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AFRICANISING APARTHEID: IDENTITY, IDEOLOGY, AND STATE-BUILDING IN POST-INDEPENDENCE AFRICA*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 October 2015

JAMIE MILLER*
Affiliation:
Cornell University

Abstract

Between 1968 and 1975, the leaders of white South Africa reached out to independent African leaders. Scholars have alternately seen these counterintuitive campaigns as driven by a quest for regional economic hegemony, divide-and-rule realpolitik, or a desire to ingratiate the regime with the West. This article instead argues that the South African government's outreach was intended to energise a top-down recalibration of the ideology of Afrikaner nationalism, as the regime endeavoured to detach its apartheid programme from notions of colonialist racial supremacy, and instead reach across the colour line and lay an equal claim to the power and protection of African nationalism. These diplomatic manoeuvrings, therefore, serve as a prism through which to understand important shifts in state identity, ideological renewal, and the adoption of new state-building models.

Type
Ideological Innovation in Postcolonial Africa
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015 

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References

1 ‘Le président Banda en Afrique du Sud’, Fraternité-Matin, 17 Aug. 1971; ‘Thousands of South Africans give Kamuzu great welcome’, Malawi News, 20 Aug. 1971.

2 Hastings Kamuzu Banda Collection (HBA), Indiana University, Box 7, Programmes, 12, Programme for State Visit to South Africa, 16–20 Aug. 1971.

3 ‘Le président Banda en Afrique du Sud’.

4 Vorster's ‘outward policy’ is also widely known as ‘dialogue’ as well as ‘outward movement’. The one term has been used here for simplicity's sake.

5 South African Department of Foreign Affairs Archives (DFAA) 1/99/19 13, Africa: SA Policy in Africa and Relations with African States, report, author unclear, ‘Houding van Afrika-State teenoor Suid-Afrika’, Apr. 1972.

6 The first use of the ‘détente’ label appears to be in the opening of a new file in Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith's office on 11 Oct. 1974: ISP, Deposit 4, Box 6, Détente: Official Communications with South Africa, Volume 1. The term was in common usage in the domestic and international press by the end of the month, of which the earliest mention appears to be ‘New face of black-white confrontation in southern Africa’, Boston Globe, 14 Oct. 1974.

7 The motivations of those African leaders willing to engage with Pretoria, though beyond the scope of this article, merit much fuller investigation than they have heretofore received.

8 B. Davidson, South Africa and Portugal (New York, 1974); S. Nolutshungu, South Africa in Africa: A Study in Ideology and Foreign Policy (Manchester, 1975), 122; R. Johnson, How Long Will South Africa Survive? (New York, 1977), 64; R. Southall, South Africa in Africa: Foreign Policy Making During the Apartheid Era (Braamfontein, South Africa, 1999), 12; R. Southall, ‘South Africa’, in T. M. Shaw and O. Aluko (eds.), The Political Economy of African Foreign Policy: Comparative Analysis (Aldershot, UK, 1984), 232–5; R. Molteno, Africa and South Africa: The Implications of South Africa's ‘Outward-Looking’ Policy (London, 1971).

9 Nolutshungu, South Africa in Africa, 121–2.

10 S. Gervasi, Industrialization, Foreign Capital and Forced Labour in South Africa (New York, 1970), 102.

11 G. Cockram, Vorster's Foreign Policy (Pretoria, 1970); A. Vandenbosch, South Africa and the World: The Foreign Policy of Apartheid (Lexington, KY, 1970); Bowman, Larry W., ‘South Africa's southern strategy and its implications for the United States’, International Affairs, 47:1 (1971), 1930CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Nolutshungu, South Africa in Africa; C. Legum, Southern Africa, the Secret Diplomacy of Detente (London, 1975); O. Geyser, Detente in Southern Africa (Bloemfontein, 1976); A. Chambati, ‘Detente – an external view’, South African Institute of Race Relations (1976); D. Worrall, The Republic of South Africa and Detente (Salisbury, Rhodesia, 1976); Hirschmann, D., ‘Southern Africa: detente?’, Journal of Modern African Studies, 14:1 (1976), 107–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Spence, J., ‘Detente in Southern Africa: an interim judgement’, International Affairs, 53:1 (1977), 116CrossRefGoogle Scholar; J. Seiler, Southern Africa since the Portuguese Coup (Boulder, CO, 1980); R. Jaster, South Africa's Narrowing Security Options (London, 1980); J. Swanepoel, ‘Die Diplomasie van Adv. B. J. Vorster’ (unpublished PhD thesis, University of the Orange Free State, 1982), 136–255; D. Geldenhuys, The Diplomacy of Isolation: South African Foreign Policy Making (Johannesburg, 1984), 38–42; J. Barber and J. Barratt, South Africa's Foreign Policy: The Search for Status and Security, 1945–1988 (Johannesburg, 1990), 143–50.

