Race Resolutions and the Race Problem

In August of 1958 the Reformed Ecumenical Synod convened in the Union of South Africa, and on the agenda of this synod appeared the reports of three study committees on tho race problem. These study committees were appointed by the R.E.S. of Edinburgh in 1953 as a consequence of an overture presented by the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., “to inquire of the South African members of the Synod whether their churches support the ‘apartheid’ policy enunciated by the Malan government, and if so, how they reconcile such policy with the teachings of Scripture?”

As far as I know the R.E.S. of 1958 did not file a direct reply to this overture, but adopted a number of resolutions. These resolutions appeared in The Banner, December 12, 1958. These resolutions are now offered to various member churches of the R.E.S. for adoption, rejection, or correction as each member church of the R.E.S. may deem fit, and to forward their decisions to a standing commit· tee appointed by the 1958 R.E.S.

It will be rather difficult for any member church of the R.E.S. to properly appraise these resolutions adopted by the R.E.S. of 1958, unless these various Synods also have access to all reports submitted for consideration in the agenda of the 1958 R.E.S. It may be assumed that the study committee of South Africa drafted their report to the R.E.S. of 1958 in the light of their own specific race problem as it prevails in the Union of South Africa. After a careful reading of this study committee report we mako the claim that the members of this study committee performed excellent service in their appraisal of the knotty race problem, as it exists in their own country. in the light of Scripture.

When the Christian Reformed Church is confronted with these R.E.S. race resolutions at the coming Synod, it must be thoroughly convinced that these are applicable not only to the race problem confronting our own nation. but equally so to the far more complex race situation in the Union of South Africa, and in other parts of our world. We must be convinced that these race resolutions are soundly based upon the teachings of Scripture, for otherwise we cannot expect our South African churches to adopt them.


The Union of South Africa has been the focus of newspaper and magazine attention ever since the so-called “Apartheid” policies were advocated. The overture to which we have already referred assumes that these policies were “enunciated by the Malan government”, and more recently by the prime ministers Strydom and Dr. Verwoerd. Assuming for a moment that this is historically correct, we should remember that the Union of South Africa has been the victim of grossly misleading newspaper and magazine accounts. The journalist Garry Allighan, formerly of Fleet Street, London’s journalistic hub, said: “Fleet Street is just not interested in South African affairs unless they can be made to conform to the ‘new journalism.’ News from South Africa is not sensationalized merely because it is from South Africa but because the ‘new journalism’ exists by sensationalizing all news from everywhere. That is the chief reason why South Africa gets in Britain what we regard here as a bad press. The ‘treason trial’ the Zeerust situation, the Rand outbreaks, talk of a Republic, the operations of apartheid—all are played up chiefly because they can be made to fit the current Fleet Street pattern. I asked a friend why he did not publish a ‘good’ story about South Africa occasionally. He replied: ‘Garry-boy, a good story about South Africa is a bad story, a bad story is a good story!’” Mr. H. V. Morton who published his book In Search of South Africa in 1948, made the following observation, “Long residence in the country is absolutely necessary for its understanding”…“I have been in the country too long to be able to solve its problems and not long enough to be able to express an opinion about them” (pages 172, 352).

Considering the tremendous difficulty we have in our own southern states to enforce the decisions of the Supreme Court regarding integration and desegregation, we should be able to see, even though we are only casually acquainted with the situation obtaining in the Union of South Africa, that it has a far more complex race situation than exists anywhere else in the world at the present time. Will now the race resolutions adopted at the R.E.S. in 1958 meet this exacting situation and complex problem?

A common error made in our country and its newspapers is to compare the negroes living in our southern states with the native Bantus, Swazis, Basutos, etc., in South Africa. The reason is that we often designate the negroes as colored people, and we assume that the term colored in South Africa has the same connotation. The colored race in South Africa, however, is a special racial group which has a large mixture of white blood in their veins, The great majority of them live in the Cape Province. They also have a much higher rate of intelligence and a higher standard of living and a higher cultural attainment than the Bantus and other natives. They constitute only a small part of the race problem in South Africa.

The natives, known as Bantus, Swazis, Kaffirs, Zulus, also designated as “Naturellen,” must be compared to our uneducated native Indians residing within assigned U. S. government reservations and continuing their primitive ways of life and maintaining their old religious rituals and superstitions, as we know from our Zunis and Navahoes. There is no comparison between the colored and the nations in South Africa. The latter are much inferior to the colored. The colored race is the result of miscegenate marriages contracted by the white man with the original Hottenlots, Bushmen, and other natives, who lived in the Cape Province territory when John Van Riebeek and the Dutch Boers came fro III the Netherlands in 1652 and other parts of Europe.

