An overview of the historical issues that have brought South Africans to where they are today
“You will achieve more in this world through acts of mercy
than you will through acts of retribution.”
A few weeks ago my wife and I were watching the submissions being made by South African citizens to Members of Parliament concerning the proposed ANC legislation that would give the government the right to change the constitution and thereby seize or expropriate white owned land without compensation. To be honest the language being employed by many of the black people making their submissions was absolutely shocking, totally racist and filled with hate. To be sure if a white person ever spoke like this in a public forum he or she would be instantly condemned and possibly even prosecuted. But, hiding behind the “victim of apartheid” shield these bigots were allowed to get away with it. Also, the threats they made of taking matters into their own hands were alarming and should not be passed off as rhetoric especially since it is now a proven fact that since 1994 some four thousand white South African farmers have been brutally killed by black criminals. This is no isolated occurrence as some have glibly asserted, no it is a coordinated initiative driven by revenge and hatred to slay innocent people. All of this has been made more alarming by the fact that senior ANC politicians, including the erstwhile President Jacob Zuma, went from rally to rally all around the country since 1994 singing songs that called for the slaughter of the Boers (Afrikaner farmers). “With our machine guns we will kill the Boer” they sang and no one stepped in to stop this rabble rousing that coming from government leaders seemed to give license to the average listener to go out and do just that. All that Nelson Mandela had stood for had been betrayed by irresponsible leaders who could not and cannot “hold a candle” to him. The question is, how did we get to this and what are the historical roots that have brought South Africans to this crisis point in their history? Well for your consideration here they are. Please read this document in its entirety as, if you do, a picture will emerge, as it did with me when I researched the content, that will surprise you.
The Way Station
The early sea faring adventurers of the 15th and 16th centuries were Portuguese. Two famous names come to mind in this respect being Vasco da Gama and Bartholomew Dias. These two adventurers rounded the Cape of Storms (later called the Cape of Good Hope) and to prove it erected stone crosses some of which can still be seen today. They ignited the thought that indeed a way to the east could be found via the tip of Africa and the Cape of Storms and so in the 17th century the Dutch East India Company picked up the challenge and in 1652 Jan van Riebeek, sailing on his flagship the Dromedaris, landed at the Cape of Storms. Here they established a way station for ships traveling to India and beyond. For him, and those with him, there was no intention to establish a new colony but with the passing of time and the arrival of more ships a settlement was established in order to replenish the ships and an impressive fort was built to protect the route from other would be sea faring nations like England for instance. To facilitate the expansion of the way station land was actually bought from the Hottentot and Koi people who were indigenous to the region and inevitably a certain amount of racial intermingling took place that led to the birthing of what is today called the Cape Coloured People. Also, with the shipping demand more land was needed and so the arriving Europeans eventually, by overwhelming technology and military strength, just took the land from the indigenous peoples and a colony was truly established. Added to this was the arrival of the French Huguenots who were fleeing the persecution that had broken out against them in France on St. Bartholomew’s Day. They brought with them the grape cultivars that laid the foundations of South Africa’s modern day and magnificent wine farms. Today in a beautiful town called Franschhoek (a corner of France) one can see an impressive monument to their achievements, which also records, sadly, the agenda of the Dutch colonists to force them to assimilate into the Dutch community at the Cape. They were thus forced to speak Dutch and speaking French was forbidden. This racial pressure was successful and so today the Huguenots are recognized only by their names; the Dupree’s, the Rossouw’s and the Fourie’s etc.
The growing Dutch colony at the Cape demanded a governor of which Simon van der Stel was the most famous and with government administration came magnificent Dutch Gabled homes the most impressive of which being those on the wine fields around Stellenbosch and Groot Constantia, a very beautiful homestead and winery nestled south of Cape Town near Constantia Neck. However, competing commercial interests and the rise of England as a maritime power meant that the British were not going to allow the Dutch to milk the lucrative eastern markets. Therefore in the late 18th century and early 19th century the English literally squeezed the Dutch East India Company out of business and invaded the Cape Colony. Cape Town was now becoming a thriving town and the British, not satisfied with a “small town colony”, decided to expand up the eastern coast and subsequently in 1820 hundreds of British settlers landed on the coast in what became known as the Eastern Cape and founded an outpost called Grahamstown and beyond including Port Elizabeth and Algoa Bay. This brought the British settler initiative into contact and conflict with the indigenous Xhosa people and so the so-called Kaffir Wars (Wars with the black infidels) broke out. To this day the Anglican Church in Grahamstown records in its sanctuary the British soldiers and people who died in these wars. In short the colonial power set out to seize land from the Xhosa people and by virtue of their superior civilization, as they saw it, and military strength they thought that they were entitled to it. The Xhosa people were in the end subjugated and while vast tracks of lands were still left under their tribal authority the coastal regions were developed and new cities like King William’s Town and East London were built. The seeds of bitterness and hatred had been planted and they would in the end produce from the Xhosa people one of South Africa’s greatest sons, Nelson Mandela. He, knowing full well the injustice that had visited his people, freed himself from the hatred and bitterness that could have so easily entangled his life and was thus able to also free his people from their long journey of servitude under white domination. Mandela was a God given gift to South Africa.
