Joe Slovo and the roots of Afrikaner genocide


More and more, the term “genocide” is entering our everyday vocabulary. Many people, including columnists, have already explained that it is not the absolute number of people killed that defines a genocide, but the motives and the manner in which they are slaughtered.

The atrocities committed on South African whites during farm murders, house robberies, car hijackings and the shooting of children, even toddlers such as Willemien Potgieter, point to a disturbing form of ethnic cleansing going on in the country.

In a current survey on our Afrikaans website and with more than 700 people participating, 93,9% of those polled declared: “I believe there is a white genocide taking place in South Africa.”

roodt_fbfotoHow did this Afrikaner genocide arise? Where did it come from? When did it start? Many people believe it is caused by racial tension. Although race does play a role in that the perpetrators are normally black and the victims white, race in itself does not account for the nature of this genocide which is as pervasive as it is officially denied and passed over in silence by the so-called mainstream media.

I believe the genocidal movement against Afrikaners started already in the 1940s. Early in the fifties there were the first incidents when whites were randomly attacked and butchered by black rioters, so there was already an inchoate form of ethnic violence even back then. In East London a nun doing charity work in the local black township was murdered and then set upon by the rioters who ate parts of her body. Such acts of cannibalism endure to this day, as was reported in Witchdoctor who cooked farmer’s testicles a few days ago. More importantly, however, the ideology of Afrikaner genocide was being formed at the time with mostly communists dreaming of a day when South Africa would be cleansed of its indigenous whites altogether.

Recently a biography by Alan Wieder, Ruth First and Joe Slovo in the war against apartheid was published. I have not read it, but it is certainly significant that an unreconstructed communist such as Slovo should be widely honoured today. [Postscript: I did read it after writing this and wrote a review in Afrikaans.] Although Slovo spent most of his adult life in London, he was by far the most influential revolutionary in South Africa during the twentieth century. Through his skillful use of both terrorist violence and propaganda, he was able to conquer the once seemingly invincible Afrikaner government with its strong military backed by a powerful industrial state.

It would be fair to say that a coterie of communist intellectuals from the 1940s introduced the notion that South Africa should either “return to the origin” of a putative, Edenic, unspoilt Africa before the coming of the evil white man or it should undergo a violent revolution that would create a completely new and strictly egalitarian society. Either way, a radically “new country” had to be constructed.

Commentators as diverse as Dr. Gregory Stanton of Genocide Watch and the French “new philosophers” (nouveaux philosophes) of the 1970s have argued that there is an intrinsic link between communism and genocide. Most genocides of the twentieth century, be they in Soviet Russia, China, Cambodia, Vietnam and elsewhere, have been committed by communists. At least sixty million people were murdered in what has become known as a “Red Holocaust” perpetrated under the leadership of figures such as Joseph StalinKim Il SungMao ZedongHo Chi Minh and Pol Pot.

Communism is an absolutist ideology that brooks no dissent, therefore a causal link seems to exist between communism and genocide. Since the quasi-communist takeover of South Africa in 1994 and with the country since moving further and further to the Left, genocide has also started to appear as a fundamental characteristic of the so-called “new South Africa”.

Intolerance towards the Afrikaner ethnic group, the Afrikaans language, literature and culture have grown rapidly. Many communists regard the Afrikaans language in itself as “offensive” and therefore want it banned from the public domain. Afrikaans place names too have been systematically removed from towns, streets, buildings and other places.

A foreign African set alight by local South African blacks
A foreign African set alight by local South African blacks

At the same time the country is often shaken by xenophobic riots and killings, directed against foreign Africans. During 2009, 80 people were slain during a spate of xenophobic attacks, with hardly anyone charged with the murders.

In a sense, Afrikaners are also considered to be foreigners, being non-black and non-English. Having been excluded from political power, they are now caught between two chauvinisms, two forms of intolerance: racial and linguistic. Even though they have been in the country for 360 years, they are deemed “not to fit in” with the new, revolutionary culture which is Afro-Saxon, black and English.

