Few outsiders understand the ethnic dynamics of South Africa. Foreign journalists come here and imagine that we are some kind of remake of the USA, transposing American ethnic categories (and Hollywood movies) onto us. Of course, many people in Johannesburg and Cape Town imagine that they are living in America too, especially the mediocre crowd who have taken over our universities, describing the world in terms of “racism”, “whiteness”, “white privilege” and so on.
Race is undeniably a driving force in South African history, but not in the way that most people think. More fundamentally, one cannot understand our past and present upheavals without appreciating what Boerehaat, or “hatred of the Boers” is.
A week ago, an associate director of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, David Saks, casually mentioned on the News24 website in a comment that there had been an underlying current of Boerehaat in the ranks of the anti-apartheid movement. When I was at university, many people in Johannesburg and at the University of the Witwatersrand were proud of their Boerehaat and of hating Afrikaners. It could even be seen as a sign of distinction.
In the early 1970s a cartoonist for the Wits campus newspaper, Franco Frescura, went out of his way to portray Afrikaners as oafish, unintelligent and ugly. He later became a lecturer in architecture. Although Frescura was of Italian origin, he has publicly denounced his “racist parents” and he was apparently strongly influenced by his English-speaking Johannesburg peers. Call this the “uitlander culture” of Johannesburg which goes right back to the discovery of gold in 1886 when hordes of British and Eastern European thugs had descended upon Johannesburg. The uitlanders’ visceral hatred of Kruger and the Transvaal Boers soon led to the outbreak of the Second Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902.
Franco Frescura actually has a website of his own where he describes his upbringing thus:
In Johannesburg Franco attended Houghton Primary and King Edward VII High School (KES) where, unbeknown to him, a number of the families with whom he came into contact had deep-seated links with the Communist and Liberal Parties.
He also proudly states in the same website biography:
Although Franco has gone down in student folk lore as the author of a well-known lampoon published on the cover of Wits Student in 1972 which featured a child looking into a lavatory asking the question “Excuse me, are you the prime minister?”, this is incorrect for the real author was a fellow student and co-activist who has since preferred to remain anonymous.
The South African prime minister at the time was B.J. Vorster, possibly the most popular white South African politician ever as he had managed to garner 65% of the vote and 80% of the seats during the 1977 elections. A golfer and reputedly a heavy drinker, with such tastes Vorster could almost have been described as an Englishman except that he spoke the language with a pronounced Afrikaans accent. However he did pander to English public opinion and famously discouraged Afrikaans language activists from pushing for more language equality by saying “it might upset our English-speaking voters”.
Why would Franco Frescura and so many others have held Vorster in such contempt, given his popularity with most English-speakers? The answer, of course, is to be found in David Saks’s statement: the anti-apartheid movement, as well as the South African Communist Party and ultra-liberals such as Mrs. Helen Suzman who represented the ultra-rich suburb of Houghton, were saturated with Boerehaat.
I would go much further than David Saks and state that South African communists were hardly ever motivated by love for blacks or black human rights. Instead, the driving force of the whole movement was ethnic hatred of gigantic proportions, directed against the Afrikaner people of South Africa. The current near-genocidal levels of violence as encountered in sadistic farm murders, suburban attacks, as wel as the country’s rape epidemic (more than a million women are raped every year, or about three thousand every day) have their roots in the Boerehaat movement. What unites both the gangs of anomic black killers torturing farmers to death and the more genteel haters sniffing out “Afrikaner racism” in mainstream media columns? Boerehaat pure and simple.
Except Boerehaat is not simple. Sure, most Afrikaners in this country have been exposed to English invective such as “rockspider”, “dumb Dutchman”, “bonehead”, “crunchie”, ‘white trash” and the like. But underlying it is a whole worldview, a psychosis well worth a Ph.D. thesis. Or several.
Jews are very touchy about anti-Semitism and most criticism of Jews is usually deflected as anti-Semtism. Even aspects of US foreign policy that could be construed as being detrimental to Israel are described as “anti-Semitic΅. For example, American senator Ron Paul has recently been accused of anti-Semitism by Ben Stein for criticising US bellicosity in the Middle East and the American occupation of Afghanistan.
