November 5, 2008

The Boers Were Not Colonials.

Westerners who are new to researching Southern Africa often have the initial erroneous presumption that the Boers were Colonials due to their Caucasian / ethnic European appearance but the fact of the matter is that they never were as the Boers are the result of a homegrown culture which sprang up on African soil out of the diverse groups the VOC brought to the Cape starting in the mid 1650s. The original White arrivals were brought out from northern Europe as servants of the Dutch East India Co. / the VOC - a semi private company which set up a victualing station at the Cape for passing ships & founded Cape Town. Those first arrivals were by & large of German & Frisian ethnic origin -most of whom were flooded out of their homes by the VOC & later forced to accompany Jan Van Riebeeck to the Cape- as well as smaller numbers of Dutch. Then about 35 years later large numbers of French Huguenot refugees escaping political & religious persecution in France were sent to the Cape were they would within the next generation amalgamate with the other arrivals & shape the emerging homegrown language which would later be called Afrikaans. Though the Boers often called - & still often do call - their dialect the taal or the language which was a different dialect even from the dialect spoken by the White proto Afrikaans speakers of the Western Cape who would go on later to label the language Afrikaans.

Starting in the late 1600s & throughout the 1700s significant numbers of the poorer proto Afrikaans speaking members of the Cape began to trek out of the Western Cape & inland becoming pastoralists in an attempt at escaping the autocratic rule of the VOC & to find better grazing land. The term Trekboer was used to describe these nomadic frontier folk as they were essentially migrating or trekking farmers who began occupying the northern & eastern Cape frontiers & were already quite distinct from the urbane inhabitants of the Western Cape who were often referred to as the Cape Dutch. Over time the term Trekboer was shortened to Boer to describe the frontier folk who were markedly independence oriented & would later have their first freedom struggle against the Dutch power in 1795.

The Boer people & culture therefore did not develop in Europe then suddenly transplant itself later in the Cape as the Boers developed in Africa & are a combination of many diverse origins. While most of their ancestors did in fact arrive from Europe: it is important to remember that they did not come as Colonists on behalf of a European power but in fact as servants of the Dutch East India Co. Later many were let go & became free citizens in an attempt by the VOC to cut costs. When about 300 French Huguenots arrived in the Cape as refugees -escaping religious persecution in France- from 1671 until 1707 (one family as late as 1726): the basis of the Boer nation was formed as these French Huguenot refugees viewed Africa as their new home & shaped the emerging Afrikaans language. Numerous other German Protestants also came as political & religious refugees as well. The basis of the Boer people / nation therefore was the amalgamation of the Dutch & Frisian settlers with the French Huguenot refugees & German Protestant refugees.

Further dispelling the erroneous colonial notion of their origins: The Boers have even been referred as the " White tribe of Africa" in the past & some Bantu groups did in fact recognize them as a tribe during the era of the Great Trek.

The nascent Boer nation broke their ties to Europe early on most notably during the late 1600s & throughout the 1700s when they began trekking eastward & inland in order to escape the authoritarian rule of the Dutch East India Co. Therefore: when uninformed or ill-informed Westerners assert that the Boers are " White colonials" they betray their total lack of knowledge on the matter. While many of those who remained in the Western Cape could certainly be considered colonials to a certain extent -the Trekboers & by extension the Boers can not honestly be considered as such since they promptly broke away from European domination & viewed themselves as being African & developed their own dialect which was classified as Eastern Border Afrikaans after the expanding border regions of the eastern Cape frontier where the Boers developed.

The Voortrekkers -who would later go on to found the more successful & various other Boer Republics- were of Trekboer descent. Furthermore: the Boers developed into a nation / people long before their first encounter with a Black (Bantu) group. Their first encounter with a Bantu group was with the Xhosas during around 1777. 125 years after the first arrivals of their European ancestors at the Cape. This is a very significant point as it moots any ignorant notion opposing their presence in their own land of birth. While their ancestors did encounter indigenous people in the Western Cape: they were the Khoisan peoples (a yellow-brown skinned people with Oriental looking features) who were once native to & hence the aboriginals of much of the southern & eastern half of Africa before being displaced & annihilated by migrating darker skinned Bantu groups. The Khoisan groups are now only found in the Northern Cape & Namibia (mainly the San / Bushmen) while the remaining Khoi were absorbed into the emerging Cape Coloured population.