However, neither all blacks nor all English-speakers display intolerance towards Afrikaners and Afrikaans. Millions of black people also speak Afrikaans as a second language and as a lingua franca in large parts of South Africa. Where does Afrikaner hatred come from then?

It comes from the revolutionary minority, of whom Joe Slovo is the progenitor. In a sense, Marxism is the ultimate uitlander ideology. After the discovery of gold in the Transvaal in 1886, about 50 000 foreign speculators descended upon Johannesburg. Despite being very tolerant and accomodating to them, the then Afrikaner or Boer government was not to their liking and a process of fomenting war and ethnic hatred towards Afrikaners was launched.

Many of the stereotypes and caricatures created by the uitlander press of Johannesburg are still with us today and have never been challenged. These have simply been adapted and amended to suit the ends of the Marxist revolutionaries. Whereas in the nineteenth century the Afrikaner was depicted as being “backward and uneducated” (even though many uitlanders crawled out of the slums of European cities), he is now seen as “conservative and racist”.

To Slovo and his followers, the Afrikaner’s love of his language and culture, his patriotic attachment to South Africa, his pride in his intellectual and economic achievements, are all signs of his incorrigible “fascism”. The continued existence of some Afrikaans schools, churches, cultural associations and so on, is seen as a reactionary refusal to bend to the will of the revolutionary Left that conquered the country in 1994. The Afrikaner must therefore be punished for his dissidence and his children preferably brainwashed into accepting the dissolution of their culture and identity, as well  as their integration into a kind of mulatto multitude.

Slovo was not alone in his abhorrence of Afrikaners. In the writings of his close friend, the Nobel-prize winning author Nadine Gordimer, as well as the photographs of the acclaimed photographer, David Goldblatt, we find a similar treatment of Afrikaners as uncouth and even mentally retarded “white trash”. In emulation of Gordimer, the renegade Afrikaner author André Brink has created some even more extreme caricatures from Afrikaner history. Many of these left-wing cultural Marxists drew on American “Appalachian” stereotypes to portray Afrikaners to foreign audiences. Afrikaners are seen as “white trash”, despite the fact that as a group in South Africa they have produced more postgraduates, more accountants, more lawyers, more classical musicians, more scientists and mathematicians than any other. Until recently, more books had been published in Afrikaans in South Africa than in English.

But to the communist revolutionaries, we are “backward” and “mentally retarded”.

In fact, even the finest examples of modern Afrikaner architecture have been derided as expressions of the apartheid ideology and a kind of “degenerate art”. Ironically, those who object to the Nazi concept of Entartete Kunst or “degenerate art”, apply it themselves when looking at Afrikaans architecture, paintings, music, literature and so on.

The Rand Afrikaans University (now University of Johannesburg) as photographed by David Goldblatt (Museum of Modern Art, New York)
The Rand Afrikaans University (now University of Johannesburg) as photographed by David Goldblatt (Museum of Modern Art, New York)

Like the French new philosophers such as André Glucksmann and Jean-François Revel have claimed, Marxism is a totalitarian ideology. It demands total revolution: a radical change in the whole world and all culture. But it may also stigmatise a culture as useless and even pernicious. If one cannot destroy the culture itself, its bearers may always be physically eliminated. Within the totalitarian mind, all of this is perfectly logical.

Volumes may be written about the betrayal of Afrikaners by their own ruling elite, especially by Mr. FW de Klerk. But one of the most tragic consequences of that betrayal has been the passing of the formerly nationalist media group, Naspers, over to the camp of the Slovoists. The politics of Naspers, as opposed to its more neutral foreign investment decisions, is determined by one or two political commissars serving on its board of directors.

Until recently, Prof. Jakes Gerwel, a self-confessed Marxist who had wept when the Berlin wall came down, had served on the Naspers board. Another radical cultural Marxist who is strongly hostile towards Afrikaners and their tradition, is Prof. Hein Willemse who still serves on the board.