12 C. Alden, Apartheid's Last Stand: The Rise and Fall of the South African Security State (Basingstoke, 1996), 35; R. Irwin, Gordian Knot: Apartheid and the Unmaking of the Liberal World Order (New York, 2012), 163. A more perceptive thread – and one followed by this article – is that enunciated by Adrian Guelke: ‘[B]y showing that it could enter into constructive relations with African states', South Africa ‘hoped to demonstrate that apartheid was compatible with the post-colonial world and there was no need for change.’ See A. Guelke, Rethinking the Rise and Fall of Apartheid: South Africa and World Politics (Basingstoke, 2005), 116.

13 See Johnstone, F., ‘White Prosperity and white supremacy in South Africa today’, African Affairs, 69:275 (1970), 124–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Wolpe, H., ‘Capitalism and cheap labour-power in South Africa: from segregation to apartheid’, Economy and Society, 1:4 (1972), 425–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar; M. Legassick, ‘South Africa: forced labour, industrialisation, and racial differentiation’, in R. Harris (ed.), The Political Economy of Africa (Boston, 1973), 229–70.

14 R. Pfister, Apartheid South Africa and African States: From Pariah to Middle Power, 1961–1994 (London, 2005), 6.

15 ‘Steun Suid-Afrika se Afrika-beleid’, Volkshandel, July 1967.

16 Guelke, A., ‘Africa as a market for South African goods’, The Journal of Modern African Studies, 12:1 (1974), 80CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

17 An important exception here is H. Giliomee, The Last Afrikaner Leaders: A Supreme Test of Power (Cape Town, 2012), 89–138.

18 For core texts on the Vorster government's broader political, historical, and ideological context, see T. Moodie, The Rise of Afrikanerdom: Power, Apartheid, and the Afrikaner Civil Religion (London, 1975); H. Adam and H. Giliomee, The Rise and Crisis of Afrikaner Power (Cape Town, 1979); D. O'Meara, Forty Lost Years: The Apartheid State and the Politics of the National Party, 1948–94 (Randburg, 1996); H. Giliomee, The Afrikaners: Biography of a People (Charlottesville, VA, 2003); and Giliomee, The Last Afrikaner Leaders.

19 DFAA 1/33/3 28, USA Relations With South Africa, J. S. F. Botha, Embassy of South Africa, Washington, DC, to Secretary for Foreign Affairs, US/SA Relations, 6 Feb. 1974.

20 R. Irwin, Gordian Knot, 153.

21 See especially Westad, O., ‘The new international history of the Cold War: three (possible) paradigms’, Diplomatic History, 24:4 (2000), 551–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar. For a sampling of work following Westad's lead in emphasising shifts in the ruling ideologies of Global South actors in the Cold War, see P. Gleijeses, Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959–1976 (Chapel Hill, NC, 2002); T. Harmer, Allende's Chile and the Inter-American Cold War (Chapel Hill, NC, 2011); and J. Friedman, ‘Reviving revolution: the Sino-Soviet split, the “third world”, and the fate of the left’ (unpublished PhD thesis, Princeton University, 2011).

22 Hopkins, A., ‘Rethinking decolonization’, Past and Present, 200:1 (2008), 211–47CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

23 M. Larmer, Rethinking African Politics: A History of Opposition in Zambia (Surrey, 2011), 1–19.

24 J. Glassman, War of Words, War of Stones: Racial Thought and Violence in Colonial Zanzibar (Bloomington, IN, 2011); J. Brennan, Taifa: Making Nation and Race in Urban Tanzania (Athens, OH, 2012).

25 Lonsdale, J. and Berman, B., ‘Coping with the contradictions: the development of the colonial state in Kenya, 1895–1914’, The Journal of African History, 20:4 (1979), 491CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

26 Moodie, The Rise of Afrikanerdom, 259–300.

27 For leading texts in the nationalist canon, see N. Diederichs, Nasionalisme as Lewensbeskouing en sy Verhouding tot Internasionalisme (Cape Town, 1935); and G. Cronjé, 'n Tuiste vir Die Nageslag: Die Blywende Oplossing van Suid-Afrika se Rassevraagstukke (Johannesburg, 1945).

