A South African avant-garde quarterly openly opposed to Apartheid, edited by Afrikaners, manufacturing dissent in Afrikaans, defying the stereotype of Afrikanerdom.

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.

Produced as a “Kleintjie”, or “Little Magazine”, Stet was edited by Gerrit Olivier and Tienie du Plessis (du Plessis also designed the publication). Stet was in print for a decade, from 1982 until 1992, and was rooted in subversive literary traditions, relating to the European avant-garde publications of the early 20th century, specifically those with Anti-fascist sentiments such as Merz and Dada. The original masthead of the magazine was created using Du Plessis’ own handwriting. The cover copy for the first issue reflected the disillusionment that the editors had toward Apartheid. This tone is clear with statements on the cover such as “teen Apartheid, teen sensuur”, meaning “against Apartheid, against censorship”. Following the norms of the resistance press, Stet manufactured dissent, helping to intensify an ever-growing reaction against Apartheid.

Stet’s content included articles (a number of them being academic), letters, extracts, short stories, poetry, comics, photo essays, and interviews. Some authors had to publish using pseudonyms due to the dangers involved with being a critical voice publishing dissent within a dictatorship. Most of the material inside was written in Afrikaans, but a few contributions from the Netherlands remained in the original Dutch (to an untrained ear, Afrikaans and Dutch sound similar), and a few English submissions appeared in later issues, alongside a number of black contributors, such as Peter Clarke, Njabulo Ndebele, Leonard Koza, and Leonard Mkhabela.

Stet’s relevance started to wane by the early 90s, as the dominance of the Apartheid regime began to come to an end. South Africa was changing, it was the dawn of the ‘New South Africa’, and resistance movements arguably had little left to resist, they had completed their intended mission, their respective visions on the cusp of being realised. Struggle fatigue had kicked-in and, being mostly self-funded, money was also an issue. Du Plessis would move on to start HOND, a publishing house that published the first Bitterkomix issues. Stet was in fact a stepping stone for Anton Kannemeyer and Conrad Botes, as it published a few of the earliest Bitterkomix experiments, all with anti-conscription as their core message, undermining the Apartheid regime from a different angle. In this light, Stet is important as a South African avant-garde publication, with most of its contributors now praised for their anti-apartheid and anti-establishment writing, many of which were first published as extracts in Stet, including André P. Brink, Breyten Breytenbach, Antjie Krog, Ivan Vladislavic, and Jeremy Cronin. A full set of Stet forms part of the Colophon collection.

Stet called for the reform of Afrikanerdom, breaking away from pro-Apartheid stereotypes that still shroud the Afrikaans language.

Stet vol.1, no.1

Year: 1982
Pages: 32
Print run: 1000
Size: A4
Contributors: Hennie Aucamp, Dan Roodt, Wessel Pretorius, André Letoit, Lochner de Kock, J.J. Degenaar, Johan van Wyk, André du Toit, Marlene van Niekerk, M.C. Botha, Alexander Strachen, Daniel Hugo, Wilma Stockenström, Rosa Keet, Gearge Weideman, Deon Viljoen, André Le Roux, Sonya Broodryk, Tan Fiena.

Stet vol.1, no.2

Year: 1983
Pages: 32
Print run: 1000
Size: A4
Contributors: Human & Rousseau, Stephan Bouwer, Breyten Breytenbach, K. van der Merwe, Etienne van Heerden, Theunis Engelbrecht, Johan van Wyk, Marianne de Jong, Elza, Wim Vorster, Dr. Jan Pienaar, I.M. Lombard, Hansie Pienaar, Jan Rabie, Hein Wilemse, Ansie Vermeulen, Lars Ingels, André Letoit, Marietjie Joubert, Daniel Hugo, Peter Snyders, Pieter J. Swanepoel, Deon Viljoen, Helmut Heissenbüttel.

Stet vol.1, no.3

Year: 1983
Pages: 32
Print run: 1000
Size: A4
Contributors: Jan Roux, Fransi Phillips, Breyten Breytenbach, John Miles, Perskor Kees Bölls, Lucas Malan, K. van der Merwe, Sandra Kriel, Dennis Bekket, Wilma Stockenström, Pieter Uys, Johan van Wyk, Wessel Pretorius, Hennie Aucamp, Lettie Viljoen, Clinton du Plessis, M. Bekruiper Perskor, J, van der Colf.

Stet vol.1, no.4

Year: 1983
Pages: 32
Print run: 1000
Size: A4
Contributors: Josef Moolman, Koekie Ziervogel, O.P. Stoker, Breyten Breytenbach, Andries W. Oliphant, Daniel Hugo, Rina Sherman, Ivan Kovacs, Lochner de Kock, Deon van Huizen, Hansie Pienaar, Kevin Rudham, John Miles, Johan de Lange, Danie De La Rey, Deon Maas, Harry Kelme, J.S. Rabie, Peter Louw, Koekem Koekemoer.

