July / August / September 2012


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July/August/September 2012

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Dear Friends,

Next year, in March 2013, Christendom celebrates the 200 th anniversary of the birth of David Livingstone, the Scottish explorer and missionary (1813-1873) who devoted a lifetime to the exposure and abolition of the slave trade. It is also the 140 th anniversary of the death of William Wilberforce, the English evangelical Member of Parliament who, after tirelessly striving for this cause, moved the British Parliament to abolish slavery throughout the Empire, including South Africa. The events of 1834 were a tremendous Christian victory, a triumph of the power of God through the Holy Spirit.

Human Trafficking is Modern Slavery

Since then, however, Christianity has declined and Humanism has ascended. Rulers are turning away from Christ and are codifying secular values in their law books. Protective laws are being abandoned, and slavery is coming back. But no longer is it called ‘slavery.’ Its new name is ‘human trafficking,’ In 2010 the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) warned that “trafficking is a serious problem in South Africa.” -“Victims are mostly women, girls and boys trafficked for a variety of purposes, including prostitution, pornography, domestic servitude, forced labour, begging, criminal activity and trafficking for the removal of body parts (or muti). Young boys are trafficked to smuggle drugs and for other criminal activities.” 1) Such ‘business’ flows into South Africa from Thailand, the Philippines, India, China, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia and the Ukraine. African girls are traded from Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Lesotho, the DRC, Angola, Rwanda, Kenya, Cameroon, Nigeria and Somalia. Traffic inside South Africa moves mainly from rural areas to the cities. - “Young girls are trafficked for sexual exploitation,” says the HSRC Report, “because they are perceived to present less of a risk in terms of HIV and AIDS and because of the ‘sexual desirability of youth.’” - Particularly vulnerable is “the albino community for the harvesting of body parts to the belief of a ‘white skin having potent powers.’” The slave traders are mainly large organised crime networks. They deal in smuggling, weapons and narcotics, and they work in collusion with border and other immigration officials.

Where have all the Blessings gone?

What, then, is left of the magnificent work, the fervent prayers and the decisive action which was taken by Christians like David Livingstone, William Wilberforce, and others, who laboured a lifetime to bring about the liberation of slaves? Africa has become unmindful of the blessings they brought and is once again embracing the evils of its past. Today, job seeking women and girls are lured to become models, maids or child minders, and then find themselves sold into massage parlours and brothels, while children are often kidnapped and run-away rebels are easily picked up. - In sub-Saharan Africa, it is estimated that 130.000 persons are held in conditions of forced labour at any given time. 2) In this situation God calls us “to open our mouths, to judge righteously and defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:9)

A Most Profitable Crime

The United Nations and Interpol have claimed that “trafficking in human beings is now the third largest source of profits for organised crime… after drugs and arms trafficking.” In 2006 it was estimated that of 28,4 million slaves in the world 1,2 million were sex slaves. These latter generate almost 40% of the total profits enjoyed by slave owners every year. The UN estimates that annual global profits from the exploitation of all trafficked forced labour amount to US$ 31,6 billion. 3) Yet, the conviction rate of perpetrators is disappointing. In 2006, for instance, for every 800 people trafficked, only one person was convicted. - The Human Sciences Research Council stated that little was done by governments to counter this scourge. In South Africa, they said, even the gathering of research information had been difficult.

The African Slave Trade

Africa has always been plagued by slavery. Long before the Christian era, before any European had set foot on its shores, Africa was engaged in the slave trade. Today, our children learn at school, that it was the Europeans who originated this evil, but history records that “90% of those shipped to the New World were enslaved by Africans and then sold to European traders. Without the complex business partnership between African élites and European traders… the slave trade to the New World would have been impossible…” 4) Dr Peter Hammond adds: “The embarrassing fact of history is that the Europeans did not have to use any force to obtain these slaves. The slaves were ‘sold’ by their black owners. There was no need for the slave raiders to risk their lives or venture into the jungles of Africa, they simply purchased the people from African chiefs and Muslim slave traders at the coast… Many chiefs found it more profitable to sell their enemies, criminals and debtors than to kill or imprison them. Many were weaker neighbouring tribes conquered for the express purpose of selling their people into slavery…” 5)

