(Remember, creatives are psychotic.)
People have been bugging me to write a post on South Africa ever since I started this blog, more or less, so here you go.
I regard South Africa (SA) as one of the most misunderstood countries in the world, so I’m going to start with the history and try to clear up some potential misconceptions.
Disclaimer: I am not a South Africa scholar. This is what I’ve cobbled together by reading first and second hand accounts on the internet, Wikipedia, talking to friends who’ve lived in SA, etc. Since I’ve never been there myself, there’s always a chance that I’ve trusted the wrong people or come to some incorrect conclusions, but as always, I’ve tried to present an accurate picture.
The most common misconception I run across is that whites arrived recently in SA, conquered and oppressed the natives via apartheid and after years of righteous struggle, the native people of South Africa have finally gotten the right to vote and run their own country.
History, as usual, tells a slightly different story.
The dominant group in South Africa today is the Bantus. Nelson Mandela, for example, was a Bantu.
When the first Europeans arrived at the Cape of Good Hope (later site of Cape Town and most of the economic development of the state of South Africa,) most of the people there were Bushmen, (aka San aka KhoiSan,) who were hunter-gatherers. Not Bantus.
Distribution of ancient paintings and engravings attributed to the San
If you believe that ancestrality determines a person’s right to a country, then the KhoiSan have a right to the Cape, and the Johnny-Come-Latey Bantus do not.
If you haven’t been reading along, you might think that the Bushmen and the Bantus are probably closely related, and that I am merely splitting hairs.
No. The Bantus are more closely related to Koreans, Australian Aborigines, and even Europeans than they are to the Bushmen.
As we’ve discussed before, the Bushmen are one of the world’s most isolated peoples, having split off from the rest of the human population, (or perhaps the rest of the humans split off from them,) 100,000 years or more ago. The Out-of-Africa event only happened 70,000 years ago, so only 70,000 years separates the Bantus from all non-Africans, but 100,000 years separate the Bantus from the San.
So. The original inhabitants of the area, who’d been there for about 100,000 years, were the San. Most of them were hunter-gatherers, which means their population density was really low; much of the area appears to have been uninhabited, given regions with names like “Nomansland”. Some of the Khoi peoples, though, had adopted animal herding.
The Bantus came originally from somewhere up near Nigeria, but by the relevant time period, occupied the north east part of South Africa, which they’d conquered from the San. (The Cape of Good Hope, where the Europeans settled, is in the south west corner. Hardly anyone has ever lived in the north west corner, because it’s desert.)
The first European in the area was Portuguese sailor Bartolomeu Dias, (and, obviously, his crew,) way back in 1488. In 1647, the Dutch built a small fort in the area, and in 1652, the Dutch East India Company (which I wrote about recently,) set up a supply station and fortifications on the Cape. By 1659, the Dutch were producing corn, wine, and babies.
Most of the KhoiSan people were probably killed, either outright by warfare or by diseases they had no resistance to, but I have no numbers and am just speculating. There are still KhoiSan people in SA and neighboring places, so they are not all dead.
By 1800, some of the mixed-race children/descendants of the Dutch and the locals, KhoiSan, former slaves*, and the like decided they’d had enough of the Dutch and migrated northward, establishing Griqualand in an apparently uninhabited area. They migrated around a bit, and eventually Griqualand got moved to the region formerly known as Nomansland.
*The slaves were imported from elsewhere in Africa, since the Dutch considered it a bad idea to enslave the locals.
The British took possession of the Cape during the Napoleonic Wars. They promptly set about outlawing slavery and the Dutch language, so a lot of the Dutch decided to leave, too. By the 1830s, they were leaving by the hundreds, a migration known as the “Great Trek.” (There is some debate about whether outlawing slavery was actually a big deal to the Trekkers, as they tended to be the poorer folks who would have been less likely to own slaves in the first place, but I don’t know anywhere near enough history here to weigh in on the debate.)