Any cartoon or verbal caricature of Jews as being rich, greedy, devious people with hooked noses would immediately be denounced as anti-Semitic and in South Africa charges would no doubt be laid with the so-called Human Rights Commission. The Dieudonné affair in France is another case in point where the French government clamped down on the comedian and banned some of his shows for their anti-Semitic jokes.
Caricaturing, stereotyping and even inciting hatred or genocide against Afrikaners do not carry the same weight, however. Communist Party members Nelson Mandela and Ronnie Kasrils sang their version of the “Kill the Boer” song which is all over YouTube, and it hardly dented the exemplary reputation that these two men, as well as their “comrade” Joe Slovo, enjoy in England, France, the USA and other Western countries.
Apart from Franco Frescura and his fellow cartoonist Zapiro, the list of proud Boerehaters in South Africa would be very long indeed. It would include author Nadine Gordimer, former editor of the Rand Daily Mail, Allister Sparks, as well as the newsrooms of many newspapers and radio stations, not to mention academic departments at universities where political correctness, Marxist ideology and Boerehaat are Siamese triplets. Probably the website The Daily Maverick is currently the flagbearer of Boerehaat ideas and attracts a particularly shrill kind of ultraliberal or left-wing inquisitor out to drive the final few nails in the Afrikaner coffin, sometimes literally when sadistic murders against Afrikaners are defended or minimised.
The German concentration camps of the Second World War are usually held up to be the prime example of genocide. We forget that the British – in order to further uitlander political and economic objectives – had introduced the concentration camp into South Africa where 30 000 Boer women and children died. But to understand contemporary Boerehaat and the excesses it might lead to, we have to look at the more left-wing instances of genocide that occurred during the twentieth century. There is the example of the Russian revolution during which Trotsky, Stalin and Beria killed millions of people or worked them to death in the gulags.
More recently, there is the case of the fanatical Khmer Rouge movement in Cambodia during the late seventies which blended ethnic hatred and communism to produce a particularly lethal cocktail. Just like in South Africa, there was a left-wing revolution in Cambodia with the ideal of constructing a millennarian society free of classes and races in a great “transformation”. Up to four million people were killed, many of whom were ethnic Chinese and Vietnamese.
When I lived in Paris, I had a Cambodian-Chinese neighbour whose mother was shot outside their house by the Khmer Rouge. That contributed to my increasingly critical sense when it came to left-wing revolutionary ideology. However, very much later I realised that he was telling me that his family had been victimised because they had been Chinese and not Khmer! When the race enemy and the class enemy coincide, that is when you get a particularly powerful incentive to genocide. In Cambodia the entire population was driven out of the cities, in order to effect the revolution and build “a new society”.
In an article entitled “Racial Communism: Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge”, Eric D. Weitz writes:
“Someth May was a young Cambodian… [who] recalls… when a party cadre addressed a crowd [amidst deportation]: “As you all know, during the Lon Nol regime the Chinese were parasites on our nation. They cheated the government. They made money out of Cambodian farmers…. Now the High Revolutionary Committee wants to separate Chinese infiltrators from Cambodians, to watch the kind of tricks they get up to. The population of each village will be divided into a Chinese, a Vietnamese and a Cambodian section. So, if you are not Cambodian, stand up and leave the group. Remember that Chinese and Vietnamese look completely different from Cambodians.”…. Under the new regime, the Khmer Rouge declared, “there are to be no Chams or Chinese or Vietnamese. Everybody is to join the same, single, Khmer nationality…. [There is] only one religion – Khmer religion. Similarly, a survivor recalls a cadre saying: “Now we are making revolution. Everyone becomes a Khmer.””
Does that not sound familiar to us today, here in South Africa?
“Now we are making revolution. Everyone becomes a Khmer.”
Since 1994 we have seen equally fanatical attempts at so-called “nation-building” in South Africa whereby people have to adopt a new identity and “dissolve ethnically” into “the majority nation”. Those who refuse, or prove to be unassimilable or simply “different”, are then targeted, vilified and even killed.
