Frederick William Bell.

The South African conspiracy; or, The aims of Afrikanderdom online

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factor — Independence commendable, but not antagonism —
British supremacy in danger — A very real * dream,* almost a

By the first three articles of the original constitution
of the Afrikander Bond, it is explicitly stated that the
primary aim of that organization is the establishment

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of a separate South African nationality. The articles
were as follows :^

' I. The Bond knows no other nationality but that of Afri-
kanders, considering everybody as such» no matter what his
origin may be, who shall bind himself to advance the welfare and
prosperity of South Africa.

* 2. The object of the Afrikander Bond is the establishment of
a South African nationality by fostering true patriotism.

' 3. This object shall be attained by encouraging Afrikanders,
from a political as well as a social point of view, to assert them-
selves as a nation ; (a) by establishing this Bond in all the States
and colonies, and by creating an organization throughout South

On the surface, it may be urged, there does not
appear to be anything particularly disloyal or objection-
able in connection with the articles here quoted. How-
ever, two points invite comment :

The first is that, although the Afrikander Bond
professes to know no other nationality than that of the
Afrikander, and at its birth stipulated that it con-
sidered everyone as such (no matter what his origin)
who bound himself to advance the welfare of South
Africa, it has persistently and consistently favoured
the Dutch Afrikander section of the population as
against the English; and the Transvaal — which has
been a convenient medium through which to further
and work the secret aims of the Bond — has always
acted at variance with, and in direct opposition to, the
professed principles of the Afrikander Bond. The
Transvaal treated South Africans as aliens, although
they had the welfare of South Africa at heart.

The other point is that, although the Bond was
furthered and developed in the Cape Colony ostensibly
with a view to better and protect the farmer's interest,^

* These were republished by the Friend of the Free State in its
issue of September 16, 1898. See Appendix F.

* This is manifestly plain, as may be seen by reference to the
first portion of the lecture on * The Origin, Progress, and Object

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yet it immediately established itself in ' all the States
and colonies ' in South Africa as an organization with
decided political aims, and has in reality achieved
nothing or little to advance the welfare of the farmer,
in the way of the improvement of his stock, or in
matters regarding agriculture, irrigation, or educa-

It is not denied that legislation for the good of the
farmer may have received the support of the Bond, but
be it remembered that this was at a time when Mr.
Rhodes was working with and through the Bond for
the benefit of the farmers and the country population.
Mr. Rhodes and Sir Gordon Sprigg at such times
were to be found voting together with the Bond party.
Regarding education in the broadest sense of the term,
neither the Bond nor any other party could by legisla-
tive enactments * educate * the farmer in the course of,
comparatively, a few years. But judged, as the Bond
should be, by its works, its deliberations in Congress
year by year, and by the way it used the influence it
possessed and controlled, it must be admitted that its
policy has undoubtedly been rather to allow the un-
educated farmer to remain in ignorance, so that he
might be used as a political factor, than to educate or
enable him to form intelligent and independent opinions
of his own.

When it is remembered that the leading spirits of
the Bond at the time of its inception in the Orange
Free State were bitterly anti-English — such men as
the late Mr. Borckenhagen, editor of the Bloemfontein
Express y and (the then) Chief- Justice F. W. Reitz —
and when the words and actions of such schemers
are considered in the light of what is now known, it

of the Afrikander Bond,* delivered by its Secretary, at the request
of the Provincial Committee, at Uitenhage, March 27, 1887.

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will be seen and realized how cunningly the net was
laid. However, the Bond never flourished in the
Orange Free State, this in no small measure owing to
the strong discouragement it received from President
Sir John Brand.

The following letter, written by Sir John Brand
in reply to an address presented to him by a number
of Bondsmen, who bade him welcome to Smithfield on
one of his Presidential visits, is so full of prophetic
warning that I offer no excuse for its reproduction. It
bore date of Smithfield, October 22, 1881, and ran as
follows :

* Gentlemen,

* I would like to repeat in writing what I said verbally, and
tender my gratitude to you for the hearty welcome with which I
was received at such a distance from Smithfield, and make known
my objections to the propriety or suitableness of the Afrikander

* It was agreeable to me to once more meet you all in health,
among whom I have so many old friends and acquaintances, but
it was not gratifying to me that you in your salutation of welcome
placed the Afrikander Bond so prominently in the foreground.
However, since this has occurred, I may not now pass it over in
silence, but exercise my duty in warning you against the dangers
which I see beforehand, in order that the seeds of dissension may
not be sown where unity should exist.

