Rugby and the Afrikaner

pienaar+mandelaby Albert Brenner

You`ll find him sauntering through the streets of many a city in the West – especially in Commonwealth capitals like London, Dublin and Sydney.

And in the cities and towns of South Africa he is a common sight… the lone big Afrikaner man wearing the Springbok jersey with rightful pride. It is as if wearing the jersey of the national rugby team makes him the real Springbok player, that winner – if only for a moment.

And who can blame him? The Springboks – those gloriously sculptured athletes of a physical game perfectly suited for the rough-and-tumble Afrikaner man – are legends. They have always been one of the top two teams on the planet. It is a tremendous source of pride… for winners they are!

By wearing the Springbok jersey in public, Afrikaner men are finally receiving that positive recognition, that international ego-boost, which they have been denied ever since being blamed – by their peers in the West – for all the woes besetting blacks in South Africa.

It is, in fact, the only source of pride the Afrikaner is allowed to nurture… the sole recognition s/he may claim. For they find themselves in a socio-cultural and politico-economic environment that still regard them, their whole being, only in terms of Apartheid. Not unlike post-WWII Germans, the Afrikaner has, literally, been stripped of all his achievements – his very historical being – before Apartheid.

His unique language, Afrikaans – the third youngest Germanic language on the planet – is still being criminalized and marginalized as the “language of the oppressor” … and derided as the uncool “dumb Dutchman” language by arrogant native English-speakers in South Africa.

His legendary military prowess – as, once again, displayed in the Angolan War – has also been criminalized. Those brave young Afrikaner men – many of them 18-years old at the time – who helped win the Cold War for the West have been vilified as nothing but cruel Apartheid “killers” by the black-run ANC government… which actually rooted for the other side.

His remarkable performance and achievement in having built South Africa into the richest, most powerful and most developed country in Africa have been all but wiped from History by the black government and white liberals in the West – simply because they assume that South Africa`s blacks would have done so any case, had it not been for the “evil” Afrikaner’s Apartheid “intervention”.

Not even to speak of the Afrikaner’s incredible guts and determination for having literally pulled himself, without any help, from the ashes left by Lord Milner’s cowardly scorched-earth “warfare” during the Anglo-Boer War. A war in which the Afrikaner was outnumbered 10/1, a war that left 33 000 of his women and children dead in British concentration camps – and reduced the Afrikaner to the poorest white nation on the planet at the time.

In short; the Afrikaner’s whole historical being has suffered the same fate as his farms during Milner’s attempted genocide a century ago… except this time round it is his mind that has been scorched!

But this doesn`t bother the international community in the least. And most disturbing of all; it does not seem to bother the majority of the modern Afrikaner. Why? I mean, how come a unique people with an incredible history simply forget, as if nothing has happened?

Well, this is where rugby comes in. The recognition the (majority of the) Afrikaner gets through rugby seemingly suffices to keep him happy… even amid all the barbaric chaos in Mandelatopia.

The search for recognition (thymos) is one of the most powerful drives in the human psyche. So powerful that it has even been postulated as the motor of history, by Francis Fukuyama. His (rather trite) book, The End of History and the Last Man, had many a Western leader in hysterical glee, because it provided a utopian underpinning/validation for neo-liberalism, after the Cold War against Communism had been won.

Be that as it may; all of us crave recognition – some more (and on a larger scale) than others. The puberty-wing on the boot of a Ford Escort may be that thing which strokes your ego the most, or a beach house in Hermanus, or a Dr. title before your name, or a multi-national company that gets you invites to Davos (like Kdoos Bekker of Naspers). Whatever the size and shape of your ego, you will go through hell and high water to have it stroked. And when it finally gets stroked, you are that winner… you have craved to be for so long.

And that is exactly why Afrikaners are willing to live with a scorched mind in a lost kingdom run by “noble” savages. For winning in rugby is all the recognition he (thinks he) needs, because just like the Springboks he has never really lost. He is still the “Baas of the Plaas” in his mind.

The dastardly Old Empire Brits won the Anglo-Boer War, but they never succeeded in breaking the Afrikaner’s spirit. The Afrikaner won the Angolan War outright, even though they lost the peace, thanks to the treachery of their half-wit leaders. The Afrikaner never lost their “kingdom” to god-Mandela; they simply gave it to him – like the Springbok jersey they gave him at the closing ceremony of the 1995 RWC.

All in all, Afrikaners, as individuals, are still (on average) winners in Mandelatopia, and globally as expats – especially financially – just like their Springbok heroes and role-models.

The only problem is that rugby is a team sport, like a nation… like a civilization. Even the mighty Springboks can only remain winners, provided they play as a team. That is why fewer and fewer lone big Afrikaner men wearing Springbok jerseys will saunter pridefully through the streets of the cities of the West in the future.

Read Albert’s blog.

Lees dié rubriek in Afrikaans.