Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Peculiar South African Essay

This essay will reveal,
among other insignificant and trivial facts, a small glimpse into my personal family background. I will also reveal the animosity between Boer and Brit, which I experienced firsthand during my younger days.

This post has no intentions of revealing any peculiar characteristics of a specific race or group of people, as I believe that the peculiar traits of the Afrikaner or the English can also be found in other nations. For example, the urge to pack up and move to another spot on planet earth when the going gets tough, as many Afrikaners have done, is a universal trait you will find happening all the time, not only in Africa but also in numerous other countries in the world.

The general perception in the world today is that the conflict in South Africa was dominated by rivalry between Black and White races only, and that Apartheid was established to subdue, oppress, and control the black masses. This posting will not attempt to argue away that semi-false, 5 percent-truth notion. In fact this posting will ignore that issue totally! What you are about to read here will shed some light on a subject that was hardly ever covered by the main stream media, -- a subject which may seem insignificant for some, but critically important for others.

I’ll start off with a small extract, taken from a book called The First Boer War by Joseph H. Lehmann, which will give the reader some insight into how the English perceived the South African Boer, about 130 years ago:

Way back in the year 1879 General Sir Garnet Wolseley, the chief troubleshooter of the British Empire and warrior of the Queens enemies, once confided to his sister Matilda; ‘I confess I don’t like colonies. They are mostly peopled by a money-grabbing people devoid of all higher feelings for the mother country. Worst of all were the Boers, who imagine the country is their special property, ignoring altogether the English settlers’. He described the Boers as ‘the most incorrigible liars’ and by far ‘the most ignorant white people in the world’. The ‘half-civilized Dutchmen’ appeared so crude and unpolished that he could well believe the story that their tattered and filthy clothes never came off their bodies until they dropped off. Some were so stupid, he told the Duke of Cambridge, that they believed that all of the English soldiers had been killed by the Zulus and that Britain had no more to send.
(Extract from Page 64 - The First Boer War: 1972 by Joseph H. Lehmann. Jonathan Cape Ltd. 30 Bedford Square, London w01 ISBN 0 224 00686 x)

On 31 May 1902, when the Anglo-Boer War came to an end with the signing of the Treaty of Vereeniging, many Boers were unhappy with the political state of affairs. This is evident from the Boer diaspora that followed soon afterwards:

Starting in 1903, the largest group emigrated to the Patagonia region of Argentina. Another group emigrated to British-ruled Kenya, from where most returned to South Africa during the 1930s, as a result of warfare there with indigenous people. A third group, under the leadership of General Ben Viljoen, emigrated to Chihuahua in northern Mexico and to states of Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas in the south-western USA. Others migrated to other parts of Africa, including German East Africa (present day Tanzania, mostly near Arusha). Some refugees went to Angola, where smaller and larger groups settled on the Bihe and the Humpata plateaus, respectively.
Source: Wikipedia article on the Boer War diaspora.

I was born on South African soil approximately one (1) year before the Union became a Republic in 1961. I therefore cannot make any weighty assumptions concerning the politics of those old Union days, -- and definitely not from any personal experiences. However, I believe that it is almost common knowledge today that the old Union of South Africa was pre-occupied with uniting the white races here on African soil, mainly the British and the Boers. This fact is also confirmed by the Wikipedia article dealing with the Union of South Africa.

My birth was a by-product of that historic unity between Boer and Brit. The account of how my British father met my Afrikaans mother was often told as a bedtime story to my own kids (who by the way, -- attended Afrikaans schools!). I may as well repeat the narrative here:

The British Royal Navy dropped my father off in Cape Town sometime in 1958, after he and a few other men experienced a naval accident on board their ship. Rumour has it that one of the naval guns on board had an accidental discharge. Apparently my father suffered from severe concussion and was hospitalized in Cape Town.

Obviously I cannot say what thoughts were going through his mind when he finally recovered, but his actions indicate that he was determined to get back to his motherland. After several unsuccessful attempts to contact the Royal Navy and his relatives in England, he eventually purchased a motorbike and a 9mm P-38 Walther pistol at one of the pawn shops in Cape Town, from where he headed in a northerly direction with apparent intentions to cross Africa all the way to Cairo.

