Pumza Fihlani, journalist employed by the BBC
I’m writing this letter in English even though I know that you speak fluent Afrikaans, unlike many who will read this letter, including your employers at the BBC.
During your stay in Orania, you and your colleagues from the BBC, including Zimbabwean journalist Stanley Kwenda, regularly dined at my restaurant. You were served by white people – Afrikaners to be more precise. I myself even served you and assisted my staff in washing your dishes while you were sipping drinks like a lady of leisure on my veranda.
You enjoyed exactly the same level of service that all my patrons, regardless of race, would receive. Yet, in your article titled Inside South Africa’s whites-only town of Orania published on the BBC website on 6 October 2014, you say that “the spirit of apartheid lives on” in Orania.
Hang on, come again?!
I find this statement completely absurd seeing that back in the day blacks, like Stanley and yourself, weren’t even allowed to use the same entrances, buses, benches etc. than whites, let alone getting served alcohol and food by whites in white owned restaurants. In fact, had apartheid lived on in Orania as you claim it does, you wouldn’t even have been allowed to set foot in my restaurant as a client.
You wouldn’t have been allowed to stay at the hotel you did, nor use the bathrooms you did for that matter. But according to what you wrote in your article, apartheid lives on in Orania. Bizarre.
You go on to say that you didn’t see any other black people in town. Did the Karoo sun blind you perhaps? We see and serve black and coloured people every day in Orania. They use our services and labour, exactly as you did.
Seeing that you clearly can’t be accused of being a guardian of the truth, I would like to share a simple truth with you. In the 4 years that I’ve lived in Orania I have never witnessed racial intolerance or violence, while in sharp contrast, I nearly grew accustomed to it in Gauteng – coming from both sides of the fence.
If you wanted to write an article on racism, you could’ve saved the BBC a lot of money by simply heading down to any of the hundreds of “black only” illegal shebeens littered across Joburg and asked the punters there what they think about the Afrikaners.
In your article you refer to both “Mr. Boshoff Sr.” and “Mr. Verwoerd”. Either you didn’t research these individuals or you deliberately refused to use their correct titles of Prof. and Dr. respectively.
Suffice to say that Prof. Boshoff, one of Orania’s founding fathers, was a missionary in Soweto during the heyday of apartheid and Dr. Verwoerd, the so called architect of apartheid, was the first white leader in Africa’s history to give black people fertile land of their own to govern as they deem fit, to build schools, universities and hospitals for black people and even invest millions (literally) of white tax payer money in black business and enterprise.
You say that Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) was introduced to encourage more black participation in business. It’s obvious that you’re trying to make BEE sound like a noble cause to your western audience, while in fact it is nothing more than a racist and biased scheme privileging a select few black “tenderpreneurs” and costing South Africa billions in loss in revenue since it has been introduced by the largely corrupt ANC government.
Listen, I’m an entrepreneur. I own many successful businesses that I started from scratch. I say that one doesn’t need to be empowered to participate in business, one must simply get an idea then go out and buy something for a rand and sell it for two. This in itself is encouragement enough.
No wonder why the vast majority of BEE and state run projects have failed so miserably or have become so totally corrupt and stripped of cash flow that the state, itself completely inept in running its own affairs, has to bail them out with tax payer money year after year.
Yet you criticize Dr. Verwoerd’s policies, which resulted in an average GDP growth rate of nearly 7%, while unemployment (black and white) was down to only 3%. Currently South Africa’s GDP growth rate stands at under 2% and unemployment stands at 25%. These are facts you simply cannot swindle your readers out of.
There’s no denying that you’re an intelligent woman. It just baffles me that you haven’t asked yourself how a nation can ever create sustained wealth and success if it relies on the state to constantly empower it by taking from a minority in the hope of the majority accomplishing something. The results are so poor because the racially defined socialist system by which South Africa is governed is all wrong.
The ANC has ruled South Africa for 20 years now. You state that South Africa is considered to be one of the most violent societies in the world, with one of the highest murder rates. This is factually correct. Also factually correct is that the ANC is democratically elected by your people, i.e. the black majority.
No wonder why Afrikaners like myself have become disillusioned with your country. Less than 1% of Afrikaners vote for the ANC. We’re a small minority that is entirely capable of running our own affairs, as demonstrated by the above-mentioned statistics of the Verwoerd-era and current growth in Orania. We clearly do not want, nor need your government to run our society.
It therefore comes as no surprise to me that more and more Afrikaners want out of your New South Africa and take up the call of Orania: our own land, our own labour and own rule. Don’t blame us for not wanting to dance with your nation, blame the system you so highly rate, you struggled for and obviously identify with. In the end, we’ll dance with whom we wish.
You and I discussed journalist integrity, objectivity and the media’s responsibility to uphold the truth. Your article is strewn with false information and subjective stereotyping, despite us having invited you in and making you part of our conversations. You joked and laughed with us, the whole time being fully aware of your intention to brand us according to your fallacious image of the Afrikaner.
The Afrikaner renaissance is just getting started from its core in Orania. It is based on principles of order, creativity, intellect, merit and productivity – those traditional western values that we in Orania uphold and out of which the modern free market economy and fundamental liberty was born. Had these concepts not been foreign to you, as they seem to be to so many of your fellow South Africans, you would’ve recognised them in Orania as they are in plain sight for all to see. Your article is proof that you are simply trained to think in terms of black and white – nothing more, nothing less.
Don’t expect my hospitality ever again. You being black has nothing to do with it, rather the fact that you are a sensationalist journalist that gets a kick out of spreading your misrepresented and flawed views to the world from your wee little desk at the BBC. The shame, it seems, is on you.
Ps. Note the correct spelling of the above.