28 A. Pelzer (ed.), Verwoerd Speaks: Speeches, 1948–1966 (Johannesburg, 1966), 206–11.

29 I. Filatova and A. Davidson, The Hidden Thread: Russia and South Africa in the Soviet Era (Johannesburg, 2013), 200–3.

30 Pelzer (ed.), Verwoerd Speaks, 271–95.

31 Ibid. 509.

32 Ibid.

33 Vorster speech in Bloemfontein, 18 Mar. 1967, in Geyser (ed.), Select Speeches, 74. For more on invented traditions, see E. Hobsbawm and T. Ranger (eds.), The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge, 1983).

34 See, for example, Verwoerd's reply to Harold Macmillan's ‘wind of change’ speech. Pelzer (ed.), Verwoerd Speaks, 336–9.

35 Vorster speech in Bloemfontein, 18 Mar. 1967, in Geyser (ed.), Select Speeches, 74.

36 Geldenhuys, The Diplomacy of Isolation, 261.

37 J. Vorster, South Africa's Outward Policy (Cape Town, 1970), 10.

38 Giliomee, H., ‘The making of the apartheid plan, 1929–1948’, Journal of Southern African Studies, 29:2 (2003), 373–4CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

39 Speech, Naboomspruit, 17 June 1971, in Geyser (ed.), Select Speeches, 144–7.

40 Speech, Naboomspruit, 148.

41 G. Scholtz, Dr. Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd, 1901–1966, vol. II (Johannesburg, 1974), 162. New research suggests that in private forums, Verwoerd did sometimes sketch out a more nuanced vision of the future of race relations in South Africa. Giliomee, The Last Afrikaner Leaders, 77–9, 81–4.

42 For the best analyses of the development of apartheid ideology, see A. Sparks, The Mind of South Africa (New York, 1990), 147–82; and Giliomee, The Afrikaners, 415–28, 464–71.

43 D. Welsh, The Rise and Fall of Apartheid (Charlottesville, VA, 2009), 83.

44 For three informative yet divergent accounts, see A. du Pisani, John Vorster en Die Verlig-Verkrampstryd (Bloemfontein, 1988); B. Schoeman, Vorster se 1000 Dae (Cape Town, 1974); and J. Serfontein, Die Verkrampte Aanslag (Cape Town, 1970).

45 A. Treurnicht, Credo van'n Afrikaner (Cape Town, 1975), 22.

46 I. Wilkins and H. Strydom, The Super-Afrikaners (Johannesburg, 1978), 177.

47 Wilkins and Strydom, The Super-Afrikaners, 187–90.

48 Welsh, The Rise and Fall of Apartheid, 83.

49 Wilkins and Strydom, The Super-Afrikaners, 202–4.

50 O'Meara, Forty Lost Years, 138–42.

51 In 1949, the year after becoming the first apartheid-era prime minister, D. F. Malan introduced the Africa Charter as a basis for cooperation with colonial powers. It committed South Africa to ‘retain[ing] Africa as a reserve … for the further development of West European Christian civilisation’ and preserving as much of the prewar status quo on the continent as feasible. Hansard, House of Assembly Debates, 11 May 1949, col. 5662. For more on South Africa's policy towards Africa in the 1950s, see G. Olivier, Suid-Afrika se Buitelandse Beleid (Pretoria, 1977), 126–33; G. Olivier, ‘South Africa's relations with Africa’, in R. Schrire (ed.), South Africa: Public Policy Perspectives (Cape Town, 1982), 269–85; G. Berridge, South Africa, the Colonial Powers and ‘African Defence’: The Rise and Fall of the White Entente, 1948–60 (New York, 1992).

52 P. Meiring, Die Lewe van Hilgard Muller (Silverton, South Africa, 1985), 77.

53 From 1974 onwards, the Department of Information launched parallel covert overtures to Africa as part of its policy remit. For the most reliable account, see L. de Villiers, Secret Information (Cape Town, 1980).

54 This premise was the golden thread running through all incarnations of Vorster's foreign policy until the game-changing Soweto riots of 1976.

55 Hansard, House of Assembly Debates, 6 Aug. 1974, col. 123.

56 Pretoria explicitly classified African states according to this dichotomy. DFAA 1/99/19 13, Africa: SA Policy in Africa and Relations with African States, report, author unclear, ‘Houding van Afrika-State teenoor Suid-Afrika’, Apr. 1972.