He managed to reach the small bushveld town of Alldays, in the northern province of the old Transvaal, about 1850km (1150 miles) from Cape Town. At that point in time my mother’s side of the family where managing a farm a few kilometers west from Alldays. The farm also had a small supply store and a fuel depot.

The story goes that the when the dusty and weary young biker-sailor entered the store to pick up a few supplies, he was surprised to find the store wide-open but not a single human being to serve him. He heard a huge commotion going on in the backyard of the premises, and on further investigation discovered that the cause of the commotion was a Puff Adder snake.

The strange traveller, who could not speak a word of Afrikaans, became an instant hero that day when he killed the snake with a well-aimed bullet, fired from his P-38 pistol, --- and that is how my father met my mother!

Dear Jen: Letters from a Young RooinekOn my mothers side of the family, her granny (my great-grandmother) spent considerable time in a concentration camp operated by the British during the Anglo-Boer War. My mother’s father (my granddad - born in March 1910), was at some stage of his life a young commander in the Ossewa-brandwag. He also spent some time in prison in 1942 when he, together with a few other members and Mr B.J. Vorster, were arrested for their alleged “terrorist” activities. (Mr. B.J. Vorster later became Prime Minister and then State President of South Africa).

Evidently, my granddad (like most Afrikaners of that era) was not too fond of the English, but for some unknown reason he accepted my British father into his family as if he were his own son. The two apparently grew very fond of one another. My great-grandmother absolutely adored my father. I was a mere toddler back then, but can clearly recall how affectionate the ol’ lady was towards my English dad. She wore the typical blue Voortrekker Kappie until the day she passed away at the ripe old age of 103.

Maybe the fact that none of my father’s relatives had ever fought in any wars against the Boers, played a role in that family union, --- and maybe also because my father later gave up his British citizenship to became a South African citizen by naturalization?

It wasn’t long after my granddad’s death that my father found himself in the company of the far-right clan. People like Jaap Marais from the Herstigte Nasionale Party (HNP) became one of his best friends.

It was only many years later, when I was much older, that I came to realize that my father’s friendship with the Afrikaner far-right movement was a total farce, and that he had wasted precious time and energy in the company of those fools! My father had an amazing knowledge on a variety of diverse topics. Politics and religion were his favourite subjects. Long before fate brought him to South Africa, he had already travelled the world as a sailor in the British Royal Navy. He had also served as a paratrooper in the Korean War. He was no fool, but yet these far-right Afrikaner buddies of his showed him little respect, and zero recognition for his efforts to promote their cause. In their eyes, he was just another dumb Rooineck, -- that’s all!

After South Africa became a Republic in 1961, the English and the Afrikaners were largely left to make their own choices, without too much interference from politics. School attendance was compulsory, but parents had a choice whether to send their children to an exclusive Afrikaans-only public school, or to an exclusive English-only school. I ended up in an English Medium Primary School, and later in an English High School, were I completed my final school year (Matric). Incidentally, that was a few weeks before I enlisted with the South African Police Force, in January 1978.

During my early years of schooling it was quite apparent that the Afrikaners had no time for the English. The two opposing clans behaved as if the Second Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) had never ended! The only time we really connected was on the sports fields, but I can honestly not recall a single friendly game between Boer and Brit, -- not in Primary School, nor in High School! I played cricket and rugby, and could never understand why they called these games “friendly”!

Although I broke a finger once while playing cricket against an Afrikaans school, it was during rugby matches with local Afrikaans schools where much blood was spilled. Many rugby matches (not all) turned into bloody fist fights, which sometimes continued long after the final whistle had blown.

I shared classes with many schoolmates who boasted Afrikaans surnames, such as Botha, Wolmarans, Els, van Deventer, etc.., a clear indication that their mothers had married Afrikaans men. Even these chaps were not liked by local Afrikaners, simply because they spoke English.

During that era the National Afrikaans Sunday newspaper (Rapport) published a cartoon story in their supplementary magazine called, “Ben, Babsie en familie”. Afrikaners never missed one single episode of that popular cartoon sketch.

