J. G. Strijdom

Johannes Gerhardus Strijdom (also spelled Strydom in accordance with Afrikaans spelling; 14 July 1893 – 24 August 1958[1]), also known as Hans Strijdom and nicknamed the Lion of the North or the Lion of Waterberg,[2][3] was the fifth prime minister of South Africa from 30 November 1954 to his death on 24 August 1958.[1] He was an uncompromising Afrikaner nationalist[1] and a member of the largest, baasskap (white supremacist) faction of the National Party (NP),[4][5] who further accentuated the NP's apartheid policies and break with the Union of South Africa in favour of a republic during his rule.

J. G. Strijdom
5th Prime Minister of South Africa
In office
30 November 1954  24 August 1958
MonarchElizabeth II
Governor-GeneralErnest George Jansen
Preceded byDaniel François Malan
Succeeded byHendrik Verwoerd
Minister of Lands and Irrigation
In office
5 June 1948  30 November 1954
Prime MinisterDaniel François Malan
Preceded byAndrew Conroy
Succeeded byPaul Sauer
Personal details
Born
Johannes Gerhardus Strijdom

(1893-07-14)14 July 1893
Willowmore, Cape Colony
Died24 August 1958(1958-08-24) (aged 65)
Cape Town, Cape Province, Union of South Africa
Resting placeHeroes' Acre, Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa
Political partyNational (1918–1935) (1948–58)
Purified National (1935–1939)
Herenigde Nasionale (1940–1948)
Spouse(s)
Margaretha van Hulsteyn
(m. 1924; div. 1924)

Susan de Klerk
(m. 1930)
ChildrenJohannes
Estelle
Sky
Alma materVictoria College
University of Pretoria

Early life

He was born on the family farm Klipfontein near Willowmore in the Cape Colony and trained as a lawyer at Victoria College (which later became the University of Stellenbosch) and the University of Pretoria.[6][7] His father Petrus Strijdom was a very well-known farmer and innovator in the Baviaanskloof where Strijdom was born. He owned three farms in the kloof of which the main farm was Sandvlakte on which the local school, church and shop was sited. He owned businesses and shops right down to the Gamtoos valley (birthplace of the well-known Khoi woman Saartjie Baartman). He also sold baboon fur and manufactured shoes and soap amongst other products.

Strijdom served in the German South West Africa campaign during World War I, as a member of the South African Medical Corps and, later, of Helgaardt's Scouts, where he reached the rank of corporal.[8]

Strijdom later settled in Nylstroom, Transvaal. He identified strongly with this area and its people and became a local community leader amongst the Afrikaners. In 1929, Strijdom was elected to the House of Assembly as MP for Waterberg, representing the National Party (NP) headed by General J.B.M. Hertzog. Strijdom was also leader of the NP in Transvaal, by far the most important province of South Africa, and as such had a strong power base.

After the National Party of J.B.M. Hertzog[9] merged with the South African Party of General Jan Smuts[9] and formed the United Party (UP) during the World Economic Crisis in 1932,[10] Strijdom was part of the break-away faction of the National Party,[1] named the Gesuiwerde Nasionale Party (Purified National Party).[11] Later, after the United Party was formed, the GNP became known as the (Reunited) National Party[11] under the leadership of D. F. Malan. Malan, Strijdom and their followers distrusted Smuts and opposed his pro-British policy.[12] Most of the National Party's MPs stayed with Hertzog, and as Strijdom was loyal to Malan, he was the only MP from Transvaal to support Malan's ideals.[1]

Strijdom favoured the establishment of a republic,[13] allegedly with himself as the first President of South Africa,[14] but due to political controversy this step was not achieved until 1961, after his death, and then only with Governor-General Charles Swart assuming the position of symbolic State President over a Westminster system, as opposed to the executive presidency of the Boer Republics.[15]

Apartheid era

After the surprising victory of the National Party in 1948, won on a programme of implementing apartheid involving strict ethnic segregation and White minority rule, Malan became Prime Minister of South Africa and Strijdom became Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation. Although it was not one of the classic portfolios,[16] it was apparently Strijdom's choice[17] since he had a keen interest in agriculture and was a part-time farmer. Strijdom was not so pleased with the portfolio, although he was fond of farming. Malan gave him the portfolio because his young wife disliked Strijdom. Malan tried his best to ensure the more moderate Nicolaas Havenga succeeded him as Prime Minister, rather than Strijdom.[18]