Still thirsting for more adventure and discovery, on Christmas Day in 1835 Henry Francis Fynn dropped anchor off the coast some 500 miles east of Grahamstown and founded what today is called the city of Durban. He named the new settler port after the Governor of the Cape Colony, Sir Benjamin D’ Urban. This new colonial region would be called Natal but once again this colonial adventure would collide with the indigenous black people. In this case a proud warlike people called the Zulus. While some attempts were made to purchase land from the Zulu King Dingane the ever-expanding new settlement needed more and more land, which in the end provoked a frontier war with the Zulus in 1879. This war saw the Zulu Impis (Warriors) achieve some spectacular victories over the British troops stationed at Rorkes Drift, Isandlwana and Intombe but in the end the superior weapons of the British overwhelmed the Zulu army and the King Cetshwayo was forced to surrender and cede territory to the British Crown. With Zulu power broken the new Natal colony spread in land and with the passing of time towns like Pietermariztburg, Newcastle, Ladysmith, Greytown and Harrismith emerged; all linked together by roads and a railway line and supported by schools, hospitals and governing infrastructure. The black man became a defeated second class citizen whose lot in life was to now serve the interests of the colonial power and, if the truth be told, the British generally held the African people in disdain and contempt and years later in 1910 this would be clearly demonstrated.
The New Exodus
After three decades of enduring British colonial rule in the Cape Colony the Dutch settlers decided to trek north in 1835 in search of new lands where they could again be self governing and free. They therefore put together a train of ox drawn wagons and began a new exodus that would take them into the hinterland. This would be a courageous journey fraught with great difficulty as they would have to find a way through high mountain regions and all the while make sure that they could defend and sustain themselves. They were also a “godsdienstig” (Godly Christian) people and were by now an emerging nation group with a new language called Afrikaans. Their epic journey would henceforth be called The Great Trek but it would also sow the seeds of racial hatred and bitterness that would in the end destroy their national aspirations forever and, like the Xhosa and Zulu people of old, they would end up humiliated and stripped of all power.
The route of the Great Trek was through the Hottentots Holland Mountain range and then north east towards the interior and the Drakensberg Mountains. Once well beyond the Hottentots Holland Mountain range the leaders of the Great Trek made a fateful decision that would forever deeply impact the Afrikaner people. It was thus decided that a significant part of the wagon train, under the leadership of Andries Pretorious and Piet Retief, would break off from the main group and make an explorative detour into the Natal colonial region in the hope of establishing a Boer homeland there. In the main they would seek to avoid the British colonial authorities in their attempt to scout out the land. Unfortunately this brought them into the Zulu territory ruled by Dingane the Zulu King. In need of an agreement upon which the Zulu King would cede land to them and give them supplies to sustain their people they formed a protective laager at a river where they could protect themselves if needs be. Andries Pretorious stayed with the wagons while Piet Retief led a delegation to the Royal Zulu Kraal (Palace) where having arrived unarmed, in order to demonstrate their peaceful intentions, they met with Dingane requesting a land agreement, food and the right of peaceful passage through his royal lands. Dingane, already worried by Trekker incursions into his territory near the Drakensberg Mountains, received them well, prepared a feast in their honor and then had them brutally murdered. When news of this reached the wagon train they knew that within a short time the whole Zulu army would attack them. This attack came on the 16th of December. Being only 475 people they had little hope of survival but also being people of faith they gathered together in prayer by which they promised God that if they survived they would honor Him all the days of their lives by keeping the Christian Sabbath and by building a monument to His glory. They fulfilled this promise on the 16th December in 1949 when the Voortrekker Monument was officially inaugurated.
Early in the morning of the 16th of December they heard the battle chanting of the approaching Zulu army and a little later the battle was engaged. With women and children loading weapons the Boer Voortrekkers were not only able to withstand the Zulu army but they inflicted on them a devastating defeat. Thousands of Impis were killed and so much so that the river that formed a half moon protective barrier to the wagons became blood red. It was thus later called Blood River and the tragic events of that day would henceforth be known as the Battle of Blood River. The Zulu King Dingane withdrew his warriors from the battle and sent word that the wagons could leave and would not be attacked. Slowly but surely the laager was broken up and the wagons, filled with watchful and thankful hearts to the God of the Bible, began to take their journey to the north.
There is no doubt that Dingane’s willful betrayal and treachery was shameful and I have yet to hear any black South African acknowledge it and repent of it. This murderous act would in the decades to come fill the Afrikaner heart with a relentless bitterness and hatred toward the African people. Consequently, as time passed, they not only built an imposing monument that to this day dominates the skyline of a city called Pretoria but they also named the city after the brave and surviving Voortrekker leader of the Blood River Battle, Andries Pretorious. They emblazoned the monuments “inner sanctuary” with motifs from the epic battle at Blood River and they also proclaimed a day of remembrance, which they arrogantly called Dingane’s Day. That is, quite literally meaning, “The day when Dingane met his Moses!” Recognizing the unsuitability of this designation it was eventually changed to “The Day of the Covenant”, then “The Day of the Vow” and finally the “Day of Reconciliation”. The fact that God delivered them from such a peril of epic biblical proportions left them with the mistaken idea that God had uniquely sanctified their mission which henceforth included separating themselves completely from the African people in such a way that the Africans would be robbed of their human dignity and subjected to appalling suffering. Sadly the day of their greatest victory also became the day of their greatest failure since it laid the foundations for their defeat in the new century to come.
