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Could ‘Shoot the Boer’ trial bring SA back together?

Readers who have followed my writings for a while will have picked up some of my history. I pretty much did not have, for various reasons, including deaths, any real family until I met Marion some eight years ago. For the most part I did not mind; I had a good circle of friends and was at the time a church goer attending a small church where a lot of value was placed on family. Though, alas, I am no longer a “true believer”, the church family provided a healthy, caring, accountable community.

After I met Marion I inherited her family. Warts and all. There are some lovely people in the family but I also learned, at first hand, the saying, “friends you make, family you are born with”. Or inherit, in my case. Like any family we have layers of family politics. Roads you do not go down. Conversations you do not bring up. Some people who will not speak to other members. Yissie, we can hak sometimes. You all know my meaning; it’s common to all families.

There is an old saying in China, something to the effect that every family has a book nobody reads. In other words some secrets are best kept unsaid, which I heartily don’t agree with. Right now in my family I am preparing long emails which will be cc’d to all parties concerned, thanking people for what they have done for me but also carefully outlining some serious issues that I wish to deal with in a responsible manner. I will invite reconciliation, admit where I am wrong, but also insist on honesty among all with the express, clear goal in mind of reconciliation and defining roles and relationships. And a greater respect among people for others. It’s going to be a tough one, but I am optimistic.

Where I am going with this with regards to Malema and “Shoot the Boer” by now should be clear. The court case against him and the ANC is an opportunity for some serious grievances, some deep, repugnant history between blacks and Afrikaners (especially), to be cleared up. It could bring us all back together.

Yes, there are at least two different interpretations to the “Shoot the Boer” song and both sides (The Afrikaner as represented by Afriforum and the ANC’s) interpretations are known well to all concerned and which I need not repeat here. But the use of a court and Malema’s apparent willingness to dialogue on the issue as expressed in this article was, for me, a pleasant surprise and most encouraging.

He said: “We are concerned about farmers who are killed on the farms.” He then stated: “But equally so we are concerned about farm workers who are killed on those farms,” and then Malema went on to say: “The loss of life is a loss of life and therefore we must never celebrate the loss of life”.

In the second statement he is showing the obvious other side to the coin: farm workers being killed. This is part of the process of reconciliation: seeing things from the other party’s point of view and why the song, especially to ANC cadres, is extremely important and has historical value. Of course, I hope Malema has not just been trained to give lip service. But the boy seems to be starting to grow up a little. This is a newer Malema, if this that I read is true: Malema told the court that he felt that the two parties were moving closer over the issue of the lyrics and that they were open to unconditional dialogue outside of courts.

But this one sentence I read in the news had chills going down my spine: “Winnie Madikizela-Mandela said outside the court that she wanted to thank AfriForum for bringing everyone’s attention to the country’s future president”. The sheer presumption about the laurel wreath being placed on Julius Seizure’s polished dome one day, announced with more faith than the most devout Christian anticipating the Second Coming, has a distasteful, self-assured arrogance that really gets my back up. That’s family bickering for you, ne?

Yes, like a family, South Africa is a country I was born with. I carry her with me everywhere I go. Yes, I refer to South Africa as a woman. She cannot, in my heart, be an “it”. Sy is my moederland, something of an animating anima that is impossible for me to leave behind as surely as I cannot (and will not) change my accent. My memories are filled with South Africa, from the pines of Cape Town, tall flasks of silence calming me with their rustling lullabies. I will never forget my walks through Constantia Forest and up the slopes of Table Mountain. Her languages are rich with hard, biting words like fok, hak, kak, ne, yebo, bliksem, bek and bekhou!, all like the sounds of the pieces of quartz I used to hurl as a child at the clanging windmill on the huge plot we lived on in a dry, rural part of Boksburg. I have over 40 years of memories like that, and they have shaped and informed my life and the way I give meaning to things in ways I will never fully comprehend.

The journey into greater self-comprehension, perhaps like enlightenment, is like the journey into reconciliation, and can be both arduous and marvelous.

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  • Author

    • Rod MacKenzie

      CRACKING CHINA was previously the title of this blog. That title was used as the name for Rod MacKenzie's second book, Cracking China: a memoir of our first three years in China. From a review in the Johannesburg Star: " Mackenzie's writing is shot through with humour and there are many laugh-out-loud scenes". Cracking China is available as an eBook on Amazon Kindle or get a hard copy from His previous book is a collection of poetry,Gathering Light. A born and bred South African, Rod now lives in Auckland, New Zealand, after a number of years working in southern mainland China and a stint in England. Under the editorship of David Bullard and Michael Trapido he had a column called "The Mocking Truth" on NewsTime until the newszine folded. He has a Master's Degree in Creative Writing from the University of Auckland. if you are a big, BIG publisher you should ask to see one of his many manuscript novels. Follow Rod on Twitter @