Mhambi has been redeployed.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

De la Rey on Carte Blanche

Over on the Inside South Africa blog, you will find Carte Blanche's take on the De la Rey song saga. Carte Blanche is the premier English language South African actuality program. It features former Vrye Weekblad (a now defunct Afrikaans left wing paper) editor - Max du Preez, editor of the largest Afrikaans newspaper Rapport's Tim du Plessis, and Wits sociologist/ rock star Andries (Roof) Bezuidenhout.

Besides the astounding political naivete of Bok van Blerk and his co-song writers, most of the commentators have interesting things to say. But Max du Preez looses a serious amount of credibility when saying Afrikaners have had nothing to be proud of for more than 100 years. Mhambi strongly disagrees.

Bok (or Pepler as he is actually known) and his producers/ writers do not only seem politically naive, they seem to be in this for the money. Apparently the good choice of 'dove' De la Rey (De la Rey was against war) was pure luck. It rhymed better and according to the Bok team could have been any other Boer War general. These boys are astute businessmen but class-c politicians.

Bezuidenhout sees the worst in the song - bitterness because of a loss of priviledge, while Du Plessis sees the positive - Afrikaners are finding a voice. (A note of caution with TV - Carte blanche obviously only used those excepts they wanted and might not have reflected all the views expressed.)

Perhaps its both; they are finding a voice fuelled by bitterness. Lets hope they use their voice to add in a constructive way to the new found open political debate that South Africa has rediscovered in the last year.

What is this Afrikaner bitterness

But what is the content of this bitterness so simplistic? It's strange that these incisive social commentators make no mention of South Africa's rediscovered open democratic discourse and that the De la Rey phenomena is happening at precisely this time. Is there no connection? Do Afrikaners live in some bitter bubble, unconnected to whats happening around them??

Strange also that no mention is made of the insensitive, often a-historical steamroller way changes of towns with Afrikaans names have been conducted. Surely in an age rife with identity politics, this is an obvious clue? Or of that little issue called crime.

Most major shifts in Afrikaner history was precipitated by periods of insecurity precipitated by threats of physical violence or doubts expressed on whether they belong in Africa at all. We have another one now.

Instead both Du Preez and Bezuidenhout (who I admire allot) only talk about loss of priveledge and that Afrikaners have nothing to stand for. Du Preez says the Afrikaner's is an imaginary suffering.

Mhambi does not buy this simplistic answer. I bet my bottom dollar that Afrikaners would be willing to pay allot more tax if they knew the money would be effectively spent on the poor, and would reduce crime. Paying more tax is preferable to immigrating to a semi in Slough (The dead drab UK suburb of The Office fame).

And Du Preez misses another crucial point. For the Afrikaners - weaned on concepts of selfless public service, Vaderlands liefde/ patriotism, Anglo Saxon style individuality and riches translates into a very shallow happiness.

During the Great Trek Afrikaners left behind their whole lives - farms, in flight - if you believe historian Giliomee - mainly due to fears for their security. (Others being the abolishment of slavevery and Afrikaans in public life). It's crucial that security was considered more important than material riches.

Could it also be that Afrikaner's are also disgusted - like Township dwellers - at the governments inability to address poverty, the corruption and its criminal Aids policy? Shock! Horror! No!?!?

And Mhambi is not the only one that thinks Max is wrong.

What Afrikanerdom means today is eminently up for grabs, by cutting them no slack, by expecting the worst, intellectual left Afrikaners will help define Afrikanerdom as intrinsicly right wing. That is sad because its simply not true.

As an aside, its always weird to see pictures of staunch Afrikaners waving around the old South African flag, which after all - has the British flag on it. Duh!

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Nico said...

You may be unaware of, or forgetting another reason why some of the Voortrekkers trekked.

Piet Retief was in severe financial trouble with the powers that be of the Empire. Consequently he packed and trekked. He moved to escape bankruptcy and imprisonment, not for the good causes and freedom from oppresion so often claimed.

Wessel said...

Piet Retief and which other ones?

I'm sure some trekked, because they were trying to get away from their wives, or their fathers, or their bank managers or were adventurours. That does not make it systemic reason that applies to all of them.

Nico said...

The point I guess I am trying to make is this: I am sure that when you dig a bit, all truth will be exposed. The sweet little sugar-coated facade and the noble cause of the Great Trek as taught to this child of the Apartheid Regime will get a bitter taste with just a wee bit of research.

Then you *may* find things like murderers, robbers, those shunned in their communities for bonking their slaves, etc, etc.

I am not trying to apply a systemic reason for the Great Trek and I am by no means trying to discredit what good there was. But people were involved and hence there was ulterior motives.

Wessel said...

Major research has been done by a few scholars. For a good (if long but facinating) summary of them and in my opinion the most convincing arguments as to the three main reasons see Giliomee's magnum opus "The Afrikaners".