* I am a thorough Afrikander. My career demonstrates that I
love the Free State and that I have endeavoured to promote its
interests. You are Free Staters and inhabitants of South Africa.
Poets of all nations have ever sung of patriotism. Rightly says
Vondel : " Love of his country is inborn in everyone." There-
fore, it is not necessary for you nor for me to be members of the
Afrikander Bond to show our love for our native land. Have you
not— have not all the inhabitants of the Orange Free ^tate —
proved during the troublous times of the war, in 1865-66, that you
were bound together in soul and spirit to fight for and to vindicate
our rights ?

* To foster and promote that harmony, that hearty co-operation
and friendly relationship among the inhabitants of the Free State
and the whole of South Africa must be our earnest endeavour.
This can only be done by drawing closer the bonds of love


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between one another, and this we can only accomplish by giving
offence to no one and respecting the feelings of each one as we
would that others would do unto us ; by everyone in his own
sphere doing his best to promote the welfare and prosperity of the
Orange Free State, and thereby also of the whole of South
Africa, and by strengthening and confirming the most amicable
relations with the Governments and inhabitants of the neighbour-
ing colonies.

* If you consider any amendment in this or that matter necessary
in the Free State, use, then, the means which for that purpose are
afforded by the Constitution. Your representative will support
your wishes in the honourable the Volksraad in the same way as
he has hitherto done, and earnestly strive to do what is best for
the country and its inhabitants. But, as your friend, I must tell
you plainly that I entertain grave doubts whether the path which
the Afrikander Bond has adopted is calculated to lead to that
unity and fraternization which is so indispensable for the bright
future of South Africa.

* According to my conception, the Constitution of the Afrikander
Bond appears desirous of exalting itself above the established
Government, and of forming an i?nperium in imperio.

* Wishing you and yours, Smithfield and the district of Caledon
River, God's blessing and a large measure of welfare and pros-
perity, and tendering you all my sincere thanks for your hearty
welcome and your friendly disposition and good wishes for me,

* I remain,

' Your sincere, well-wishing friend and servant,

* (Signed) J. H. Brand.

*To John Schnehage, Esq., Rev. S. G. M. Van Niekerk, W. C.
Peters, M.V., and others.'

While on the subject of the Bond's Constitution and
principles, it may be worth while briefly to review the
present authorized declarations of that organization.

In the establishment of the independent and * pure
nationality ' which, * under the guidance of Provi-
dence,' it is the aim of the Bond to form, it expects,
to promote its aims, * that foreign intervention with
the local concerns of South Africa be guarded against,'
which, as shown by a previous clause in the * Programme
of the Afrikander National Party,' means that, for

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instance, it is against the principles of the Bond that
Great Britain should interfere in the Native Question.

Quite apart from the question whether, from an
individual and personal point of view, the Dutch, or
inexperienced Englishman, understands the treatment
of natives best, considering that by every right, by
conquest, treaty and purchase the Cape Colony is a
British possession, and that millions and millions
have been spent on the country in administration and
in defence of its very existence, and considering,
from an Imperial point of view, the various interests of
British possessions in South Africa and their connection
in the complex problem involved in what we glibly call
the * Native Question ' — considering all this, I repeat, it
can readily be seen how inconsistent such a principle
as that of non-interference, put forward by the Bond,
is with the essential condition necessary to ensure a
consistent and effectual Imperial Native policy.