Two New Nation States
The Great Trek ended in two regions of Southern Africa. The one being a land mass a little north west of the British colony of Natal and the other almost due north of Natal on the other side of a huge river called the Vaal or Grey River. The Boer Trekkers crossed this river and founded a state in 1853 called “The Transvaal Republic.” This republic’s first President was Paul Kruger. The other Boer state, named the Orange Free State, just north west of Natal was also founded at about the same time and it elected a leader called President Steyn. It is a fact that these two new states were not founded on any land belonging to the African people (See note 1). No major wars in this regard were ever fought with the African people although there were African tribes further north of the two Boer Republics and these were the Pede, Tswana and Matabele peoples. The latter actually being Zulus that had split from the main tribe down south and had relocated in a region that would, with the passing of time, become known as Rhodesia and now called Zimbabwe. It is true that from time to time these republics had on going skirmishes with the Zulus just south of them and with the Basuto and Swazis just east of them but generally they were free from serious conflict with other tribes and in fact they were fully recognized by the Netherlands, Germany, France, Belgium, England and the United States. Then the unthinkable happened in that in the Transvaal Republic the world’s biggest gold deposits were found and in the Orange Free State Republic the world’s biggest diamond deposits were found. This quickly got the attention of the other colonial powers and chiefly that of the one nearest to the action, Great Britain.
The Short Lived Freedom
The discovery of gold and diamonds in the two Boer Republics led to a “gold and diamond rush.” This essentially meant that thousands of people from the two British controlled colonies began to pour into the two Boer Republics. This alarmed the governments of these two nations and accordingly they viewed these people as “Uitlanders” or foreigners and thus refused to let them vote in elections or take prominent positions in civil life. This greatly annoyed the British colonial authorities who, if the truth really be known, were looking for a pretext to get at the emerging wealth of the two Boer Republics. Seizing on a particular situation in this regard an impasse was reached and subsequently in 1877 by special warrant the British government attempted to annex the Transvaal Republic. This was to a degree resisted by Paul Kruger who twice visited London in an attempt to resolve the matter peacefully, sadly to no avail. Subsequently tensions rose between the two entities finally reaching breaking point on the 16th of December in 1880 when the First Boer War broke out. It did not last long as in March1881 it came to an end, remarkably with a Boer victory. The pride of the British Empire being dented it was determined to reignite the conflict at some later point and did!
Again, citing the mistreatment of British colonial nationals, the British colonial leaders in cooperation with London engineered the so-called Jameson Raid at the end of 1895. The raid was a botched affair but it put the two Boer Republics on notice that war with England was inevitable. The Boers being well armed struck the British army on the 11th October in 1899 with impressive victories at Magersfontein, Colenso and Stormberg and so the 2nd Boer War or Anglo Boer War began. It would be the dawn of a new era of war for no longer would the opposing armies square off in colorful battle regalia with no real element of surprise as to the hour of engagement. Now trenches, machine guns, heavy artillery, commando unit tactics, snipers and concentration camps would all be employed for the first time. This would in fact be a precursor to the Great War that broke out in Europe in 1914.Though eventually totally out gunned and overwhelmed by the number of British soldiers facing off against them, the combined Boer armies of the two Boer republics only lost 6189 combatants whereas the British army lost 22092! Sadly however the British army took 26370 Boer women and children captive and sent them to some 100 concentration camps throughout the country where in appalling conditions they starved them to death. It was in fact a British nurse called Emily Hobhouse who became the whistle blower in this respect. When news of this atrocity reached London it provoked outrage and to its great shame the British government was forced to acknowledge, albeit reluctantly, this terrible crime against the Boer people.
Today the ANC government of South Africa is equally and shamefully responsible for a similar crime being perpetrated against the white farmers of South Africa. Under their watch some 4000 white farmers, mainly Afrikaans speaking, have been brutally murdered. This is a fact now verified by a number independent investigations and this crime will come back to haunt the ANC. They cannot continue to “sweep this matter under the carpet” like the British first attempted to do. It just goes to show that racism is no respecter of persons and if we are driven by hatred and lust for revenge we become like our erstwhile oppressors.
So it was then that on the 31st of May in 1902 the Boers surrendered and signed the Treaty of Vereeniging. The Two Boer Republics were dissolved, Paul Kruger fled to Europe where he died and the Transvaal and Orange Free State were annexed by the British and thus, together with the Cape and Natal colonies, became subject to Queen Victoria’s reign. The Boer War also left some 24000 civilians dead and many of these were black people who, for various reasons, became embroiled in this “all white shoot out.” The Afrikaner people were left humiliated and disinvested of the right to determine their own future. Consequently, given all that had happened to them, including the loss of their women and children, they allowed their hearts to be furthered infested with a deep hatred of the British people. This hatred and resentment would in just over thirty-six years drive some of them into the arms of the Nazis!
