The Newcastillian – Online Daily News, as a patriotic South African Media House, will be interviewing a variety of extraordinary South Africans over the course of the next few months. Through this series of interviews, we hope to promote and educate the collection of our various cultures, on who each other is.
However, this time from the “horse’s mouth” and not the ill-constructed opinions which, through the years have become distorted. Seeing tools meant for good, such as social media and the internet, being colossal drivers of negative or simply put, incorrect information about different South African cultures.
The hope is to see more people embrace the truths about our rainbow nation and remember, or adversely, learn for the first time who we all are. As Imam Ali (599 AD -661 AD) famously said, “Knowledge is Power”. Therefore, let us educate ourselves and evolve our understanding of one another through the effectiveness and power of digital communication, in a palatable and respectful forum.
Looking at one of the truly South African cultures, the proud Afrikaans people, we remember that this culture was birthed in South Africa and is only found here, under African skies, apart from those who left and now tot green and gold the world over.
Making up approximately 13.5% of the South African population, the Afrikaans people are more than a small community within our beloved country. These historical and interesting people are not only deeply embedded within SA’s history but are one of the original cultures.
On the surface and known stereotypically around the world for farming, biltong, braaivleis, and an expressive language, when digging deeper you discover a treasure trove of characteristics, traditions, food and ways of life, which, due to them being age-old, are now intimately entwined in so many other South African cultures.
With their story deeply entrenched within South Africa’s past, the Afrikaans people’s history began with the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck from the Netherlands way back in 1652. Then, with the arrival of other Europeans, such as the French Huguenot and the British Settlers, the Afrikaans culture began to flourish.
According to J.A. Heese and C. Pama, by 1867 the ‘Afrikaners’ constituted a mixture of:
- Dutch (34, 8%)
- Germans (33, 7%)
- French (13, 2%)
- People of colour (7%)
- British (5, 2%)
- Unknown origin (3, 5%)
- Other Europeans (2, 6%)
This saw the birth of an immensely unique culture. A culture created in unity as noted by the massively inclusive demographic of people who formed and gave it life.
Johan Roos, Johann Marais, Franco Kriek and Leon Nel are proud Afrikaans men who embrace their rich heritage on a daily basis through their work, family, faith and the very organisations which they belong to. This meant that the Newcastillian – Online Daily News could obtain inside, informative information for you our loyal readers.
Through misinformation over the years, the Afrikaans people have often been put in a box, facing horrible generalisations. Seeing them being painted as racist or arrogant.
Dedicated to their heritage, how do these men feel about these misconstrued generalisations?
As with any group of people of all races, Leon explains there are a handful of bad apples. “But I think it is unfair to label everyone under the same banner.”
Adding to this, Johan Roos emphasises that he is exceptionally proud to be Afrikaans, as for the generalisations against the Afrikaans people, he agrees with Franco in that, it is illogical to paint everyone with the same brush. He stresses, that Afrikaners would rather work together with others and build than live in hatred.
“As a member of the Rapportryers, we hold integrity and loyalty in high regard. Also, we live according to strong Christian values. There are a lot of misconceptions, but we have sent strong messages to those in government, we are not going to stop living in South Africa, we are going to stand by our morals and values and we will continue passing it onto our children.”
As these words lay testament to the pride which Afrikaans people hold, Franco says when looking at the misconceptions around the Afrikaans people, he is reminded of his army days. “We were told in the army, that if one messes up, we are all in trouble, this is unfortunate in today’s times. We must not be brushed with the same comb.”
Joining in, Johann says it is unfortunate, as the Afrikaans people want nothing more but to live in harmony. “We are a hospitable culture and a nation which likes to build. We would rather work and live in peace, than face conflict.”
When it comes to the misconception of arrogant, the four men laugh heartily. It seems this misconception stems from a simple misunderstanding.
Clearing up this cultural difference, Johann states, this misconception stems from the fact that Afrikaans people are extremely straight forward, whereby people do not mince their words. And affirms is not meant to be taken harshly.
“We can be seen as untactful and blunt at times, but at least you know where you stand with us,” Leon adds.
