On this occasion the Prime Minister made good use of the opportunity of talking to Afrikaans students. At the time there were disturbances among students, particularly those at English universities in the Republic. Adv. Vorster pointed, to the responsibility of the student in the community and analysed the concept "student power". It is in particular the task of the student to be informed of the position as it is at present - why the particular conditions exist and how the existing situation can change for the better. Reflection can always be constructive and need not necessarily be negative and destructive. In conclusion the Prime Minister also referred to the political position of the Coloured in the Republic.
It is always a privilege for me to be in the company of young people and to speak to them, but it is always a particular privilege to be in the company of the Afrikaner student.
You said, Mr. President, that I would discuss a certain subject. I have decided that I do not want to talk about it but that I first wish to discuss other matters and that in the second instance I want to exchange a few words with you on the subject - the particularly important and delicate subject that your congress is actually all about - because I felt it was good and necessary that I should talk about it. We live in a democratic country after all, and every man can decide what he wants to discuss and what he does not want to discuss.
When one discusses students today, not so much, I am happy to say, in South Africa, and when I talk to leaders of other parts of the world about young people, the first matter they raise is their problems with so-called "student power". Perhaps it is well that I say a word about it tonight.
It is not always clear what is contained in the expression "student power", but if it is meant to indicate that students are a separate group and that a separate say should be given to that separate group to be able to tell nations and peoples what they should do and what they should not do, to be able to prescribe to presidents and governments what is right and what is not, 1 then it stands to reason that it is no good.
I could give many reasons why it is no good, but I want to substantiate only one. Had I, as a student, when I was as clever as any student today, when I knew the solutions to all problems, as students do today, had a leader who took orders from me, I would probably have been greatly flattered at that moment, but I would have had no respect for him at all.
About "student power" I want to say not only to you but to all students and young people, as far as "power" is concerned, you have tremendous power; you have the power to make or break your own future, in so far as God has given it to anybody to determine it. You not only have the power to make or break your own future but you also have the power to serve your country or break it down - and that is a tremendous power.
The "generation gap" is now held up to us as if it were something brand-new from the seventies. Here we have to do with something as old as the hills. If my son tells me today that I do not understand him, he is telling me only what I told my father and my father told my grandfather. It is nothing new, but is seized upon by people who do not mean well with the young and who do not mean well with humanity and who pretend that a rift have appeared in the thinking, attitude and desires of young people on the one hand and older people on the other.
Where there is, in my humble opinion, a question of a generation gap, it is only in the difference that exists between the articled clerk and his principal, the attorney himself, the difference between the apprentice and the mechanic, the student and the professor.
As members of the ASB and other interested parties together here tonight, you came to Pretoria to enjoy the hospitality of this highly-praised university. You came to reflect on an important subject, namely the relationship between the White and the Coloured. Let me say at once that there can be few subjects of greater importance to those of us gathered here, than this subject which is not only of great importance today, but is of particular importance for the future and particularly when you have left university and when the responsibility that I and others carry today, becomes your responsibility.
I do not know about all the things you will discuss in the next few days, but what I do know is that this subject will remain with you for ever and will form part of your discussions. You will have to find solutions which cannot be found today.
In political and other circles it is taken amiss of me that in respect of this matter I have said that the final word will not be spoken by me and my generation, but by our children. I make no apology for having said this. On the contrary, I am going to repeat it tonight, because it is so.
Erect a monument to the man who can stand up and tell you he can see the end of this problem and you believe him, for he will be the greatest man of this century in our ranks. If I say that there are aspects of this question which will not have to be dealt with by my generation I shall have uttered nothing more than an outstanding truth.
We live in a particularly strange time and I want to accept that the students will agree with me. We live in a time in which newspapers are no longer content to write about what happened today but want to say what will happen tomorrow.
If, however, one has to reflect on this or similar subjects one has to start somewhere and I believe it is rather important that one should know where to start.
A young child accepts the world around him, an older child explores the world around him, and adults change the world around them.
Your task, while you are at university and attending tills congress, is to study this question. The best way to start is to first inform yourself about the present position in respect of this matter. Our problem in the world is that so many people talk about a thing without knowing what it is all about. It is always good - even when one is writing an examination - to know what it is all about, and even if you do nothing at this congress other than establish what the position is and what it is about, then you will indeed already have done very well.
