Orania cashes in on the 'ora'

2004-04-29 21:59

Johannesburg - A handful of staunch Afrikaners tucked away in a whites-only Orania were to launch their own currency on Thursday as part of a campaign for an independent homeland.

"The whole idea centres around Orania's ultimate goal of independence," said spokesperson Eleanor Lombard from the dilapidated town in the northern Karoo.

About 500 Afrikaners are hoping to create an independent homeland in Orania, which was bought by a private company in 1990, months after apartheid laws were scrapped and liberation icon Nelson Mandela released from prison.

Orania's owners have embraced a whites-only policy and promote "selfwerksaamheid" (self-reliance) among Afrikaners.

The launch of Orania's new currency came after a vote among residents on five suggested names for the money: leaves, talents, nuts, orion and ora.

Notes carry advertising

Lombard said: "To my delight, the 'ora' won overwhelmingly. It comes from the first three letters of 'Orania' and it also sounds like the Latin word 'aurum' which means gold."

The notes come in denominations of 10, 20, 50 and 100 and display pictures of an Afrikaner woman dressed in a traditional Dutch bonnet and a frilly old-fashioned gown, holding a baby.

But each note advertises a local business. The 50-ora, for instance, carries the logo of the local liquor store and its slogan: "The years pass by, but the throats will always be dry."

The ora notes were to be on sale from Friday morning for exclusive use in Orania, but Lombard said local businesses would continue to accept South African currency.

Lombard said: "The ora is to be used by residents on a voluntary basis and some businesses will give discounts if you buy with the ora.

"The idea is to cash some of your rands for oras at the beginning of the month, and then spend it in our town.

"It will promote local economic growth. From now on, I will have my hair done in Orania and pay with my oras instead of going to some hairdresser in the city."