The land is­sue – Paul Kruger in per­spec­tive

CityPress - - Voices - Zakes Motene voices@city­press.co.za

Paul Kruger has al­ways been a per­son of in­ter­est for me be­cause he lived among my peo­ple, the Bafo­keng. In fact, his farm Boeken­hout­fontein was part of the land, be­long­ing to my fam­ily, that was sum­mar­ily taken for the set­tlers in the Rusten­burg val­ley. We then re­set­tled in the vil­lage of Cha­neng on the farm Styldrift, a fer­tile piece of ground with the vil­lage nes­tled be­tween two rivers.

It is just nos­tal­gia in pos­ter­ity, but there are fac­tors in Kruger’s pres­i­dency that en­sured a bet­ter fran­chise for Africans. Some have even cited that the at­ti­tude of Afrikan­ers; the for­ma­tion of the Broeder­bond; the Na­tives Land Act of 1913, which in ef­fect re­versed all the gains blacks had achieved while Kruger was pres­i­dent of the Transvaal; and the even­tual for­ma­tion of apartheid in 1948 could have turned out dif­fer­ently had he been blessed with a longer life.

It thus re­mains a co­nun­drum as to how Afrikan­ers, who were them­selves op­pressed by the Bri­tish, be­came the lat­ter-day op­pres­sors and were even much more ruth­less than their own op­pres­sors. It re­mains the big­gest para­dox of our his­tory in South Africa. Lat­ter-day Afrikan­ers have be­trayed the spirit of Kruger and should thor­oughly re-ex­am­ine them­selves and their own his­tory, which they have so se­verely bas­tardised that it be­comes easy for all and sundry to paint all whites with the same brush.

I may not re­vere Paul Kruger as his peo­ple right­fully should but, in ex­am­in­ing his­tory, it must be boldly stated that he was not part of what hap­pened af­ter the South African War.

The Scram­ble for Africa ac­cel­er­ated in the early 1900s and, by 1914, Europe con­trolled 90% of the land in Africa, com­pared with 10% in 1870. The Na­tives Land Act of 1913 was a thor­ough per­fec­tion of the Bri­tish im­pe­ri­al­ist in­flu­ence that the Afrikaner adopted as well, and even­tu­ally be­came its en­forcers by proxy with the for­mal­i­sa­tion of apartheid. Need­less to say, the An­g­los had first op­tion for min­eral ex­plo­ration and ex­ploita­tion.

Have you ever won­dered how An­glo-re­lated com­pa­nies con­trol the very econ­omy of this coun­try and main­tain an un­shake­able stran­gle­hold over many strate­gic sec­tors?

By the end of apartheid in 1994, Afrikan­ers them­selves did not con­trol the econ­omy of SuidAfrika. It would be very gen­er­ous to say they con­trolled even a mere 20% of the JSE.

This back­ground earned Ce­cil John Rhodes the moniker of be­ing the grand­fa­ther of apartheid, in­stead of Paul Kruger (maybe he was the un­cle of apartheid).

The fa­ther of apartheid was Hen­drik Ver­wo­erd, who in his ear­lier ca­reer was pro­fes­sor of so­ci­ol­ogy at Stel­len­bosch Uni­ver­sity. He was a mas­ter plan­ner who wor­shipped Nazi Ger­many’s Adolf Hitler and learnt his strate­gies of pop­u­la­tion con­trol. Maybe we should be thank­ful he was as­sas­si­nated when he was – I shud­der to imag­ine what he could have in­flicted on black peo­ple in the pro­gress­ing years of apartheid.

I there­fore hope that my fam­ily and I will ben­e­fit from the sup­port of Max du Preez and Afrikan­ers in gen­eral to pe­ti­tion the govern­ment to re­claim my fam­ily land of the Boeken­hout­fontein farm that used to “be­long” to Oom Paul and was later di­vided among his chil­dren.

My fore­bears called it Khuduthate. We were forcibly moved so that Oom Paul could in­habit it and the few who stayed be­hind were there to work on the farm. Thus be­gan our as­sim­i­la­tion into the Bafo­keng na­tion and set­tle­ment on the farm Styldrift, which was even­tu­ally bought by the Bafo­keng with the as­sis­tance of Lutheran mis­sion­ar­ies.

I am in fact en­cour­aged more than ever be­fore to pe­ti­tion govern­ment to ex­tend the pe­riod of land claims fur­ther than 1913 be­cause by the time the Na­tives Land Act hap­pened, some of our fam­i­lies were al­ready dis­pos­sessed. Again, I hope to count on your sup­port on that score.

Motene is author of The Jour­ney

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