On Being Colored in South Africa

On Being Colored in South Africa by Ron K. Unz
The New York Times (Letters), February 2, 1986

In Tom Wicker’s Jan. 13 column, the Rev. Allan Boesak was characterized as a white South African champion of black rights, recently jailed for his efforts. This is incorrect. Mr. Boesak, a founder of the United Democratic Front, is actually a colored (mixed-race) South African.

This is significant because it underscores the South African Government’s willingness to imprison large numbers of nonwhite opponents while only very rarely jailing white antiapartheid activists. The 1982 election of Mr. Boesak to the leadership of the World Alliance of (Dutch) Reformed Churches, to which the powerful Afrikaner churches traditionally belonged, marked a major stage in the growth of religious opposition to apartheid.

Mr. Boesak’s Afrikaner name clearly exemplifies the Afrikaner roots of nearly all of South Africa’s colored inhabitants, who, in fact, were the original speakers of the Afrikaans language and are deeply linked to Afrikaner culture. Even such a staunch advocate of white supremacy as Hendrik Verwoerd, creator of the apartheid system, believed that coloreds were part of extended Afrikanerdom and should be accorded some citizen rights, in contrast to South Africa’s blacks.

Ron K. Unz, Stanford, Calif., Jan. 13, 1986

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