Three generations of Afrikaners and the De La Rey song.
Dr. Pieter Mulder, FF Plus Leader
The controversy surrounding the De La Rey song has once again proven how difficult it is to understand the current Afrikaner. Afrikaners have reacted in totally different ways to the song and have even been prepared to punch one another about it – just ask Niekie van de Bergh from the “Sê Wie” program on RSG.
Could it be that the different periods in which the Afrikaner’s political thoughts had been formed, explain their current reaction to the phenomenon? I believe it does play a role. I therefore distinguish between three generations Afrikaners with three different kinds of reactions to the De La Rey song.
1. Verwoerd and Vorster’s children: They are older than 55 years. The FA Venter “Bedoelde Land”-generation. They were part of the country becoming a Republic. Part of the sixties when inflation was low, growth rates high and the future was safe and figured out for them. Everyone had a place in the sun in his own homeland. I also experience them as the www-generation. WWW has nothing to do with the internet. The majority of them do not use the internet. Today they are the uprooted people asking: “what went wrong” – www? They find it difficult to vote for the DA because they were part of the old Progg-fights against Helen Suzman. Until recently they voted for the NP but are now without a party and some even covertly vote for the FF Plus. After leaders such as Verwoerd had figured out the future, they were less interested in politics and worked hard for their retirement and for their children’s education. Trust the leaders, they know what they are doing was their motto. When the events of 1994 forced them to once again take note of politics, everything was different to the way they believed it would have been. They like the De La Rey song but for totally different reasons than youth does. They sponsor Bok van Blerk and encourage him to write more such songs. Maybe it is the beginning of the Afrikaner’s revival and the start of their winning back the country to what it had been. They grant everyone a place in the sun but it should just not impact negatively on my standard of living or change they way things are done.
2. PW and FW’s children: They are between 30 and 55 years old. The Boetman-generation. They are angry and feel abused. It was never clearly explained to them why they should do military service and why there were so many riots in the country. The ANC is currently explaining this period’s history to them on TV and in speeches without the other side being heard. That is why they, looking back, feel all their sacrifices were in vain. This makes them angry. Everything indicates to “laer-trek” having been the mistake. That is why they are very cautious about the De La Rey song. If you like it, it is because you like the tune rather than the words. We have to reach out to others in the country. We must not again make the mistake of wanting to do everything on our own. Be careful of anything that looks like whites- only or Afrikaans- only. It is not reasonable that there is a Black Lawyers Association or a Native Club, but we dare not make the same mistakes on the side of the whites. Forget about “us” and “them” – just a pity that all the reaching out has not brought a large scale acceptance from “them”! The Constitution is very good – it is the way the ANC enforces it that is bad. Of the old English-Afrikaans, NP-Progg fights, they know nothing. They therefore, as Afrikaners, easily vote for the DA or Patricia. Not because they so much understand or know their policies, but it is strong opposition to the ANC without there being any “laer-trek” or racial fingers being pointed to them.
3. Mandela and Mbeki’s children: They are younger than 30 years. The De La Rey generation. Of “laer-trek” they know nothing because from the time they attended school they have been amongst people of all races and languages. Their being white and an Afrikaner has mainly been the reason why they have been discriminated against. At primary school he had obtained the highest marks for his Expo-projects but the judges came to please explain that he could not be sent to the national finals because the black child, who had obtained much lower marks than he did, has to go to ensure the sponsor’s racial quotas are met. At High School he made the Craven week rugby team which made a sport bursary at University possible. Because there had to be 11 “disadvantaged” members in the team he and six other boys were left behind and the sport bursary was no longer possible. His six distinctions in Matric were not enough to ensure he qualified to study medicine. Not because he had to have higher marks, but because the government has set specific quota requirements to Universities.
According to his history text books and the televised renditions of the past, the Afrikaners did not produce any heroes and they only caused harm to the country. He looks for Afrikaner heroes and wants to be proud of what he is. That is why he likes the De La Rey song and stands to attention in the student pubs when it is played. It has nothing to do with racism or “laer-trek” because he also likes the last song on Bok’s CD. That is the one about Habana the Springbok winger. Whether Habana is white or brown does not matter to him – as long as he scores tries! He believes Afrikaners should help each other and stand together at university or else all the classes will in the end be presented in English and we loose the last traditions of the student residences. If you wish to call it “laer-trek” by all means call it that. But it is the government and the authorities that force us into a “laer” with their racist measures. They easily vote for the FF Plus on campuses which explains why the FF Plus wins all Student elections they participate in but they do not necessarily vote in national elections because they do not believe their votes would make any difference there.
Of course the above is an over-simplified explanation of the Afrikaners and many Afrikaners will not necessarily fall into one group. Yet I believe it may be of some help to a better understanding of the Afrikaners of today.