DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Abolishing Apartheid

Written by: on May 25, 2017

David Welsh—The Rise and Fall of Apartheid

Introduction

In this detailed and thorough work, David Welsh traces the emergence of apartheid in South Africa in 1948 to its demise in 1994. This scholar explores the dynamics contributing to the transition of South Africa from a racial oligarchy to an inclusive democratic social order. His stated theme is that, “The transition occurred relatively peacefully because the principal antagonists, the African National Congress (ANC) and the National Party (NP), mutually recognized that neither could win the struggle on its own terms; the conflict was deadlocked, and perpetuating it would cause horrifying loss of life and serious damage to a potentially prosperous economy.” [1] The author uses the term “Afrikaner” in reference to individuals known previously as “Dutch” or “Boers” prior to the nineteenth century. He uses the term, “black” to refer to African, Coloured and Indian, collectively.

Summary

David Welsh informs us that land, labor and security were the main issues centering around black and white issues. Therefore, chiefdoms had to be dealt with because they represented threats to the acquisition of land and labor, and were potential sources of resistance to white rule. By the end of the nineteenth century all the territory that eventually became the Union of South Africa was under white control. The advent of South African apartheid in 1948, had been preceded by a state of racial segregation.  “Apartheid would entrench and extend what were already established institutions and apply them more ruthlessly.” [2] In the forty-six years under National Party rule, apartheid underwent three phases: widespread discrimination and more intense National Party power; settling Africans on homelands or reserves; and the erosion of apartheid and Afrikaner nationalism. The chief aims of apartheid were to eliminate competition between black and white in the labor market and to thwart African urbanization.

Welsh attributes the downfall of apartheid to several factors in addition to those noted above: “shifts in the social order; rapid African population growth; increasing strength of the black power bloc with decreasing strength of the white power bloc; international isolation; recognition of African trade unions; and especially the unprecedented diplomacy in the leadership of Nelson Mandela and F.W. De Klerk.” [3] Also, the churches of major denominations made a big impact for change not only by condemning apartheid as sinful, but also, denying any theological basis for it.  Prominent theologians refuted any arguments that gave biblical legitimacy to apartheid. A variety of church councils passed condemnatory resolutions and strongly criticized apartheid consistent with the validation of biblical precepts. Over time, De Klerk supposedly espoused a maxim that “What was morally wrong could not be political right.” [4] He is the only known ex-leader of an authoritarian state that made a formal apology for the harm and grief apartheid caused millions of South Africans under his command as head of the state.

Analysis/Reflection

I view this seminal work by Welsh as the quintessential portrayal of leadership diplomacy in adverse, conflicting or hostile situations in general and of cross-cultural leadership in particular, under the same conditions.  The problem-resolution situation played out between F.W. De Klerk (NP) and Nelson Mandela (ANC) is a prime example of the necessity of appropriating dialogue fused with emotional, cultural and spiritual intelligence.  To this list I would add ethical and moral intelligence as well.  This was no easy feat for these leaders by any stretch of the imagination.

Welsh relates that during the negotiations, the tension between Mandela and De Klerk was so enormous, it almost drove the country to civil war.  However, “Both men recognized that the other was a vital partner. Mandela recognized that De Klerk was the only white leader who could take the white population out of the corner into which apartheid had painted them; and De Klerk realized that Mandela’s towering authority would be vital to keeping the volatility of the masses in bounds as the process got under way and popular expectations burgeoned.” [5]   Welsh points out how risky and fragile the negotiation process was in that, “Both Mandela and De Klerk, went far out on a limb, well ahead of their followers, to persuade them that negotiation was the only realistic option. For negotiations to succeed, the principal antagonists must keep their constituencies in line. Both the NP and the ANC managed to achieve this, despite having to make concessions.” [6] Mandela is quoted as saying, “There are times when a leader must move out ahead of the flock, go off in a new direction, confident that he is leading his people the right way.” [7]

The relationship between Mandela and De Klerk, survived the transition and continued far into the democratic phase of the government. Mandela later publicly praised his contributions stating, “We quite possibly could have fallen into the destructive racial war which everyone foresaw, had it not been for the daring farsightedness of F.W. De Klerk. [8] De Klerk denies he had a Christian conversion experience, but like the Apostle Paul instead of being chief persecutor to a group of people, he embraced their cause and even became a staunch advocate for the very same population he persecuted. In the new constitution for the nation De Klerk co-authored with Mandela, he proposed major reforms regarding social justice for the oppressed and marginalized.

This book provided me with a more in depth understanding of the historical and cultural challenges some South Africans have had to endure and it takes concepts of global leadership to another level. This is a good study for the upcoming Fall Advance to Cape Town.

Notes

  1. David Welsh, The Rise and Fall of Apartheid (Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball Publishers, 2010), 566.
  2. Ibid., 52.
  3. Ibid., 566.
  4. Ibid., 569.
  5. Ibid., 381.
  6. Ibid., 575.
  7. Ibid., 364.
  8. Ibid., 577.

