The role of the political prophecy of the Boer “Nostradamus” in the formation of the ideology of the conservative right in South Africa

  • Mladen Stajić The Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology Faculty of Philosophy University of Belgrade
political prophecies, Siner Van Rensburg, divination, auspices, anthropology of time, social change, South Africa, apartheid, Boer, Afrikaners


This article analyzes the influence of the prophet Siner Van Rensburg and later interpreters of his visions on creation of the Boer and Afrikaner national identity in the Republic of South Africa from the start of the 20th century until today. The work of the prophet and his disciples is viewed in the light of important historical events and contemporary political circumstances. Through the interpretation of the political instrumentalization of this prophecy, the mechanism of the making of and functioning of political foresight is demonstrated. This is also applicable to the opus of numerous other seers all over the world. A critical overview of important works of authors dealing with this issue is given, as well as a theoretical basis for planned future research. The primary role of the prophecy is, inthis paper, not identified as the divination of future events but as the ideological reinterpretation of the past and the present through the prism of determinism and facing social change in times of crisis, as well as their negation. Thus, the supposed prophecies become an acceptable place to express socially unacceptable attitudes and unrealized political wishes, goals and ambitions.


Download data is not yet available.


Allen, John. 2005. Apartheid South Africa: An Insider's Overview of the Origin and Effects of Separate Development. New York: Universe.
Berger, Iris. 2009. South Africa in World History. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Botha Sybrand. 1940 Profeet en Krygsman. Die Lewensverhaal van Siener Van Rensburg. Johannesburg: Afrikaanse Pers Bpk.
Du Preez, Max. 2010. Of Warriors, Lovers and Prophets: Unusual Stories from South Africa's Past. Cape Town: Zebra Press (Random House Struik).
Du Toit, André. 1983. No Chosen People: The Myth of the Calvinist Origins of Afrikaner Nationalism and Racial Ideology. The American Historical Review 88 (4): 920-952.
Du Toit, Brian M. 1970. Afrikaners, Nationalists and Apartheid. The Journal of Modern African Studies 8 (4): 531-551.
Duxbury, Geo. 1981. David and Goliath: The First War of Independence, 1880-1881. Johannesburg: South African National Museum of Military History.
Fairbridge, Dorothea. 1918. History of South Africa, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Gell, Alfred. 2001. The Anthropology of Time: Cultural Constructions of Temporal Maps and Images. Oxford - Washington, D. C.: Berg.
Giliomee, Hermann. 2003. The Making of the Apartheid Plan, 1929-1948. Journal of Southern African Studies 29 (2): 373-392.
Goldenberg, Melvin. 1985. The Nature of Afrikaner Nationalism. The Journal of Modern African Studies 23 (1): 125-131.
Green, Lawrence. 1956. There's a Secret Hid Away. Cape Town: Timmins.
Grundlingh, Albert. 1996. Probing the Prophet: The Psychology and Politics of the Siener van Rensburg Phenomenon. South African Historical Journal 34 (1): 225-239.
Grundlinhg, Albert. 1999. The King's Afrikaners? Enlistment and Ethnic Identity in the Union of South Africa's Defence Force during the Second World War, 1939-45. The Journal of African History 40 (3): 351-365.
Gundlingh, Albert. 1980. "Collaborators in Boer Society". In South African War: the Anglo-Boer War, 1899-1902, ed. Peter Warwick, 258-278. Harlow, Essex: Longman.
Hexham, Irving. 1980. Dutch Calvinism and the Development of Afrikaner Nationalism. African Affairs 79 (315): 195-208.
Hollander, Edwin. 1958. Conformity, status, and idiosyncrasy credit. Psychological Review 65 (2): 117-127.
Hyslop, Jonathan. 1995. The Prophet Van Rensburg's vision of Nelson Mandela: White popular religious culture and responses to democratization. Social Dynamics: A journal of African studies 21 (2): 23-55.
