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Jan Smuts

Jan Smuts

Jan Christian Smuts was born in Malmesbury, Cape Colony in 1870. Educated at Christ's College, Cambridge he returned to South Africa where he became the state attorney of Johannesburg and a member of Paul Kruger's government. In 1899 Smuts contributed to A Century of Wrong, a pamphlet that explained the Boer case against Britain.

During the Boer War (1899-1902) Smuts established himself as a guerrilla leader of exceptional talent. Smuts was also one of the leading negotiators involved in the production of the Vereeniging Peace Treaty (1902). An opponent of extreme nationalism, Smuts argued that South Africa's future lay in co-operation with Britain.

Smuts held a succession of cabinet posts, including defence minister, under President Louis Botha but on the outbreak of the First World War, Smuts rejoined the army and led South Africa's successful campaign in German East-Africa.

In 1917 David Lloyd George invited Smuts to join the Imperial War Cabinet in London. He soon obtained a high reputation and was an influential figure in devising Allied war strategy. While in England he played a leading role in establishing the Royal Air Force.

At the Paris Peace Conference, Smuts worked closely with Woodrow Wilson, in advocating a League of Nations. Smuts returned to South Africa after the signing of the Versailles Treaty in 1919 and soon afterwards became prime minister. Smuts lost power in 1924 but later returned to office as deputy prime minister (1933-39) and prime minister (1939-48).

Smuts worked closely with Winston Churchill during the Second World War and was the only man to sign the peace treaties at the end of both wars. Smuts was also a leading figure in the drafting of the United Nations Covenant. Jan Christian Smuts died in 1950.

There are many outstanding things about Smuts, the brilliance of his intellect, his immense physical hardiness and toughness so that you cannot believe you are looking, not at a man of forty, but of seventy, his great personal bravery, and his delightful sense of humour. Speaking in a clear, high-pitched voice, he will give you the answer to almost any proposition that you put before him. A practical answer, and a better one than most. Smuts of course puts the welfare of his country first. But he undoubtedly believes that the best thing for the world is the extension of the ideas that have produced the British Commonwealth. The most brilliant, if not the most bitter opponent of ours during the Boer War, he has never forgotten the aftermath, when the Transvaal and the Orange Free State were handed back, and indeed the whole of "South" Africa including such predominantly " British" places as Natal and the Cape, and the Union of South Africa at last brought into being. He regards that as a most extraordinary example of far-sighted statesmanship, as indeed it was; not only because it brought into the Commonwealth such great Boer patriots as Smuts and Botha, but it healed also to a large extent the spiritual wounds of Boer and British in South Africa.

Though Smuts had predicted how the air war would develop as long ago as 1917, I could see that he was astounded by what I showed him at Bomber Command; it was then that he realised in full for the first time what our bomber offensive meant to the war as a whole. I knew I was assured of his support in military

affairs if I should require it. He told me that he. would talk to Winston about what we had done, but I do not know whether he in fact got the opportunity to do so. I did not worry much about that, because I knew that Winston himself always wanted to know first hand about everything.

Smuts and I had some private talk last evening and this morning. He was in splendid health, most cheerful and friendly. We spoke of men and events at home. Smuts was warm in his appreciation of Winston, a great fellow. How ill was Chamberlain, was his resignation really health or diplomatic. When I told him how ill Neville was, Smuts murmured: 'Poor fellow', and then in speaking of Neville's foreign policy continued: 'He must have been very badly advised. It is extraordinary that anyone could have been so deeply deceived.' He was particularly critical of Neville's confidence in Hitler's signature and their joint manifesto after Munich.

As to his own position, Smuts was confident. His trouble was the existence in South Africa of what he called a 'middle-west opinion'; real isolationists who did not think that the war was any concern of theirs. These were far more of a problem than pro-German element represented by Mr. Oswald Pirow (former Defence Minister). General Sir Pierre Van Ryneveld, Smuts' Chief of Staff, with whom I also had some talk and whom I liked very much, was vehement in his denunciation of Pirow, under whom he had to work for many years. He maintained that if Smuts had not won in Parliament when war broke out, there would have been fighting in the country. Smuts could not have been more helpful or reasonable in his demands for equipment. The conversations as a whole were as satisfactory as could be.