The Voortrekker leaders were a unique blend of European style General & African Chief & the Voortrekkers trekked / migrated in clans following a specific elected leader & were descended from a long line of semi nomadic people who had a rather long historical record of trekking.

14 comments:

Ron_357 said...

The American author Joseph Stromberg & Martin Legassick note that quote: [ Andries Pretorius and Hendrik Potgieter, Voortrekker leaders, were torn between being leaders in the European sense or transforming themselves into African chiefs who happened to be white. ] Other authors have noted that the Trekboers were part of the African landscape who had long since cut their ties to Europe. The Boers developed their own flags if albeit influenced by the flag of the Batavian Republic.

Bantu Education said...

I enjoyed reading your very eloquent and undoubtedly accurate historical analysis and, probably for the first time, I now understand the distinction you make between Boers and Afrikaners.
(Obviously then I am neither..!)

However, would you agree with me that the territory of the old Boer republics is now too black and therefore unrecoverable and the ONLY remaining hope for whites - albeit a slim one at the present time - is to regroup in the Western half of the country and to eventually secede, possibly in alliance with some coloureds?

Ron_357 said...

Thanks for taking the time to read the article in question. I felt compelled to write it because the lack of insight on the topic exhibited from some can be quite staggering at times. I also once was ignorant of the facts until I discovered that the confusion arises from the appropriation of Boer heritage by those who were not even from the Boer people but propagated the term Afrikaner to describe both groups.

I disagree that the Boer Republics are unrecoverable for the simple reason that most of the immigrant Black population is in Johannesburg which non other than Eugene Terreblanche has disclaimed from being part of a restored Boer Republic & thus has it removed it from the equation. [ See video of his interview with Louis Theroux from 2000.] While there are other much smaller Black populations to contend with: it would be manageable vis a vis grating them their own independence as well.

The late Boer Patriot Robert van Tonder of the Boerestaat Party even had a proposed solution to the problem as outlined in the book: The Politics of Ethnic Conflict Regulation.

Quote: [ The Boerestaat Party of Robert van Tonder strives to revive the traditional Boer Republics in the Transvaal and the Orange Free State, but rejects the notion of a White homeland as racist. Just as Zionists asked for the ancient Jewish state to be reinstated without excluding all Arab inhabitants, according to van Tonder, so the Boerestaat will co-exist with a black majority in its midst. But by dividing these blacks into different nations, the [ Boers] will still be in the majority. According to Piet "Skiet" Rudolph, the Free State, Transvaal and the northern Natal are still part and parcel of the Boerevolk. He equates the Boere claim for land with the dispossessed black community's demands for land restitution. The Boere homelands then would form a loose federation for economic co-operation with the rest of South Africa. ]

While the Western Cape proposal does look interesting to establish a sort of White & Coloured self determination there: I am afraid that this would still not help the Boers in finding the true self determination that they seek for the simple reason that the Boers number at about 1.5 million out of a total White Afrikaans population of 3.5 million & if the Boers were to move to the Western Cape they would be under Afrikaner domination even more than now. The Boer secessionists are looking to govern themselves outright & are not interested in submitting once again to another coalition. Furthermore: there is the fact that the Boer Republics were recognized around the world in the past & the Boers are a nation.

Bantu Education said...

most of the immigrant Black population is in Johannesburg which non other than Eugene Terreblanche has disclaimed from being part of a restored Boer Republic & thus has it removed it from the equation. [ See video of his interview with Louis Theroux from 2000.]

Amazing co-incidence, but the Louis Theroux interview you mention was repeated last night on UK TV. I was trying to work out whether it was new or old stuff, but when the Boer's got out their high-powered rifles for target practice I assumed correctly it was an old programme.

