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Friday, 11 February 2011

The Persistent Blind Spot.

By Ron

There appears to be a long running blind spot concerning the Afrikaans speaking population of the Western Cape as some authors & commentators have routinely conflated them with the Boer population of the Cape frontier. Discussions on the Great Trek by those authors therefore refer to an amorphous Afrikaner group thereby overshadowing the actual Boer population which went on the Great Trek. Thereby openly insinuating that the Great Trek was something "only a minority of Afrikaners" engaged in when in reality the bulk of the Boer people engaged in it & very few actual Cape Dutch did. The most most egregious example of this blind spot was demonstrated by an Anglo-Boer War era author from France whose misunderstanding was so extreme that he actually erroneously though that most "Boers" remained behind at the Cape during the Great Trek simply because most of the Afrikaans speaking population - the Cape Dutch population - remained. The author in question: Yves Guyot wrote the following.

[ Ancestors of the Boers had more than once acted in a similar manner towards the Dutch East India Company when dissatisfied with their administration, and unwilling to pay their taxes. But Pro-Boers have a curious habit of magnifying things. One would imagine, to hear them speak, that every Boer in the Cape had packed wife, children, and goods into ox-wagons and had trekked north. As a matter of fact, the greater proportion remained behind, and their descendants formed the majority of the 376,000 whites enumerated in the census of 1891. The Great Trek was really composed of various detachments which started one after another in 1836. Statistics of the numbers of trekkers vary from 5,000 to 10,000. ]

The "greater proportion" of the Afrikaans speakers he was referring to were in fact the Cape Dutch [ ie: non-Boer ] population of the Western Cape who have always outnumbered the Boer population which developed on the Cape frontier. [ circa 1679 - 1735 ] Therefore his devise of trying to imply that most "Boers" did not go on the Great Trek falls flat & underscores his total misunderstanding over who the greater proportion of the Afrikaans speaking folks at the Cape were because most of them have never ascribed to the independence outlook of the Boer population of the frontier nor saw themselves as Boers. Therefore his feeble attempt at implying that the Boers who trekked somehow represented a "marginal" or "minority" decision [ as he views the Afrikaans speakers as one monolithic group when in reality the Boers developed into a separate group away from & distinct from the Cape Dutch ] does great damage to the reality that the bulk of the Boer population [ if not even most ] were driven to trek.

Therefore Guyot was employing a technique which is still commonly used to marginalize the aspirations of the Boer people by implying that they are simply "a minority" within a larger language based whole who "must respect the majority decision" of the artificial larger whole & accept the decisions of the establishment Afrikaner leadership & "abandon" their centuries long struggle for Boer self determination.

This glaring misconception & the accompanying blind spot to the larger Cape Dutch population is also erroneously asserted & propagated in books such as The White Tribe of Africa [ authored by a British BBC journalist who specifically sought out & largely parroted an Afrikaner Broederbond tinged perspective ] most notable in the incorrect assertion within the line: [ One hundred and fifty years ago, the Boers had nothing but a determination to escape from those who prevented them from living as they wished. Today their descendents control the whole of South Africa. ] Which of course is impossible & a false claim because the Boers are no more than 40 % of the entire White Afrikaans speaking population. How could they control "the whole of South Africa" when they did not even control the whole of the Afrikaner designation. The macro Afrikaner group which inherited control of South Africa was mainly of Cape Dutch descent as the Boer segment was the smaller portion. The Cape Dutch descendents make up at least 60 - 65 % of the White Afrikaans speaking population ergo when the White Afrikaans speakers inherited the macro State of South Africa: the Boer segment could not possibly have controlled "the whole of South Africa" as they were naturally outnumbered by the Cape Dutch originated Afrikaners whose votes carried more weight. Cape Dutch, English speakers & Boers all had access to the vote under South Africa ergo the Boer segment did not have the numerical strength to take control of South Africa via the electoral process. Why do some authors purposely omit the Cape Dutch ancestors of the Afrikaner named group? Are they simply ignorant of them? Are they simply influenced by Afrikaner Broederbond propaganda? Did the Cape Dutch descended Afrikaners suddenly die out? Of course not. So why are the Cape Dutch segment curiously rarely mentioned? The Cape Dutch were not an invisible people as they had in fact named the Afrikaans language as such & started the first Afrikaans language based newspaper. One would think that this act would have put them on the map. Though they did so under the Afrikaner designation thereby obscuring the Cape Dutch roots. In fact the Boer population were the ones dying out as per the 50 % loss of their children in the concentration camps during the second Anglo-Boer War. Thereby giving the Cape Dutch an even greater population momentum within the Afrikaner designation. Therefore it is mathematically impossible for Boers to have controlled the WHOLE of South Africa as they would only have held sway within the regions they dominated numerically via the electorate though tragically under Afrikaner political domination.