Article VI. of the 'Programme of Principles' says:
'While acknowledging the Governments existing . . .
the Bond considers ... it the duty of those Govern-
ments to promote the interests of South Africa in
accordance with the foregoing clauses . . . taking into
account, in all its general doings, the Christian character
of the people,' etc. The ' foregoing clauses ' show that
the Bond considers it necessary, to promote indepen-
dence, to have an efficient * Masters and Servants
Act,' and to manage the Native Question itself.^

The Afrikander Bond co-operates with the Pretoria
oligarchy, and has received support from that source —
they are hand in glove. The State Attorney of the
South African Republic, according to the uncontra-
dicted reports appearing in the public press at the

^ See *OfficieeIe Stukken van de Afrikander Bond' (1898),
pp. I, 2.


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time, declared, in the Volksraad, in reply to a question
from a member, 'With regard to the dishonouring
nature of a sentence, that fact was dependent on the
offence more than the sentence. Thus, a man might
thrash a native, who died, and then the man be
sentenced to six months' imprisonment, but that would
not be dishonouring.'^ Between 1870 and the time of
the annexation, in 1877, the Boers practised slavery,*
so that it is not difficult to conceive positions where,
owing to the treatment of natives by individuals, or
by the acts of the Government, as in times past, British
interference would be necessary.

Whatever independence was granted to the Dutch
Republics was given conditionally upon a specified
manner of treatment of the natives. And although
under the Conventions the interests of white inhabitants
were not specifically guarded (it being assumed that
all white inhabitants would participate in the equal
rights of self-government, as promised by President
Kruger), the ill-treatment of the natives was always
provided against. So that here, too, can be seen the
possibility of trouble through the declaration of
principles antagonistic to those laid down by the
paramount Power.

The Bond under Article VI. (/) declares itself in
favour of watching and guarding against the spread of
contagious diseases, yet in Congress it has repeatedly
declared itself against the Scab Act, a measure by
which the contagious disease of *scab' might have
been eradicated from sheep in South Africa to the
benefit of the farmer and the country.

In Article II. of the General Constitution of the
Afrikander Bond the * chief object ' is stated to be the
formation of a South African nationality by union and

^ Cape Times ^ July 14, 1899, and Transvaal press same date.
* Nixon's * Complete Story of the Transvaal,' pp. 62-78.

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co-operation, and by giving all support to the re-
spective Governments and Legislatures. Yet the
Bond has sown and promoted dissension. Its
members in many districts have tried their utmost to
subvert the Government or Constitution under which
they enjoyed every privilege. And its members in
all districts, and its official press, have been antago-
nistic in thought and feeling to the Power under whose
free Constitution they flourished. And yet, strange to
say, if the question be put to the anti-British back-
country farmer or Bondsman : ' Granted that you drive
the British into the sea, do you want to live under
Oom Paul's flag, or the German flag, or the Russian
or the French flag?* the answer invariably comes:
' We don't want any other European Power ; we are
content that England shall protect our coasts.'

A few months before the last General Election in the
Cape Colony the wire-pullers of the Afrikander Bond
became desirous of altering its Provincial Constitution^
for the Cape Colony, under which they would be able
to influence and control the election of their nominees
for Parliament. By the alteration introduced at the
Worcester Congress, in February, 1898, it was laid
down (Article IX.) that—

' Whenever the Provincial Committee becomes convinced that
the Bond and Farmers* Association in one or more wards or dis-
tricts had become under influences detrimental or inimical to the
organization, it will have the right to dissolve (pntbinden) the Bond
and Farmers' Protection Association in such ward or wards, dis-
trict or districts, by resolution, leaving the assets at the disposal

* It was impossible to alter the General Constitution, which was
the Constitution of the organization for the whole of South Africa.
The Provincial Congress held at Worcester had power only to
change the Provincial Constitution. Owing to the non-existence
of the Transvaal and Free State branches of the Bond no General
Congress was possible at the time, so the General Constitution was
even above Mr. Dictator Hofmeyr.

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of the officials at the time being, and it will have the right of taking
steps for re-organizing the Bond and Farmers' Association in such
ward or wards, district or districts i

and by section g of Article XVI., regarding the ' Com-
missie van Toezicht ' (lit. Committee to View, or
Supervising Committee), it was enacted that —

* It * (the Committee) * will also have the right of refusing to announce
any person as nominated a Bond candidate under Articles XI. or
XII., and to enforce Article XV. on his behalf, if it is of opinion
that by such refusal it is acting in the spirit of true Bondsmen, and
is promoting Bond interests.'