The Union of South Africa
In July of 1996 Nelson Mandela, the first truly democratically elected President of South Africa, undertook an official visit to the United Kingdom. While addressing the British Parliament he made the claim that Britain had indeed laid the foundations stones upon which the Apartheid state had been built. Though many expressed shock and disdain at this comment the question is, was it true? Indeed he was right and the events of 1910 prove it. The British were the undisputed victors of the Anglo Boer War meaning that all the colonies, including those of the two erstwhile Boer Republics, were now under British sovereignty. Their next step would demonstrate their true intentions and agenda and thus in 1910 they approved and gave birth to a new nation called The Union of South Africa. The flag of this new nation said it all in that it was emblazoned with orange, white and blue, symbols of the Dutch origins of the people, and an insert in the middle was made up of a Union Jack flanked on one side by the flags of the two erstwhile Boer Republics. In other words this would be a white dominated country and the flag had nothing in it that gave reference and recognition to the vast black majority who at that time numbered about 19 million people. The symbols of the flag gave notice then that the black people of the country were irrelevant and would be excluded from power in a democratic system that, though built on the Westminster model, would be a limited democracy serving the interests of three million whites only. The majority black peoples would be left disenfranchised and subjugated. This was Britain’s chosen system of government for a nation that would now become a fully-fledged member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. The “Scramble for Africa” by the European colonial nations had nothing to do with the welfare of the indigenous people living on the continent but everything to do with the vast mineral wealth that lay under their ancient tribal lands. Indeed, Nelson Mandela was absolutely right! The suffering of the black people would now continue and become even more intense.
The Second World War
Given Britain’s commitment to the perpetuation of white power on the sub continent, some of the most well known Boer Generals, who fought against the British in the Anglo Boer War, now became enthusiastic supporters of Britain’s policies in the region. For them this was the only means to secure the interests and well being of the Afrikaner volk (people). General Louis Botha and General Jan Smuts were two of these amongst others. The latter, as leader of the South African Party, eventually became Prime Minister of the newly formed Union of South Africa and consequently by the outbreak of both World Wars actively encouraged South Africans to volunteer, sign up and go to war against the Germans on behalf of Britain. Thousands of South Africans did, including my father and two of his siblings. Jan Smuts, in fact a brilliant man, actually became a personal friend of the British Royal Family, was part of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that pursued the war against the Nazis and was one of the founders of the United Nations. However, for many Afrikaners at home, especially those of the provinces of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State, he and Louis Botha were traitors and they set about to finding a way to unseat and defeat them. This “way” consisted of four components: First they would organize politically by forming the Purified Nationalist Party. Second they would establish a Boer militia called “Die Ossewa Brandwag” (The Wagon Fire Watch). Third, given their hatred for the British, they would actively align themselves with Nazi Germany and four, they would find a means to ignite Afrikaner nationalism. In addition a highly secretive and well organized body was formed called “Die Broederbond” (The Fellowship of the Brothers) in order to be the real power and protectors of all things pertaining to the Afrikaner people and their destiny. No Afrikaans leader came to power in the government, in commerce or even in the world of sports without the approval of the Broederbond.
The Ossewa Brandwag, founded in 1939 at Bloemfontein, had an emblem that was in all respects similar to that of the Nazis and they essentially began to sabotage the war effort in South Africa by assaulting or killing men who had volunteered to sign up, by demolishing military installations and by disabling military equipment. They had “insiders” everywhere and their impact was not insignificant. Many men were killed or badly assaulted, planes were damaged beyond repair as was other military equipment. They were well organized with strong leaders and the Smuts government responded aggressively by rounding them up and placing them in a concentration camp at Koffiefontein. Some of these imprisoned, Nazi sympathizing leaders, would eventually become Prime Minister (John Vorster) and cabinet members of a new nationalist government that would sweep to power in 1948. In one of their publications called “The Observation Post” they wrote, “Mein Kampf shows the way to greatness in South Africa” and a Nazi publication of the time noted that the Ossewa Brandwag was founded on the “Fuhrer Principle.” That is, the principle of racial purity.
In order to reignite the desire for independent sovereignty and the means to determine their own destiny free from the British Commonwealth of Nations the newly formed so called Purified National Party under D. F. Malan, together with other nationalists, took advantage of the centenary celebrations of the conclusion of the Great Trek in 1938 by organizing “Another Great Trek”. This Trek, replete with replica wagons, would wind its way through the country ending in Pretoria at the Voortrekker Monument. Its impact on the Afrikaner people was huge and being the white majority in 1948 they easily defeated the Smuts government and took over the reigns of power. The jubilation that swept through the Afrikaner community was huge as now they were on the verge of forming a new Afrikaner Republic; only this time it would embrace all four provinces. The majority black population had much to fear.
