/ 17 October 2013

Get your facts straight, Steve, and help to build a better society

Steve Hofmeyr during the Red October march in Pretoria.
Steve Hofmeyr during the Red October march in Pretoria. (Clarisse Sosin)

Dear Uncle Charles,

I don't usually write to agony aunts or uncles but I'm desperate. You see, I was talked into this Red October thing by Sunette Bridges, some far-right blonde dolly whose dad was that king of kitsch-pop, Bles Bridges.

The other dude who was very involved was some angry taalbul (Afrikaans-language stalwart), Dan Roodt, who is actually a wannabe Frenchman. He creeps me out, the way he looks at me, but maybe that's just my imagination.

So this Red October campaign is supposed to highlight the white genocide, or as we put it on our website, "the inhumane slaughter and oppression of the white South African ethnic minority". Last Thursday, on what we used to call Kruger Day, we launched this campaign around the world. I was excited. The website looked good, with a photograph of people who could have advertised Woolies – there were a few good-looking women there, but let me not say more because my fiancée may read this.

It even had a quote by Martin Luther King: "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter." Sunette had no clue who he was and Dan started rambling on about existentialism … I forced it through without too much forcing. Ahead of the launch, I saw in social media that many leftwingers actually fell for this nifty footwork of ours.

So, come Kruger Day and I knew I looked good in my red T-shirt and my just-tight-enough denims. But what a damp squib!

Dan was wearing a silly hat and kept wanting to talk to me about poetry – he published some terrible verse years ago when he was a student. Sunette wore a long red skirt with a pattern of swallows flying from the ground up to who knows where.

But the reason I need your help is that, in the end, barely 300 people pitched to hear me speak. Me, a guy who pulls easily 50 000 fans to Loftus every Saturday just so they can hear my song Die Blou Bul eet nie van die vloer af nie (The Blue Bull doesn't eat off the floor) when the Bulls play rugby! Me, who fills halls across South Africa whenever I perform! You probably know how popular I am with the ladies, but that is a topic for another time … Please help. – Steve Hofmeyr


Dear Desperate Steve,

You don't need to call me uncle. We're nearly the same age. And we're from the same Afrikaner background. So with the niceties and how's-your-family out of the way, let me focus on the agony part of my job title: Steve, julle maak ons naam gat! (Steve, you are blemishing our name.)

I hate the fact that I have to stand up for an Afrikaner identity I feel uncomfortable with, but because we have a shared history – one I cannot deny – I simply have to say to my fellow South Africans: we are not all like you.

We're not all racists. We don't all wallow in victimhood. We don't all think that the undoubted pain and suffering of some Afrikaners who have been on the receiving end of violent crime is more acute, more special, more painful than that of other South Africans.

We don't accuse fellow South Africans of rape, murder or genocide. Not because we're weak, but because it is simply not true. Get the facts straight!

We have chosen to live here, in this truly astonishing land, with all its problems. We're keen to help to solve those problems. We want our children to grow up here to experience what it is like to be a South African in this most welcoming of societies.

I come from farming stock spanning several generations. I worry about my beloved family on the farm, not because of some imagined "genocide", but because of the way you and those Neanderthals portray us. Not only are you fanning the hatred some people may feel towards us, but you're also perpetuating the stereotype that we're all hate-filled racists. That makes it easier for people to hate back, sometimes violently so. It makes our friends and family more vulnerable.

With that off my chest, can I say to you: we're too old for this shit. Have you ever considered leaving the hate squad of Bridges and Roodt? You can get away from bad poetry and Boere-pop in the process. Have you ever thought of joining the rest of us who want to help to construct a new society?

You are a smart man. You are influential. You are a rock star, dammit. I can only imagine the impact it will have if you joined our side of the fence – you'll get many of your fans to join too. It will be great for your laaities, all our laaities. It will be great for South Africa. Best wishes. – Charles Leonard