Insure your car, home and valuables with iWYZE
Go back to Holland, read the poster at a protest rally during the Jacob Zuma Spear episode. I saw a similar one at a protest last week. In 2005, Judge John Hlophe allegedly called a white Afrikaans-speaking lawyer a “white s***” and told him to “go back to Holland”. Last week an angry woman told me on Twitter to go back to Holland after I criticised the president.
Less malicious, but as ignorant, was the very sympathetic young black man who recently asked me to explain how it happened that “you Dutch people didn’t go back to the Netherlands after the British became the coloniser of SA”.
Perhaps it is this ignorance of our history that feeds the still festering resentment towards white South Africans.
Many black South Africans still see us as colonial occupiers.
I am not saying they don’t have reason to resent whites, but it would help if they did it for the right reason, so to speak. White South Africans have a lot to answer to, but being here is not one of them.
This obsession with colonialists is not unrelated to the surge of narrow black nationalism in the ANC. But it was former president Thabo Mbeki who reintroduced the colonial terminology with his constant references to whites being colonialists of a special kind.
Some black intellectuals specialise in analysing the South African question in terms of colonialism.
This was very clear during the Zuma Spear debate when several analysts trotted out explanations of the white colonialist obsession with the black penis and compared artist Brett Murray’s depiction of Zuma with his genitals exposed to the case of Saartjie Baartman, the Khoi woman who was paraded naked in Europe more than a century ago because of what they thought was her peculiar body shape.
Let us start with the Holland obsession. I am a typical Afrikaner in terms of ancestry, so let me explain who my ancestors were.
I get my surname from Hercule des Pres, a French Huguenot who fled from religious prosecution and arrived at the Cape in 1687. His son Philippe married the daughter of a slave in 1727.
My mother’s first local ancestor was a Kruger who arrived from Germany a few years earlier. His son Jakop married a slave woman in 1718.
My paternal grandmother was a Saayman, or Zaayman as the family was originally called. They came with the first Dutch settlers in the 1650s. Daniel Zaayman married Pieternella, daughter of Krotoa, the Khoi woman who lived at the household of Jan van Riebeeck.
I unfortunately do not know who my maternal grandparents were.
So I am not really from Holland. I am a proper bastard. I have been to Holland several times and, apart from being able to decipher much of the language, it is not a familiar place to me.
The food, the architecture, the clothes, the attitudes are not what I am familiar with. In contrast, I felt very much at home the first time I went to London in my early twenties, despite the fact that I have no British blood in me.
My earliest French, Dutch and German ancestors at the Cape all became trekboers, farmers who worked the land independently of the Dutch East India Company.
Several of them are recorded in the history books as being among those who rose up against first the Dutch and then the British colonial authorities.
I am married to someone who passes as a white English-speaking South African. And yet her paternal ancestors were Indian and Chinese from Mauritius, mixed up locally with Afrikaners and descendants of the 1820 British Settlers.
A large chunk of white English-speaking South Africans are descendants of the farmers who were settled in SA by the British government in 1820. They also stopped being British long ago and got intermarried with other groups, like Afrikaners.
But there are many other white South Africans that do not have Afrikaners or 1820 settlers among their ancestors and have also become proper African South Africans.
Think of people like George Bizos, who was born in Greece; Joe Slovo, born in Lithuania; Johnny Clegg, born in England; or Maria Ramos, born in Portugal. Colonialists? I don’t think so.
I have long made it my business to help educate white South Africans about black South Africans’ history and have written extensively on pre-colonial African leaders and events.
I thought it was important for white South Africans to get a proper appreciation of this part of our past in order to understand the attitudes and memories of the majority.
But perhaps an equally important task is to help black South Africans to properly understand |the history of their white compatriots.
An absolute precondition for what has become a new catch phrase, social cohesion, is a proper acceptance on behalf of black South Africans of the fact that white South Africans are not settlers, but an integral part of this nation.