Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Charles Crawford on the Killing of Eugene Terreblanche

From Charles Crawford:
The murder of Eugene Terreblanche has forced into prominence a number of difficult issues for South Africa.

Namely the startling murder rate for 'white' farmers.

And the fact that for all the impressive political reconciliation achieved (or not) in South Africa since apartheid ended, the ANC still enjoys celebrating its success with its war-song "Kill the Boer".

I never met Eugene Terreblanche. But as part of my job in the Embassy in South Africa to go to more exotic parts of the South African political spectrum, I did meet many so-called conservative if not extreme Afrikaners such as Carel Boshoff and Clive Derby-Lewis, who subsequently went to prison for murdering top South African communist/ANC figure Chris Hani in 1993.

Plus on one fine day back in 1990 or thereabouts I went to an outdoor rally for the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) at which Terreblanche appeared on his horse. The event was strangely demure, hundreds of Afrikaner families having neat and tidy picnics as the prelude to Terreblanche's windy oratory.

The AWB and various other such organisations of varying degrees of militancy are always presented as 'far-right', whereas of course they were and are primarily national-socialistic. Far from wanting to exert 'supremacy' over Africans, a strong theme was (and remains) a separate homeland for Afrikaners where they can run their own affairs and preserve their undoubtedly specific culture and religion, within a highly communal context and tight central economic control.

Carel Boshoff has given the greatest thought to how this that this homeland should be achieved in a way obviously not at the expense of South Africa's African majority, to the point of creating a small private Afrikaner enclave called Orania. It has not taken off.

The AWB as led by Terreblanche were a more primitive, blustering and sporadically violent group bent on threatening racial confrontation aimed at partitioning South Africa, but never quite getting round to it (other than a farcical but bloody attempt in 1994 to stop the Bophuthatswana homeland being reincorporated into South Africa).

The harsh reality of South Africa is that Kill the Boer political idiom as a metaphor for 'black' African supremacy is very popular. It was this exuberant militant chanting which led to communist Joe Slovo being publicly humiliated at one of the first ANC rallies after the ANC was unbanned.

Up in Zimbabwe it is precisely this Africanist sentiment which has motivated Mugabe to drive his country into the ground. Better a land racially cleansed of 'white settlers', achieved if necessary at the price of destroying much of the country's agricultural and industrial infrastructure.

South Africa is heading in the same direction, but from a far higher economic altitude and with a shallower glide-path towards eventual disaster. The steady attrition of attacks on white farmers (and the sadistic violence often accompanying them) is just part of that deeper process.

As for Eugene Terreblanche, he achieved notoriety for his vainglorious 'white supremacy', and ended up being hacked to death by obscure workers motivated consciously or otherwise by ideas of lumpen African supremacy.

I wonder if in his final horrible seconds alive he was surprised.