NEWS & ANALYSIS

Honouring memory of Prof Pieter de Lange – Afrikanerbond

Former chairman had been unwell over the last few months and had also had a stroke a few weeks ago

Honouring the memory of Prof Pieter de Lange (Chairperson of the Afrikaner Broederbond - 1983-1993) 

10 April 2019

It was with sadness that we received the news that Prof. Pieter de Lange (93), former chairperson of the Afrikaner Broederbond (1983-1993), had passed away in Pretoria the morning of 9 April 2019. Prof. De Lange had been unwell over the last few months and had also had a stroke a few weeks ago.

Prof. De Lange will be remembered particularly for his participation and involvement in the structures of the Afrikaner Broederbond and the first interaction with the ANC through a meeting with Thabo Mbeki in New York 30 and 31 May 1986. After that, the historic “Basic Political Conditions for the Continuing Survival of the Afrikaner” (Basiese Staatkundige Voorwaardes vir die voortbestaan van die Afrikaner) appeared as a working document of the Afrikaner Broederbond and paved the way for the political reforms that followed. This interaction in 1986 in New York took place under the cover of an education conference organised by the Ford Foundation. This meeting is summarised well in the book Thabo Mbeki: The Dream Deferred by Mark Gevisser.

When De Lange spoke about how Afrikaners were more anxious about losing their cultural identity than their economic or political power in a democratic South Africa, Mbeki seemed to understand. By his own admission, something was activated in Mbeki by his encounter with Pieter de Lange. It was this meeting, he told me, which prepared him for his subsequent dealings with the National Party government – for he understood for the first time how threatened Afrikaners were and how they needed to be reassured.”

After the meeting in New York, one of the most important policy documents of the Afrikaner Broederbond,  if not the most important, the “Basic Political Conditions for the Continuing Survival of the Afrikaner” (mentioned above), was sent to branches and was also released publicly in November 1986. Within the Afrikaner Broederbond, this document undoubtedly represented a division in thinking about political direction.

It lay the foundation for the move away from discrimination and the establishment of a democratic dispensation in which all inhabitants of the country could participate. As a result, it also had a significant influence on Afrikaner Broederbond members in senior government positions. In itself, it was not a master plan, but gave direction to numerous fundamental issues and kick-started a relatively dormant process – the right document at the right time under the chairmanship of Prof. Pieter de Lange.

At this sad time, his spouse, Christine, and his three children are in our thoughts, and we pray that they will find comfort. It was an honour for our organisation to have had the opportunity to experience his guidance and insight. I had the privilege of meeting with Prof. De Lange from time to time and being able to rely on his sharp intellect and wisdom. He could not attend the centenary celebrations of the Afrikanerbond in Paarl on 8 June 2018 due to poor health, but we were able to present him with the book Broederskap (Eeufeesgeskiedenis van die Afrikaner Broederbond en die Afrikanerbond) at his home in Pretoria shortly afterwards.

We honour his memory.

Issued by Jaco Schoeman, Chairperson of the Afrikanerbond, 10 April 2019