Stet vol.2, no.1

Year: 1983
Pages: 32
Print run: 1000
Size: A4
Contributors: Daniel Hugo, Rina Sherman, Hansie Pienaar, Julian Venter, Lettie Viljoen, Etienne van Heerden, Rudi Venter, Wessel Pretorius, Joan Hambridge, Barend J. Toerien, J.C. Philpot, Alexander Strachan, Harold Carlson, André Letoit, Koekie Ziervogel, Senator Munnik, Skrywersgilde, Thomas Bernhard.

Stet vol.2, no.2

Year: 1984
Pages: 32
Print run: 1000
Size: A4
Contributors: Heidi Pienaar, Ocin Sfelteed, R.F. Vorster, O.P. Stoker, Harry Keime, Ampie Coetzee, Fransi Phillips, Herman Joubert, M.D. de Jong, Roland Barthes, K. Basson, Lochner de Kock, Sonja Broodryk, Hansie Pienaar, Peter Snyders, Bullets Fourie, Prins Prinsloo.

Stet vol.2, no.3

Year: 1984
Pages: 32
Print run: 1000
Size: A4
Contributors: O.P. Stoker, Wilma Winddroog, Niel Liebenberg, The rev. James Mackinnon, Johan Degenaar, Etienne van Heerden, Jean du Plessis, Roslyn Fish, Willem Adrian, Joan Hambridge, Pieter van der Lugt, André Letoit, Hennie Aucamp, Etienne Britz, Lochner de Kock, Lena Spyker, Arnold Blumer, Lettie Viljoen, Wolma Wolmerans.

Stet vol.2, no.4

Year: 1984
Pages: 32
Print run: 1000
Size: A4
Contributors: Koos Prinsloo, Hein Willemse, André Letoit, J.C. Philpot, Peter Snyders, Sonja Broodryk, Eben Venter, Victor Munnik, Breyten Breytenbach, Esté Heydenreich, K. Basson, Danie Botha, Koekie Ziervogel, Bosveld B. Bomskok, André P. Brink, Marianne de Jong, Joan Hambridge, Wilhelm Liebenberg, Felicity Hollenbach, Denis De Nisteux, Mal Malan, Karin Kon.

Stet vol.3, no.1

Year: 1985
Pages: 40
Print run: 1000
Size: A4
Contributors: Theunis Engelbrecht, Koekie Ziervogel, M. Douwes, Daniel Hugo, Vy van Rensburg, Wilhelm Liebenberg, Joan Hambidge, O.P. Stoker, Henriette Roos, The Kafirs, Eduard Fagan, Ivan Muller, Jorrie Joernalis, Johan Niewoudt, Sonja Broodryk, Eben Venter, K. Basson, André le Roux, Truida Lijphart-Bezuidenhout, Anton Lubowski.

Stet vol.3, no.2

Year: 1985
Pages: 40
Print run: 1000
Size: A4
Contributors: Hein Willemse, Koos Prinsloo, Mario Maccani, James Matthews, Sandra Kriel, Jeremy Cronin, A.W. Oliphant, Melvin Whitebooi, P.F.P. van Wyk Louw, Peter Clark, Julian Schmidt, Allan Grootboom, Dan Roodt, O.P. Stoker, Koos & Breyten, Arnold Blumer, Koekie Zierdeeg.

Stet vol.3, no.3-4

Year: 1986
Pages: 80
Print run: 1000
Size: A4
Contributors: Peter Snyders, Peter John Massyn, Peter Clarke, Eben Venter, Elenor Aveling, Casper Schmidt, Kalahari Liebenberg, J.C. Philpot, Pieter van der Lugt, Louis Scott, Dan Roodt, André Letoit, N.P. van W. Klou, Koekie Ziervogel, Andrew Hill, E.A. Mantzaris, Karin Konsentrasiekamp, Barend J. Toerien, Hansie Pienaar, Rajie Pillay, Cedric de Beer, Alexis Retief, Rob Morrell.

Stet vol.4, no.1-2

Year: 1986
Pages: 64
Print run: 1000
Size: A4
Contributors: Hein Willemse, Lochner de Kock, W.A.J. van Rensburg, Karin Bredenkamp, Bertie du Plessis, Daniel Hugo, Annell Ahlers, Alexis Retief, Elske Miles, Borduurwerk, Pieter J. Swanepoel, Andrea Vinassa, Paul Alberts, Paul Stopforth, Cora Burnett-van Tonder, Koos Prinsloo, Christoffel Lessing, David Goldblatt, Norman Baines, Chris van Wyk, Christo Coetzee.

Stet vol.4, no.3

Year: 1987
Pages: 36
Print run: 1000
Size: A4
Contributors: Walter Meyer, Pieter Handke, Jeanne Goosen, Marianne de Jong, Ampie Coetzee, Sheila Roberts, Gerrit Olivier, Phillip John, André P. Brink, Dan Roodt, Tienie du Plessis.