The Bantus originaJly lived in the northern section of the Congo and moved southward, invading the territories occupied by the Boers and British, who moved northward as far as the original Republic of Transvaal. Bantus and whites came to violent clashes, and with the defeat of the tribal chief Dingaan more peaceful relations followed. The Bantus also engaged in intertribal warfares, and it should not be forgotten that if these intertribal warfares had been permitted to continuo the Bantus would have destroyed themselves. Due to the influence of the white race an end was brought to this process of intertribal extennination.

To this must be added that even today within the borders of the Union of South Africa the British government still retains control of protectorates such as Bechuanaland, Zululand, Basutoland, and Swaziland, sections of country over which the government of the Union of South Africa has no jurisdiction. Fro m these British protectorates thousands of natives have migrated and settled in the borders of large cities within the Union of South Africa to obtain employment in gold mines and other industrial enterprises. The Union of South Africa has been forced to provide for the surplus inhabitants of these British protectorates without having any control over the areas from which these natives migrate. This explains the recent request of the prime minister Dr. Verwoerd to the British government to relinquish these protectorates and allow them to become part of the Union of South Africa.




To understand the complexity of the race problem in the Union of South Africa we must imagine that the whites in the United States are outnumbered by four blacks to every one white person. I fall the blacks in South Africa had the same educational and cultural background one fixed pattern could be employed by the Union government for the solution of the race problem confronting them. If all the blacks were professing Christians the solution would be greatly simplified. The problem is even intensified because of a large number of Indians, who around 1880 migrated from British India to the Union of South Africa to cultivate the sugar plantations. Racial disturbances between the Bantus and Indians often occur. In 1949 in the city of Durban the racial outbreaks between these two races resulted in much bloodshed.

We can understand that the greatly out-numbered white…are deeply concerned about their own survival and are searching for a plan which will promote their self-preservation. Three and four decades ago the problem of survival of the white race was not deemed very serious. The Bantus, with exception of a small minority, lived within their assigned Protectorate territories, and apparently the white man’s culture and civilization, built up over a span of three hundred years, was not in jeopardy; but today some millions of natives have left their reservations and live on the outskirts of large cities built up by the white race. This has given rise to the white man’s great concern for his own self-preservation, living as heroes among the teeming masses of races which are still addicted to their tribal idol worship and superstitions.

We expected that the race resolutions adopted by the R.E.S. of 1958 would seek to answer the question whether self-preservation on the part of the white race in the Union of South Africa, under the existing circumstances, stands condemned or must be vindicated. For it was the urge to preserve the white race fro m total extinction which led the government of the Union of South Africa, already during the Smuts regime and also later, to adopt racial policies which have invited serious criticism of the outside world.

It is in the light of the complex race problem of South Africa that we must examine what has become known in recent years as the policies of “Apartheid.” Not until Dr. Malan became Prime Minister in 1948 was much attention paid to the ‘segregation policies which had been maintained for many years in the Union of South Africa. Little attention was given in our newspapers to the Tomlinson Commission Report on Racial Matters, in which the proposition was defended that total territorial separation as an ultimate aim holds out the only hope of the white man to maintain his culture, civilization, and racial integrity.

The National Party adopted this political plank: “As a basis of principle of its attitude towards Natives and Coloureds, the party recognizes that both are permanent parts of the country’s population, under the Christian trusteeship of the European races. It is strongly opposed to every attempt which might lead to the mixing of European and Non-European blood, and strives to cultivate a spirit of goodwill and mutual trust between Europeans and Non-Europeans, as being in the best interests of South Africa. In accordance with this principle it desires to give the Non-European races the opportunity to develop themselves, each race in its own field, in both the material and spiritual spheres, in keeping with their own natural gilts and abilities. It also declares itself in favour of the territorial and political segregation of the Native, and of separation between Europeans and Non-Europeans in general and in the residential and as far as is practicable in the industrial spheres”.


One might suppose that in politics the opposition party, the United Party in South Africa, would be in favor of integration, but such is not the ease. The party headed by General Smuts for many years, and also for many years in power, adopted the following plank in the recent election campaign, “The Party’s policy in this sphere is a policy of social and residential segregation between the White and NonWhite races, which, however, recognizes the permanence of Non-European settlement in urban areas and the need to provide adequate separate housing, schools, and other facilities for the Non-White races”.

