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The Irony of Apartheid, by Irving Hexham, foreword by Ninian Smart, (Lewiston, Edwin Mellen, 1981), pp. 239.

This book is a study of the intellectual origins of apartheid and the religious aspects of Afrikaner Nationalism from 1902-1919. It deals with the role of myth in a specific social setting and provides insight into how one new religions movement, Dutch Neo-Calvinism, was misused to create a nationalist ethos in South Africa.



  1. Imperialism and the Myth of Apartheid
  2. Chreating the Myth of Apartheid
  3. The Experience of Apartheid
  4. The Origins of the Theory of Apartheid
  5. The Afrikaans Language and Apartheid
  6. Education for Apartheid
  7. The Incarnation of a Mythology

What some of the Reviewers said:

a. This excellent book...discusses the historical background of the system of apartheid...The myth of apartheid, its creation, development, and `experience' are analyzed...The theme of this book rests upon the hypothesis that apartheid is a myth and should be understood as such...this myth has been transformed and crystallized into a political ideology upon which apartheid rests as the basis for Afrikaner nationalism ...

Emma S. Etuk, Journal of Church and State, Autumn, 1983, vol. 25, no. 3, pp. 576-577.

b. It is a fascinating theory and it carries conviction. For, by locating the true source of apartheid in the doctrines of the Christian National movement which Professor Hexham admits, never comprised more than a small percentage of the Afrikaner people, it can be seen why the policy of the present government of South Africa wins support of people of widely differing views...this is undoubtedly a book which will make anyone interested in South Africa think very hard about his preconception."

Kenneth Ingham, The Times Literary Supplement, 23 April, 1982, p. 468.

c. To get the measure of thinkers like Groen van Prinsterer and Abraham Kuyper requires a good deal of intellectual sophistication, and it is one of the real merits of this book that the author has been able to present their ideas with such clarity...The book is also valuable for the new perspective which its author proposes...His assessment of the period seems correct...and he presents a convincing case...the book on the whole has emerged from an imaginative and impressively thorough investigation, well grounded in works of Dutch and Afrikaans origin.

T.H.R. Davenport, South African Historical Journal, No. 14, November 1982, pp. 109-110.

d. From a wide range of sources, and a good acquaintance with the people and the Churches he is discussing, the author manages to present varying attitudes with a fair degree of balance...a carefully researched account of the theoretical origins of Afrikaner religious attitudes, applied in the social and political sphere, the book has vary great merits.

Edward Norman, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 33, No.4 , October 1982, p. 666.


The Irony of Apartheid is available from:

The Edwin Mellen Press

P.O. Box 450


New York, 14092


Fax: 1-716-754-4335