The Dutch population by this point also included a lot of Germans, French, etc., and so would be more accurately called Afrikaners. These Trekkers, or Voortrekkers, or Boers, or Trekboers, or Afrikaners, whatever we want to call them.
These Afrikaners are an interesting people, who endured considerable hardship to go live in the middle of nowhere with nothing but what they could carry in small wagons, their family, faith, and a few guns. They trekked toward the north east, until they ran smack into the southern end of the Great Bantu Migration. The Bantus (Zulus) massacred about 500 Boers–men, women, and children–in the middle of the night. Shortly after, approximately 30,000 Zulu soldiers attacked 460 Boers, at the Battle of Blood River. This time the Boers were awake, and since they had guns and the Zulus had pointy sticks, 3,000 Zulus died and 3 Boers were injured. (December, 1836.)
Long story short, the Boers established several small, independent republics up in north east South Africa, the details of which are too complicated for our current discussion, but you may want to remember the names Orange Free State, Transvaal, and Natal.
In 1866, diamonds were discovered on the banks of the Orange River. The diamond-rich territory was eventually awarded to Griqualand, which was subsequently annexed by Britain in 1874. In 1886, gold was found in Transvaal. The British had tried to conquer Transvaal in 1877, but did not succeed until the Second Anglo-Boer War, 1899-1902, which ended with the annexation of both Transvaal and the Orange Free State.
Lots of people were killed, but eventually the British got the upper hand and, having decided they were sick of the Boers, herded them into concentration camps and tried to kill them all:
“This was not the first appearance of internment camps. … But the Boer War concentration camp system was the first time that a whole nation had been systematically targeted, and the first in which some whole regions had been depopulated.
“Eventually, there were a total of 45 tented camps built for Boer internees and 64 for black Africans. Of the 28,000 Boer men captured as prisoners of war, 25,630 were sent overseas. The vast majority of Boers remaining in the local camps were women and children. Over 26,000 women and children were to perish in these concentration camps.
“… 93,940 Boers and 24,457 black Africans were reported to be in “camps of refuge” and the crisis was becoming a catastrophe as the death rates appeared very high, especially among the children.
“A report after the war concluded that 27,927 Boers (of whom 24,074 [50 percent of the Boer child population] were children under 16) had died of starvation, disease and exposure in the concentration camps. In all, about one in four (25 percent) of the Boer inmates, mostly children, died.
“Improvements [however] were much slower in coming to the black camps.” It is thought that about 12 percent of black African inmates died (about 14,154) but the precise number of deaths of black Africans in concentration camps is unknown as little attempt was made to keep any records of the 107,000 black Africans who were interned.” —Wikipedia
“[Hobhouse] describes Lizzie as “a frail, weak little child in desperate need of good care”, who was placed on the lowest rations and, after a month, was moved to the new hospital about 50 kilometres (31 miles) away from the concentration camp, suffering from starvation.
According to Hobhouse, she was treated harshly in the hospital. Unable to speak English, she was labelled an “idiot” by an English-speaking doctor and her nurses, who were unable to understand her. One day she started calling for her mother; a lady went over to comfort her, but “was brusquely interrupted by one of the nurses who told her not to interfere with the child as she was a nuisance.” Lizzie died in 1901 at 7 years of age.”
As a mother, I look at Lizzie and feel like someone has torn my heart out and stomped on it.
To add insult to murder,
“The photo [of Lizzie] was used as propaganda, author Hélène Opperman Lewis states, to convince the British public that Boer children were neglected by their parents. The image was released with the detail that it was taken when van Zyl and her mother entered the camp. Chamberlain was quoted in The Times on 5 March 1902, saying that Lizzy’s mother was prosecuted for mistreatment.
Hobhouse investigated the case and was unable to find any evidence of the case or prosecution of Lizzie’s mother. She located the photographer, a man named Mr. de Klerk, who confirmed that the photograph was taken two months after Lizzie arrived at the camp.”
And people accuse the Afrikaners of being racist.
I count about 62,000 people dead in this war. Certainly it was no WWII, but then, South Africa didn’t have that many people to start with, so percentage wise, it’s pretty significant.
