Volkstaat (Afrikaans for "People's state") is a proposal for the establishment of a homeland for Afrikaners. Outside a possible use of force, the South African Constitution and International Legislation present certain possibilities for the establishment of such a state. The South African regime declared that they would not support a Volkstaat, but "would do everything they could to ensure the protection of the Afrikaner language and culture". What a fine job they are doing.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Orania—A Place To Live

A transcript of Derek Watts' documentary on Carte Blanche, Oct. 20, 2002

This is no ordinary classroom. These children are managing their own education, based on sound business principles. When they want time off, they have to apply for leave and it’s granted only if their work is up to date.

This revolutionary education model is found in the most unexpected of places.

This is Orania in the Northern Cape and if the name rings a bell, the town has often been in the news for it’s conservative politics.

But now Orania is in the news again for an entirely different reason.

The school is just one example of what can almost be described as a wave of new-age thinking that permeates every aspect of life in the small Afrikaans speaking town. Carel Boshoff has lived here for five years.

Carel: There is a new life, there is a new Afrikaans way of being that could be taken into the future.

The town has become a working model for sustainable local development, but the importance of such a lifestyle was realised by these creative minds long before the term sustainable development became a catch phrase.

It required a huge shift in mindset.

Carel: Once you force yourself to start making plans about it, you start finding ways of doing things which seemed impossible...it’s immensely empowering.

So empowering that the town with its 500 souls has its own private community bank...

All agriculture is computerised, in fact there is no need for a hired labour force. But that’s something frowned upon by most South Africans who say blacks are simply not welcome in Orania. According to Carel that pre-conception is based on South Africa’s racial history

Carel: It’s interesting that when you move around in Orania and you have white South African journalists and they see a white guy digging a hole, they say “What’s going on here, are you racist or what.” If you have a black South African journalist or a foreign journalist and they see a white guy digging a hole, they don’t think twice about it, they say “That’s normal”. For us it’s about much more than the black or white question in South Africa. For us it’s a question of a sustainable lifestyle for the 21st century.

With this in mind a multi-million Rand exportable education system was developed by a handful of progressive teachers in Orania.

As one visitor to Orania said it seems strange that you have to travel to the middle of nowhere to find such a dynamic system of self-guided education. But Ken Web has been so successful that it is distributed around SA and even exported overseas.

Headmaster turned businessman Andre van den Berg, ships the Ken Web education model from this small office to 50 South African schools and 500 home schools in over 15 countries.

Andre: The basis was individualised learning and we quickly found out that it won’t work unless you’ve computerised it.

Derek: Now some kids just aren’t motivated. What do you do about them if they’re left to be so independent?

Andre: Ja, it’s very interesting, if you look at the child, any child, when they do their own thing, they are motivated...if you give them help when they don’t need it they sit back.

The school is the pilot sight for the Ken Web programme. Wynand Boshoff’s class includes children from grade four to grade twelve and they all call him by his first name. He’s always at hand, but they have to take the initiative to seek his guidance.

Wynand: Rather than being a teacher I’m a consultant, leading them and helping them wherever they need my guidance to master their work.

Derek: Does this ever change into an ordinary classroom where you stand up there at the board with the chalk and give a lecture?

Wynand: They come to my desk and we explain something on a piece of paper and that only happens if the learner wants to know it. It never happens when I think he should know it now.

Although Ken Web is supported by computer technology, there’s more to the system than just software.

Andre: The beauty of the system is it’s not on disk, we want them to handle books, we want them to handle videos, we want them to organise the whole working place like in a business. What is on the computer is a means of self-evaluating, a means of testing whether I have mastered the concepts I should have mastered.

Even children in the younger classes have to take more responsibility, even though they start the Ken Web programme only in grade four. A lot of time is also spend outside the classroom where the children have tasks to fulfil on the school grounds.

Wynand: Sustainability is a question of culture, it’s not a question of science, it’s a question of a sustainable culture. Everyone has to know the nice feeling of having your hands full of dirt and spraying yourself full of water while checking the irrigation, that’s part of being at one with the living life.

There’s no marching, no school uniforms and discipline is based on mutual respect.

Derek: What sort of pupils do you think you’re churning out?

Wynand: Well, I hope we’re turning out spontaneous adults who know what they want to get out of life, they have to go and get it.

Off the beaten track, halfway between Bloemfontein and Kimberley in the sparsely populated Northern Cape. It’s hard to find Orania on the map.

In the early 1990’s a group of people with a strong Afrikaner identity were demanding a Volkstaat or Afrikaner homeland. Some of them formed a company that bought the then ghost town, Orania, hoping to establish the Volkstaat in the predominantly Afrikaans speaking Northern Cape. Many of them were descendants of the former Apartheid Prime Minister, Hendrik Verwoerd. Carel Boshoff is his grandson..

Carel: I’ve been part of a student movement that rejected the old regime but did not opt for the alternative of joining the ANC.