When you are clear about that aspect, it is generally very good to ask yourself the simple question of why the specific situation exists. No situation exists without an underlying reason for its existence. If one delves into a question one realises that in most cases there is a very good reason for something being the way it is.
Consequently it can do no harm to ask: If the existing has to change, how could I change it for the better? Then it would be good to reflect whether the time were ripe to change the existing situation. A student who has in fact to think in theory, for obvious reasons, will find it hard to realise - even as I found it hard in my student years - that there is a time to do something and that however good a matter is and however well you have thought it out, there could be factors which did not make the time ripe for doing it.
Take our becoming a Republic. We strove for this ideal for years. In 1948 we came to power. Constitutionally and otherwise there was no reason whatsoever why Parliament could not change South Africa into a Republic by means of a majority decision, but, despite the impatience of our young people at that time, the older leaders rightly decided that the time was not yet ripe. Later the time was ripe and today we are reaping the fruits of it.
But not only the question of time must be considered. When you have to do with a delicate matter that could have far-reaching consequences, you must ask yourself and account thoroughly to yourself what the exact consequences will be of the changes you are about to make. When you have weighed these questions carefully, you should ask the final question: Is it possible to make the change now? There is much that one would like to change, but cannot, because it is physically or financially impossible. In other words, carrying out your ideas is determined by all these different factors and when you assemble as students at a congress, you do not have to do with all these matters. Then, because you are students, you do not yet have the knowledge. If you had the knowledge, or if you said you had it, you would of course be wasting your father or mother's money at university.
You have neither the knowledge yet, nor the experience, and sometimes I do not know which is more important, the knowledge or the experience. What is, however, quite certain is that both are particularly important. I would therefore in all modesty like to suggest the following to students - and I am talking not only to you but with all the young people in South Africa as far as that is concerned, and it applies to all young people in any part of the world. A young person has acquitted himself perfectly of this task if he has informed himself about the present position, if he has asked himself why that position exists and then - if he still has time in addition to his other studies - reflects about how the existing situation could be changed for the better. The remainder of the questions I asked you must unfortunately wait for the day when responsibility to apply the solutions in practice rests on your shoulders.
There is one big difference between your student days and mine, and this is, I think, a pity. In our student days we could do as we pleased, we could argue and talk and pass decisions without any newspaper taking notice of us. Unfortunately, when nowadays you meet at a congress, it is often front-page news, depending on the newspaper in which it appears. This should not however, prevent reflection and discussion.
One smiles at the naiveté of some of the papers and perhaps it is not unfitting to mention this to you. A few years ago there was at one of our universities a student who caused quite a stir, in connection with your own organisation, and some English papers had already put him in Parliament. Funnily enough, after he left university, we never heard of him again, and neither did the newspapers.
Student bodies and student congresses, in view of the ready availability of press publicity, these days especially, should guard against becoming like the UN where meaningless decisions are taken and which nobody bothers about, least of all South Africa. You must guard against taking decisions which cannot be carried out, for nothing is as frustrating as a decision that cannot be implemented.
When one has to do with a tricky question and seeks a solution, it is the obvious and easy way to seek a precedent. How did other people who faced this problem cope with it, and can I learn something from their approach to the particular matter? There is, in respect of this matter, no precedent of which I am aware. In fact, our entire policy of separate development is a policy moulded in South Africa and we are the only people who believe in the policy and we believe in it so firmly that we are prepared to suffer the wrath of the entire world: not because we are pigheaded or obstinate or because we want to be different, but because we truly believe that in a country like South Africa it is the only viable policy.
If we in South Africa wanted to take the decision and if I had to announce here that decision that we were totally abandoning the policy of separate development, South Africa would be the most popular corpse in the world by tomorrow. Not only we would suffer, but the various Non-White nations in Africa and Southern Africa would suffer as well.
All our critics have lost sight of one aspect, those people who accuse us of pride. If your policy is founded on your being better than someone else because you have a white skin, it is wrong, foolish and vain. What are you but a creature of God, as he is, to raise yourself and think you are better than he? You do not base your policy on the fact that you are richer than he, because what if he makes money tomorrow and you lose yours? You do not base your policy on your being further advanced and more educated than he. When he is educated tomorrow, are you going to throw your policy overboard?
