Saturday, November 3, 2012

Being born an Afrikaner - or Boer - in South Africa.


Boer War Map.

This is how  Sir ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE -the author of "Sherlock Holmes" -described the Boer Warriors during the Boer War.
"Take a community of Dutchmen of the type of those who defended
themselves for fifty years against all the power of Spain at a time
when Spain was the greatest power in the world. Intermix with them
a strain of those inflexible French Huguenots who gave up home and
fortune and left their country for ever at the time of the
revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The product must obviously be
one of the most rugged, virile, unconquerable races ever seen upon
earth. Take this formidable people and train them for seven
generations in constant warfare against savage men and ferocious
beasts, in circumstances under which no weakling could survive,
place them so that they acquire exceptional skill with weapons and
in horsemanship, give them a country which is eminently suited to
the tactics of the huntsman, the marksman, and the rider. Then,
finally, put a finer temper upon their military qualities by a dour
fatalistic Old Testament religion and an ardent and consuming
patriotism. Combine all these qualities and all these impulses in
one individual, and you have the modern Boer-or Afrikaner -the most formidable
antagonist who ever crossed the path of Imperial Britain. Our
military history has largely consisted in our conflicts with
France, but Napoleon and all his veterans have never treated us so
roughly as these hard-bitten farmers with their ancient theology
and their inconveniently modern rifles".

Boer Guerrilla fighters during the Boer War.

I was born in South Africa  as an Afrikaner or "Boer" .
Today there are about 3.3 million Afrikaners in the world. 
My father was from German stock and my mother from  Dutch background.
My Schickerling  ancestor arrived in South Africa in 1773. My mother's  De Beer ancestor arrived even earlier at the Cape of Good Hope -in 1699.
We spoke Afrikaans at home that was a language that developed from Dutch, German and Malay.
We went to the Dutch Reformed Church and  were very proud of our heritage. We were a big family and I had a lot of uncles aunts and cousins from both sides.

Johannesburg - South Africa
The word "Boer" means farmer and most of the Afrikaners were farmers and lived in the country. My father was in business for himself so we grew up in Johannesburg the "city of gold". All his brothers were farmers. My mother grew up in a town so her brothers were in business .We experienced both farm and city life because of this. We attended  Afrikaans medium schools but we were taught English as well as German and Latin .I was born in a suburb that had a lot of English speaking South Africans living there, so I grew up speaking both languages. My parents had a few English speaking friends but mostly we mixed with other Afrikaners .Later we moved to a mostly Afrikaans neighborhood and I spoke English less .My music teacher, Mrs Perkins, was English and when we went to the store we had to speak  English, as many shops were run by immigrants who could not speak Afrikaans.
  We were proud to be Afrikaners and very proud of our European heritage. We were the white tribe of Africa but had very little connection with Africa. Our interests were very Eurocentric and we were taught European languages and culture.

Johannesburg Symphony Orchestra

The SABC or  South African Broadcasting Corporation's Afrikaans station played opera and symphonic music and radio theater on Friday evenings was a big event. Works of Afrikaans and European authors were performed by Afrikaans actors that became house hold names. Opera and Theater was sponsored by the State in all the four provinces of South Africa. Afrikaans business men like Anton Rupert  en Jan Marais started to establish new companies like Rembrandt and Trust Bank , and became important players in South African business community that was dominated by Jewish and English speaking South Africans.  According to his biography, Rupert's business career spanned over sixty years. He started his global empire with a personal investment of just ₤10 in 1941   and was named on the Forbes  list of 500 wealthiest families worldwide. 1988 he formed Richemont that  owns such luxury brands as  Cartier, Alfred Dunhill, Piaget en Montblanc . At the time of his death in 2006 his assets were estimated at $1.7 billion.

Cape Town -South Africa.

"Boer Family on Sunday Evening"
1885 sketch by German artist Heinrich Egersdörfer. 

It has been a hard long road for the Afrikaners since they arrived on the southern point of South Africa in 1652 . The colony started out as a half way house for the Dutch ships on their way to Asia to stop off and pick up fresh water and food. In 1806 it became a British Colony .The Boers wanted freedom from British rule and moved north into Africa and established the Orange Free State and the Transvaal .They were left in peace until gold and diamonds were discovered and all of a sudden Britain became very interested in these two barren Boer Republics.

 Boer War

Britain declared war on the Boer Republics .This resulted in the BOER  WAR of 1899-1902.
The atrocities of this war is well know and in 1902 the Boers lost the war against the British Realm and the British took over the gold and diamond mines of South Africa.

My paternal grandfather was in the concentration camp of the Orange River with his mother and siblings .On my mothers side of the family, my grandmother's family  was sent to Portugal by the Mozambique Government when the British asked for the Boers , who fled to Lourenco Marques, to be handed over.
 After the war Afrikaans Nationalism was outlawed by the British Government.If my grandparent's generation spoke Afrikaans at school a sign with DONKEY written on it, was hung around their necks and they had to stand in the corner and wear the sign for the day.

In 1910 the Union of South Africa was established  but it was still dominated by the British.
 In 1948 the Nationalist Party won the election and for the first time in almost 50 years and  the Afrikaner  was in control of its destiny once again since the Boer War .Afrikaans became one of the official languages of the country. The most unfortunate fall out of all this was that the Africans living in South Africa were forgotten and left out .Contrary to the believe that Africans were  hated in South Africa, they were very much part of the multicultural community in South Africa but the Nationalist Government concentrated on getting the rights of the Afrikaners established once again.
 We as Europeans, lived in Africa as a minority and had very little in common with the African culture. The Africans lived  according to their own culture and customs in Africa.
It was very foreign to us as Eurocentric people ,but the African culture was not hated, it was just very different from ours.Certain apartheid laws that were  first instituted by the British Government to save the white tribe of Africa- were reinforced during this time .

