Biografie van die taalstryder F.V. Engelenburg tot met die stigting van die S.A. Akademie in 1909
Frans Vredenrijk Engelenburg (1863-1938) played a major role in the development and expansion of Afrikaans and the Afrikaans academic culture - especially in the northern part of South Africa. As a Dutch intellectual, lawyer and journalist in the nineteenth century South African Republic (Transvaal), he in particular played an important role as advisor and opinion maker from the 1890s onward. One of his biggest achievements was the key role that he played in the establishment of De Zuid Afrikaanse Akademie voor Taal, Letteren en Kunst in 1909. This study is the first part of a more comprehensive biographical project on the life of Engelenburg and the role he fulfilled in the history of the Akademie and South Africa until the thirties of the twentieth century. Since the 1600s the Engelenburg family has played a prominent role in the community where they lived. Aside from the high positions they had held for centuries before, they had in the fourth and again in the sixth generation married into noble families. This contributed to their important position in the community. Due to circumstances Engelenburg was not raised in the Engelenburg milieu. A family break in 1836 was the cause that Engelenburg's father, as a baby, was spirited away from this family milieu. Engelenburg received an extraordinarily good schooling. The solid intellectual foundation already laid then, to a large extent determined the course of his life. He was at the Stedelijk Gymnasium Arnhem when he met Marie Koopmans-De Wet (1834-1906), an aunt by marriage who lived in Cape Town, when on a visit to Europe. She was his soul mate and acted as a mentor and advisor to Engelenburg. The friendship strengthened with the years. He already at school had the desire to visit South Africa one day. His parents' divorce when he was still a student at the University of Leyden, steered his life in a very different direction than what he had foreseen for himself. The divorce was to a large extent the reason that, although he had studied law, he discarded the notion of a career in law after only a year. His decision to follow a career in journalism affected the rest of his life. The Transvaal War (1880-1881) meant that the Dutch developed an admiration for the Transvaalers for the determination and courage they displayed in their attempts to defeat the British army. President Paul Kruger's call shortly after the war that the Transvaal needed young Dutchmen further encouraged Engelenburg to come to South Africa. Previously Engelenburg had for a year worked for Fred Hogendorp at the Dagblad van Suidholland en s’Gravenhage in The Hague. Circumstances abruptly changed when Hogendorp suddenly became insane. During the same time, the owner of De Volksstem newspaper in Pretoria had committed suicide and Engelenburg seized the work opportunity. Within a matter of three months, he arrived in the Transvaal. Within a month after his arrival he was appointed chief editor of De Volksstem. He had studied the Transvaal situation thoroughly and by means of the newspaper and through tireless efforts, he contributed to improving the farming community’s cultural literacy. The education situation in the Transvaal enjoyed his constant attention. After the Anglo-Boer War (ABW) (1899-1902), he continued to work towards improving the education system in the Transvaal. He early on became involved in the Transvaal University College (later University of Pretoria). Before the ABW he did everything possible to promote the Dutch language to the Boer people. However, after the war he realised that Afrikaans had a rightful place, and he, in addition to Dutch, became a champion for the Afrikaans language. The battle between the proponents of Dutch and Afrikaans respectively, increased after the ABW. To achieve unity of action between the two groups, De Zuid Afrikaanse Akademie voor Taal, Letteren and Kunst was founded in 1909. Behind the scenes Engelenburg was one of the major driving forces to assist with the founding of the organisation. As a board member and later as chairman, he gave impetus to the Akademie. In 2009 the organisation celebrated its centenary. This is an important milestone, especially seen in the light of the current political climate in South Africa. The Akademie can now be regarded as a monument to Engelenburg as the fruit of his labour and perseverance during the first three decades of the Akademie’s existence.
- ETD@Vaal Triangle Campus