I enjoyed seeing the liberal wimp squirm when ET read him the riot act, but inevitably they got in the last word by announcing that ET was later jailed for 6 years for "killing a black".

I recall a short TV interview with ET just after he was released and he was so thin and mild one could call him "a broken man". And yet he claimed/intimated that in jail he had no problems with blacks, even that they respected him. What is the truth and why doesn't he speak?

A double co-incidence about last nights TV was LT's latest offering "Law and Disorder in Philadelphia", which (no surprises, and hopefully not unlost on LT) was replete with disgustingly vile TNB.

I wanted to shout at LT thru the TV - "do you now understand why the Boers didn't want black rule..???" I take comfort in the probability that he probably agrees, although of course his career prohibits him from admitting the racist truth.

Ron_357 said...

No. Terreblanche did not kill him: he assaulted him over some apparent misunderstanding & seriously injured him in the process. The interview with Louis Theroux was interesting because Theroux starts out by noting the past hostilities between Briton & Boer & asks what can be done to patch things up. Terreblanche then points to a map where the old Boer Republics were once located & proceeds to tell Theroux that he is [ or rather a contingent of the Boer people are ] demanding the restoration of the Boer Republics [ which seems like the best thing the British could help to do considering their past role in the region ] which some Boers have been attempting to do in varying numbers & during different periods since the Maritz Rebellion.

Bantu Education said...

I'd be interested to hear your opinion on why ET has gone completely quiet since his release.
I can only assume that he is under strict orders to stay out of politics otherwise he will go back to jail. In the one interview I saw he claimed that he had no problem with the blacks in jail, but maybe this is untrue?

Bantu Education said...

As for the idea that the British might help re-establish the Boer republics, simply because they ended tham, I must say that is a pipe-dream of the first order.

First of all, let me state that I believe the Anglo-Boer war to have been the most ill-justified, most avaricious, and most politically immoral of all Britains many and generally righteous colonial conflicts.

Having said that, one surely must agree that the British were very magnanimous in victory by creating an Afrikaaner dominated political Union. If not exactly what the Boers wanted, surely this was the next best thing?

Between Union in 1910 and, say 1976, the Boers surely had many opportunities to secede from the Union/Republic but, unless I'm corrected, I dont recall there being a Boer secessionist party - at least not one with any degree of popular support?

Jeff ( Va. Rebel ) said...

Hey Ron - you have much good material for me to digest here . I'm enjoying and learning from you fella's discourse here .

I also wondered what happened to ET's fire . Including prison , surely much has gone on in the background , as I'm sure his life hasn't been so great in quite a while .

Are you saying a nation of black and white together ? I don't know man .

Ron_357 said...

There were rumours Terreblanche agreed to be silent upon his release from prison. Though at any rate: this is neither here nor there as Terreblanche has been criticized rightly in the past. The Boer self determination movement certainly does not rest on him nor any individual because other Boer Patriots like Fritz Meyer have noted [in the same Theroux video] that Terreblanche has harmed the cause of Boer self determination.

When Terreblanche was in prison he noted that he got along well with others & explained his case to them that: "a Boer just wants to be a Boer". Furthermore this is a Tswana & Sotho area & the Tswanas were among those who were not too content with the rise of the Xhosa dominated ANC: so I can not help but assume that the Tswana people are probably the least inimical to Terreblanche for the simple reason that they had [& perhaps still do] a common goal of not wanting to see the Xhosa dominated ANC assume power.

Remember the AWB as part of a coalition with the AVF was part of a greater coalition with the Bophuthatswana government -which was a Tswana state- along with the Zulu Nationalists of Buthelezi & the government of the Ciskei from 1993 - 1994. Though there were of course many pro ANC Tswana & that was the main cause of the insurgent fighting against President Mangope's government who then called on his partners in the AVF / AWB to come to his aid & defend his regime which ultimately lead to the disastrous results of March 1994 when the Bophuthatswana Police [ who had obviously defected from loyalty to their President & government ] shot 3 AWB members dead after ambushing them on live television.

