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The Afrikaners: Twenty traumatic years

Hermann Giliomee
01 March 2010

Hermann Giliomee on the loss of power and the recovery of the community

There are times when a country finds itself in swirling waters and only two options seem possible. The vessel can shatter itself against the sharp rocks or at the last moment it can make its turn and dart artfully through a narrow gap. For a moment, it seems to passengers as if everything is lost; the next moment as if tremendous opportunities are there for the taking. It is the equivalent to the best and the worst of times, to paraphrase Dickens.

South Africa was at this point in 1922-24, 1931-33, 1960-61 and 1986-90. Once again we are at this point, but instead of being shattered against the rocks, the boat threatens to run aground into a sand bank. I could sense the growing sense of crisis when I started working on a second, extended edition of my book The Afrikaners: Biography of a People, whose first edition appeared in 2003. In the updated edition, which has just appeared, two chapters explore the the profound change in the relationship between the Afrikaners and the ANC between 1987 and 2009.

A book is written in the shadows of the present. After I had completed the first edition in 2001, it was still not possible then to think that our government would go so far as to look on with bland approval as Robert Mugabe's gangs plundered white farms. Corruption amongst state officials was not yet completely out of hand. And people had not expected that problems of crime, delivery, unemployment and xenophobia would take on even more serious dimensions. No one would believe that the number of people receiving welfare allowances from the state would rise from three to 15 million and that the tax burden would become heavier.

The three most important developments of the past five years were the re-emergence of the ANC-Alliance's policy of the "National Democratic Revolution" (NDR), the declining trust among minorities in the constitution's ability to protect their rights, and Afrikaners' repositioning of themselves.

In the first edition of The Afrikaners, the term NDR does not appear in the register; in the second edition if occupies a prominent position. Suddenly, symbolic issues such as nationalization of the mines and the Reserve Bank are back on the agenda.

The NDR has a long history, but actually it was invigorated in the South African Communist Party policy document of 1962, "The Road to Africa Freedom." According to this document, the "white oppressor class" siphoned off for itself all the riches the oppressed black nation had produced. The ANC-alliance, through the NDR, should acquire "popular control" (communist control, actually) over the government and the economy. On the civilian level, African hegemony had to be established in every possible symbolic manner, including through name changes.

In the 1990s both Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki publicly paid no more than lip service to the NDR. The most verligte liberals and verligte thinkers accorded the NDR a low rating or laughed it off as a smear tactic in the Botha regime's total onslaught propaganda. As recently as five years ago, it was still possible for Van Zyl Slabbert and Jannie Gagiano to mock it in an article in Business Day. However, the Polokwane election of 2007 changed everything. Cadres in the SACP and Cosatu immediately pushed the NDR back to the top of the ANC agenda.

As president, Jacob Zuma identified the NDR as the ANC's direction-pointing philosophy. Although I doubt whether it is in fact Zuma's priority, his camp always ensures that he balances the NDR with other policy priorities and ideologies. This has led to the ideological shambles which increasingly characterizes the Zuma-ANC. Without the ANC, Julius Malema's present role would not have been possible.

Second, the settlement of 1990-96 lost status. It is becoming clear now that the NP regime and the ANC attached conflicting meanings to the constitutional negotiations. To the NP, the agreed constitution was a binding contract concluded in good faith. To the ANC, the negotiated settlement was purely a bridge from which the revolutionary process could be advanced.

The same is true of the so-called watchdog structures - such as the Public Protector and the Human Rights Commission - in which the NP placed so much hope in the negotiations. The minorities truly expected that they would keep the governing party on their toes; the ANC used the institutions to draw attention away from the government and its transgressions.

Third, the Afrikaners as a group splintered; and yet in new ways they regrouped. In my introduction to the second edition I had to pose the question whether it was still possible to regard the Afrikaners as a group or a community. Many people in the higher income groups increasingly want to identify themselves with the individualistic and cosmopolitan style of white English-speakers, while most Afrikaners at the lower power levels fight only for survival.

