Has South African genealogy had a 'whitewashing'?
A couple of Cape Town academics who have sifted through church records, marriage registers, old deeds, and archives have produced further proof that vast numbers of the South African whites who support the racist "apartheid" segregation policy are not pure white themselves.
Indeed, no white with family roots going back in South Africa before the beginning of this century is without at least some black blood, according to research results published recently.
This applies to both Afrikaners and English-speaking South Africans.
What is more, some of Afrikanerdom's greatest historical figures, including the famous President Paul Kruger of the Transvaal Republic, and South Africa's first prime minister, General Louis Botha, had black ancestors.
These findings have provoked "some wild and often amusing reactions, even from public figures," says Professor Johan L. Hattingh, director of the University of the Western Cape's Institute for Historical Research. But more than anything else, he says, this research emphasizes the need to "reinterpret race relations and race attitudes," in South Africa, where full-blooded blacks, Asians, and people officially regarded as having racially mixed parentage are discriminated against politically, socially, and economically.
Professor hattingh and an associate, Dr. Hans Heese, found that some earlier researchers had carefully left out the names of Colored ancestors in well-known Afrikaans families.
"They were writing the sort of history that white South Africans wanted to read --not what is true," they say.
"We have been trying to set straight earlier inaccurate and dishonest works.
"We are aware that many people might interpret our research as politically motivated, but this is not so."
Professor Hattingh said that some people had even accused him of taking part in a "liberal plot" to oblige people to reconsider their views on race -- "but this is nonsense," he said.
He said his sources were "impeccable" and could be checked through documents in such places as the Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk, South Africa's biggest all-white Afrikaans church.
Professor Hattingh as traced many white Afrikaans families back to two one-time slaves in the old Colony.
They were an Asian man, Louis van Bengale, and a woman called Lijsbeth van die Kaap, who was "probably a full-blooded Negress from West Africa, or at least a half-caste." Others were two famous "stammoeders" [female ancestors], MArica Lozee and Jannetjie Kemp.
Professor Hattingh concludes that "The blood -- for want of a better word -- of the whites, Afrikaans and English-speaking, and the so-called Colored people is in fact deeply mingled in this country, and except for the late arrivals in South Africa probably as many as 99 percent of all 'white' people have at least some 'Colored' blood."
Professor Hattingh also confirms that Colored South Africans have far more in common with the whites than many whites realize -- more than a third white blood. Some previous researchers have indicated that the Colored people descended only from slaves and the indigenous Hottentots, and that they had no white ancestors.
Separate research by Dr. Heese, disclosed in a paper read at Leiden University in the Netherlands in 1979, showed that the southern city of Cape Town, where race relations today are still far more relaxed than in many other parts of the country, has always tended to be more "color-blind" than the north.
Right until the 1950s, when the northern-dominated National Party introduced stringent racist laws making interracial marriages or any other interracial sexual relationships illegal, intermarriage was accepted and so-called Colored people could still cross the color bar in this city and be accepted i n white society.