Swart gevaar is still very much alive

2011-04-30 13:45

I’m responding to columnist Xolela Mangcu’s article “White South Africans must outgrow the politics of fear” (City Press, April 24).

Sir, I am here to inform you that “die swart gevaar (the black threat)” is still very much alive among white South Africans, ­especially those in the Afrikaner community.

When the Afrikaners decided to vote in the March 17 1992 referendum on the question of whether they wanted to end apartheid, the overwhelming ­majority voted against the ­system.

As a community, white South ­Africans came to the conclusion that apartheid was no longer morally justified.

According to them, the ideology never achieved what it set out to achieve and it had created far too much conflict, which did not favour blacks or whites.

However, to reflect on this, many grasped the reality that the decision meant the end of their political power in South Africa, the last election where they would ever have a major say in which direction the country would head.

This, I ­believe, ended on the moral high ground and we probably ­became the first people ever to vote ourselves willingly out of power.However, throughout the apartheid years many of us, the Afrikaners, were indoctrinated by “the swart gevaar”.

The idea we had was that once black people took over South Africa, it would go up in flames and there would be a bloodbath.

But thanks to the great leadership of presidents Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk at that time, SA entered democracy without black versus white violence, and we accepted black majority rule.

But there was one condition for this that had to be met, which was essentially the aim of the Codesa negotiations, that white minority rights be guaranteed in one way or another in the new South Africa.

This is where I would like to start when I say that “die swart gevaar” is still alive. Not in the real sense, I firmly believe that black South Africans have no intention of heading the Zimbabwe route, in fact, many that I have met would not sing “shoot the boer” in my presence just as I ­also would not chant hate-speech slogans in their presence.

This is out of mutual respect for one another.

We acknowledge our differences as blacks and whites.

And there is one common factor that still determines our rights in this country – safety in numbers.

You see, throughout our existence ­Afrikaners had two problems, as the late anti-apartheid activist Alan Paton put it, the English problem and the native problem.

On the issues of black economic empowerment, affirmative ­action, nationalisation and land ­reform, Afrikaners are at the mercy of black South Africans.

When it comes to renaming our cities – which Afrikaners helped to build – we are marginalised.

In the Julius Malema hate- speech court case, the ANC made the point that they would like to keep their historical songs and are fully entitled to that.

But by renaming towns and cities without consulting the ­Afrikaner and by expecting us to give away our farms without compensation cannot be right.

The fact that we are being told all this will happen and that we have no say, isn’t okay at all.

It doesn’t only end with ANC Youth League policies – our ­universities have increasingly been pressured to “transform” thus losing the language policy.

The feeling among the ­Afrikaner community is that of isolation, withdrawal and ­ignorance about the South ­African life.

Many of us refuse to entertain politics because we are formally unrepresented in the national ­debate and thus we are at the mercy of “die swart gevaar”.

We still feel that South Africa is our father’s land and we would like to see it work.

But we would like to see it work by first keeping our identity, by first preserving our history and by teaching our children in our own language.

In order for South Africa to work, the Afrikaner must be ­given “a plekkie onder die son (a small place under the sun)”, then our fear of “die swart gevaar” will disappear.

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