Carel was a conscientious objector to military service. Instead he spent his time exploring and developing the concept of self-sufficient and self-determining communities in SA. It landed him a position on the Volkstaat Council that was investigating self-very determination for Afrikaners. When he moved to Orania he became the Freedom Front’s only representative in the Northern Cape legislature.

But in Orania economics is now stealing the limelight from politics.

Economist and University of Pretoria academic, Professor Johan van Zyl is hailing the town as South Africa’s first working example of a new trend.

Johan: This new kind of economics is a people-centred and an ecologically sustainable economics, so the emphasis is on those two things, people-centredness and ecological sustainability. Now the recent World Summit was nearly almost all about exactly those two things.

Dr. Norman Reynolds, Zimbabwe’s former chief economist and a authority in economic rights, recently took a trip to Orania.

Norman: The balance that we’re all trying to strike is between global and local, globalisation and localisation. Now Orania just happens to be one of the few working models we’ve got...it’s very young and it hasn’t done very much, but it’s very precious.

Several innovative economic systems were sourced from around the world. This man spent time in the south of Israel learning all about exporting vegetables while this couple worked and studied herb cultivation before settling in Orania. Five years ago these two farmers had a record harvest getting an average 15,4 tons of maize per hectare. At the same time others planted 20 000 pecan nut trees which are now reaching maturity. The export value would be R8-million per year.

Orania also made plans to build the biggest sustainable dairy in the southern hemisphere........

Today it not only supplies the town but the surplus is sold elsewhere.

Sustainable development can be a daunting term but here in Orania it’s seen in action with some simple yet effective projects, even if they were poached from Australia.

Vegetables for dinner and chicken for the pot ....all in the back yard.

This rotational chicken farm has 12 stations with the chicken coop rotating from one to another. The chickens fertilise and work the soil and once the coop is moved the vacated station is planted with vegetables. So the chickens do all the work while the owner gets 50% of her family’s food requirements for less than an hour’s labour a day.

But how do you motivate a community to be so pro-active.

Carel says it’s by giving them ownership.

Carel: Those communities have something that bonds themselves together. This is what is happening here, there is that, call it ethnic element, to the kick-starting of it all.

Orania’s now on a roll...they’re even building with straw. This is the town’s resident architect, Christian van Zyl.

Derek: Christian, the whole house is built out of straw bales?

Christian: Yes, the walls is built of straw bails, the foundation was something found here...

Derek: But inside her, it’s all straw?

Christian: It’s straw.

Once stacked, the straw bales are anchored with chicken mesh and plastered.

Christian: There’s a truth window over here showing the straw bales inside the wall, with the chicken mesh over it.

Christian also designed the local wine dealer. He says he’s doing smaller things ... but they’re more exciting.

Christian: It’s more about sustainable architecture, everything... my heart and soul is into it.

Derek: One thing you have to bear in mind the whole time is that it can’t betoo labour intensive?

Christian: You don’t need to be skilled, you can build it yourself, a family can build their own house. The nice thing is, if it’s finished, you know you’ve done it...the place is sort of part of you and it’s got soul.

Johan van Zyl agrees.

Johan: Do things yourselves instead of importing them from the outside, and of course if you go that route will be creating employment for your own people, locally.

Carel: We are really living in interesting times. I can’t think of anything more exciting to do with this part of my life than living around here doing what we are doing.

Orania will soon join hands with 45 other South African communities to promote the concept of localisation.

Norman: I think what we’re going to see is that Orania is going to earn it’s way, not just for itself but on behalf of other communities and therefore it’s going to become something of a pilot, and it’ll be seen in a different light from it’s origins, and I think that’ll become the politics of Orania...the politics of Afrikanerdom will be settled somewhere else I think.



At 6:53 PM, Blogger victor said...

I think this is a fantastic concept. How do I get involved?

At 10:27 PM, Blogger Terence Roe said...

It is extremely interesting to hear of the enthusiasm that has gripped very useful people in Orania, whom one would expect to find flourishing in much larger places and cities. I do sincerely believe that what is developing there is the result of a higher power at work; one which is very clearly demonstrating the need for simplifying one's lifestyle; this by acknowledging the existence of a great, loving God who is clearly leading mankind to refrain from conforming to the uncaring, greed-motivated world system that is very busily destroying the future of all of mankind. My sons and I are fascinated with the prospect of being part of a truly Godly, God-fearing, industrious community like Orania. We would love the opportunity to share what we could offer to this unique, blessed town and community; our aim being to be a part of making the entire super- project a proven, truly successful example to the whole of very weary mankind throughout the length and breadth of the entire world!

We would love to hear from one or more of the influential members of the Orania community who could discuss possibilities of our becoming useful, fruitful members of your community.

With much love and sincerity from,
Terry & Bettie Roe & Sons.
Durbanville. Kaapstad. (Bekend as, Agter die Boperewors Gordyn)

Selfoon : 076 378 6680
Na-ure-Landlyn : 021 839 1375


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