Stet vol.4, no.4

Year: 1987
Pages: 36
Print run: 1000
Size: A4
Contributors: Pieter Handke, Norman Baines, Alexis Retief, Maura Coetzer, Koekie Ziervogel, Elske Miles, Walter Meyer, Anthony Murdoch, B.F. Galfilloon, Faan Herholdt, Victor Munnik, Phillip John, Hein Willemse.

Stet vol.5, no.1

Year: 1987
Pages: 40
Print run: 1000
Size: A4
Contributors: Ian Bekker, Njabulo Ndebele, Conrad Steenkamp, Marianne de Jong, Ivan Kovacs, Leon de Kock, O.P. Stoker, Leonard Koza, Frikkie Potgieter, Peter Handke, André Brink, C. Coetzee, Daniël du Plessis, Peter Snyders, Peter Rodda, Karin Konsentrasiekamp, Walter Meyer.

Stet vol.5, no.2

Year: 1988
Pages: 40
Print run: 1000
Size: A4
Contributors: Herman Hahndiek, Johan de Lange, Joan Hambidge, Daan van der Merwe, Koekie Ziervogel, Leonard Koza, Phil du Plessis, Bertold Brecht, Emma Huismans, Faan Herholdt, Charl Durand, Ivan Vladislavic, Maritjie van der Walt, Jurie Moolman, Derek Harms, Tony Burton, Johan van Wyk, Andries Walter Oliphant, Marianne de Jong, Leonard Mkhabela, Alexis Retief, Petro Stuwig, Wouter.

Stet vol.5, no.3

Year: 1988
Pages: 32
Print run: 1000
Size: A4
Contributors: André Letoit, Jeanne Goosen, Koos Prinsloo, Dominique Stoll, Hans Pienaar, Margaret Roestorf, William Kentridge, Chris Lessing, Derek Harms, Walter Meyer, Francois de Waal, Ivan Kovacs, Leonard Koza, Chris van Wyk, Ina Bergh, Noël-David Adams Jr., Konrad Weltz, Charl Durand.

Stet vol.5, no.4

Year: 1989
Pages: 32
Print run: 1000
Size: A4
Contributors: Thomas Bernhard, Gerrit Olivier, André Mouton, Lenza Summerton-Marais, Cornelia Pots, Willie Adams, P.T. Mtuze, Tienie du Plessis, Ralph Nolte, Conrad Steenkamp, Kalahari Liebenberg, Hans Pienaar, Lucas Malan, Albie Louw, T.O.D., Kelwyn Sole, Elske Miles, Scientific American, Konrad Weltz, Kendall Geers.

Stet vol.6, no.1-2

Year: 1990
Pages: 48
Print run: 1000
Size: A4
Contributors: Thomas Bernhard, David Madalie, Antjie Krog, Anton Basson, Ralph Nolte, Kalahari Liebenberg, Breyten Breytenbach, Julian Doyle, Konrad Weltz, Gerrit Olivier, J.P. du Toit, William Domeris, Paul Riekert, Joe Dog (Anton Kannemeyer), Alexis Retief, Elder Olberson, Nikodemis, Arnold, Blumer, Ryk Hattingh, Eugene Botha, Cape Town Ecology Group.

Stet vol.6, no.3

Year: 1990
Pages: 32
Print run: 1000
Size: A4
Contributors: Barend J. Toerien, Gunther Pakendorf, Jeanette Ferreira, Eugene Botha, Lucas Malan, Breyten Breytenbach, Anton Basson, Paul Riekert, Koos Prinsloo, Howlin' Zombies, Ryk Hattingh, Willem Posel, Tienie du Plessis, Stephen Louw, Nikodemis, Andries Gouws, Sam Hallet, Sulia Holtzhausen, Bertolt Brecht, Arnold Blumer, Anton Kannemeyer, Koeberg Alert.

Stet vol.6, no.4

Year: 1991
Pages: 32
Print run: 1000
Size: A4
Contributors: Barend J. Toerien, Anton Basson, Mike Kantey, Frank Snyckers, Denise Ackermann, R.R. Ryger, Kalahari Liebenberg, Eugene Botha, Toon van den Heever, Anton Kannemeyer, Almery Gunter, Julian Doyle, Howlin' Zombies.

Stet vol.7, no.1

Year:1992
Pages: 32
Print run: 1000
Size: A4
Contributors: Ralph Nolte, Sheila Roberts, C.J. Morkel, Dirk Winterbach, Franz de Backer, Prevot van der Merwe, John van Zyl, Nikodemis, Hennie Swart, Johnathan Preece, James Sey, Nasionale Pers, Paul Riekert.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Will these at all be scanned for digital reading? I would love to see the content.

    • Colophon says:

      Hi Francois, the long-term plan is to make the covers clickable, and have dedicated pages for each issue which will include spreads and more text. Unfortunately, detailed scans of the entire magazine will likely not be possible as it will be extremely time-consuming to digitize the entire collection, and there are copyright/IP considerations that we still have to look into (legalities, ownership, distribution etc.). There are a number of issues of Stet for sale in the Colophon shop, that’s the most direct way to get your hands on the content at this stage.

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