Now, I want to pause and look at some demographic issues that contributed to the Anglo-Boer War. Note that the Boers had been pretty much going along, minding their own business, running their own country, for several decades before this war started. They’d gone through quite a bit of effort to get away from the British, successfully defeated the Zulus (and other tribes,) and weren’t even the worst people in the area.
“But wait,” I hear you saying, “Didn’t the Boers have slaves? Or at least Apartheid?”
I actually don’t remember if they had slaves; if they did, they are still better than the Congolese, who are not only enslaving the Pygmies right now, but also literally eat other humans. As for apartheid, do you think the Zulus were letting their conquered subjects vote? (Or live?)
For the most part, the Boers just wanted to be left the fuck alone–they didn’t conquer the Griquas, they abandoned their colony after the British took it over rather than fight for it, and I don’t think they were even messing with Natal. They just had the bad luck to have gold and diamonds, and the British decided they wanted gold and diamonds.
“In 1866 Erasmus Jacobs discovered diamonds at Kimberley, prompting a diamond rush and a massive influx of foreigners to the borders of the Orange Free State. Then in 1886, an Australian discovered gold in the Witwatersrand area of the South African Republic. Gold made the Transvaal the richest and potentially the most powerful nation in southern Africa; however, the country had neither the manpower nor the industrial base to develop the resource on its own. As a result, the Transvaal reluctantly acquiesced to the immigration of uitlanders (foreigners), mainly from Britain, who came to the Boer region in search of fortune and employment. This resulted in the number of uitlanders in the Transvaal potentially exceeding the number of Boers, and precipitated confrontations between the earlier-arrived Boer settlers and the newer, non-Boer arrivals.” —Wikipedia [Bold mine]
The British then demanded voting rights for their citizens in Transvaal, the Boers realized that they were outnumbered and that letting the Brits vote would result in their country becoming part of the British Empire and so refused, and so the war began.
Once you are a demographic minority, there is absolutely nothing to stop the majority from herding you into concentration camps and murdering you and your children, except for how much they pity you.
And nobody pities you, my friend.
At any rate, South Africa was thus forged from the Cape Colony, Natal, the Orange Free State, and Transvaal. (I still don’t know why Lesotho is independent. Perhaps no diamonds, or maybe just the fact that it’s on top of some mountains.) The British instituted the system of apartheid, perhaps because they felt like it, perhaps because they felt like making some concessions to the conquered Afrikaners.
SA became an independent country again in 1960. In 1966, UN resolution 2202 A (XXI) declared apartheid “A Crime Against Humanity.” (Of course, the UN also criticized the Vietnamese for kicking the Khmer Rouge out of Cambodia and decided to let the deposed Khmer Rouge gov’t continue holding its seat in the UN despite being one of the most genocidal regimes the earth has ever seen, so who gives a shit what the UN thinks?)
Deaths under apartheid:
“By mid-1987 the Human Rights Commission knew of at least 140 political assassinations in the country, while about 200 people died at the hands of South African agents in neighbouring states. The exact numbers of all the victims may never be known. …
“Between 1960 and 1994, according to statistics from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Inkatha Freedom Party was responsible for 4,500 deaths, South African Police 2,700, and the ANC about 1,300.” —Wikipedia
3,100+ murders attributed to the SA government, and 5,800 murders attributed to the anti-apartheid fighters.
The ANC (African National Congress,) Nelson Mandela’s party, is a communist organization that received direct funding and training by the Soviet Union. (I strongly suspect that the vast majority of anti-colonialist movements were funded by the Soviets, as colonialism has strong capitalist ties, eg, the Dutch East India Company, and so Communism morphed into an anti-colonialist ideology by the 50s or 60s.)
The ANC engaged in a brutal execution method called necklacing:
Moloko said her sister was burned to death with a tire around her neck while attending the funeral of one of the youths. Her body had been scorched by fire and some broken pieces of glass had been inserted into her vagina, Moloko told the committee. Moloko added that a big rock had been thrown on her face after she had been killed.” —wikipedia
As you know, nothing makes your country productive like electing communists who make their points by shoving broken glass into little girls’ vaginas.