Though none of this can be excused, it is a fact that the really cruel and exploitative traders were Arab Muslims who enslaved many more millions of Africans than were ever taken across the Atlantic. Their major slave markets were on Zanzibar, and the chief recipients of slaves were the rich Muslim Sultans in the Middle East. When David Livingstone witnessed the ivory-bearing, chained, burdened, exhausted, starved columns of men, women and children during his missionary journeys, he pledged all his energies to abolish this cruel trade. He wrote into his diary: “On Thy word, o God, I lean. But wilt Thou permit me to plead for Africa? The cause is Thine…” Ever hopeful, he prayed for “this long downtrodden Africa”, saying: “Time must be given to allow the truth to sink into the dark mind, and produce its effect. The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord – that is enough. We can afford to work in faith, for Omnipotence is pledged to fulfil the promise…” - In due time God did grant success to the Christian activism of David Livingstone, William Wilberforce, John Newton, William Carey and others. And thus, omnipotence indeed fulfilled the promise. In 1834 slavery was outlawed. In 1873 even the ruler of Zanzibar had to close down his markets.

Freedom in Christ

With the abolition of Christian laws in modern times, the slave trade is now coming back. As late as the 1970s the UN was receiving complaints of a thriving trade in Black slaves in East Africa. During the recent civil war in the Sudan, thousands of Christian Africans were captured and traded to Muslim slave owners in northern Sudan. Christian Solidarity International, a Christian human rights organisation in Switzerland, has been redeeming slaves with money donated by European Christians, setting the captives free.

In South Africa slavery is also thriving, for human trafficking is nothing but modern slavery. We call ourselves ‘proudly South African’ and laud our ‘progressive constitution.’ But what do we do to protect our women and children? Do we speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves? Do we treasure the moral laws which we still have? Do we remember the great Christian liberators? - It is time to honour and emulate the heroes of our faith. May God give us power from above to resist and abolish slavery. If David Livingstone and William Wilberforce could do it in their generation, why can we not do it in our own? But it requires much faith. Ever putting his hope in Jesus Christ, Livingstone said: “We prepare the way… May they (future missionaries) not forget the pioneers who worked in the thick gloom with few rays to cheer, except such as flow from faith in God’s promises! We work for a glorious future which we are not destined to see. We are only morning-stars shining in the dark, but the glorious morn will break!” 6)

May God bless you richly,

D. Scarborough.


  • Human Sciences Research Council, Media Brief, 24.3.2010: Tsireledzani: Understanding the dimensions of human trafficking in Southern Africa, Internet.
  • Wikipedia estimates the number of persons held in forced labour in Sub-Saharan Africa at 660.000 (5%). This includes people involved in the illegal diamond mines of Sierra Leone and Liberia. See Slavery in modern Africa, Internet.
  • UN.GIFT, Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking. Human Trafficking: the Facts, Internet.
  • Wikipedia, African Slave Trade, a study by historians John Thornton and Linda Heywood of Boston University.
  • Hammond Dr Peter, Slavery, Terrorism and Islam, The Historical Roots and Contemporary Threat, Chapter 1, The Scourge of Slavery, the African Slave Trade, 2005.
  • Iain H Murray, The Puritan Hope, Banner of Truth 1984.


A Brief History of Calvinistic Afrikanerdom from 1652-1980
Rev Prof Dr Francis Nigel Lee, LL.B, ThD, PhD, STD, DMin, DEd.*

In view of the decades-long defamation of the Christian Afrikaners (which needs to be countered) we excerpt from Dr Lee’s lectures given at the Geneva Divinity School in Texas during 1980.

