Orania is not the new non-racialism

2011-03-26 09:20

ANC Youth League (ANCYL) spokesperson Floyd ­Shivambu is in serious need of political ­education.

After right-wing leader, and first citizen of Orania, Professor Carel Boshoff passed away last week, Shivambu issued a statement on ­behalf of his organisation sympathising with Boshoff’s family and friends.

No problem with that.

It’s what Shivambu said next that made me choke on my boerewors: “The ANC Youth League is ­saddened that he passed away before he could fully embrace the non-racialism brought forth by the ­democratic government in South Africa.

“We are saying ‘fully embrace’ because in our interaction with Boshoff during the general elections in 2009, he assured us that he accepted the democratic government of the ANC at national, provincial and local level, but maintained that the Afrikaner ­community should live separately to conserve their traditions and culture.”

Fully embrace non-racialism? Carel Boshoff?

Sorry Floyd, but you deeply misunderstand what Boshoff and his ilk stand for and what their ideal South Africa looks like.

It is a far cry from Robert Sobukwe’s dream of a non-racial South Africa: “We will go on until the day dawns when every person who is in Afrika will be ­African and a man’s colour will be as irrelevant as is the shape of his ears.”

Carel Boshoff and his Afrikaner-Vryheidstigting (the abbreviation of which was Avstig, a play on ­“afstig”, which means “to secede”) believed in ­segregation, apartheid, call it what you may.

Boshoff, the son-in-law of apartheid architect ­Hendrik Verwoerd, did not want to share his streets, post office or supermarket with black people (or coloured or Indian or English people, for that matter).

He believed the Afrikaner nation was better off alone on their own piece of land next to the Orange River – a ­belief stemming from deep-seated racism and the ­dislike of others, topped with the superiority complex generations of Afrikaners suffer from.

In 1992, while debating whether he and his collaborators should participate in the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa), Boshoff said it was a modern trend worldwide to retreat into ethnicity.

“It’s not that the Afrikaner won’t subject himself to the rule of a black man. The Afrikaner never wanted to be subjected to anyone’s rules, including the British.”

Hardly the mantra of a non-racial advocate.

You are right, Floyd, that Boshoff was always ­willing to engage and talk to others, even though he didn’t agree with them.

But what is the subtext to this statement?

That because Boshoff never bombed or shot at black people, we should thank and ­remember him? Surely not!

I would like to think we have set our bar higher for those we should honour and look up to.

Carel Boshoff is not one of them. He definitely did not have the “maximum prospects of understanding and embracing non-racialism”, as you wrote in your statement.

I went back to the youth league’s archive and couldn’t find a statement of sympathy for the friends and family of former Progressive Party

Leader and intellectual Frederik van Zyl Slabbert ­after he passed away in May last year.

Should I assume that the youth league values Boshoff’s contribution to a non-racial South Africa higher than that of Slabbert’s?

If so, Shivambu and his colleagues are in serious need of political education.

The youth league’s appraisal of Boshoff is the latest in a series of flirtations between the ANC and conservative Afrikaners (think Pieter Mulder’s ­appointment to the executive, and President Jacob Zuma’s meetings with Steve Hofmeyr and Dan Roodt).

Do Zuma and Shivambu honestly, ­mistakenly, believe these people represent the ­majority of Afrikaners?

Or does the post-Polokwane ANC just naturally feel ideologically closer to the land’s conservative folk, dead or alive?

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