Afrikaners are a people who have been colonisers and colonized – and have the memory of both. I do not want to gloss over or excuse what we have done, but this post is to defend us against the sort of hypocrisy I sometimes encounter in the English speaking world with regard to Afrikaans as a “language of oppression”.
Colonialism is not a thing of the distant past – we see Anglo-led conquest in the Middle East to this day, along with drone attacks that kill innocent people on a daily basis. We can expect the Anglicisation of Iraq and Afghanistan to progress at similar speed to that of South Africa or India.
English is still the language that colonised Africans, Afrikaners and many other peoples in a very violent way.
When I read how easily British group Impact Oil & Gas got oil exploration rights along South Africa’s coast, I also wonder why we do not say that English is the language of compradores and neocolonialism in South Africa and the developing world. There are more such examples, for example also BAE and the South African arms scandal.
The racism that is rife in the old English colonies must be a result, to a very great extent, of the way the British rewarded white people in the colonies to administer their interests and subjugate the black people. In this situation, the colonial administrators began to think that they, along with their masters in London, are of a superior race. I think we can safely say racism is a result of colonialism.
That is not to say we should not take responsibility for fighting our racism – it is just saying that racism did not just pop into existence in South Africa and other colonies without any causes.
I also remember how the majority of white English people supported the National Party, and how their young men, like me, were willing conscripts to the SADF. To a large extent, this was Cold War behaviour, but these days some people pretend there was no Cold War, as if the deeds of the SADF in Southern Africa was just Afrikaner belligerence, and the West did not support it.
The actions of the SADF was part of the West’s murderous campaign to ensure that Communism does not take hold in the developing world.
People also pretend that Apartheid was an injustice that stood on its own. They pretend that Britain played no role in the formation of Apartheid. The truth is not so simple – see Richard Dowden here (archived here) and here.
For these reasons, I feel it is untenable for English speakers, if they want to be honest, to feel ethicaly superior to Afrikaners, and keep on calling Afrikaans the language of oppression.