Letter from H.C De Wet in South Africa to William C. Frierson in South Carolina regarding world events of the time, 29 April 1968

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This letter, written to William Crosland Frierson by a former classmate living in South Africa, illustrates the international nature of late twentieth century life.  These two men living on different continents exchanged views on topics such as the first successful heart transplant, the separation of conjoined twins, visits to Jerusalem, irrigation, race riots, democracy, the Civil Rights movement, the Olympics, and the American presence in Vietnam.  Many of these subjects were specifically American; however, this glimpse of an outside perspective shared with a South Carolinian may help students place their history lessons in a wider context. 


De Wet, H.C. to William Crosland Frierson, 29 April 1968.  William Crosland Frierson Papers.  Manuscripts Division, South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina.


89 Fagan St,

Strand, CP

South Africa

April 29, 1968

Dear Frierson,

            I want to thank you for your last letter with all the interesting information regarding your visit to the Holy Land.  At the time of your visit, Jerusalem was still divided between the Jews and the Arabs, and it was difficult to cross the border.  At present things are changed and the Israeli occupy the whole of Jerusalem.  When I visited Palestine in 1924 it was much easier to visit the different places, as the English had possession of the whole of Palestine and of Egypt.   One of the most interesting places was the Sea of Galilee.  We spent a weekend at Capernaum.  It is a great pity that we do not even know where our Lord died for us.  The Roman Catholic Church points out every detail but historically vary little is known for sure.  I believe the well of Jacob is one of the few places where we stand on terra firma.  At that time it was still in the open and we could see the cultivated lands around to which Christ referred.  In Jerusalem it was possible to trace one of the old walls of the city by the hewn stones in the walls of dwellings.


The nursery and the farm are keeping you busy.  Must be very interesting now that you have the machinery necessary for the irrigation and draining.   

            The heart transplantation by Prof Barnard and his team in Capetown made headline news throughout the world.  It is a good thing the first heart used was that of a European and that one of her kidneys was transplanted on a coloured boy as well.  The second was that of a coloured man on a Jew, which was quite successful so far.  The French transplantation seems to be very dubious.  It is an interesting question when a person should be declared dead.  Only when decomposition states one can be quite sure that the person is indeed dead!

            Isn’t it peculiar that a white reaction was started in England instead of one by blacks. It seem to me that integration between black and white requires centuries, and enforcement by law is bound to cause reaction and its retardment.  It seems as though the Negroes in the USA are moving towards segregation.  Independence for the native reserves is the goal of the natives here.  It would not be right to give it straight away, because they do not have the money for hospitals colleges and schools etc. which our government are erecting for them at present.  The same is being done


for the Ovambos in Southwest Africa.  If the United Nations should try the one man one vote in SWA terrible bloodshed is bound to occur.  The Ovambos are in the majority, but the Hereros will never allow them to rule their warlike tribe. In fact, in Africa democracy does not last.  For a country with minorities it is an unsatisfactory form of government, which is unable to do what is right but has to do what the majority wants.  The negros in the States have the casting vote because votes of the whites are more or less equally divided.  They are placed in a position to rule the USA and the world.  The Olympic Games Commission made a big mistake in withdrawing the invitation to SA to take part in the games.  They were in position to dictate conditions to participate which were acceded to for the first time in SA.  Now they have lost all say, and the Olympic Games is no longer a world body.  SA is going to organize its own games with the exclusion of undesirables.  It is a great pity that ST. King has been shot.  Now the Communists have the chance to show what they can do, and  ---- will have to give dictatorial powers to the President to cope with them.  President Johnson tried the impossible in Vietnam one can never win by a defensive warfare.  The same is true at home anti riot measures will not be enough, the agitators will have to be cornered.  The anti Christian forces show themselves in the boycotts they use to attain their purpose, - one of the signs of the Beast.  The advent of Christ is our only hope.  The tribulations under


the rule of the Antichrist is probably just round the corner. 

            As you have probably seen in the papers, there was a nasty crash of a new Boeing at Wind hook.  Mo Taylor of the U.S.A. was the only one who escaped unscathed – really a miracle! The cause of the accident has not been ascertained. 

We would very much like to visit the States and to meet you again after so many years.  Mrs. Dewet told me just now that she would be rather afraid to visit the states in view of the expected summer riots!  Perhaps it would be in better for you to pay us a visit under the circumstances!

            Tomorrow it will be 44 years since we married.  Our eldest son in Johannesburg (plastic surgeon) helped to divide the Siamese twins whose heads were fastened.  I understand that it was the first operation of this type where both remained alive.  Fortunately they two brains were complete and only the skulls united.  The bone was removed and the openings covered up.  Our second son is sheep farming and the third and electrical engineer in Johannesburg.  We have two grand-sons and seven grand-daughters.  Hoping that you are all well.  Best Wishes.

            Yours sincerely,                     

                                                            H.G deWet 

Correlating SC Social Studies Academic Standards:

Standard 3-5: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the major developments in South Carolina in the late nineteenth century and the twentieth century.

Indicator 3-5.6 Summarize the key events and effects of the civil rights movement in South Carolina, including the desegregation of schools (Briggs v. Elliott) and other public facilities and the acceptance of African Americans’ right to vote.

Standard 5-5: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the social, economic, and political events that influenced the United States during the Cold War era.

Indicator 5-5.2 Summarize changes in the United States economy following World War II, including the expanding job market and service industry, consumerism, and new technology.

Standard 7-6: The student will demonstrate an understanding of international developments in the post–World War II world, including the impact of the Cold War on the world.

Indicator 7-6.2 Summarize the events of the Cold War, including the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe; the rise of the Communist party in China; the building of the Berlin wall; the economic and political competition for influence in Vietnam and Korea; the Cuban missile crisis; the revolutionary movements in Africa; the development of new military, nuclear, and space technology; and the threat of nuclear annihilation.

Standard 8-7: The student will demonstrate an understanding of South Carolina’s economic revitalization during World War II and the latter twentieth century.

Indicator 8-7.4 Explain the factors that influenced the economic opportunities of African American South Carolinians during the latter twentieth century, including racial discrimination, the Briggs v. Elliott case, the integration of public facilities and the civil rights movement, agricultural decline, and statewide educational improvement.

Standard GS-6: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the effects of economic, geographic, and political interactions that have taken place throughout the world from the period of the Cold War to the present day.

Indicator GS-6.3 Compare the challenges and successes of the movements toward independence and democratic reform in various regions following World War II, including the role of political ideology, religion, and ethnicity in shaping governments in America.

Standard USHC-9: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the social, economic, and political events that impacted the United States during the Cold War era.

Indicator USHC-9.3 Summarize the key events and effects of the Vietnam War, including the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and the Tet offensive; the protests and opposition to the war; and the policies of presidents John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard and the course of independence and democratic movements in Africa, Asia, and Latin Nixon.

Indicator USHC-9.5 Explain the movements for racial and gender equity and civil liberties, including their initial strategies, landmark court cases and legislation, the roles of key civil rights advocates, and the influence of the civil rights movement on other groups seeking ethnic and gender equity.

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