Ciaran Brennan, The Burkean, August 28, 2021
The world bore witness to the combustible nature of the post-Apartheid South African state recently as the self styled Rainbow Nation wilted amid communal and political rioting over the month of July. Ostensibly driven by factional and tribal infighting within the ruling ANC and its erstwhile ex-leader Jacob Zuma, the violence claimed the lives of over 300 and laid bare the inherent political frailty of Mandela’s Republic.
While the July rioting featured racial clashes between black and Indian South Africans, it was perhaps a stark reality of the precarious place of white South Africa in a state which, failing most of its civic duties, has achieved the one task of placing White South Africans as the racial whipping boys for the nation’s sorrows. As the plight of the Boer farmer attests, white South Africans live under the racial yoke of a society and a State which at large seeks to marginalise them and their traditions.
One township which did not suffer last month’s turbulence was that of Orania, a northern settlement famous for its Afrikaner-only policies of residence. Founded in the waning days of Apartheid by theology professor and Afrikaner rights activist Carel Boshoff, Orania is a semi-autonomous town owned by-and-for Afrikaners, acting as something of an oasis against the increasing racial animosity towards them.
Speaking to The Burkean Joost Strydom, a spokesman for the community, outlined the town’s history, practices and potential future as South Africa’s civic structures begin to totally crumble. A partial representation of the much fabled volkstaat or the creation of an Afrikaner homeland, the town maintains an understandable keep-to-yourself attitude on the matter of outsiders.
Centrally located in the Karo region of the North Cape province, Orania was once scoffed at as a pipe dream by some Afrikaners but has materialised into a working reality if not an downright haven in the racially torn nation.
Scorned regularly by a media who finds its success an embarrassment, the town numbers 1,500 souls and has developed its own semi-autonomous political structures and economic networks to match. Not autarkic by any means, the town remains semi-self sufficient in terms of the goods that it produces. While its rural location mitigates the threat of violence, certain precautions are taken regarding the security and defence of the settlement with a non-confrontational attitude taken to the ruling government.
Ironically as the South African State faltered with the July violence, Covid restrictions became more exigent with prohibitions on beer and alcohol still in place while cities were blaze. Labelling the rioting more of an ‘insurrection’ than riots, Strydom is sceptical about the very viability of the South African State in the years to come.
Envisioning an essential collapse in civil society to be replaced by a cocktail of tribes, warlords and drug lords, the continued existence of Orania is becoming increasingly lauded for its successes.
On matters of history Strydom is philosophical about the legacy of apartheid and while accepting some wrongs, underlines that he and Orania are more concerned about the future without stressing the past.
One thing he is keen to emphasise is the perilous status of Afrikaners in a State that threats them as a visible and institutionally despised minority. In his words the downfall of the old regime has thrown many poorer whites under the bus while enriching others as the country stutters to economic and political collapse.
Not theocratic by any means, Orania residents are asked however to be nominally Christian and deferential to the town’s religious heritage as well as fluent in Afrikaans. While there are some allowances made to token numbers of Europeans resident in the town, there are no apologies for the town’s masthead policy of particularism when it comes to settlement.
Describing the formula for the town’s success Strydom said that it was to start small and to build from there. In the years ahead there is the strong possibility that the Orania model could be replicated elsewhere, and not just in South Africa, as the demographic tide shifts.
In arguing in favour of this policy Strydom makes the case that just like any other people, Afrikaners are entitled to their own homelands or at least safe harbours, an argument that ought to be close to the hearts of any Irishman.
Indeed, on the outskirts of the town is the so-called Irish Monument dedicated to the memory of the Irish volunteers who assisted the beleaguered Boer state against the advances of the British Empire. While classified as something of a footnote today Irish involvement in the Boer allowed some future nationalists like John MacBride, Arthur Griffith and others, to cut their teeth politically and militarily with many of the tactics being directly replicated in the War of Independence in the following years.
The work put in by Afrikanner activists has ensured a foothold however small on the African continent and more importantly a place where Afrikaners can place their heads at night and sleep safely. Against a backdrop of State-enforced guilt and racially tinged anarchy, a people which once stood up to the British Empire now seeks to hammer out a future on the South African planes away from the mobocracy of the ANC dominated government.
Finishing our interview Strydom reiterated his belief that ‘Demography is destiny’ when it comes to securing the future of any people. Against the ruination of the Rainbow Republic, Orania stands as a beacon of Afrikaner fortitude and resilience. We ought to wish them the best come the day we may all need our very own Orania.