I wonder if you would care for me to suggest to the King your appointment as an Honorary Field-Marshal of the British Army. It seems to me that the great part you are playing in our military affairs and the importance of the South African Army would make this appropriate in every way, and I need not say how pleasing it would be to your old friend and comrade to pay you this compliment.


Role in World War I of Jan Smuts

Just as Smuts was drawn into the public life of his own country, so, after the outbreak of World War I, he was drawn into international affairs. When he and Botha had suppressed rebellion in South Africa, conquered South West Africa, and launched a campaign in East Africa, he went to England for an imperial conference (March 1917). Prime Minister Lloyd George at once recognized his abilities and made him minister of air. From then on he was used in a variety of tasks. He organized the Royal Air Force and was concerned in all major decisions about the war. At the peace conference at Versailles, the English economist J.M. Keynes regarded him as the greatest protagonist of a moderate peace that would not crush Germany, and he may justly be called one of the principal progenitors of the League of Nations.

A few months after their return from Versailles, Botha died, and Smuts became prime minister. Nearly five years later he was defeated by a coalition of the Nationalist and Labour parties and remained in opposition until 1933, when he and J.B.M. Hertzog joined forces against the more extreme nationalists. Smuts was content to serve under Hertzog, but they were in deep disagreement about whether South Africa should go to war if Britain did. When the crisis came in September 1939 Smuts’s view prevailed by a narrow majority of 13 in Parliament. Smuts became prime minister, and South Africa declared war on Germany.

During World War II South Africa played a much greater part than in World War I, but Smuts himself was not as important a figure as he had been during 1914–18. He was consulted by Sir Winston Churchill and other Allied leaders, but his main role was to prevent Germany and Italy from conquering North Africa. Once that objective was achieved, he and his country became of relatively minor importance. Smuts represented South Africa at the 1945 San Francisco Conference at which the Charter of the United Nations was drafted.

At the general election of 1948 Smuts’s party was defeated by the Nationalists. D.F. Malan became prime minister, and one of his first acts was to offer Smuts an official airplane to go to Cambridge, where he was to be installed as chancellor, an offer that Smuts accepted. Two years later, at his home near Pretoria, he died.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

WORKS BY SMUTS

Holism and Evolution. London: Macmillan, 1926.

Africa and Some World Problems. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1930

Greater South Africa: Plans for a Better World: The Speeches of General the Right Honorable J. C. Smuts. Johannesburg: Truth Legion, 1940.

Selections from the Smuts Papers, vols. 1–4, edited by William Keith Hancock and Jean van der Poel. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1966.

Selections from the Smuts Papers, vols. 5–7, edited by Jean van der Poel. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1973.

Walt Whitman: A Study in the Evolution of Personality. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1973.

OTHER SOURCES

Anker, Peder. Imperial Ecology: Environmental Order in the British Empire. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001.


To the University of Cambridge’s eternal shame!

To the eternal shame of the University of Cambridge, the bust and portrait of Britain’s wartime ally and its first real foreign Chancellor – Jan Smuts – was removed from public view at Christ’s College. It’s an act of political correctness gone all wrong, and a foreboding sign of things to come – The University of Cambridge has fallen foul of its own history and Jonathan Swift’s quote rings true “Some men when weeding out prejudices, eradicate virtue, honesty and religion”.

Cowering to the ‘Rhodes Must Fall ‘campaigners – a bunch of zealot, racist and militant far left radicals based in South Africa who very controversially removed the statue of Cecil John Rhodes’ statue from the University of Cape Town, the University of Cambridge has now capitulated and quietly removed the portrait and bust of Field Marshal Jan Smuts from their public spaces and insidiously placed them out of sight.

The act of removing Smuts came from pressure from a bunch of ‘anti-colonial’ students – and since removing Smuts from the public area of the Old Schools building, which houses the main university offices, the Old Schools has carried posters from the first election after Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990 – making an anti-apartheid political statement.

So what’s odd about this act? For starters Jan Smuts and his party were the opposition party to the National Party and their tenets of Apartheid, so they have got the history completely wrong and have incorrectly painted Smuts with an Apartheid brush. The University of Cambridge simply does not even understand the history and has bowed to a skew and incorrect version been banded about buy these ‘anti-colonial’ students.

So what’s wrong with being an anti-colonial student and banishing statues of Colonialism in England? Well, if we agree this precedent we’ll have to remove every single statue of every single great British and Colonial icon involved in Imperialism and Colonialism. It’s a foreboding sign when a leading learning institution like the University of Cambridge does this and sets the precedent.

