The South African election of 1994 was supposed to usher in a new era of tolerance, a rainbow nation, free from the apartheid past. However, after twenty-four years of African National Congress government, South Africa is simply the revenge nation, with Lord Milner’s venality over a century ago being matched by people like Julius Malema, the leader of the so-called Economic Freedom Fighters party.
Just as the concentration camp policy of Lord Kitchener resulted in the deaths of 28,000 Boer women and children in the third phase of the Anglo-Boer War (1899 to 1902), so too has there been the same callous and criminal disregard by the present South African government. While history never exactly repeats, it is noticeable that the Boers (farmers), or Afrikaners, are again bearing the brunt of neglect, and worse.
The critics of the actions of successive white South African governments from 1910 to 1994, and particularly after 1948, have nothing to boast about with their silence and inaction, unless exacting revenge is now considered a political achievement.
In the ANC period of governance, highest estimates cite almost 70,000 whites being murdered while scores more have been raped, robbed and tortured. The murder rate on farms has made farming in South Africa one of the most dangerous occupations in the world. In the first quarter of this year there have been 134 farm attacks, with eighteen murders, at a strike rate of 1.5 attacks per day. The average numbers of attackers is three, with eleven being the highest recorded. Victims are often elderly, an eighty-eight-year-old being the oldest.
As the international liberal website Genocide Watch notes, “on average about 50 people per day are murdered in South Africa of which 20 are white”. So given that there are more blacks killed, why should there be special concern for whites? Because whites constitute only 8 per cent of the population (4.5 million) and 95 per cent of white victims are murdered by blacks. In addition there have been some 5000 members of farming families murdered on the ANC’s watch, many of them by hideous cruelty. Just as “black lives matter”, to coin a current phrase in the US, so too do white lives matter in South Africa. There the minority are in a far worse situation than American blacks.
But the media concentrates on fripperies, such as Whoopi Goldberg’s complaints that black actors are not being nominated for Academy Awards, while the racist murders of white South Africans by lawless black thugs is deemed too sensitive to comment on. Since 2007 the South African government has covered up statistics on ethnic-based killings.
When the former President Jacob Zuma sang “Kill the Boer” he should have been buried under an avalanche of international condemnation and odium, particularly as a South African judge had decreed that the singing of such a song was a hate crime. According to Dr Greg Stanton, foundation president of Genocide Watch, Zuma should have been impeached for that and also for corruption. According to Stanton, the Marxist Julius Malema, who has said whites should be treated as criminals for stealing black land, should have been put on trial for incitement to commit genocide.
Malema’s rabid followers on Facebook, like their leader, demand that all whites must pack up and go. Just where they should go is not stated. Whites have been in South Africa since Jan van Riebeeck landed at the Cape on April 6, 1652, to provide a refreshment station for Dutch ships en route to the Dutch East Indies. The English were later arrivals.
When the Trekboers, and later, and more significantly, the Voortrekkers pressed into the wilderness they had as much right to be there as the Zulu who had invaded the territory earlier and engaged in the Mfecane (crushing) of other black African groups, killing some 1.5 million of their victims.
At the Ncome River (Blood River), on December 16, 1838, fewer than 500 Voortrekkers faced a Zulu army of between 10,000 and 15,000, but their well-knit laager (circled wagons) and firepower ensured an epic victory. Only three of the Afrikaners were wounded, including their military leader Andries Pretorious. The Zulus lost 3000, and the place of the Boers in the hinterland was established.
Originally known as Dingaan’s Day, the date became established as the Day of the Vow, where Afrikaners gave thanks to God for answering their prayers—a South African version of Thanksgiving. The ANC, since forming government, has changed the name to Reconciliation Day.
Just think how we would like it if Anzac Day or Australia Day was changed to Reconciliation Day to accommodate Turkish or Aboriginal sensitivities. Should the Americans change Independence Day, because after all the slaves did not receive their independence in 1776?
In the First World War, 3125 South African troops entered Delville Wood, France. Only 143 exited. Should that great monument in France be pulled down because the soldiers of the Union of South Africa were white or because some Afrikaners of the time were opposed to fighting for the British cause? History and monuments are important and should not be changed by the whim and will of some transient political majority, or loud opponents.