I have previously remarked that in South Africa, “apartheid” is a simple metonym for “Afrikaner”. The racial, ethnic, linguistic, geographical and historical complexities of this society could hardly be subsumed under the globalised myth of “apartheid” as an evil neo-Nazi system of oppression. In that sense “apartheid” is meaningless, semantically empty. But to be anti-apartheid far more concretely means hating Afrikaners. Like Helen Suzman, the MP for Houghton, once said:
“I hate the Afrikaner. I hate his ways, his language and of course his politics.”
The fires of Boerehaat have not been extinguished by the Afrikaner leadership’s abject abdication from South African politics in 1994. On the contrary, Afrikaner powerlessness and seemingly masochistic obsequiousness in suffering vituperation on a daily basis have just added fuel to the fire. It has also led to pathological manifestations and internecine conflicts within the ranks of Afrikaners themselves. The phenomenon of the “self-hating Jew” has been replicated in South Africa with the self-hating Afrikaner, ever ready to heap opprobium on his own and to serve the cause of Afrikanerdom’s enemies. Many homosexual and lesbian Afrikaners, filled with rancour against the majority heterosexual members of their own tribe, have rallied to the cause of the anti-Afrikaner propaganda war that is raging to this day.
Up to 40% of journalists writing in Afrikaans today are apparently “gay”. Whatever their private lives, their opinions are far to the left of what ordinary people are thinking, so they are fast destroying what is left of Afrikaans journalism and newspapers by alienating their readers. In fact, the entire Naspers media group seems to have lurched into a “self-hating” orgy of white guilt and a kind of cultural death or ethnocide perpetrated against the very nation that had nurtured them financially for so long. Naspers represents nothing but a gigantic “psyops” operation aimed at the ultimate destruction of the Afrikaner people, their sense of identity, belonging and togetherness. Distributing Boerehaat invective, together with exalting nihilism, rancour and guilt feelings, all in Afrikaans, may be deemed more effective than simply overwhelming Afrikaners with propaganda in English.
According to the Boerehaat stereotype, Afrikaners are:
- Of low intelligence
- Ugly as sin
- Rough, coarse and lacking in manners
- Racist and anti-black
- Women are fat and men have beer bellies
- Ignorant and uncultivated
- Given to incest and “in-breeding”
- Afrikaans sounds ugly and “guttural”
In some respects, the Boerehaat caricature of Afrikaners corresponds to the Appalachian stereotypes in the USA. Combing through the production of South African English novels and films for such caricatures would be an easy, if tedious, task. Often in such publications, incest is presented as a metaphor for racial exclusivity, as in the supreme Boerehaat novel of the 1990s, Triomf, first written in Afrikaans by an Afrikaner lesbian, Marlene van Niekerk. Often Afrikaners who spend a lot of time on neo-Marxist, English campuses in South Africa would either have an identity crisis and commit suicide or they would actually become Boerehaters themselves, despising their own family, language and traditions to varying degrees. Although Van Niekerk apparently still writes poetry in Afrikaans, she has publicly called for violence against Afrikaners and abjured any sense of an Afrikaner identity.
The main character in her book is mentally retarded, the quintessential “dumb Dutchman”; both he and his brother sleep with their mother. In one scene he voyeuristically gazes thtough the hedge at the lesbian neighbours having sex and from the narrator’s point of view it represents a kind of higher world that he may only watch from a distance, being mired in mental retardation and ethnic exclusivity, which one supposes to be mutually linked in some way.
Although horribly vulgar, tedious and badly written, Triomf was immediately hailed as a masterpiece and translated into English. It was also made into a movie which was a complete box office flop but was again feted as a work of genius by the liberal press of Johannesburg, being “a true depiction of the Afrikaner psyche”.