The same group of zealot anti-colonial students a year or so ago attempted to get Cecil John Rhodes’ statue removed from Oxford University and we rightly told to get lost – but not the University of Cambridge, they have succumbed to this growing modern trend of re-writing history with 21st Century hindsight and removing those bits they think are ‘offensive’ from it.

So whose next? Winston Churchill cut his political teeth in South Africa and was the Colonial Secretary who along with Smuts ushered in the newly formed state of South Africa, with all its 19th Century Imperialist tenets and race laws, stamped by The House of Commons. Do we now remove statues of Winston Churchill? But why stop at Churchill? What about all the other British Colonialists involved in South Africa – Sir Alfred Milner, Sir John Cradock, Sir John Sprigg, John Xavier Merriman, Lord Charles Somerset, Lord Kitchener, Field Marshal Buller, Lord Roberts and even Field Marshal Haig.

Jan Smuts shoulder to shoulder with King George VI, the Queen Mother and the future Queen Elizabeth II

But why even stop at the Colonial ‘masters’ of South Africa and the Field Marshal’s of the South African War (1899-1902)? What about the Royalty who guided colonial policy in South Africa? So lets remove Queen Victoria, King George V, King George VI and even Queen Elizabeth II who was the reigning monarch when South Africa was still a Union and the country fell under her dominion. In 1947 preceding her father’s death, King George VI and Princess Elizabeth visited South Africa to give support to Jan Smuts and his government (and to give support to Smuts for the landmark 1948 General Elections so as to prevent the Apartheid nationalists from taking power and losing South Africa as a Dominion in the Commonwealth of Nations – which unfortunately for all of us the Apartheid Nationalists won).

Smuts’ acceptance speech after he was made a Chancellor at the University of Cambridge

The academic elite at the University of Cambridge are at best very naive, even as to their own academic history of Jan Smuts. Smuts was elected the University of Cambridge’s Chancellor in 1948 and a memorial fund in his name was set up when he died two years later. As Cambridge Chancellor he was the first ‘foreign’ Chancellor of the University not of Royal stock in its very long history of 800 years.

Aside from a Prime Minister and British Field Marshal, Smuts was also an accredited philosopher, his work on Holism brought him high acclaim from his Philosopher peers. Holism can be defined as “the fundamental factor operative towards the creation of wholes in the universe” and was published in 1926. For Smuts it formed the grounding behind his concepts of the League of Nations and United Nations – both institutions he helped form.

Whilst studying law at Christ’s College at the University of Cambridge, he was rated as one of the top three students they have ever had (Christ’s College is nearly 600-year-old). The other two were John Milton and Charles Darwin. Smuts graduated from Christ’s College with a first-class degree in law in 1894 and is regarded as the brightest legal mind ever to read law at the University of Cambridge.

His intellect was unsurpassed, to pass an exam at Cambridge he learnt Greek (fluently) in just 6 days. His wife was no intellectual slouch either, later in life Jan Smuts and his wife ‘Ouma’ Smuts used to tease one another when one would recite a Bible verse and the other would be expected to recite the following one, from memory, in Greek!

The University of Cambridge’s ‘Smuts Memorial Fund’ was established after the death of Jan Smuts to support the advancement of Commonwealth Studies. A range of funding opportunities are available to both staff and students for this purpose including research grants, PhD scholarships and library grants. A number of Fellowships across the University are supported by the Fund including the Smuts Visiting Research Fellowship. It is with extreme irony that some of these ‘anti-colonial’ students are supported in their studies and funded by the very man whose memory they eradicate. Talk about hypocrisy – there it is right there!

The removal of Rhodes’ statue from UCT by the same student movement. The Rhodes foundation is a primary financial supporter of the University and also issues Rhodes Scholarships to Oxford University to disadvantaged students.

Whats next for the academia line up of the University of Cambridge’s Chancellors whose pasts are tainted by a British Imperialist upbringing and held the mainstream views at the time on race – or better still those Royal Chancellors who promoted serfdom and servitude under Royal rule prior to historical reformations? By the time they have finished removing all these Chancellors who reigned over the last 800 odd years of the University of Cambridge – the University will be bare of any history.