Establishing Reformed Christianity in South Africa

In 1652, when the godly governor Jan van Riebeeck MD arrived at the Cape to “build a fort and a garden and a town not only to the advantage and profit of the honourable Dutch East India Company, but also for the preservation and salvation of many human lives” that Company pledged itself “to the magnification of God’s Holy Name and the propagation of His Holy Gospel.”

Sunday Observance

Six months after his arrival, on the 14 th of October 1652, Governor van Riebeeck enacted measures against Sabbath desecration. Thus Sunday Observance has always been the political policy and social pattern of South Africa ever since the advent of its civilisation. Abstentions from Sunday worship at the Cape were punished by confiscation of six day’s wine ration for the first transgression; by forfeiture of one month’s salary for the second transgression, and by a sentence of one year’s unpaid labour in chains for the third transgression.

The Castle

The Dutch built a castle and cultivated fresh vegetables all the way from Table Bay to Wynberg. At Kirstenbosch they erected a hedge: to demarcate the boundary between the new White settlers and the yellow-skinned people who wandered around without owning land. Of course, there was some miscegenation and intermarriage between the first Dutchmen that arrived there – and some of those yellow-skinned women. As soon as the yellow-skinned women were baptised in the Name of the Trinity, they were treated on the basis of complete equality – and intermarriage was permitted. But it was soon discovered that there were still cultural differences between the Hottentots and the Whites which the White Christians had not originally understood. So, as early as 1685, laws were enacted preventing further intermarriage between Whites and non-Whites.

The Huguenots

In 1688, the French Huguenots arrived. They brought with them the Gallic Confession. This teaches that the Lord put the sword into the hands of the State – to resist not only sins against the Second but also against the First Table of the Law of God. Those settlers brought the Bible and techniques of wine farming and learning from the very best levels of French society. Hence South Africa has many French place names. There is Franschhoek, the ‘corner’ where the French settled, and La Rochelle named after the Calvinist Confession of La Rochelle back in the old country. For the rest, however, the French Huguenots were quickly absorbed into the German-Dutch community. The French in turn thoroughly Calvinised the German-Dutch while doing this.

The Dutch had themselves brought preachers at an earlier stage - on the very first ships to Cape Town. They had also brought special laymen called ‘Sieketroosters’ who were salaried by the Dutch East India Company – to pray for the sick and dying. Afrikaans, the White South African language today, is an interesting mixture of 17 th century German and Dutch, with a little English thrown in. Yet there are also some French words – and especially the French double negative, which is firmly rooted in the Afrikaans language but is not found in Dutch itself. - From 1690 to 1700, more Germans arrived – as officials, traders, and farmers. These were people like Martin Melck and Anton Anreith the sculptor… From 1720-1820, other Europeans arrived – Scandinavians, Swiss, Frisians, Czechs, and Britains.

South Africa is a dynamic country, a country dedicated to freedom – from Europe, from the French Revolution, from the colonial interference of Britain, Holland, and France… It is largely barren, stony, rugged, grassless and sandy, with just a solitary tree here and there. Yet the great Calvinist poet and Bible translator, Totius, saw it as a country constantly outgrowing itself. He wrote: “The White child treks into South Africa; treks on into the land both wide and far; as far as he can see, until the night. And farther still, when the next dawn gives light. Trek on, we’re not yet far enough! Let’s trek! How far? As far as God would have us trek!”

The Fruits of Calvinism

As we pointed out, in 1652 Dr Johan van Riebeeck MD knelt upon the beach near the later Cape Town, bringing the first colonists with him and praying that “Thy true Reformed Christian doctrine may be promulgated and disseminated throughout the land.” On the ship he brought with him some preachers and special laymen. Just as Pieter Stuyvesant went to New York and there established the Dutch Reformed Church, so did Pieter van der Stal, the first preacher, arrive in South Africa. He established the first Reformed Congregation at the Cape – on behalf of, and answerable to the Presbytery of Amsterdam.

