Monday, 12 August 2013
If any ethnic group in South Africa can lay a just claim to being oppressed it is the Afrikaners....... The Dutch in the Cape were minding their own business when they were attacked by the British in 1795 (Battle of Muizenberg) and again in 1806 (Battle of Blouwberg) which resulted in them losing control of the territory. The British then set about turning the Cape into an English colony. Town names were changed from Dutch to English; English became the official language - although they were in the minority. With the abolition of slavery and later the emancipation of all slaves in the British Empire the Dutch migrated north into the interior of Africa between 1834 - 1845. The event is known as The Great Trek.
The Voortrekkers crossed the Drakensberg Mountains into Natal on the east coast (Durban) where they encountered the Zulu people. They negotiated with the Zulu King Dingane to acquire land to which he agreed. On the day the treaty was to be ratified the 100 strong male Boer/Voortrekker delegation lead by Piet Retief was massacred on the orders of Dingane. This was followed up by another massacre of the Voortrekker women and children at Bloukrans/Weenen.
Before setting out on the trek the Boere had encountered the Xhosa on the eastern frontier of the Cape near present Port Elizabeth. Two battles known as the 1st and 2nd Kaffir Wars or the Xhosa/Frontier Wars. The British later went to war a further seven times against the Xhosa. Before crossing into Natal the Voortrekkers successfully repulsed an attack by the Matabele at the battle of Vegkop (near Heilbron) in what is today the Orange Free State.
In a reprisal battle later in the year 1838 the Boere/Voortrekkers defeated the Zulu at the Battle of Blood river. Unfortunately for the Boere at about the same time the British sailed into Durban harbour and annexed Natal as part of the British Empire. An uneasy truce existed between the Boere/Voortrekkers and the British. It culminated in the Battle of Congella (Durban) After about 3 years the Voortrekkers abandoned their Republic of Natalia (Pietermaritzburg) and trekked back across the mountains into the interior and settled on the highveld (prairies). After a number of further stand offs and skirmishes with the British the Boer Republics of Orange Free State (1854) and ZAR (1856) [Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek - later renamed Transvaal] were recognised and peace came to the land.
Unfortunately for those that settled in the Orange Free State they did so on the world’s largest deposit of gem diamonds (Kimberley) The envious British in the Cape succeeded through political manouvering in annexing this territory to the Cape.(1880) The Boere had no desire to go to war over it.
Some years later the Boere that had settled in the ZAR discovered that they had done so over the world’s largest deposit of gold (Johannesburg) The avaricious British wanted this wealth as well and this lead to the two Anglo-Boer Wars. The second (1899-1902) was a very bitter affair which lead to 3,000 Boer woman and 24,000 Boer children perishing in British concentration camps. For many those wounds still exist today.
The Boere were now a broken and impoverished people. They had lost their two republics and were once again under the rule of the British. In 1910 the two colonies and the two republics were consolidated into a single unitary state - the Union of South Africa.
The Boere resolved to re-gain their independence through democratic means and set about doing so through hard work, education and developing financial and commercial power. During this time their language became recognised as an independent language - Afrikaans (1923) and they now referred to themselves as Afrikaners (=African). Finally in 1948 the National Party won the (whites only) election. In 1961 after a whites only referendum they broke with the British empire and the Union of South Africa became the Republic of South Africa.
The white population has always been about 60% Dutch/Boer/Afrikaner and 40% British/SA English. From this brief history you can see that they have been involved in a constant battle to maintain their identity and independence against the British and black tribes of Southern Africa.
So to answer your original question: They had no desire to encourage more English (and Catholic) immigrants that could potentially outnumber, undermine and weaken their hard won freedom, independence and republic.
Regarding their relationship with the 9 black tribes of South Africa. It had never been their intention to set out to conquer and rule anyone. They had always sought to find their own territory and live in peace alongside their neighbours - be they British or black. When they gained political power in 1948 they inherited the British construct of 1910 which included the 9 tribes of Africa. In effect an African Yugoslavia.
My opinion on this is that the British wanted the 9 tribes within the Union to provide a labour force for the diamond and gold mines and other valuable minerals that had been discovered. If you trace the shareholdings of these assets you will see they are actually owned and controlled by off shore interests - mainly in the UK.
This is why the National Party Govt embarked on the homelands policy. Substantial investments were made in the black homelands (=US reservations) to train and lead them to independence and western style democracy. These states would have been on a par with Lesotho and Swaziland.
As the Afrikaners did not own the mines they were not important to them. By contrast they were very valuable to the British who were able to successfully use the “human rights/black African independence” aspect of the apartheid policies as a subterfuge to oust the Afrikaners from political control and power.
However, I think that this may ultimately backfire on the British. The black govt is not proving to be as docile as they had hoped. There are a lot of noises within the ANC camp to nationalise the mines. The ever growing presence of the Chinese in Africa is another development they had not bargained for.
Today we once again see the Afrikaner as effectively dispossessed and being slaughtered at rate greater than ever before in their history. Despite extreme provocation they are using all peaceful diplomatic channels through local representation of their people, applications to the world court in the Hague and eventual petitions to the UN (however biased that organisation is against them) to be recognised as an independent people and be accorded full protection afforded by international laws, legislation and declarations of human rights within their own self governing territory.
To answer your final point: What we are witnessing today in SA is the outcome of one of the slickest pieces of spin-doctoring the world has ever seen. The Afrikaners have been made out to be the villains. Read Pandora’s Box to get an idea of the investment the National Party made in black people to lead them to self-sufficient western democratic independence. Concurrent with the political moves the industrial economy (English/Jewish) and agricultural economy (Afrikaner) has delivered a level of prosperity the blacks have never before experienced.
English South Africans made the most of the political status quo to get wealthy whilst the Afrikaners manned the security forces to make these conditions possible. Now the backlash is directed against the Afrikaners for being the “oppressors”. Between 1910 and 1948 SA was ruled by English political parties. They are equally complicit in the segregationist state that SA was. The Afrikaners merely formalised the existing status quo by giving it the name Apartheid
From 1910 to 1961 when SA became a republic Britain had a resident Governor General in SA who had the power to veto any piece of legislation passed by the SA Parliament. To the best of my knowledge they never once exercised this power. In other words, Britain fully endorsed the status quo as it ensured a healthy flow of dividends from the mines. After 1961 when the pesky Boere no longer jumped to Britain’s tune the gloves came off to get rid of them once again.
Would SA be better today if the white population was bigger? …...I honestly don’t know. Under white patronage the black population grew from 3m to 35m. Materially they were the most well off black community on the continent. Under their own administration they are heading for the same drop in standards as the rest of Africa.
If I could wave a magic wand I believe the best solution would have been for the Homelands policy to have run its course so that each group could have their own territory and live in peace as good neighbours. In some ways it already existed with the English grouped in Natal and the urban areas and the Afrikaners in the other provinces in the rural areas. If you look at Africa you will see the most peaceful countries are those populated by a single tribe. Wherever you have two or more tribes within boundaries prescribed by colonial powers you have conflict. In time a federal system could have evolved to everyone’s benefit.
Right now we are where we are and just have to watch and work at making the current set of circumstances unfold peacefully and prosperously for all.... A big ask.