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From: Roy Lourens <>
Subject: Early Cape Tolerance
Date: Sat, 25 Mar 2000 20:53:49 +0800


Further to Andre etc, Canberra may be sleeping by now, (and he gets an extra hour tonight because of the summer-time change, so throwing Australia into confusion tomorrow), but its still early evening in Perth.

Re religious tolerance in the Cape. We must be careful to judge events and attitudes in the context of the times of course. Europe at that time was hardly a haven of religious tolerence: Between all the various religious leaders they were burning, drowning, strangling, torturing and killing one another of different faiths in great numbers over centuries for the good of their own souls (and as it happened, for the good of the persecutor's own interests too).

Maybe the early Cape was surprisingly tolerant, considering the background times. True, the Lutherans (and Huguenots) were discriminated against, in an effort to achieve a more integrated society, and this policy was fairly successful. (eg from the Dutch point of view, the loss of the French language) . Moreover, racial discrimination was certainly severe, but not as severe as it later became. Would a State President with an Indian mother ( eg van der Stel) have been accepted in the 1900s until very recently? What is interesting to me is why that all changed? In context, perhaps the admittedly intolerant early Cape was really a somewhat more tolerant place than much of Europe in those times (that is, only so long as the interests of the VOC , or self interests, were not threatened, of course). But aren't we all a bit like that, tolerant as we are, I wonder?

Regards, Roy


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