The war in Heidelberg : a case study on the effects of the South African War on Cape Afrikaner identity

Gildenhuys, Johannes Jochemus (2016-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2016.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This dissertation examines the effects of the South African War on the rural community of Heidelberg in the Southern Cape. It investigates the complexities of wartime allegiance among Cape Afrikaners that arose as a result of a century of British influence. Intermarriage, cultural cross-pollination, and shared frontier experience combined to create a hybrid Cape Colonial culture characterised by complex allegiances, composite identities, and culturally constructed structures of power. This study explores the local history of Heidelberg and the surrounding region within the context of the historical development of the Cape Colony, and demonstrates the formation of a localised hybrid cultural identity and hierarchical power structures built on the vestiges of the old Dutch system of legal distinctions, which had been transmuted by British rule. As many of the colonial inhabitants had familial ties and sympathies to the Boer Republics, the pressures of the war challenged the complexity that characterised Cape Colonial identity and allegiance. Despite deep connections to those living in the Boer Republics, their status as British citizens made them liable to treason charges which prevented any action of support towards the republican cause. Although most disapproved of the war and the way in which it was conducted, very few renounced their citizenship to take up arms against the British Empire. Cape Afrikaners had a vested interest in the Cape Colony, and had grown accustomed to the civil liberties and access to Imperial markets which sustained their livelihoods. This study investigates the people of Heidelberg’s loyalty to British citizenship and sympathy with the republics by exploring their connections to the republics, incidents of loyalty or sympathy, as well as identifying possible motivations behind such displays. Martial law was the primary point of contention during the war and became the vehicle of change in Cape Colonial society, having both ideological and material effects on the population. This thesis details how the application of martial law impacted the community of Heidelberg both from outside and within. Externally, this was through the introduction of seemingly foreign ideas on Imperial hegemony and British citizenship which created great animosity between the military and local government. Internally, it was through the challenges to existing hierarchies and civil liberties by the new institutions and practices created for the express purpose of enforcing martial law and safeguarding the Colony from invasion. This work also highlights how the spectacle of battle and destructiveness of republican invasion shaped the attitudes and inclinations of Cape Afrikaners by exploring the skirmish at Heidelberg as well as its aftermath. Martial law and the battle in town created a climate of civil war and paranoia within the community. This thesis concludes with an examination into how community divisions resulting from the war were addressed by reporting on incidents of reconciliation and retribution in the post-war period, as well as in identifying long term changes in the community. It highlights how the South African War became a critical juncture in formation of ethnic identity among Cape Afrikaners, and how the war in the Cape Colony contributed to the evolution of Afrikaner Nationalism.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie verhandeling ondersoek die impak van die Anglo-Boereoorlog op die landelike gemeenskap van Heidelberg in die Suid-Kaap. Dit ondersoek die kompleksiteite in die lojaliteit van Kaapse Afrikaners wat ontstaan het weens ‘n eeu van Britse invloed. Ondertrouery, kulturele-vermenging, en gemeenskaplike grenservarings het gely tot die ontstaan van ‘n gemengde of hibriede Kaapse koloniale kultuur, gekenmerk deur verdeelde lojaliteite, saamgevoegde identiteite, en kultuurgeskoeide magstrukture. Hierdie studie is ‘n verkenning van die plaaslike geskiedenis van Heidelberg en die omliggende area binne die konteks van die historiese ontwikkeling van die Kaap Kolonie, en demonstreer die vorming van ‘n plaaslike, hibriede kulturele identiteit en hiërargiese magstrukture geskoei op die oorblyfsels van die voormalige Hollandse stelsel van wetlike onderskeidings, aangepas onder Britse heerskappy. Aangesien menigde van die koloniale inwoners familiebande en simpatie met die Boererepublieke gehad het, was die oorlog ‘n uitdaging vir die kompleksiteit wat Kaapse koloniale identiteit en lojaliteit gekenmerk het. Ten spyte van noue bande met die Boererepublieke, het hulle status as Britse onderdane hulle aanspreeklik gemaak tot die aanklag van hoogverraad en daarvan weerhou om enige bystand aan die republikeinse stryd te verleen. Alhoewel meeste van hulle die oorlog, en die manier waarop dit gevoer is, afgekeur het, het weinig hulle burgerskap verwerp en die wapen opgeneem teen die Britse Ryk. Kaapse Afrikaners het ‘n gevestigde belang gehad in die Kaap Kolonie, en het gewoond geraak aan die burgerlike vryhede en toegang tot Imperiale markte wat hulle lewensbestaan onderhou het. Hierdie werkstuk ondersoek beide die inwoners van Heidelberg se lojaliteit aan hulle Britse burgerskap en hulle simpatie met die Boererepublieke, deur ‘n verkenning van hulle verbintenisse met die republieke, stawing van insidente van lojaliteit en simpatie, asook die identifisering van die motiverings agter hierdie verskynsels. Die Krygswet was die primêre twispunt gedurende die oorlog, asook die middel tot verandering binne die Kaapse koloniale samelewing, en het ‘n ideologiese sowel as ‘n materialistiese impak op die populasie gehad. Hierdie tesis illustreer hoe die toepassing van die Krygswet die gemeenskap van Heidelberg van buite en binne beïnvloed het. Van buite, het die instelling van uitheemse idees aangaande Imperiale hegemonie en Britse burgerskap groot vyandigheid tussen die Britse weermag en die plaaslike owerhede veroorsaak. Van binne, was die new instellings en praktyke wat geskep is om die Krygswet toe te pas en die Kaap te beskerm teen inval, beskou as ‘n uitdaging van burgerlike vryhede en bestaande hiërargieë. Hierdie werk wys ook hoe die skouspel van geweld en vernietiging van republikeinse invalle die houding en neigings van Kaapse Afrikaners gevorm het deur die skermutseling by Heidelberg en die nadraai daarvan te verken. Krygswet en die skermutseling in die dorp het ‘n klimaat van burgeroorlog en paranoia binne die gemeenskap laat posvat. Hierdie tesis sluit dan met ‘n ondersoek wat illustreer hoe verdeeldheid binne die gemeenskap aangespreek is, deur te kyk na insidente van versoening en vergelding tydens die naoorlogse tydperk, asook die identifisering van langtermyn veranderinge in die gemeenskap. Hierdie werk onderstreep hoe die Anglo-Boereoorlog ‘n kritiese stadium in die vorming van etniese identiteit onder Kaapse Afrikaners was, en hoe die oorlog in die Kaap Kolonie bygedra het tot die evolusie van Afrikaner Nasionalisme.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/100314
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