Page 9. " They were the immediate representatives of God Almighty on earth "
Dutch Reformed Church in Swellendam
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeDutch Reformed Church in Swellendam - Credit: Fihliwe, Flickr

99% of Afrikaners (Afrikaans-speaking whites) were members of the fundamentalist, pro-apartheid Dutch Reformed Church. Each congregation was led by a dominee (the church’s unwritten law was that he had to be a married man and the father of many children) and a team of elected ouderlinge (elders) and diakens (younger men).

Once a month the dominee and an ouderling or a diaken would call at each congregation household. They would gather the family together to kneel and pray to God to forgive them their sins and to strike them down should they sin again. The dominee would, at the same time, collect the household’s monthly “gift” of money to the church.

Page 14. " it has always struck me how excessively violent encounters between racial or national groups, or even individuals from the same group, have been "

Apartheid – racial segregation – was institutionalized in South Africa (then the Union of South Africa) in 1948, when the all-white, Protestant-Fundamentalist Nationalist Party came to power.  People were racially categorized as white, black, or coloured.

"Coloureds" were people of Asian origin, as well as anyone who was not “pure” white – a white person with a black parent, grandparent or great-grandparent perhaps. Where race could not be established through descent, officials from the Department of Home Affairs determined race by appearance. Only whites were considered citizens, and only whites could vote.

Throughout the Apartheid years, a few white people opposed the country’s racial laws. They were called “kafferboeties” – kaffer lovers. Kaffer, or kaffir, was the derogatory name given to black people.

In 1994 South Africa’s first multi-racial parliamentary election was based on universal suffrage. The election was won by the African National Congress Party and Nelson Mandela became the country’s first black president.

Page 19. " His baas had beaten him "

Baas was how a black person had to address a white man.

Kleinbaas was the mode of address for a white boy. A white woman was mies and a white girl was kleinmies.

Often a baas would discipline black employees with a sjambok (rawhide whip).