Peter Storey

I'm in the US at the moment and by happy coincidence, I happened to quote Daantjie in my sermon in a downtown Washington church this past Sunday. It is such a good thing to pause and remember him. In 1957, I and two others became Daauntjie's initial Philosophy II students after his arrival at Rhodes. The following year, in Philosophy III there were just two of us, my opposite number being intent on joining the Community of the Resurrection at Mirfield when he graduated. I was a fairly indifferent scholar but was nevertheless treated with utmost respect by Professor Daantjie. Philosophy III focussed largely on Kant's Critique and, because there were so few of us in Philosophy II and III, our meetings with him were more like Oxford tutorials than Rhodes lectures. The first and most lasting impression of Daantjie was of his humility and the quietness of his spirit. He was a very centred person, comfortable in his own skin and quite without need to show off his intellectual brilliance or to impress in any other way. He was quite thoughtless of his dress - any crumpled clothes would do - and I seem to remember that he had rather large feet for someone of his stature. This combination made him a slightly comical, almost Charlie Chaplin, figure walking down the corridors. He was not tall, and while not quite as absent-minded as his predecessor, Professor Barrett (who offered me a lift downtown and when we got to the Post Office, exited the car and thanked me for the lift), was not one to fret over life's less important details. In those days, contacts across the colour line were few, but Daantjie had a good friendship with Adam Small,who was at the University of Fort Hare, and ensured that we were exposed to Adam's thinking about Kant in a number of meetings with him. When Daantjie arrived I was somewhat suspicious, having my own views of Afrikaners, and I recall being impressed that he would be so open to someone of colour sharing the leadership of his class. He was indeed the first Afrikaner I had met with this kind of openness and it left a lasting impression, opening doors in my own thinking. Daantjie was an unapologetic, practising Christian. I do not have the text of his Inaugural Lecture, but I recall the electric atmosphere in the tiered ranks of the packed main lecture theatre, when after a lengthy journey through the jungles of philosophical thought - much of which very few of us had been able to follow - he arrived at the Cross - the meeting place of time and eternity. The incident I quoted last Sunday also related to Daantjie's faith: cornered once by a colleague in the Philosphy Department (which was not known for sympathy to the Faith) and asked why someone of his obvious intellect and learning should bother to follow Jesus, Daantjie thought for a moment, then squinted at him through his thick spectacles and said, 'Who else would you recommend?' I drew sketches of all our faculty members to hang on the wall at our leaving dinner and still have a photo of the one I did of Daantjie. If you would like to have it, Jannie, when I get home to Simon's Town in August I can scan and send it.

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