The tribe has lost its rudder

2012-07-21 12:12

Have Afrikaners lost direction? Perhaps.

Put four Afrikaners around a table and you’ll have four different political views and four different religious approaches.

But if you look a bit closer, you’ll see that everyone has practically the same aim: to survive with dignity and to continue living as Afrikaners, preferably in South Africa.

These are edited extracts from Fred de Vries’s book, Rigtingbedonnerd: Op die Spoor van die Afrikaner post ’94

“We will never govern this country again”

Pieter Mulder
There is just about nothing left of the pure Afrikaner political parties. The only one still playing a part is the Freedom Front Plus (FF+).

This party started in 1994 without the plus, when General Constand Viljoen finally dropped the plans of forming a nation state partly with the assistance of the defence force.

In the 2004 election, this party won only four seats.

Five years later, they still had only the four seats.

In an unexpected move in 2009, President Jacob Zuma then appointed Pieter Mulder, the leader of the party at that time, as deputy minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

Mulder has dweeby Paul McCartney eyes and with his neat, short hair, he looks like a schoolboy.

“To sit here as a deputy minister is a good way to have some influence if you no longer have any power,” Mulder says.

“That’s the debate in Afrikaner circles: We will never govern the country again; we might therefore just as well toyi-toyi as much as we can.

“Some people move overseas because they can’t take it any more. Others isolate themselves and say, ‘Go ahead. Mess it up all you like. This is my home. Just don’t bother me’.

“And still others try to lobby in politics.

“Let’s see if we can still have some influence in this way.”

What it amounts to in the end is that if you, as a white in South Africa, still want to mean something, you have to adapt, he says.

Because the black culture simply is different. And blacks now have the say over the country and its policies.

He grimaces. “And now you can get very upset about it or you can adapt to it.”

So, he has adapted. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be sitting here.

And he is sitting in a good spot, despite the right-wing Afrikaners who have not forgiven him for kowtowing to “the enemy”.

Because how can you be in government and at the same time not be part of it?

How can you be part of it and also criticise it in public?

Mulder is playing a risky game.

If he fails, it will be the end of his political career and probably also of his party, the last Afrikaner party.
“That’s the risk I have to take,” he says.

“I am an Afrikaner and I always will be.

“If I can be myself here in South Africa, I will act like a loyal citizen.

“But if I am not allowed to do that, I don’t know what will happen,” says Mulder.

“Afrikaners have always been confused by propaganda”

Dan Roodt
Dainfern, on the borders of Joburg, is at the top end of gated communities: it’s one of the biggest, safest and most grotesque.

Behind the walls lies an extensive, postmodern Valhalla. Where Orania is a modest variant of The Truman Show, this is a luxury version.

That Afrikaner activist Dan Roodt lives in Dainfern is no surprise. He enjoys the reputation of a supporter of political independence for the Afrikaner. And here you feel far away from that often-cursed black Africa.

The list of descriptions of Roodt is as impressive as it is confusing: writer, poet, publisher, speculator, philosopher, nationalist, racist, extremist, anarchist, libertine, fascist, intellectual, corrupter, francophile, polemicist, Britain-hater.

On apartheid, he says: “(It) was perhaps to a certain extent unfair and caused problems for many people, but it wasn’t genocide,
no crime against humanity.”

But he does think apartheid was a mistake. The Afrikaners extended the colonialism that the British instituted and then took responsibility for the whole population, black and white.

That was stupid. The dream, according to Roodt, is a nation state. Everything about the old South Africa, except apartheid.

“Thabo Mbeki said we need one another. Black people might need us, but we don’t need them,” he maintains.

When Roodt returned to South Africa from Europe in 1992, he found a country where the role of the Afrikaner was rapidly declining.

“Our problem is that we are living in radical circumstances, and in one of the most violent communities on Earth. But everyone conforms. Those who refuse are rejected or stigmatised. Then radical thinking is necessary,” he says.

He has long been respected as an “intellectual” and a “thinker”. In his final weekly column in Rapport in August 2003, he made a plea for all young black men to receive drastic medication because they are responsible for most attacks, murders and rapes.

As a eugenist, he tried linking race, IQ and criminality. The testosterone level of these young black men must be lowered, he said.
Rapport refused to publish the column and removed him from its list of regular columnists.

