By Nelri van der Merwe
A farmer lays his head down on his pillow every night and says thank you for the day. He surrenders to the Father that he can do the Lord’s work here on earth – take care of people. He prays for tomorrow, hoping that the next day he will be able to hold his wife and his children. He prays that for another day he can walk on his land, drive in his bakkie and live out his dreams. The same dream that the generations before him also shared.
Some farmers’ prayers are interrupted. Interrupted by the evil that invaded the world. The dream is pulled apart piece by piece, until only an empty farmhouse remains. A farmhouse with nothing left but memories. A house full of photos of history, photos of grandparents, farmers who are no longer with us, maybe a photo of the farm name on a sign outside the push gate.
A house that will not see the next generation.
Every time a farmer is killed, a part of South Africa dies with him. Every time you get into your bed, there is an unknown person sneaking around in a farmer’s yard. Every time you say goodnight to your children, a peasant woman asks the man with a weapon to spare her children’s lives. Every week that passes is a week that this country loses a piece of its soul.
I have heard a lot of advice: “The grass is not always greener on the other side”. “Every country has its problems”. I have never heard of a country that remains silent about murders that, in my opinion, are almost as cruel as the Holocaust. A country that does not realize where its bread and butter come from. A country that encourages political parties to sing songs like “Kill the Boer”.
To you, I ask: What do you do when the last pawn falls? Where are you going to get the food to put on your children’s plates? How will you survive? Not by singing and dancing and setting buildings on fire.
How can I be expected to stay in a country where the people who formed my country are slaughtered? How should I sleep at night when I know I can get up tomorrow morning with even fewer farmers in my country?
Still, I’m happy. I stay in my country because it is mine. Because my parents’ parents and theirs too put in more than blood sweat and tears to take care of me and so many others. I feel at home here despite these inhumane attacks and murders, because this is God’s country. I don’t want to flee. I would rather do everything I can to stop the mass murder of my people.
It is a mass murder.
I live in South Africa because it is my pride. God put me here for a good purpose, just like He has the farmers. Maybe if I could hear a valid reason, if there ever was one, for the motive behind these murders, I wouldn’t be so angry. I might be able to see why someone would want revenge against someone who did them in. However, there is not a single reason.
Yes, there are claims that it comes from a place of “previously disadvantaged” hurt, but unfortunately that excuse was invalidated 29 years ago. Where is the “new” in “new South Africa”? Every day new ways to steal, kill, destroy and sow fear are thought of.
I think when a farmer arrives in heaven, he loads Jesus into his van. They drive up there, and he shows him his lands, his animals, his house, his pride and the life he once lived here. He talks about his family and tells Jesus that he didn’t know there was something as good as a forest fire until he arrived in heaven.
I think Jesus is holding him tight and telling him how proud He is. And I think the Lord has tears in his eyes when he sees that there is another farmer standing in front of him the next night, tears of joy and pain.
To the farmers in heaven: I, and every other proud South African citizen, say thank you. Know that we are not going to give up, we keep fighting for justice, honesty and godliness. We hear your name in our house, we see what you have achieved through your hard work. And above all, know that we are sorry that your time on this earth had to be cut so short.
- Nelri van der Merwe studies BCom Economics and Law at Akademia.
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