Bitter Afrikaners go north to set up white-only territory

A 'Boer Republic' is being established this weekend just 50 miles east of Pretoria. Its founders - 200 Afrikaner families - say it is their right to go it alone. The blacks they evicted disagree. Now, the beleaguered whites once again circle the wagon trains.

Wind and heavy drizzle batter the headstone in the middle of the cemetery. In Afrikaans, T and B Steyn have inscribed "Here lies our dear Ella, born 12 January 1898, died 18 December 1901 in the concentration camp at Balmoral."

Around Ella's tiny grave are hundreds of others - mostly without stones - for the women and children who perished in the camp set up by the British during the Boer war just beyond the dirt road. More than 26,000 Afrikaners, mainly women and children, perished in such camps.

Apart from Ella, the bodies and names are largely unmatched and victims share the memorial engraved with their names at the entrance gate. The least fortunate are piled in mass graves at the far corner of the cemetery; history will never remember their names.

The concentration camps are etched on the consciousness of every Afrikaner, marking an episode of appalling victimisation of a people who would later become racial oppressors.

This weekend the graveyard finds itself at the heart of a new "Boer Republic" on land jointly purchased by 200 Afrikaner families from which black people will be banned. It will be governed by the old, austere, Calvinist principles which in the 19th century sent the fiercely independent Afrikaners trekking in wagon trains from the Cape into the wild interior to escape British rule.

Since the coming of black majority rule in 1994, deposed Afrikaners have begun to trek again, heading north into Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique, setting up farms and Boer-only communities. At home, 600 have trekked into the northern Karoo to found Orania, whose patron saint is Hendrik Verwoerd, the reviled architect of apartheid, and where blacks are so unwelcome that whites prefer to clean their own streets.

Balmoral is the most bizarre exercise in Afrikaner exclusivity so far. For these trekkers - shareholders in the new Boere Republiek Kooperatief Beperk (Boer Republic Co-operative Ltd) - have barely left the mainstream to circle the wagons. The republic - 470 acres of farmland - lies just off a main motorway, 50 miles east of Pretoria.

It is apt that the graveyard should lie at its centre, for once again Afrikaners feel victimised and under attack. "The intention of this regime is to destroy us," said Andries Campher, 53, a towering farmer with rough, shovel-sized hands, and one of the founders. "We just want to survive financially as a group, with our own identity still intact." The alternative, he insists, is annihilation.

Mr Campher complains about affirmative action for blacks and rising white unemployment. Christian values, he says, are being eroded in schools where educational standards are plummeting and Afrikaans is no longer spoken. To stop the rot Boers must build their own communities, businesses, homes and schools; and govern once again, albeit in a miniature kingdom.

Hopes have evaporated that the South African government will hand over land for a Volkstaat. And provided you are white and Afrikaner the Balmoral "republic" offers democracy. Every investor owns the same share and has an equal say in government. Although not all of the 200 investors will live on the land, some will begin laying the foundations for new homes this weekend. The group intends to buy more land later.

And land is the thorny issue. For the new republic has already evicted local black people. According to Mr Campher, farm workers employed by the previous owner were told that their labour was no longer needed. He claims they hung around for a while but eventually disappeared.

Blacks have told another story. One weeping woman says that the Boers conducted a campaign of terror and intimidation, forcing her off the land she was born on.

"That's rubbish," said Mr Campher. "They just moved on. I never spoke to them personally. They were nothing to me then and they are nothing to me now." New legislation which would have strengthened black workers' rights to tenure does not come into effect for another few months. In recent months farmers all over South Africa have been evicting blacks before the new laws are introduced. Mr Campher says he was well aware that the legislation was coming.

The African National Congress says that the Boer Republic Co-operative has operated lawfully. But the Pan Africanist Congress says the ANC is failing to grasp the land issue and is allowing Afrikaners to grab land as if it was still the 19th century.

Fritz Meyer, another "republic" founder, insists that the Afrikaner families are simply setting up a business and that racism plays no part. But the founders clearly feel they are the true defenders of the Volk. Yesterday, they petitioned the British High Commission in Pretoria for an apology for the concentration camp deaths. The vast majority of Afrikaners who are trying to find their place inside, not outside, the new South Africa are seen by some as traitors.

As Mr Campher conducted a tour of the cemetery, two middle-aged Afrikaners from nearby Witbank looked on. One rolled his eyes in disbelief. "This republic is just not viable," he said. His friend says the new South Africa is certainly tougher. Before the political changes he was never out of work. He has just spent six months unemployed.

But he has an interesting take on the old wagon metaphor. "It will do no good if the oxen pulling the wagon go in opposite directions," he said. "All South Africans must pull together now." He shrugged, without a hint of bitterness.

ERROR IN POPULATION

Three months ago South Africa was shocked to discover its population was only 38 million, four million less than previously thought. Calculations were apparently confused by the previous regime's over-estimate of black fertility rates.

Of the 38 million, 77 per cent are classified black, 12 per cent white, 9 per cent coloured (mixed race) and 2 per cent Asian. Roughly 60 per cent - 2.6 million - of white South Africans are Afrikaners, though their language Afrikaans is the third most spoken in the country after Zulu (22 per cent) and Xhosa (18 per cent).

Afrikaans is also far more common than English as a second language yet English, must to the ire of Afrikaners, is increasingly being adopted as the official "neutral" language of new South Africa.

Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth gamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game