The people who reproach us for suffering from a herrenvolk mentality 2 and thinking we are better than people of colour, have always made this one mistake in their judgement of the South African situation. We have never in our thinking or acting said the Whites stood on one side and all Non-Whites on the other. Had we done this in our thinking, they could have reproached us, but we have never done it. We not only differentiated between the various nations in South Africa. We did not expect of or tell Coloureds to integrate with the Bantu, or the Zulu the Xhosa, the Venda with the Tswana and the Indian with them all. Do you not find it remarkable that liberalists expect the White to integrate with everybody? It is always the White who has to sacrifice his identity.
If one wants to judge this subject properly, one has to return to the elementary and the basic and ask oneself what the basis of your policy of separate development is. In the first instance the policy has basis that as Whites we want to retain our identity, have the right to retain it and believe we have the right to take measures to ensure that we retain it. If we do not prize our White identity we are talking past each other and there is not even a need to go and reflect about the problem at this congress. We do not only tell the world that we believe in the right to retain our White identity, but we in fact take step direct our policy towards doing it. We are prepared to stand against the world for that right.
We believe that in a country with many nations, like South Africa, it is absolutely essential for good order and peaceful coexistence that friction be limited to a minimum. Experience has taught us that in our situation there is no better way. Other countries may have found other solutions. I do not want to express myself on them, but I also do not want them to condemn me while none of them have found solutions to their own problems.
In a country like South Africa it is of cardinal importance that we limit friction to a minimum and in my humble opinion, apart from any other consideration, it is easier to draw up a policy to keep people apart who by nature are inclined to want to be apart, rather than force them together. You as students will hear lovely theories and views from people who want to promote integration and who will also tell you it should not be accompanied by violence. The matter must take its natural course - let people who want to integrate do so and those who do not wish to, go their own way. In practice, however, it does not work like that. This was in theory the view of American and British liberalists, but let us see how far it has advanced in practice.
In practice it is now an offence in Britain if you do not want to rent a room to a man because he is Non-White. Formerly they allowed people to decide for themselves whether they wanted to do it or not, but now they are forced to do it. The same view is upheld in the United States. But now children are forced to go from one school to another in buses. If there is one thing life has taught me it is that nobody is less tolerant than the liberalist. There is nobody who shouts down the opinion of another as quickly as that very liberalist, despite his pious statements before the time.
Our policy of separate development is concerned with the creation of chances and opportunities. As I stand here before you, the young Afrikaner boys and girls of South Africa, in my capacity as prime minister, I am responsible and accountable to you and I want to tell you with all the conviction I have, that the chances and opportunities which exist today for the Coloureds and various Bantu nations were created and made possible as a result of the policy of separate development. It is our task and calling to create chances and opportunities for those people. You can do much in life and it will pass, but there is a thing you have no right to do and that is to injure or belittle the human dignity of any other person.
We have no right to belittle or ridicule the spiritual things of another person or another nation. When I think of the history of we Afrikaners and think about our way of acting and behaviour, I am grateful for one thing. Black people went to prison here in South Africa and at Robben Island and other places there are Black people who are serving long and hard sentences, but thank God, no Black man ever got into trouble in South Africa for standing up for what was his own. No Black man ever revolted against us because we wanted to take away what belonged to him in property or spirit. We may have many faults but we have never done to the Black man what was, in years gone by, done to us as Afrikaners. We may be thankful for that and indeed, bear it in mind. What, briefly is the history of the problem that will occupy you for the next few days?
A handful of male Coloureds originally obtained the right to appear on the common voters' role with the Whites, to help elect representatives for the House of Assembly. Those male Coloured voters were limited to the Cape and although they had the right to elect members of Parliament, with other voters, they themselves never had the right to stand for election. The law stipulated that they themselves could not sit in Parliament, but could do so in the Cape Provincial Council. For many years in our history - and this is an ugly page in our history - the Coloured was the football in every election. Things happened in election times of which none of us can be proud, and method which were to nobody's honour were used to get his vote. More important, friction was created between White and Coloured which, had it persisted, would have led to a tremendous outburst. For that reason the National Party, when it came to power, felt it should remove the Coloured from the common voters' roll. After much had happened this eventually came about and he was placed on the separate voters' roll to elect four Whites to Parliament.
