The Helpmekaar : rescuing the “volk” through reading, writing and rithmetic, c. 1916–c 1965

Ehlers, Anton (2015-11)

CITATION: Ehlers, A. 2015. The Helpmekaar : rescuing the “volk” through reading, writing and rithmetic, c. 1916–c 1965. Historia, 60(2):87-108, doi:10.17159/2309-8392/2015/V60N2A5.

The original publication is available at http://www.scielo.org.za

Article

This article looks at the establishment and shifting role of the Helpmekaar Society of the Cape Province as welfare catalyst, set up in the aftermath of the Rebellion of 1914-15. Driven by Afrikaner ethnic nationalist motives - it set itself two goals. The immediate aim was to save Afrikaner rebels and their families from financial ruin. The second objective was complicated and changing: to promote the general development, upliftment and welfare of the Dutch-speaking section of the South African population and to develop a distinctive Afrikaans culture. The paper concentrates on the evolution of the second goal into a sharp educational focus aimed at unlocking the potential of Afrikaner youth as a solution to the poor white problem. Because the Helpmekaar was shaped by ideologies of class and race, this analysis engages with a couple of existing historiographical conversations about poor whites, the state, welfarism and also provides a revealing lens into the politics of white education itself. Despite the Helpmekaar's sectional ethnic and racial focus and the accompanying socio-political engineering, it acted as a welfare catalyst that contributed significantly - financially and as lobbyist for educational causes - in effecting educational change; in this regard it benefited a far wider community than was originally intended.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/99103
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