Oh, how sweet would it be if the plea of many white South Africans, again during the last week, that we should stop talking about race and rather walk hand-in-hand into the future, were achievable in my lifetime.
No, it won’t.
Many black South Africans probably think it must be just a joy to be a white South African.
Materially speaking we are indeed doing much better than most of our black compatriots, but we also carry an uncomfortable cross that is chafing our necks.
This is not only because our ancestors came to Africa from Europe and dominated for more than three centuries, but also because only eight people out of every hundred South Africans are white; only five out of hundred identify as Afrikaners. We’re a tiny, tiny minority.
White people are obviously just people; human beings who love their families; who dream, want to feel safe and desire a secure place in the sun – just like the other 92 out of a hundred citizens.
It is not the making of whites who live today that we find ourselves in Africa with our pale skins.
Yet we cannot pretend that history didn’t happen.
The ignorance, the arrogance, the violence of our ancestors towards the people they came across here at the southern tip from the late 17th century onwards; the disruption of indigenous social and political structures; the selfishness of declaring the country “white” and forcing black people to live in and have political rights in black reserves; the cruel enforcement of apartheid since 1948 that was hell-bent on teaching blacks that they were inherently inferior.
And here we are, 23 years after Nelson Mandela and others untied the Gordian knot and we became a democracy.
As Solidarity’s Dirk Hermann showed last week when he wrote a letter to Britain’s Prince William on the injustices of the South African War 117 years ago (barely a day after he attacked Tumi Morake of Jacaranda FM for bringing up unpleasant memories from her past), we simply can’t wipe out history as a bad nightmare.
All of us, also our children, still live with the aftermath of our bitter history in and around us every day.
Now those who have appointed themselves as the political leaders of the five out of a hundred get up and, backed by serious money, aggressively assert themselves as white Afrikaners, shamelessly protect their privilege and launch commercial boycotts because they are no longer dominating.
Solidarity and AfriForum, expert mobilisers of an ethnic nationalism, are going to make it hard for my teenage daughter and youngsters like her to live a happy and rewarding life in South Africa in ten, twenty years’ time.
Former newspaper editor Tim du Plessis wrote about this issue on Sunday and posed it as a moral equivalence: the Kallie Kriels (AfriForum boss) and Tumi Morakes both have a case; they are “equally upset”.
This is false.
Du Plessis advises me and other AfriForum/Solidarity critics to “stand closer” to them if I want to influence them.
I suppose he means like the Afrikaans media did with John Vorster and PW Botha in the 1970s and 1980s.
What he forgets is that he and other Afrikaans journalists hunted down the old Conservative Party and HNP for their support of the National Party and portrayed them as retarded and backward.
And now that we have a black government, Du Plessis defends these parties’ political children who are building a wealthy empire by trading in fear and suspicion?
AfriForum has an aggressive membership drive. They send SMSes like “Andile Mngxitama and BLF want to take your land in December, join us, we’ll fight them”, or “Ramaphosa admits that ANC wants to disempower whites. Make AfriForum strong and show we’re not frogs.”
Some months ago a concerned parent called me and said he had received an SMS from AfriForum saying all Afrikaans schools were going to be closed down and invited him to join them to fight it.
They prey on the Afrikaner’s insecurities and paranoia and reawaken the old apartheid fears that “blacks will do to us what we did to them” instead of helping them adjust and make peace with the new society.
White South Africans and Afrikaners will have to imagine a new place for themselves in the changed environment, with a greater historic perspective, sensitivity, understanding and realism.
We whites, our children and the Afrikaans language will yet pay a dear price for the Boer bullies who make clever talk about legitimate minority rights and respectful co-existence while they very well know that most of their supporters are crude racists.