Uit die blou van onse hemel
uit die diepte van ons see,
Oor ons ewige gebergtes,
waar die kranse antwoord gee.
When in 1918 Cornelis Jacobus Langenhoven wrote “Die Stem” (“The Voice”), the poem that became South Africa’s pre-1995 national anthem, by “our everlasting mountains” he meant the Drakensberg range that separates Transvaal from Natal. Blaukraans, in its southwestern foothills, was the site of a massacre of 500 Boer pioneers, mostly women and children, by Dingane’s Zulus in 1838. On December 16 of that year, a 470-strong force under Andries Pretorius, sent to help the settlers, withstood a sustained attack by some 12,000 Zulu warriors, killing a third of them and securing the trekkers’ survival.
The Battle of Blood River, as the encounter came to be known, was officially celebrated during the Afrikaner Nationalist rule (1948-94) as the Day of the Covenant, a seminal event in the history of the nascent Boer nation. On the morning of the battle, the Voortrekkers made a pledge to God
that if His protection shall be with us and He give our enemy into our hand so that we might be victorious over him, that this day and this date every year shall be . . . a day of thanksgiving . . . and that we shall erect a temple to His honor wherever it will be pleasing to Him, and that we shall also instruct our children that they must also share in it, as well as for our generations yet to come.
Many Zulu warriors were later to claim that the battle was not decided by the Boers shooting from behind the wagons, but by their kin shooting from the white cloud that hovered above the laager on that fateful day.
The commemoration of the 175th anniversary of the battle last December 16 was a somber affair. A thousand Afrikaners gathered at the Voortrekker Monument, a massive granite complex on a hilltop south of Pretoria, to celebrate their ancestors and to share gloomy thoughts on their nation’s future. At noon the voices were hushed as the summer sun illuminated the encrypted cenotaph. There were no patriotic speeches, no uniforms, and no marching bands, as in the old days. “I don’t see any future here for my children and grandchildren,” a 65-year-old mother of five told the AP afterward. “Now the black people are dominant and doing apartheid to us.”
At the same hour, only miles away, jubilant crowds of black South Africans celebrated the unveiling of a 30-foot bronze monument to Nelson Mandela in front of the Union Buildings in Pretoria. “He is embracing the whole nation,” President Jacob Zuma said of the statue showing Mandela with open arms. “He is advancing to the nation to say let us come together, let us unite.” Renamed the National Day of Reconciliation by the ANC regime, last December 16 marked the yawning gap between South Africa’s postapartheid official rhetoric and the reality experienced by South Africa’s vanishing whites.
“Uniting” has been a disaster for the Afrikaner nation. From close to four million two decades ago, its numbers have fallen to under three million today. Emigration is fueled by soaring crime rates, by ethno-racial cleansing—ten percent of all Afrikaner commercial farmers have been murdered since 1994—and by legally mandated antiwhite economic and employment policies enacted and pursued by the ANC government. A program known as Black Economic Empowerment has left hundreds of thousands of skilled whites unemployed and destitute, while giving jobs to incompetent blacks and causing incalculable losses to the country’s economy. The same problem is also affecting the remaining two million English-speaking whites, but their bonds to South Africa’s soil have always been looser than those of the descendants of the 17th-century Dutch and Huguenot settlers. Unlike most of his English-speaking neighbors, the Afrikaner has no reserve motherland across the sea. He has lost South Africa and is on the way to being destroyed by her vast heterogeneity.
Apartheid has been one of the most demonized words in any Western language for decades. It had ceased to denote a political concept or a model of race relations long before its demise, becoming instead a metaphysical notion—on par with Hitler and fascism. This was not so in April 1951, when the CFR journal Foreign Affairs explained to its readers that the trek-Boers, intensely religious Calvinists who placed a wide and deep gulf between themselves and the natives, acted in an understandable and fundamentally unobjectionable manner:
Only a powerful concern for the purity of race could have kept a numerically smaller society from miscegenation in the midst of a vast majority of natives. This belief in the rightness of the color bar was untouched by the liberalism of the West. To attribute Apartheid legislation to a desire to crush and to oppress subject races is a distortion. The Afrikaner is certain that only in separation, justly ordered and faithfully undertaken, can the two conditions—the preservation of the white race and the welfare of the black—be assured in South Africa.