But what about Smuts’ unwavering support of the United Kingdom when it was at its own urgent crisis. Smuts took South Africa to war in support of Great Britain in both World War 1 and World War 2, the result is sacrifice from South Africa to retain the United Kingdom’s sovereignty and modern democracy – sacrifice of literally tens of thousands of South Africans in battlefields all over the world, lying along-side their British comrades in arms – the cold headstones of the Commonwealth War Grave’s Commission stand solemnly in testament. All done in honour of Smuts’ commitment to democracy, liberty and humanity.

Without Smuts the United Kingdom would not have the original founder of the Royal Air Force, which celebrates it centenary this year, it would not have the Statesman who stood shoulder to shoulder with Winston Churchill on D-Day and the liberation of Europe, the very man who tempered and guided Churchill and acted as the King’s liaison at the most critical phase of the war. Smuts even came up with the concept of Commonwealth of Nations and guided King George VI and Great Britain out of its edicts of ‘Empire’ when dealing with a ‘new world’ Commonwealth and its Colonies post war.

Smuts was the only foreign Statesman to receive a standing round of applause from both houses of Parliament and the first foreign statesman to address both houses – there is very good reason that his statue stands next to Churchill’s on Parliament Square. Has the United Kingdom completely lost sense of its history and politics, and now bows to a small and vocal bunch of ‘anti-colonial’ students – the tail wagging the dog? It seems so.

What happened to open debate in a University environment? Where all stakeholders are consulted and put their arguments forward before a key decision is made on the removal of a historical figure, a leading University like the University of Cambridge made no such effort to approach the Smuts foundation and family in South Africa. Instead a unilateral decision was taken by a minority of elitist academics imposing their views on others, now that is not the ‘open’ and democratic society which the University is meant to represent.

The University’s official response reads like a piece of political correct pandering. The response from the university’s governing council: “In retrospect, there are often once-lauded ideas and individuals whose standing, reputation and behaviour assume different and usually uncomfortable contemporary significance.”

Again – whose next in the ‘uncomfortable’ figures from the past who lauded ideas not palatable in a modern context, Churchill called Gandhi a “Half Naked Fakir”.

The removal of Smuts at the University of Cambridge is an offence to the thousands of South African men and women who have sacrificed their lives to serve crown in South African forces, and the tens of thousands of South Africans who also served in British Armed Forces. It is the darkest day in the University’s history when it expunged its own heritage in the name of ill-considered political correctness and disgraces an entire generation of South Africans who held Smuts’ ideals of liberty and freedom in their hearts. It is a warning to come – shame on Christ’s College and shame on the University of Cambridge.

Reference: The Sunday Times Sian Griffiths, Education Editor August 5 2018, 12:01am, The Sunday Times “ Cambridge students topple bust of Britain’s wartime ally Jan Smuts”

Jan Smuts and Churchill – Operation Overlord: Jan Smuts, Winston Churchill and D-Day


Jan Smuts on the Racial Policy of the Union of South Africa

Jan Smuts was a prominent and respected Afrikaner and British Commonwealth military leader and statesman in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He served two terms as Prime Minister of South Africa under British rule, between 1919 and 1924 and again between 1939 and 1948. He fought for the Boers in the Anglo-Boer war (1899-1902), as well as for the British Empire in WWI. He was also the only man to sign both peace treaties ending WWI and WWII. The respect Smuts had in the British Commonwealth is evidenced by the statue of him erected on London’s Parliament Square in front of Westminster Palace in London (pictured above).

Smuts played a major role in shaping the policy of racial segregation in twentieth-century South Africa, being a leading early philosopher behind the practice. In 1929 he delivered a lecture at Oxford University as part of a series of “Rhodes Memorial Lectures” delivered during November of that year. In it he wonderfully outlines the basic principles and practical necessities that underlie the policy of apartheid, or separate development:

[For the African] there is no inward incentive to improvement, there is no persistent effort in construction, and there is complete absorption in the present, its joys and sorrows. Wine, women, and song in their African forms remain the great consolations of life.

These children of nature have not the inner toughness of the European, nor those social and moral incentives to progress which have built up European civilization in a comparatively short period. But they have a temperament which suits mother Africa, and which brings out the simple joys of life and deadens its pain, such as no other race possesses.

The boldness with which Smuts could proclaim race realism at a university such as Oxford in the late 1920s is fascinating. One cannot imagine presenting one’s case with such sobriety and valor if invited to speak at such a prominent academic institution on such a sensitive topic today. This lecture indeed serves as a fine piece of evidence of how, since the interwar period, the university system in the West has degraded from a nucleus of free ideas and thought to the Cultural Marxist propaganda machine it is today.

