Mhambi has been redeployed.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The FBJ's intolerance and exclusivety reminds of Afrikaner Nationalism

Mhambi has for some time now been going on and on about the creeping racial exclusiveness among black South Africans. As the latest furore about the barring of white journalists from a meeting of Forum for Black Journalists (FBJ) rages, it might be worth remembering similar happenings in our past.

David Goldblatt
On Monumentkop at dawn: preparing for the parades and speeches of the Republic Day festival, Pretoria, Transvaal (Tshwane, Gauteng), 31 May 1966.

And unfortunately, if your an Afrikaner, it makes for uncomfortable reading. If your a black South African it is instructive and so to if your an English speaking white.

Alan Paton, South African liberal and writer, could speak Afrikaans fluently. In 1938 he was excited about the centennial celebrations of the Great Trek. Knowing Afrikaner history, he had sympathy for the resurgence of Afrikaner Nationalism.

On the 16th of December ox wagons would converge on Pretoria from all over the country. This day would also mark the opening of the big Voortrekker Monument, on a koppie just outside of town.

Patton decided to go. He even grew a beard and got him some Voortrekker dress. He completely got with the program, besides the beard and the clothes, he organised two ox wagons for his group. Flying the Vierkleur flag of the defeated Transvaal Republic, Paton rolled into Pretoria. In 1970 he wrote:

"We arrived on a hot day, and I went straight into the showers. Here I was greeted by a naked and bearded Afrikaner patriot, who said to me, 'Have you seen the great crowds?' I said 'yes'. (There were a quarter of a million people there.) He said to me with the greatest affability 'Nou gaan ons die Engelse opdonder'. [Now were gonna give the English hell].

The great day was full of speeches, and theme of every meeting was Afrikanerdom, its glories, its struggles, its grief, its achievements. The speaker would only have to shout 'vryheid', to set the crowd roaring, just as today a black speaker who shouts 'Amandla!' [power], would send a black crowd roaring.

A decedent of the British 1820 settlers who gave Jacobus Uys a Bible when he set out on the Great Trek was shouted down because he gave his greetings in English as his forebears had done."

They were not asked to leave like the white journalists in Sandton, but it was "a lonely and terrible occasion for any English speaking South African who had gone there to rejoice in the Afrikaner festival."

"After the laying of the stone I left the celebrations and went home, I said to my wife, 'I'm taking off this beard and I will never wear another'. That was the end of my love affair with Nationalism, I saw it for what it was, intolerant, self centered, exclusive."

A part of this story makes me feel ashamed. But a part makes me think, after what had been inflicted on Afrikaners by the English, what did he expect from such a big crowd?

Part made me think, why did some Afrikaner leaders, not show others the folly of their ways? After all, Paton was associating with Afrikaners in a way that very few English people did.

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