Prime Minister

On 30 November 1954, Strijdom was elected leader of the National Party and thus the Prime Minister of South Africa after the resignation of Malan and against the latter's will; Malan had preferred the more moderate Havenga, Minister of Finance, as his successor. However, Strijdom was popular among NP party members and people trusted him to push things smoothly forward towards a republic, something Malan was considered to be only lukewarm about as it would enrage the United Kingdom and jeopardise South Africa's international standing. During Strijdom's term as Prime Minister, he began moves to sever ties with the British monarchy,[19] and deepened the Afrikaner ascendency in South Africa, while strengthening the policy of apartheid, including through the Group Areas Development Act.

With regard to racial policies, he believed strongly in the perpetuation of White minority and thus Afrikaner rule through the removal of Cape Coloured voters[20] from the common voters roll[13] and put on a separate Coloured voters roll electing separate (White) representatives, which Malan initiated but could not push through, and was only accomplished in 1960, under Strijdom's successor. Strijdom was an open proponent[20] of crude baaskap (white supremacy or white domination).[5][21][22] The extended Treason Trial of 156 activists (including Nelson Mandela) involved in the Freedom Charter, happened during Strijdom's term in office. He also managed to further extend the NP's parliamentary seats during the general election in 1958. Strijdom's government also severed diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. The Suez Crisis gave a geopolitical victory, as severance of the passage through the war-ridden strait of Suez made Western oil transports dependent upon the Cape of Good Hope and thus the goodwill of the South African Navy, making the question of the regime's survival more precarious.

During his last year in office, Strijdom's weak health (possibly a case of cancer) led to long terms of absence. He died on 24 August 1958 in Cape Town and succeeded by Hendrik Verwoerd as head of the NP, securing the radical faction's prevalence towards a complete break with Britain and abolition of the Union in 1961. Strijdom is interred in Pretoria in the Heroes' Acre.

Personal life

Strijdom in the 1950s.

Strijdom was nicknamed "The Lion of the North", because of his aggression and forthrightness.[23]

Strijdom married the actress Margaretha van Hulsteyn in 1924, but they divorced within a year.[24] His second wife was Susan de Klerk,[25] aunt of future President F W de Klerk. She bore Strijdom two children: Johannes and Estelle. His widow Susan died in 1999 and daughter Estelle (Crowson), in 2009.[26]

Legacy

There are still various monuments dedicated to Strijdom in South Africa. One monument in central Pretoria, which featured his bust, collapsed in 2001 injuring two people.[27][28][29] In 2012, the city of Pretoria renamed 27 streets, which included renaming a street named after Strijdom to a new name in honor of Solomon Mahlangu.[30] His house in Modimolle (formerly Nylstroom) is now a museum,[31] which holds parts of the collapsed bust.

In Johannesburg, there is a suburb and a street named after Strijdom, although the spelling "Strydom" is also used, though a couple have already been renamed, one being Malibongwe Drive. In Weltevredenpark, a suburb of Roodepoort, there is a street named JG Strydom Road.[32] Randburg also has a business district called Strijdompark named after him.[33]

The Hillbrow Tower in Johannesburg was officially named the J.G. Strijdom Tower until 1995, when, shortly after the end of apartheid, it was renamed the Telkom Hillbrow Tower.

In Windhoek, then in South West Africa, the main airport was named J.G. Strijdom Airport following its opening in 1965.[34] Following the country's independence as Namibia in 1990, it was renamed Hosea Kutako International Airport.[35] And next to Hoedspruit there is a tunnel named after him called J.G Strijdom Tunnel next to the village called Leboeng.

