The Afrikaner is a misnomer and needs a name change, says the writer. File picture: Schalk van Zuydam/AP Photo
The Afrikaner is a misnomer and needs a name change, says the writer. File picture: Schalk van Zuydam/AP Photo

OPINION: Boers can’t call themselves Afrikaners as if they’re a super ethnic group above Africans

Time of article published Aug 2, 2020

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By Jaki Seroke

A heralded tradition of critical intellectuals among whites who have objected conscientiously to the theory and practice of apartheid appear to have never in the development of their own thought leadership questioned the ethnic identity of the Afrikaner as a misnomer and a complete falsehood.

Afrikaner is a Dutch etymology that means African. Yet they have misappropriated the identity of the indigenous peoples of Africa, assuming their collective name, and instead giving them the hot end of the stick until their policies were deemed heretic and a crime against humanity.

The Boers are a hodge-podge of the Dutch who arrived in 1652 with Jan van Riebeeck and in time adopted the Huguenot into their ranks to make a tribe in Africa that was originally victimised by the Catholics in Europe.

They were nevertheless skilled farmers and agriculture was their forte. The Boers did not bring cattle with them from Europe, but after noticing the Khoisans exceptional rearing skills of cattle, they took this for themselves and called this Afrikaner cows. Expropriation without compensation at its best.

They prayed their God religiously and formed a bond with the natives on that score, except that they were the only ones chosen by God.

They found southern African climate conditions to be a boon.

Their great trek into the hinterland is in proportions to the biblical exodus. They practically rendered asunder what they found standing in their path but went on to claim that they found an empty land.

We have come to accept that the Boers are here to stay. We should be frank and fair in dealing with this reality.

I believe their crowning glory is the fight they put up against the British empire, using innovative guerrilla warfare tactics, digging up trenches at the bottom of hills to surprise their foes. They indeed shook up a super power in the battlefield.

Yet after that they agreed to a union with their former enemies and went on to jointly rob the African majority of their inalienable right to land. They used the Bantustan system as a tool to divide the natives and turn them into what Solomon Plaatje described as “pariahs in their own land”.

They negotiated themselves at CODESA into an ensconced position of arrogance and power. They substantially ignored the terms of confession the truth at Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s laudable reconciliation project.

We have learned to forgive but never forget. We now have a quandary to resolve. The Afrikaner is a misnomer and needs a name change.

The objecting public intellectuals like “die Sistegers”, who are journalists, writers, academics, preachers, and other talents, have not worked on a national discourse to address the integration of the Boers into Africa and its people.

Afrikaans is now a dominant language with an overwhelming majority, all told, using it as their first language. It is certainly integrated into the social fibre of modern national identity.

If they are uncomfortable with the nomenclature of settler, as the AfriForum and Solidarity formations seem to do, they must then join the national dialogue on the resolution of the national question, and their place in it.

The Boers cannot continue to call themselves Afrikaners as if they are a super ethnic group above the African people.

Let’s start with first things first.

Seroke is in the leadership collective of the PAC and is a representative of the Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Trust.

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