For most Afrikaners, the past 20 years of politics have been traumatic.  They have lost four institutions in which they had vested their hopes of retaining some control of their future: the state, the Government of National Unity, and the National Party, while trust in the constitution has faded.

Formerly powerful Afrikaner organizations have also withered. By 2009 the Afrikanerbond retained only one-tenth of its 1994 membership (and a quarter of its 2001 membership). The gatvol (fed-up) factor among northern Afrikaners became so great than in a recent Beeld poll more than half indicated that they would prefer to live in a volkstaat.  The late Chris Louw grasped the feeling of alienation when he wrote in his Beeld column that Afrikaners political influence has been reduced to their demographic proportion - a mere six percent.

Ironically, 82% of Afrikaners voted for the Democratic Alliance in the 2009 election. This is the same proportion that endorsed the National Party under Hendrik Verwoerd in his final year in office. But while Helen Zille remains personally popular, the party lacks Afrikaners in senior positions, and it does not show enough enthusiasm to tackle issues like language rights in schools and universities and to insist on equal treatment for ex-policemen and ANC cadres who have been sentenced for human right contraventions.

Until recently Afrikaners did not know how to mobilize opposition to an attack on their rights from a minority position, and how to mobilize for their language and culture. This is changing rapidly. In 2008 an alliance with AgriSA, Solidarity and the FW De Klerk foundation at the head mobilized very effectively against the dangerous Expropriation Bill and forced the government to withdraw it. 

Similar actions can be expected in the future against "representvity" in the work place and against universities, like Stellenbosch, which try to get away with dual medium instruction - an offer of a half portion of Afrikaans in a single class. If the US continues like this it will be a death blow for Afrikaans as a public language.

With the escape valve of emigration mostly closed for the moment, and with an inefficient and vacillating president in the power seat, South Africa could become a very interesting place in the next five years. Minorities, including Afrikaners, could well be in a position to assert themselves again. The Afrikaners' last chapter is a long way from being written.

This is an adapted version of an article that first appeared in Beeld newspaper. The second, revised edition of Herman Giliomee's The Afrikaners: Biography of a People (Tafelberg) can be purchased at Kalahari.net (see here).

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Ironically, 82% of Afrikaners voted for the Democratic Alliance in the 2009 election. This is the same proportion that endorsed the National Party under Hendrik Verwoerd in his final year in office. But while Helen Zille remains personally popular, the party lacks Afrikaners in senior positions, and it does not show enough enthusiasm to tackle issues like language rights in schools and universities and to insist on equal treatment between ex-policemen and ANC cadres sentenced for human rights contraventions."
Hermann Giliomee
 

Comments

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 responses to this article

Dreams
I dream of a future where there are less tribes and more South Africans. Where people simply see themselves as South Africans: with different languages, religions, beliefs and cultures. I dream of a time when South Africans will stand up, embrace each . .more

by Carl Wille on March 02 2010, 00:22
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Vote
I am concerned, voters in SA are very unsophisticated. Why should a substantial taxpayer and a person on welfare or in jail have the same vote?
Why are people like Mal ema allowed war mongering and threats of extremist violence?
At the same time . .more

by young SA citizen on March 02 2010, 05:38
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I see a future of more conflict
How long before the Afrikaners reach a point where they had enough of farm murders, crime, bad governance by local goverment, discrimination, etc. ANC need to understand that the biggest danger for SA will be a "second revolution" if they do not change . .more

by gd on March 02 2010, 07:29
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@carl wille
Its no use widhing us away. As a tribe we are here to stay and professr Giliome has described our position exactly as it is. I am proud of him.

by piet swanepoel on March 02 2010, 07:42
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ANC needs Afrikaner taxpayers
Ironically they oppression of the Afrikaner by the ANC is being funded by the Afrikaner taxpayer. Therefore the only relevant discssion that remains is how Afrikaners can stop paying tax for it's own oppression. Any political discussion that does not . .more

by Afrikaner Taxpayer on March 02 2010, 07:43
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Why?
Post 1994 why have the Afrikaners just just gone and lay down? Perhaps economic wealth has something to do with it. Revolutions and the rise of nationalism are in the main driven by poverty and oppression. this is were the Afrikaner was pre 1948. Today . .more

by Peter on March 02 2010, 07:59
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@young SA citizen
I fully agree with you.

