On this occasion. Adv. Vorster expounded in a most original way the responsibility of being a student. Discovering life is a personal responsibility as also the secret of being a complete person. By utilising all the opportunities that the university puts at his disposal, the student must become a specialist. Using the idiom of the students, the Prime Minister brought home the seriousness of the colour question. He referred to the special problems that confront the people of South Africa and the responsibility awaiting each student in the outside world once he has successfully completed his studies.
In the first place, when we look at our own country, it is absolutely imperative that we take note of the different nations residing within the boundaries of South Africa. We must examine them, their needs, their aspirations and their destiny. Of all the important issues that one discusses and reflects upon in the years of one's boyhood, in a country like South Africa, this remains for me one of the most significant. The problem of race relations in South Africa remains the problem of all generations, each generation being involved to a lesser or greater extent. Your turn and opportunity might come sooner than you think. I have referred to South Africa as a multi-national and not a multi-racial country, as she is often called - there is a vast difference between the two. One only has to think of how difficult it is, in this evil world of ours, for two independent nations with the same standards, level of education, even colour, to exist peacefully side by side. One calls to mind, in the light of what is happening today, a country such as present-day Ireland, where it is impossible for people of the same origin, with the same language and the same background, to exist peacefully because of a mere difference in religious views. 1 One thinks of how nations of the same colour on Cyprus and in other places cannot tolerate each other and resort to violence because they must reside in the same country. 2 Take the animosity between coloured nations in Eastern countries, just because they are different from each other in that respect. 3 If one thinks of countries which are faced with serious problems from time to time, simply because the people of that country speak different languages, then one realizes in the first instance how formidable our problem in South Africa is. Here we do not only have to contend with different language groups within one geographical region, but also different stages of development plus the question of different skin colour with all its ramifications.
One realizes now how important it is for the youth of the country, young people who are continuing their studies, to make sure of this question of race relations, because their whole future, their peaceful existence is ultimately and intimately bound up with this question. In this respect one must stress the urgency of giving oneself direction, because here it is a question of giving account of oneself. Every young person must and will, what is more, to an ever-increasing extent, find himself as far as this problem is concerned.
It is immediately clear that one is faced with two possibilities - the way of separation or that of integration. When pondering either of these two alternatives, the question immediately comes to mind: If I choose one or the other, must my choice be coupled with a certain amount of compulsion, or is it a purely voluntary matter?
I find it interesting that over the years the liberalists' point of view has consistently been that when it comes to the problem of race relations, it is imperative that there be no element of force whatsoever-no rule or law must exist in this respect. On paper this looks fine, as an argument it is powerfully convincing; but if one looks at it realistically, this is one instance where theory and practice lie at opposite ends of the pole. Because while this has always been the viewpoint in both America and Britain, there is an increasingly greater leaning towards this way of thinking, and the truth of the matter is that this is also being applied in practice, in that sanctions are imposed if one does not integrate willingly.
If you choose the other road, that of separation, you can also ask whether this must be coupled with a degree of formulating rules, and law, or whether there must be no force involved at all.
Once again, it would be ideal if this was not necessary, but practice necessitates that there be some degree of force. As in the case of integration, here the element of force also comes to the fore. But to return to practice, especially in a country like South Africa, with its dangers and problems, one thing is imperative: that she cannot afford to have unrest or violence within her boundaries.
If more problems have still to be added to our present problems of existence and survival, then indeed I foresee great difficulties and this is not far-fetched. Take France as an example - a mighty country at the time, with a stable monetary unit - and yet this country, because rest which started on a small scale at a university, was brought knees and had to pay very dearly in consequence. 4
But it is your task and your problem not only to reflect u matter academically, but in actual fact to choose your own have, of course, chosen the way of separation and for this reason justify my choice for myself and for you, whom I have the privilege of addressing this evening.
To begin with, I wish to urge you, no matter which road you choose or standpoint you adopt, never to ignore the humanity of any person. Under no circumstances should you slight a person who speaks a different language, whose skin is a different colour, who has a different standard of civilization.
You must never adopt the attitude that you are better than another person. Who are you to exalt yourself? You are one of God's creatures just as he is. You must therefore never assume the standpoint that you are better, richer, better educated and further developed than another person. You have no right to assume this, although I do believe that you have the right to say that you are different from other people. I also believe that you should never offend or hurt another person by emphasising in your discussions with him the "otherness" that exists between the two of you.
I have had the privilege in my time of discussing South Africa and her problems with many people of different colours. On many occasions I have put forward this idea of "otherness", without ever being conscious of anybody taking offence or of hurting anybody, because just as I value my "otherness", so too does he value his.
And now, with regard to this question of race relations, if you see your way clear to choosing the path of separate development, then immediately - and this is an essential issue in the times in which we live - you will encounter a great number of people who read into this policy things which do not exist. And in other respects one if faced with the problem of people who interpret the policy correctly.
I believe that to ensure the success of South Africa, her society and her future, with due respect to the many nations residing within her boundaries and seen from the point of view of the White nation to whom you and I belong, you must acknowledge that you believe because you are convinced of your right to preserve your identity as a White man. If you do not believe this, then do not waste your time on such matters. If you believe that it is unacceptable and that it cannot continue to exist, the sooner you admit defeat the better, because you will save yourself no end of trouble and sorrow in the process. But I believe that it is not only you as a white person, a member of the white group, who has the right and wish to preserve your identity, but the Black man and the Brown man too have a right to preserve their identity and believe in it just as much as you do.
