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, March 28, 2007

We must delve deeper into new wave of Afrikaner siege mentality

Some vitriolic nonsense on how the ANC indulged the Freedom Front by setting up of a Volkstaat Council.

We must delve deeper into new wave of Afrikaner siege mentality Sunday Times Editor, Mondli Makhanya. 25 February 2007

COMMENT ON THIS: tellus@sundaytimes.co.za or SMS us at: 33971

I remember attending a Freedom Front congress about 10 years ago and listening to speakers lament the lot of the Afrikaner in the new South Africa.

The words hulle (them) and ons (us) came up a lot during animated speeches about the future of the Afrikaner. Uncertainty reigned in the community, which had lost power after 40 years of rule. Some of the debates taking place within Afrikanerdom were about establishing a system of limited self-rule within the republic.

As part of the pre-election settlement, the ANC had agreed to the setting up of a Volkstaat Council, which would look into the feasibility of such an Afrikaner homeland.

After his inauguration as President, Nelson Mandela had graciously given the Volkstaat Council a generous budget and offices where they could draw maps, use calculators and write their dreams into fancy computers. They travelled widely and studied models of self-governance elsewhere in the world. In the end, they came up with a squiggly, snaking and patchy map of a homeland that stretched from one end of the country to the other.

They handed their report to Mandela, who congratulated them on their diligent work, and then suggested a referendum among Afrikaners on whether they would like to live in such a place.

They have not been heard of since.

One would have thought that this was the end of Afrikaner nationalism, save for a few Boeremag madcaps here and there. Well, that was the case for a while. And then, in the past two years, there has suddenly been a surge in tribal thinking among Afrikaners.

What is bothersome about this wave of mobilisation is that — unlike the Volkstaat types or the Boeremag lunatics — it is quite mainstream. If media coverage and anecdotal tales are anything to go by, there is a strong feeling of victimisation and a sense that it is time to fight back against something.

It leaves me wondering: “What did I miss?” Did something recently happen that resulted in a reduction of the status of Afrikaners? Was there a pronouncement that said Afrikaners were henceforth to be regarded as lesser South Africans than others? Was there an edict that reduced their rights?

If any of these events did happen, then I must apologise for having been fast asleep while a dastardly act was being committed against our fellow citizens.

But this thing happening out there, as with any form of ethnic mobilisation, is cause for concern.

As much as we would like to dismiss the rallying around the Koos de la Rey song as just another passing phenomenon, it is not a cultural fad that will fade away to the fringes of society, like hippiedom and womb-worship.

I have read the lyrics of the song and they are quite ... well ... “struggle” orientated. We have all seen the reaction of the crowds when the song gets played at cultural festivals and at sporting events. It has clearly struck a chord among a generation who feel they have been hard done by in the democratic South Africa.

Why they feel this way is a great mystery to me. The new South Africa has been good for Afrikaners, better than apartheid South Africa in many respects.

Their language is no longer regarded as the language of the oppressor and is jealously protected by those who once took to the streets to reject it.

In both the public and the private sectors it enjoys a status far above that of the other official languages, other than English. It is thriving in the print and electronic media and its literature is in bloom.

In business, Afrikaners have done well. Freed from the bondage of the civil service, they have transformed themselves into great entrepreneurs.

Afrikaner symbols still dominate our urban landscapes and Afrikaner sportsmen are everybody’s heroes nowadays.

One could go on and on.

Ten years after that FF congress, one would have thought that the hulle and ons issues would have been worked out of our system.

But these are just the opinions of a lowly newspaperman. Perhaps wiser counsel would advise better.

I suspect, however, that wiser counsel would probably tell the newspaperman that what is incensing Afrikaners is the removal of Voortrekker and National Party names from street signs and city billboards. To them, this is the ultimate message of defeat.

But this is very odd, as name changes were bound to happen — and the only surprise is that it took so long.

Wiser counsel would also talk of how crime is affecting this community.

Then again, crime is not the exclusive preserve of any one group. And if anyone could lay claim to being the worst victims of the crime wave, it would be the black working class.

Then wise counsel would speak of the encroachment of English into Afrikaans life. Even here Afrikaners are not alone. Speakers of other African languages are equally resentful of the weed-like invasion of English.

Wise counsel would speak then of how employment equity has disadvantaged Afrikaner youths. Well, if you look at the reality on the ground, you will see a lot more black graduates walking the streets, suffering a worse fate than any Afrikaners would suffer.

Appealing to the Afrikaner’s sense of logic, in isolation, is unfortunately not going to help stop this retreat into a laager. We all need to delve deeper into what lies behind this siege mentality. And why now?



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