Thus, the Bond organization, which, whatever its
aims, stood on a solid basis and possessed a cleverly
and well -framed Constitution, was overturned, and
became as a pyramid resting on its apex. The anti-
British section in Southern Africa seem to believe in
inverted pyramids. Instead of naturally working and
bubbling up from below, the attempt was made to
force the bubbles downwards. So, from being an
organization capable (under favourable conditions
amongst an educated people) of becoming a repre-
sentative institution, the Bond became, as it now is,
an unworkable political machine, driven solely by
Mr. J. H. Hofmeyr to work, with 0ns Land, in further-
ing disloyal aims, and to oppose one whom Mr. Hof-
meyr, it is said, will never forgive. In Mr. Hofme)^:,
now, Mr. Rhodes may have his bitterest enemy, more,
however, I believe, because he was not taken into
Mr. Rhodes's confidence at the time of the Raid than
for his connection with the movement itself.

Shortly after the Bond's constitutional principles
were reversed, Mr. S. J. du Toit, its founder, dissociated
himself from the organization, after formally recording
his * protest ' against the introduction of the cut-and-
dried reactionary principles brought forward by his
then colleagues on the Supervising Committee (Messrs.

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J. H. Hofmeyr and N. F. de Waal) for approval by the
Congress at Worcester.

Whatever may have been in the mind of Mr. du Toit
when he founded the Bond, or when, perhaps, the pill
was sugared later by the mention of * constitutional
means ' and * giving support to the respective Govern-
ments and Legislatures and respecting the rights of
each,' there is no doubt that his present opinions
harmonize with his reasons for severing his connection
with the Bond. And it must be admitted also that
Mr. du Toit and many other South Africans had reason
once to aspire to a 'South African National Party,'
and even to the ' elimination of the Imperial factor,'
both of which ideas were legitimate aspirations so long
as they did not desire, like the anti-British section in
South Africa, to force the idea, and to attain its accom-
plishment as they have tried to do, figuratively, through
rivers of blood, and by successfully resisting in war the
might of the paramount Power in South Africa.

The Bond, as it has done with others with whom it
found itself in antagonism, now tries to discredit its
founder, the Rev. S. J. du Toit, by every means in its
power. This is its usual practice. All such are then
termed * Rhodesites.'

From a lecture on the * Origin, Progress, and Object
of the Afrikander Bond,' delivered at the request of the
Provincial Committee, by its Secretary (Mr. T. P.
Theron), at Uitenhage, March 27, 1887, which deliver-
ance is still printed in the official publications of the
Bond, much information is to be gleaned ; but, as that
gentleman says * I have made a point of omitting what-
ever might give offence,' possibly interesting revelations
are lost.

Mr. Theron remarks that at the time of the estab-
lishment of the Bond the back-country farmer was ' a
tool in the hands of political wire-pullers.* No phrase

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more exactly describes the back-country farmer in
relation to the Bond to-day, and the Hon. Jan Hendrik
Hofmeyr pulls the wire.

By a propaganda of wilful perversion and misstate-
ment, 0ns Land has poisoned the minds, played upon
the prejudices, and misled a class to an extent that
can be realized only by personal intercourse with, and
knowledge of, the people. And the day will come when
Afrikanders in the Cape Colony will teach their children
to curse the memory of that wretched sheet and the
despicable creatures who have inspired and controlled it.

Mr. Theron then labours to show that through the
actions of political agents the country farmer used to
be influenced and confused in the choice of the candi-
date he should support. He, at least, then had a
choice. This privilege is now denied him. The wire-
pullers of the Bond do the influencing now, and they
must be obeyed.