However it is not just a question of preserving your identity. In a country like South Africa, if you wish to ensure peaceful existence in the years that lie ahead, then you must make sure that chances and opportunities are created not only for a privileged group but for every group according to need.
I wish to make bold by saying, that in South Africa as I know it, the best opportunities can be created for those of other colours, if we remain true to the policy of separate development. It is not just a question of preserving your identity or of creating opportunities for all, but in a country like South Africa, as I have said before, it is of cardinal importance that friction be kept to a minimum. And for this reason conventions and precautionary measures must exist. You can test this for yourself among individuals in a small community.
In this respect, you as young people confronted with this problem will be given the argument which I choose to call "the I-don't-mind" argument - I don't mind doing this or going here or going there with a coloured person. This, in my humble opinion, does not see the problem in its true light, because here we are not concerned with what the individual quite rightly does not mind doing, but rather with the race relations question of the group to which each individual belongs.
I also shudder these days when I encounter the "skim the cream from the milk" argument, where people say of South Africa that there is only one solution, and that is to take the best from one group and incorporate them into our group. 5
When this argument is put forward I cannot help reflecting upon the history of my own people. Then I inevitably think of the pain and sorrow and the violent hatred which this caused in your own history when some of your rank were acceptable but others not.
Whatever you do, do not put forward this argument for you will regret it. Another argument put so often to us White people - and which you should definitely also reject - is that the Coloured is ultimately a dependant. If I were regarded as a dependant of any other group or nation, I would quite honestly reject this if I were a Coloured. I wish to impress upon you very strongly the point of view that the Coloured in South Africa is not and does not need to be a dependant of the White man.
The time when he was satisfied to be this, when he was prepared to take a back seat where Whites congregated, is not only past history, but I wish to take a stand in saying that it is also wrong to wish this even if it were possible.
Nowadays there is a great deal of argument among the public, and this will continue in the months ahead, as to what "petty apartheid" and "apartheid" are. I wish to confess to you as students here tonight that I have been involved in public life for many years; I have been intimately involved with this problem over the years and I must confess my ignorance in saying that when people speak of this, I do not know what they are referring to. I do not know what "petty apartheid" and "apartheid" are. If you must use this word, then for me there is apartheid and nothing else.
If one had to ask each person who asserts categorically that there is such a thing as petty apartheid or apartheid, for a definition, I wonder how many different definitions one would find.
I might tell you that what is often labelled petty apartheid and what people have in mind when they speak of such matters, in most cases has nothing whatsoever to do with apartheid.
Then people think of unnecessary measures, or measures which are not designed to protect identity; they think of measures which cannot or do not prevent friction. When people think of measures which stand in the way of chances and opportunities, then I as a person who have found clarity on this matter, say that it is not a question of petty apartheid or apartheid in any respect, but one of unnecessary measures, and people should argue about this and can and must at all times reflect upon it. If this was not necessary for the purposes which I have tried to sketch for you, then it stands to reason that it does not have the right to exist. But as in all things, one must be particularly careful of not rejecting the good with the bad.
I have sketched different choices and I have briefly shown you the path that I have chosen, but I must repeat that because we are concerned here with the very root of our existence, each one of you as sons and daughters of this country must find clarity for yourselves. I would just like to caution you strongly against one thing, and this applies to us all - colour is a fact, an extremely delicate fact, something that we cannot overlook. That is why each one of us must be extremely cautious, especially when speaking with a certain amount of authority, not to make promises, if we know in our heart of hearts that these cannot be carried out in practice. To go even further - when we know that we do not want these promises to be carried out.
My dear friends, as you young people complete your studies tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, and go into the world to take your place in different walks of life, you will ultimately determine South Africa's future - what is to become of her. Whatever your decision, your views and what you tell others should be honest.
You yourself must believe in what you preach, because if you do not, on account of the position that you hold and the qualifications you possess, you will instigate endless strife between councils and nations here in Southern Africa where we all have to live together.
I therefore hope and trust that in your reflections upon these issues you will consider the full implications of your decision. I trust that you will not observe this problem merely from an academic point of view, but more important that you will apply it in practice. Above all, be wary of offering any solution that might create many more problems and difficulties than the ones that you were trying to solve.
Ladies and gentlemen, students, if you have come to this university to master your subject, to reflect upon life and the standpoint that you must adopt in your fatherland to counter all problems, and if you have the grace to do so, then you will go away adequately equipped to lead South Africa, your fatherland, to greater heights. And what more can we ask of a student, namely, that he serve his country in this way?
I must conclude by saying that you did not come here to reflect upon your profession, life, your country. Nor have you come here only to enjoy what student life has to offer. At the back of your mind there is always the realization that you must reflect upon the idea that while you are an earthly being you have an eternal destination where you must account for yourself before God.
In Northern Ireland the strife between Roman Catholics and Protestants has been going on for many years and on various occasions the country has been on the verge of choas and anarchy. For the United Kingdom this problem remains unsolved. Protestants still fear that Northern Ireland will be incorporated into the Irish Republic which is predominantly and strongly Catholic.
Greek Cypriots and Turks have for decades existed side by side on Cyprus in an extremely tense atmosphere. Bloody clashes occurring from time to time have even brought Greece and Turkey to the brink of war.
The enmity between India and Pakistan is tradition and on occasion has resulted in a large-scale war.
The same agitator groups which were behind the student riots in Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States were operating in France. Their method of operation is but rather what they term "permanent debate". Their technique is to provoke the government to violence against them. Cf. Die Vaderland, 22.5.1968.
There is a train of thought which propounds that the top layer of Coloured should be integrated with the Whites.