College Papers

The Broederbond The Afrikaner Broederbond

The Broederbond
The Afrikaner Broederbond (AB), meaning ‘league of Afrikaner Brothers’ was a secretive organisation, established in 1918, with the aim of furthering Afrikaner nationalism and Afrikaner interests. Membership was very exclusive, they were selected personally, and had to be male, white, Afrikaner schooled and regular church-goers. It is widely recognised that the AB played a crucial role in the growth in Afrikaner nationalism, the mere fact that all white prime ministers that preceded Malan (himself included) were members shows their immense influence in 20th century South African politics, playing a large part inFAK
The Broederbond helped establish many support organisations to help further their cause. A notable one being the Federasie van Afrikaanse Kultuurvereniginge (SVK- Federation of Afrikaans Cultural Societies), an umbrella body for Afrikaner cultural organisations. Established in 1929, the FAK, took over for the Broederbond in cultural promotion; it aimed ‘to unify and disseminate a sense of separate Afrikaner identity’ . The FAK acted as a cultural outlet for the Broederbond, not restricted by the secrecy, the FAK could openly boost support for Afrikaner nationalism. And that, they did. By 1937, the FAK had over 300 affiliated organizations . The FAK set out to engage Afrikaners with their history and literature, and subsequently, bolster support for Afrikaner nationalism. The FAK circulated English-Afrikaans glossaries, on topics such as automotive, grocers and butchers term. Later, sports terms were published. This was to widen the use of Afrikaans and help develop the language. The FAK also aimed to celebrate Afrikaner history, and in 1931 the FAK’s first committee was founded, the Sentrale Volksmonumente komitee (Central People’s Monuments Committee). The committee was established, in order to erect monuments throughout South Africa to celebrate Afrikaner history, and to better represent ‘the people’. They succeeded in building the Voortrekker Monument, in Pretoria in 1947, and the statue of Piet Retief at Covenant Church in Pietermaritzburg in 1941, as well as numerous other monuments post 1948. The significance of such monuments can clearly be seen in the debate which took place recently over colonial and apartheid era monuments, as they are seen as representing white supremacy and racial oppression. A monument typically is relevant to a social group as part of their remembrance of their history or cultural heritage. The Afrikaner monuments were grand depictions of Afrikaner heritage, used to instil white supremacy in Afrikaners, and alienate British Whites. They were, therefore significant in subliminally raising support for Afrikanerdom.

The Great Trek -Many historians are in agreeance that the centenary was a significant event in the growth o Afrikanerdom.
The Afrikaners, although not always united, had always felt a strong sense of separate identity from all other groups in South Africa. Most significantly, with the migration of Dutch settlers from the Cape, 5000 moving East, separating themselves from Cape settlers in the 1830s and 1840s. This is the first instance of the Afrikaners struggle against colonial rule and repression. The Dutch felt the need to separate themselves from the British powers, largely relating to the loss that emancipation of slaves brought about as a result of being a British colony. The British control of the country didn’t fit well into the Boer’s feeling that they had been dispossessed, that were the rightful people to the land, as the ‘first people’ (settlers) in South Africa. It’s also likely they didn’t appreciate strict British rule and its dominance over their rudimentary system of government. Therefore, they took it upon themselves to move completely off the land and start anew, establishing the two Boer Republics. Therefore, it can be appreciated why the Great Trek was seen in a very heroic light, as their ancestors had escaped the rule of the British, only to be under their rule once again 60 years later, in a formal and seemingly more permanent situation, caused more resentment. Through the years, the tale of the ‘Great Trek’ was mythologised and played a prominent part in their culture and heritage. Moodie agrees, stating that the Afrikaners’ emerging civil religion was “centred on the Great Trek.” . A Spectator Article published September 1938 quotes the Great Trek as being “the central theme of South African history” .
opposition to the government. It essentially acted as a ‘think tank’ of the most prominent Afrikaners. The South African prime minister, JBM Hertzog, declared in November 1935 that “there is no doubt that the secret Broederbond is nothing more than the HNP operating secretly underground, and the HNP is nothing more than the secret Afrikaner Broederbond operating in public.”
A major strategy of the AB’s was to ensure that Afrikaners, or the ‘right man’ was being promoted to a position of power (over say, a white Brit) by wielding their influence, to gain control of school committees, school boards, church councils and boards of directors, this consolidated their influence on a local and national level. Louise du Plessis argues that the Broederbond gained significant influence when “large numbers of teachers joined it,” not only were their numbers strengthened by the new influx of members, teachers would play an instrumental role in shaping the minds of impressionable adolescents, furthering the Broederbond’s cause. Giliomee however, has argued that “opponents of the Broederbond have attributed an importance to the organisation that is out of proportion” , and this may be true to an extent, however it is thought the Broederbond did act to a fair extent as the masterminds of the Afrikaner Nationalism Movement leading up to 1948. Giliomee- calls Afrikaner nationalism “the gradual awakening of ethnic consciousness” . Sped along by the Broederbond.