Boer War Bingo 2.0 – ‘The Truth Hurts’

I note with interest that some especially obsessive devotees of ‘Boer War Bingo’ find ways to play it in discussions in which the Boer War is not even involved. A friend forwarded me a link to a story on, titled ‘The Truth Hurts’ (presumably ironically).

I have copied and pasted it in all its bizarre glory below:


The Truth Hurts.

by Hannes Wessels

South African billionaire Johann Rupert is in terrible trouble with his countrymen over comments recently made in a television interview. Eschewing political correctness Rupert committed a cardinal crime by telling the truth, causing nation-wide outrage across racial divides, by suggesting all is not well in the ‘Rainbow Nation’ under the ANC rule so kindly bequeathed to the people by Nelson Mandela.  Particularly incensed were the white liberals who remain in resolute denial. With the country facing long-term blackouts through gross mismanagement and calamitous corruption at Eskom, there is now talk of looming catastrophic economic collapse.

In a country fixated with ