Sir David Pieter de Villiers Graaff : sakeman en politikus aan die Kaap 1859 –1931

Dommisse, Ebbe (2011-12)

Thesis (PhD)-- Stellenbosch University, 2011.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study is a biography of Sir David Pieter de Villiers Graaff, Bt, of Cape Town, who was born in 1859 and died in 1931. It covers his whole life span, from his birth as a poor farm boy in the district of Villiersdorp until his death as one of South Africa’s most innovative businessmen after he also distinguished himself in a political career. As the pioneer of cold storage in South Africa he brought the practice of frozen meat and food to the country at the end of the nineteenth century and in the meat trade he built up one of the biggest business undertakings in the Southern Hemisphere. As mayor of Cape Town at the youthful age of 31 he played a decisive rol in the modernisation of the city. As a member of Genl. Louis Botha’s first Cabinet after Union in 1910, a defining event which laid down the borders of the present Republic of South Africa, he played a sometimes underestimated role in the development of the country and its economy after the tribulations and long-term effects of the Anglo-Boer War. The life of this complex businessman/politician, a Cape Afrikaner who as a bachelor at an advanced age received a hereditary British title and thereafter married the daughter of the dominee of his Dutch Reformed congegation, is also a fascinating example of the difficult choices which Cape Afrikaners in colonial times had to make between loyalty to the British Crown and commitment to the native soil of South Africa. His biography furthermore offers an insight into the role of a top business leader who enters politics, a facet which has received little coverage in South African historial research. By describing the mosaic of his life in the time span in which he was a prominent figure, it was endeavoured to cast more light on the social and cultural context of an epoch-making period, thereby seeking to contribute to a nuanced understanding of the South African past.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie is ‘n biografie van sir David Pieter de Villiers Graaff, die baronet van Kaapstad wat in 1859 gebore en in 1931 oorlede is. Dit dek sy hele lewensloop, van sy geboorte-uur as arm plaasseun in die distrik van Villiersdorp totdat hy as een van Suid-Afrika se innoverendste sakemanne gesterf het nadat hy hom ook in ‘n politieke loopbaan onderskei het. As die pionier van koelbewaring in Suid-Afrika het hy teen die einde van die negentiende eeu die verkoeling van vleis en voedsel op groot skaal na die land gebring en in die vleisbedryf een van die grootste sakeondernemings in die Suidelike Halfrond opgebou. As burgemeester van Kaapstad op die jeugdige ouderdom van 31 het hy ‘n deurslaggewende bydrae tot die modernisering van die stad gelewer. As lid van genl. Louis Botha se eerste Kabinet na Uniewording in 1910, ‘n bepalende gebeurtenis waardeur die landsgrense van die huidige Republiek van Suid-Afrika vasgelê is, het hy ‘n soms onderskatte rol in die opgang van die land en die landsekonomie na die beproewinge en langtermyn-gevolge van die Anglo-Boere-oorlog gespeel. Die lewensverhaal van hierdie komplekse sakeleier-politikus, ‘n Kaapse Afrikaner wat as vrygesel op gevorderde leeftyd ‘n erflike Britse titel ontvang het en daarna met die dogter van die leraar van sy NG gemeente getroud is, is boonop ‘n boeiende voorbeeld van die moeilike keuses wat Kaapse Afrikaners in koloniale tye tussen trou aan die Britse Ryk en verankering in die Suid- Afrikaanse bodem moes maak. Sy lewensverhaal bied voorts insig in die rol van ‘n top-sakeman wat tot die aktiewe politiek toetree, ‘n faset wat in die Suid-Afrikaanse geskiedskrywing nog weinig ontgin is. Deur die mosaïek van sy lewe uit te beeld in die tydsgewrig waarin hy ‘n prominente figuur was, is gepoog om ook meer lig op die maatskaplike en kulturele konteks van daardie epogmakende tydperk te werp en sodoende ‘n genuanseerde begrip van die Suid- Afrikaanse verlede te bevorder.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/17986
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