It is clear that a race so unique, and so different in its mentality and its cultures from those of Europe, requires a policy very unlike that which would suit Europeans. Nothing could be worse for Africa than the application of a policy, the object or tendency of which would be to destroy the basis of this African type, to de-Africanize the African and turn him either into a beast of the field or into a pseudo-European.

In a previous piece of mine, I outlined how the Westernization of non-white races, as rebellion against the created order, inevitably leads to catastrophic consequences. The content of Smuts’ lecture seems to suggest that this wisdom was more well-known in the days prior to the rise and eventual dominance of the Frankfurt School.

The principle of equal rights [has been] applied in its crudest form, and while it gave the native a semblance of equality with whites, which was little good for him, it destroyed the basis of his African system which was his highest good.

[T]he British Empire does not stand for assimilation of its peoples into a common type, it does not stand for standardisation, but for the fullest, freest development of its peoples along their own specific lines.

The tribal and imperial character of social orders were traditionally not conceived as conflicting. This idea of the one and the many, theologically rooted in trinitarianism, remained prevalent in Smuts’ day.

Already the African system is disintegrating everywhere over the whole African continent. Missionaries share the blame with governments the fight against the native social ideas has been no less destructive than the deposition of native chiefs and the institution of European organs of government. Unfortunately the earlier efforts of missionary enterprise were made without reference to, or knowledge of, the peculiar native psychology, or the light which anthropology has thrown on the past of human cultures. For the natives, religion, law, natural science, social customs and institutions all form one blended whole, which enshrines their view of the world and of the forces governing it.

While Smuts’ statement is true, it should not be misunderstood as implying that Christianity traditionally propagated a hard universalism, and only learned about racial peculiarities in the twentieth century from the social sciences. Indeed, Christian social doctrine has always recognized both unity and diversity as integral to the social order, a traditionally prevalent view interrupted only by the Enlightenment, which unfortunately influenced many missionaries in the nineteenth century.

If the bonds of native tribal cohesion and authority are dissolved, the African governments will everywhere sit with vast hordes of detribalised natives on their hands, for whom the traditional restraints and the discipline of the chiefs and the elders will have no force or effect. … Such a situation would be unprecedented in the history of the world and the results may well be general chaos.

This authority and discipline need not be exercised in a barbarous way, and should be shorn of old-time cruelty and other undesirable features. But in essence it should be maintained, and under the general supervision and check of the European magistrate it should continue to be exercised.

It is not only the training in self-government that will benefit [black peoples]. They will develop a sense of responsibility which goes with it, and which is in itself one of the most valuable lessons of life.

Smuts has been vindicated in so many ways post-mortem. One can only think of the failures of black socialism in South Africa and the never-ending revolutionary demands of the Civil Rights Movement, perpetuated in movements like Black Lives Matter and the NAACP.

[Racial] Separation is imperative, not only in the interest of a native culture, and to prevent native traditions and institutions from being swamped by the more powerful organisation of the whites, but also for other important purposes, such as public health, racial purity, and public good order. The mixing up of two such alien elements as white and black leads to unhappy social results – racial miscegenation, moral deterioration of both, racial antipathy and clashes, and to many other forms of social evil.

I would love to see a neo-Marxist interpretation of Smuts here. With their Foucauldian reduction of history to a cyclical manifestation of power-struggles – the white man featured as exclusive antagonist more often than not – Smuts would have to be presented here as having ulterior motives when speaking of the interest of black people. Yet, this primary source reveals Smuts’s genuine concern for the black people of Africa, and racial diversity in general, something he and other Afrikaners before and after him have furthered at great cost to themselves.

Smuts concludes his lecture by noting that the difficulties of race relations in Africa “will provide a fruitful theme for the statesmen of the future.” And yes, we can certainly pray that these truths delineated by Smuts will be kept in mind in our continual progression to the coming Kinistic Postmillennial Kingdom we expect.

Gic is a writer who seeks to glorify God by bringing his people to repentance and contributing to their future.


Royal Guests in Jan Smuts’ House

Leading from the parlor was the Best Guest room, where British and Greek royal families were hosted during their visits to Doornfontein.

Royal guests slept in this bedroom.