I agree that the notion the British will help restore the old Boer Republics is a long shot at present. But do not forget: it was ALSO once a long shot that the South African macro state would be handed over to the ANC. In fact it was once unthinkable. Give it some time. The British will not want to help to do it at first if ever: but their will can never stop the will of the Boer people who have a long track record of overcoming staggering odds. Though I think Britain will first collapse before the Boer Republics are restored - which interestingly is exactly what the old Boer prophet Nicolaas van Rensburg stated himself. He prophesied quite a number of things which later came about. He notes that the Vierkleur will wave again & that the Boers will REGAIN another republic. [1] He stated that this would occur after Britain was destroyed during a third world war. He also states: " this will come to pass when the ice starts melting". [2] Some interesting stuff because judging by the current state of world affairs - it appears to be just around the corner. [3]

No. The British never even wanted an Afrikaner dominated Union as they first attempted to bring out more British settlers. The British wanted to outnumber & dominate the Afrikaans speaker. When those plans failed: they then turned to the Afrikaner - particularly the Cape based Afrikaner - [who were always historically pro British ] to fill the role of a surrogate Colonial power on behalf of Britain. [4] Just look at how fast the new Afrikaner regime under Louis Botha [a prominent Boer General who became part of the Afrikaner pro British establishment] was so quick to be pro British. The British were disappointed that they were not able to bring out more English speaking British settlers therefore they were resolved to recruiting & manipulating the local newly created "Afrikaners" [a loose coalition of Cape Dutch & Boers with some English speakers] to serve British imperial & financial interests in the region.

There were of course many opportunities for the Boers to secede from the macro State of South Africa: which is exactly why the Cape Dutch propagated Afrikaner Nationalism because this conditioned the Boers out of seeking self determination on their own & conditioned them to see themselves as "Afrikaners" along with the Cape Dutch who dominated them so as to prevent the Boers from seceding. Which if you will recall is exactly what the Boers attempted to do in 1914 during the Maritz Rebellion. The Maritz Rebellion was triggered when the government of Louis Botha joined the British during World War 1. This outraged the Boers seeing as it was so soon after the devastation of the recent second Anglo-Boer War. The leaders of the Maritiz Rebellion were prominent Boer Generals like Christian De Wet who went about attempting to reinstate the Boer Republics by force of arms. The South African government captured & jailed them & prevented them from participating in politics when they later left prison.

Then later during the 1940s the Boers wanted to restore the Boer Republics again when the Ossewa Brandwag formed & had 500 000 supporters wanting to restore the Boer Republics. [5] But the Afrikaner establishment broke it down to nothing & then later scuppered the Boers aspirations when the Dutch born Afrikaner Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd [who assumed power after Hans Strijdom suddenly died in office] then turned South Africa into a nominal republic.

Though the drive for Boer self determination was STILL not quite gone because in that SAME year of 1961: Robert van Tonder left the National Party to pursue the goal of restoring the Boer Republics full time. [6] It was non other than Robert van Tonder & his secessionist ideas which influenced the later emerging AWB when the latter adopted his goal of restoring the Boer Republics. When the AWB adopted the notion of restoring the Boer Republics: their membership began to grow. [7]

So to sum up. There were quite a number of instances when varying numbers of Boers wanted to secede from the Union of & then later the Republic of South Africa since almost the beginning of its establishment. Much of this was suppressed or diverted by the Afrikaner establishment who saw this as a threat to their growing status within the macro State they inherited from the British. Which is why even to this day the elite among the Afrikaner establishment are STILL repressing & disparaging the Boerevolk & propagandizing against Boer self determination.

Notes.

1. Part 1 of 3 of the televison program on the Boer prophet Nicolass van Rensburg.

2. Part 3 of the same program. Noted at 4:50 right towards the end.

3. Van Rensburg also states that the events leading up to the restoration of the Boer Republics would start during an election year notable for mass strikes. Also: the West appears to be gearing up for another global war.