I also enjoyed the comic strip, but I can recall how some of the cartoons had my dad’s blood boiling on many occasions, because of the blatant Anti-English propaganda depicted in some of the comics. One of the characters in the cartoon was an English chap called: “Rooinek”.

Oddly enough, the creators of the Ben – Babsie cartoon were English South Africans known as Keith and Lorna Stevens, which just shows how shrewd the propagandist really is!

One would think that when the universal threat of crime and terrorism raised its ugly head in South Africa, (in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s) that it compelled White Afrikaners and English to accept and respect one another, and that the two would instantly become one unified power. To the outside world that may have been the general perception, but on ground-level here in South Africa it was not the case!

Obstinate Afrikaners still wanted to show the English who was boss! Thick-skinned Dutchmen with whom I shared a barracks in the South African Police College, still perceived the English as enemy number one! Many of my school mates who signed up with the SADF experienced similar attitudes.

I found myself in a predicament because I was neither a true Brit nor a true Boer. I was a mixture of the two, -- an English-speaking South African who happened to also speak “The Taal” with the same accent as the Afrikaner. The few Englishmen in my college platoon of 30-odd men, were totally outnumbered! Counting myself, there were only four English chaps in the platoon; three of these chaps originated from Durban, a seaport city situated on the East Coast of South Africa in the province of Natal – (for those who don’t know this).

During those years there was a stigma attached to Durbanites on the presumption that Durban was considered the drug capital of South Africa, where the best quality marijuana could be purchased for a few pennies on almost every street corner. The Natal province was also regarded as the only “English” province in the country.

The end result was that, from day one, these three English-speaking Durbanites were labelled as dagga-rokers and were treated like white trash by the Afrikaners, -- simply because they happened to be English and came from Durban.

Our Platoon Sergeant was Jannie Breedt, a well known celebrity-figure during that time who Captained the old provincial Transvaal rugby team. As long as I live, I will never forget our first military inspection, conducted by Sergeant Breedt. For Sergeant Breedt it was obviously more than just a routine inspection. It was his first opportunity to meet and analyse every recruit in person. It was also the ideal opportunity to make it known to all present that he hated the English with an immense passion.

His inspection of the premises and his interrogation started with the first recruit on my extreme left who happened to be an Oxford type English-speaking fellow. All questions were posed in the Afrikaans language.

I can still see the scene as if it happened yesterday!
(Please excuse the f-words)

“WAT is jou naam?” (WHAT is your name?) Sergeant Breedt asked, in such a loud booming voice that every single motionless body in the barracks shuddered for a split second.

The Englishman replied in a gentle but clear voice, that his name was Gary Brogan, but then the poor chap made the fatal mistake of addressing Sergeant Breedt as, “Sir”.

(Take note that the name Gary Brogan is a fictitious name, for purposes of this essay.)

“Luister nou mooi jou fokken klein Rooinek. Ek is nie jou SIRRR nie! Jy sal my aanspreek as SERRRSANT -- Okay!” (Listen carefully you fucken little Red Neck, I am not your SIRRR, You shall address me as SERGEANT – Okay!)

In a rather placid reply Gary simply said: “Yes Serge!”

With that said, I was sure the barracks roof was going to cave in that day when Sergeant Breedt lost his temper. “SERSANT – fokken – SERSANT -- Is jy fokken doof?” (SERGEANT – fucken SERGEANT -- Are you fucken deaf?)

While Breedt was vending his wrath on Gary and all the other Englishmen in the platoon, I couldn’t help but wonder how the hell I was going to survive in a place ruled by crazy Dutchmen.

I can recall that by the time Breedt got to my little spot in the barracks to inspect my bed, my boots, my uniform, -- and also the fine hairs in my nostrils and ears, I added a “Van” in front of my surname, and confused the hell out of Breedt at that specific crucial moment of my life!

Two of the English Durbanites never completed the 6-month basic training, not because they were unfit or unqualified, but because of endless victimization by the Afrikaners. I refused to take part in all the conflict and hate-speech between Boer and Brit, and basically gave anyone who called me a “Blerry Rooineck” the cold shoulder. My nickname in college became “Die Engelse Boertjie” (The English Boer).

