Orania founder Professor Carel Boshoff died at his home at the age of 83. Photo: Independent Newspapers

Orania founder Professor Carel Boshoff died at his home on Wednesday morning at the age of 83.

“Orania lost a father figure with the death of Professor Carel Boshoff,” said Jaco Kleynhans, CEO of the Orania Movement.

Kleynhans said Boshoff had been seriously ill during the past year from cancer, and his health deteriorated drastically last month.

Boshoff's funeral takes place on Saturday, March 19, 2011, at 11am from the Orania Community Hall. Kleynhans said Orania would go from strength to strength after Boshoff's death.

“Prof Carel was a father figure in our community, but sometimes it is required from the children to further develop what their father has started,” said Kleynhans.

“It was also Professor Carel's last wish to us.”

A former chairman of the Broederbond, Boshoff was a pioneer of the idea of an independent Afrikaner homeland.

Born in Nylstroom, in the then Transvaal, on November 9, 1927, he studied at the University of Pretoria, where he obtained a theology degree in 1951.

He then worked for ten years as a Dutch Reformed Church missionary in Lebowa and Soweto, during which time he completed an MA. In 1967, he returned to the University of Pretoria to lecture in theology, and in 1968 was awarded a doctorate in divinity.

He later became dean of the faculty and Professor in Missionary Science.

In 1972, he was appointed chairman of the South African Bureau for Racial Affairs (Sabra), a conservative think tank on race relations.

In the early seventies Boshoff, as Sabra chairman, wanted the scrapping of the Section Ten rights that allowed a small proportion of black people to live permanently in urban areas in “white” South Africa.

He declared there was no foundation for the claim that apartheid was immoral and warned that if the trends in growth of the number of blacks in white SA were not reversed, and at least ten million people resettled in the homelands over the following decade, “there cannot be any question of the survival of the white people in South Africa”.

Boshoff maintained a separate white state was the only way to preserve white self determination, and ruled out a common economy with other “black” states.

In 1980, he succeeded Dr Gerrit Viljoen as chairman of the influential Afrikaner secret society the Broederbond, but resigned from the body in 1983 in a dispute over his rejection of the government's plans for the tricameral constitution.

The following year he co-founded and became chairman of the ultra-conservative Afrikaner Volkswag, which for a while served as the “cultural wing” of the Conservative Party.

He was a leading figure in the organisation of the far right's financially disastrous “alternative” Groot Trek centenary celebrations in 1988.

Boshoff resigned his chair in theology in 1988 in order to devote himself to saving the Afrikaner volk, and became full-time executive officer of the Afrikanervryheidstigting (Avstig), established to promote the idea of an Afrikaner Volkstaat.

He stepped down as national leader of the Voortrekkers, the Afrikaner equivalent to the Boy Scouts, in 1989 after controversy over his continuing role in the body, and warned that the movement would cease to exist if it opened its membership to all races.

In February that year he announced the proposed borders of the Volkstaat, which included southern Namibia and a large portion of the arid north western Cape and Karoo.

Asked why he chose this relatively desolate area, he said disarmingly: “Because nobody wants it.”

In 1990, Boshoff held talks with members of the ANC, and in 1992 formally entered negotiations by submitting a report to a Codesa working group on behalf of Avstig. He said he hoped to take part in multi-party negotiations with the government, the ANC and other organisations in 1993 in order to push his claims for white self determination.

Avstig, he said, no longer insisted on acceptance of the complete political independence of the Afrikaner as a precondition to negotiation. It also accepted there could be black and brown Afrikaners. The Volkstaat no longer need be populated by Afrikaners only, merely by a majority of Afrikaners.

In 1993, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by a Belgian neo-fascist group for his work in establishing Orania, a settlement on the Orange River which is a prototype-in-miniature for the Volkstaat. He believed Orania could in time become the Silicon Valley of South Africa.

Boshoff and his wife Anna, daughter of former prime minister HF Verwoerd, have six children. -

Sapa