Wikipedia -Apartheid laws.

"Although apartheid as a comprehensive legislative project truly began after the National Party came into power in 1948, many of these statutes were preceded by the laws of the previous British and Afrikaner administrations in South Africa's provinces. An early example is the Glen Grey Act  , passed in 1894 in Cape Colony, and which had the effect of diminishing the land rights of Africans in scheduled areas"

South Africa is home to nine different African tribes that speak nine different languages.
 Dr. Verwoerd's idea for South Africa was to divide the country into separate states - or  homelands- like  Europe .The canton system in Switzerland worked with Italian, French and German Swiss living apart but together. India  was also  separated into India and Pakistan for Hindus and Muslims to live in their own states. This "separation of South Africa" was perceived by the world - and specially America who had their own racial problems -as racism, and it was very much opposed .

Apartheid had to end and in 1994 President  F.W. de Klerk negotiated with Nelson Mandela and the ANC. In an election Nelson Mandela became the first African President of South Africa.

President Nelson Mandela

The ANC has been in power sine 1994 in South Africa  ,almost 19 years now.
After President Mandela, Thabo Mbeki became  President and now Jacob Zuma is the President of South Africa.

Unfortunately the white tribe of Africa is in danger  after being there for more that 300 years.
It has become apartheid all over again- even if their minority rights are protected by the South Africa Constitution. The Afrikaner- or Boer- has been vilified  as Nazis and racists.
 America used South Africa to redirect the focus of their own racial problems .It became a matter of "Look how bad those white South Africans are -we Americans are not that bad."
When I arrived in the USA in 1983 people would leave a  dinner party when they found out I was a South African .I was insulted in stores  and bars when some Americans  heard I was from South Africa. We were made out as the  lowest of low . America has not given America back to the Native Americans and  neither has Australians given their country back to the Aborigine. The European South Africans that has been in Africa  for just as long-but they did just that. The pay back for this has been that more that 3,000 farmers have being murdered on their  farms .The South African Government is turning a blind eye to this problem .It  has been brought up at the World Court in The Hague, but so far no much has been done .The whole issue has been ignored in the American press. Will the Afrikaner survive this onslaught?
The ANC Goverment of South Africa has been plagued with such corruption that the power plants can not supply enough power to the country .Billions of Rands where pilfered by the Zuma and Gupta (from India) families.The infrastructure of the county is collapsing ,schooling is suffering .To try and save the country Cyril Ramaphosa was elected  President in 2018.
We are now in 2020 and not much has changed. With the Covit 19 virus the Government imported doctors from Cuba at  great expense while South Africa doctors  were ignored. The  economy are close to collapsing and people go hungry. Ramaphosa is looking to Russia and China to save them .


President Paul Kruger -President of the Transvaal during the Boer War .
The Gold Kruger Rand is named after him.
Last European -and first African Presidents of South Africa .  
President P.W  de Klerk + President Nelson Mandela.

Jan Smuts
 Prime Minister of South Africa and one of the founders of the United Nations

Dr. Christiaan Barnard
Performed the first heart transplant at the Groote Schuur Hospital Cape Town in 1967

Dr. Anton Rupert
Business. Dunhill + Cartier

Retief Goosen ( with Ernie Else) 
International Golfers

Charlize Theron
 Oscar winning actress

Candice Swanepoel -
International model.

 Behati  Prinsloo- 
 International Model 

International Opera Stars;-

Mimi Coertse-Vienna State Opera.

Johan Botha ( Tenor) + Renee Fleming - Metropolitan Opera.

Deon van der Walt- (Tenor)

Marita Napier- Soprano - La Scala

Elza van den Heever. Soprano. Metropolitan Opera.

Kobie van Rensburg. Tenor. Metropolitan Opera

 Emma Renzi - Soprano - La Scala

Gerard Korsten - Conductor

Sir Laurens van der Post
Confident of Prince Charles and godfather to Prince William

Pierneef- Artist



Cecil John Rhodes- Statesman

Harry Oppenheimer-Anglo American and De Beer

Sol Kerzner- International Business

Charlene- Princess of Monaco

Mark Shuttelworth- First South African in space 

Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu

Gary Player -International Golfer

Lucky Dube- Musician 

Athol Fugard- Author

Nadine Gordimer-Author

Alan Patton-Author

Alice Krige-Actress

Pretty Yende. Soprano -Metropolitan Opera

Elizabeth Connell -Soprano

 Colin Lee -Tenor

Amanda Eschelaz - Soprano

Ernie Else -International Golfer

Janet Suzman- Actress

Miriam Makeba- Singer

Olive Schreiner- Author

Oscar Pistorius -Disabled Athlete

Dave Matthew- Musician

Roger Federer- South Africa mother.

Johnny Clegg- Musician

William Kentridge-Artist

Juliet Prowse- Hollywood Actress/Dancer

Hugh Masekela -Musician

Vladimir Trechikoff- Artist

Elon Musk CEO of Tesla.


  1. Hi Hank, thanks for this. What worries me is where are the men of fame and noble character to stand up in the midst of all the world and South Africa's problems. On a positive note, my project is part of a global accelerator to address porverty