He says: “In the end, I don’t see how Afrikaners can survive physically, culturally and linguistically in the current South Africa.

“But Afrikaners have a tremendous capacity to create their own world and look after themselves. It’s just that they don’t have the will to do so now.

“They are confused. First it was the apartheid propaganda and now the ANC propaganda.”

“We want to be part of the new South Africa”

Steve Hofmeyr is a TV star, personality and pop singer, but above all probably the most famous and visible Afrikaner activist.

Hofmeyr is the man who is fighting for the retention of the name Pretoria, who demands that the names of white soldiers who died in the Border War should also appear on the Freedom Park monument, who leads protests against crime or farm murders and who objects to the government’s “distortion of history”.

He is also the man who had an interview and braai with President Jacob Zuma, and who has used the k-word in a song, apparently in response to Julius Malema’s “Kill the Boer”.

Looks like a pugnacious chap, this Steve.

“I know exactly how far I can go,” he says. “The old ladies don’t have a problem with it. We now need an alpha man, now that the metro man has all the say.”

Yes, he is smart. He uses his popularity as a pop singer to boost his status as an activist. And vice versa. But he is also charming, honest and upright.

He is a populist, the voice of suburban Afrikaners who like braais and rugby, who are concerned about the future of their children but don’t readily take to the streets, let alone take up arms.

Steve voices their thoughts.

“It’s about people who are proud of being Afrikaners, but who know that apartheid was wrong.

“That’s the biggest group, a big lot, still.

“We want to be part of the new South Africa, but we don’t want to give up our identity for it.

“We just want recognition for who we are and what we have contributed to the country.”

His switched to the Afrikaner cause in the second half of the 1990s when he realised that “we were being driven into a corner”.

“The deliberate marginalisation of the Afrikaners had started.

“Our culture and contribution to the country was being ignored.”

Since then Hofmeyr has been operating on explosive ground, where a simple pop song or a blog can set more things going than the most moving Breyten Breytenbach poem.

“People come to me and say: ‘Damn, you must stand for president, then we will have white domination again’.

“Then I say: What a

re you talking about; what about the 30 million blacks? I’m talking from an Afrikaner background, but on the whole I prefer justice above Afrikaner domination.”

“Only a few idiots think we are the chosen people”

Flip Buys
One of the biggest role-players in terms of Afrikaner interests is Solidarity, an overall organisation with interests in more than a dozen subgroups, including AfriForum, which took Julius Malema to court for singing “Dubul’ iBhunu” or “Kill the Boer”.

The head of the trade union and chairman of AfriForum is a bearded man of about 40 with slightly greyish hair. Under Flip Buys’ leadership, the membership of Solidarity has increased fourfold – to 150 000 – in 12 years.

Buys is energetic but thoughtful and has an impressive theoretical knowledge.

“There are too many conspiracy theories going around about the Afrikaners, about the unholy trinity of the Dutch Reformed Church, the Broederbond and the National Party. And that we regard ourselves as the chosen people. I have never met an Afrikaner who thinks that. Well, yes, perhaps only a few idiots,” he says.

“I don’t want to be difficult, but the Afrikaner is seen too often as the scapegoat.”

Buys especially opposes the misuse of affirmative action.

The way it is applied leads to the terrible service delivery, the cause of potholes in the streets, water and electricity problems, and lack of safety.

“Of course, you can’t have only white officials in a black country. But if a vacancy in the police is not filled because the only suitable candidate is white, you can never have an efficient police force. A city functions only as well as its officials do.”

Buys describes South Africa as a typically “failing state”. It sounds like a bit of an exaggeration to me. There is a parliamentary democracy with a fantastic Constitution, industrialisation, raw materials, tourism, top universities and excellent infrastructure.

But he shakes his head in disappointment.

“The main role of the state is to protect its citizens. If a state can no longer perform this basic function, it’s the sign of a failing state.”

And apartheid can’t be given the blame for everything.

“In many African countries that did not have apartheid, the situation is worse. I’m not saying that to defend the system, but to show that things aren’t so simple that you can put all the blame for unemployment and inequality on the whites.

“It’s not true that we only exploited the blacks. We built institutions, universities and schools for them that performed much better before 1994 than now.”

He looks at me.

“And now we’ve lost everything…”

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