To add insult to injury, the ANC honours murderers. Two days before Christmas 1985 the bombing of Amanzimtoti shopping mall claimed the lives of Christmas shoppers, mainly women and children. The bomb was placed there by a murderous criminal, Andrew Zondo. In 2010 the ANC named the main street of the area after him. The ANC Youth League wanted the whole of Amanzimtoti, south of Durban, renamed in his honour. This is called rubbing your opponent’s noses in it; it is not reconciliation. Zondo belongs in the Horst Wessel category of “national hero” and his deeds are merely an African version of Kristallnacht. The South African human rights organisation Afriforum bravely put up signs describing it as the “Murderers Street”.
Anyone who is responsible for the deaths of innocent women and children does not deserve accolades for it, only odium. It is why I regard Lord Kitchener as a war criminal, because he failed in his duty of care in the South African War. Failure of duty of care always has to be called out—as Western liberals rightfully condemned the death in custody of Steve Biko in 1977.
Last year the ANC honoured the late Cuban tyrant Fidel Castro with a monument in Bloemfontein—a direct insult to the South African Defence Force veterans who ensured the Cubans, Soviets and their Marxist acolytes were unsuccessful in spreading into South-West Africa (now Namibia) and then crossing the Orange River into the Northern Cape, during the Border War (1966 to 1989).
It was just one more insult in a long list. Clearly the ANC has no respect for other South African traditions, history and customs. Is it so bereft of unifying black figures who would gain the respect of all South Africans that it cannot allow existing monuments to retain their standing in a “rainbow nation”? Cannot the ANC add rather than just subtract?
In Standerton (Jan Smuts’s old constituency) in 2007 the ANC revealed their usual contempt by destroying an important Voortrekker memorial, constructed to mark the 150th anniversary of the Great Trek. The Lekwa mayor’s response was, “That piece of thing means nothing to us. It is just a piece of cement with tracks.” Fortunately the Pretoria High Court thought otherwise and ordered the municipality to pay damages and prohibited attempts to remove another statue honouring Anglo-Boer War victims of the concentration camps.
South Africa must also be the only country in the world that insists on quotas, in favour of the majority, when it comes to the selection of national sporting teams like cricket and rugby. Race-based selection was the reason that the great Springbok cricket sides of 1963 to 1970 were excluded for a generation. The nonsense of political correctness and arrogance, from international anti-white bigots, is amply illustrated by their silence in response to this blatant piece of social engineering. Selection on merit should always be adhered to and Cricket South Africa should adhere to that basic fact.
There is plenty of fault to be found with Afrikaners, and the South Africa of past years, but it is hard to disagree with Dan Roodt, an Afrikaner intellectual, who asks a simple question of international readers:
If you think that our voice and our unique testimony should be heard and that we do not deserve to be eradicated from our own country [then] we ask humbly for your support in our struggle for dignity, equality and fair treatment from the black majority … For us to be able to survive in the long term requires, like all other people, that we achieve autonomy.
Roodt’s plea for autonomy has been an integral part of Afrikaner nationalism from the beginning. In most countries of the word liberals argue for the rights of minorities to be different and, where possible, to have their own governing institutions. Conservatives generally argue that minorities should fit in and be like everyone else.
In South Africa it is different. There, conservative blacks and whites insist on group rights and a federalist system of government. South African liberals and Marxists see such autonomy as beyond the pale, while somehow the demands of multiculturalists for more autonomy for minorities never extends to the Afrikaner.
There is a clear breach of faith by the ANC on the matter of self-determination for the Boer-Afrikaner volk, something that was agreed to by the ANC in the last days of National Party government in April 1994. I was told in March 1994, by an SADF general, about the matter having Nelson Mandela’s support, and a handwritten letter by Mandela dated December 21, 1993, corroborates that claim. The persistence of the volksraad to engage with the ANC has continued since 1999 and the Afrikaners have pointed to historical practices, the South African Constitution and international practice.
Ironically, the current government has continued the apartheid policies of previous white governments in relation to homelands. Thus, benefits for certain black groups are retained but not for the Boer-Afrikaner!
The memorandum argues that the covenant applies to cultural communities within a country as well as in a broader sense, as demonstrated in respect of Kosovo.
