Can Afrikaans culture, Afrikaners ‘as a people’ survive? Little chance, says leading historian

Can Afrikaans culture, Afrikaners ‘as a people’ survive? Little chance, says leading historian, by John Battersby.

In a sign that post-apartheid laws are changing the face of South African society, hundreds of thousands of white people – many Afrikaners – are living in squalor and poverty in shacks. While millions of black people also live in shacks, before 1992 there were laws and structures in place to protect and provide employment in particular to Afrikaners.

The Afrikaans language is under pressure too, gradually disappearing from the education sector and as families increasingly opt for their children to attend English-speaking schools. Many Afrikaners have emigrated, including to neighbouring African countries as they worry about land expropriation.

The big question, says London-based investigative journalist Kajsa Norman in her new book Bridge over Blood River, is whether the Afrikaans culture can survive. Professor Hermann Giliomee tells her he sees scant chance of the survival of the Afrikaans culture in the long-term or even the survival of the Afrikaners, who arrived three-and-a-half centuries ago, as “a people”.

Norman says that South Africa will not have become a normal post-apartheid society until white domestic helpers working for black middle-class families and white petrol attendants, refuse collectors and street sweepers become commonplace. …

Kajsa Norman: Bridge Over Blood River: The Afrikaners' Fight for Survival

Review here.

“There are six percent Afrikaners in South Africa. We built our entire identity around a language and a sense of history. How will we, and what we have built up, survive in the future?” Giliomee asks.

He says that without the reproduction of education through literature, a language cannot survive. He warns that the gradual disappearance of language from university campuses could signal the death-knell of the language.

Norman notes that many Afrikaners have already emigrated to Europe and North America and some Afrikaner farmers, weary of being targeted in violent attacks and facing expropriation of their land, have set up as farmers in neighbouring African countries.

hat-tip Stephen Neil