More than one identity possible
Proud young Afrikaners versus old, confused Afrikaanses
WHILE YOUNG AFRIKANERS proudly sing De la Rey, old Afrikaners are struggling to decide whether they’re South Africans, Afrikaanses or Afrikaners.
If you read what Allan Boesak and FW de Klerk say about the De la Rey debate ( Finweek, 15 March) there’s much twisting and turning about whether you can be an Afrikaner and how to be such an Afrikaner.
Why are we making a simple question so complicated? Nowhere in the world is it so complicated. When I ask a Laplander in Norway who wants to be known as a Sami how he knows he’s a Sami, he says: “You know it in your heart.”
Boesak wants to tell young people who and what they should be and he advances all kinds of theoretical arguments.
De Klerk, on the other hand, knows exactly what young Afrikaners think about parties such as the Democratic Alliance and the FF Plus.
He says the youth reject those parties. Of course, that doesn’t explain why the FF Plus has won the students’ council elections at Tukkies for the past nine years. It also doesn’t explain why the FF Plus won 15 of the 18 students’ council seats at Free State University this year.
De Klerk also considers it necessary to attack Tony Leon and me in his article. So far I’ve refrained from attacking De Klerk; but perhaps it’s time for his share in the frustrations of the De la Rey youth to be looked at.
De Klerk promised electors the sharing of power and the protection of minorities in SA’s Constitution. Nothing has come of that. After De Klerk’s negotiations, we’re now sitting with a massive ANC majority Government, no sharing of power and minorities are at the mercy of the ANC majority.
It’s with De Klerk’s legacy that Leon and I have to run opposition politics and create a future for young people. Now De Klerk and the NP negotiators are out of Parliament and are no longer prepared to be in politics.
The new generation of De la Rey Afrikaners have to put up with such realities every day. They don’t understand anything
Don’t let’s waste energy hanging labels around each other’s necks by deciding this identity is in and that
one is out.
– and that was the end of a possible sports bursary. His six distinctions in matric weren’t good enough for him to be selected for medical school. Not because he should have had higher marks, but because Government stipulated certain quota requirements for medical schools. These young people are tired of discrimination against them and want to be proud of what they are. That’s why they like the De la Rey song, are proud Afrikaners and stand to attention in student pubs when it’s played. The fact that they like the song has nothing to do with racism or a laager mentality, because they also like the last song on Bok’s CD. That’s the one about Habana, the Springbok wing. Whether Habana is white or brown doesn’t matter – as long as he about accusations of a laager mentality, because from their school days they were among people of all races and languages. But they’re white and are Afrikaners – those are the main reasons they’ve been discriminated against. Here are a few examples from letters on my desk: In primary school, his marks for his expo project were among the highest, but the judges explained that they couldn’t send him to the national finals. The black child, who got far fewer marks, had to go, so as to comply with the sponsor’s quotas. At high school, he was selected for the Craven Week rugby team. This opened the possibility of a sports bursary for university. Because there had to be 11 “disadvantaged” members in the team, he and six other whites were left out scores tries.
Go to a Welsh pub after Wales has played rugby against Scotland and ask them how they know whether they’re Scottish or Welsh. They’ll shake their heads and look at you strangely. There’s no confusion or problems among the Welsh and the Scots about who they are.
The Scots and the Welsh have more than one identity and they don’t have any conflict about it.
They are, first, proud Scots, second, part of the English-speaking community and third British citizens – and each one puts those in whatever order he likes. So why must young Afrikaners choose – according to Boesak – to be Afrikaners or part of the Afrikaans-speaking community, or South African? Young Afrikaners can choose to have more than one identity.
The Afrikaans language community is the larger circle and inside it there are smaller circles representing, for example, the Griqua and Afrikaner interests.
As a member of the Afrikaans language community, I think we have gone a long way to bringing white, coloured, Griqua and black Afrikaans speakers closer together. The recent language conference was a good example of that.
But I’m also an Afrikaner. The fight concerning changing Potchefstroom’s and Pretoria’s names has bearing on the Afrikaner’s history and I’m automatically part of that.
Don’t let’s waste energy hanging labels around each other’s necks by deciding this identity is in and that one is out. In SA, people have more than one identity and there can be harmony between all these different identities – without having to choose one or the other.