President Cyril Ramaphosa has been criticised over sentiments made in his Heritage Day speech. Picture: Kopano Tlape GCIS
President Cyril Ramaphosa has been criticised over sentiments made in his Heritage Day speech. Picture: Kopano Tlape GCIS

FW de Klerk Foundation slams Ramaphosa over Heritage Day speech

By Sihle Mavuso Time of article published Sep 30, 2020

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Durban - President Cyril Ramaphosa has come under fire from the FW de Klerk foundation which accuses him and his government of trying to write off Afrikaner and other white people’s history.

The sharp rebuke of the speech delivered last week when the country commemorated the day, came from the foundation’s chairperson, Dave Steward, in an article published on Tuesday and posted on the foundation’s website.

Steward argued that while Ramaphosa told the nation that heritage day is a time to appreciate the many facets of our cultures, customs and traditions, this does not include the cultures, customs, and traditions of white South Africans - particularly of Afrikaners.

According to Steward, the renaming of towns and cities that carried mainly Afrikaner and British names was another painful way of expunging white history from the South African landscape.

“In the world of doublethink, the negation of the culture and history of part of the population is apparently intended to promote “social cohesion” and “national unity”. So what was left for white South Africans to celebrate on heritage day?” he asked.

He wondered whether there was nothing worth celebrating and preserving from the contribution of white people since their first recorded arrival in the Cape in 1652.

“What of figures like Jan van Riebeeck, Wolraad Woltemade, Piet Retief, Paul Kruger, Jan Smuts and Louis Botha - are they to be viewed only through an oppression/liberation prism? What of the legacy of the Second Anglo-Boer War - which was one of the greatest anti-colonial struggles in the history of Africa - during which the Afrikaners lost almost 10% of their population in British concentration camps? What of the enormous contribution that white people have made to the development of the country?” asked Steward.

Steward concluded his article on the matter by saying there is, unfortunately, nothing new in Ramaphosa’s rejection of white culture and history.

Among other many prominent incidents of rejection of white culture, he recounted how in 2014, former president Jacob Zuma once told the country that all the ills it was experiencing can be traced back to the arrival of Jan Van Riebeck in 1652.

“It is extremely dangerous in multicultural societies for governments to target language, cultural or ethnic minorities for opprobrium. This inevitably leads to scapegoating - and to the current leitmotif that, because of apartheid, whites are responsible for the problems that continue to afflict the country - including poverty, unemployment and inequality,” he said.

This story will be updated when the Office of the Presidency responds.

Political Bureau

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