In South Africa before 1994 (i.e., during apartheid), were there any non-Afrikaners who were so racist as to supporter apartheid? I'm wondering about individuals of British Isles descent, or other white ethnic groups: Portuguese ancestry, maybe, or Greek, etc....

  • 1
    Yes there were. Although the proportion was smaller than the Afrikaner apartheid supporters.
    – Virgo
    Commented Nov 29, 2015 at 4:26
  • 1
    Yeah. Officially there was no distinction between Anglo Africans, Afrikaners and other white people. However Anglo Africans had to endure language discrimination and gerrymandering, so many of them resented the nats and were less keen on apartheid. However they, along with a minority of Indian and mixed race people (known in SA as coloured people) were terrified of what would happen when the whole edifice came crashing down. They feared something similar to modern Zimbabwe.
    – Ne Mo
    Commented Nov 29, 2015 at 13:48
  • 1
    Surely the only context within which to understand this is the historical one. The Afrikaners had begun to arrive in South Africa in the 17th century as farming settlers. The British arrived on the Cape in the 19th to exploit the gold and the diamonds. The interests of the two were never integrated, which led to the wars at the turn of the 19th. It was a not dissimilar difference to that of the northern and southern states of the USA, a country divided by the fundamental interests of two different hierarchies. As the wars were inconclusive the dichotomous society was perpetuated.
    – WS2
    Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 7:56
  • 1
    @NeMo well other comments give you some pointers. And there must be a vast literature on this. I would be interested to know what the OP has read so far.
    – WS2
    Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 12:11
  • 2
    Welcome to History:Stack Exchange. Thank you for your question; please consider revising it to be more in line with our community expectations. Like many other stacks, we expect questions to provide evidence of prior research. That helps us to understand the question, and avoids our repeating work you've already done. Our help center, and other stacks provide additional resources to assist with revisions.
    – MCW
    Commented Jul 3, 2020 at 18:29

1 Answer 1


Yes, English-speaking white South Africans on the whole were nearly as racist as the Afrikaners and many supported apartheid, even if they were less vocal about it.

For his article "Towards Darkness and Death: Racial Demonology in South Africa" (1988), Pierre Hugo conducted a survey to measure white attitudes toward the prospect of black-majority rule at that time. Although the survey did not ask, "would you vote for the end of apartheid", it is clear that in the late 1980s a solid majority of English-speaking white South Africans were deeply fearful of black majority rule. Here is a table (from a book, South Africa: The Rise and Fall of Apartheid) summarizing the results:

Table 5.1, p. 110

Even on the eve of the 1992 referendum, the New York Times published an article entitled "'Anglo' Vote May Decide Apartheid Referendum". Here is an excerpt:

English-speakers, or Anglos, as they are called, have predominated for years in the anti-apartheid movements among whites, but here in Natal, the one province where English is the leading language, it is not safe to assume that English-speakers automatically will support Mr. de Klerk.

"It's a fallacy created by the liberal press that English-speaking people are inherently liberal," said Duncan du Bois, a Conservative supporter in Amanzimtoti, south of Durban. "It is not so, and it is being proved day by day."


Voter preference polls are prohibited during election or referendum campaigns in South Africa, on the ground that they could sway the outcome. But [...] Pieter Mulder, the Conservative Party's information chief, estimated that as many as one-third of the 1.5 million English-speaking voters had not made up their minds.

So while we now know that a majority ultimately voted to end apartheid, we should not imagine that the entire Anglo South African community was supportive of majority rule all along.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.