During the Oscar Pistorius murder trial, the global media had a feeding frenzy, extolling on the natural propensity of Afrikaner men to abuse women and possibly even kill them. One of the ANC ministers, Lulu Xingwana, immediately diagnosed the Pistorius murder as a natural outcome of Afrikaner male chauvinism, saying to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation:
“Young Afrikaner men are brought up in the Calvinist religion believing that they own a woman, they own a child, they own everything and therefore they can take that life because they own it,” she said during the interview aired on Monday.”
Pistorius, despite his surname, was not even an Afrikaner and had been educated in English schools. But it was Boerehaat on a global scale in which the local uitlander journalists, or journalists infused with the Afrikaner-hating uitlander spirit, gleefully participated. To such an extent that even a self-hating Afrikaner “useful idiot” such as Max du Preez, to my great surprise, identified it correctly in his blog entry, Fifty Shades of Boerehaat:
“I can write a book about the downside of Afrikaner Calvinism, but hating or disrespecting women and children would not feature. The women in my family were and are strong, independent human beings whom all the men in the family love and respect deeply.” (See the whole blog comment underneath.)
Many Afrikaners have often wondered: Why do the people in Johannesburg and Cape Town, especially in the media, hate us so much that we are consistently misrepresented? In this cartoon by Zapiro, Afrikaans singer Steve Hofmeyr and author Annelie Botes are represented as dinosaurs from a bygone age (which, by definition, should already be dead or extinct). Note also the emphasis on their “small brains” or low intelligence.
I hope the reader has by now formed an image in his mind as to what Boerehaat is. In most parts of the world, there are to be found what Freud called the “narcissicism of small differences”: Belgian jokes in Holland or in France, and so on. When such minor ethnic chauvinism degenerates into a social and political ideology, and is married to Marxist-revolutionary doctrine, we may well see the genesis of a Khmer Rouge movement or the potential for genocide.
Afrikaners are already the scapegoats for everything that goes wrong in South Africa. The lack of performance of other groups, even their corruption and profligacy in government, is routinely blamed on the Afrikaner.
Could Boerehaat discourse and societal breakdown as a result of social anarchy, crime and corruption lead to a bloodbath in South Africa, with Afrikaners being held responsible for every kind of failure, even while completely out of power?
And what causes Boerehaat? Why is it so persistent? These are questions I want to address in a second part of this column.
To be continued.
Max du Preez writes: Fifty Shades of Boerehaat?
The killing of Reeva Steenkamp by Oscar Pistorius has brought out the worst in people, from journalists to politicians to ordinary people. We read on the weekend (Mail & Guardian) that the problem with violence against women has a relationship to the macho rugby culture among white men; that Pistorius got treated differently because he was white and rich – what an insult to Magistrate Nair, one of the best in the country.
Now we have cabinet minister Lulu Xingwana saying to (of all places) Australian radio that the problem starts with Afrikaner men and their Calvinist upbringing who think all things, including women and children, belong to them to treat as they want.
I am a product of a Calvinist Christian-National Afrikaner upbringing of the extreme Free State platteland kind and not only am I a rugby fanatic, I played the game (not very well, though) from the age of six to well into my twenties.
I can write a book about the downside of Afrikaner Calvinism, but hating or disrespecting women and children would not feature. The women in my family were and are strong, independent human beings whom all the men in the family love and respect deeply. Whenever my father or uncles acted as if they were “the head of the family”, we all chuckled behind our hinds and said Ag shame.
Minister Xingwana should read the story (in my books Of Tricksters, Tyrants and Turncoats and Oor Krygers, Korrelkoppe en Konkelaars) of the wife of General Koos de la Rey, one of the most prominent patriarchs and Calvinist fundamentalists in Afrikaner history. Her name was Nonnie. She was not only the head of the rather big De la Rey family in every sense, her husband made very few decisions without her, even when he was a general in the Anglo Boer War. More than that: she stood up to the British generals who not only respected her, but actually feared her as much as they feared her husband’s military prowess. They knew: don’t mess with a stoere Boervrou.
(By the way, I wonder if Lulu realises that one of her own struggle icons, dominee Beyers Naude, was also a staunch Afrikaner Calvinist right to the end?)