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.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The story of the AWB


While the Volkstaat concept - that is, a nation state which is ethnically uniform, consisting only of Afrikaners - was always part of AWB philosophy from that organisation's beginning, the proposed boundaries of such a state have changed considerably since the idea was first mooted.

Like the HNP from whence it sprang, the AWB originally viewed the entire country as "white man's land" - except of course for the already existing Black homelands, which had been given official status by the grand apartheid policy. The reasoning then was that the only further concession which could be made was to give the Cape Coloured population a homeland as well - if they wanted it. This was original HNP policy and was for a while punted by the Conservative Party as well.

Against that background, Terre'Blanche explained the original AWB policy in 1982 as one of the granting of a homeland to the Coloureds in the Western Cape and the recognition of the existing Black homelands inside South Africa with the chance of them being granted slightly more land. Blacks finding themselves in the Volkstaat would have their political rights restricted to their own states.

The Indians, however, could have no claim to land. "They would be lucky to remain in South Africa. They are not White. They are not Christians. They have a different culture, tradition and language. They are exploiting South Africa economically. Do you expect us to carve up a piece of land in Natal for this purpose - Voortrekker land?" asked Terre'Blanche.

The policy of regarding the entire country as a Volkstaat was only finally dropped in 1985, after a leading campaigner for the Afrikaans language and for the restoration of the pre-Boer war independent republics, Robert van Tonder, became involved with the AWB.

Van Tonder, the founder of the town of Randburg and a self made millionaire, had long been running what was virtually a one man show calling for the restoration of the Boer republics divided from the rest of the country. He had in fact left the National Party as early as 1961 in order to pursue this idea.

His seminal book on the subject, "Boer State" laid the basic idea. Van Tonder also occasionally produced a newspaper "Die Stem" which he agreed to give the AWB on a split costs basis. "Die Stem" became the official organ of the AWB until December 1986 when Van Tonder left the AWB in a clash over whether to turn to active parliamentary politics or not.

During the time that "Die Stem" was the official mouthpiece of the AWB, however, Van Tonder (who was editor) managed to implant the idea of the restoration of the Boer republics in AWB supporters.

Thus it was in May 1985 that Terre'Blanche himself first announced at a public meeting in Nelspruit in the Transvaal that the AWB was now looking for only the Transvaal, the Orange Free State and Northern Natal to be the Boer fatherland. The Cape and Southern Natal was for the first time specifically excluded.

Above: The "Boer State" concept which was proposed by Robert Van Tonder. This eventually became the official policy of the AWB, as can be seen from the front page of the AWB's official newsletter "Sweepslag" in 1984.

When the Boer Republic idea began to draw more supporters as a result of his association with the AWB, Van Tonder started a "Boer State Committee" which was a body consisting of some senior Afrikaans academics (such as educationist Professor Alkmaar Swart who later became chairman of the AWB's Great Council as well) who had been taken with the concept.

Another group with basically the same idea called the "Transvaal Separatists" then started up under the leader ship of a Doctor Piet Cloete from Naboomspruit. A pamphlet issued by Cloete at the May 31 1986 right wing gathering at the Voortrekker Monument, calling for Boer State candidates to oppose the Conservative Party at the next general election, caused considerable concern in the ranks of the CP, and was wrongly attributed to the AWB by the National Party. Van Tonder himself was all for direct action, and eventually clashed with Terre'Blanche over the latter's refusal to enter into active parliamentary politics in 1986.

"If we cannot come to an agreement with the Conservative Party (to work for the re-establishment of the Boer states) then we must found a new party," Van Tonder told Jan Groenewald at the time.

"In this manner Van Tonder said in 1986 that the CP should give ten seats to the AWB, and that Terre'Blanche himself should stand in Krugersdorp," said Groenewald, former deputy leader of the AWB.

"The idea was for both myself and professor Alkmaar Swart (Chairman of the AWB's Great Council) to get seats as well. Both Swart and I said we were not interested."

At the end of 1986 Van Tonder left the AWB in despair and started the Boerestaat Party, which although has never taken part in any elections, was able to attract one or two key AWB figures such as Piet Rudolph to its ranks.

The Boer State idea is a mixture of historical claims and the Volkstaat non-political party ideology as originally propounded by the AWB.

An anonymous pamphlet on the issued in 1987 detailed the reasoning behind the whole concept. Entitled "Our Own Land" the pamphlet went into the historical reasoning behind the restoration of the Transvaal and Orange Free State Republics along with the Northern Natal section, known as "Vryheid" (Freedom) in Boer history.

Pointing out that the problem should be approached rather from a nationalistic point of view than race, the pamphlet said that the problem in a unitary state in South Africa would be one of competing nationalisms. The only way to prevent such a clash would be to give each nationalism a geographic area, the argument ran.

The claim to the territory is based on historical grounds, maintains the AWB proponents of a "Volks state." This is so because when the Great Trek occurred in South Africa, the trekkers did not steal any land from the native Black population, but only occupied land which was previously unoccupied - and which was so mainly as a result of the Black tribes having decimated each other during a huge inter-tribal war called the "Difaquane" prior to the trekkers settling in the interior of the country.

The "Volks state" pamphlet takes up the story of how the interior was opened up: "As a result of the Difaquane, the trekkers found a largely deserted and ravaged land as they moved north, and their diaries are full of descriptions of scenes of burnt out Black kraals with bleached bones lying in the sun, silent evidence to the Black on Black war which had taken place several years previously and which had so deserted the land that no-one was even left to bury the dead.



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