Since the arrival of the European settlers in Southern Africa in 1652, they have had a constant struggle for survival. The Dutch East India Company, established by the States-General of the Netherlands for the purpose of trade with Asia, sent Jan van Riebeeck with ninety other Calvinist settlers to the Cape of Good Hope – the southernmost point of Africa, with the sole intention of establishing an outpost to supply trade ships en route to India with the necessary goods. Although it was never the intention to start a permanent settlement in the Cape, the Dutch started farming in and around the Cape in order to produce food. In 1671 the Dutch purchased land from the indigenous Khoikhoi, and this signified the first move of the settlers to move beyond the original intended fort built by van Riebieck.1 This contact with the Khoi led to the first of the Europeans’ struggles with the locals, due to the fact that the Khoi stole cattle from the white settlers. In 1688, the Dutch and German settlers were also joined by the French Huguenots, who fled the religious persecution of King Louis XIV.2
Farmers began working for their own subsistence as well, and some adopted a semi-nomadic lifestyle, gradually moving further inland in search of more fertile ground – they became known as the “Free Burghers.” Many of these so-called “Trekboere” settled in the Eastern Cape and also became known as “Border Farmers.” As the Boers started to view the Cape colony as their home, and despite the Dutch East Indian Company’s efforts to prevent the Boers from settling further inland, the Trekboere established two independent republics centered around the town of Graaf-Reinet and Swllendam in 1795. This was partly due to the collapse of the Dutch East Indian Company and to inspiration gathered from the French and American Revolutions. In 1796 the British Empire gained control of the Cape Colony, and between 1803 and 1806 the Dutch Republic governed the Cape, before it fell into the hands of the British empire for a second time. A group of conservative nationalist Boers started a migration inland during the 1830s and 1840s in opposition to the liberalizing and imperialist tendencies of the British government in the Cape. They were, however, a minority of the white population in the Cape, since most whites in the Cape actually supported the actions of the British authorities. The main policies the Trekkers were discontent with involved the Anglicisation of the traditionally Calvinist Church in the Cape, the indifference of the British authorities towards the Border Farmers’ conflict with the Xhosas on the Eastern frontier, and the desire for self-determination against the suppressive policies of British imperialism. Although the abolition of slavery has often been cited by liberal historians as a contributing factor to the Boers’ migration, there is no historical grounds for this, and it is a well-known fact both that the Voortrekkers never owned slaves, and that slavery was never a legal practice in any of the Boer republics. Off course, the search for more fertile land was also a major factor for many Boers participating in the migration.
The “Great Trek,” as this nineteenth-century Boer migration became known, was in itself a struggle for survival for the Boer people.In Natal the Trekkers came into conflict with the Zulu, and this eventually led to the famous Battle of Blood River in 1838. After the Boer victory, they proclaimed the Republic of Natalia, but then shifted their focus to the areas that later became known as the Orange Free State and the Transvaal. They did this in order to avoid even further conflict with the British, who had gained control over large parts of Natal during that time. This area was largely unoccupied at the time the Boers settled there, for the black tribes had recently scattered from there. Their scattering was due to a series of wars among the black peoples living in the area at the time, as well as a long drought, causing most semi-nomadic black tribes to move out of these areas shortly before the Boers arrived.3 It was shortly after their arrival in the South African inland that they established the two great Boer republics, the Orange Free State and the South African Republic. These two republics were unique in the sense that they were the first non-colonial white European states on the African continent. The Boer people now truly had a homeland in Africa, and to this day they remain the only indigenous white African tribe. It is a well-known fact that during the fifty or so years the Boer republics existed, the relations between the Boers and the Negro tribes were very good, based on the principle of being good neighbors to each other, respecting each others’ borders and cultural identities. At the same time, the Boers also made an effort to spread the gospel among the black peoples, who until then all worshiped their ancestral gods. The Griqua people also established their own homelands in what is today known as the Northern Cape – states that were also always on a very good standing with the Boer people.4 In fact, all the indigenous groups living in Southern Africa at that time had one common enemy – the imperialist British Empire. In the early 1880s the British commissioner, Gladstone, annexed the South African Republic, which led to the first Anglo-Boer war between the Transvaal and the British. This was one of the few military defeats the British Empire ever suffered.5
