[It’s heartening to note that not all Afrikaners agree with the extremist views of AfriForum. This open letter to AfriForum by Adriaan Basson keeps my idealistic self hopeful.]
By: Adriaan Basson
Open letter to AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel
Like you, I am a white Afrikaner who lives in Africa. I was glad to read in last week’s City Press that you identify yourself as “an African with a light complexion”.
I do too. I suspect, however, that we have vastly different interpretations of what it means to be an African Afrikaner in South Africa and on the position of Afrikaners in 2011.
You see yourself firstly as part of a minority group whose constitutional and human rights are being disregarded by the ANC. The premise of AfriForum’s campaigns is one of victimhood.
You regard the Afrikaners as a group under threat, a people whose basic rights to expression, association and movement are constantly being undermined by the black majority.
You want to struggle – in the courts, on the streets and in the legislature.This is a dangerous game, Kallie. You are not stupid, I know that.
So why are you refusing to present to your supporters a fairer, more balanced picture of your people’s position in South Africa today?
Is something more sinister at play? Is scaring people a more profitable tactic for AfriForum?
You know as well as I do that the Afrikaner’s cultural, religious and linguistic identity is not under threat. When I visit the Potchefstroom or Oudtshoorn arts festivals, I don’t see people who are suppressed.
In fact, they look happier to me than they were in 1994.
Have you heard of Afrikaner author Deon Meyer’s phenomenal success? We write what we like, Kallie.
You referred to the right-wing publication Die Afrikaner in your interview with us. Would an oppressive regime, hellbent on suppressing its minorities, allow such a publication to appear?
I think not.
You (and Judge Colin Lamont) use the very narrow definition of numeracy to define minorities. Yes, numberwise the Afrikaner is a minority group.
But even the United Nations, whose Minorities Declaration of 1992 is repeated almost verbatim on AfriForum’s website, recognises numbers can never be the only determining factor when defining minorities.
The UN published a report titled “Minorities under international law” in which it specifically (and ironically) quoted the South African example: “In most instances, a minority group will be a numerical minority, but in others, a numerical majority may also find itself in a minority-like or non-dominant position, such as blacks under the apartheid regime in South Africa.”
Who knows why the ANC’s legal team didn’t make this point in the case you brought against them. I’m sure AfriForum would agree that poor black South Africans are in an even less dominant position than middle-class Afrikaners from Pretoria.Which brings me to crime.
Why does AfriForum focus largely on crime against whites when you know black, poor people are by far the most vulnerable members of society when it comes to violent crime?
I see your old foe, the Transvaal Agricultural Union, admitted last week that farm murders were down by almost 100% in the last financial year.
I didn’t see a press statement from them or AfriForum on this.Isn’t there also a responsibility on a civil rights group to inform its members when things improve?
Isn’t there a risk we’ll have more Johan Nels – the young killer from Swartruggens who believed blacks were actively targeting whites in some form of genocide, and murdered four black people out of blind rage – if organisations like yours don’t inform and educate your supporters about what’s really going on?
Or is there some reason you don’t?
If they are a minority, then Afrikaners must be one of the most powerful, wealthy and diverse minorities on the planet.
Remember apartheid? The system that benefited your and my forbears to such an extent that we are still better off today than our black peers?
Have you had a look at the Sunday Times’ most recent Rich List published two weeks ago?
If you did, you would have seen that four Afrikaners – Christo Wiese (Shoprite), Laurie Dippenaar (FirstRand), Johann Rupert (Rembrandt) and GT Ferreira (RMB) – are included in the country’s top 10 richest people.And did you see who the top two earners were for 2010?
Shoprite CEO Whitey Basson (who earned R627 million) and BHP Billiton boss Marius Kloppers (R77 million) – two Afrikaners.
Did you discuss this with the members of AfriForum?
Surely it is not possible for people from a minority group who are suppressed to do business in their country of birth?
And have you asked Wiese, Dippenaar, Rupert and Ferreira whether they regard themselves as minorities? Have they addressed AfriForum’s membership on becoming a billionaire minority?
It doesn’t seem so when I look at your website.
I only see campaigns against Julius Malema, taxi drivers and Judge Nkola Motata (to your credit, you did commission a legal opinion on the Protection of Information Bill).
Did you see Stats SA’s latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey for 2011?
Did AfriForum tell its supporters that the year-on-year unemployment rate of white people was the only population group to have decreased?
Did you explain to them that 30% of adult blacks (four million people) are jobless, compared with 5% (105 000 people) of whites?
If not, why not?
I suppose you have to emphasise the “threats” to get your supporters to donate to your “Stop Malema” campaign.
