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

Better Late than Never…The Rise and Fall of Apartheid

Written by: on October 5, 2017

First an apology for my long delay…the book finally arrived the day after I returned from South Africa. I must say however, that though I could have faked this report, after our visit south, I very much wanted to read it; I am not disappointed…well, not entirely at least. Early in the Welsh’s writings, he wrote, “The essence of apartheid envisaged…a Christian-national basis by the necessary protection of all spheres…”[1] This phrase had peaked my interested as I read through the pages, eager to see how the Christian element would play into the rational of all of the offences that had taken place. However, to my discouragement, the Christian cause seemed to nearly cease here. Only a few pages later, Piet Cillie referenced that part of the strategy for the Nationalist opposition was to use the Africaners rights as one of their weapons.[2] How does that tie into the Christian message that we have come to be familiar with from Biblical instruction? Apparently, my frustration was noticed though, because the same feelings I was struck very early in my reading, which was that someone had lost their way, was actually expressed shortly after by a quote made by Xhosa who said, “At first we had the land and the white man had the Bible. Now we have the Bible and the white man has the land.”[3]

I found it strange when I stood before my congregation on Sunday evening and shared with them the dumbfounded concern I had for the situation in South Africa. Though I could see the atrocities that had taken place, stood in the prison, and listened to the stories of those affected, I could not help but feel that the greatest tragedy was that God had somehow been lost in the translation. How could early “Christian” settlers, who had an incredible opportunity to share the gospel with a new people, so adequately ruin not just their opportunity, but perhaps even the potential of all Christians to follow? FW de Klerk commented that “only when a people feel secure in a group context would they be prepared to run the risk of sharing power.”[4] It was this reality that made me wonder how the African people could ever trust a people that had brought Christ to them in such an offensive manner. How do modern day Christians that desire to show that Christ can change the heart and the life manage to bring a people to trust them that that been so literally assaulted by professed Christians that have gone before them?

When sitting in the church building together with the rest of our group, at one point I whispered back to Jason, “We cannot really fix anything here, can we?” As a Christian and a minister, I would love to see God present me with the potential to bring healing to South Africa, but instead, I just felt this huge concrete wall standing in the way. Early in Welsh’s book, he reveals that the true desire of the Dutch reforms seemed more on occupation rather than education. They were filled with a lust for land but as a result of gaining that land, they created a need for labor to work that land; the African people became the fast answer to solve that problem. However, the problem that has arisen out of that is that it seems that rather than peace, there seemed to be now more African that desire land or compensation over conflict resolution. There is still a lust for land, only it has changed hands. There is such a conundrum surrounding the problems in South Africa that I believe have, at least at this point in time, created a barrier that neither side can seem to overcome. Can God fix the problems in South Africa? Absolutely, He is the Almighty God! However, in order for God to have His day, I believe man must be willing to let Him work; and at this point, they are not.

As Welsh was counting the lives lost to his tragic point in South Africa’s history, the tens of thousands of lives that had been sacrificed for this pursuit, he sadly wrote that it was “discrimination[5]” that led to this. I guess this was what hurt my heart; it was not a holy crusade or a desire to spread Christianity to an aggressive people, it was greed and hatred that did this. Sadly, I believe from first-hand knowledge now, that there is still a lot of greed and hate preventing true healing from taking place. How I hope they will start listening to God.



Welsh, D. (2009). The Rise and Fall of Apartheid. Johannesburg & Cape Town: Jonathan Ball Publishers.



[1] Welsh, D. (2009). The Rise and Fall of Apartheid. Johannesburg & Cape Town: Jonathan Ball Publishers, p 21.

[2] Ibid, p 25.

[3] Ibid, p 30.

[4] Ibid, p 345.

[5] Ibid, p568.

About the Author

Shawn Hart

One response to “Better Late than Never…The Rise and Fall of Apartheid”

  1. mm Jay Forseth says:

    Hello Again Shawn,

    It seems like a long month ago that we read this book. I actually found myself wishing I had read this book AFTER Cape Town, like you. I bet you possibly, or even probably, gleaned more out of this book than the rest of us…


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