Inkatha seems a little more into tribal pride and less communist; they’ve recently lost a bunch of parliamentary seats to the explicitly communist Economic Freedom Fighters. The EFF’s leader, Julius Malema, is a lovely person who admires Mugabe, advocates Mugabe-style seizure of mines and other economic resources in SA, and likes to lead the SA parliament in rousing choruses of “Shoot the Boer,” an old anti-apartheid war song.
SA president Jacob Zuma, a guy who gets 1.2 million pounds per year to support his four wives, is also fond “Shoot the Boer”:
“We are going to shoot them with machine guns, they are going to run… The cabinet will shoot them, with the machine gun… Shoot the Boer, we are going to hit them, they are going to run.”
“Cape Town – Social media buzzed on Monday over a picture of a banner allegedly shown at the Economic Freedom Fighter (EFF) launch in Marikana.
A picture showing a red banner with the words “A revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate” was quickly shared on various social networks on Monday.
Another picture shows a banner saying “Honeymoon is over for white people in South Africa”.
“I also saw ‘we need to kill them like they killed us’ banners yesterday,” User Qaanitah Hunter said in a Tweet.”
From the second PDF:
“Over 3,000 white farmers have been murdered since the end of apartheid, according to Genocide Watch. Twenty years ago, there were 60,000 farmers. Today there are 30,000.
On August 8, two men were convicted of killing a 77-year-old man and his wife on their farm in Somerset. The husband was hacked to pieces. The wife was tied up, thrown in a freezer, and buried in frozen meat. She suffocated to death.
According to the police, the motivation was robbery.
On August 11, four men broke into 57-year-old Vivien Ponté’s home. She was tied to her bed, raped and lit on fire. Her house was ransacked, but it is unclear if anything was stolen.
Just another robbery gone bad.
On August 15, an 83-year-old Volksrust woman was assaulted, raped and left for dead, lying naked on the floor.
The list of “robberies” goes on. …
Beginning in 2003, the government began disbanding the rural commando units used to protect the remote farming communities that did not have police protection. The government said the commandos were unconstitutional and promised special police units to replace them. In 2008, the last commando unit was disbanded.
To this day, the special police forces still haven’t arrived.
Then in 2010, the government passed gun-control laws mandating that all guns be re-registered. In the process of registration, more than half the applicants were turned down and their weapons were seized.”
Various sources estimate the murder rate of SA farmers at about 100 per 100,000.
But you know, the Afrikaners are the racists.
Oh, let me include a bit from the Wikipedia page on Malema:
“Malema visited Zimbabwe in October 2012… “He said the youths in South Africa were calling for whites to surrender land and minerals resources they hold because when they came from Europe they did not carry any land into South Africa.”
“‘What we are asking is for them to surrender our minerals because they did not come with any minerals. We want that land and those minerals for free because they never paid for those minerals.’
“Malema told the youth he was in Zimbabwe to gain inspiration and wisdom, so that when he returned home he could “double the spirit of fighting against imperialist forces”. He called on black South Africans to have as many children as possible so as to increase dominance of ‘our ideas’ in the world at large and help catalyze world revolution.
“‘We want to see many kids, why? Because we must reproduce ourselves. For our ideas to be sustainable, we have to reproduce ourselves. In the whole of Africa, we are not more than one billion and the world has seven billion people. In Africa we have not more than one billion people… facing more than six billion. We have to be half of that so that our ideas can dominate. I know that in some instances size does not matter… but when it comes to a revolution, size matters.‘” (bold mine)
Malema is descended from Bantus, so he is no more entitled to the mines than anyone else is, and certainly no one was mining those minerals before the Boers and English got there. If they were precious to Malema’s people, they would have been mining them, but they weren’t.
This is getting long, so I am going to continue with Part 2 tomorrow.