Many in South Africa and elsewhere say or feel that Afrikaans is the
language of the oppressor, die taal van die onderdrukker.
And, of course, during Apartheid Afrikaans was the main vehicle of racism
with its words or names of racist origin or fleshed up with a racist
However, also Dutch and English and many, if not all, other languages had
or have words and names by means of which racists, sexists, heterosexists,
speciesists and exclusivists of a multitude of other stripes can or could
and used to or still do express their obnoxious attitudes.
Without (the exclusivist content of) these words and names, and with
different words and names (among which gender-neutral and
-transcending ones) Afrikaans, too, can be a
vehicle of inclusive thought and action, just as any other language can,
in principle, be such a vehicle.
A great part, if not the great majority, of Afrikaners has always consisted
of descendants, not of average Dutch people, but of people from the Dutch
(This is not typical of South Africa: also in Canada, for instance, the
average Dutch immigrant or descendant of Dutch immigrants may, even if we
disregard the influence of their new homeland, differ considerably from the
average Dutch person in the Netherlands.)
If there was anything the causative problem with the majority of
Afrikaners —mind you, not only of the Dutch Bible Belt brand—
it was not their language but their Bible and/or the Christian dogmas
they accepted and followed so unquestioningly.
True, strictly speaking, the race-related dogmas a great many Christianists
used to, or still, believe in may not be definitely 'Biblical'.
Not only does the Bible nowhere explicitly mention race or skin color as a
factor on the basis of which one should include everyone
—Thou shalt love thy neighbour, whatever the colour of his or her
skin may be would have been an example— it does not explicitly
mention race or skin color either as a factor on the basis of which one
should exclude anyone.
Yet, it cannot be denied that in Noah's curse upon Canaan, the story's
objective was but too clearly the 'justification' of the subjection of
the Canaanites to the Israelites, groups distinguished on the basis of
ethnicity or 'race' in a strict or looser sense.
(In the circles concerned it sufficed to portray the others as immoral,
and they themselves as moral in the light of their own morality or, worse,
their own obsessions and inhibitions.
This created a right, if not duty, to dispossess 'the inferior ones' of all
their land and other belongings.)
The books of the Bible are full of instances of groupthink.
On the whole, its authors or their principals were supposedly exclusively
heterosexual married adult free, probably even slave-owning, men of a
particular nonblack ethnicity who propagated an ingroup ideology.
They propagated their ideology first of all for those who were like
(The Ten Commandments are not addressed to people or human beings as such.
Just think of Thou shall not covet thy neighbor's wife.)
Secondly, they propagated their ideology for the creatures that could not
equal them (especially women who are like weaker vessels), yet were willing
to recognize their superior qualities and to submit to the superior man as
defined by them — the anthropomorphic and anthropopathic God Himself,
No wonder, many of those who were brought up with the idea of the Bible as
one Holy Book from the very beginning to the very end, could, or at any
rate did, look upon a Canaanite, Hamite or dark(er) skin as a punishment for a sin.
And this total Bible furnished them a 'justification' of slavery to boot,
either by carefully describing what was to constitute a good slave-owner
and a good slave or by not uttering one word on the practice of slavery,
while at the same time condemning men and women to death for the silliest
of little things.
How many human beings who did not belong to the chosen Semite people or
were not entirely white or Caucasian (and Christian) have not been the
victims of the biased worldview underlying these sacred writings?
(Rabid apologists of the Bible may read here, "Biblical stories which allow
for biased interpretations".)
Indeed, during Apartheid in South Africa the blacks and other 'nonwhites'
were discriminated against and those of them who did not submit risked
being murdered or actually were murdered.
But racism in the Apartheid era is not the whole story, even not the whole
story of discrimination which results in the death of the human being
How many girls or women and boys or men who were not entirely heterosexual
have not been the victims of the believers in skewed Biblical tale-telling
Afrikaans speakers, too, found a condemnation in the Bible of any form of
love or sexuality outside heterosexual marriage, and —to put things
straight— within such marriage of any form of sexuality not
contributing to conception.
Not seldom did the misery of youngsters in their midst who found themselves
with feelings of love or erotic desire their religion, and their parents in
the wake of it, required to be entirely wiped out drive them to kill
The perpetrators of all these and similar crimes and lesser evils may have
been wrong in a universal moral sense, as far as the total Bible is
concerned (with the experiences and ruminations of, say, Adolf Hitler and
Albert Schweitzer combined under one cover) they were right in spirit.
So forget about Afrikaans, blame (or curse) the Book of the oppressor,