Die Kerkbode en die viering van Geloftedag, 1910-2010

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Peer-Reviewed Research


The commemoration of the former Day of the Covenant was crucial in the development of Afrikaner nationalism and the apartheid ideology, providing theological grounding for twentieth century Afrikaner political philosophy. This article examines how the Kerkbode, official organ of the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa, supported the dominant view of the commemoration, i.e. that God gave a military victory to the Voortrekkers over the Zulu's, confirming the right of the Voortrekkers (and their descendants) to their own state. From 1910-1990 the editors of the Kerkbode generally supported the fundamentals of the myth (with a single exception in 1920). As the apartheid era came to a close, the Kerkbode started to question these principles, until all references to the Day of the Covenant (since 1996, the Day of Reconciliation) were dropped, only to reappear again. Using the multi-step flow theory one can argue that the Kerkbode helped perpetuate the conventional understanding of the Day of the Covenant, as it may well have influenced the eventual demise of the widespread commemoration of the day.