When this became my responsibility in 1966, I was of the opinion that the time was ripe to go a step further, because the principle was wrong. 3 If you gave the Coloured's representatives the right to sit in your Parliament for all time, it was morally not justifiable that he could not sit there himself and that he should be represented second-hand. After all, among his own people there were persons equally well-equipped, educated and capable, to represent him in Parliament. He can also represent his own people far better, because he understands them better. What is more, if I had to accept that principle as permanent, for we as honest people also accept that because of his numbers he should be represented there as we are represented there, we would in the long run not be able to justify this to him. As far as that is concerned I therefore take full responsibility for taking the initiative to abolish that kind of Coloured representation as a whole. And for the first time not only a few male Coloureds, but all Coloureds in the entire Republic of South Africa were given political rights in so far as they got the opportunity to elect part of the Coloured Persons Representative Council. The other part of the Council is appointed.
With much fuss we were reproached for not allowing the entire Council to be elected from the start, as if this were not the road of development we Whites followed here in South Africa. We took precisely that constitutional road. Precisely because of our point of view, the Coloured had least experience of government. Despite everything that happened, the chief still retained his power and ruled and had his own laws and customs which were applied.
Until 1966 the Coloureds were voting stock and nothing else. They had no opportunities to exercise themselves in the art of government or educate their people to be able to rule and therefore, in the nature of things, they had to start on the bottom rung. That is not to say it will remain like that. In the Coloured Persons Representative Council the Coloured has been granted control of certain of his own affairs, as for example, education, welfare and local management. This was the first something like that had happened.
Here we have the White Parliament on the one side and the Coloured Persons Representative Council, call it the Coloured Parliament, on the other. I am told that nowhere in the world do two parliaments function side by side. That is so, I know of no other country in the world that has this, but I repeat, I also know of no other country in the world that has the policy of separate development.
Again I cannot say to you as students go and look here or there to find the precedent for it. I can only say, look at your own situation. Give me an alternative if this one is not acceptable. I have said it on occasion in Parliament and I want to say it again to you as young people. Our dilemma in South Africa is that we have the situation that here the White nation is on one side and on the other side the nascent Coloured nation and a modus vivendi must be found for it within the borders of the Republic of South Africa. It is understandable that the question is raised whether we cannot find for these people a solution similar to that of the Bantu by giving them their own territory where they may live out their independence.
Were this possible, one would very much have liked it. But politics, as far as it can be called a science, so experts say, is the science of the possible, and tonight I have to confess to you that after I had surveyed the matter from all angles, I came to the conclusion that it was not practical politics. I can also not see that it would become practical politics to create a separate homeland for the Coloureds who in the year 2000, will number an estimated six million. Now the question is, if this is not regarded as practical politics, what is going to be done about it? We can say we give up and take the road of integration. If we choose to take the road of integration we have to take it all the way. We will not bluff anyone by taking it halfway.
There are people who make promises to the Coloureds they know they cannot keep. And in my humble opinion, there is nothing more criminal than to dangle promises before people, a population group, and to know you cannot carry them out. For many of these people who talk of integration are as prepared to carry it out in practice as the man in the moon. In Alan Drury's book "A Very Strange Society", I read of his sojourn in South Africa and that he was invited to dinner with "the most liberal editor in South Africa". 4 He is no longer in this country, but he says - and this was typical to me - that he spoke to many people in South Africa about coloured people and saw many people's behaviour towards them, but he saw nobody ruder to her servants than the "liberal editor's wife". That is the way it is in South Africa. 5
All of us have experienced it. We must guard against promises that we very well know we cannot or do not wish to carry out. And now the question is: How should one approach faced that same question in practice. I sought a solution did not find the right one, possibly because I had not be so many years! But the solution I sought had to satisfy had to satisfy the people it concerned: the Coloureds.
If we reflect on the Coloureds we must bear in mind that they are people who can and want to talk.
