— The Rumours of my demise are Highly Exaggerated
— I have neglected my blog over the past two months for two reasons. Firstly, I have been totally consumed by matters relating to the Western Cape Option that I presented in the previous article of May 2019. Secondly, I have taken a break that took me to the Southeastern United States. I would like to share two little events that took place on that trip.
The first relates to who we are as non-Ba’Ntu South Africans and the second relates to whether the situation in South Africa is entering the general awareness of Americans. Always remember, the ANC came to power because of awareness about South African matters in the USA from 1984 to 1994. The instigators of that awareness were Desmond Tutu and Randall Robinson; mostly the latter. They engineered all the pressure on the country and the withdrawal of its international loan and credit facilities. That is what pushed FW de Klerk to take the steps he did in 1990. After 1994, Americans lost interest – the collective American attention span is, unfortunately, almost criminally short.
At the National Air & Space Museum
We had just finished going through the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum (picture below). Desperate to avoid the worst of the heat, we got two seats at a table in the Museum’s cafeteria. At one point my wife got up to go and buy an ice cream, and I turned to talk to the gentleman sitting next to me. His wife was across the table from him.
He was from Mississippi and Louisiana and his wife was from New Orleans proper. I asked her whether that meant that she was specifically from across Lake Pontchartrain. She smiled and confirmed, adding that the husband may claim to be from Louisiana, but that does not allow him to say he is from New Orleans. He turned out to be a US Army veteran.
They asked me where we were from and I explained that we were from Vancouver in Canada. She got the classic incredulous expression on her face and so I explained that we’d been living in Vancouver for 19 years, and were originally from South Africa. And then I added with a smile, “So, at this table I am the African American and you are Black Americans. You are not allowed to steal my title!”
Their faces lit up, and a conversation followed about the US, South Africa, Racism in the US, etc. In the process, the husband explained how, when he was a kid, the Ku Klux Klan held a gathering in full regalia on their school grounds and no one in authority at the school seemed to think anything of it. She explained how she reads White folks in America. For my part, I explained the origin of the White folks in SA, and told them that, in South Africa, it is the White folks who have the slave ancestors, not the Black Ba’Ntu South Africans, some of whom, such as the amaXhosa, had enslaved other Black South Africans in the past.
When I told them about my ancestor Isabella van Angola, the discussion turned to Genealogy and DNA. Both husband and wife whipped out their cell phones and showed me their DNA maps. He had Angolan ancestry and she had Mozambican, and also Nordic. I explained about the Portuguese Slave Trade and how they never took slaves in what is now South Africa. I explained that there is pretty much no such thing as an Afrikaner without slave ancestry; usually Indian or Indonesian, but sometimes African, myself being an example. I explained how my wife’s Basson Stammutter, Angela van Bengale, was an Indian slave who was manumitted and died a rich woman with several slaves of her own. In the end, the conversation went on for close on 90 minutes. We could not get enough of one another’s company.
We need to talk
I maintain that Americans with “black” skins are just that, namely Black Americans, they are not African-Americans. They have little to do with Africa other than an ancestor as far back as my Isabella van Angola. However, I was born in Africa and live on the continent of America, making me the African-American in the room. Every Black American I have ever spoken to about this has very much appreciated me making that distinction. They do not wish to be “hyphenated” based on skin colour, and I respect that. I also resent it that Liberal White Americans have sentenced my folks to death for the sins their own great-grandparents committed and which mine never did. A guilty conscience is a terrible thing.
In the above conversation lies a message for South Africans. If I as Afrikaner can have this conversation with a Black American family in the very heart of the United States, a few hundred yards from the White House, then pray tell, what makes it so difficult to have that conversation in South Africa? White and Brown/Coloured folks in SA who do not see each other as having common ancestors, need to reflect on this, preferably with the Bible and a copy of their family genealogy in their hands. They need to do this before they sentence their innocent children to a lingering isolationist death because of their prejudice, bullheaded denial of the truth, and inability to move on from an unjust past. If they do not, the world will reject them as sure as I am alive, and by now they have surely already seen what that means.
The Declaration of Independence
When we left the Museum building, the temperature outside was 38ºC— so hot and so humid that the crows were in a terrible state, and the humans not much better. I thought I should digitally immortalize a desperately distressed Washington crow that was stumbling about haphazardly on the ground. With what seemed like its last ounce of energy, it fluttered awkwardly onto the lowest branch of a tree (below). There it panted for dear life with drooping wings. So warm dat die kraaie in die koelte gaap .
So we rushed to the National Archives (below) to see the Declaration of Independence, which I regard, beyond the Bible, as being the primary document defining Western civilization — a document that guides my own thinking. It is a marvel of human expression. South Africans can surely take their lead from the famous Preamble to that key document:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
At the Waterfall
We flew from Washington to Charlotte, North Carolina, and rented a car. From Charlotte we made our way to Asheville in the Smoky Mountains (below), where we spent the night.
The following day we drove along the Blue Ridge Parkway through beautiful forests with spectacular views over the never-ending mountains trailing off to the horizon. Eventually we turned south onto a local but popular route and got to the Looking Glass Waterfall (below). Cars were parked along the road for around a kilometre and we had to walk back quite a distance for a view of the falls.
I started chatting with a gentleman roughly my own age, commenting about the falls. He asked me where I was from and I told him “Vancouver, Canada”. He then asked about my accent and I told him that I was born in South Africa. Out of the blue he stated, “I’m very unhappy about the way White farmers are being murdered in South Africa. That is just plain terrible and we hear nothing about that on our TV. But, then again, I gave up on our US News Media years ago.”
So, is the truth getting to Americans?
If a single gentleman at a waterfall in North Carolina is anything to go by, then “Yes, but painfully slowly“, and distinctly DESPITE their Formal News Media.
— Harry Booyens