Home   Alpabetical list of all authors

A C Cilliers

1898 - 1980

Andries Charles Cilliers

Author of scientific and autobiographical books
Professor of Theoretical Physics at Stellenbosch University, 1940 - 1963

Signature 1972

Andries Charles Cilliers was born on 1 January 1898 at Wellington, in the Cape Province.
He matriculated at Paarl and studied Physics at Stellenbosch University (B.Sc., M.Sc. cum laude 1919) and in Göttingen and Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany (Ph.D. summa cum laude 1924).
He was appointed senior lecturer in Mathematics at the University of Cape Town in 1924 and senior lecturer in Physics at Stellenbosch University in 1925. During the period 1940 to his retirement in 1963 he was Professor of Theoretical Physics at Stellenbosch University and, on occasion, Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences.
In 1932 he married Mimi de Villiers and they had two sons, Andries Charl and Fanie, both lawyers. A C Cilliers died in September 1980 in the Strand, near Cape Town.

The central theme in the life of AC Cilliers was the combating and curtailment of unrestricted growth, not only in nature, but also and especially in relation to the great man-made crisis: the pressure of population in the 20th century. His Life on the Sigmoid is a reformulation of the Malthusian principles in this connection. This theme of controlled growth was also applied in his view of the nature, role and structure of universities. His constructive criticism of the doctrine of holism of General Smuts is in the same vein.
His contribution to South African public life appears from the "A C Cilliers Versameling", housed in the J S Gericke Library, Stellenbosch.

'Prof. A.C. - só het almal hom geken - het in die jare dertig 'n groot rol gespeel in die versoening van genls. Smuts en Hertzog en ná die Depressie het hy ook'n vername aandeel gehad aan die opbou van die Afrikaner'
Matieland 3:80

Chairman of a government Film Committee, 1938 (report 1943).
A founder member of SABRA (SA Bureau for Racial Affairs).
Secretary of Stellenbosch Versoeningskomitee ("Reconciliation Committee"), attempting political reconciliation between Afrikaners. (1939-1941). Minister Ben Schoeman in his autobiography stated:
"Eintlik kan gesê word dat hy [A C Cilliers] die vader van die Afrikanerparty was".
Senate representative on the Council of Stellenbosch University for sixteen years.
Member of the South African Academy of Arts and Science (1946).
Member of the Atomic Energy Board.
Chairman of a committee of inquiry into the subsidy formula for universities (1961), whose report was implemented by the government in virtually all respects.
Chairman of the Universities Advisory Committee 1963 to 1974.
In 1967 his comprehensive report to the government concerning review of state subsidies for universities for the period 1969 to 1974, led, inter alia, to a commission of inquiry into universities in South Africa.
Hobbies: Fishing, hunting and golf


After his retirement A C Cilliers was awarded doctorates, honoris causa, by the following universities:
University of Cape Town, University of the Witwatersrand, Rhodes University, University of Port Elizabeth and the University of South Africa.
In the Rhodes University citation he was referred to as
"...a dynamic South African, who has contributed to the culture of our land, not only in his own field of mathematics and physics, but also in politics, and pre-eminently in university finance and administration."


Holism and Evolution (Review of book by General Smuts in Die Huisgenoot, 1927)
A Mathematical Expression for the Growth of Trees and Their Dependence on time and Density of Stocking (with J H van Wyk), Annals of the Stellenbosch University, 1938
A series of pamphlets (1938 to 1941) dealing with South African political matters relating to Afrikaner unity
Our Heritage - Ons Erfenis (Union Films) (script writer), 1945
Dimensie-leer of Logometrie ('n Verhandeling oor die Grondslae van die Simbole-rekening in die Fisika), Annale, Universiteit van Stellenbosch, 1961
Ex Unitate Vires (A Plea for a Grand Political Alliance as a Prerequisite for the Solution of the South African Trilemma (Biological, Physiological and Racial) (Pamphlet, 42 pages, 1952 ).
Reports to the Cabinet on university finances over a number of years.
Extensive publications in non-technical journals and newspapers over many years in respect of scientific, philosophical and socio-political matters, including birth control, racial affairs and separate development, representation in Parliament, the conservation of water and the preservation of farms, as well as university affairs. He also participated in many radio programmes.


The State and the Universities 1910 to 1943, Maskew Miller, 1944
Life on the Sigmoid - An essay on Bio-Politics, Volume 1, The Problem of Growth, 1946
The Minerva Calendar and the Periodic Fertility of Women, (booklet, second impression 1952, and the patented Calendar)
Die Silwer Soom (autobiography), 1959
Lewensavontuur (autobiography)
Deel I: Kinderjare op 'n Bolandse Plaas, 1971
Deel II: Seunsjare op Olyfboom, 1972
Deel III: Studiejare in Suid-Afrika en Duitsland, 1973
Deel IV: In die Stryd van my Tyd (uncompleted manuscript, housed in the library of the Stellenbosch University)

tomb stone

Text by Andries Cilliers, January 2004

Webmasterwww.StellenboschWriters.com © Rosemarie Breuer

   Publisher of special editions Books