South African problems cannot be solved by applying the principles of homogeneous European countries, Foreign Affairs further argued:
The Afrikaner Nationalists are often accused of the heresies of the Herrenvolk. To them, however, this is a superficial view. They believe that nationalism is a healthy instinct, intended by God to give expression to human purpose. They frankly refuse to accept the principles of liberalism as the final basis for the ordering of society.
Most of them did believe all of that, and for that very reason the Afrikaners became the Western elite class’s most-hated nation between the mid-1960’s and 1994. The problem was not how they treated blacks, but who they were.
The Afrikaner culture and identity are surprisingly similar to those of the American nation as it developed in the course of the 19th century. Both had broken their political and emotional cords with Europe and developed a new identity, with a name to match. Both were intensely religious and saw their tribulations in distinctly Christian terms. And both wanted to be left alone, and were deeply antipathetic to any participation in Europe’s disputes. There was a difference: By the end of the 18th century the Americans were free to develop and expand as they deemed fit. The Afrikaners were never able to do likewise. To be left alone by the British they trekked into the wilderness of the Free State and Transvaal, fought Basutu warriors and Zulu impis, but in the end were forced to fight two wars against the biggest empire in history.
The Boers lost their war of independence against the British in 1899-1902. Thirty thousand Boer women and children perished of starvation and disease in British concentration camps. Those camps were set up by Lord Kitchener in order to sweep the country bare of everything that could give sustenance to the guerrillas. His “scorched earth” policy entailed a systematic burning of Boer farms, destruction of crops, slaughtering of livestock, torching of homesteads, poisoning of wells, and salting of fields. The clearance of civilians amounted to the uprooting of an entire nation. Their gradual recovery between the wars culminated in the Nationalist victory in 1948. At last we’ve got our country back, most Afrikaners felt, and proceeded to resist “the winds of change”—heralded by India’s bloody partition a year earlier—with a complex system that sought to keep the races firmly segregated indefinitely.
Had the Afrikaner nation been 20 or 30 million strong, the system could have been more viable in principle and less unjust in its application. It could have resulted in the creation of a “Volkstaat,” a new Boer republic capable, like Israel, of independent existence in a hostile environment. The Afrikaners attempted the impossible, however: They tried to keep 87 percent of the land—including all prime real estate and resources—for European-descended people who accounted for one fifth of the population half a century ago; to treat all blacks as guest workers, nominally domiciled in the Bantustans regardless of their place of birth; and to place quotas on European immigration, lest the Afrikaner majority within the white community be jeopardized. Apartheid was neither irrational nor iniquitous ab initio, but successive Nationalist governments had made it so by confusing the ends and means of policy, and by making the system irredeemably odious to the majority in the process.
Diplomatically astute in the aftermath of the Boer War—as manifested by the illustrious career of Field Marshal Jan Smuts—by the 1960’s Afrikaner leaders had lost the ability to assess the significance of global trends that threatened their long-term survival. Foremost among those was the transformation of the Western world. By the 1970’s Western elites had ceased to believe that nationalism is a healthy instinct and that God exists (let alone that He gives any expression to human purpose). The refusal to accept the principles of liberalism as the final basis for the ordering of society became grounds for relentless hostility on both sides of the Atlantic. The 1980’s saw the maturing of Western self-hate to such a degree that the white South African was inevitably developed into the demonic “other,” the unwelcome reminder of what they had been and what they had betrayed. Soldiering on under such circumstances abroad, while withstanding a native demographic explosion at home, had drained the Afrikaners’ energy and morale to the point where, two decades ago, they threw in the towel.
The subsequent ruin of the Afrikaner nation could be predicted with mathematical precision. It has been aided and abetted by the morally and culturally degenerate Western elite class. What the members of that class—well represented at Mandela’s funeral—have done to Africa’s only white tribe, they are doing no less earnestly to the countries and nations they dominate.