Dennis Cruywagen: Brothers in War and Peace: Constand and Abraham Viljoen and the Birth of the New South Africa

* Bushwars: Brothers in War and Peace; Amazon: Brothers in War and Peace; SABC Digital News: Brothers in War and Peace by Dennis Cruywagen.

Brothers in War and Peace:
Constand and Abraham Viljoen and the Birth of the New South Africa

Dennis Cruywagen, Bushwars, Amazon, 01 Mar 2015

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SABC Digital News: Brothers in War and Peace by Dennis Cruywagen (07:03)

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Brothers in War and Peace is the remarkable story of the Viljoen twins, Abraham and Constand, and the starkly different roads that they took in life. One was a deeply religious man, who opposed apartheid; the other was a man of war, who became head of the SADF.

Estranged by political beliefs, the Viljoen twins found themselves in different political camps in 1990. Abraham, who was among the group of Afrikaners who had met the banned ANC in Dakar in 1987, was working for the Institute for a Democratic Alternative for South Africa. Constand had come out of retirement to head the Afrikaner Volksfront, a right-wing organisation started by Afrikaners opposed to majority rule. At that time, the Volksfront could call on an estimated 100 000-strong well-armed and trained militia.

Realizing that a civil war would destroy South Africa, Abraham went to see his brother and urged him to consider an alternative to war: talks with the ANC. What followed was a series of secret meetings and negotiations that ultimately prevented civil war in South Africa. Besides being the story of their divergent lives, Brothers in War and Peace covers the immense yet largely unheralded role the Viljoen brothers played in ensuring peace in South Africa.

Based on interviews with the Viljoen brothers, their families and key political figures, Brothers in War and Peace gives new insights into the men and their world.

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Abraham and Constand Viljoen were identical twins who took starkly different paths in life. One was a deeply religious man, who opposed apartheid; the other was a man of war, who became head of the SADF. But together they would play a crucial role in preventing South Africa from descending into civil war.

In the early 1990s, Constand came out of retirement to head the Afrikaner Volksfront, which opposed the negotiations with the ANC and made plans for military action. Realizing that war would destroy their country, Abraham approached his estranged brother and urged him to consider the alternative: talks with the ANC.

What followed was a series of secret meetings and negotiations that ultimately prevented civil war.

Brothers in War and Peace documents the crucial yet largely unheralded role the Viljoen brothers played in ensuring peace in South Africa. Based on interviews with the brothers and other key political figures, the book gives new insights into a time when the country’s future was on a knife-edge.

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