The Apartheid Government
After assuming the reigns of power the Nationalist Party, heavily influenced by the “Fuhrer’s Principle”, began to formulate its philosophy of governance and with it what “Nuremberg” style laws it would now adopt, not against the Jews but against the black majority in the country. Sadly, and to the shame of the Dutch Reformed Church of the day, some of these “new racial architects” were Christian ministers! The apparent mastermind of what would eventually be called “Grand Apartheid” was a Dutch Reformed Minister by the name of Du Toit and the first Prime Minister of the incoming Nationalist Party was another Dutch Reformed Church Minister by the name of D. F. Malan. For them the Afrikaner Volk (people) was the ” New Israel of God” having a divine destiny confirmed by their exodus from the Cape Colony and the favor of God bestowed upon them at the “Battle of Blood River.” Incorrectly invoking portions of scripture from the Old Testament, which in context referred to the nation of Israel only, they demanded that the Afrikaner people, and indeed the English speaking white race amongst them, should keep themselves apart from the infidel (Kaffir) black majority people. Consequently they set about passing laws that imposed upon the black people of the country burdens of great pain and suffering. The most notable of these were: “The Influx Control Act” that restricted the movement of black people in their own country. The so-called “Pass Law Act” that enabled the police to immediately determine whether a black person was legally in an area or not. This was a type of identity document that had to be on the holder’s person at all times. The black population called this a “Dom Pass”, meaning a stupid document. The “Job Reservation Act” that ensured that only white people could occupy places of management and be employed in many trade and high-end professions. The black people would have to be content with the “lower end” professions, which usually meant that they would give their labor to the cities, suburbs, mines, industrial concerns and farms of the nation. The “Bantu Education Act” that asserted that black people were less intelligent than white people and therefore that they should receive a “dumbed down” education to suit their inferior minds. The ” Mixed Marriage Act” that made it a crime to marry across the racial lines and the “Reservation of Separate Amenities Act” of 1953 that designated beaches, parks, buses, hospitals, schools, benches and toilets for white use only. With these draconian laws in place the Nationalists could now allow black shanty-towns (locations) to spring up like satellites orbiting the well manicured towns and cities of their white overlords. The most well known of these was Soweto but there many others by the name Umlazi, Mamelodi, Payneville, Daveyton, Kwa Thema, khayehalitsha, Kwa Mashu, Gugulethu, Nyanga, Langa etc. These were deliberately left in shocking conditions because they initially desired them to be so in order to encourage the black people living there to leave for their tribal homelands. All those living in “The Location” had to carry their “Dom Pass” and so, like shadows, they would emerge in the early mornings to their places of work in the white only cities and towns and in the evenings they would return to their ghettos again. Even the public benches in the cities had emblazoned upon them the words “Whites Only.” I well remember that in the evening at about 6pm a siren went off thus announcing that all black people had to leave the area except for those whose Pass restrictions authorized them to stay. The white towns and cities were “white by night” and police vans would patrol these areas in order to ensure that this would be the case. Grand Apartheid had arrived!
The first batch of National Party Prime Ministers were fanatically committed to the idea of Afrikaner supremacy. D. F Malan immediately began to lay the ground work for a policy that would constrict blacks to only 13% of the land mass of the country by having the so called “Bantu Authorities Act” passed in 1951.That is, black people were going to be forcibly removed from much of the country and deposited in Homelands according to their language and tribal affiliation. Even black people who did own land, like those of Sofia Town, would in the end be upended by land confiscation and sent to a Location or to a Homeland. Malan stepped down in 1954 and was followed by J. G Strijdom who was actually called, “The Lion of the North” because he was so single minded on building an Afrikaner kingdom that would tolerate English speakers and totally exclude the black people from any part in it. He was thus determined to, not only follow through on the Bantustan policy but also to remove South Africa from the British Commonwealth of Nations and declare it to be in essence an Afrikaner Republic. Dr Hendrik Verwoerd became Prime Minister in 1958 and he was able to achieve the Afrikaner dream of establishing a new republic in that on the 31st of May 1961 the South African Parliament finally took South Africa out of the British Commonwealth thereby abolishing the Union of South Africa and establishing the Republic of South Africa, which actually remains until today. The date was highly significant in that it was on this very day in 1902 that the two Boer states surrendered to the British and signed the Treaty of Vereeniging. The Afrikaner had finally prevailed at the expense of the black majority people of the nation who, within a few short years, would be subjected to unbelievable pain and suffering by mass forced removals. Verwoerd was in fact assassinated in the very halls of the Parliament in 1966 by a Coloured man called Demitri Tsafendas and was replaced by, the Neo Nazi and Ossewa Brandwag member, Advocate John Vorster. It was John Vorster who fully implemented the Bantustan Policy and consequently had hundreds of thousands of black people loaded up on trucks and sent to the homelands. These homelands became known as the TBVC states in that they were made up of four new black states called the Transkei, the Ciskei, Venda and Bophuthatswana. These were totally non viable as they had no industrialized economies and were ruled by “puppet leaders” the most well known of which were Kaiser Matanzima, Bantu Holomisa and Lucas Mangope. They were heavily subsidized by the Nationalist Government that considered this a small price to pay for the privilege of having an all white republic.
Most white people had no idea of the huge suffering that was being inflicted on the black people of the country as the isolation between the two segments of society was so complete that they lived in a type of political bubble and were subjected every evening at 6:55 to a brain washing radio broadcast called “Current Affairs.” Prime Minister John Vorster had a brother called the Rev. Koot Vorster who was also the Moderator of the Dutch Reformed Church. He was theologically and ideologically totally committed to the idea of a white only state and so the country was run by a “prince and a prophet”. I know this because I once attended a lecture presented by Koot Vorster.
