June 21, 2008

The Afrikaner Domination of the Boers.

The Afrikaner Domination of the Boers & how it was constructed.

The following I hope will be an informative explanation contrasting & outlining the difference between the once notable historical differences between the two main White Afrikaans speaking groups as I have discerned from spending time examining the history of the groups & region in question.

The term Afrikaner & the term Boer once denoted two distinct groups in the not so distant past. While it is easy for many people of Boer descent to not realize the difference due to the fact that they were often brought up to think of themselves as Afrikaners: the fact of the matter is that there is indeed a valid & poignant difference between the two terms since it relates to two distinct cultural groups. The Afrikaners conditioned the Boers to view themselves as Afrikaners as well in the wake of the devastation of the Anglo-Boer War when most Boers were destitute & looking for work in the cities. This left them rather vulnerable to the Cape based Afrikaners political maneuvering which ultimately would co-opt the Boers in a political context.

The Boers are the descendants of those semi nomadic early migrating farmers who were known as the Trekboers who first trekked / moved away from the Western Cape & colonial society in general during the late 1600s & 1700s due to their poorer status & the fact that they found the autocratic VOC regulations intolerable. This act alone would be the essence of the difference between the Boers & Afrikaners who had remained in the Western Cape as it was the beginning of a cultural gulf which stretches back to Europe before they were brought to the Cape. The Afrikaans historian Brian Du Toit states on page 1 of his book on the Boer diaspora which went to East Africa following the Anglo-Boer War that the Boers were formed on the frontiers of White settlement & on the outskirts of civilization. [1] While the Afrikaners in the Western Cape on the other hand were not. This is the crux of why the Western Cape Afrikaners were pro colonial & the Boers were anti colonial. This was a trait which would later play a significant role during the second Anglo-Boer War. When a significant number of the Trekboers settled down on the eastern Cape frontier by the late 1700s they became known as Grensboere or Border Farmers. It was from the Grensboere & a number of still Trekboers that the vast majority of the Voortrekkers would later came from after the local Boers were tired of British Imperialist Colonial oppression / Xhosa attacks / constant frontier wars & growing land shortages during what was later called the Great Trek.

While all this was happening among the Boer communities on the frontier most the the White community at the Cape had remained in the Western Cape & were often known as the Cape Dutch & were loyal to the colonial powers & often ridiculed the frontier Boers whom they had little affinity for viewing them as semi-barbaric [2] ruffians. The Cape Dutch (the forerunners to the Afrikaners) often attempted to exert nominal control over the Trekboers notably with the establishment of the frontier towns of Swellendam & Graaff-Reinet. [3] It was in these two towns that the Boers declared their first republics in 1795 whereupon they adopted the red white & blue horizontal tri colour flag taken from the Batavian Republic flag. [4] This motif would later be found in numerous other Boer republic flags. While the orange white & blue horizontal tri colour flag of the Cape Dutch run VOC Cape would later find its way into the South African flag in 1927 under the Prime Ministership of the Western Cape born -ie Cape Dutch- Afrikaner JBM Hertzog.

The first freedom struggle the Boers ever had was against the administration of the Cape Dutch ie: the proto Afrikaners. Or rather the people who would later coin the term Afrikaner & used it in a political context. This is most significant since it demonstrates that the Cape Dutch / Afrikaners have never wanted freedom - in contrast to the Boers who have always wanted freedom in Africa- & often fought or worked against the freedom of the Boers. Just as they would again later do during the second Anglo-Boer War when numerous Western Cape Afrikaners fought against the Boers on the side of the British. [5]

Now there might even be some Boers who think that all this is in the past & that they are now all one big "Afrikaner" group [6] but this is wrong on a number of fronts. First let's consider where the term Afrikaner came from & what purpose it served. The term Afrikaner was first loosely used in 1707 when Hendrik Biebouw a member of the local White proto Afrikaans speaking community at the Cape- was in court & declared that he was an "Afrikaner" meaning that he was an African & was no longer from Europe. During this time all of the White settlers & mixed race persons in Africa were referred to Afrikanders & later Afrikaners -but this was simply a GEOGRAPHICAL label as it was applied to White people in general who were born in Africa regardless of which cultural group they were apart of. How it came to be used to denote a specific cultural group (s) & become politicized occurred much later in 1875 when a group of Cape Dutch intellectuals in the Western Cape decided to start a language rights group [7] aimed at getting official recognition for their language which they began to call Afrikaans after the African continent. Remember that at this exact same time the Boers were independent in their own republics in the north & spoke their OWN dialect of this language which they called "die Taal" or Boer Taal which historians have classified as Eastern Border Afrikaans [8] since the Boers' dialect of Afrikaans developed on the northern & eastern frontier AWAY FROM the Western Cape Afrikaners & their dialect.

