Funeral strictly not for ‘muntus’

2010-04-11 10:24

“MUNTU! Muntu!” a white mourner at Friday’s funeral ­service for AWB leader Eugene Terre’Blanche screamed at me as I walked out of the Afrikaanse Protestantse Kerk in Ventersdorp.

For a moment, I thought he was calling my colleague, City Press photographer Muntu Vilakazi. But I knew Vilakazi was not at the funeral. Why was he calling “muntu” then, I asked myself as I walked away with another ­mourner, chatting about what ­Terre’Blanche’s death meant for South Africa, in particular race ­relations.

“Muntu! Muntu! Bobbejaan ­(Baboon)!” he shouted again.

It was at this point that I realised he sought to humiliate me when he initially screamed “muntu”. He just did not know the difference ­between “muntu” and “baboon”. “Muntu” is Nguni for human being. It is not offensive. Baboon is.

The taunts, however, did not start there.

I was first stopped at the church door because it is an “Afrikaner church” and “non-whites” were not allowed in.

Terre’Blanche’s family had ­initially agreed that the media would be allowed to enter the church, but later changed their minds.
“No reporters inside please,” one woman said to me. The belief among the mourners was that this would go against the AWB’s stance of exclusivity.

This, however, seemed to apply only to black reporters, as our white counterparts entered without hindrance.

Two policewomen – one white and the other coloured – who saw the encounter politely escorted me ­into the building.

“There are ­reporters inside. Why are you ­being stopped?” one asked.

Inside the church, I saw Yolanda Barnard, a Sunday newspaper journalist who studied with me a few years ago. She said: “Moffet, you can speak Afrikaans. Do not be intimidated.”

But frankly, I was.

Mourners at the funerals I ­attend don their best attire, not boots, or a firearm on the hip.

I then saw a few black cameramen in the hall who were allowed inside, apparently after much ­negotiation.

I attended Terre’Blanche’s ­funeral to see for myself the ­apparently increasing racist rage among most Afrikaners. Was it so serious that it could lead to an ­ethnic war?

The answer, I discovered from the few people I spoke to there, was a resounding “no”. Terre’Blanche was a leader of a minority group within a minority.

“An impression was created in the media that Afrikaners are walking around the streets, ready to shoot at blacks,” said a mourner who requested not to be identified.

The government, most complained, was not protecting farmers. Afrikaners, some argued, are now “really insecure” as a result of the highly inflammatory comments of ANC Youth League ­president Julius Malema.

I found nothing substantive in their comments that suggested that they were about to be wiped off the planet on the basis of ­racism. Crime in South Africa is a problem affecting all of us – black and white.

President Jacob Zuma has since Terre’Blanche’s death called for calm amid AWB general-secretary Andre Visagie’s war talk.

The Democratic Alliance, Afrikaner groups and musician Steve Hofmeyr have condemned Malema, but not Visagie.

Hofmeyr, who reiterated the mourner’s comment, said the ­international media were “waiting like bloodhounds” to send their clips out into the world to show how “bloodthirsty” the ­Afrikaner nation was.

“The eyes of the world are upon us as Afrikaners today. If we go out here we are going to show them something else than what they are expecting,” he said.

He said he had gone through the Federation of Afrikaans Culture’s song archives and found no songs derogatory of other nations.

He said it was not enough to ask for people to remain calm for the sake of the 2010 soccer World Cup.

“I cannot enter a stadium named after Peter ‘Kill the Boer’ Mokaba,” he said. Hofmeyr was ­referring to a stadium in Polokwane that was named after Mokaba, the late ANCYL leader who became famous for chanting the “Kill the Boer” slogan.

As I drove to the cemetery, Bok van Blerk’s song De La Rey blurted out of most cars in the convoy. I tuned on my car radio too and, for a few seconds, Black Coffee’s hit song Mama took me back to the days when mothers cried for their children who had to bear the brutality of the apartheid regime.

I switched my radio off, on second thoughts, because it is wrong in my culture to play music during a funeral.

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