Love of the common people

In December of 1990, not even a year after Nelson Mandela was officially released from prison, some 40 Afrikaner families – led by Carel Boshoff, son-in-law of Hendrik Verwoerd – bought a little town called Orania and immediately set about establishing it as a whites-only enclave.

Residents do not hide the fact that this is an Afrikaner laager in the “Rainbow Nation”, a place where they can continue to live apartheid and thumb their noses at all claims of South African Independence.

They strictly adhere to their culture and language and even have their own currency, which they use in this sovereign Republic of South Africa.

In 1995, a year after becoming President, Mandela visited Orania to meet – believe it or not – Betsie Verwoerd, the widow of Hendrik the Architect of Apartheid. For those that don’t know, Verwoerd is the man who jailed Mandela. And for those who care to read some more, Internet search engines will give you Betsie’s arrogant statement to Mandela when he visited Orania.

Late 2006, the sovereign government of South Africa paid close to R3 million to 60 families who claimed they had been disposed of their land by the Afrikaners who took over Orania and made it their enclave.

Yes, the government of an independent South Africa paid millions so that Afrikaners could continue to live like apartheid.

It sounds strange that such things are happening in “independent” South Africa, but that is the reality of the Rainbow Nation.

These secessionists base their right to live like apartheid on Article 235 of the constitution, which allows for self-determination.

It is a constitutional provision that was also then used by other Afrikaners to establish their own laager near Tshwane.

This one is called Kleinfontein.

Kleinfontein was founded in 1992 (notice the rush to secede just before the 1994 elections?) by descendants of the original Voortrekkers who want an autonomous Volkstaat.

To live in Kleinfontein, one must invariably be white and Christian. Jews, blacks and non-Afrikaans speakers are barred.

They have their own public holidays.

For instance, the Battle of Blood River is celebrated with the kind of zestfulness that can only be associated with the mentality that created apartheid.

The Battle of Blood River of December 16, 1838, represents the first real defeat of the Zulu by Boer invaders led by none other than Pretorius himself. It represents, more than the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck on South Africa’s shores back in 1652, the subjugation of a proud people, the theft of their land and the denigration of their culture and way of life.

Celebrating it today would be no different from an independent Republic of France lionising the arrival of Hitler in Paris in World War II.

The good volk of Orania and Kleinfontein do not see it as that.

“We feel at home with our own people and we know who we are,” says Marisa Haasbroek, Kleinfontein’s volunteer communications officer.

Kgosientso Ramokgopa, the Mayor of Tshwane – under whose municipality Kleinfontein falls – is on record saying the current arrangement is not tenable.

But he is careful not to antagonise the whites by threatening to bulldoze the community, pointing out that the fairer skinned residents of the Rainbow Nation control the economy and blacks can’t afford to take them head-on.

A black man recently tried to add some colour to Kleinfontein by buying a house in that community and he was blatantly stiff-armed.

Andrew Shabalala successfully bid for a property in Kleinfontein at an auction, only to be told a few days later that another bidder had topped him by R1 000 and so he would not be able to breach the laager.

“We can't sit back and say the government must do something about this place. It's for us to do something,” he told a South African publication after realising that the government is not going to do anything about Orania and Kleinfontein any time soon.

Poor Shabalala. He does not understand that he is not welcome.

Perhaps he should heed the words of Paul Young in “Love of the Common People” (the folk ballad written by someone else back in the 1960s).

Shabalala should go back to the common people who are of his ilk.

It’s a beautiful song. Paul Young is pitifully rallying the poor to be strong and continue with the drudgery of their impoverished lives because their governments are not going to do anything to help them and thus upset the apple cart.

“It's a good thing you don't have a bus fare, it would fall thru' the hole in your pocket and you'd lose it in the snow on the ground. 

You got to walk into town to find a job. Tryin' to keep your hands warm when the hole in your shoe lets the snow come through and chills you to the bone.

“Now you'd better go home where it's warm, where you can live in a love of the common people,

smile from the heart of a family man. Daddy's gonna buy you a dream to cling to, Mama's gonna love you just as much as she can,” Paul Young sings.

No one is going to give you a dream to cling to.

It’s the common people – like they did when they took up arms to fight apartheid and colonialism across Africa – who can save themselves from predatory governments that are more concerned with protecting the interests of settlers than with advancing our dreams.

September 2013
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