Those deluded fools on the lunatic fringe of extreme Right-wing Afrikanerdom are well beyond any rational debate, but when it comes to the Boer War, it always intrigues me how others who are (allegedly) educated / intelligent / liberal / open-minded can possibly view Kruger as the tragic hero of the piece. Cheerfully ignoring historical reality, there are many in both South Africa and Great Britain who frantically tie themselves in knots to pretend that he was the victim of British aggression… but I often wonder if they really know just what a ghastly piece of work their ’hero’ was.
Though Kruger’s modern-day cheerleaders like to pretend the poor old Boers were helpless and innocent victims, the reality is that years before he started the Boer War, Kruger had started splurging vast sums of money on weaponry – a spending spree which one observer declared to be securing, ‘arms and ammunition enough to shoot down all the armies of Europe’.[i] When asked who the Transvaal’s target was, Kruger simply replied: ‘Oh, Kaffirs, Kaffirs – and such-like objects’.[ii]
And before the True Believers unthinkingly leap to his defence, this is quite clearly not just a case of someone using the language ‘of his time’; this is someone casually advocating the mass killing of black people, and dismissing them as ‘objects’. It is thus somewhat remarkable that any modern-day academic would wish to be seen to be defending and supporting this racist old dinosaur. Blinded by their default, kneejerk position that anyone who attacks the British must automatically be a ‘goodie’, perhaps they are unaware of what a truly horrific chap he was… or perhaps they share his outlook?
[ii] Atwood, The Life of Field Marshal Lord Roberts, p.180, referencing C. Headlam, The Milner Papers, Vol.1, p.258