Even higher up you will find the academics. This is the personality type Chris Voster described, that wants to set standards for Afrikaans that are so elevated that it would make the average citizen’s nose bleed. A group of authors, poets and ‘consecrated’ Afrikaans royalty fill the halls of academia and the pages of Afrikaans books – showing the type of Afrikanerhood that was best illustrated by a curiously labeled society called the “Genootskap of Regte Afrikaners” (Partnership of Real Afrikaners). This society was created in 1875 to show the ordinary folk the way to ‘properly’ use Afrikaans, and to galvanize the unity that was busy forming among white folk when it came to this youngest language that was birthed in Africa. In the formation of this movement, the fact that Afrikaans was really created by slaves and used among non-whites first was pushed into the background. This movement eventually culminated in the building of the Afrikaans language monument, which was symbolically revealed in 1975 on the 100-year anniversary of the creation of the Genootskap of Regte Afrikaners.
Perhaps a slight level above the academia you will find the clergy and the theological academia, the gatekeepers of reformed Afrikaner Calvinism as it was passed down from seventeenth Calvinists with its almost dogmatic emphases on being God’s elect and secondarily being God’s chosen people like an Israel archetype. Not only do these clergy and academics set the standard for people on how to believe and how to worship, but it also condemns other free will (as opposed to pre-election), and evangelical flavors of Christianity. Change is something that happens at a glacial pace in these Calvinist circles. This has had tremendously negative effects on the speed (or lack thereof) that the Afrikaner could muster in modernizing religious and political thought processes during and after Apartheid.
One might speculate that there might be more social circles lower down or higher up on the mountain but in a somewhat desperate attempt at brevity, let’s just say that we make it to the top of the mountain. What do we find there?
We will find a square building that Pretorians will recognize as the Voortrekker Monument, and inside we will find the cenotaph that is highlighted by the sun on the sixteenth of December each year to commemorate the victory of the Afrikaner over the Zulus during the battle of Blood River. The victory many Afrikaners still believe (or at least suspect), was handed to them by their God. Still… They still believe it. And that means they still believe that when God was forced to choose between white and black he chose white, when he was forced to choose between Afrikaans and other languages, he chose Afrikaans. When he was forced to choose between Calvinism (pre-election) and other interpretations of God – he chose the ‘volk.’
And it is here in the midst if the echo chamber of thought where the litmus test of Afrikanerhood takes place for every individual that would be interested. It is here where we discover who is considered “Regte Afrikaners”. Here at the cenotaph each member of the South African society is weighed and scrutinized. “Are they white enough, Afrikaans enough and part of God’s elect?” Those are the three subjugating questions that face every individual in the inner sanctum of Afrikanerhood.
It is here where the Masego Legodi’s of the world fail the test in the mind of the white student boy who proceeds to tell her to get out of the “fucking way.” It is here where the Malini Mohana’s feel the pressure to remain quiet about the abuse, because there can be no critique of this divinely ordained society. It is here where the Lovelyn Nwadeyi’s of the world, in spite of their love of the language and Afrikaans culture gets turned away, for not being white. It is there where those of us who were white and Afrikaans discovered that we were not accepted into the Afrikaner culture because we were of a different religious persuasion.
So what has to happen for this to change? What must happen before the Afrikaner will stop creating these Afrikaans oligarchies at educational facilities?
Most of us know that what is in your heart is more important than your actions. The light shining in your eyes when you shake someone’s hand is more important that the words you utter. It is at this place where the Afrikaner still struggles to “mix” with the rest of the population because the cenotaph and its meaning over shadows their actions and predicts their instinctive behavior. It is here where other races still realize that they don’t – and might never ‘measure’ up. And that is what the modern day victims of this insidious discrimination mean when they are unable to articulate the subtle rejection that they feel.
The Afrikaner will have to undergo a dramatic and perhaps painful change of heart, and that will mean that those convictions that remain alive in the inner sanctum of the Afrikaner will have to change. The Afrikaner will have to let go of the notion of ‘volk’ or at least broaden the scope to let in other races and religions. The misguided belief that only Afrikaners know how to speak Afrikaans “properly” will have to change. The importance of a white ethnic identity will have to become much less important and increasingly so until all race identity has disappeared. In short – it is time to smash the cenotaph to pieces, at least metaphorically. The Afrikaner will have to realize there was no God that chose the white people over the black people on the 16th of December – the Voortrekkers simply had superior military power and strategy on that day. The whole concept of being special, being elect, being chosen, being better and superior will have to melt away into the realization that we are all one race, one species that all originally came from Africa. But most of all the hardened Afrikaner heart will have to melt away and be replaced with a heart that will project acceptance through the eyes when dealing with the rest of South Africa.
Perhaps it is then fitting that I close this article with a section from the religious text the Afrikaner reveres so much – the Bible.
1 Corinthians 13:1-7
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
The question is what will it take for the Afrikaner to follow the scripture they claim to believe in and let other races get as close to them as their own ‘volk’? What will it take to have a change of heart and remove the real reason there is so much strife around protecting Afrikaans.