Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Subversion of the Boer Republican Movement.

The following was posted by Adriana Stuijt in an article on African Crisis in mid 2007. I am re-posting it here because it shows how the Boer Republican cause was subverted & maligned by the old Broederbond establishment. The cause of Boer self determination was opposed by a number of forces including the Afrikaner financial / media & political power.

The AWB wasn't formed as a political party and it never aspired to participate in official politics at all. Their purpose was completely different. Eugene Terre'Blanche was a very interesting man who inspired a lot of people with his amazing speech-making ability, he also was a good writer of Afrikaans plays, something which a lot of people probably don't know, and some of his work was even used in text-books at Afrikaans schools at the time. The thing I remember most about him was how genuinely fond he was of the African landscape and the Boer people, and how well he knew the history contained inside that landscape. He also was a very impulsive man and not sophisticated politically. He also was rather more knowledgeable about the culture of the African tribes in his region around Ventersdorp than most 'whites' were.

Robert van Tonder who founded the Boer State Party, always called him a 'wonderfully creative Boer" and while he also didn't much like that flag and some of the followers and especially didn't agree with any violent means of gaining their goal, these two men often held meetings together all over the country. The purpose of these meetings was not to gain any kind of political support because I was convinced that neither believed in participating in actual politics all that much at that point any more. Instead they embarked on this countrywide travel routine during which they held weekend meetings to teach Afrikaners about their own 'lost' history and to teach them to become Boers again - under the National Party government, they weren't allowed to know a lot of their own rich history and the word "Boer" wasn't used much by National-Party ministers.

Robert printed his own books about the Boer State ideals on his own printing press at his farm and they drew a lot of people to these meetings. And always there were these loud-mouthed agent-provocateurs at these meetings with nazi-flags, men who often were rude and rowdy to deliberately create an uproar which would reflect badly in the news media. After a while their supporters became quite skilled at identifying these guys and keeping them out of their meetings. One comment which always shut them up was the question: 'if you don't support our Boer autonomy inside our own borders, why do you support it for every other race in South Africa who have their own homelands"?"

While posting on another blog Stuijt expounded on Robert van Tonder.

In response to Ron's explanation about the history of the Boerestaat ideal, I do wish to add the following:

Robert van Tonder spent most of his own money to plead for the Boer-cause abroad. He not only self-published his boek 'Boerestaat' in four different foreign languages with many reprints: English, Dutch, German and French; he also maintained his own (illegal) underground printing press at his farm, and all his school-age children were involved in printing this small book, and also distributing his monthly newspaper 'Die Stem".

Some editions were even banned, much to his delight, since the contents would then get publicity in the mainstream news, too.

Van Tonder explained the Boerestaat ideal in a thin booklet of only fifty or so pages.

His use of language clearly was very economical, also because he was a very practical businessman - having been the very first Afrikaner in Johannesburg to set up his own car-dealership and the very first local businessman in Johannesburg to advertise in Afrikaans newspapers, he also used this same business-like approach to also propagate the Boerestaat ideal.

He wasn't into fundraisers or paying fat-cat salaries to any party organisers -- which squeezed cash out of the poorest of the poor Afrikaners, as the National Party and the Herstigte Nasionale Party always were so fond of doing.

He merely propagated his Boerestaat idea - and, realising that most people had been deliberately denied much knowledge about their own post-Anglo-Boer war history, most of his time was spent trying to teach people about their own history.

His opponents inside the Nationale Party also were tireless in discrediting him as much as they could - and they had all of the state's machinery to do this with.

They were relentless in attacking this maverick messenger and undermining his personal life, too, although this was not clearly understood by everyone concerned at that time, it created great hardship for his children.

Still, he continued his campaign. Nothing seemed to deter him from his chosen path.

He used to appear at many public meetings - he would go to wherever he was invited -- and often he was pelted with trash, abused, beaten and shouted at, and people often attacked him while trying to take away the microphone to stop him from even being heard.

Then the Afrikaans newsmedia would write afterwards that the meeting had been 'rowdy, typical right-wing neo-nazi thuggery', and publish pictures of NP-members who had been planted at the meetings carrying Nazi-flags. This was all done quite deliberately by the National Party hierarchy to constantly discredit Van Tonder and any of his followers in public.

There also was tremendous pressure placed on his personal life too: his own Gereformeerde church in Randburg even kicked him out as a member because he had remarried without their permission after his wife's death from cancer -- even though Van Tonder was a major contributor to the church's building fund, and his own nephew was the then-SA-president F W de Klerk; and in spite of the fact that Van Tonder's own great-grandfather Rev Durk Postma had been the founder of this church.

The NP-regime also tried to undermine his income -- government departments in Pretoria for instance, deliberately blocked his long-running application for turning his 200-ha farm Zandspruit north of Randburg into a middle-income housing development.