Revolt and Liberation
The black peoples dis-enfranchised, dis-invested of owning property in their own country and restricted from traveling freely throughout the land began to organize in a way that they could resist the government and so the ANC ( African National Congress) was actually established in 1912 in Bloemfontein in order to challenge the newly formed government of the Union of South Africa about the dis-enfranchisement of the black population in the country. At their 1955 congress they unveiled the “Freedom Charter” that to this day constitutes the democratic vision that they have for the country. However, the Sharpeville Massacre of 69 black people by the South African Police on the 21st March in 1960, who were peacefully protesting against the Pass Laws of the country, shocked the country and many overseas nations and galvanized the ANC into action. The brutality of the apartheid government had been laid bare for all to see and so the ANC decided to take a more aggressive approach in their resistance to the apartheid government. This aggressive approach meant that they would now, because they were banned, open up a front organization called the United Democratic Front and they set up a military wing based in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique called Umkhonto we Sizwe, meaning “The Spear of the Nation.” Initially Umkhonto we Sizwe targeted military or police installations but sadly they also launched a terror campaign against civilians in which South Africans of all racial groups were killed and wounded. The most notable attacks in this regard were the Church Street bombing in Pretoria, the Magoo Bar bombing in Durban, the Standard Bank bombing in Roodeport, the Johannesburg Railway Station bombing and the Amanzimtoti Shopping Mall bombing. Also, the English speaking papers, notably the Rand Daily Mail, and to a lessor degree the Sunday Times and The Star, began to expose the awful crimes of the National Party government which provoked the government to secretly fund, with tax payers’ money, a new English speaking daily called, “The Citizen.” A prominent cabinet minister called Connie Mulder was entrusted by John Vorster’s government to initiate this instrument of brain washing and deception. Fortunately good journalism by the other English speaking papers exposed this sinister initiative and so “Muldergate” or “The Information Scandal” broke out leaving the government highly embarrassed and with “egg on its face”.
Nelson Mandela, born in the Eastern Cape in 1918 and well educated, became an active member of the ANC, first in the youth league and then in its decision making structures and finally he became its recognized leader. He in 1964 was put on trial for treason together with what was called “The Rivonia Seven.” Facing the death penalty he made a final statement where he declared: “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But, if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die”. Consequently Mandela was convicted of treason and sentenced to life in prison, a sentence he would begin at the maximum security prison situated on Robben Island off the coast from Cape Town. His image, all references to him and any news about him was banned by the government. It was as if he had passed into oblivion but the wider world launched and sustained a “Free Mandela” campaign to the annoyance of the South African government.
In 1976 the Soweto Riots broke out when the Nationalist government decreed that all black children should no longer be tutored in the language of their birth but in fact in Afrikaans. This crazy act of stupidity enraged the black people, it was the “straw that broke the camel’s back” and so the young people began to protest. A young black student, called Hector Peterson, while walking across a playing field was gunned down by the police. This outrageous act of murder turned the protest into a riot that quickly spread all over the country and became an uprising. Young black people everywhere stood up and revolted against the all white government. Of course the government reacted with overwhelming force in an attempt to put it down but this was a major turning point in the country and it sparked the beginning of the end of the Apartheid Government. For the next decade and more the only way in which the government could preserve their all white republic was by placing what was called “a ring of steel” around the African townships. Even the military was called in to enforce this and many township dwellers were killed and perceived trouble makers were taken hostage and murdered. The testimonies to these crimes at the post apartheid “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” were heartbreaking and shocking.
In 1978, mainly because of the Information Scandal, John Vorster stepped down as Prime Minister and was replaced by P. W. Botha who took the title of President. He had been the Minister of Defense under Vorster and was also considered a hardliner. However, by now some of the Cabinet Ministers in his government were beginning to question the viability of the all white government given the desperate security problems in the country and the worsening economic situation, because of the sanctions being leveled against the nation by the international community. In short they knew that the “New Afrikaner Republic” was a lost cause and something had to be done to save the country from a massive catastrophe that would involve a huge amount of bloodshed. In 1989 F. W. de Klerk, supported by Botha’s cabinet, removed Botha from power and immediately called for a referendum among the white community only whereby they would say yes or no to a proposal that would give the government permission to hand over power to a black majority administration to be led by none other than Nelson Mandela. The vote was an overwhelming “yes” and so on the 11th February 1990 Nelson Mandela walked to freedom after being in prison for 27 long years and, after a long and sometimes arduous constitutional conference, a deal was struck that resulted in all South Africans, regardless of colour or creed voting into power, on the 27th April 1994, the very first democratically elected government. Nelson Mandela rightly so became the nation’s first President. The long dark night of racial prejudice, hatred and betrayal was over but the carnage left behind by all of this would now have to be removed and sorted out. Winning the peace can sometimes be more difficult than winning the war! South Africans today are facing this challenge and it may turn out to be more dangerous than we think. That is, do we sort out the carnage of our history by renewed violence, expulsions and anger and bitterness or is there a better way?
