From the official blog of the Nelspruit COPE Branch
(Read it all. You may not like some of the viewpoints in the first half but see it through to the end.)
Paul Kruger (1825-1904), a symbol of Afrikaner resistance against the British, said, “One who wants to create the future must not forget the past.” If we, as South Africans, are determined to sweep away the perverse vestiges of racialism that afflict our society, we ought to appreciate the past in order that we do not repeat it. However, many would rather bury their heads in the sand, forget and ignore the past as though it never existed.
Our history is rooted on conflicting nationalistic aspirations between black people and Afrikaners; both imbued with the spirit of nationalism, Afrikaner nationalism and African nationalism – each proceeding from an ideological position that conflicted with the other.
Afrikaner nationalism was an impetus for the Great Trek, the migration of an estimated 12 000 Voortrekkers who were discontent with the imposed British rule, to Natal, Orange Free State and Transvaal regions. These Afrikaners were unified in the belief that they were not only superior to the Africans but also shared common abhorrence of the liberals in the Cape Colony.
African nationalism required revolutionary liberation of Africa by means of unity among the colonised nations. African Nationalism demanded that Africans revive their cultures and their traditions from those least influenced by colonial rule. While Africans everywhere else in Africa were demanding liberation from colonial rule, Africans in South Africa were insisting on liberty from Afrikaner repression.
Anton Lembede (1914-1947) said, “A new spirit of African nationalism or Africanism is pervading through and stirring the African society. A young virile nation is in the process of birth and emergence. The national movement imbued with and animated by the national spirit is gaining strength and momentum.”
The history of Africans and Afrikaners is intertwined; it is a history of suffering courage and resistance against repression. The Afrikaners gained their independence from British rule after the Anglo-Boer war and 1948, when the National Party rose to power, heralded the beginning of legislated discrimination and oppression of Africans.
“What do Afrikaners talk about while standing around the “braai” — fire? There, where they are alone and need not be politically correct? They speak of feeling like strangers in South Africa – being powerless with no future. Each tells his own story of injustice and unfairness within the work place (just because he is an Afrikaner) – of his frustration with civil servants’ inefficiency. His children no longer qualify for bursaries and are unable to find jobs,” Dr Pieter Mulder, Leader Freedom Front Plus, remarked, highlighting irrational fears of the few who appear deeply paranoid about current political and economic circumstances. Fears that are far divorced from reality as it is and as it should be.
The dawn of the new political dispensation in 1994 presented hope that South Africans would be unified with common purpose to rebuild the country, but the unfolding political events post liberation indicate that a unified South Africa that we aspired to is still but a distant dream. There are few Afrikaners who are determined to exclude themselves from efforts of nation building and reconciliation.
One would have expected that in the 14 years of liberation political parties would have been making a determined effort towards deracialising politics and providing alternatives for all South Africans regardless of colour; that none of the political parties would be constituted along ethnic or racial lines. The Freedom Front Plus (FF+) proudly proclaims that it is irrevocably committed to the protection and advancement of Afrikaner interests. The aim of the party is to establish a fair and legitimate dispensation for Afrikaners in South Africa, as well as to attain freedom for the Afrikaner in a territory of his own.
None of us would dispute the right of Afrikaners to protect and advance their own interests. The Afrikanerbond, a reincarnation of the Afrikaner Broerderbond, was established in 1994 to advance and promote the Afrikaans language and culture. It therefore defies logic that a political party such as the FF+ would be determined to take us back to 1948, when segregation was the root of all discontent. I do not believe that the majority of Afrikaners espouse the narrow-minded ideology pursued by the FF+. The majority of Afrikaners are progressive and want to see a country unified proudly under one flag instead of seeking a territorial autonomy that the FF+ is advocating.
The FF+ says, “This ideal can be realised by way of an evolutionary process commencing with group autonomy at local government level, leading then to self-determination at regional, provincial and finally national level.” Divisive politics take us a few steps back, when we attempt to make progression towards a truly rainbow nation. The FF+ is out of touch with reality. The Congress of the People (COPE) shall feel the void left by those who abdicated their responsibilities to unite the country.