We must not do as the UN does in wanting to decide about South West without considering the feelings of the people. I took the view that after the Coloured representatives were removed from Parliament, the Coloureds should decide about their own Representative Council, but I was and am aware that, as the years went by, there would still be matters about which they had no say, about which the final word would have to be spoken by the White Parliament. I must justification for myself whether it is reasonable that people remain subject and that they are governed without having a say as well. Is it reasonable people should remain under guardianship for ever? You can sup) answers yourself and I do not doubt what you, as idealist students and honest people will do so.
Because of this I took the view that there should be a link between Coloured Parliament and the White Parliament to administer this.
I further told Parliament that in respect of this matter, although I have my own ideas, I would consult with the Coloureds because they could and should give their opinion. After the Council was asked the Council to reflect about it and talk to me about it.
There were many methods they could follow and which indeed, they considered, without considering the Whites. I mentioned them Parliament, but the Coloureds themselves came to the conclusion the only liaison they desired at present was the liaison through Executive Council with the Prime Minister, the minister involved, or other ministers, according to the case in question.
As a result I realised and I also said frankly in Parliament that it was not a link which would be able to stand the test of time for other times would bring other needs. Development would mean that another link would have to be sought, and because I realised that, I said I could not see the end of the road. I said the solution to this problem would not be found by my generation.
I have done what is necessary for my generation. I have laid the foundation, established the link in consultation with them, but I am enough of a realist to know that times will come and that other ways of liaison will have to be sought and that it will be your task and function to find them.
The task and function of my generation is to lay the foundation and indicate the course and direction. The foundation I wish to lay is to say that there will be no integration, that the White has the right to his identity, but that he does not begrudge the Coloured his. Circumstances have resulted in their having to share the same territory, but through the years my policy was clear to the outside world. He has his own school, university, sports facilities and residential areas where he can practice his community life. And I have mine. He has his political channel and I have mine, but somewhere there must be a connection between these two channels to bring about understanding. This is your task and problem and it will take your time and attention when you are in public life and continue along this road of separate development.
Ways of liaison will come which my contemporaries and I cannot envisage now, but which you will think of in your inventiveness and with due consideration of the experience you will have along the road.
When we started with the Bantu policy there was really nobody who foresaw exactly that it would develop as it did. In politics one learns from experience and when you have to do with people and groups of people you have to take all those human factors into consideration when you determine the policy.
I conclude, by saying to you as students that if you value a peaceful fatherland, if you want to keep it that way, you must continue to build on the road of separate development. I can envisage no other road for the people of South Africa without their creating tremendous problems for themselves and landing in a state which will hit them very hard.
It is important to be economically defensible and militarily prepared and in this world in which we live it is also important to be spiritually defensible. For a country such as South Africa it is of supreme importance that human relations are right. If we fail in the field of human relations, we fail in our survival here in South Africa, and it is your task and your responsibility to reflect on this in the years of your youth and during your student days. To think about and to discuss with each other solutions to these problems. I wish you well in that.
The more penetratingly and seriously you do it, the better for this country, South Africa, for at present you as students are South Africa's responsibility. When you leave university, South Africa is your responsibility. May you receive the grace to judge correctly and well and in take decisions on these problems I touched on in passing and the few facets of them I discussed with you, when they are your responsibility one day.
I know the Afrikaner student has it in him not only to have the knowledge and experience one day, but also from time to time to have the know-how to find a way which will satisfy both groups, when this liaison has to be considered.
It is your task and ultimately your responsibility. I trust, Mr. President, that you will find light in your deliberations and discussions, that in your fellowship at this congress you will have friendly relations and that you will leave, inspired to inform yourselves, to equip yourselves in such a way that you will one day - and it will come sooner than you think, when it is your task to carry these things out in practice - be perfectly equipped to do it.
I wish you and the ASB well.
Here the Prime Minister was referring to student riots in Paris in May 1968 which resulted in great disruption in many spheres.
Herrenvolk mentality: The nation is regarded as the highest entity, a characteristic of National Socialism. To such a nation service to the nation, is religion.
In 1966 this measure became law. The Coloured Representatives consequently disappeared from the House of Assembly after the 1970 election.
A. Drury, A Very Strange Society, London, 1968, p. 426.
After a year of study and research, Alan Drury visited the Republic for two months in 1966. His book, A Very Strange Society, was the result of this visit.