The historical overview I have given above, though not comprehensive, is nevertheless well researched and accurate. It faithfully documents our journey as a people and as one reads it a picture clearly emerges as to where real blame lies and who then should shoulder it and do something right to rectify it. I believe that it is precisely for this reason that history is so important as it shows us where we truly come from, who we are and what events brought us to where we are today. Without a working knowledge of it we shall come to the wrong conclusions and take decisions that will only perpetuate the hatred and distrust between our peoples. The facts of history are the facts and we cannot change them but we can honestly square up to them, acknowledge the place, by virtue of our ancestors, where they have put us so that we can do the right and appropriate thing to right the wrongs of the past. I then wish to draw your attention to the following:
1. There is no doubt that the arrival of the Dutch and British colonial powers at the tip of Southern Africa was a dark day for the indigenous people of the sub continent. As a consequence they would journey through a dark tunnel of intense pain and suffering for some 340 years. Yes, the colonial powers brought a more advanced civilization and sophistication to the region and thus built cities, towns, schools, hospitals, enterprise, roads and railways but the price for all of this was paid in the currency of black labor, disenfranchisement, dispossession of land, subjugation, humiliation, forced removals and much sorrow.
2. The British government was deeply involved in this dark saga and most certainly, as Nelson Mandela pointed out, was responsible for laying the foundations in the country of white supremacy leading ultimately to the Grand Apartheid regime. It was the British who defeated the Xhosa people, the Zulus and the two Boer Republics and therefore had control of all four provinces that embodied the nation and yet they chose to form a new union in 1910 that totally excluded the majority black population from voting and from the powers of government. It was this reality that enticed Jan Smuts and Louie Botha, the two Boer Generals, to support the British concept of empire. The British government, in my view, has yet to make proper restitution in this regard and should be held accountable for its crimes.
3. The Afrikaner people, deceived by their political and religious leaders, considered themselves a nation entrusted with a special divine mission. A mission that called them to preserve their racial purity at the expense of the black people. Grand Apartheid, imposed upon the country in1948, was a crime of huge proportions. It dehumanized millions of people and inflicted great horrors upon them. The statistics alone demonstrate that their forced removal policy in the end dislocated millions of people from their homes and families. The truth is God heard their cry and sent them a deliverer in the person of Nelson Mandela but the Afrikaner people bear a huge weight of guilt for the brutality that they visited upon the indigenous people of the country.
4. The English speaking white South Africans by and large came to the country, mainly in 1820, seeking to escape poverty in England and with the hope of beginning a new life with better prospects for their children. They therefore happily went along with the notion of the greater glory of the British Empire. They may not have understood its implications completely but they happily complied with its dictates. The same is true of their place in the Union of South Africa and the Apartheid State that replaced it in 1948. The English ” went along for the ride” because it greatly benefited them. Indeed the English speaking component of the country was always in the opposition seats in Parliament and did in many cases challenge the Afrikaner majority members as did their press but, given that they had control of the major commercial enterprises of the country, they could have used their economic strength to challenge and cripple the Nationalist Government. Sadly they didn’t and consequently thereby share much of the blame as well for the horrors that descended upon the black majority population.
5. The treachery of the Zulus in murdering Piet Retief and the Boer leaders accompanying him when he went in peace to meet with Dingane was a crime that hugely impacted the Afrikaner people. I have yet to hear any African leader express remorse in this regard. This awful event may well pale into insignificance in the light of what the Afrikaner did to the black population of the country but it should be acknowledged and repented of. The interests of healing and nation building demand it.
6. The “land question” is a huge issue that must be faced and dealt with. The fact that the government of the Union of South Africa and that of Apartheid regime squeezed the majority black population into 13% of the land mass of the country is totally unacceptable. This then is today a complicated matter because it is true:
· That the early Dutch settlers legally bought land in the Cape Town region of the country from the Hottentot and Koi people.
· That the British settlers also legally purchased land in the Eastern Cape and at Port Natal from the indigenous black population.
· That the two Boer Republics were in the most part situated on land that was not the possession of the black people. Some in recent years have attempted to deny this but it is indeed true.
· That colonial expansion ended up provoking conflict and war with the indigenous black tribes and with the two Boer Republics. This in turn led to land invasions and the subsequent disinvestment of the black people of their territory and in many cases herded them into shanty towns.
· That most countries of the world including America, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Russia, Europe and the Middle East have witnessed the same type of conflict and migration of peoples. The answer to unravelling the problems left behind by this reality is not a simple one as, for instance, one cannot hand back the cities of New York, Miami and Philadelphia in the United States to the indigenous Indian people. The same is true of the Maori and Aboriginal people of Australia and New Zealand. One cannot “unscramble scrambled eggs” and if one attempts to do so the nation will be handed over to anarchy and chaos and everyone will be the losers. A better way, and indeed a just way, has to be found in sorting out the debris of the past and this is especially true of South Africa.
· That we have a generation today, black, white, Indian and Coloured, who have had nothing to do with where they were born and with the legacy that their forefathers left them.
A Proposed Solution
In my view the only way forward would be the following:
1. The country was in recent years saved from a bloodbath because of the goodwill of its leaders and because it convened two important gatherings. The first was the “Congress for a Democratic South Africa” (CODESA) where the logistics of the hand over of power from a white minority government to a black majority government were hammered out coupled with the drawing up of a new fully democratic constitution. The second was the “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” that brought to light all the crimes and perpetrators thereof relating to the years of the Black People’s subjugation and disenfranchisement. This conference laid bare the horrors of the Apartheid regime and had a strong element of healing and forgiveness built into it. This was quite remarkable and without precedent and was a tribute to the vast reservoir of goodwill that does exist between the nation’s eleven tribes!