It was during the leadership of Dr. Jan Smuts that the Natives’ Land acts were adopted in 1913 and in 1936. In adopting these legislative acts, Smuts, leader of the United Party said (in defense of his segregation program), “This separation is imperative, not only in the interest of a Native culture, and to prevent Native traditions and institutions from being swamped by the more powerful organization of the whites, but also for other important purposes, such as public health, racial purity, and public good order. The mixing up of two such alien elements as white and black leads to unhappy results -racial miscegenation, moral deterioration of both, racial antipathy and clashes, and to many other forms of social evil. In these great matters of race, colour and culture, residential separation an d parallel institutions alone can do justice to the ideals of both sections of the population” (Smuts, Africa and Some World Problems, page 93). General Hertzog, a former Prime Minister, also advocated the same policy when he said, “…the Bantu areas should be the home of the Bantu” (Fact Paper, No. 11, page 3). It must be remembered, to keep the historical record correct, that it was the United Party and not the National Party. which put teeth into the segregation policy and enacted the 19 1/2 million purchase of morgens (slightly more than 2 acres of land equals a morgen) for the purchase of territories where the Bantu should live, with the prohibition of any white person to own land in such territories. The United Party laid down the specific limits to all native participation in general government and subsidiary legislative affairs. and eliminated the Bantu natives as a possible potential group in a white government system.


The “Apartheid” policies have been current in South African politics for many years. From the political point of view there is after all little to choose as to racial policy between the two outstanding and leading political parties. There is no move in the direction of integration, but decidedly one of desegregation. Both parties are aware of the fact that integration and intermixture of blacks and whites eventually will lead to what the white man calls a peril to his own self-preservation and greater danger of miscegenation.

Whether the two races, blacks and whites, are to occupy the same territories and would be capable of integration is the real racial issue at stake. Political figures and leading churchmen have adopted one of three points of view. Some advocate a theory of Parallelism, that is, maintaining the multi-racial society as the inclusive unit, but substituting within it the co-ordination of racial groups for domination of the rest by one group, and providing for the subordination of the rest to that one master group. Another group of leaders strongly favor the more liberal point of view, that of Assimilation. This theory advocates a multi-racial society, but would abolish race differences within it by the completest fusion or amalgamation of the races with each other. The party advocating this political theory was completely swept out of political power in the last election when the National Party gained an overwhelming victory. Dr. Paton and his followers went down to a humiliating defeat. A third group advocates Separation or Apartheid, a breaking up of the multi-racial society and organizing the several racial components as mutually independent units. The National Party, headed by the present Prime Minister Verwoerd, and his immediate predecessors, Strijdom and Malan, strongly favors this theory.

The racial policy of “Apartheid” is not something new. For the past 300 years the race problem has followed a rather fixed pattern in the Union of South Africa. The white race has opposed all intermixture and miscegenation, and has vowed to retain its own racial national identity and heritage. The whites have determined not to run the risk of being swamped by a race which the whites have claimed they actually saved from self-destruction through their feuds and tribal wars. “The mere existence of most of the Bantu in South Africa today is largely due to the timely and providential intervention of the whites” (Fact Paper, No. 16, page 9). Malan, one of the chief defenders of the apartheid policies, claims, “Apartheid is part and parcel of the South African tradition, as practiced since the first Dutch settlement at the Cape in 1652 and still supported by the large majority of white South Africans of the main political parties. The deep rooted colour consciousness of the white South Africans—a phenomenon quite beyond the comprehension of the uninformed—arises from the fundamental difference between the two groups, white and black. The difference in colour is merely the physical manifestation of a contrast between two irreconcilable ways of life, between barbarism and civilization, between heathenism and Christianity, and finally between overwhelming odds on the one hand and insignificant numbers on the other. Such it was in the beginnings and such it largely remains. The racial differences are as pronounced today as they were 300 years ago. Small wonder that the instinct of self-preservation is so inherent in the white South African. He has retained his identity all these years. He is not willing to surrender it now” (Apartheid, South Africa’s Answer to a Major Problem, pages 3, 4). For the above reasons the majority of the whites advocate a policy of separate development, each race in its own area and locality in order that these races may live peacefully.

Self-preservation plays a tremendous role in the apartheid racial policies. We regret that in the race resolutions adopted by the R.E.S. this principle concerning the race issue was not developed and considered worthy of a separate resolution. The issue of self-preservation does not confront the whites in the United States of America, but it is a vital factor in properly appraising the race problem as it is considered through the eyes of the whites in South Africa. Does self-preservation not permit the enactment of separate territories for each race when there is a real danger that by integration and amalgamation of the races the identity of the white race will be lost? As Bavinck has expressed it, “…dat die blanke gemeenschap rich voortdurend bedreigd weet en dat ze geen mogelijkheid bezit om rich op een ander gebied terug te trekken. Ze kunnen, zooals men weI eens zegt, aIleen maar de zee in gedreven worden” (Bavinck, Het Rassenvraagsluk, page 46). A second consideration which we do not fully appreciate in the United States concerning the principle of self-preservation, is that to grant the South African natives equal rights and the rights of franchise at the polls would mean that in a minimum of time the power of government would fall into the hands of a numerically stronger group of people who are now wholly incapable of self-government and independent action, simply because the breach between barbarism and Christianity has not been bridged.