Jannie Smuts, one of the sons, recalled his memories of the old house:

“In summer the house was hot and in winter bitterly cold, with water freezing in the bedroom jugs, and chilly draughts filtering through the walls… Wild bees discovered the virtues of the house, and numerous swarms made hives in the partitions between the wood and the iron… so at the cost of occasional painful stings, we have had an inexhaustible supply of honey within the walls.”

The dining room where the family would have enjoyed the honey. Mrs. Smuts apparently hid important documents in the bamboo curtain rods.


Jan Christian Smuts

The South African soldier, hero and future Prime Minister was born in the Cape Colony in 1870. No-one was more in the centre of South African politics during the first half of the 20 th century. Nobody in South Africa but Smuts was regarded as a world-class politician and statesman, even in the 1990s forty years after his death.

He studied at both Cambridge and Stellenbosch Universities disturbed by the Jameson Raid (q.v. 1895) he went to live in the South African Republic ( Transvaal) in time for the outbreak of the South African War in 1899 when he was twenty-nine. Despite his comparative youth he was given command of Boer troops operating in the Cape. He fought with the Boers until the end of this colonial war, when he cooperated with Louis Botha in the negotiations which resulted in the Treaty of Vereeniging. Smuts and Botha were co-founders (with others) of an all-Africaner party. the Het Volk (the People) which claimed self-government from the British, for the Transvaal and what was then the Orange River Colony. Britain conceded this in 1907. Smuts became Minister of the Interior in the Transvaal.

He was a delegate to the National Convention in 1909, which led to the creation of the Union of South Africa in 1910. This was under white minority rule but stayed within the British Empire. Botha was Prime Minister, and Smuts held various ministerial posts under him. Between them these two men formed the South Africa Party (SAP) in 1911. They were in favour of South Africa’s participation in the First War, though they stood for complaints from the Africaners for putting down the Africaner Rebellion in 1914, which was against the use of South African soldiers for fighting against Germany in German South West Africa.

Smuts was made commander of British forces fighting in East Africa, and represented South Africa at the Imperial War Conference. Undoubtedly it was his great energy mixed with recognised abilities which got him into Lloyd George’s War Cabinet in the last two years of the First War. He was at the Peace Conference in 1919 where he strongly advocated a conciliatory peace with Germany (not achieved), and worked with US President Wilson setting up the ill-fated League of Nations (q.v.).

Botha died in 1919 and Smuts became Prime Minister. In 1922 he was responsible for savagely putting down a rebellion of white miners, which resulted in the SAP losing its majority in the 1924 election. Hertzog became PM. Smuts then led the opposition in the South African parliament. Hertzog’s government needed wider support, especially during the Great Depression (q.v.) so a coalition was made with the SAP in 1933, while Smuts became Deputy Prime Minister. One year later Hertzog’s National Party and the SAP combined together, becoming the United Party. This represented defeat for Jan Smuts because the price to be paid was his forced agreement to the ending of the Cape Franchise for Africans, who thus had not even a limited say in the electing of white MPs. Smuts had long recognised that black people were treated unjustly, but it seemed he was not prepared to do much about it. In 1906 he wrote, ‘I sympathise profoundly with the native races of South Africa whose land it was long before we came here to force a policy of dispossession on them,’ Perhaps he was tired when he continued, ‘I feel inclined to shift the intolerable burden of solving the problem on to the ampler shoulders of the future.’ After this Smuts supported a policy of segregation.

In 1939 with the opening of the Second War, Hertzog wanted South Africa to remain neutral, but Smuts supported his country’s entry into the War on Britain’s side. Hertzog was beaten and Smuts became PM again. During the War he became a close associate of Winston Churchill’s, and wrote the Preamble to the Charter of the United Nations in 1945. In his last years, Smuts moved further and further away from segregation, thinking there was plenty of time for reform. He was profoundly shocked when the National Party, floating on a sea of apartheid, won the 1948 election. He died in 1950, in office as leader of the Opposition in the South African Parliament.


Jan Smuts quotes

Field Marshal Jan Christian Smuts was a South African statesman, military leader, and philosopher. In addition to holding various cabinet posts, he served as prime minister of the Union of South Africa from 1919 until 1924 and from 1939 until 1948. Although Smuts had originally advocated racial segregation and opposed the enfranchisement of black Africans, his views changed and he backed the Fagan Commission's findings that complete segregation was impossible. Smuts subsequently lost the 1948 election to hard-line nationalists who institutionalised apartheid. He continued to work for reconciliation and emphasised the British Commonwealth's positive role until his death in 1950.In the Second Boer War, Smuts led a Boer commando for the Transvaal. During the First World War, he led the armies of South Africa against Germany, capturing German South-West Africa. He then commanded the British Army in East Africa.

