This is the last article in a series of four in which Carel Boshoff shares thoughts about the future of Afrikaners, wherever they find themselves.
Back home, it was a pleasant surprise when an old friend, who had been walking with the Orania idea in his heart for years, but had to work where his life story found him, informed me that he was finally embarking on his own little Big Trek.
They, not him, because it is about a family and about big plans and big challenges, and to stand for a while, so to speak, with one foot on each side of the Great River. “But what do I tell my friends?” he asks, and the longer we talk about it, the harder it becomes to answer. In one of Orania’s cozy eateries, it’s easy to be light-hearted: Tell them it’s all right, they can stay where they are, but it’s at their own risk – but that’s clearly not the point, they realize their responsibility and prefer to so to come.
To that, the lead-up and circumstances prepared me to answer with the two-unity thought: Let everyone do what he/she finds it convenient to do, not everyone wants to build the walls, some of our people prefer the strange… but he helps me right again and I’m starting to get the picture.
My friend comes from a farming community, generally conservative, but not reactionary. The older generation still resisted the surrender of power at the time, but in the meantime accepted it out of necessity; his generation tried to protect the essence of our national identity in other and often demanding ways, for example by maintaining an independent school; the younger generation who are now returning to the farms want to adapt and progress, after all identity is not immutable and the Western Cape DA rainbow does not seem too unacceptable to them.
His friends are a tight-knit but shrinking group who have made great sacrifices for the sake of independence, but find themselves being put on the back foot from outside and inside the community. If it was so easy to pack up and move, they would probably have come to Orania together, but for most it is not an option. Their farms have been in the family for generations and practically, as well as emotionally, cannot be exchanged or replaced.
They don’t want to move, not because it’s too hard; they want to stay, even if it’s even harder. “Actually, we are all idealists,” he says, “but my idealism makes me let them down now. How do I justify this? We cannot achieve the independence that Orania can offer there – what do those of us who stay there do?”
This is a different question than I had thought about, I had to admit, and one cannot think of it without deep sympathy. It’s not simply a question of strategy either, it’s a question of commitment, and your answer to that must take that into account. The answer that begins to crystallize in our conversation sounds a little light at first, but becomes more weighty the more it is thought about: if you live in a foreign country, but want to keep your identity, you are dependent on good relationships. It may remind one of self-sacrifice, but it is true to reality and if one takes into account that good, solid relationships are based on the reciprocal movement of recognition – recognition-giving-and-recognition-taking – it gains more depth and meaning.
In the wider society, to which so many of us are necessarily connected, no community or group whose characteristic is self-sacrifice or self-denial is really worth trying to build a meaningful relationship with. Why would one? Deep down, who is it with whom the relationship is established? Those who aspire to be individualistic globalists (because few get it right at all) may seem to be at the forefront, but they are not really setting the tone.
In the long run, conservative Afrikaners, of whom the others know who they are and what to expect from them, will rather be leading the way. But then our people must not only be attuned to themselves, they must accept that the larger society of which they are a part also has fair expectations and makes demands on them – which, after all, can be answered with our people’s fair expectations and demands.
Not everyone can settle in the majority area, of which Orania is the growth point. Those who cannot do this must maintain themselves by securing them physically, empowering them economically and anchoring them culturally, while practicing good minority politics.
For that, good relations with everyone in their environment, as well as the Afrikaners in the nation-state, will be necessary. Whoever can do this will set the tone in the future, and my friend’s friends seem to me the best equipped for it.
This article was published courtesy of the Freedom Foundation.