Today, this farm is a mission station for members of the Ndebele-tribe, and the beautiful wellspring of the Zandspruit river which Van Tonder had always protected by creating a small bird sanctuary around it, has become a filthy, stinking swamp.

Van Tonder also was the founder of the city of Randburg -- and was that city's first real-estate agent.

Thus he amassed quite a few of the first little cottages which had been built there by retired Boer mineworkers over the years.

He wanted to preserve this specific group of cottages as a museum of the history of the post-war Boers: many of these little houses had been built with explosives-boxes for instance.

So the NP-city fathers of Randburg confiscated these little rental properties, which he was renting out for very little money to empoverished Afrikaner families -- and bulldozed them all.

He still held a sit-down protest in the middle of the street for several days to try and stop the bulldozers.

Van Tonder was a physically small man but also the most courageous man I'd ever seen.

He could stand on a platform and get shouted down and have trash thrown at him, sometimes shots were even fired past his head, and National Party members were constantly jumping up behind him, waving Nazi-flags for the photographers' benefit -- but he just never gave up.

He would arrive home covered in trash and rotten tomato-goop, send his clothes off to the cleaners and start planning the next meeting.

The only thing which finally made him give up on life, was the devastating pain of skin-cancer ( something which many Afrikaner/Boer families also suffer from due to their genetic tendency for porphyria. )

He also took his plea for Boer independence to various international bodies, such as UNPO (Unrepresented Nations and Peoples' Organisation (UNPO) in The Hague.

They turned down the Boerestaat Membership's membership application.

He and his Boerestaat Party had complied with all the requirements for membership - including the one requirement which said that they 'did not propagate violence to obtain their goals'.

The only reasons UNPO turned down the Boerestaat Party's application were the violence-driven activities of AWB-leader Eugene Terre'Blanche and his Ystergarde.

Van Tonder often was an invited guest speaker at AWB meetings.

Of course, Van Tonder always told me, that he would speak anywhere and on any platform to propagate the Boerestaat ideals. He went to any meeting he'd been invited to.

It's not true that he refused to speak English. That's basically one of those myths which has been created around him.

He in fact spoke English better than many an Englishman and loved reading the language, too. This self-educated man was in fact an avid reader in English, Afrikaans, Dutch and German.

It was however his personal policy as a businessman that he could serve his customers in quite a few languages and always did whenever asked: English, German, Afrikaans - even the members of the Malawi royal family would buy cars from him and he'd treat them just as courteously as he would the poorest Afrikaner who came to him for a used-car deal or an inexpensive rental home.

What he objected to was the extremely rude behaviour of English-South African business people who always persistently refused to serve Afrikaner customers in the language of their own choice, i.e. Afrikaans.

He resented this constant need for Afrikaners to have to negotiate with rude unilingual shop-clerks about which language they, the customers, should be served in.

That's why he felt that the Boerestaat was the only solution for the long-term survival of the Boer people in South Africa: a place where they could flourish in their own cultural environment, where they didn't have to constantly go around apologising for the fact that they were Boers and where they would not need to negotiate about their own language rights.

In 1977, he had a visit from Time Magazine Johannesburg bureau chief William McWhirter, and the two spoke for hours, walking across the farm. McWhirter then wrote a surprisingly positive piece about Van Tonder's Boerestaat ideals, with only one negative comment, namely that the homestead of the Mahlangu family-workers on the Van Tonder farm did not have electricity, although they did have running water and working toilets.

He was also interviewed by other foreign correspondents - and nearly always in English.

Westerners have often heard of the charismatic but bombastic Eugene Terre'Blanche but most have never heard of the mild mannered intellectual & statesman like Robert van Tonder who understood that the best path to secure the freedom of his people - the Boerevolk - was to restore the Boer Republics in some form & who was significantly suppressed & repressed by the old National Party regime. Van Tonder had his own illegal underground printing press which he used to help get the information out about his people & their overlooked / marginalized post Anglo-Boer War history. Van Tonder left the National Party in 1961: -the same year that Hendrik Verwoerd turned South Africa into a nominal republic - in order to pursue the goal of restoring the old Boer Republics which were taken from the Boerevolk after the conclusion of the second Anglo-Boer War. Robert van Tonder also wrote a short book entitled Boerestaat which was published around the time he started the Boerestaat Party which was made available in English / Dutch / German / & French as well as Afrikaans. Van Tonder ended his life on August 5 1999 as a result the severe pain he was suffering from due to his long struggle with cancer.

2 Opinion(s):

Anonymous said...


Any PDF files one could download to read some of what he wrote?

Cheers and all the best for the new year!

Andrea Murrhteyn said...

Yes fascinating, I've never heard of Van Tonder; he sounds like a maverick.