How Good People Become Absurd: J.P. van S. Bruwer, the Making of Namibian Grand Apartheid and the Decline of Volkekunde
Perhaps the most co-ordinated and dramatic single attempt to impose 'Grand Apartheid' in southern Africa was the implementation of the Odendaal Commission recommendations in South West Africa. In this exercise, the role of the social anthropologist J.P. van S. Bruwer was crucial. His expertise was deployed not only in formulating the framework of the recommendations but also in its initial implementation. It was also used to try to convince an increasingly sceptical international audience, most notably at the International Court of Justice, that apartheid was morally just and workable. Bruwer's assumptions and arguments were demonstrably absurd. This raises a conundrum: how could an obviously intelligent scholar and morally upright person be so mistaken? Using Collins' theory of 'Interaction Ritual Chains', this article suggests that organisations like the Afrikaner Broederbond (AB) and SABRA served to shackle Bruwer's imagination to such a degree that he could not see how fallacious his arguments were.