From 1917 to 1919 he was also one of the members of the British Imperial War Cabinet, and he was instrumental in the founding of what became the Royal Air Force . He was appointed as a field marshal in the British Army in 1941. He was the only person to sign both of the peace treaties ending the First and Second World wars. A statue of him was erected to commemorate him in London's Parliament Square. Wikipedia

Quotes Jan Smuts

„… I fail to believe that Hitler's war – the most terrible in history – was merely due to economic causes, and not to something deeper and more sinister in human outlook and beliefs. … It was an ideology and not merely materialism. It was an ideological obsession, a madness, which can operate as disastrously in nations as in individuals. …“

Addressing the Canada Club in Ottawa on 29 June 1945, after the United Nations Charter was finalized, as quoted by Louise W. Holborn (ed., 1948) in War and Peace Aims of the United Nations, p. 719


South African history – how Jan Smuts has impacted Magic Hills today

The Magic Hills Private Game Reserve, occupying 20 100 hectares of untamed wilderness in the Jansenville area of the Eastern Cape, enjoys the rich history of the area, which can be seen at many historical ruins and old kraals. One of the key events that occurred nearby was the Anglo Boer War, which encroached on the town of Jansenville in the early 1900’s.

It is said that the renowned General Jan Smuts passed through these lands in 1901, skirting around the town, which was more-than-adequately protected by a fort that had been erected earlier the same year. The Anglo Boer War Fort ruins remain, to this day, on the northern perimeter of the town.

A Fascination with Jan Smuts

Anyone with an appreciation for South African history and the impact that influential figures had on the shaping of the country in the early 20th century, will likely share in the fascination with Jan Christian Smuts. A politician, military leader and philosopher, Jan Smuts possessed an international reputation for his agility as a leader in some of the world’s most critical, historical conflicts. So we caught up with local author, Richard Steyn, who also shares our interest in this great general.

Speaking of some of Jan Smuts’ most notable “claims to fame”, Steyn points out that Smuts possessed an extraordinary mind. According to records, Lord Todd, the Master of Christ’s College, said in 1970 that “in 500 years of the College’s history, of all its members, past and present, three had been truly outstanding: John Milton, Charles Darwin and Jan Smuts.” When asked what he found most compelling about Jan Smut, Steyn says, “Smut has an astonishing range of influence, knowledge and ability! He was a lawyer, political leader, a farmer, a military leader, literary author, and a botanist.

Some of Smuts’ other achievements are listed below:

  • Historians confirm that Smuts was one of the very few people who had any real influence over Winston Churchill. According to Steyn, “Smuts was one of the few people that Churchill respected and referred to, relying heavily on him.”
  • Jan Smuts was the prime minister of South Africa twice.
  • Jan Smuts was instrumental in bringing the Angle Boer War to a close, which raged just north of the Magic Hills Private Game Reserve.
  • According to Steyn, Jan Smuts single handedly took South Africa into the Second World War, by a mere 13 votes, to fight against Hitler.
  • Smuts was the only person present at both meetings that formally ended World War I and World War II – the Peace Treaty Negotiation in Versailles, and the formal meeting that occured in Paris.

Jan Smuts, the Father of Holism

Jan Smuts is also well-known for the philosophy of holism, on which he wrote a book in 1926, called Holism and Evolution. Writing about holism in his book Unafraid of Greatness, Steyn notes: “Whole-making is real, organic, evolutionary and creative, it gives rise to progessive scale of wholes, from simple matter, from plants and animals, to human beings and upward to humanity and to spiritual consciousness.”*

The concept of Holism was Smuts’ guiding philosophy in life, and can be applied to many areas of life – from politics, to wellness, to environmental conservation – and is seen in everything natural, right down to a cellular level. According to Steyn, Jan Smuts firmly believed that mankind is destined to evolve into greatness.

