Many years ago a visitor arrived unannounced at our then Head Office in Braamfontein. He stopped me in the passage: “I brought Iscor Training Centre’s last technical books written in Afrikaans to you,” he said. I walked with him to where his Nissan bakkie was parked in the street.
He pulled the cover off, revealing a dozen of boxes with training manuals for artisans. “We have to switch to English now,” he said. “I was supposed to take this to the rubbish dump but I cannot dump my language. Surely, Afrikaans is not rubbish”. I nodded in agreement, noticing that he still wanted to tell me more.
He continued in an offended tone: “We, and our language are now being pushed out everywhere”. We looked at the small vehicle with its small load of Afrikaans books.
“What should I do with this?” I asked. “I really don’t know,” he said. “Perhaps it will be of use to you one day”. We started to carry the boxes upstairs while I asked him more questions. “They are not just discarding Afrikaans,” he said. “They also want to move us aside by using race targets”.
“But you are probably the best vocational training centre in the country,” I said in what was more of a statement than a question. “Is the best form of black empowerment not that you can also provide good training to young black people?”He shrugged his shoulders. “Yes, but transformation has now become more important than decent training”.
That visit was a sign of what was starting to happen all over the country. The ANC came to power with assurances that they would give black people their lawful rights without acting unlawfully against white people. They then just waited until they were firmly in the saddle before unleashing “radical transformation”.
It started with the total transformation of the country according to race formulas, then the nature of all institutions was changed completely, and it ended in an ANC takeover and eventual decay of those institutions.
Like a tsunami, transformation swept away almost anything in its path – colleges, towns, state hospitals, the Police, public entreprises such as Eskom and the SAA. The state has fallen apart bit by bit and numerous state institutions have become riddled with corruption.
It gradually became clear to those who wanted to see that the ANC had not abandoned its revolution, but that the revolution was being forced through with state power under the banner of “radical transformation”.
Instead of following the successful Japanese recipe of “restoration”, the ANC followed the failed Russian model of revolution.
At the Mineworkers’ Union (MWU), founded in 1913, we quickly realised that the ANC’s constitutional reassurances were a tactic to gain the power to carry out their revolution. Even back in my years as a Political Science student I had realised that the ANC was clinging to a Third World ideology and that it would not be able to govern a First World country. The only difference was that on coming to power they no longer used weapons but laws for this purpose.
However, given that socialism has failed everywhere it would have the same outcome here. We realised that the ANC not only wanted to ensure that black people are included but that they were going to exclude white people. Their goal was not only to liberate black people but to disadvantage white people.
Our small but valiant band at the MWU, which eventually became Solidarity, only had a dream as weapon but we realised that the alternative would be a nightmare, and so we jumped into action, believing that there would somehow be provision for what we needed to do. And that provision materialised.
We realised that all-encompassing cultural infrastructure would have to be built, one that would enable Afrikaners to survive in Africa – not to isolate ourselves but to indeed enable ourselves to stay here.
Not to exclude others but to make sure our children, too, are being included. After all, you build a house in the neighourhood of your choice not to isolate yourself from your neighbours. You do so out of love for your family, not because you hate your neighbours.
The main challenge was to deliver “state” services without state revenue. For that we copied the successful methods used by our forefathers’: They turned “small sums” into “large amounts”, something which today would be called crowd funding. That is how, during those years of poverty, the sale of koeksisters and pancakes by the million and all the many pennies yielded by street collections helped fund colleges, school halls, children’s homes, bursary funds, churches, university buildings, residences, monuments and language projects across the country!
We decided to do the same, except that we have modernised the methods. We started a whole movement of self-help organisations as monuments of hope. Solidarity Helping Hand was established, so were a business arm, Sol-Tech, AfriForum, Akademia, Maroela Media, and at a later stage the Support Centre for Schools (SCS).The first R100 million needed for Sol-Tech came from the monthly R10 contributions of thousands of Solidarity members.
To think of it – the largest single donation was just ten rand! We did not receive any state subsidy or contributions from major companies. And what is more, technical training is very costly. In recent years thousands of students have received interest-free study loans from the Solidarity Training Fund. A portion of the membership fees is paid monthly towards this cause which is managed by Helping Hand’s Study Trust.
The construction of our Sol-Tech vocational college’s campus has now been completed – on time and under budget. We are already planning to add a residence that can accommodate 400 students adjacent to the college. Then Akademia’s new campus of more than a billion rand will follow.
We have established Kanton Properties, a property investment company, that will facilitate an investment opportunity for our members and businesspeople. Kanton is a partnership between culture and capital that will yield a fair monetary return and a cultural dividend in the form of living spaces for Afrikaans.
The ANC could not govern the country before the Covid-19 crisis, could not do so during the crisis and will be even less capable of doing so after the crisis. The state is failing and self-government is the only answer. For this reason we are going to expand these monuments of hope into a comprehensive cultural infrastructure that will enable Afrikaners to be permanently free, safe and prosperous.
This will enable us to make a contribution to the well-being of the country and all its people. We have been asking the ANC for long enough to govern us well. They do not want to, nor can they govern well. For this reason we are now going to start managing ourselves through strong community organisations.
He who does not provide for his own future will receive the morsels of a future others leave for him. We expect more from ourselves. We are free citizens; not obliging subjects.
Flip Buys is the chairman of the Solidarity Movement. This article first appeared in Afrikaans on Maroela Media.