Behind Every Man: D.F. Malan and the Women in his Life, 1874-1959

Korf L. (2008)


Little has been written about the personal life of D.F. Malan, South Africa's first apartheid prime minister. He has been stereotyped as the grim ex-dominee who guided his flock with a rigid hand - the archetypical Afrikaner alpha-male. However, a scrutiny of his private documents reveals a rich tapestry of independent-minded women who dominated his personal life. They include his gifted sister Cinie who became a missionary in the erstwhile Rhodesia; his long-time friend Nettie, who raised his children for him after he was widowed; his step-mother who played the role of pastoriemoeder for the unmarried young Dutch Reformed minister; his young wife who died when pregnant with their third child and his second wife who did not hesitate to tease Churchill about his claims to have swum across the 'mighty Apies river'. The article dismantles the stereotype by offering an enriching glimpse of D.F. Malan the private man, from the shy youth to the scatter-brained politician who needed women to ensure that he was properly dressed. His views on women are examined: they baffled him on the one hand, but he supported their enfranchisement on the other. Thus, another facet will be added to a man who has been portrayed as intensely one-dimensional. © Unisa Press.

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