by Old Prog on March 02 2010, 08:08
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The Afrikaners - Future?
As an Afrikaner born in the Union, (1960) and grew up in the Republic it truly was an incredible interesting journey! Fortunatelty for me I was raised in a NON-RACIST home where the "k" word was condidfered worse than blasphmy. What should have been a . .more

by MU on March 02 2010, 08:10
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Tax Party
It is a pity that Solidarity smells a little bit like the Freedom Front and the AWB. Maybe it is time start a new party called the Tax Party. In this party we should be able to pull in all the groups: DA, ID, IFP, COPE, FF and all the other smaller . .more

by Koos on March 02 2010, 08:15
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The White Afrikaners
A shame Hermann did not take the opportunity of a second edition to amend the title so as to reflect the real subject of the book.

by Anthony on March 02 2010, 08:15
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Afrikaner pre-occupation distorts real history!
Regrettably Giliomee's exclusivist "Afrikaner" perspective seems tantamount to a distortion of history at large.

Indeed the Afrikaner is totally irrelevant in the Zimbabwe-like catastrophe now looming larger than ever -- except as the racist . .more

by Siegfried Hannig on March 02 2010, 08:45
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The Afrikaners - Future?
Sorry for all the spelling mistakes! I typed in a hurry and hit the submit button before I checked! (I am Afrikaans you know!)

by MU on March 02 2010, 08:47
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Birth of a new movement
I am starting a new political party. L.H.E.O. or rather the "Let's Hump Each Other" Party. The name says it. In a couple of generations we will all be the same nice chocolaty brown colour and can enjoy life in the sun with no need for racial tension (or . .more

by L.H.E.O. on March 02 2010, 08:51
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@ Carl Wille
@ young SA citizen, agreed...voters in SA are very unsophisticated...that's exactly why whites voted for the apartheid government....

I think its also fair worth noting that Afrikaners can't expect preferential treatment. Minorities should be . .more

by Unoxio on March 02 2010, 09:13
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Racism
It is such a funny thing that Afrikanners are complaining just in twenty years of democracy while Blacks suffered for decades under their oppression. I am not suggesting that Blacks should revenge but one must look back. Even today the wealth of this . .more

by No name on March 02 2010, 09:23
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Evolution
The key sentence is that "82% of Afrikaners voted for the Democratic Alliance in the 2009 election. This is the same proportion that endorsed the National Party under Hendrik Verwoerd". Who would have predicted then that the K*****-boetie party of Helen . .more

by Theseus on March 02 2010, 09:46
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Its their right - good for them
Let them be. Its a free coutry!!

by Joe English on March 02 2010, 09:52
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@MU
I am yet to meet an afrikaneer who openly admit to have supported apartheid. FYI the first step to healing is acceptance. Denial will leave you having endless explanations without anyone to care.

We lack a true alternative to the ANC. We . .more

by Jojo on March 02 2010, 10:10
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SELL OUTS
It was the Afrikaners who sold out their own race and in the negotiations which followed in the early nineties for a new constitution, ignominously caved in. There was too much of a warm feeling in the pants syndrome at the time, rather than a candid and . .more

by Alan on March 02 2010, 10:22
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Need a violin?
To go with that whine?
Yes we all acknowledge that the poor "black man" even with 50 years of AA in the States and freedom and compensation and AID for 50 years across Africa and free everything fro health care to schools and houses and toilets etc is . .more

by @NoName on March 02 2010, 10:37
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The Vision for Africa
The issues felt by black voters are simple: Do Afrikaaners want to dominate? The ANC has short changed thier own voters and given blanket amnesty to those Afrikaaners that really benifited 20 years ago. To some extent you are victims too, but what does . .more

by Sechaba on March 02 2010, 10:57
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Well done Hermann
I am busy reading the second edition, fantastic book. Well written and without bias.

by Paul on March 02 2010, 11:31
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thegull@gmail.com
Mandela: "Kill the Farmer Kill the Boer!!"