Trotsky described Czarism “as belonging in the dustbin of history”. To the uitlander communist in South Africa, Afrikaners represent “white trash” that also belong in the “trash can of history”. Since 1994, both the mass media and government have conspired to produce a series of very negative images of Afrikaners.

They purveyors of hate produce the hate crimes, creating a climate in which killing Afrikaners is seen to be permissible, even desirable. But Afrikaner or white genocide can also be a joke, presumably because:

  • no-one cares;
  • whites should just accept whatever happens to them.

Writing on a blog for the left-wing Mail & Guardian newspaper, Sarah Britten explains why joking about so-called “corrective rape” for lesbians is horrific, but making fun of white genocide on Twitter is not. Even just recognising the phenomenon of white genocide, makes one a “right-wing extremist”:

“But joking about corrective rape is very different from joking about #whitegenocide. One is real, an act of violence against a very vulnerable section of society. The other is the perception of a politically motivated programme of murder, one that is deeply entwined with right-wing extremist narratives. One kind of joke reinforces existing power structures; the other subverts them.”

To the Left, whites need never fear, even when they are killed or told that they are going to be murdered.

 A novel portraying Afrikaners as mentally retarded, racist, incestuous “white trash”, such as Triomf by Marlene van Niekerk, was acclaimed as the greatest work of literature ever to come out of South Africa, apart from Gordimer’s body of writing. On the state television and in the pages of the Naspers newspapers, such caricatures of Afrikaners were eagerly embraced.

Van Niekerk spent some time at the University of the Witwatersrand where she had imbibed the Slovoist view of Afrikaners as “degenerate whites”. The theme of incest in the novel and a subsequent film was a metaphor for the Afrikaner nation itself. By dating or marrying someone of your own kind, you are committing a form of incest, which can only produce degenerates. Of course, at a certain level, the cultural Marxists of South Africa want to claim that being white or of European ancestry is in itself a form of “genetic degeneracy”. History is on the side of the creole or the mulatto, as the Marxist intellectual and Naspers director, Prof. Hein Willemse, has often explained.

“Opting out” of creolization, be it  linguistic, racial or otherwise, is therefore deemed to be an affront to the system. Afrikaners who wish to continue with their tradition, as well as the standard, Germanic form of their language that may be traced back to the seventeenth century and even to the European Middle Ages and Middle Dutch, are regarded as dissidents, even heretics. In 2005 I was invited to talk about my fairly innocuous novel Moltrein in a bookshop in Stellenbosch and was almost prevented from doing so by a group of Marxist academics. I was even threatened with violence.

This was my first direct experience of the anti-Afrikaner intolerance that manifests itself in censorship, ostracism and, of course, farm murders and other kinds of ethnic killings in South Africa. Many Naspers journalists are in favour of such censorship. The full extent of the horrors and atrocities currently being visited upon Afrikaners is carefully sanitised as “just crime which one finds everywhere”, when it is not completely ignored. Among journalists and academics, there is much tacit support for the ethnic cleansing of Afrikaners. Prof. Jonathan Jansen, the affirmative-action rector of the University of the Free State, has stated on more than one occasion that there was something wrong with people who dated or married members of their own race.

Uitlander communists and other South African revolutionaries are contemptuous of Afrikaans and Afrikaners because they are seen as “Eurocentric”, “too white”, “exclusive” (even though Afrikaners are routinely excluded from government and most institutions on racial grounds) and, of course, “racist”. In South Africa, we have really come full circle and the racism of the anti-racists is far worse than any traditional ethnic chauvinism of the “nationalist” type.

“Mixing the races” is seen as imperative in South Africa, because Afrikaners need to be assimilated and coerced into “being part of one, big multicultural nation”. In the words of Leopold Scholtz, one of the Naspers ideologues, “the Afrikaner must be fused with the brown (mulatto or Coloured) people”.

But for some assimilation is too slow. Killing is so much quicker and more effective. Hence the “final solution to the Afrikaner problem” that is taking shape in South Africa.


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