2. In my view a third conference needs to be urgently convened called, ” The Renewal and Restitution Conference”. This conference should of course include the government but also the major leaders of all the segments of South Africa’s society. It should fully examine where and how land can and should be expropriated without compensation and it should strongly resist the “willy nilly” invasion of land just because white people own it. The historical facts in this regard must be taken into consideration especially where land was legally purchased and settled upon.
3. The Conference on Renewal and Restitution should impose upon the white population a “Land Restitution Tax” of 2% of their gross monthly salary for five years. All white South Africans should pay this additional tax whether they live in or outside of the country. The money in this regard should be levied by SARS (South African Revenue Services) and administered willingly and without compensation by an independent financial organization like Sanlam etc. This will ensure that every Rand is accounted for and that the money is deployed with maximum benefit to the black population. That is, it should be used for projects related to black upliftment, the improvement of black townships, education and medical facilities. It should also be deployed in empowering blacks economically by helping them to acquire property and thereby obtain a greater stake in land ownership.
This tax is the very least that the white community can do to help put right the injustices of the past and if it hurts to pay the tax well this is nothing compared to the hurt that was visited upon our black South African compatriots for over three hundred years.
4. In addition the murder of 4000 white Afrikaner farmers has to be urgently addressed by the government and brought to an end by all means possible. This may include calling out the army to defend these people but this can no longer be ignored or passed off as random acts of burglary. Also political leaders must henceforth control their language and not incite their hearers to violent action in the name of political rhetoric. If they persist in this regard they should be vigorously prosecuted by law enforcement agencies.
5. Finally the Voortrekker Monument should be turned into a symbol of hope and reconciliation. That is, its outside walls so strong and high should by night be illuminated with the colors of the new South African flag and the conference on Renewal and Restitution should conclude with a unique and fully televised and internet streamed event in its 20,000 seater amphitheater.
While the colonial involvement in the nation was hugely problematic for the black population of the country it remains true that by it many sincere, godly Christian missionaries came to the country. It was these missionaries who largely at first brought caring communities, schools and hospitals to the region and even Nelson Mandela was educated in a Methodist school as were many others. These servants of God did not bring a colonial religion to the country but a Jewish one centered on the person and work of Jesus Christ. Their work was amazing and by it many great black Christian leaders were raised up and gifted to the nation. Even to this day we are grateful for the role that Archbishop Desmond Tutu played in challenging the apartheid regime and bringing healing to the nation by his involvement with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Nicholas Bhengu, called the Black Billy Graham of South Africa, was another great healing evangelist who gave oversight to some 2500 churches of the Assemblies of God of Southern Africa. And then there was Michael Cassidy, an Anglican Lay preacher and founder of Africa Enterprise, who constantly fought against institutionalized racism together with many other white preachers including the Rev. Beyers Naude of the Dutch Reformed Church.
Indeed for many black people in the very dark days of apartheid it was the hope of the Gospel of Jesus that gave them the courage to keep going on. The same is true today and it is the Church of Jesus Christ that must now arise in the nation to demonstrate powerfully that God loves all people in the same way and receives them into His kingdom without reference to their race, creed or status in life. In Christ we are all one and united in love. My dear friend Angus Buchan is also a God given gift to the nation as his huge gatherings and national prayer meetings, on a scale never seen anywhere before, should be supported by all South Africans. South Africa can once again astonish the world with its capacity to solve besetting and overwhelming problems because the deep waters of suffering and hurt can become redemptive if we are all willing to pay the price that love and restitution demands. This payment is now overdue!
1. “ The reason for the strangely empty parts of the country the Boers saw in the 1830s and 1840s was the Mfecane (“The crushing”, the scattering), the most violent and bloody episode in South African history. King Shaka, South Africa’s greatest soldier, had from about 1818 transformed the Zulu nation and, by using new techniques, forged a frighteningly powerful and aggressive Zulu army. It invaded and conquered other Bantu tribes far and wide, with great bloodshed, scattering them to the ends of the country, sometimes indeed beyond it. The Matabele occupation of what is now southern Zimbabwe was a consequence. The Zulus dispossessed other tribes of their lands.”
Andrew Kenny, 6 September 2018. Contracted columnist to the Institute of Race Relations.
estiny free from the British Commonwealth of Nations the newly formed so called Purified National Party under D. F. Malan, together with other nationalists, took advantage of the centenary celebrations of the conclusion of the Great Trek in 1938 by organizing “Another Great Trek”. This Trek, replete with replica wagons, would wind its way through the country ending in Pretoria at the Voortrekker Monument. Its impact on the Afrikaner people was huge and being the white majority in 1948 they easily defeated the Smuts government and took over the reigns of power. The jubilation that swept through the Afrikaner community was huge as now they were on the verge of forming a new Afrikaner Republic; only this time it would embrace all four provinces. The majority black population had much to fear.