Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that’s the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. Let him not be too moved when the birds of his land are singing. Nor give too much of his heart to a mountain or a valley. For fear will rob him if he gives too much.
Alan Paton: Cry, the Beloved Country
The country of my birth, South Africa, is in trouble. For a brief moment South Africans allowed themselves to hope for better when Cyril Ramaphosa replaced Jacob Zuma as president last month. South Africa has often been called the powerhouse of Africa. But not for much longer. Shortly after his inauguration Ramaphosa pledged to expropriate white-owned farms.
On March 1, egged on by the Marxist Economic Freedom Party, the South African parliament passed a proposal to amend Section 25 of the constitution to allow the seizure of land without any financial compensation.
Despite assurances that this is to redress the vast differences in wealth ownership among South Africans, it is nothing short of an attack on white South Africans and a populist policy in its truest sense. Ramaphosa is a tyrannical tycoon, a second Robert Mugabe in the making. He is positioning himself as the new ‘strong man’ of Africa, where compassion and sensibility is discarded in favour of revenge and greed. In 2012, as a shareholder of Lonmin, Ramaphosa showed his true nature by putting profit above the sanctity of human life when he called for the police to use violence against striking miners in Marikana. The police then murdered 34 innocent men.
Ramaphosa seeks to copy Mugabe’s disastrous white farmland seizure as a means to distract from the mess the ANC has made of South Africa. Mugabe expropriated white farmland and gifted it to war veterans and comrades who had no idea how to farm. As a result Zimbabwe, once known as the breadbasket of Africa, rapidly turned into an arid and destitute land. The sad consequences of Mugabe’s Marxist land grab are being conveniently ignored by Ramaphosa.
South Africa’s finances have been downgraded to junk status. With these new plans it risks becoming a rogue state too. Ordinary South Africans, black and white, will become hapless victims of this vindictive policy. What’s next – the expropriation of white-owned homes?
These farms will be stolen by the government and given to favoured cronies. However it is not only white farmers who risk losing their livelihood but also thousands of black farm workers employed by them. No matter what assurances are made by the government, the lack of farming experience of those who take over these stolen farms will accelerate the destruction of the South African economy.
African governments often blame the colonialist bogyman for problems in their countries. Although there is some justification for this, it is more often than not a ploy for dictators to excuse their own conspicuous consumption at the expense of their people. Recent statements by the South African government show this also to be an excuse for stealing land from innocent and hard-working citizens.
Part of the ANC expropriation policy is to return land taken from the indigenous population by Dutch colonists as long ago as 1652. This ludicrous idea shows complete ignorance about history. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors perpetually travelled, searching for food and shelter as the seasons changed. As tribes grew and became more ambitious they would attack each other for resources. The Neolithic agricultural revolution meant humans could change their nomadic lifestyle and live in more permanent settlements. As history attests, settled communities continued to conquer and occupy each other’s land. How far does Ramaphosa want to go back in history? No society has been untouched by the basic human desire to travel, explore and conquer.
I have written before on the appalling racism during the Apartheid era. South Africa risks imposing a second version of this hateful system and this time whites are being targeted. A country divided by race will be plagued by destruction, misery and suffering. Racism is racism no matter what the victim’s skin colour.
Land reform is the battle cry of those still fighting a defunct war against Apartheid. But many white farmers would have had very little to do with Apartheid because they are not old enough. Most belong to the unique Afrikaans culture, an ethnicity centred on their singular language. I wrote my MA thesis on white South African identity. The Afrikaner collective sense of identity is far more strongly defined than that of English-speaking South Africans and they are robustly connected to the land. Farming is very much a traditional Afrikaans activity. Since the early 1990s the strict boundaries and laws enforced by successive Apartheid governments have started to shift and fall apart, only to be replaced by further political turmoil and the vague and unhelpful notion of the ‘rainbow nation’. Rapid societal changes can result in fragmentation, and the most vulnerable risk being scapegoated. The government has made white farmers a symbol of ‘white privilege’ and so have put lives at risk. Last year there were 400 attacks on white farmers, with an average of two murders per week.
South Africa had a bloodless transition from Apartheid to democracy. But with these barbaric attacks on white farmers, bloodletting is now reaching obscene proportions, and it spikes when politicians mention land reform. Very few white farmers have the means to escape this persecution. There are 20,000 farms on the market yet to be sold because of fears that property purchased will be confiscated by the government.
The farmers are stuck defending themselves against an increasingly hostile government. History shows that when a group is targeted because of its race, ethnicity or religion, the fabric of society is forever altered and eventually destroyed. Those who try to stand up for these persecuted white farmers are accused of racism and white supremacy and so are cowed into silence. But silence is consent and we shame ourselves if we do not speak out. Afrikaners, a unique ethnic and cultural group, are in danger of being decimated. They truly are at risk of genocide by those seeking revenge for Apartheid. Cry, the beloved country indeed.