This misunderstanding still shows up in present times. As an example: when the host of the African Crisis website read a book noting that there were more Afrikaans speakers at the Cape during the Anglo-Boer War. He then outrageously & erroneously proclaimed: "I read that there were more 'Boers' in the Western Cape than there were in the Boer Republics. "! Which of course is totally wrong & demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of who the Boer people are & who the Afrikaans speaking population at the Western Cape were / are. While some Boers of the Cape frontier remained behind during the Great Trek - the vast majority of the Cape Afrikaans speaking population are of course the Cape Dutch of the Western Cape. This misunderstanding is compounded further as many do not even know that the Great Trek was from the eastern Cape where the Boer population lived & not from the Western Cape of the Cape Dutch. This misunderstanding was typified when an American website host erroneously thought that the Great Trek was from Cape Town [ probably confusing the re-enactment which occurred during the centennial & started from Cape Town ] when the fact of the matter is that the Great Trek was virtually exclusively from the north eastern Cape frontier from towns like: Cradock / Uitenhage / Grahamstown / Swellendam / Somerset East / Graaff-Reniet etc. There were around 10 000 Boers at most who went on the Great Trek out of a total Cape Afrikaans speaking population of at least 30 000. The vast majority of the 30 000 Afrikaans speakers were the Western Cape based Cape Dutch.

The population statistics for the late 19th cent show that there were around 400 000 White inhabitants at the Cape - with the vast majority of the Afrikaans speakers being from the Cape Dutch population. While there were never more than 250 000 to 300 000 Boers at most prior to the second Anglo-Boer War thereby demonstrating as plain as day that the erroneous notion that Boer desendents could have governed South Africa alone by themselves is mathematically impossible & totally disregards the numerically larger Cape Dutch population group.

This regrettable misunderstanding & conflation got perpetuated further as the African Crisis website host Jan Lamprecht misinformed the large listening audience of the Jeff Rense radio program on April 5 of 2010 when he erroneously stated ad nauseum that the Boer Republics were established by the "Afrikaners" [ when the Afrikaners of the time were in fact not even yet trying to co-opt the Boers via the Afrikaner Bond ] when in fact the Cape Dutch Afrikaners have NEVER wanted freedom or independence & have NEVER established any republics until 1961 when they turned the Union of South Africa into the nominal Republic of South Africa largely as a result of Boer population support via the national referendum on the topic. Then during the same broadcast he made the most outrageous assertion when he claimed that the National Party rose to power as a result of a "Boer conspiracy"! I kid you not. While the rise of the National Party could be ascribed as having been the result of an Afrikaner Broederbond conspiracy - the fact that Lamprecht attempts to shift blame ENTIRELY on then largely impoverished & working class Boer people [ who are the SMALLER segment of the White Afrikaans speaking population ] & TOTALLY OMITTED MENTIONING the role of the Afrikaners [ who are mostly of Cape Dutch origin ] spoke volumes / betrays ignorance & would suggest an anti-Boer agenda at worst. Because he has been informed in the past but continues to peddle erroneous assertions.

Why does he speak of "Afrikaner Republics" when the Afrikaners of the era were OPPOSED to the Great Trek of the Boers? Why does he speak about a "Boer conspiracy" when the Afrikaners engaged in said "conspiracy" [ his term ] would be of Cape Dutch origin as well? He could have called it accurately an "Afrikaner conspiracy" but he chose to call it a "Boer conspiracy". The term Afrikaner was used when he was talking about Boers & the term Boer was used when he was taking about Afrikaners. This is rather curious. While there were certainly a number of Boer descendents [ now part of the Afrikaner coalition & only identifying themselves as Afrikaners ] who participated in the rise of the National Party with some also recruited into the Broederbond - it would certainly be a total distortion & an outright lie to blame the Boer people for engaging in a "conspiracy" when the vast majority of the Afrikaners were descended from the Cape Dutch population & thus not were not even from the Boer population.

