Library receives two fascinating donations

The ASCL Library recently received two fascinating donations: one from art historian Nicolaas Vergunst, and one from theologian Frans Verstraelen.

Nicolaas Vergunst (1958), author of Knot of Stone, donated four boxes and some art works. Born in Cape Town of emigrant Dutch parents, Nicolaas Vergunst has worked as an artist, art teacher, designer, curator and journalist. After a career with the National Museums of South Africa, he lived in several other parts of the world.

His donation contains materials on art, history and literature. Catalogues of art exhibitions, magazines and ephemera complement the already sizeable African art documentation based in Leiden (both at the Museum Volkenkunde and the ASCL). But this donation does not just complement, but also increases the depth of the existing collections. Some examples: A ‘skooluitgawe’  of F.A. Venter’s Swart Pelgrim gives us more insight into the educational contexts of a classic work. And a 1972 textbook of Die Vroeë Kaap, part of the Skool project, gives an interesting visual presentation of South Africa’s history from an Apartheid regime’s perspective.

A final example: the ASCL already had an almost complete set of The African Communist, journal of the South African Communist Party, published in London. What we didn’t know was the fact that a South African edition from this same journal existed, published with ‘innocent’ covers and meant for an audience living under the Apartheid government during the Cold War. Compare for example nr 119, 1989, the London and the South African editions. Content is similar but the covers are not:







The Roman Catholic theologian Frans Verstraelen (1927) has lived and worked in Ghana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. His book donation consists of several hundred books on religion and politics in Africa.

The major value of this donation is the archival part. Extensive notes on several subjects, photographs, reports of students’ field trips and diaries reflect the very long and prolific life he has lived in Africa. It also contains material from his first wife Gerdien Verstraelen-Gilhuis (1942-1989), who wrote her thesis on the Reformed Church in Zambia and lectured on (African) Church history at the University of Zimbabawe.







Notes, student reports, diaries from the Verstraelen collection.