During my police college days I played rugby for a while, hoping to impress Jannie Breedt, but I quickly decided that it was far easier to take up the sport of amateur wrestling, where you only wrestled with one man at a time, and where the touching of balls was out of bounds!

I remained in the SA Police for nearly 24 years, devoting my prime years to fighting crime and terrorism - (View my article: Memoir of an Apartheid Cop, but bear in mind that what I’ve said there is only a mere drop in the ocean!).

During that time my circle of friends consisted mainly of Afrikaners, but by 1994 most of these buddies had already packed their bags for greener pastures. As the years progressed, and more and more friends and colleagues packed their bags for greener pastures, I woke up one morning with the realization that I also should have packed my bags a long time ago when I had the opportunity.

Through Facebook and other marvels of modern technology, I am in regular contact with some old buddies living in various countries overseas. I am also in daily contact with my eldest son and other family (on my father’s side) living in the United Kingdom. In fact I have more contact with people living outside the country than I have with friends living here in South Africa.

On occasion, and usually over weekends, I would be invited to visit friends to watch rugby or some other sport. I’m no big fan of any particular sport, but nonetheless -- it’s always good to get out and meet new faces, considering the fact that I am divorced and living alone.

Hans en die RooinekLately, I’ve noticed a rather strange phenomenon taking place in the social circles I’ve been attending. Subjects we used to debate in these same social circles a few months ago, have suddenly become taboo! Some persons even become rather uptight when certain subjects crop up. The Genocide of white Afrikaans farmers is one subject these people do not want to discuss. It is quite obvious that the MSM has convinced their minds that it is not genocide but just “normal” crime. The Boer War, Border War, and anything to do with the apartheid era are also forbidden subjects. Any talk about the Malema-type Blackman and their hostile attitude towards whites, usually lasts about 30 seconds max! Their liberated wives usually put an instant stop to it!

The subject of Zuma has become rather confusing, but now that he shook hands with the Blue Bulls and Stormers last weekend at Saturday’s Super-14 rugby clash in Soweto, it appears that he has become their hero! Some even wish that they were in his shoes, and could go home to a different wife every night. Can you see where this is going? It appears that the whites in this country are finally uniting with the non-Christian Blackman, --- and sport (first rugby and now soccer) is the superglue creating this bond!

It is only a matter of time that White woman will start mixing with the Blackman on a fare deeper level than the mere gullible attendance of a sports match on black territory, or a casual gathering after-hours to attend a work function. The menacing reality of a union with the Blackman on a marital level, is that their culture and belief entitles them to have more than one wife. I hope that white Afrikaans lady whom I saw last weekend sitting on a Black dudes lap, realises this!

From my perspective it would appear that it has taken roughly 120 - 130 years to achieve a reasonable degree of unity between the Afrikaner and the English in this country. This is most peculiar indeed, considering that both groups originate from similar Christian backgrounds. Although in some circles there is still bitterness, it is so negligible that one can safely ignore the fools who still perceive the British as the Anti-Christ. What’s more, -- is that I’ve seen these same people who display this kind of attitude change their colours, like chameleons, in an instant!

I will conclude this essay by stating that the personal enmity between Boer and Brit, which I have spoken about in this essay, has long been forgotten, and that it wasn’t easy recalling some of those memories. I also wish to remind readers that my loyalty towards the Afrikaner and everything they stood for, has undoubtedly been conveyed in numerous posts I’ve published on this blog.

It is appalling to see how the Boer/Afrikaans culture, heritage, and ultimately their unique identity as a nation has been thrashed since 1994, but I hope readers realize that at least 50 percent of that heritage and culture was mine too! It is for this reason, and also my close associations with Afrikaans relatives in this country, that they will always remain a very special people in my eyes.

For more than 400 years the British Nation has proudly displayed the Christian cross on their flag, a sure sign of where their loyalty lies, --- a holy allegiance with which I can comfortably relate to. I will therefore not make any apologies for supporting the British in their endeavours to promote morals and ethics I also believe in.

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