Jacobus Daniel Du Toit

Title Theologian, Academic and Poet
Other Names Totius
Date of Birth 1877-02-21
Date of Death 1953-07-01

Du Toit, Jacobus Daniel
(nom de plume "Totius")
Totius was born in Paarl, on the 21 February 1877 and died in Pretoria on 1 July 1953. When the South African War broke out (1899), he fought for several months in the former western Transvaal, but some friends bought him a ticket to travel by ship to Holland to study for his Doctroate, beleiving that someone so academically talented should not die on the battelfield.

The effect of Totius's poetry and philosophy on Afrikaaner nationalism during the first half of the twentieth Century is profound. He was brought up in an environment of conservative Christian nationalism, influenced first by his father, S J du Toit, leader of the First Afrikaans Language Movement, and, after the death of his mother, by his grandmother, a woman of deep piety. Those values continued to inspire his work throughout his life.
Du Toit studied theology in Holland during the South African War and returned to South Africa in 1903 to be inducted as a minister of the Potchefstroom Gereformeerde Kerk. He became a professor at the Theological School in 1911 and from there he founded and became the first Chancellor of the Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education. In 1914 he helped compile the Programme of Principles for the newly established National Party, the organization that eventually instituted Apartheid and, although not a politician, he always maintained a keen interest in conservative politics.

Totius was a prolific writer. In addition to poetry, he committed the psalms to Afrikaans verse and completed the Afrikaans translation of the Bible begun by his father. His poetry was seldom light-hearted and drew inspiration from two sources: the socio-political sorrow of the Afrikaaner people, drifting from rigorous Calvanist ideals under foreign (English) influence and the sorrow of his own personal life after the death of two of his children.

South Africa's North-West province: A Guide to its History and Heritage. © 2017

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