The land issue – Paul Kruger in perspective

Paul Kruger has always been a person of interest for me because he lived among my people, the Bafokeng.

In fact, his farm Boekenhoutfontein was part of the land, belonging to my family, that was summarily taken for the settlers in the Rustenburg valley.

We then resettled in the village of Chaneng on the farm Styldrift, a fertile piece of ground with the village nestled between two rivers.

It is just nostalgia in posterity, but there are factors in Kruger’s presidency that ensured a better franchise for Africans. Some have even cited that the attitude of Afrikaners; the formation of the Broederbond; the Natives Land Act of 1913, which in effect reversed all the gains blacks had achieved while Kruger was president of the Transvaal; and the eventual formation of apartheid in 1948 could have turned out differently had he been blessed with a longer life.

It thus remains a conundrum as to how Afrikaners, who were themselves oppressed by the British, became the latter-day oppressors and were even much more ruthless than their own oppressors. It remains the biggest paradox of our history in South Africa.

Latter-day Afrikaners have betrayed the spirit of Kruger and should thoroughly re-examine themselves and their own history, which they have so severely bastardised that it becomes easy for all and sundry to paint all whites with the same brush.

I may not revere Paul Kruger as his people rightfully should but, in examining history, it must be boldly stated that he was not part of what happened after the South African War.

The Scramble for Africa accelerated in the early 1900s and, by 1914, Europe controlled 90% of the land in Africa, compared with 10% in 1870.

The Natives Land Act of 1913 was a thorough perfection of the British imperialist influence that the Afrikaner adopted as well, and eventually became its enforcers by proxy with the formalisation of apartheid. Needless to say, the Anglos had first option for mineral exploration and exploitation.

Have you ever wondered how Anglo-related companies control the very economy of this country and maintain an unshakeable stranglehold over many strategic sectors?

By the end of apartheid in 1994, Afrikaners themselves did not control the economy of Suid-Afrika. It would be very generous to say they controlled even a mere 20% of the JSE.

This background earned Cecil John Rhodes the moniker of being the grandfather of apartheid, instead of Paul Kruger (maybe he was the uncle of apartheid).

The father of apartheid was Hendrik Verwoerd, who in his earlier career was professor of sociology at Stellenbosch University. He was a master planner who worshipped Nazi Germany’s Adolf Hitler and learnt his strategies of population control.

Maybe we should be thankful he was assassinated when he was – I shudder to imagine what he could have inflicted on black people in the progressing years
of apartheid.

I therefore hope that my family and I will benefit from the support of Max du Preez and Afrikaners in general to petition the government to reclaim my family land of the Boekenhoutfontein farm that used to “belong” to Oom Paul and was later divided among his children.

My forebears called it Khuduthate. We were forcibly moved so that Oom Paul could inhabit it and the few who stayed behind were there to work on the farm. Thus began our assimilation into the Bafokeng nation and settlement on the farm Styldrift, which was eventually bought by the Bafokeng with the assistance of Lutheran missionaries.

I am in fact encouraged more than ever before to petition government to extend the period of land claims further than 1913 because by the time the Natives Land Act happened, some of our families were already dispossessed. Again, I hope to count on your support on that score.

Motene is author of The Journey


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