The term Afrikaner was first used in a political context by these Western Cape people who began to call themselves Afrikaners after the language they spoke -all at a time when the Boer people HAD LONG SINCE BEEN ESTABLISHED & were mainly living in their own independent world recognized republics in the north. Therefore in the late 19th cent & into the 20th cent -& as early as the 1700s when the Boers ancestors trekked out of the Western Cape- there were two distinct & identifiable White Afrikaans speaking (different dialects) groups [9] in Southern Africa: one in the Western Cape (& some who moved northwards after the gold rush) who called themselves Afrikaners & were the descendants of the pro colonial Cape Dutch / & the other group: the anti colonial / republican / independent oriented Boers living in the northern & eastern Cape frontier & within their own independent republics in the north -descendants of the Trekboers / Grensboere & the Voortrekkers.

President Paul Kruger of the Transvaal Republic -who referred to himself as a Boer- was wary of the Cape Afrikaners & did not want them coming to his republic as he viewed them as being too pro British. [10] He would often recruit people from Holland to fill certain government positions as he felt that they would be more loyal to the Transvaal Republic than the Afrikaners. The Cape Afrikaners were often influenced by the British colonial power.

After the Boers were conquered by the British & incorporated into the British created macro state of South Africa: a number of these Boers even attempted to restore their former Republics by force of arms in 1914 when General De Wet & some other notable Boer Generals (including it is believed General De La Rey) staged a rebellion to the South Africa government during World War 1. [11] This rebellion was triggered when Prime Minister Louis Botha's government decided to enter on the side of the British during the war. The lead to an outrage among many Boers since it was less than 15 years after the British killed close to 50 % of the total Boer child population in the concentration camps. The rebellion was put down by force & its leaders were jailed & banned from participating in politics.

So how in the world did the Boers become conditioned to also later view themselves as Afrikaners too you might be asking? In a short 3 word response: war / propaganda & politics. After the devastation of the Anglo-Boer War -of which a number of Afrikaners fought against the Boers on the side of the British- when many Boers had to move to the cities to find work they often encountered Afrikaners [12] who would exert their political influence over the poorer Boers -but many Boers still remained culturally intact & even had their own organizations. This is where the disastrous effects of Afrikaner Nationalism comes in.

During the 1930s the Broederbond & the Afrikaner Nationalists -which were one & the same [13] - worked hard to incorporate the Boers into the Afrikaner fold [14] as the Afrikaner Nationalists viewed the Boers as a political threat to their planned hegemony in South Africa. After the Boer led Rand Rebellion was put down by violent force (even complete with the South African Party government bombing Johannesburg) [15] in 1922: the Afrikaner Nationalists worked overtime to politically incorporate the Boers under the Afrikaner banner of which the Cape based Afrikaners would control. One of the first things they did was to create the Colour bar laws [16] which reserved certain jobs for White people as the main grievance of the Boer mine workers was that they did not like having their wages being under cut with the importation of cheap Bantu labour. This effectively started to acclimatize the Boers to the Afrikaner Nationalists by getting them hooked onto a dimension of the Apartheid platform. Though it should be noted that Apartheid was started by the British Colonial administrations [17] -particularly the horizontal oppressive features- & was only expanded upon by the Afrikaner Nationalists in which they also envisioned & attempted to turn the Bantu reserves into independent states. [18] Four were in fact granted outright independence [19] but were only ever recognized by South Africa & each other but not by the world. Another more effective method the Afrikaners used to co-opt the Boers was by invoking Boer history most notably the Great Trek. Notice how the Western Cape born Cape Dutch / Afrikaner D F Malan: the National Party Prime Minister was able to do this to great effect -notably during the Great Trek reenactment ceremonies & at the Voortrekker Monument inauguration. This single event alone was definitely one of the convenient tools that the Afrikaner Nationalists used to co-opt the republican Boers which in turn let the Boers' guard down thinking (erroneously as it would turn out) that their (Boers) interests were looked after by teaming up with the Cape based Afrikaners under the banner of Afrikaner Nationalism. Which was an extension of British Imperialism in many ways as the macro State set up by the British with the South Africa Act of 1909 was now being run by a Cape based Afrikaans speaking regime which was recruited as a surrogate Colonial power.

