Helenard Joe (Allan) Hendrickse (1927 - )
The Order of the Baobab in
Profile of Helenard Joe (Allan) Hendrickse
Reverend Helenard Joe (Allan) Hendrickse was born in Uitenhage in 1927 and ordained as a minister in the Congregational Church in 1951. He also trained as a teacher and taught at various high schools and colleges from 1952 and 1969 in the Eastern Cape and in Cape Town.
As a member of the Teachers' League of South Africa (TLSA), Hendrickse formed part of a movement of politically conscious teachers who resisted collaborating with the racist South African Government. In the early 1960s, he took part in the campaign by Coloured people in Port Elizabeth to resist removals from the South End area in terms of the Group Areas Act.
In 1961, Rev Hendrickse broke with the TLSA on the question of Coloured identity and politics when he attended the Coloured People's Convention organised by the South African Coloured People’s Organisation and addressed by Nelson Mandela and other Congress movement leaders. In the period of the political vacuum resulting from the banning of liberation organisations in the early 1960s, the Government set up the Coloured Persons Representative Council (CRC), ostensibly to afford Coloured people a limited measure of self-government. Although the institution was widely rejected as a mock body designed to co-opt Coloured people, Rev Hendrickse decided to participate in it with the aim of embarrassing the Government and obstructing the machinery of the CRC in order to end oppression.
Despite Rev Hendrickse's controversial stand, he remained true to his beliefs and strategy throughout his tenure in politics e.g. as MEC for Education opening "Coloured" schools to all races. Although he was a leader in the Governments CRC, he met clandestinely with Oliver Tambo, the President of the African National Congress (ANC). In 1976, he was detained and put into solitary confinement as part of the countrywide security clampdown.
Though Rev Hendrickse rejected the proposed tricameral Parliament because it excluded representation for Black South Africans, he joined P.W Botha's Cabinet, only to resign in protest against Botha's dictates.
After the unbanning of the liberation movements in 1990, he accepted that the approach that he had championed over the previous three decades had exceeded its usefulness and he led the collapse of his Labour Party into the ANC. Rev Hendrickse was an ANC delegate at the Convention for a Democratic South Africa negotiations which paved the way for a new political dispensation. He was a member of the Transitional Executive Council immediately preceding the first democratic elections and elected ANC senator in 1994. Rev Hendrickse retired in 1996.
Rev Hendrickse has been involved in education, the church, politics and the struggle against Apartheid for more than half a century. He remains a respected elder in the community, and within the broader body politic.