4. South African Government Information.

Quote: [ After initial plans for anglicisation of the defeated Afrikaners through the education system and numerical swamping through British immigration were abandoned as impractical, the British looked to the Afrikaners as collaborators in securing imperial political and economic interests. ]

5. Theuns Cloete of Boervolk Radio mentioned this in the December 2007 interview with the Right Perspective.

6. 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. ]

7. Theuns Cloete of Boervolk Radio noted this in an interview with the Right Perspective on Jan 6 2007.

Jeff: The AWB was actually reactivated earlier this year which was one of the articles I was commenting on on the old Youth of South Africa blog. I was similarly trying to awaken those College students running that then blog about the Afrikaner subversion of the Boers. Though as I said before the issue of Boer self determination is much larger than the organizations which assert the notion.

Jeff ( Va. Rebel ) said...

Thanks for the great response and helpful links - I'm just gonna have to make a copy of it . Too much info there to lose to time .

I frequented the old Youth of South Africa blog but so much road has been traveled since ... I honestly can't remember reading your articles . But I probably thought you an instigator of trouble . And if that was the case , I do apologize .

Naturally , this all flows in clear logic to you but the unlearned , such as myself , must study these matters in deeper detail to grasp the bigger picture . Didn't understand all the inner twists . Yall are more similiar to our "north vs. south"
than I realized .

I have the old AWB website but have not been there in a while as they never update -
are they back on ? I got plugged in there and those Arthur Kemp files a while back .
Included it in one blog post way back .

I thought their original charter/ beliefs/goals sounded great . They spoke of Christ , the Boer nation . Even if ET did no wrong , he shouldn't of been in certain situations considering the enormity of the task he shouldered . But like you said - the movement doesn't rest solely on him .

I can understand why that other group split off .

It would seem to be beneficial to all to permit , even assist the creation of the Boer nation . Then perhaps sanity can overtake the land as each respects the other for who he proves himself to be and people can work in unison against their real enemies .

Jeff ( Va. Rebel ) said...

Now about Van Rensburg ...

I understand that this will bring howls of indignation and contempt , but I would likewise subject any American "icon" to the same investigatory search .

Just who is the God of the Boer people ?
I read where Rensburg was a devoted Bible scholar and he was (is) greatly loved by his people ... but where are his scriptural statements ? Where's his profession of faith ? Where is ANY glory given to God ?

I see continual praise lofted upon him but very little mention of Christ or Biblical substantiation for what is going on .
It's all - Rensburg said ...

I'm aware of visions George Washington supposedly had , and they seemed to make Biblical sense , but I don't quote them .
Especially not in place of Gods Word .

I don't think many see the contradiction here ... or want to .

http://home.intekom.com/lichtenburg/siener-e.htm

Volkstaat.it said...

http://www.volkstaat.it/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=149:2707201001&catid=45:afrikanereboeri&Itemid=64

bob taylor said...

This clearly BIAS & ROMANTICIZED account,& not actual history in it's truest form.This paints a false depiction of the Boers as SOLELY victims & not VICTIMIZERS as most credible sources of reference make clear.Now I have little problem with those embellish a bit,in an effort to paint a rosier picture of ones self.As long as it's not passed of as Actual HISTORY!

Ron. said...

Just noticed the disparaging & ignorance based comment by Bob. Bob: All of what I wrote is based on the actual historical accounts of the specific Boer people in question. You display a skewed understanding which is no doubt based on the anti-Boer rhetoric accounts from British sources. Also: it looks like you are conflating the Boers with the Dutch Colonial power which oppressed them. Accusing the Boer people of being "victimizers" [ which is not even a proper word ] based solely on British propaganda is not a sufficient nor legitimate rebuttal to the valid & accurate points made within this article. The British were fighting not just a physical war with the Boers but also a propaganda war so they demonized them & accused them of behaviour that the actual Colonial powers were doing. Anyone can nitpick & point out legitimate unbecoming behaviour that a few Boers might have engaged in - but whatever few misdeeds they ever engaged in does not compare to the scale of oppression they they faced by the Colonial power. The whole point of this article was to point out that the Boers were not from the Colonial population at the Cape as they were from the homegrown people who emerged on the Cape frontier away from the actual Colonial population.