Paul Kruger (1825-1904), a symbol of Afrikaner resistance against the British, said, “One who wants to create the future must not forget the past.” If we, as South Africans, are determined to sweep away the perverse vestiges of racialism that afflict our society, we ought to appreciate the past in order that we do not repeat it. However, many would rather bury their heads in the sand, forget and ignore the past as though it never existed.
Our history is rooted on conflicting nationalistic aspirations between black people and Afrikaners; both imbued with the spirit of nationalism, Afrikaner nationalism and African nationalism – each proceeding from an ideological position that conflicted with the other.
Afrikaner nationalism was an impetus for the Great Trek, the migration of an estimated 12 000 Voortrekkers who were discontent with the imposed British rule, to Natal, Orange Free State and Transvaal regions. These Afrikaners were unified in the belief that they were not only superior to the Africans but also shared common abhorrence of the liberals in the Cape Colony.
African nationalism required revolutionary liberation of Africa by means of unity among the colonised nations. African Nationalism demanded that Africans revive their cultures and their traditions from those least influenced by colonial rule. While Africans everywhere else in Africa were demanding liberation from colonial rule, Africans in South Africa were insisting on liberty from Afrikaner repression.
Anton Lembede (1914-1947) said, “A new spirit of African nationalism or Africanism is pervading through and stirring the African society. A young virile nation is in the process of birth and emergence. The national movement imbued with and animated by the national spirit is gaining strength and momentum.”
The history of Africans and Afrikaners is intertwined; it is a history of suffering courage and resistance against repression. The Afrikaners gained their independence from British rule after the Anglo-Boer war and 1948, when the National Party rose to power, heralded the beginning of legislated discrimination and oppression of Africans.
“What do Afrikaners talk about while standing around the “braai” — fire? There, where they are alone and need not be politically correct? They speak of feeling like strangers in South Africa – being powerless with no future. Each tells his own story of injustice and unfairness within the work place (just because he is an Afrikaner) – of his frustration with civil servants’ inefficiency. His children no longer qualify for bursaries and are unable to find jobs,” Dr Pieter Mulder, Leader Freedom Front Plus, remarked, highlighting irrational fears of the few who appear deeply paranoid about current political and economic circumstances. Fears that are far divorced from reality as it is and as it should be.
The dawn of the new political dispensation in 1994 presented hope that South Africans would be unified with common purpose to rebuild the country, but the unfolding political events post liberation indicate that a unified South Africa that we aspired to is still but a distant dream. There is a few Afrikaners that are determined to exclude themselves from efforts of nation building and reconciliation.
One would have expected that the political parties would have been making a determined effort towards deracialising politics and providing alternatives for all South Africans regardless of colour; that none of the political parties would be constituted along ethnic or racial lines.
The Freedom Front Plus (FF+) proudly proclaims that it is irrevocably committed to the protection and advancement of Afrikaner interests. The aim of the party is to establish a fair and legitimate dispensation for Afrikaners in South Africa, as well as to attain freedom for the Afrikaner in a territory of his own.
None of us would dispute the right of Afrikaners to protect and advance their own interests. The Afrikanerbond, a reincarnation of the Afrikaner Broerderbond, was established in 1994 to advance and promote the Afrikaans language and culture. It therefore defies logic that a political party such as the FF+ would be determined to take us back to 1948, when segregation was the root of all discontent. I do not believe that the majority of Afrikaners espouse the narrow-minded ideology pursued by the FF+. The majority of Afrikaners are progressive and want to see a country unified proudly under one flag instead of seeking a territorial autonomy that the FF+ is advocating.
The FF+ says, “This ideal can be realised by way of an evolutionary process commencing with group autonomy at local government level, leading then to self-determination at regional, provincial and finally national level.” Divisive politics take us a few steps back, when we attempt to make progression towards a truly rainbow nation. The FF+ is out of touch with reality.
Afrikaners and Africans share a common history and it is their commonness that would rapidly propel us to destinies far beyond the reach of the mortal eye. Let us then unite with one mind and one determined purpose. Let us restore the hope without which liberation and even life itself are but dreary things. If there be any among us who wish to defer this hope, let them stand alone, isolated as caricatures of dreadful absurdities.
“Africa unite!” — Bob Marley