D F Malan was nothing more than a political opportunist (interesting how Jacob Zuma -a political opportunist himself- is attempting to do a similar thing in modern times by attempting to appeal to the Boers & Afrikaners just as Malan was able to successfully do) who used the centennial of the Great Trek to promote his political agenda & the establishment of Afrikaner Nationalism which sought -as part of its goal- to expropriate & subjugate the Boer Nation under the tutelage of the anti-republican Cape based Afrikaners. Malan was even opposed to the republican aspirations of the Boers even attempting to prevent the Boer descended Hans Strijdom from succeeding him as Prime Minister as he favoured N C Havenga [20] the former leader of the Afrikaner Party which joined the National Party in 1951. According to one of the past guests of the Hello Afrika segment of the Right Perspective radio program: Theuns Cloete of Boervolk Radio: Strijdom was even talking about restoring the Boer Republics as there was considerable support among the Boers [21] during the 1940s & 1950s for this. Strijdom interestingly later died in office under mysterious circumstances & was followed by none other than Hendrik Verwoerd: the Dutch born architect of Grand Apartheid & who would later turn South Africa into a nominal republic which would further offset & blunt Boer aspirations for independence within their own republics.

Therefore by the 1950s most White Afrikaans speaking people were conditioned to view themselves as Afrikaners even though this is technically wrong since for Boers to do so they are basically giving up their own unique identity & allowing themselves to be represented & dominated by the numerically larger Afrikaners [22] who have often historically worked against the interests of the Boers. This is the main reason why it is wrong for Boers to think of themselves as Afrikaners. Consider the following related examples. In Canada there are Quebecois & Acadians: both are French speaking Canadians but no one would ever call the Acadians: French Canadians since this is a term which is applied to the French speakers in Quebec & Ontario. Similarly there are distinctions between the Croats & the Serbs in Europe even though both groups speak the same language -though different dialects of Serbo-Croatian: Croats speaking a dialect called Croatian & Serbs speaking a dialect called Serbian - just as the Boers & Afrikaners speak (or at least used to to a larger extent) different dialects of what came to be called Afrikaans. The difference between the Romanian & Moldovan is another example of different cultural / ethnic groups speaking different dialects of a similar or closely related language. The problem among the White Afrikaans speakers is that the Afrikaners were able to effectively dominate & overshadow the Boers. Perhaps not too unlike how the Serbs once did in the former Yugoslavia -but it appears that the Afrikaners were much better at conditioning Boer identity out of the public sphere -only to be used as a convenient political prop to bolster & advance the agenda of the Cape based Afrikaner Nationalists.

This is why many Boers do not want to be viewed as Afrikaners since this makes them a minority within the Afrikaner designation. It makes the Cape based Afrikaners the center of power. The Afrikaners of Cape Dutch descent outnumber the Afrikaners of Boer descent. Making any union between Afrikaner & Boer always coming to the detriment of the Boers. This means that anti-Boer Afrikaners could (& often do) represent the entire Afrikaner group making decisions which could be inimical to the Boers. Rather like what often happened in Apartheid era South Africa when Boers were outvoted by the Afrikaners. Sort of like how liberal leaning states often make decisions inimical to the local conservatives because the given state's left of center leadership makes the political decisions affecting the entire population of the state marginalizing persons with right of center inclinations.

The Western Cape based Broederbond -which was the driving force behind Afrikaner Nationalism / The National Party / Apartheid rewrote the history of the Boers turning them into "Afrikaners" [23] retroactively as part of a rhetorical device in order to co-opt the Boers / their history & inheritance. Therefore the history they wrote would often refer to Afrikaners instead of Boers -which is a common error still copied by contemporary authors -without realizing that they are promoting the Afrikaner Nationalists propaganda & skewed version of the past. The well known Afrikaans historian Hermann Giliomee was one of those who played an integral part in the continued perpetuation of this myth by covering up or derisively down playing the distinct & separate history of the Boer nation.

The late Boer patriot Robert van Tonder of the Boerestaat Party was one of those who was most insistent that the Boers are a different nation to the Cape based Afrikaners & was calling for the restoration of the Boer Republics as early as 1961 [24] the same year that Hendrik Verwoerd turned South Africa into a republic.

Furthermore: TRP caller Henry Pinkham is exactly right when he points out that the Boers can only achieve freedom as a nation since if they try to do it while still attached to the Cape based Afrikaners the Boers will (obviously) get nowhere. The Cape based Afrikaners -particularly its leadership- still to this day like nothing better than to keep the Boers on their Afrikaner reservation.

