/ 26 May 2008

Are the Afrikaners not free enough?

Some people simply lack a sense of occasion. It gets worse when these are public representatives.

There was Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Mulder smiling to the cameras this week. Feeling good about himself that he had got ”his people” the attention of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO) whom he hoped would extend recognition to the Afrikaners.

All this around the same time that scores of Africans who carry foreign passports are losing their lives, limbs and possessions because they are considered to be the reason for all our evils.

But Mulder and his comrades somehow see a darker evil lurking. Not even the xenophobic attacks are enough to make him appreciate the fact that his citizenship rights are indisputable.

It seems to me that Mulder and all those who think like him have not quite shaken off the horror of being governed by natives and communists.

They are proof of why some stories — even fairy tales — need an age restriction. Some adults, regardless of how educated they become, tend to hold on to the scary tales that were told to enforce compliance in naughty children. That is why Mulder and his people hold on to the swart and rooi gevaar they were raised on.

They have gone around for too long telling a sympathetic audience that they are not free, hence the name of their party.

Mulder presented and submitted the party’s application at the ninth general meeting of UNPO at the European Parliament in Brussels last week.

The UNPO has more than 70 members including Tibet, Somaliland, Azerbaijan and Burma.

According to the party’s website, Mulder’s rationale for seeking recognition for Afrikaners is this: ”If events in Zimbabwe and South Africa are taken into consideration, the time has come for the case of the Afrikaner and the case for the Afrikaans language to be brought to the attention of the international community.”

The party’s website goes on to say that Mulder referred to crime and farm attacks in South Africa, as well as to the pressure on the Afrikaans language and culture, as reasons he thought Afrikaners deserved a special dispensation. It might be news to him, but crime recognises no colour or language.

The website does not explain what Mulder means by ”events in Zimbabwe”, but I assume he is talking about farm invasions. As for what is happening in South Africa, again one assumes he is back on his hobbyhorse of the evils of affirmative action.

I will be among the last to support farm invasions or the parochial nature of how some employers and government departments have misused a perfectly legitimate tool like affirmative action.

What freedom is Mulder and his chommies asking for? From whom? Freedom is the antithesis of restriction. It is always essential for freedom fighters to identify their cause and their oppressor.

Don’t hold your breath hoping that the FF+ will spell these out coherently any time soon.

The Afrikaners are not unfree or restricted in any way. Sure the SABC is no longer called the SAUK, but as recent events show, there are much more important issues we should worry about relating to the public broadcaster.

Incidentally, the same broadcaster still has more news, drama and content in Afrikaans than the Shangaan, Venda, Ndebele and Swazi put together. This, and the many cultural festivals that dot the arts calendar, don’t justify Mulder’s talk of linguistic and cultural marginalisation.

Do Mulder and those in whose name he acts not know that they and their children are still allowed to pursue their education, including higher education, in their mother tongue?

Other than English first-language speakers, no one else in this country enjoys this privilege.

What also concerns me is the silence of those in whose name Mulder purports to act. It is a common refrain from our white compatriots to argue that anything that refers to race or past injustices constitutes living in the past and is thus destructive to the common future we all hope to share.

Yet when someone acts in their name and says that they are an ”unfree nation or people”, they turn a deaf ear.

Mulder and his friends are clearly refusing to be part of the South African project. It is time that we told him and his ilk that enough is enough.

We have entertained them for too long. There are just more pressing issues with those of us who believe in a non-racial and democratic South Africa need to deal.

Mulder is himself proof of how free he is in this dispensation. He is an elected public official and, in theory, stands as good a chance as any political leader to replace Thabo Mbeki as president.

He gets to travel the world using a South African passport even when his message is the lie that he is an oppressed person.

If there is any freedom he and his comrades have to struggle for, then it would be to liberate themselves of this silly fear that they and their language are endangered.

If in doubt, a cursory look at newspapers in the past two weeks will show them why they should count their blessings and appreciate that their citizenship and rights are not in dispute.