White first. African second

2011-09-24 11:39

Correction: In the printed version of this article (City Press, September 25) it was stated that farm murders had decreased by almost 100%. This is incorrect. It should read "by almost 50%" as stated in the version below.

Open letter to AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel

If one will always have to feel white first, and African second, it would be better not to stay on in Africa. It would not be worth it for this. – Nadine Gordimer

Dear Kallie,

Like you, I am a white Afrikaner who lives in Africa. I was glad to read in last week’s City Press that you identify yourself as “an African with a light complexion”.

I do too. I suspect, however, that we have vastly different interpretations of what it means to be an African Afrikaner in South Africa and on the position of Afrikaners in 2011.

You see yourself firstly as part of a minority group whose constitutional and human rights are being disregarded by the ANC. The premise of AfriForum’s campaigns is one of victimhood.

You regard the Afrikaners as a group under threat, a people whose basic rights to expression, association and movement are constantly being undermined by the black majority.

You want to struggle – in the courts, on the streets and in the legislature.This is a dangerous game, Kallie. You are not stupid, I know that.

So why are you refusing to present to your supporters a fairer, more balanced picture of your people’s position in South Africa today?

Is something more sinister at play? Is scaring people a more profitable tactic for AfriForum?

You know as well as I do that the Afrikaner’s cultural, religious and linguistic identity is not under threat. When I visit the Potchefstroom or Oudtshoorn arts festivals, I don’t see people who are suppressed.

In fact, they look happier to me than they were in 1994.

Have you heard of Afrikaner author Deon Meyer’s phenomenal success? We write what we like, Kallie.

You referred to the right-wing publication Die Afrikaner in your interview with us. Would an oppressive regime, hellbent on suppressing its minorities, allow such a publication to appear?

I think not.

You (and Judge Colin Lamont) use the very narrow definition of numeracy to define minorities. Yes, numberwise the Afrikaner is a minority group.

But even the United Nations, whose Minorities Declaration of 1992 is repeated almost verbatim on AfriForum’s website, recognises numbers can never be the only determining factor when defining minorities.

The UN published a report titled “Minorities under international law” in which it specifically (and ironically) quoted the South African example: “In most instances, a minority group will be a numerical minority, but in others, a numerical majority may also find itself in a minority-like or non-dominant position, such as blacks under the apartheid regime in South Africa.”

Who knows why the ANC’s legal team didn’t make this point in the case you brought against them. I’m sure AfriForum would agree that poor black South Africans are in an even less dominant position than middle-class Afrikaners from Pretoria.Which brings me to crime.

Why does AfriForum focus largely on crime against whites when you know black, poor people are by far the most vulnerable members of society when it comes to violent crime?

I see your old foe, the Transvaal Agricultural Union, admitted last week that farm murders were down by almost 50% in the last financial year.

I didn’t see a press statement from them or AfriForum on this.Isn’t there also a responsibility on a civil rights group to inform its members when things improve?

Isn’t there a risk we’ll have more Johan Nels – the young killer from Swartruggens who believed blacks were actively targeting whites in some form of genocide, and murdered four black people out of blind rage – if organisations like yours don’t inform and educate your supporters about what’s really going on?

Or is there some reason you don’t?

If they are a minority, then Afrikaners must be one of the most powerful, wealthy and diverse minorities on the planet.

Remember apartheid? The system that benefited your and my forbears to such an extent that we are still better off today than our black peers?

Have you had a look at the Sunday Times’ most recent Rich List published two weeks ago?

 If you did, you would have seen that four Afrikaners – Christo Wiese (Shoprite), Laurie Dippenaar (FirstRand), Johann Rupert (Rembrandt) and GT Ferreira (RMB) – are included in the country’s top 10 richest people.And did you see who the top two earners were for 2010?

Shoprite CEO Whitey Basson (who earned R627 million) and BHP Billiton boss Marius Kloppers (R77 million) – two Afrikaners.

Did you discuss this with the members of AfriForum?

Surely it is not possible for people from a minority group who are suppressed to do business in their country of birth?

And have you asked Wiese, Dippenaar, Rupert and Ferreira whether they regard themselves as minorities? Have they addressed AfriForum’s membership on becoming a billionaire minority?

It doesn’t seem so when I look at your website.

I only see campaigns against Julius Malema, taxi drivers and Judge Nkola Motata (to your credit, you did commission a legal opinion on the Protection of Information Bill).

Did you see Stats SA’s latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey for 2011?

Did AfriForum tell its supporters that the year-on-year unemployment rate of white people was the only population group to have decreased?

Did you explain to them that 30% of adult blacks (four million people) are jobless, compared with 5% (105 000 people) of whites?

If not, why not?

I suppose you have to emphasise the “threats” to get your supporters to donate to your “Stop Malema” campaign.

This is speculation, but I’m guessing that AfriForum has close to zero legitimacy today for black South Africans (and thousands of whites).

I am not saying you shouldn’t have taken the Dubula ibhunu case to court, but I’m questioning why you decided to pick that case and insisted on a judgment, even when Lamont was trying his best to push for a settlement.

Even your own “Civil Rights Manifest” argues in favour of settlements.I am deeply concerned about the effect AfriForum’s actions are having on our society and this is why I’m writing this letter to you.

Your actions are having a polarising effect and you need to do serious introspection if you want to be respected as a civil rights group.

Otherwise, you risk being a racist lobby group. Is there any reason AfriForum has no black employees (according to your website) and, I assume, no black members?

Have you considered joining forces with other rights groups like Abahlali baseMjondolo, the South African shackdwellers’ movement?

Or even the Landless People’s Movement?

Or do you really only want to represent the rights of (a small group of) Afrikaners, even though your “Civil Rights Manifest” commits you to benefiting “all the citizens of South Africa”?

Do you always have to feel white first, and African second?

Best wishes,
Adriaan Basson

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