Also: the world remembers the neo colonial role that the Afrikaners played (at the behest of the British who put them in control in the first place) & their disastrous (though often exaggerated) legacy while the Boers played only a marginal role as they had hardly anything to do with the implementation of Apartheid & were not as high in the ranks of the political order. Therefore going forward as Boers will only help their cause even more particularly among the rest of the world since the Boers were recognized the world over during the Anglo-Boer War. The Boer Republics themselves were recognized by the European governments & American government [25] & the cause of Boer independence was supported the world over.

Now it would be one thing if the difference between Afrikaner & Boer was just semantics (as one guest erroneously & ignorantly put it) being different terms referring to the same people. This could even be true to an extent vis a vis those Boers or Boer descendants who also refer to themselves as Afrikaners -due to conditioning- but the fact of the matter is that most Afrikaners are of Cape Dutch descent since people of Boer descent compromise only about not much more than a third of the total White Afrikaans speaking population.

Furthermore the term Afrikaner originally referred to those colonial Cape Dutch people who often worked against Boer interests & as such these two terms in fact refer to two different & distinct peoples. One poster on a forum once said that the Cape based Afrikaners -ie: the former Cape Dutch- are nothing more than Afrikaans speaking English people. Rather poignant observation since the Cape based Afrikaners have virtually the same cosmopolitan neo colonial liberal outlook as most of the English speakers have which is in sharp contrast to the more rustic / rural / anti colonial & conservative outlook of the Boers.

Therefore even if the Boers & Afrikaners were to achieve independence in a common state (as they had in Apartheid era South Africa along with the English speakers) -which the notion of dismissing the differences between Afrikaner & Boer would lead to- the Boer people will still not have the full self determination that they most seek as they would STILL be under the political control & suzerainty of the Cape based Afrikaners WHO OFTEN do not share their political outlook / culture nor even the same history ie: the trekking themed past / the various freedom struggles nor the frontier origins which shaped & defined the Boer nation.


1. The Boers in East Africa: Ethnicity and Identity. Brian M. Du Toit. Page 1.

Quote: [ The Boers had a tradition of trekking. Boer society was born on the frontiers of white settlement and on the outskirts of civilization. As members of a frontier society they always had a hinterland, open spaces to conquer, territory to occupy. Their ancestors had moved away from the limiting confines of Cape society to settle the eastern frontier. In time this location became too restricted, and individuals and families moved north across the Orange River. ]

2. Wallace Mills. Trekboers & migrations. The Great Trek.

Quote: [ Trekboers... were also significantly different from people of Dutch descent in the western province areas of the Cape. The latter regarded the Trekboers as rather wild, semi-barbarous frontiersmen and the sense of common identity was limited and incomplete. ]

3. Oliver Ransford. Chapter 1: Trekboers. The Great Trek.

Quote: [ The officials there, attempting to reassert their authority in the distant districts, appointed magistrates to Swellendam and Graaff Reinet, but this only increased the tension between the frontiersmen and the Company's servants at the capital. ]

4. Noted at Boer data page Perspektief in the Swellendam & Graaff-Reinet Republics section.

5. Theuns Cloete of Boervolk Radio noted this during an inteview with the Right Perspective radio program on Jan 6 2007.

6. The confusion among the Boer descendents is noted in: Who Were The Boers of The Anglo-Boer War. From: H Labuschagne.

Quote: [ Perhaps most of the confusion comes from the fact that the term "Boer" is rather confusing in itself. ]

7. The reverend S J Du Toit his brother D F Du Toit & Gideon Malherbe of the Western Cape started the Society of True Afrikaners in 1875: an Afrikaans language rights movement which started to get Afrikaans recognized.

8. Afrikaans Language Museum. Eastern Border Afrikaans.

Quote: [ Eastern Border Afrikaans has its roots in the farming community that moved further and further from the Cape. A large number of residents in the Cape were Dutch [Note: High Dutch ] speaking and they made up part of the farmers that moved away from the Cape. At the end of the 18th century this group settled on the East Border and they lived a very secluded life and spoke their own type of Afrikaans until well into the 19th cent. ]

9. General Butler of Britain noted during the second Anglo-Boer War that there were 3 main White groups in Southern Africa. The British or English speakers / the Cape Dutch / & the Boers. He also noted that these groups can never live together.