The eschatology of victory dominated the history of the Afrikaner. Round about 1700, many native White South Africans started claiming to be Afrikaners, long before any Black people in Africa had even heard the word ‘African’ (let alone knew what it means). These ‘Afrikaners’ objected to the perceived authoritarianism of Holland. Huguenots like Adam Tas became more and more involved in moving for increasing measures of South African self-government. They disliked the Dutch control of the Cape. These were people who had been grounded in Calvin’s Gallic Confession, which required the government to be godly in terms of the Ten Commandments. They were much like the North American colonists who began to agitate (against Britain) for this sort of thing also from about 1700-1720 onward.

White meets Black at the Eastern Cape

Round about 1780, just as the Americans were winning their independence, a major event took place in South Africa. The dissatisfied White settlers, as they moved eastward and northward away from Cape Town, for the first time suddenly encountered Black people that they had never seen before. Thus the Whites had been in South Africa for 128 years before they met the first Blacks. They met in the eastern portion of what is now South Africa.

The Whites had moved out eastward and northward from Cape Town. The Blacks had been moving down from East Africa, southbound. They moved on through the south eastern fringe of Africa – with other tribes to the north of them pushing these advancing tribes down into what is now South Africa. Things might have gone well, if it had not been for a handful of greedy Whites who wanted to grab more land … and more than a handful of greedy Blacks who raided their White neighbours’ cattle. The Whites were not very happy with having their cows burgled. They undertook reprisals, and this led from 1780 onward over the next couple of decades to the so-called Ten Kaffir Wars.

Now the word Kaffir in South Africa has become a word of abuse which most Blacks resent. They wrongly think that the Whites calling them Kaffirs are implying they are not Christians, while all that would be implied is that they are not Moslems. In that sense, I myself would certainly want to be a Kaffir or a non-Moslem!

Sound Domestic Morality and Respect for Religion.

By 1795, there were 20 000 Afrikaans speaking Whites in South Africa. The 1973 Encyclopaedia Britannica says about them (in its article on South Africa): “Although all the Trekkers who were trekking northward and eastward through South Africa were extreme individualists and some were ruffians, most of them did contrive to preserve a sound domestic morality.” They were not unlearned, for “they strove to preserve a smattering of literacy.” The Britannica adds: “They read almost only the Bible and their Catechism.” I myself cannot think of anything better to read than the Bible and the Catechism! Indeed, the Britannica concludes that “they did also preserve a respect for their religion, a rather strict form of Calvinism.” - Well, Afrikaner Christians can be proud to be described by Humanists, in the Britannica, that way. Even though these descriptions were hardly intended to be compliments!

Various Calvinistic republics began to be set up on the frontier. It is significant that these were set up by White South Africans at the very time Holland succumbed first to the French Revolution and thereafter to Napoleon. At the very time Holland was going down, the South Africans reached the end of their tether with the Dutch. Many moved farther and farther afield from Cape Town – up into the desert and the grasslands. There they established what they called the Republic of Swellendam, and later set up a second new state which they called the Republic of Graaff-Reinet. This is a very important town on the edge of the desert. Today (1980) it is a powerful centre of Calvinist education. I am sure it became so as a result of the godly Rev Dr Andrew Murray, whom you have all heard about. I mean the internationally famous writer of devotional literature. He was born in Graaff-Reinet in the manse of the Reformed Congregation there which his father pastored.

This then is the picture which now emerges. Back in the “mother country” – Holland fell to the French Revolution in 1795; and then, again, later to Napoleon. Calvinist Roman-Dutch Law was then abolished in Holland by the occupying French, and replaced with the Napoleonic Code. That severely amputated South Africa from Holland. For South Africa continued with the old Calvinistic Roman-Dutch Law of Calvin and Voetius.

  • Dr Lee was Chairman of the Department of Systematic Theology & Church History at the Queensland Presbyterian Theological Hall, Brisbane, Australia. He died at the end of 2011.
To be continued….

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