 

About the Author

Claire Appiah

10 responses to “Abolishing Apartheid”

  1. mm Marc Andresen says:

    Claire,

    In this blog you offer us several valuable quotations:

    “I view this seminal work by Welsh as the quintessential portrayal of leadership diplomacy in adverse, conflicting or hostile situations in general and of cross-cultural leadership in particular, under the same conditions.”

    “The problem-resolution situation played out between F.W. De Klerk (NP) and Nelson Mandela (ANC) is a prime example of the necessity of appropriating dialogue fused with emotional, cultural and spiritual intelligence.”

    “This book provided me with a more in depth understanding of the historical and cultural challenges some South Africans have had to endure and it takes concepts of global leadership to another level.”

    In the second quotation you mention “appropriating dialogue.” Can you say more about what that is?

    • Claire Appiah says:

      Marc,
      What I am suggesting here is that when antagonists in the sacred or secular arena come to the negotiation stage in a contentious, hostile, or volatile situation, their mental, emotional and spiritual frame of mind must be conducive to a peaceful and mutually beneficial outcome for all concerned. That is, they must exhibit or demonstrate emotional, cultural, spiritual, and ethical/moral intelligence during the discussion process of the controversy if they hope to attain a sustainable resolution.
      Let me know if that answers your question adequately. Feel free to rephrase the question if necessary.

      • mm Marc Andresen says:

        Clair – yes, that’s helpful.

        I wish Congress would read and take to heart what you have written. Just imagine the difference that would make.

  2. Pablo Morales says:

    Claire, that was a great book summary. After reading so many of your blogs, I just thought that you may want to consider writing book reviews for journals. You have the ability to provide a very detailed summary and evaluation of each book with an eloquent and academic tone.

    In learning about South Africa, I could also see parallels with the history of race in America. I recently watched a documentary as part of my research that was insightful. It is called Race: The Power of an Illusion. It can be accessed online through our GFU library account. Through that system I was also able to access a few online documentaries about the Apartheid, which bring a good light into what David Welsh described in his book. I highly recommend them as we prepare to our upcoming trip.

    I was also impacted by the leadership example embodied by Mandela and De Klerk. As you described it, it was a mix of emotional, spiritual, cultural, ethical, and moral intelligence. Indeed, they give us a good example to imitate.

    Pablo

    • Claire Appiah says:

      Pablo,
      Thanks for replying to my blog and for your kind words. You are the second person that suggested that I consider doing reviews. I have not discounted the idea at all. Let’s see where the Holy Spirit guides.

  3. Claire Appiah says:

    Phil,
    I think apartheid stems primarily from an obsessive need for power and dominion because this is what is necessary to control the generation of wealth (who gets it and who doesn’t) and of labor forces (who is compelled to do the labor and for whom). It is almost like it was an act of greed for its own sake just because they had the ability to do it.
    You ask, what I think are the principles that drove them to give in for the unity of the nation? I would say it was the instinct for self-preservation. That is, survival of the nation—its people, culture, and economy. According to Welsh, “De Klerk has often said that the old apartheid order could have been maintained for another decade or more, but it would have assuredly entailed chaos, bloodletting on a massive scale and economic collapse.” (p. 567).

  4. Claire,
    You have brought such clarity to this overwhelming book. Your concise and clear interpretation is so refreshing. I just couldn’t dissect all that you did from this reading. I did gravitate to the struggle that is involved in leadership doing the right thing. Even if it is a very difficult thing to do and does not personally benefit you.

    Your writing is so good!! Please consider helping other people just like me understand and get such a book as this into bite size pieces!!

    Kevin

    • Claire Appiah says:

      Kevin,
      Thanks for your very kind words. My experiences of sharing with my fellow cohorts in the Dminlgp program has been such a blessing to me. I have benefited enormously from all the new knowledge and perspectives from the various scholars we have been engaging. But, equally important is the powerful working of the Holy Spirit in each of our lives as He anoints, reveals, enlightens our understanding, empowers, corrects and rebukes, and takes the lead role in the service of our divine commissions for the Kingdom of God.

  5. mm Garfield Harvey says:

    Claire,
    Great work with this blog. You stated that “For negotiations to succeed, the principal antagonists must keep their constituencies in line.” This is one of the greatest negotiations of any leader in our society and could have a damaging impact on people. My neighbor has a dog that’s almost never on a leash but this dog never attacks and is like a big teddy bear. The problem is someone had a disagreement with my neighbor and reported the dog as ‘vicious’ about 3 weeks ago. Until this morning, I had not seen my neighbor in weeks because of fear to leave the house with his dog. Someone challenged the manager of our complex to keep my neighbor “in line” and whatever was said caused him to stay indoors. Mandela was challenged to create organized and peaceful demonstrations in ensuring De Klerk understood his plight. De Klerk believed the old system could have lasted longer but who knows the impact that could have caused on Africa over another decade.

    Garfield

  6. Claire Appiah says:

    Garfield,

    Ultimately, everything happens in God’s timing and for His purposes. He has a season for everything under the sun. We have to remember that our sovereign God was in control of the negotiations over the apartheid phenomenon every step of the way.

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