Short-lived tolerance. An euphoria of the 1938 Voortrekker Centenary as in the editorials of a local newspaper: the George & Knysna Herald
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There have been many studies on the Voortrekker Centenary of 1938 and the unforeseen consequences it had, including the subsequent surge of Afrikaner nationalism and political developments. As the wagons moved across South Africa, the processions infused Afrikaners with pride in their heroic past. Afrikaner nationalism, the ideology that focused on protecting Afrikaner culture, the striving to regain an independent republic and, importantly, affirmation that they were God’s chosen people, were rekindled. The event also generated a widespread sense of connection. It was not only Afrikaners who were swept up in the euphoria of the celebrations, but also many non-Afrikaners were emotionally affected by the event. This article narrows the focus down to George, a small town in the Western Cape Province, where Charles Sayers, the editor of the local newspaper, the George & Knysna Herald, a firm supporter of the United Party and a fierce critic of the Reunited National Party, seems to have been swept up for a short period by the fever of the celebrations. A year later, in 1939, when war broke out in Europe, Sayers loyally approved of the United Party’s decision to support the war effort in Europe on the side of the Allies and became harshly critical of Hertzog and those Afrikaners nationalists who refused to join a war on Britain’s side. With the George & Knysna Herald as the primary source, this article attempts to determine what led the editor to undergo such an about-turn in his political views in 1938 and to be temporarily supportive of the celebrations that embodied the spirit of Afrikaner nationalism.