& so it shall be that his people will be starving in 100years.

by Seagull on March 02 2010, 11:32
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There is only one solution!
End the crime. Then foreign investment will come pouring in, unemployment will fall away, the country will prosper, the savages will get educated & vote in a capable government.

by Seagull on March 02 2010, 11:46
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@Koos
I agree with your idea...if not a "Tax Party" then a Taxpayers Union as has been discussed elsewhere on moneyweb. It is every tax payer's contribution that allows our leaders to enjoy their current lifestyle's while the masses continue to suffer (and grow . .more

by Bruce on March 02 2010, 12:10
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wonderful people
the Afrikaner needs to hold on to their heritage. they fought for and pioneered this country. the British, who were scumbags, flooded the Tvl with their people only once gold was discovered. the Afrikaner never plundered and raped and pillaged. They were . .more

by naughtius maximus on March 02 2010, 12:11
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The Afrikaner has just rolled over
Too much money perhaps? Not enough to fight for? Bottom line he has just lost his country which his ancestors fought so hard for and endured such hardship for.

by Tok on March 02 2010, 12:17
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I supported Apartheid
As a Afrikaner I supported apartheid. It is easy to look back now and say it is wrong. But look at the history where it came from and it was a normal development. The right wing parties warned about this situation - decline of SA - and still people shout . .more

by Boer on March 02 2010, 12:38
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old lessons
"To the ANC, the negotiated settlement was purely a bridge from which the revolutionary process could be advanced."...a kind way to say that they never had any intention of honouring something they negotiated. Kind of like Dingaan in the days of Piet . .more

by Goose on March 02 2010, 12:39
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Afrikaners
The non Afrikaners out there are missing the point and will never get it.
We are not whites living in Africa. We are Africans that happen to be white.
We speak a language that developed in Africa. An African language.
Out customs when it . .more

by JO on March 02 2010, 12:39
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I SUPPORTED APARTHEID...
I was born in the Apartheid system and yes, I did support it as it was part of the fibre of being Afrikaans. That I will never deny. The current system is, however, even worse and this system's failings is now also blamed on apartheid. Did I benefit from . .more

by AFRICAN WARRIOR on March 02 2010, 12:58
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The real South African Dynamic
When The Mbeki Govenment was in power no one was talking about the White Afrikaander. Why? Simply because the Mbeki Government was backed by the Anglo Saxon Global elites. Think Order of St Johns For Mbeki. Head of interpol for the corrupt chief of . .more

by Fly on The wall on March 02 2010, 13:06
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SINS OF THE FATHERS
Afrikaners will only be free when they find the courage to confront their tribal leaders about the past. Once they have confronted and held their tribal leaders accountable, they will realise that they do in fact have power. They will also realise that . .more

by Carl Wille on March 02 2010, 13:17
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The real South African Dynamic Part 2
So too the Zuma Government feels no special allegence to the Crown. Remember what the english did to the Zulu's. The oral history is still alive and will be for some time to come. Come to think of it remember what the English did to the Afrikaanders. No . .more

by Fly on the Wall on March 02 2010, 13:23
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@ need a violin
Perfectly summed up. What these hopeless parasites need to get into their thick skulls is the fact that maid-hugging and clandestine 'liberal' anti-white activities went out of fashion yonks ago. No-one cares what the savage masses do or don't do with . .more

by Voortrekker on March 02 2010, 13:24
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We do get it Jo
I am a 5th generation caucasian South African who was classified as white by the Apartheid Government. I am an African. I happen to be English speaking. I am not an Afrikaner. Do you get it, Jo?

by Carl Wille on March 02 2010, 13:33
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It used to be "The Afrikaner"

The Afrikaner this, the Afrikaner that.

Now it's the Afrikaners, plural.

