The little known man Wrote:
Would it be futile, presumptuous or rather extremely naive of me to address Julius in the following letter? This follows his recent reiteration that he would especially target “Afrikanermen” – the white “visitors” to South Africa – once he was in power and that he would let FW de Klerk “rot in jail” …
I am writing this letter to you, not with any hatred in my heart, just as I believe you are not a man of hatred but of justice. After all, you were named after the great Julius Caesar of Rome!
I am a white Afrikaner male and I am nearly 80 years old. In my youth, in the district of Bloemfontein, there was a little black boy named Smido with whom I swam in the pools after the rains and built little mud roads on the turf and played for hours in the fields.
Many years later, when I revisited the place, I tried to look up Smido and renew our old friendship. Sadly I was informed that he had died. There was a lump in my throat.
Never, ever in my life have I regarded any fellow man or woman, of whatever race or creed, as inferior to me. As a young man I asked blacks working with me never to call me “baas” because it made me feel uncomfortable, as if I was the slave-master of another human being. I was certainly not the only Afrikaner in those turbulent times who felt that way.
My father was at one time a missionary in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), and afterwards, when he died in the 1960s in Aliwal North. Xhosa people of the Herschell district collected a large sum of money in cents andpennies and other small change to console my mother, whom they had also called “our mother”. How can I ever forget that act of love and kindness?
On my mother’s side I can trace back my ancestry to Europeans who were in South Africa since the late 1600s or early 1700s. Never, as far as I can ascertain, was land taken by them from anybody, for many of them were only workers on farms and not land owners, at least on my father’s side.
Also on my father’s side, an uncle of my father was only about 20 years old when he was accused by an English commander of being a Cape rebel in the Anglo Boer War. He was shot while sitting blindfolded in a chair with his grave already dug at the back of him. He fell into the grave, chair and all, as was buried there.
This great injustice to more young, black and white South Africans in that war has been all but forgotten – even the death of many thousands of black and Boer children and women at the hands of a limited number of English soldiers in the concentration camps of old.
War is never, ever just in any way. It only brings sorrows and the after-knowledge that the conflicts should have been resolved in much more humane ways.
After such a history, the white Afrikaners of today cannot be told that we do not belong on the soil of this country and are only visitors here.
In the 1990s, I came to realise that my progenitor on my father’s side had come to the Cape in the 1700s from a small place in north-west Germany, where people of my own surname still reside. With this knowledge and after visiting the family there, I decided to see what would happen if I applied for German citizenship (thereby acquiring dual citizenship)! I was bluntly refused by the German authorities. In so many words, they implied I was no German and could not ask for such a thing!
If I was no German, if I was only a visitor to South Africa, where on Earth do I belong then?
If you have read this far, Juju, I thank you for doing so.
I do not want to try to “influence” you in any way, not in the least. As a matter of fact, it would be improperly forward of me to think that I could do that to a skilled and renowned politician such as you.
But I implore you not to think of the Afrikaner as a foreigner on this soil drenched by the blood of my ancestors too – as by the blood of your own forefathers.
We are one in our diversity. We are all humans and we all dread living in fear.
Tsamaya hantle, Juju. Mooi loop.