The Afrikaner Dilemma: Introduction


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South Africa — a land of many tribes, varied landscapes, and bountiful natural resources — is the Rainbow Nation, or so it is called. We hear much from the media about the forgiveness shown by Nelson Mandela after his 27 years of seemingly unfair incarceration for fighting against racism, and thus he is deemed a hero who led his country away from its racist past and into a utopian future — making South Africa a shining example for other nations who struggle with similar social problems. However, this narrative has been nothing more than fiction - and worse, it has been a failed experiment.

I am an Afrikaner male in my late forties and have been living in the UK for the past 15 years. I have both French and South African citizenship thanks to my father, a Frenchman who settled in South Africa in the 1960s. However, he foresaw trouble brewing in South Africa—even predicting that Mandela would be liberated, to the amusement of his National Party-voting friends—and returned to the land of his birth in 1984, long before the great white diaspora began. As a result, I was mostly brought up by my mother, a very liberal Afrikaner divorcee. She believed in all the hype of a new and peaceful South Africa. I too believed it—at least for a while. At age 17 I did my obligatory two-year national service in the last stages of the Bush War, driving trucks in what was called the “Red Zone” on the Namibian border with Angola. Our leaders told us that we were protecting our country from communists hell-bent on taking away everything we owned. That narrative now appeals to me as an unnecessary platitude. In the decades since, I’ve come to believe the true and only needed justification for war is simple self-preservation. Although we never openly acknowledged it, we believed in our hearts that we were fighting to protect our people from African domination. It was for naught, though, as we were later sold out by the older generation and labeled racist upholders of Apartheid by the younger. This is a bitter pill to swallow. No one considers what would have happened had we not been there during the Cold War protecting our country from terrorist infiltration. One need only to look at the rest of post-colonial Africa to see what atrocities happen following the retreat of the colonial powers. On account of these experiences, I support the need for separation and self-governance.

How could things have gone so wrong for a country with such opportunity? For those who have not lived there, the answer is not easy to grasp. We must acknowledge that it is impossible for people to live together as has been expected of South Africans. They have been forced to assume an identity with which no reasonable person could be comfortable. Is it possible for different tribes to live peacefully in one country? Certainly. Does that mean it should always be expected? Certainly not. When history shows that peoples cannot get along it is immoral to impose on them a social order which expects the extraordinary, contrary to their recent history. Anyone against this narrative is deemed outdated, racist—an obstacle in the inevitable march of progress. Group identity, however, can never be forced on people the way it has been in South Africa and shall always result in violent conflict, which we are seeing today. In the negotiations for the social order imposed on South Africans, there was neither an escape clause, nor true respect for cultural differences, nor the right to self-determination. Yet we expect South Africans to live and be ruled by a government now lead by a majority who are out for revenge. South Africans tribes are denied the right to rule over themselves.

I hope to follow up on this with a series of articles discussing the history of the country, recent farm killings, and changes to the constitution which allow for the confiscation of land without compensation. What we are seeing happening in South Africa is rooted in power struggles pitting tribes against each other, often lead by an Empire which thrived on using this as a means to divide and govern over them all. Counted among them was a small group of white farmers who continually defied the will of the Empire and were eventually forced to fight or lose it all. We were and are a God-fearing people who tried to fight against the modernity and decadence of what we perceived to be a liberal, money loving and Godless Empire. South Africa is a modern equivalent of the story of Israel and Egypt played out in the wilderness of South Africa.

Jacques Malaprade