Throughout the twentieth century activists in South Africa for the Afrikaans language struggled with, yet never resolved, the language/people, Afrikaans/Afrikaner issue, as Hermann Giliomee points out in his recent ‘biography’ of the Afrikaners (2003, 389). Was the Afrikaner community a racial or linguistic one? Was the push to promote Afrikaans subordinate to the entrenchment of a white supremacist government and ruling party? Was there a hegemonic or counter-hegemonic relationship between language and ethnicity? If the social identity of the Afrikaner was to be shaped by the acceptance of Afrikaans as a public language on equal footing with English, the creed that the language constitutes the entire people (‘die taal is gans die volk’) had to be race-blind.
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