57 Vorster speech at Goodwood, 31 May 1971 in Geyser (ed.), Select Speeches, 139.

58 Vorster speech in the House of Assembly, 4 Feb. 1974 in Geyser (ed.), Select Speeches, 212–13.

59 Dalcanton, C. David, ‘Vorster and the politics of confidence’, African Affairs, 75:299 (1976), 169Google Scholar.

60 J.-P. Bat, Le Syndrome Foccart: La Politique Française en Afrique, de 1959 à nos Jours (Paris, 2012), 340–1.

61 F. Cooper, Africa since 1940: The Past of the Present (Cambridge, UK, 2002), 156–7. For a nuanced exploration of such a process in a broader political context, see E. Schmidt, Cold War and Decolonization in Guinea, 1946–1958 (Athens, OH, 2007).

62 For more on the tension between pan-African and state-bounded conceptions of postcolonial society, see Cooper, F., ‘Possibility and constraint: African independence in historical perspective’, The Journal of African History, 49:2 (2008), 170–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

63 These were Dahomey, Niger, Swaziland, Togo, and Upper Volta. Pfister, Apartheid South Africa and African States, 58.

64 I. Smith, The Great Betrayal: The Memoirs of Ian Douglas Smith (London, 1997), 197.

65 Vorster, South Africa's Outward Policy, 10.

66 Archive for Contemporary Affairs (ARCA) PV 528 MB 10/1/2, Hilgard Muller, Korrespondensie, Fourie to A. M. Mogwe, permanent secretary to the president, 24 Feb. 1971, 11.

67 Hansard, House of Assembly Debates, 15 Sept. 1970, col. 4209.

68 Speech, Pretoria, 28 June 1971, in Geyser (ed.), Select Speeches, 158.

69 Fifth Summit Conference of East and Central African States, ‘Manifesto on Southern Africa’ (Lusaka, Apr. 1969).

70 National Archives of Malawi (NMA) 45/1/13 V, John R. Ngwiri, Secretary for External Affairs, to Minister for External Affairs, ‘Report of a Mission to the United Nations', Apr. 1972. I would like to thank James Brennan for this document.

71 HBA, Box 1, Correspondence, 2, Banda to Kaunda, 28 Nov. 1967.

72 HBA, Box 3, unpublished autobiographical manuscript, 1959–1960, 554.

73 HBA, Box 2, Writings, 3, Banda speech, Liwonde, 4 July 1970.

74 Hansard, House of Assembly Debates, 28 Oct. 1974, cols. 6576–7.

75 DFAA 1/99/19 14, Africa: SA Policy in Africa & Relations with African States, Report, ‘Agtergrond Dokument oor die Situasie in Afrika vir Sover dit Bedreigings vir die RSA Inhou’, Jan. 1973.

76 Hansard, House of Assembly Debates, 9 Sept. 1974, col. 2486.

77 DFAA 1/99/19 14, Africa: SA Policy in Africa & Relations with African States, Speech by Muller at Opening of Stellenbosch University, 19 Feb. 1973.

78 ARCA PV 408 NP, Caucus, Notule, 25 Feb. 1975.

79 Interview with Jeremy Shearar, Pretoria, 18 Aug. 2011.

80 DFAA 1/14/3 5, Portugal Relations With South Africa, SA Mission to the UN, New York, to Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Pretoria, 13 June 1974.

81 Kaunda to Vorster, 15 Aug. 1968, in K. Kaunda and J. Vorster (eds.), Dear Mr Vorster …: Details of Exchanges between President Kaunda of Zambia and Prime Minister Vorster of South Africa (Lusaka, 1971).

82 Smith, The Great Betrayal, 160–1.

83 DFAA 1/14/10 1, Portugal's African Territories, Brand Fourie to van den Bergh, 10 Sept. 1974.

84 South African National Archives (SANA) MEM 1/564 I13/2, Eerste Minister: Buitelandse Sake, ‘Moçambique’, draft speech for Vorster, late 1974.

85 A. van Wyk, Dirk Mudge: Reënmaker van Die Namib (Pretoria, 1999), 31.

86 Interview with Riaan Eksteen, Swakopmund, 2 Aug. 2011. See also van Wyk, Dirk Mudge, 34–47.

87 Ian Smith Papers (ISP), formerly of Cory Library, Rhodes University, Deposit 5, Box 16, Defence Matters with RSA, Vorster to Howman, 21 May 1973; South African National Defence Force Archives (SANDFA), Group 1 – Chief of Staff Operations, Box 3, Waardering: Die Militêre Bedreiging teen die RSA, ‘Waardering: Die Militêre Bedreiging teen die RSA’, Nov. 1973.

