Afrikaners inside and outside Orania


This is the second article in a series of four in which Carel Boshoff shares thoughts about the future of Afrikaners, wherever they find themselves.

Orania’s independence only makes sense if it is not undertaken in isolation. This is important to emphasize because many people expect the exact opposite regarding everything from food supply to load shedding.

In reality, of course, it is not as simple as Isolation: “Yes” or Isolation: “No”.

If we can be isolated from South Africa’s crime and violence or corruption and mismanagement, we will of course welcome that, but both Orania’s size and nature mean that there are respects in which isolation would be inappropriate and undesirable. Trade and wealth creation are one thing, but larger networks and infrastructure, such as roads, telecommunications and public administration are also something that a community of 3,000 people cannot easily detach themselves from, even if the service delivery is often deplorable.

Most people understand this well, and many are relieved to hear that we also see it that way, – but that is not the heart of the matter.

The core question is whether Orania exists for itself, or for something greater than itself. The answer to that is unequivocal: for something bigger, for the Afrikaner people and its future. It was never intended to be simply a refuge for a few hundred, or even a few thousand people who want to escape the realities of Africa or return to apartheid.

It was the intention from the outset to create a growth point where the beginning is made by a small number of people, but where the foundation for sustainable national existence is laid, and which must be taken up and carried on by increasing numbers of Afrikaners. In a larger historical context, Orania came into existence yesterday, as it were, and its inhabitants cannot say today or tomorrow “we look to ourselves and the devil to the rest”.

To fulfill his calling, Orania must be owned by the people, which means that he must be appropriated from within and without.(xii)

But therein lies a great challenge, because to settle in Orania makes great demands – and, some would say, to stay even greater. Many pioneers (and after 30 years all are still pioneers) trade larger incomes for smaller ones, and in addition often accept higher living costs than they were used to.

Self-employment, not only in the home, but in the entire community economy, is a big adjustment and brings with it countless challenges, but it applies as a condition of existence and is maintained against will and thanks. Own management systems and an own political culture are established, but not out of resentment or hostility towards those under whose control we want to get out, rather on the basis of a fair need to express our own identity and beliefs.

Each of the aspects – economy, labour, politics (and others) – looks different from the inside than from the outside, with the result that the alliance between Afrikaners inside and outside Orania cannot be without tension. Now we know that poorly managed tension can lead to a breakdown, but that well-managed tension does not necessarily disappear. Nor should it disappear, as it can be creative tension that can benefit the entire endeavor, as long as it is not pushed to the extreme.

The tension between Afrikaners inside and Afrikaners outside Orania can take a bad turn if the strategies inside and outside Orania are seen as conflicting, or competing for the same resources. Anything that amounts to “more of one is less of the other” will be detrimental to one or both sides.

In order not to fall into such scarcity thinking, the right thinking tools are needed, and we can find them in the biblical history of the Israelites’ exile. This is not meant to religiousize the issue, but rather to learn from the wisdom of our rich tradition. It is especially Jeremiah’s message to the people who were taken away to Babylon, which is relevant here – read in the spirit of, for example, the contemporary Israeli thinker Yoram Hazoni, who wrote a wonderful commentary on the Bible book Esther wrote.(xiii)

In Jeremiah 28 and 29 Jeremiah addresses himself to the people in exile and conveys a message of which all three aspects are important to us. We first look at the first and the third, and then at the second.

First of all, he says, contrary to the reassuring message of Gananja, the false prophet, that the exile is not a trifle and will not pass soon, but will last for generations. This means that they cannot just wish and wait, but must understand it better and respond to it in a more thorough way.

Thirdly, he envisages liberation, but within a specific context: God will let his people find him again in due time and bring them back to the place from where he had them taken away. He plans for their prosperity and promises hope and a future if they call on Him. Together these two points are spiritual and material in nature, but in a deeper sense more spiritual than material and there is no need to go into it further here.

However, the second point is of great practical importance. Against the background of the foregoing, Jeremiah instructs the Jews in exile to meet this time in a certain way. Namely, they must build houses and plant gardens and eat the fruits thereof, they must marry and have children, and let their children marry and have children – they must become more and not less. Even more surprisingly, they must promote the prosperity of the city where they are and pray for it, “for in its prosperity there is also prosperity for you”. So they have to make the best of what they have.

With regard to their story, one must remember that there were also Jews who stayed behind in Jerusalem and had to survive there, who later, for example, under Nehemiah’s leadership, had to rebuild the temple and the city wall and prepare for the return from exile.

Applied to our situation, it is striking that we who are busy building a home for our people in Orania must accept that not everyone has the same vocation and that those who must live out their vocation elsewhere must make the most of it where they was placed. Our people’s exile is also no small thing and they must also pray for the city where they are and promote its prosperity, because in it there is prosperity for them.

But they must also look forward to the homecoming that lies in the future,(xiv) and value the work of those who are busy preparing that home. Those who work abroad and those who build a home do different things, but more of one does not have to be less of the other.

The two strategies can, but need not, be at odds with each other and we must make an effort to ensure that there will be harmony between the different ways of working. We have to understand from both sides – and this is the thinking tool we need now – that there is a duality here: Not one or the other strategy, not both in the same way, but different and in conjunction; not a one-unity or a two-twoness, but the two-unity of our greater plan is (among other things) what will bring success closer.

Knowing that we do not hold the future in our own hands, we also know that we must do what we find our hand to do, and do it as well as possible. For that, this sense of duality is necessary.

This article was published courtesy of the Freedom Foundation.