A simple, free history lesson for Kriel

2015-02-02 15:00

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The article, “Defending Afrikaners’ Land” by Kallie Kriel (City Press, January 25 2015) is a shocking example of the intellectually ossifying effects of indoctrination coupled with misplaced notions of racial superiority among some who claim to speak on behalf of Afrikaners.

His outburst must be dismissed as a far-right, racist rant by someone against change and transformation. His views are symptomatic of the growing chorus of renewed far-right wing arrogance.

Kriel’s regurgitation of the notion that the “Bantu-speaking Africans” arrived in South Africa at the same time whites were also arriving in the south of the country is sad and tragic. Similarly, he claims the “Voortrekkers” found the interior of the country emptied of any human habitation because of the wars of the Mfecane/Difaqane. This is equally ridiculous, erroneous and laughable.

How does Kriel account for the fact that, as soon as they arrived in Natal in 1836 until 1840 when they established their “republic” on Zulu territory, the “Voortrekkers” were engaged in no fewer than five major wars against the Zulu people of that territory? How does he account for no fewer than six major military engagements against the Basotho? And what of the numerous wars against the Bapedi, Ndebele and amaSwazi before the “peace accord” he vaunts?

These were wars of aggression aimed at the dispossession of indigenous African people of their land by a group of white settlers who decided to leave the Cape because they could not accept the provisions of Ordinance 50 of 1828. They believed it denied them their “right” to keep in slavery the Khoikhoi, San and other Africans, as well as Malays.

Driven by hatred and racism, Kriel’s ancestors left the Cape in gangster groups called Voortrekkers and headed for the interior – to plunder and steal.

The sordid story of systematic genocide that followed – which those who perpetrated it proudly referred to as the “extermination” of the Khoikhoi and San and the brutal separation of their children from their parents – is a mark of the painful history of this country.

The same applies to the aftermath of the conquest of the Nguni, Basotho, Ndebele, Tswana, Tsonga and Vhavenda Africans. Over a period of less than half a century they were turned from self-sufficient people into paupers in the land of their birth. The promulgation of racially discriminatory laws such as the Natives Land Act of 1913, the Native Trust and Land Act of 1936, the Native Urban Areas Act of 1923, the various Group Areas Acts, the pass laws and a battery of similar laws in the subsequent “modern” period had the main function of consolidating this process of historical land theft.

But did white Europeans and the “Bantu” arrive in South Africa at the same time? The evidence indicates otherwise.

The adoption of linguistic changes by the “Bantu”, as influenced by the Khoi and San, shows these groups had interacted in South Africa fora long and sustained period.

This is made even more evident by the fact that groups who exhibited the physical and linguistic characteristics of both the Khoikhoi and the “Bantu” – such as the amaGqunukhwebe of the Eastern Cape, and the Damara of western South Africa and Namibia – were in existence since the beginning of the past millennium.

Similarly, pottery styles associated with the Stone Age – which is supposed to be the period most closely associated with the Khoikhoi and San – are to be found at sites occupied by the “Bantu”, where there is no evidence of settlement by the Khoikhoi and San.

These controversies and uncertainties notwithstanding, the Khoikhoi, San and “Bantu”, which are indigenous to the territory today known as South Africa, evolved over many years, a period spanning several millennia.

When the first white settlers arrived in 1652, the “Bantu” had settled into a more sedentary lifestyle characterised by agricultural production, livestock farming and relatively hardy, permanent and clustered residential structures, while the Khoikhoi and

San preferred the more nomadic life of pastoralists and hunter-gatherers.

Kriel’s diatribe is an example of how some sections of our country’s population seek to reward the African people for their magnanimity and generosity with nothing but relentless insults to their intelligence. They inflame racial hatred and stoke the fires of racial conflict.

The axiom that until the lions have their own historians, history will always glorify the hunter still rings true.

Our country is in serious need of African historians who will step up to the plate, as it were, and carry out good research to rebut these views and lay them to rest.

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