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Original Research

Afrikaner Christianity and the concept of empire

Erna Oliver

Verbum et Ecclesia; Vol 31, No 1 (2010), 7 pages. doi: 10.4102/ve.v31i1.393

Submitted: 28 April 2010
Published:  03 August 2010


Not many Protestant countries in the world have been as influenced by faith as South Africa. Although South Africa was never officially a Christian country, politics, economic development, social life and the culture of the ‘rainbow nation’ was either moulded on, or influenced by, the Calvinistic Christianity that came to the country along with the European merchants. The privileged position of Christianity ended in 1994 when South Africa became a neutral state with guaranteed religious freedom for all. Although more than 80 per cent of the population claim that they are Christians, it seems as if the word is not meant any more as a religion with a value system and moral obligations, but only as a convenient label. The reason behind the contrast between theory and practice must be investigated. One possible reason could be found in the traditional Afrikaans-speaking churches’ participation of, and contribution to, the ‘empire’ concept. The responsibility of the individual to practise his or her faith was taken over by the power of the state and church.

Bokriste bja Maafrikanere le kgopolo ya mmušo wo maatla

Ga se dinaga tše ntši tša Protestante mo lefaseng tše di hueditšwego ke tumelo go swana le ka fao naga ya Afrika-Borwa e hueditšwego ke tumelo ka gona. Le ge Afrika-Borwa e sa ka ya ba naga ya Sekriste semmušo, dipolitiki, tlhabollo ya tša ekonomi, bophelo bja leago le setšo sa ‘setšhaba sa molalatladi’, se ka ba se bopegile godimo ga, goba se hueditšwe ke Bokriste bja Secalvine bjo bo tlilego le bagwebi ba Yuropa. Maemo a go phagama ao a bego a filwe tumelo ya Sekriste a fedile ka ngwaga wa 1994 ge Afrika-Borwa e eba naga ya kemelathoko ya go fa bohle tokologo ya bodumedi. Le ge diphesente tša go feta 80 tša setšhaba di ipitša Bakriste, go bonala nke lentšu leo ga le sa šomišwa go hlaloša tumelo ye e nago le meetlo le maitshwaro a itšeng a setho, eupša le no šomišwa e le seka sa go re mponeng ke Mokriste. Lebaka la thulano magareng ga teori le mediro ya ka mehla le swanetše go nyakišišwa. Le lengwe la mabaka ao e ka ba ge dikereke tša setšo tša Maafrikanere di na le seabe le go hlohleletša kgopolo ya ‘mmušo wo maatla’ goba ‘bogoši’. Maikarabelo a motho yo mongwe le yo mongwe go phela go ya ka tumelo ya gagwe a ile a fedišwa ke maatla a magolo a mmušo le a kereke.

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Author affiliations

Erna Oliver, University of South Africa, South Africa, South Africa


Afrikaners; Christian faith; empire; South African history; Traditional Afrikaans-speaking churches


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ISSN: 1609-9982 (print) | ISSN: 2074-7705 (online)

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