Looking at Afrikaans history, Johann who is a teacher, explains the Afrikaans people have always worked alongside other cultures and race groups. Such as assisting the Zulus to achieve peace in their clashes with the Xhosa people many years ago. Stressing that Afrikaners have always tried to find amicable resolutions in times of hardship.
Shedding some light on a historical battle, Franco states that such was the relationship with other cultures, that during the battle of Blood River, it was not the Boer women and children who helped the men fight, but rather 400 other African men.
Controversially over the years, history can at times be altered, with historical events being retold in different ways. But, as with any group of people found around the world, who place culture and history in the highest of regard, such as the Afrikaans people, keeping the truths about their people’s journey is a key fundamental of who they are, ensuring its very survival and prosperity.
This can be seen through initiatives and projects which aim at passing down and thereby keeping alive hundreds of years of plight and peace, growth and evolution, i.e their history.
We then asked our four candidates the following: With the changing of the times, is the Afrikaans culture being swept aside? Not only by the rest of South Africa but by the Afrikaans youth?
In response, the four men strongly believe this is exactly why it is so important for South Africans to treasure all national monuments and by extension history, coupled with communities encouraging their Afrikaans youth to hold onto their culture.
Unlike many cultures found throughout the world, who lost all but every part of their culture, the Afrikaans people have only noted a minor loss of culture within the youth, as the times change. The Afrikaans people work tirelessly to uphold their identity and heritage from in-home teachings to movements such as the Rapportryers, Solidariteit and Die Voortrekkers.
“For example, my son goes to an English school. When he comes home, he speaks Afrikaans, but every now and then English comes out. We don’t stop it, as he studies in English, we just remind him of his language and I often talk to my children about our history,” says Franco.
Looking to the future, what do Franco, Johan, Leon and Johann feel other South Africans should know about the morals and values that they as the Afrikaans people hold dear?
“We are actually a happy bunch,” Leon laughs, “and we always stand with our hands open to help others.”
Johan agrees and says it is important to highlight, that Afrikaans people are always willing to extend a helping hand out to others. Despite what people might think about them.
Adding to these meaningful words Johann adds, “We are also a loyal and hardworking people, who are most creative when we have our backs to the wall,” He carries on to say, this can not only be seen in the bygone days of early South Africa, but also during the time when there were sanctions against the country. During this time, he says Afrikaans people made do with what they had and made it work, showing that Afrikaans people are resourceful and stand up with ease.
But when standing up, the four men agree that the Afrikaans people often come back stronger than what they were, never expecting handouts or pity.
Adding to this, Franco and Leon also emphasise that an integral part of their morals and values is family unity, which often seeps into their work lives. Thus, employees and colleagues are treated in exactly the same way family would be treated.
Johan highlights, that integrity, respect, manners and loyalty are core elements of the Afrikaans values and morals system, which they, as a people, hold dear. This can be seen through small day to day acts, such as a youngster entering a room, looking his elders in the eye, greeting politely and shaking their hands.
Drawing to close, we asked them, as South Africa potentially faces tough times ahead, can any of these values and morals help the country?
With pure confidence, all four men not only believe these age-old morals and values will assist all South Africans in many ways but will help people within their respective communities to communicate and respect one another on a deeper level. Plus aiding in furthering our nation and economy.
“The morals and values can help us as a people leave a legacy behind,” Franco underlines.
Concluding the interview and after leaving the meeting with these four, full of life “Ooms”. I walked away, thinking, how is it that such traditional and heritage filled, driven people, who fought foreign invaders side by side with other cultures, who’ve been the backbone of food for a nation, continue persisting through troubled waters, all in the hope of being seen for who they are and not what but a few once did or worse, what people have, as previously stated, boxed them into. As it is so dismissive of this truly South African Culture.
As this series of articles develop over the ensuing months, we hope to hear back from you in the comments section on what you find makes a South African culture, uniquely amazing.
Be sure to look out for the next article in the series. This time we take a deeper look into……
Authors: Quinton Boucher and Calvin Swemmer
Edited: Calvin Swemmer