References

  1. "Johannes Gerhardus Strijdom". Britannica Online Encyclopedia. Retrieved 25 March 2010.
  2. "Johannes G Strijdom". South African History Online. Archived from the original on 20 December 2010. Retrieved 25 March 2010.
  3. "Strydom Succeeds Malan". Africa Today. 1 (4): 1. 1954. JSTOR 4183632.
  4. T. Kuperus (7 April 1999). State, Civil Society and Apartheid in South Africa: An Examination of Dutch Reformed Church-State Relations. Palgrave Macmillan UK. pp. 83–. ISBN 978-0-230-37373-0.
  5. "Verwoerd should not be remembered fondly - DOCUMENTS | Politicsweb". www.politicsweb.co.za. Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  6. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/569087/Johannes-Gerhardus-Strijdom Johannes Gerhardus Strijdom Retrieved 16 June 2010
  7. "Historical Notes: A University in the Making". Stellenbosch University. Archived from the original on 24 March 2010. Retrieved 25 March 2010.
  8. Von Zeil, G. 'A South African Prime Minister's Medal' in Journal of the Military Medal Society of South Africa No 42 (August 2003).
  9. Denis Worral; Ben Roux; Marcus Arkin; Peter Harris; Gerrit Olivier; John Barratt (1977) [19]. Denis Worral (ed.). South Africa: Government and Politics (Second revised (1975), second print (1977) ed.). J.L. van Schaik Ltd. p. 200.
  10. "United Party (UP) (political party, South Africa)". Britannica Online Encyclopedia. Retrieved 25 March 2010.
  11. Denis Worral; Ben Roux; Marcus Arkin; Peter Harris; Gerrit Olivier; John Barratt (1977) [19]. Denis Worral (ed.). South Africa: Government and Politics (Second revised (1975), second print (1977) ed.). J.L. van Schaik Ltd. p. 202.
  12. Denis Worral; Ben Roux; Marcus Arkin; Peter Harris; Gerrit Olivier; John Barratt (1977) [19]. Denis Worral (ed.). South Africa: Government and Politics (Second revised (1975), second print (1977) ed.). J.L. van Schaik Ltd. p. 201.
  13. "South Africa: Movement towards a Republic – JG Strijdom". South African History Online. Archived from the original on 16 April 2010. Retrieved 25 March 2010.
  14. "Strydom Succeeds Malan". Africa Today. 1 (4): 1. 1954. JSTOR 4183632.
  15. "The Development & Formation of the South African Republic". South African History Online. Archived from the original on 6 June 2011. Retrieved 25 March 2010.
  16. "Johannes Gerhardus Strijdom | prime minister of South Africa". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  17. Martins, Celia-Joy (21 March 2015). F I R E & a S H E S—I R O N & C L a Y. Xlibris Corporation. ISBN 978-1-5035-0397-7.
  18. Koorts, Lindie (November 2010). "An ageing anachronism: D.F. Malan as prime minister, 1948-1954". Kronos. 36 (1): 108–165. ISSN 0259-0190.
  19. South African Republicanism, Reuters, Toledo Blade, 30 January 1958
  20. Michael R. Marrus; Milton Shain; Christopher R. Browning (13 July 2015). Holocaust Scholarship: Personal Trajectories and Professional Interpretations. Springer. pp. 211–. ISBN 978-1-137-51419-6.
  21. "Apartheid" (PDF). Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  22. Ian Loveland (1 June 1999). By Due Process of Law: Racial Discrimination and the Right to Vote in South Africa 1855-1960. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 263–. ISBN 978-1-84731-083-5.
  23. South Africa's Foreign Policy: The Search for Status and Security, 1945–1988, James Barber, John Barratt, James Barber, John Barratt CUP Archive, 1990, page 29
  24. Around and About: Memoirs of a South African Newspaperman, Michael Green, New Africa Books, 2004, pages 30-31
  25. "A lady who worried about Donald's shirts". Independent Online. 1 July 2009. Retrieved 29 March 2010.
  26. "Susanna de Klerk". geni_family_tree. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  27. "Strijdom bust carted off to 'place of safety'". Independent Online. 26 February 2002. Retrieved 25 March 2010.
  28. "Giant Strijdom statue smashed".
  29. "Poor upkeep blamed for square collapse".
  30. "ShowMe: Pretoria's new street names". Archived from the original on 28 March 2019. Retrieved 18 November 2020.
  31. Maxwell Leigh (1986). Touring in Southern Africa (First ed.). C. Struik Publishers. p. 156.
  32. J.G. Strydom Rd, Roodepoort, 1709, South Africa, Google Maps
  33. Strydompark, Randburg, Gauteng 2169, South Africa, Google Maps
  34. Standard encyclopaedia of Southern Africa, Volume 10, NASOU, 1974, page 202
  35. Posters in Action: Visuality in the Making of an African Nation, Giorgio Miescher, Lorena Rizzo, Jeremy Silvester Basler Afrika Bibliographien, 2009, page 133
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