Apartheid was a brutal period in South Africa’s history. P.W. Botha’s totalitarian regime committed horrific crimes against humanity, and it was incredibly effective at cultivating division and alienation, not only between black and white communities but also between English and Afrikaans speaking people. Everything was political, and the Afrikaners in charge did not tolerate anything outside their racist ideology. The thought of an alternative Afrikanerdom that resisted Apartheid was an almost impossible one to fathom. The terms Apartheid and Afrikanerdom were practically interchangeable, and it is no secret that the regime was largely upheld by the dominant Afrikaner culture of the time. For a dissenting and subversive form of Afrikanerdom to emerge at that time was, and still is, a radical idea. Stet was a magazine created by a group of Afrikaners who attempted to re-evaluate their Afrikanerdom, fathoming the impossible. Risking their tradition, culture, and identity, contributors to Stet tried to reclaim the dignity of those dissenting Afrikaans voices who did not agree with Apartheid.
Stet was a left-wing publication that formed part of the resistance press, with clear political intent, situated on the periphery during the struggle. Creating dissent from within the hallowed discursive space of Afrikanerdom, Stet was an important vessel in the cultural reform of the Afrikaans language. There were limited opportunities for Afrikaans speakers to air their opinion if they opposed Apartheid. Many white Afrikaans speakers knew that they had to resist the regime, and Stet provided a forum for them. It was a difficult political space to exist as a counterculture publication, as both white English and black South African resistance movements did not trust white Afrikaners who claimed to oppose Apartheid, as it could have been a trap set by the authorities. If you were found to be a dissenting voice, death (often recorded as ‘suicide’) was often the result.
Deriving its name from a printing term meaning, “let it stand”, Stet was an important avant-garde publication during the 80s, and filled an obscure position within the ranks of Afrikaner orthodoxy, as it broke with established stereotypes about Afrikaans-speaking people, and literature. Stet ran counter to the dominant, extremely conservative, Afrikaner narrative of the time as an anti-Apartheid voice written in Afrikaans. Perceived by the powers-that-be as Communist propaganda, Stet was actually an alternative stream of thought, reconfiguring common perceptions of traditional, Christian, Afrikanerdom. Stet was printed in a limited run of 1000 copies per issue, with printers refraining from placing their imprint on the publication due to fears of being shut down.