to countries where the indigenous population was rendered non existant or non effective. Spin another myth somewhere else please.

  • All of this is old hat. Why not write about Afro-Saxon delusions as well. That would take real bravery...

  • Ek stem: dis irriterent dat hy in Engels skryf, en ek stem dat wat hy skryf, toegepas kan word op nie net die Afrikanersn ie. 'n Duidelik voorbeeld is die verdeeldheid in Britanje oor Brexit, en die verdeeldheid in die VSA na Trumpisme- 'n verdeeldheid wat duidelike lyne oorgeslaan het in vax- en nievaxgroepe. Dis asof konserwatisme ook selfs sy voete wil vind in die mediese wetenskap se verwerping; ek sien hier is alreeds “tipiese lib” uitroepe!

  • Dit lyk my of die ou Natte dalk iets geweet het wat mnr Wasserman nog nie weet nie, maar wat baie ander Suid Afrikaners, insluitende die ou Sappe , Progs ens vinig besig is om uit te vind.

  • Skuil lekker agter die worsgordyn van UK.
    Daar waar alles wel is en alle besluite en optrede goed deur dink is.

  • Pieter Marais

    Ek wonder maar net wie is nou die blindelingse volger. Apartheid het ons gevange gehou met een narratief en die staat het media en selfs medici (Basson) gebruik. Media het net een tema propageer en alle ander opinies was kommunisties en euwel. Jy moes glo wat die staat sê. Nou volg jy mos presies die staat en die media wat vir jou sê wat om te dink en te glo. As die mense vra vir wetenskap en 'n breër basis wat objektiewe besluite kan meebring word jy uitgemaak as verkramp, regs en verkeerd. Jy is bereid om te gaan sit vir 'n inspuiting waarvan sekere kritiese navorsing eers in 2025 sal verskyn en langtermyn-newe-effekte nog onseker is terwyl farmas miljarde inpond. Miskien moet jy bietjie navorsing doen. Kyk na die CDC se eie VEARS-data en die Europese Unie en die getal inspuitingverwante-sterftes en -beserings. Sonder kennis raak jy net nog 'n propagandis van die regeringsnarratief, soos in die apartheidsjare.

  • Johann Basson

    I strongly recommend that Mr Wasserman and readers STUDY the excellent publication of Hélène Opperman Lewis entitled “Apartheid: Britain’s Bastard Child”. Serious food for thought.

  • Van den Vos Reynaerde

    Mr Wasserman,

    Since I am an Afrikaner, no doubt I fall into your category of people believing the "lies of apartheid government." But I didn't - I never voted for that government, and I know many Afrikaners who didn't. It would have been better if you wrote "some Afrikaners." (I also didn't vote for the current South African government, whose lies are by now legendary, but I don't claim that my political lie detector is better than anyone else's). I also know, from life-long conversations with my fellow South Africans, that many of those that did (and they were not only Afrikaners), simply considered it the better of a choice of evils, bearing in mind the Cold War situation prevailing after the Second World War, and the chaos into which many post-independence African states degenerated. Whether they were right or wrong in some of their perspectives, is still a matter of debate.

    You are quite right in saying it is "cold outside the laager", but you need to have a wider perspective of what that laager encompasses. If you seriously (as opposed to rhetorically) want a (partial) answer to your question, consider the views expressed by Don Beck, at one time professor at the University of North Texas, and author of the book "The Crucible: Forging South Africa's Future" (1991). Beck was so intrigued by South Africa as a society that he visited the country more than 30 times in the late 1980's, and had discussions with people from all races across the entire political spectrum.

    To paraphrase Beck, apartheid is very easy to understand, but in order to understand it, you need go and sit on the moon and consider planet earth from that perspective. When you do, you'll realise you are looking at an apartheid society writ large. Consider this: 20% of the world's population earns 80% of the world's income. This 20% is also characterised by an aging and shrinking population. (Clem Sunter described the phenomenon as the "rich old millions and poor young billions.") This 20% tries very hard to prevent the other 80% from flooding in and spoiling their lifestyles. Hence strict immigration laws, hard border controls (e.g. between the USA and Mexico, Australia's "turn the boats back" policy), etc. Now shrink this situation down, place it on the southern tip of Africa, and ... Hey presto! - you have apartheid.

    Back in the 1940's, in his comments on the Fagan Commission's report, Jan Smuts stated that attempting to prevent black people from the tribal areas from flooding into the cities would be like trying to sweep back the ocean with a broom. The Nationalists ignored the Fagan Commission's report and for 40 years attempted to wield the broom and sweep back this ocean. The Americans and Europeans are just starting to learn this lesson.

    Link to Beck's book:
    Consider also RW Johnson's article on "Fortress Europe":

    I can't speak for "anti-vaxxers", which, like "climate change denialists" has become a catch-all swear-word to smear and demonise anyone who questions the current orthodoxies. Their motives are legion, but an understandable distrust of anything promoted by the government would certainly be a factor. For starters, you may want to consider some of the "elephants in the room". (

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