The Afrikaners are the descendants of Dutch, French and German colonists who settled in the Cape from the mid seventeenth century onwards. This grouping gradually formed its own cultural identity and became increasingly concerned with the need for self-determination and freedom from British colonial rule. After more than 150 years of discontentment they eventually embarked on a mass migration or “trek” in the 1830s and 1840s to escape British rule in the Cape.
These settlers founded various republics in the northeast of what is now South Africa, and collectively gave birth to the Afrikaner people, and a new language – Afrikaans. Afrikaans has joined more than ten other indigenous languages to form part of the political and cultural landscape of South Africa. Originally spoken only by European settlers it is now the native tongue of more than three million mixed race “coloureds” in the Western Cape. The Afrikaner has become an anachronism in South Africa – rejected by the black majority – a tribe produced by Africa, but with nowhere else to go.
In recent times, since the first democratic elections in 1994, the Afrikaner has become an anachronism in South Africa – rejected by the black majority – a tribe produced by Africa, but with nowhere else to go. The recent murder of Eugene Terreblanche, a well-known right-wing Afrikaner leader of the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) - an Afrikaner nationalist movement - has pushed the plight of the Afrikaner back onto the front pages of newspapers. Terreblanche had recently started calling for a “free Afrikaner Republic”, exploiting perhaps, a simmering resentment in a minority of Afrikaners following the advent of democracy in 1994.
In 2008, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO) awarded the Afrikaner people membership during its IX General Assembly in Belgium. This award recognises indigenous peoples, occupied nations, minorities and independent states or territories, which lack representation internationally. For some, the Afrikaner people have become a stateless nation, a people whose self-determination is under threat. In December 1990, Carel Boshoff, the son-in-law of former apartheid Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd, purchased a town in the Northern Cape from the Department of Water Affairs.
The aim was to create a “volkstaat” where the Afrikaner way of life, culture and identity was preserved. The Afrikaner “selfwerksaamheid” (“self reliance”) approach to life is strictly observed and followed in Orania. Afrikaners fill all jobs from management to labour, and man all services such as schools and shops. Emphasis is placed upon a communal way of living - everyone helps out where needed. This way of living has often given outsiders the impression that Orania and its people are living in the past, and are clinging to an untenable, race-based heritage.
These images represent Orania as it is today. Numerous press reports suggest that Orania is a town of racist extremists entrenched in the past.
However, I feel that Orania and the Afrikaners who call it home, merely have the desire to have a place where they can continue to live their way of life on their own terms and ensure a culture and heritage isn’t forgotten amongst the new generation of Afrikaner in Southern Africa.