Not making a difference since 2006. Blog motto: Always be sincere whether you mean it or not.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


From Taki's Top Drawer I came across De La Rey. De La Rey is an Afrikaaner song from the new South Africa. It mentions no dissatisfaction with the current government, but glories in the righteous struggle against Britain in the Second Anglo-Boer War. It is sung by a young Afrikaaner who performs under the name Bok van Blerk. I've read it described as a rock song, but is more a folk ballad. It is like a good Irish rebel tune in that it sounds to be a great song to sing after a pint or four, I'd guess as my four pint days are long gone. The Brits no longer govern so one would think it is all a bit harmless.

Except that South Africa has a lot of history. Different racial groups, different ethnic groups in what is termed a rainbow nation, but is not much of a melting pot. The question is, is the song just about resistance to the colonial conqueror or is there a subtext of wanting to go back to the bad old days of Afrikaaner enforced apartheid? Beats me. Mr. van Blerk has said he is singing not about triumphalism, but pride in who he is. Fair enough.

Koos De La Rey was a brilliant and chivalrous general who fooled a number of English officers gallant enough themselves to see his greatness. He had not supported a war with the imperial government, but like Lee, gave it his all when it came. After the war, he did his best to reconcile Boer and Brit. His record on race, I know not, nor has anything I've read go into it. I'm surprised the thought police have not looked into this. So because of the man's sterling rep he was chosen as the eponymous Boer of the new nation. Nah, his name worked better in song than De Wet or any of the other war heroes.

Of course the thought police may not have a take on General De La Rey, but they do have a verdict on the young Afrikaaners who have a few brewskis and sing the ballad teary eyed and surprise, surprise, it ain't good. Hey, I'm a world away, so what do I know. They could be dead on. Still, there is little doubt from experience where they would come down.

Max du Preez, anti apartheid Afrikaaner when it was not easy to be one, puts it this way,

There's an element here of a search for identity, a search for pride, he said. They had to go back 100 years to find a hero to praise because there was nothing in between. After the Anglo-Boer war there is nobody in Afrikaner history that you can glorify except maybe rugby players.

Du Preez sees the song as cover for resentment at the post-apartheid order.

When they sing about how nasty the British were to the Boer women in the concentration camps and "general come and lead us because we will fall around you", they're not thinking about the British, they're thinking about blacks. Their enemy is now black.

Afrikaners don't have a cause anymore. They have become their own cause over stuff like affirmative action and crime.

Hey, the guy is there on the ground so I am not the man to say he is wrong. He may be the right fellow to look into the collective soul of his countrymen. I would like to know what he thinks the young Afrikaaners should adopt as an identity other than just fading into oblivion.

Another Afrikaaner, Newspaper editor Tim du Plessis, puts it this way,

University lecturers who are in regular contact with smart young Afrikaners say there is a steely determination among these youngsters that has been absent for quite a while. They come to the universities to equip themselves to stand on their own feet. They no longer complain about affirmative action because they believe to do so is futile. The are asking no favours from the new SA.

They know the public sector is a no-go area and they don't care. The corporate sector is best avoided also because of affirmative action and black economic empowerment (BEE) rules.

As one student put it: "I want to qualify as a professional or start a business where I can work for myself, be comfortable, but remain small enough not to be bothered with BEE. Or become well-qualified so that I can work anywhere in the world."


Afrikaners are merely migrating to a new space. It's a natural, spontaneous process without the erstwhile marshals of the Nat party, the Broederbond and the Afrikaans churches.

It's not the dead-end radicalism of the Boeremag, but it's also not ANC co-option personified by the acquiescent presence of Marthinus van Schalkwyk in the Mbeki cabinet.

They had no choice but to become new South Africans. Now they want to be new Afrikaners."

Who is right, how will it work out. In time, we shall have an answer.

But, it is not just South Africans who have an opinion in the matter. One American blogger,calling herself NYMary, has looked into the Afrikaner soul, or at least listened to the music and found it wrongthink, and so replied to one of her commenters..

Well, enjoy your rage, but I claim the right to call bullshit on it. A line like "And the Khakis are walking over a nation that will rise again" is not a historical referent; it's a threat, a warning to uppity blacks that they had better keep their place. To NOT see that is willfully blind. We have Lynryd Skynryd and Charlie Daniels; you have these guys.

There is not much to say about the American groups she cites as I don't know if I have ever heard their music. As to the threat part, the big question is, is someone walking over the present day Boer? If no one is, and the intent is to threaten the innocent, then she is right. NYMary does not really go into this. If someone is walking over the Afrikaaner, maybe the song hits a nerve, but it would not be totally uncalled for. After all, genocide watch has raised an alert regarding the ongoing murder of white farmers. During the days of Apartheid, I doubt NYMary types were saying whoa when the refrain of "One settler, one bullet," was heard.

One might think there is subtext in NYMary's post. Maybe she and all other Americans who spent years incensed at the ancien regime see this song and think, didn't that nice old ANC sweep those horrible whites out the door or at least under the rug. How it inconveniences her to have to know these people still exist and again address the issue.

Ultimately, what is stupid about slagging the Boer no matter what he tries is put well by a fellow named Wessel who blogs as Mhambi,

What Afrikanerdom means today is eminently up for grabs, by cutting them no slack, by expecting the worst, intellectual left Afrikaners will help define Afrikanerdom as intrinsicly right wing. That is sad because its simply not true.

The inner contradictions of Apartheid* doomed it. World wide activism shortened its life. Are the contradictions inherent in the new system enough to cause it to come apart? I would guess the South African state will continue in some form but with more and more separateness. It is to be lamented, I guess, but it is hard enough to love one's neighbor when you are the same ethnicity. It is really tough when such things are not shared. Just ask the Hutu and Tutsi.

*See Preferential Policies by Thomas Sowell, page 30.

Also, Steve Sailer points out over at Taki's Apartheid did not much exists in the meaning of Apartness,

The problem with South African apartheid was not the idea of apartness, but the manifest dishonesty of its implementation. South African whites didn’t actually want to live far apart from blacks. Who else was going to serve them as cheap maids and farmworkers? They couldn’t possibly be their own hewers of wood and drawers of water, now could they?

Below is an excerpt from an South African English language TV newsmagazine discussing the De La Rey phenomenon.


Anonymous said...

Good analysis, except for that quote to the effect that the problem with apartheid was not in it's idea but the incompleteness of its application. That is complete rubbish. Apartheid's destructiveness to ordinary black South Africans was entirely proportional to the degree to which it was implemented. It should not have been attempted at all, and the fact that powerful economic forces meant that it was never brought to its ultimate conclusion is a good not a bad thing. Incidentally, the idea that 'white South Africa' should have completely done away with black labour was the position of far-right Afrikaner nationalism.

tvoh said...


Thank you for your kind words.

I did not quote that with the intention of commenting on the morality of the institution and I don't think the person quoted intended it either.

The only point I was making is that the system was doomed no less than the Soviet Union.