Between 1899 and 1902 the second Anglo-Boer war was fought between the two Boer republics and the British Imperialists, led by Alfred Milner. Due to tough resistance from the peasant forces of the Boers during this time, the British committed some of the gravest war crimes, e.g. by plundering and burning down homesteads and farms belonging to Boer people. Animals belonging to the Boers were killed in the cruelest ways possible while the women and children were exiled to concentration camps. By October in 1900, there were already over 100,000 Boer woman and children in concentration camps across Transvaal and the Free State. All in all, 26,000 woman and children died in British concentration camps due to the mistreatment and oppression suffered at the hands of the British soldiers. This was nothing less than mass murder, and eventually led to the Boer forces’ surrender in 1902.6 It would take the Boer people nearly sixty years to fully recover from the socio-economic losses suffered at the hands of the British during and in the years following the Anglo-Boer war. In 1910, South Africa became one united country for the first time, with the four British colonies as well as the Bantu states unified under the British crown. Africans and Khoisan peoples were considered as inferior-class citizens by the British, and this sparked reaction on the part of the Negroes, who until then, were on a very good standing with the Boers. This ideology of racial supremacy advocated by the British led to the formation of the African National Congress in 1912 in Bloemfontein.7 Due to a lack of experience and knowledge in the field of Western politics, these black politicians were immediately heavily influenced by another rising imperialist power from the east, Communist Russia. The communists’ opposition to British imperialism was very attractive to the Black nationalists of Southern Africa and inspired black leaders with Marxist and pan-Africanist ideals, which, until then, were very much foreign to the African mind. The ANC, a revolutionary Marxist militia organization would eventually gain control of the South African government in 1994. The roots of the whole ideology of the current New South Africa can in fact actually be found in the Bantu resistance to the British imperialist policies of the early twentieth century. Apart from the poverty the Boers experienced by the vandalization of the British and the land reform policies of the British – giving land to Boer traitors who secretly helped the British army during the war – they were now forced to share a country with many other ethnic groups, such as the Cape Afrikaners, the English settlers, and various black and Khoisan groups. The British did, however, work out a policy of racial segregation, but all people were still forced to live under the British monarchist rule. Youthful Boer men and women were even encouraged to intermarry with the British and raise their children according to traditional Anglo-Saxon values, leaving their continental Dutch-German heritage behind. A rebellion (which in reality was more like a small-scale civil war) against this supremacist imperialism by conservative Boer leaders was suppressed by the British-minded South African government, leading to the imprisonment and execution of many Boer leaders.
Despite all the oppression the Boers suffered, they formed the National Party in 1935 under the leadership of DF Malan. This party, only thirteen years later, won the national election, and not only managed to declare South Africa as an independent republic in 1961, but became the only government in the world to acknowledge the political independence of the different black ethnic groups in South Africa.8 By the grace of God, the whole commonwealth of South Africa, including the white and black states, prospered during the National Party’s reign from 1961 to 1994. Despite this, black Marxist activists were continually fuelled by propaganda aimed against the South African government by Western liberal imperialists from Europe, Russia, and the United States. Virtually all the uprisings against the Apartheid-regime were rooted in the fact that the Western World refused to acknowledge these black groups’ right to political independence, since the National Party government was (contrary to common belief) the only government in the world who helped to develop these black nation-states socially and economically. Yet, propaganda from the liberal Western media succeeded in planting the anti-Christian values of neo-Babelism, the Civil Rights movement, economic imperialism, and cultural Marxism among the black masses of South Africa, and they directly disobeyed the Word of God by not subjecting to the civil authority that God had appointed to keep the good God-ordained social order among the various peoples (Romans 13:1). This eventually led to the fall of one of the only explicitly proclaimed Western Christian governments of the twentieth century.
In 1990, the then State-president of South Africa, FW de Klerk, lifted the ban on the Marxist ANC and released Nelson Mandela from prison, where he was serving a life sentence for terrorist activities. This would change the political situation of South Africa as a whole and cause the Boere-Afrikaner peoples’ continuing existence as an ethnic identity to be threatened in a way that it has never been threatened before.9
In part two of this series, I will take a look at the contemporary challenges the Afrikaner people are facing in securing a future for them and their children in the new, multicultural South Africa.
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Cape_Colony ↩
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_South_Africa_%281652%E2%80%931815%29 ↩
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Trek#History ↩
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boer_republics ↩
- http://www.britishempire.co.uk/timeline/timeline.htm ↩
- http://www.boer.co.za/boerwar/hellkamp.htm ↩
- http://www.boerevolk.com/boerevolk/Gesk1901.html ↩
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=po5vy0vbYpg ↩
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FW_De_Klerk ↩