Mr. Theron then continues : * Was there no one to
take the interest of these poor farmers to heart ? Yes,
there were some ; and we ought to cherish the names
and memories of men like Mr. J. H. Hofmeyr, M.L.A.,
in the west, and Mr. D. P. Van den Heever, M.L.C.,
in the east, who, with others driven by true patriotism,
came to the front in these dark days to protect the
farmers' interests.' Mr. J. H. Hofmeyr's is a name
which, if not above suspicion as a disloyal propagandist,
certainly is above need of distinctive mention. Mr.
Van den Heever is a man who, though professing not
to be a rebel, according to the Standard and Diggers*
NewSy exults in the fact that some of his sons are.
But what is the meaning of this official Bond utterance
— * driven by patriotism to protect the farmers'? Mr.
Hofmeyr, a British subject by birth and every quali-
fication (whether loyal or not), can only be driven by
patriotism to assist farmers who are British. Or is it

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implied that farmers are of the Dutch nationality alone,
and that Mr. Hofmeyr is a Dutch patriot ?

* As a means,' continues this interesting essay, ' they
started "Farmers' Protection Associations," . . .
There were, however, at a slightly later date, other
Afrikanders whose hearts and eyes went beyond, and
who saw the necessity of ulterior measures !' * They
wanted to rouse, not only the farmer, but also the
whole of the nation, from political lethargy,* Candid
admissions, truly !

After a fair specimen of lip loyalty from the lecturer,
and reference to 'their honoured Queen' — against
whom so many Bondsmen are fighting at the present
moment — it is stated, mirabile didu, that the Bond is
an organization in which there would be place even for
the capitalist ! And then the names of Messrs. Reitz
and Borckenhagen are mentioned with honour as
founders of the Bond in the Orange Free State.

As a benefit accruing from the formation of the
Afrikander Bond, we are informed *that they have
recovered that sense of nationality which strangers
had wellnigh extinguished.' One must pause and
consider really what all this amounts to. Who were
the ' they ' alluded to ? In point of fact, they were a
combination of men of divers nationalities, including a
large proportion of descendants of Frenchmen and
Germans. The nationality of the forefathers of the
former, * strangers ' (i.e., they themselves), had. not well-
nigh, but absolutely, extinguished. Those of German
origin, like the Krugers, Steins, Reitzs, the Haupt-
fleisches, Fischers, etc., confused themselves with the
Dutch.^ They all were British subjects born and bred,

^ In addition to the names mentioned above, many families of
German origin named as under, speak and profess to feel as if they
were * Dutch.' The following names, although in many cases
made more like Dutch, by the alteration of a letter or two,

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enjoying freedom such as was denied by the land of
their forefathers. They meet on British soil, under
the British flag, and prate of their nationality ! Had
the propaganda spread by such agencies as they estab-
lished not accomplished so much harm, the spectacle
would have been ludicrous. Its effect has been tragic.

The boast is, then, made that the Dutch language
has the same rights as English, which without doubt
was an important accomplishment the Bond lost little
time in achieving. Their watchword thereupon is
declared as being, * In Parliament, but not in the

The Secretary, in continuing, says : * Among Bond
members there are some who are impressed with the
wrong idea that a committee of superior rank has
actual power over the lower ones. . . . Those, how-
ever . . . are like children in judging the organiza-
tion . . . and know very little of its constitution. My
reply to those questioning me, based on the Constitu-
tion of the Bond, is: "The nature of the Bond is one
of charity that serves." It does not allow of any
domineering power of one committee or one member
over another. It exercises powers of attraction, not of
coercion.' The story of the Bond might be summed up
in somewhat similar words. It first exercised power of
attraction, then of coercion. The doom of the Bond is
then pronounced by our lecturer friend, its Secretary,
who continues in this strain: *Woe unto any com-
mittee, however high its rank may be, which should
venture upon commanding to the lower ones !' Mr.

betray their German origin unmistakably ; many Gennan refu-
gees and settlers came to South Africa at and about the same
time as the French Huguenots, as well as later, such as the Hoff-
mans, Krieges, Meyers, Hofmeyers, Schreiners, Herzogs, Miillers,
Beckers, Greylings, Werdmullers, Herbsts, Kleinhauses, Holtz-
hausens, Badenhorsts, Sauers, Esselens, Groblcrs, Letters,
Krauses, Beyers, etc.

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Theron then concludes with an excellent homily on the
virtues of co-operation, caution, prudence and zeal,

Online LibraryFrederick William BellThe South African conspiracy; or, The aims of Afrikanderdom → online text (page 4 of 24)