10. Clare Wyllie interviews Professor Gerrit Schutte.

Quote: [ Paul Kruger did not like people from the Cape - he felt they were subjugated by the British, so he encouraged people from the Netherlands to work in the Transvaal as a way to strengthen Boer independence. ]

11. The Maritz Rebellion of 1914 of which its main goal was the restoration of the conquered Boer Republics.

12. Adriana Stuijt. Boer, Afrikaner or White: Which Are You?

Quote: [ The (Boers) were dirt-poor and plunged into an unprecedented famine. Many had to flee to the cities to survive - places which were totally alien to them, places were only English was being spoken, places where their churches were being run by people who referred to themselves as Afrikaners. ]

13. About.com. Afrikaner Broederbond.

Quote: [ The South African prime minister, JBM Hertzog, declared in November 1935 that "there is no doubt that the secret Broederbond is nothing more than the HNP operating secretly underground, and the HNP is nothing more than the secret Afrikaner Broederbond operating in public. ]

14. The Construction of Eugène Marais as an Afrikaner Hero.

Quote: [ The “Boer worker" was the focus of the culture-brokers’ attentions in the next decade as the urban labour market became an arena in which Afrikaner intellectuals sought to capture the cultural allegiance of the urbanizing Afrikaans-speaker. ]

15. South African History Online. The Rand Rebellion of 1922.

Quote: [ Aeroplanes strafed rebels and bombed the Workers' Hall at Benoni. ]

16. The National Party of JBM Hertzog extended the Works & Mines Act in 1926. Noted in the Country Studies Series by Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress.

Quote: [ In addition, the Mines and Works Amendment Act of 1926 reinforced the color bar in the mining industry. Together, these laws became the cornerstone of what Hertzog termed his "civilized labour" policies. ]

17. The British initiated the Apartheid system with the Pass Laws & other discriminatory laws in the Cape & Natal during the late 19th cent. Noted also in the article Apartheid Revisited from Gavan Tredoux.

Quote: [ Apartheid was not invented in 1948 by Afrikaner Nationalists. The Nationalists were always eager to lay claim to apartheid, but this was a misleading element of their propaganda. Political parties are given to claims that they disagree with those who insist that they really agree. Apartheid was actually pioneered by the British colonial governments of Natal and the Cape Province. ]

18. The Separate Development aspect of the Grand Apartheid of the Afrikaner Nationalists attempted to create independent states for the various ethnic groups in what was also called a constellation of states.

Quote: [ When Botha outlined his concept of a constellation of states in Southern Africa, mining & media baron Harry Oppenheimer, the chief financial backer of the opposition PFP described it as having both imagination & charm. ] From: Unfinished Business: South Africa, Apartheid and Truth. Terry Bell, Dumisa Buhle Ntsebeza. Page 75.

19. The homelands of the Transkei / the Ciskei / Bophuthatswana & Venda were granted outright independence.

20. Noted in the Wikipedia article on D F Malan.

Quote: [ Malan retired in 1954 at the age of 80, but in the succession-battle that accompanied his retirement, his anointed heirs, N.C. Havenga and E. Donges were defeated and Malan was thus succeeded by J.G. Strijdom. ]

21. Theuns Cloete noted this during an appearnace on The Right Perspective shortwave / internet radio program from December 2007.

22. There are about 1.5 million Boers out of a total White Afrikaans speaking population of 3.5 million most of whom identify themselves as Afrikaners.

23. Theuns Cloete of Boervolk Radio mentioned this during an interview on an American shortwave / internet radio program & fromer journalist Adriana Stuijt has noted this in Boer, Afrikaner or White: Which Are You? among other places in the past.

24. Arthur Kemp. Victory or Violence: The Stroy of the AWB. Chapter 9 The Volkstaat.

Quote: [ Van Tonder, the founder of the town of Randburg and a self made millionaire, had long been running what was virtually a one man show calling for the restoration of the Boer republics divided from the rest of the country. He had in fact left the National Party as early as 1961 in order to pursue this idea. ]

25. C W van der Hoogt. The Story of the Boers. Page 96.

Quote: [ The Republic was now in possession of a Convention, which from the nature of its provisions seemed to promise a peaceful future. In addition to Great Britain it was recognized in Holland, France, Germany, Belgium, and especially in the United States of America. The American Secretary of State at Washington, writing to President Pretorius on the 19th November, 1870, said: "That his Government, while heartily acknowledging the Sovereignty of the Transvaal Republic, would be ready to take any steps which might be deemed necessary for that purpose." ]

This dissertation might be added to later.


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