Hyslop, Jonathan. 1996. Problems of Explanation in the Study of Afrikaner Nationalism: A Case Study of the West Rand. Journal of Southern African Studie 22 (3): 373-385.
Kurten, Filip, Stiven Fajerman, Leonard Thompson, Jan Vansina. 2005. Istorija Afrike. Beograd: Clio.
Leach, Graham. 1986. South Africa: No Easy Path to Peace. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Leslie, Michael. 1994. Bitter Monuments: Afrikaners and the New South Africa. The Black Scholar 24 (3): 33-39.
Levi-Stos, Klod. 1966. Divlja misao. Beograd: Nolit.
Lévi-Strauss, Claude. 1969. The Elementary Structures of Kinship. Boston: Beacon Press.
Lovell, Colin Rhys. 1956. Afrikaner Nationalism and Apartheid. The American Historical Review 61 (2): 308-330.
Marx, Christoph. 2008. Oxwagon Sentinel: Radical Afrikaner Nationalism and the History of the Ossewabrandwag. Pretoria/Berlin: University of South Africa Press/LIT.
McKenna, Amy. (ed.) 2011. History of South Africa, New York: Britannica Educational Publishing, Rosen Educational Services.
Merton, Robert K. 1948. The Self Fulfilling Prophecy. Antioch Review 8 (2): 193-210.
Mestrovic, Stjepan. 1991. The Coming Fin de Siecle: An Application of Durkheim's Sociology to Modernity and Postmodernism. London: Routledge.
Miller, Stephen M. 2007. Volunteers on the Veld: Britain’s citizen-soldiers and the South African War, 1899–1902. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.
O’Maeara, Dan. 1977. The Afrikaner Broederbond 1927-1948: Class Vanguard of Afrikaner Nationalism. Journal of Southern African Studies 3 (2): 156-186.
Orford, J. G. 1971. The Verdict of History: Reflections on the possible influence of "Siener" van Rensburg's visions on General J.H. "Koos" de la Rey and some of the results. Military History Journal 2 (2). Dostupno na:
Ottaway, Marina. 1994. "The March 1992 Referendum". In South Africa, Twelve Perspectives on the Transition, eds. Helen Kitchen and J. Coleman Kitchen, 119-134. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger.
Overholt, Thomas W. 1989. Channels of Prophecy: The Social Dynamics of Prophetic Activity. Minneapolis MN: Fortress Press.
Polme, Denis. 2006. Afričke civilizacije. Beograd: Ukronija.
Raath, Andries W.G.; Van Zyl, Nellie. 1994. Siener van Rensburg en die Rebellie. Pretoria: Promedia.
Reitz, Deneys. 1929. Commando: A Boer Journal ofthe Boer War. London: Faber & Faber.
Ross, Robert; Mager, Anne Kelk; Nasson, Bill. 2011. The Cambridge History of South Africa (Volume 2). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Sampson, Philip. J. 1915. The Capture of De Wet: The South Africa Rebellion 1914. London: Edward Arnold.
Schönteich, Martin; Boshoff, Henri. 2003. ‘Volk’, Faith and Fatherland: The Security Threat Posed by the White Right. Pretoria: Institute for Security Studies.
Scully, Pamela. 2000. "White maternity and black infancy: The rhetoric of race in the South African women's suffrage movement, 1895–1930". In Women's Suffrage in the British Empire: Citizenship, nation and race, ed. Fletcher, Ian Christopher; Mayhall, Laura E. Nym; Levine, Philippa, 68-84. London: Routledge.
Snyman, Adriaan 1993. Stem van 'n Profeet. Mosselbaai: Hugenote Publikasies
Snyman, Adriaan. 1999. Voice of a Prophet. Mossel Bay: Vaandel Publishers.
Stapleton, Timothy, J. 2010. A Military History of South Africa. Santa Barbara: ABC-Clio.
Stultz, Newell M; Butler, Jeffrey. 1963. The South African General Election of 1961. Political Science Quarterly 78 (1): 86-110.
Thompson, Leonard. 1985. The Political Mythology of Apartheid. London: New Havenand.
Thomson, L.M. 2001. A History of South Africa. Yale University Press.
Van Rooyen, J. 1994. "The White Right". In Election ’94 South Africa. The campaigns, results and future prospects, ed. Reynolds, Andrew, 90-97. Cape Town: David Philip.
Vestergaard, Mads. 2001. Who's Got the Map? The Negotiation of Afrikaner Identities in Post-Apartheid South Africa. Daedalus 130 (1): 19-44.
Wessels, André. 2010. A Century of Postgraduate Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) Studies. Bloemfontein: Sun Press.