Orania should be load-shedding-free to a large extent by the end of the year. They have developed an impressive alternative power plan; not yet completely energy independent, but on the way there and way ahead of the rest.
I told Gawie Snyman, the town manager of Orania, that I would please be there when that button is pressed to turn on the power, because it is going to be a historic accelerator for Orania.
If Orania is energy independent, the private sector will become city builders. The city fathers can then concentrate on removing development bottlenecks and establishing infrastructure to enable the private sector and the community to build.
Orania launched its city plan this week. They are prepping their feathers for the growth that is coming. NewUrban of Pretoria was contracted to design the new city plan. The group is one of the leading urban design companies in South Africa and has been and is involved in numerous major urban designs in the country. The community is continuously involved in it.
It is an impressive city plan that provides a city with a rural character.
Motor vehicle transport is limited and the planned city is pedestrian-friendly. The city plan was designed from the psyche of the Afrikaner. It is a city, but recognizes Afrikaners’ striving for openness and nature.
In the heart of the city will be a square; slightly European but in a Boere way. There will be shops and places to visit, parks and walking paths. Uncle Paul Kruger will also stand somewhere on the square. According to Gawie Snyman, they want to let him stand on the new square as a voice from the past that calls with us to a hopeful future.
Typically, Orania will help the community think about how their square should look exactly through workshops and participation. After all, it is a community city.
Adjacent to the square are the student residences. Orania will also be a university town. According to the plan, the residences again border a large piece of land earmarked for tertiary education. Provision is made for between 3,000 and 5,000 students.
The hospital and the retirement home are not going to be far away. However, Orania’s retirement philosophy is different – because it is safe there and there is an involved community, older people are encouraged to stay in their own homes as long as possible, rather to be cared for at home and to remain actively involved in the community.
According to the city plan, diagonally behind the hospital will be a large green area earmarked for the establishment of wildlife and a network of walking routes.
A variety of new residential areas are planned. The idea is that small communities are formed around residential areas. The plans are consistently moving away from the idea of the traditional big city, because Afrikaners live in the city, but are not city dwellers in their hearts.
Frans de Klerk, CEO of the Orania Development Company, says a city is essential for an economy of scale, specialization, security and political power. Cities have outlived governments, countries and empires and are a powerful political tool. A reality on the ground is always stronger than a right on paper.
However, Frans also says that a place for Afrikaners cannot be conceived without a larger region. Orania cannot only be a city, but must also be a country region. The environment in which Orania falls is a demographic vacuum. With the relatively few people in the area, Afrikaners can be a majority in a large area. Compared to similar land surfaces in the world, 500,000 or even a million people could theoretically settle there.
Orania thinks big, but acts now. They only want to settle 10,000 people there as soon as possible. There are now about 3,000 inhabitants.
Electricity infrastructure has already been upgraded for the kind of growth. The sewage plant is newly built and can be modularly expanded to handle growth. Upper Karoo Training has been established, new workshops, an experimental farm for agricultural students, residences and new buildings are being built this year and next year.
A total of 64 apartments are being built for families; services are currently being laid for another 400 housing plots; private developers develop that the fabric stands like this; and the road infrastructure is being upgraded. Willie Nel, supplier of building materials on Orania, says a record number of building materials were sold in Orania last month.
Frans further says that Orania offers a demographic answer to a demographic problem. Afrikaners are a minority wherever they live and the institutions around them succumb to the demographic realities. At its core, Orania’s plan is based on labor. Afrikaners in Orania do their own work. A community that does not do their own work quickly becomes a minority in their own world. People who work for you are not just workers, but people with ideas, dreams and aspirations.
Orania does not just want to replace one class system with another, but rather works hard to establish a gift system according to which everyone’s gifts are seen as a gift from God and equal before Him.
I was recently on Orania again. The energy is contagious. If I close my eyes, pull forward and accelerate the trend in Orania, I can see something that excites me. If I close my eyes, the trend in the rest of the country is moving forward and accelerating, it worries me a lot.
Orania is part of a solution, but does not offer the full solution. Afrikaners are spread across the country, many of them in the cities, most of whom live in Pretoria and many who live in semi-colonies.
So our plan cannot only be Orania, but Orania is part of the plan. I’m happy to help build there too; maybe not now for me, maybe now for someone else. Maybe in the future for me, but it could be the dream of an alternative for many of the next generation. The future is just too uncertain not to have an alternative place as well.
Back to Uncle Paul – when the Paul Kruger statue was moved from the Pretoria station to Pretoria’s Church Square, the argument was that Uncle Paul should stand in the heart of the Afrikaner City. The Orania community is busy with a campaign to collect money to build a new Oom Paul, according to the same design as the Oom Paul statue on Church Square in Pretoria.
Looking at the energy and plans for Orania, it seems to me that the new Oom Paul statue will stand at the heart of the new Afrikaner City.