88 B. Fourie, Brandpunte: Agter Die Skerms met Suid-Afrika se Bekendste Diplomaat (Cape Town, 1991), 109.

89 DFAA 1/157/3 AJ 1975, ‘Meeting between the Hon. Prime Minister and the Zambians', 15 Oct. 1974.

90 United Kingdom National Archives, Foreign and Commonwealth Office 45/1760, Visit by Secretary of State to Southern Africa: Policy, ‘Record of Conversation between Callaghan and Kaunda’, 2 Jan. 1975.

91 SANA MEM 1/572 I15/2, ‘Die Militêre Milieu in Suider-Afrika Waarin die RSA Hom Tans Bevind’, attached to P. W. Botha to Vorster, 2 Oct. 1974.

92 SANDFA Group 4, P. W. Botha, Box 142, 76/1, Strategie: Algemeen, Volume 1, P. W. Botha, Speech, ‘RSA se Strategiese Posisie’, 1–3 Sept. 1975.

93 SANDFA Group 3 – HSI/AMI (Volume 1), Box 407, Direktoraat Militere Inligting, ‘Die Militere Bedreiging Teen die RSA’, 15 Nov. 1974. See also SANDFA Group 3 (Volume 1) – AMI/HSI, Box 380, The Current Military Threat to the RSA and Rhodesia February 1975, Volume 14, ‘The Current Military Threat to the RSA and Rhodesia February 1975’, 12 Feb. 1975.

94 ARCA PV 203, P. W. Botha, 4/2/66, Toesprake, Notes for Speech to the House of Assembly, 6 Feb. 1975.

95 Interview with Pik Botha, Pretoria, 5 Apr. 2013; Smith, The Great Betrayal, 165.

96 du Pisani, John Vorster, 183.

97 Hansard, House of Assembly Debates, 25 Apr. 1975, cols. 4820–2.

98 B. Schoeman, My Lewe in Die Politiek (Johannesburg, 1978), 408.

99 ‘South Africa's trade routes to détente’, Financial Times, 15 Oct. 1975.

100 ARCA PV 132 B. J. Vorster, 5/1/19–22, Aantekeninge en Dagboeke, Vorster's Dagboek. One exception was the Bloemfontein daily Volksblad, whose editorials were consistently sceptical that détente with black Africa was feasible.

101 ‘Wanbegrippe oor Rhodesië’, Die Transvaler, 18 Jan. 1975.

102 ‘Schoeman speech ignored’, Sunday Times, 8 Dec. 1974.

103 Schoeman, My Lewe in Die Politiek, 411.

104 Afrikaner Broederbond (AB) 1975/1-5URanotDB, Box 1/1/23, 1 Besluite: Agendas & Notules, ‘Verslag van Samesprekings wat by die UR plaasgevind het’, 28 Feb. 1975.

105 AB 3/75/Staat, Box 3/1/8, Staat: Détente in Suider-Afrika, ‘Détente in Suider-Afrika’, May 1975.

106 ARCA PV 408 NP Caucus, Notule, 25 Feb. 1975.

107 Hansard, House of Assembly Debates, 10 Sept. 1974, col. 2608.

108 Hansard, House of Assembly Debates, 6 Aug. 1974, cols. 122–3.

109 R. McLachlan (ed.), Vrugte van Die Nasionale Bewind (Cape Town, 1974), 26.

110 Hansard, House of Assembly Debates, 12 Mar. 1971, col. 2666.

111 Pfister, Apartheid South Africa and African States, 71.

112 I am grateful to Daniel Magaziner for discussions on this point. For recent work on global ‘whiteness' see, M. Lake and H. Reynolds, Drawing the Global Colour Line: White Men's Countries and the International Challenge of Racial Equality (Cambridge, 2008); and B. Schwarz, The White Man's World (Oxford, 2011).

113 For example, see Terretta, M., ‘Cameroonian nationalists go global: from forest Maquis to a pan-African Accra’, The Journal of African History, 51:2 (2010), 189212CrossRefGoogle Scholar; F. Cooper, Citizenship Between Empire and Nation: Remaking France and French Africa, 1945–1960 (Princeton, NJ, 2014); and D. Branch, Defeating Mau Mau, Creating Kenya: Counterinsurgency, Civil War, and Decolonization (Cambridge, 2009).

114 Glassman, War of Words, 3–22.

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