It's better. It's an improvement.



by Domza on March 02 2010, 13:36
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@No name
Coupled with the above response to the drivel you just uttered, Robert Mugabe took the white farmers land because he felt politically threatened by the prospect of them and the black communities residing on their farms voting for and bringing about change . .more

by Green Boot on March 02 2010, 13:37
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The Afrikaner does not have to apologise.
Agree with Afrikaner taxpayer. It is very ironic that the Afrikaner help fund their own oppression with taxes. Another point, the Afrikaner did not deny an education to the black people under apartheid. Black people had their own universities paid with . .more

by Koos on March 02 2010, 13:39
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@No Name
When the white man settled in Africa, were there any farms? Did any area - cannot called it a country because not even that exist - produce anything? Except for the trading on the east coast which was stimulated by the arabs, did anything commercial . .more

by Boer on March 02 2010, 14:11
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Voortrekker
Kan jy met 'n Afrikaner redeneer? Is that not the real point? That traditional Afrikaners and traditional Zulus are both tribal, patriarchal, and subservient to corrupt and self serving leaders? Full of courage to challenge the other - but too afraid to . .more

by Carl Wille on March 02 2010, 14:13
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Parasites
The Anglo Saxons used the Afrikaaner Apartheid Govenment as a perfect foil to hide behind while persuing their own despotic plans. The only thing that happend in 1948 is the Rooi Nek's went underground with their cloak and dagger operations, all the . .more

by John South African on March 02 2010, 14:29
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@ VoorKAKer
I suggest you find other ways to deal with your exaggerated sense of self worth. Your statement can be sumed up as the height of ignorance, but then again your feeble mind is pregnant with the illusion of knowledge of Africans in general. . .more

by ML on March 02 2010, 14:32
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The Afrikaners: Twenty Traumatic Years
Hermann, you forgot to mention the Forty Six Traumatic Years that the NATS where in power. Has this got anything to do with you trying to protect your generations vested interests - and the Afrikaner Elites?

by CHE on March 02 2010, 14:46
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Minorities, including Afrikaners, could well be in a position to assert themselves again.
Asserting themselves to what exactly? If you are thinking about a Homeland you would have to wage civil war. Which will hurt afrikaners than the majority. Afrikaaners are what Black americans are to the USA. You just have to decide whether you accept the . .more

by Piet Van Rensberg on March 02 2010, 14:46
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Black DA soon!
I predict that the DA will be dominated by blacks in the future. It is just a matter of time.

by Mogotsi on March 02 2010, 14:50
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Afrikaners
Afrikaners = legends in their own mind
British = empire builders

by not naughtius maximus on March 02 2010, 14:54
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Apartheid
A pity that most people do not distinguish between apartheid and oppression. There was nothing wrong with apartheid, but a mur of a lot with the implementation of it in the form of oppression.

by Murtu on March 02 2010, 15:18
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Piet Swanepoel
I am not wishing you way. I am dreaming of a bright future for all South Africans.

by Carl Wille on March 02 2010, 16:28
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On the Ark which set sail for Fook island
On the way to Fook island we all decided to give up our natural heritage
invent a new religion and talk to each other in Fook. Now after more than
three hundred years we are all Fooked up. Thime to get relevant and claim back
our natural . .more

by nationless on March 02 2010, 16:40
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Ag shame my lewe is so K**
Dis so moeilik om Afrikaans te wees, die bliksemse swarters ken nie meer hulle plek nie. Hulle luister nie meer vir my, hulle's te besig met BMW ry en diefstal. Die lewe was beter toe ek nog baas was. Ek trek sommer nou Australia toe...O wag, dis nie so . .more

by Nic on March 02 2010, 17:22
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Die Duiwel
It will all come out in the wash and the devils claw, that will be found with the odd sock.

by Prognosticator on March 02 2010, 17:45
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Afrikaners: 20 years
--- en die VIERKLEUR sal weer wapper!!!!