The ANC has always claimed to be oriented towards non-racialism but under the current leadership the opposite appears increasingly to be true. All the gains made by Nelson Mandela since the liberation in building an inclusive and non-racial society are being reversed in populist pursuits for the preservation of the ANC’s political hegemony.
In 1996 when Louis Farrakhan was visiting South Africa, Nelson Mandela said to him: “In the 1950s, one of the principles we established was non-racialism. We have defended that policy without fear, and have now triumphed and are building a non-racial society in this country. Our basic objectives are to address the demands of the black majority, which have been disadvantaged … but in carrying out this mandate, we will make sure we do not do anything which could be seen as reverse racism.”
We all vividly remember the words of Mandela in 1964 during the Rivonia Trial, when facing charges of treason and possible death. He said: “During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for. But, my lord, if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
There can be no doubt that Mandela — after spending many years in incarceration — demonstrated his commitment to realising the very ideals that he was banished to Robben Island for. Nelson Mandela knew that transitioning into a democratic dispensation, burdened by personal grudges and suffering under the repressive white regime would sabotage concerted attempts to building this democratic and free society in which we all live together in harmony. A large number of men and women committed to building this non-racial society have made great strides to accommodate their fellow white compatriots, in order that all can join hands and together define the future as it is should be.
It is therefore disconcerting that in 2008 when progress has been made towards the realisation of ideals of Mandela, we have leaders within the ANC who are determined to dividing society along racial lines and create animosity towards other racial groups. The ANC secretary general, Gwede Mantashe, during his campaign in East London on December 7 2008 said:
“Counter-revolutionary forces have been saying that the ANC is just too strong and the ANC must be divided, weakened and defeated. But they forget a long time ago that the opposition parties and the Afrikaners had never had the capacity to destroy the ANC and they never will … They have been hunting for people they can use inside the ANC, its alliances and the broad democratic movement, people who would divide this movement … Now volunteers must go to the people and tell them that the enemy of our people, the enemy of the freedom we fought for have now found the gang of three (Shilowa, Lekota and George). That gang of three has been given a task. You see when you give people a sum of money they can do anything you tell them.”
When accusing the founding members of the COPE, Mantashe proceeds in accusing Afrikaners of being enemies of the people. Mantashe is deliberately arousing historical animosity between black people and the Afrikaner community in order to mobilise the desperate and poor masses against COPE. By labelling COPE as an agent of Afrikaners, Mantashe attempts to pit whites against blacks, saying all those people are against you. To call whites counter-revolutionaries, the ANC believes our fellow compatriots are determined to destroy our country, an allegation that is a blatant insult to every white person in this country.
Jacob Zuma had been going around visiting poor white communities with the media entourage; an act, which clearly is nothing out of genuine concern for the plight of these poor white communities but the desperation to win their votes.
Mantashe has revealed the true colours of the ANC and their disregard of white people as sharing the same love for this country as any other black person who fought against apartheid. The politics of the old that are characterised by colour will not propel our beloved country forward.
The days when we judged one another by colour and not the content of character are over. COPE ushers a new era where all South Africans, black and white, would express their inalienable and democratic rights without fear and victimisation. With COPE, ours is a commitment to building a truly multicultural and non-racial society — a commitment that is shared by all members and supporters and reflecting through the participation of people from all backgrounds in all the structures of the movement.
“We have triumphed in the effort to implant hope in the breasts of the millions of our people. We enter into a covenant that we shall build the society in which all South Africans, both black and white, will be able to walk tall, without any fear in their hearts, assured of their inalienable right to human dignity — a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world,” Nelson Mandela said.
Afrikaners and Africans share a common history and it is their commonness that would rapidly propel us to destinies far beyond the reach of the mortal eye. Let us then unite with one mind and one determined purpose. Let us restore the hope without which liberation and even life itself are but dreary things. If there be any among us who wish to defer this hope, let them stand alone, isolated as caricatures of dreadful absurdities.
“Africa unite!” — Bob Marley
DISCLAIMER: The use of the term “African” in the article above is in no way intended to exclude our fellow white compatriots and deny them their Africanness. It is in this instance merely used to draw historical distinctions between the two racial groups.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
From the official blog of the Nelspruit COPE Branch