This is speculation, but I’m guessing that AfriForum has close to zero legitimacy today for black South Africans (and thousands of whites).
I am not saying you shouldn’t have taken the Dubula ibhunu case to court, but I’m questioning why you decided to pick that case and insisted on a judgment, even when Lamont was trying his best to push for a settlement.
Even your own “Civil Rights Manifest” argues in favour of settlements.I am deeply concerned about the effect AfriForum’s actions are having on our society and this is why I’m writing this letter to you.
Your actions are having a polarising effect and you need to do serious introspection if you want to be respected as a civil rights group.
Otherwise, you risk being a racist lobby group. Is there any reason AfriForum has no black employees (according to your website) and, I assume, no black members?
Have you considered joining forces with other rights groups like Abahlali baseMjondolo, the South African shackdwellers’ movement?
Or even the Landless People’s Movement?
Or do you really only want to represent the rights of (a small group of) Afrikaners, even though your “Civil Rights Manifest” commits you to benefiting “all the citizens of South Africa”?
Do you always have to feel white first, and African second?
by Chris Moerdyk
Communication is going to be the death of us if we don’t watch out.
Companies are simply going to have to start implementing procedures to prevent employees from burning out in their early 20s. Because we simply cannot go on like this. I don’t think we were ever meant to.
Let me demonstrate what I am getting at.
I was chatting a while ago to an elderly woman in a queue where we were waiting to renew our annual motor car licences. It occurred to me that she would probably live to be 100 years old because unlike most of us who do our banking on our home computers via the internet, she seemed very proud of the fact that she got into her car to go and draw money and then drove around town paying her accounts.
She didn’t have a cellphone or even an answering machine. She was not remotely interested in having a video recorder and didn’t watch satellite TV because she was so used to where SABC 1, 2 and 3 were on the remote.
She wrote letters to her children on paper and walked down to the corner shops to post them. She got her son to print out e-mails and give her the piece of paper to read.
On the other hand I, like many of my peers, do everything by cellphone, e-mail and via the internet. Using Twitter I can get a news story from a journalist before it is even written. I can find out what’s happening in the world from social media before the TV cameras get there. Everything happens quickly and efficiently. Well, sometimes it doesn’t and that causes enormous stress.
Unlike that elderly woman in the licence queue, I don’t go to the bank anymore. I don’t seem to have the time to get in the car, look for parking and side-step crowds of shoppers.
I do it all over the internet and if it takes more than two minutes for me to do my monthly banking chores I get as tetchy as a bulldog without a car to chase.
Time is flying
And, unlike the woman in the licence queue, I continually wonder why time is flying by so fast.
Admit it; you’ve also been very much aware that the long awaited year 2000 went by in a flash. That it’s long gone, old hat. It seemed like yesterday but it was 11 years ago. Even those bottles of champagne we used to celebrate the turn of the century are looking dusty and jaded. Those flags we put on our car mirrors during the World Cup have mostly faded back into cheap Chinese power.
Now, it’s not because we’re getting old that time seems to fly by so fast. My kids and grandchildren are also beginning to complain about tempus fugitting at an incredible rate of knots.
What’s happening is quite simply that communication has speeded up. We don’t have to have meetings anymore, we can have video conferences. We don’t have to wait for letters; we can get instant e-mails. We don’t have to return phone calls; we’re always available on our cellphones.
And it can’t possibly be good for us. Because even when we go on holiday the ubiquitous cellphones and laptops are so readily at hand it is almost impossible to resist the temptation to check up on what’s going on in the office.
The way of the world
I find I can’t even go to the bathroom in peace without taking my smartphone.
I am not alone. This is the way of the world.
So, in addition to myriad other challenges business has to face, it is going to have to come to grips with this dangerous phenomenon because we’re getting to the point of doing business so quickly that we’re beginning to look like that movie comedian hanging onto the back of the train with his legs pounding away in a blur.
Just what is the answer? Not simple, that’s for sure.
Because communication is like a drug. It gets to become a habit that is almost impossible to break. Look around you when you are out and about – almost everyone has their eyes glued to a cellphone.
And no company can expect its employees to look after themselves when it comes to taking a break from what has become a completely frenetic almost hysterical rat race.
They’re going to have to insist on frequent leave. Insist on laptops and cellphones being handed in before departure.
I have friends in the USA who have to take their laptops and cellphones on holiday and agree to check for e-mails and messages every day. That’s not a holiday, for heaven’s sake.
Am I beginning so sound a little hysterical about all this? I hope so, because business has a nasty reputation for simply ignoring things like HIV/Aids and anything else that is threatening and which is always seen as someone else’s problem.
This painful new disease called communication is our problem and it is going to bite us all badly before we know it.