by Darius on March 02 2010, 17:46
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Carl Willie
Carl Willie and ML may you live long sons of the soil and remain courageous to speak the difficult truth. Sout Africa needs courageous citizens. Apartheid would not have lasted this long had majority of white South African stood up. Corruption will not . .more

by Gambu on March 02 2010, 18:58
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And now Afrikaners have Die Antwoord
So they'll add rapping and dancing to their arsenal.

by Kameraad Mhambi on March 02 2010, 20:52
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Tax payer's union
So who's going to start this tax payer's union?

by JC on March 02 2010, 21:20
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Afrikaaner arrogance
The arrogance of afrikaaners is their downfall in this continent. They are a minority who still beleive they are god's gift to the Dark continent. This so called white tribe is suffering from an identity crisis. The want to be african but their loyalty . .more

by Proud english on March 03 2010, 08:48
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@Proud english/ whats your point?
All whites came from Europe originally, FACT. All blacks come from Africa, FACT. Majority of whites in S.A. are of Dutch, French or British extraction, and most are proud of their heritage. Any animosity towards 'the British' exists for obvious reasons,- . .more

by Voortrekker on March 03 2010, 10:10
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Lessons from the Anglo-Boer War ? South African War?
Is the most important lesson to learn not that the failure to confront and address the destruction and gross human rights violations of the British, ultimately led to 46 years of National Party and Broederbond oppression and gross human rights violations? . .more

by Carl Wille on March 03 2010, 14:35
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Enough is enough
Only Afrikaners can save South Africa again. Second Blood River is in the coming.

by Friend of Afrikaners on March 04 2010, 06:01
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Afrikaner Friend
I don't know if you have been to war? I have. It is not a pretty site. My best guess is that you do not have the courage to confront yourself, our corrupt leaders and your own. And therefore you are taking cover behind Afrikaners. I can bet my bottom . .more

by Carl Wille on March 04 2010, 16:36
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DIE VIERKLEUR SAL WEER WAPPER!!!!!
Vesta JY!!!!!

by @ Darius on March 10 2010, 10:14
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Is jy onnosel met die "blood river" uitlating???
Hou op met hierdie idiootlike oolog praatjies. Ons Afrikaners moet 'n politieke
skikking bekom. Almal kan in vrede saam lewe op hierdie subkontinent.
Die feit is dat die Afrikaners hulle eie grootste vyand is met hulle onnosel,
lae . .more

by Gewone Afrikaner on March 10 2010, 22:14
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To Carl Wille
The TRC kangaroo commission is an extremely biased and one sided affair.
The terrible ANC program of necklacing the black population into submission
has never been exposed let alone heard in an unbiased court.
Never has Desmond even . .more

by Gewone Afrikaner on March 10 2010, 22:46
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Afrikaners go back to Holland
What C*** is this that you are a tribe? A tribe of savages yes. Go back to Holland and go play superior race there.

The problem with Afrikaners is that there sense of superiority is taken a knock. These people should be ashamed of themselves - . .more

by Broomstick on March 11 2010, 13:48
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Afrikaner
Ek is n afrikaans sprekende Suid Afrikaner, Dus is jesus my koning en daarom aanvaar ek alle rasse en kleure want god laat sy son oor elk skyn, maar jy wat so behep na die afrikaner wys waar is jou hart, is jy koning van jou eie lewe, dan kan ek verstaan . .more

by Frik on April 16 2010, 17:00
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Afrikaners are not african
I am sick of Afrikaners especially RACIST ones claiming to be African they are Europeans always have been and always will be European. Anyone of thoe Nazis who believe they are African should go and see a strink.

by Brownie on May 25 2010, 17:09
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@Broomstick
Please broomstick can you arange that all the whites get residence permits in Holland,, would be ever so grateful, then after that take your like minded people with you to the middle of africa and stay there. And the last time I checked with God he was . .more

by Mw on June 01 2010, 07:25
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Responsa, Brownie
Dear Brownie,

You have addressed the obverse of the coin of Afrikaner identity. But the coin has two sides. You are right to imply that Afrikaners - and white South Africans generally, not to mention multi-generation white Kenyans or Portuguese . .more

by Simon Roche on May 21 2013, 14:39
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