Since being elected in 2011 the volksraad has repeatedly written to the South African government on self-determination and repeatedly been fobbed off. In August 2014 Cyril Ramaphosa, then acting President (for Zuma), met with them and conceded that territorial self-determination could be achieved through section 235 of the Constitution. However, he then reneged on his promise to arrange meetings between the volksraad and the Secretary-General of the ANC. He was wrong to do that, because the Constitution requires that the state president and cabinet initiate legislation, not a party representative.
It is hard not to use words such as inept and deceitful when looking at the sorry record of the ANC. The battle for the taal (Afrikaans language) is the other battle that may face Afrikanerdom. The citadel of the Afrikaans taal has been Stellenbosch University, but now the language is under attack even there.
It is ironic that a spokesman, Edwin Hertzog, speaks about the need for language pragmatism, financial constraints and the unaffordable loss of students if Afrikaans were to remain as the exclusive language of the university. His famous namesake J.B.M. (Barry) Hertzog (Prime Minister from 1924 to 1939), early in his political career, forsook a ministerial career to fight for, and ensure, the dual-stream language policy of the Union of South Africa.
The first two black presidents, Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki, both considered there was a place for Afrikaans-speaking universities. As Mandela said in 1996, in a country with twenty universities at least one should be reserved for that taal. A report to the Mbeki government in 2001 suggested at least two universities should use Afrikaans as the primary language of instruction. Given that until the mid-1980s there were six such universities, the suggestion is hardly outrageous.
The attack on the Afrikaans language also extends to schools. In January this year Julius Malema’s party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, demanded that English-speaking students be admitted to the Afrikaans-speaking Overvaal school. It took a court decision to determine otherwise after ANC provincial authorities abrogated their responsibility in the matter.
The attack has broadened, with the decision in April to exclude a choice of language in online school applications in Gauteng province. Gauteng has already converted 119 Afrikaans-speaking schools into English-language ones—many in coloured areas where Afrikaans is the predominant language (the coloureds, or mixed-race, group are a smaller minority than whites). Only 6 per cent of schools (138) in Gauteng, are now single-medium Afrikaans-speaking schools. In the case of Overvaal the school did not have the capacity to teach English-speaking children and it was simply yet another tawdry attack on the Afrikaners’ language and culture.
The future of Afrikaans as a national language remains under threat—despite the fact that more blacks, coloureds and Indians speak it as a home language than do whites. A 2013 study by the Institute of Race Relations found that of the 6.9 million who spoke Afrikaans at home only 2.7 million were white.
While some of these battles for cultural existence must be decided by South Africans alone, the murder of farmers deserves to be an international cause célèbre. Just as the Boers did not deserve to be herded into concentration camps during the Anglo-Boer War, Afrikaners do not deserve to be butchered on their farms today.
If Ramaphosa, the newly elected President, keeps to his promise of taking farm land without compensation then he is ensuring another war with the Boers. If that happens he will be revealed as just a black version of Lord Alfred Milner, the British imperialist who caused South Africa to go up in flames during the South African War and then felt it was his duty to smash Afrikaans afterwards.
It is ironic that the riots and house burnings in Coligny, North West province, in April last year, provided a parallel with distant atrocities in France. Then, just as the minority French Huguenots (Protestants), led by Admiral Coligny, were singled out by the Catholic establishment in France, culminating in the St Bartholomew’s Massacre in 1572, so too does another Coligny provide a useful bellwether of future evil, unless action is taken.
Just as history has been harsh on the instigators of turmoil, like Catherine de Medici and Milner, so too will it be with Ramaphosa. His infamous statement about “boiling the frogs slowly” is simply the action of a political toad and he needs to be called out on it and on the raft of the ANC’s discriminatory policies towards the minority. Western governments must not continue to watch idly.
The South African president should remember that respect for freedoms, history, culture and land title is a basic tenet of democracy. Advocating land appropriation without compensation, in a Mugabe-style criminal land grab, and blatantly discriminating against the minority, is the antithesis of democratic practice. How did that turn out in Zimbabwe?
In moving from the age of Milner to Malema, Boers are no longer herded off farms but instead are butchered on them.
John Elsegood is a retired history and politics teacher in Western Australia. He has also managed a country newspaper and a radio station and has worked for two senators. He has had a lifetime interest in South Africa.