Holism at Magic Hills Private Game Reserve

Apart from the fact that Smuts was said to have traversed these wild lands during the Anglo Boer War, much can be said for his influence on the Magic Hills philosophy, which is founded on the philosophy of Holism. As we at Magic Hills immerse ourselves in our efforts to regenerate the natural wilderness that must have existed when Jan Smut passed through, we see the concept of Holism at play.

The ecosystem, the wildlife, plantlife, and even how we integrate as humanity – all are part of the greater whole, evolving into greatness.

More about Richard Steyn Much like Jan Smuts himself, Richard Steyn is a lawyer and an author. He has produced four books focusing on local and worldwide history, and has also led a career in media, as Editor-in-Chief of The Star newspaper, and Editor at Natal Witness.


Jan Christiaan Smuts Essay

Jan Christiaan Smuts was born on his family’s farm in the Cape Colony on May 24, 1870. The second child in the Smuts family, Jan grew up working on the farm and roaming the Afrikaner, the countryside dominated by Dutch-speaking colonizers in South Africa. At the age of 12 he attended school at Riebeck West, and after graduating he attended Victoria College in Stellenbosch. Smuts graduated with an emphasis on science and literature from Victoria College. Upon graduation Smuts traveled to England on scholarship to study law at Christ’s College, Cambridge University. Though he passed the legal examinations that allowed him to practice law in England, Smuts decided instead to return to the Cape Colony and practice law in Cape Town.

Upon Smuts’s return to South Africa he practiced law and later wrote for the Cape Town newspaper, the Cape Times. He worked in Cape Town as a lawyer and writer until the Jamison Raid, where a militia from the British South African Company led by Colonel Jamison tried to lead a revolt of the Uitlanders, the term for British mining workers in the Transvaal. In protest, Smuts moved to Johannesburg to practice law. After successfully establishing himself in the mining city of Johannesburg, he was appointed state attorney of the Republic of Transvaal in 1898 by President Kruger, which cemented Smuts’s loyalty to the Boer nation-state.

His loyalty to the Republic of Transvaal was strongly evinced during the second Boer War (1898– 1902). As the war began to erupt, Smuts helped write a polemic essay, A Century of Wrong, to instill support for the Boer cause and to vilify British imperialism. Smuts gained a distinguished notoriety in South Africa for leading a band of Boer fighters in the war. Smuts was a participant at the Vereeniging Peace Conference that led to the Vereeniging Peace Treaty, signed on May 1, 1902, which formally ended the war.

Smuts continued to be politically successful in South Africa after the war. He teamed up with Louis Botha in 1905 to create Het Volk, an Afrikaner political party to counteract the British governing elites. In 1906 Het Volk won the majority in the independent elections in the Transvaal. As a cabinet appointee as education secretary and the colonial secretary, Smuts slowly climbed up the echelons of political power in South Africa. At the constitutional convention in Durban in 1908, Smuts drafted and reworked the South African constitution, which unified South Africa in December of 1909.

With the unification of South Africa, which led to a majority Afrikaner voting population among whites, Louis Botha became the prime minister of United South Africa in 1910. Under Botha Smuts was appointed to positions as the secretary of the interior, secretary of mines, and secretary of defense for South Africa. Smuts came under pressure from his own political party and the press for his numerous cabinet positions, later including secretary of finance.

Although he fought against the British in the second Boer War, Smuts fought alongside the British in World War I. He created the South African Defense Force, which helped with the defeat and subsequent acquisition of German East Africa and South West Africa. As a member of British prime minister David Lloyd George’s war cabinet, Smuts was one of the masterminds of the Royal Air Force. Smuts helped lead negotiations toward the end of the war at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. Smuts also helped conceive and support the League of Nations.

Smuts was the prime minister of South Africa from 1919 until the Afrikaner-dominated National Party defeated him in 1924. After his tenure as prime minister Smuts dabbled in academia, especially philosophy, publishing his book Walt Whitman: A Study in the Evolution of a Personality. Smuts returned to politics in 1933 when he again became the prime minister of South Africa. As an ardent anti-Nazi he led the South African effort in World War II, joining British prime minister Winston Churchill’s war cabinet. After World War II ended Smuts signed the Paris Peace Treaty on February 10, 1947.

In 1948 the National Party, which supported apartheid, government based upon the separation of races, ousted Smuts as prime minister in the national election. At that point he officially retired from South African politics. Jan Christiaan Smuts died soon thereafter on September 11, 1950, on his family’s farm in Doornkloof, Irene, South Africa.