The Boer people were under the thumb of the Afrikaners & blaming Boers exclusively for the actions of the Afrikaners neglects the role of the larger & dominant Afrikaans speaking population group. Furthermore the driving force behind the "conspiracy" was not even the average Afrikaner but rather the Afrikaner Broederbond which was a then semi secret society which was unknown to most Boers & Afrikaners. But Lamprecht blames an entire ethnic group for the actions of a very small & secretive group. The two most notable drivers of the rise of the National Party were D F Malan & Hendrik Verwoerd. Both not from the Boer people. [ Malan was from the Cape Dutch & Verwoerd was a naturalized Afrikaner originally from Holland. ] Henning Klopper who was one of the founders of the Broederbond might have been of Boer descent BUT he was totally initiated into viewing himself as an Afrikaner via the speeches of JBM Hertzog & thus on board with the Afrikaner teleocratic agenda to work within macro State to take it over for the bulk of the Afrikaans speakers [ which Hertzog actually opposed as he wanted to promote a bi-lingual coalition via "English Afrikaners" working together with "Afrikaans Afrikaners" ] & the Afrikaner Broederbond in particular. Lamprecht also gave a dangerous false impression when he spoke of Terre'Blanche as being the only one who "stood up" to be counted while totally neglecting the much longer role that Robert van Tonder played as he left the National Party in 1961 to defend the Boer people & to advocate for the restoration of the Boer Republics. The political outlook of Robert van Tonder would later play a significant role in the political outlook of Eugene Terre'Blanche - particularly when Terre'Blanche got on board with the Boer freedom struggle & began to call for the restoration of the Boer Republics by 1985 due to the influence of van Tonder. Therefore ignoring the role of Robert van Tonder was also curious. Van Tonder had to endure a lot more abuse / threats & violence than Terre'Blanche did in the defense of his people yet nary of word.

Another curious thing about Lamprecht was when he noted on his website that he could not identify most of the Boer flags used during the Boer Protest March of March 2006. How can someone who can not even identify various Boer flags let alone not even admit that the Boers are not Afrikaners [ as the Boers are from the Cape frontier not the Western Cape ] - be taken so seriously on the Jeff Rense Radio Program concerning the history of the Boer people? One of the most outrageous lies was when he distorted a quote when he claimed that Eugene Terre'Blanche said that: "an Afrikaner just wants to be an Afrikaner". When in reality what he said was & what the actual quote was: "A Boer just wants to be a Boer". While Terre'Blanche also used to sometimes erroneously refer to himself as an Afrikaner at times due to his conditioning - he used the term Boer in that quote & not Afrikaner. There is no ethnicity of Afrikaner [ it is a continental derived term like American which also encompasses multiple ethnic groups ] as it was & is an umbrella term used to describe anyone whose home language was Afrikaans. While the Boers are a minority within the Afrikaner designation.

The newly adopted Afrikaner flag also plays into the Afrikaner domination of the Boer Nation as they purposely hijack Boer flags & attach them within an Afrikaner colour scheme dating back to the Prince Flag as used by the tyrant Jan van Riebeeck: the original oppressor of the ancestors of the Boer people at the Cape. The flag no doubt aims at co-opting the Boer people into the Afrikaner camp so that any Boer Republican secessionist movement is neutralized because the Afrikaner leadership is adamantly opposed to the restoration of the Boer Republics which will no doubt be the natural result of an authentic Boer independence movement.

This drastic misunderstanding causes great damage & harm to the actual Boer people because the Afrikaner establishment has always worked AGAINST them denying them their independence & the conflation of the Boer with the Afrikaner makes the Boers responsible & a scapegoat for actions taken & driven mainly by ANOTHER ethnic group. This is why one often hears the ignorant lament & harmful straw man argument of: "the Boers should have created a homeland for themselves when 'they' were still in power" because those who utter such a sentiment betray their total lack of knowledge of the situation & who the actual Boer people are. There were Boers struggling to "create a homeland for themselves" all throughout the 20th cent but they were prevented & stopped by the Afrikaner establishment. The very regime that the ignoramuses erroneously believe were "Boers who should have created a homeland for themselves". Mind you this is the same Afrikaner establishment that many folks insist that the Boers must stand with in the name of "unity" for reasons that entirely escape one because so long as the Boers stand with the establishment Afrikaners so long will their long running independence movement get stalled. While there were numerous folks of Boer descent part of the past regimes - one must remember that they had long since been conditioned to view themselves as Afrikaners & many rejected the Boer Nation & therefore did not work on even trying to accommodate Boer self determination.

There are folks who try to deny the Boers their own cultural identity asserting that they should fold themselves into - or be assimilated into the Afrikaners but I have never heard anyone make the same argument & claim that the Acadians should do the same & fold into the French Canadians & Quebecois because Boer identity should be as respected as Acadian identity is in Canada. Someone on another website once commented that Boers who are proud of their culture & display their historical Boer Republican flags are "extremists" yet once again I never hear the same argument put forward against Acadians who are proud of their distinct culture & display their own distinct Acadian flag.

The fact of the matter is that so long as this persistent blind spot & lack of insight continues - the actual Boer people will be damaged / maligned as "extremists" / misrepresented / accused & marginalized under the Afrikaners simply because a larger uninsightful public has been conditioned to view all Afrikaans speakers as a mythological monolithic block due to the Afrikaner Broederbond propaganda of the past & the curious omission of the larger Cape Dutch population by some authors whose tragic myopic misunderstanding only sees Boer ancestors of the Afrikaners thus negating & ignoring the larger Cape Dutch population.



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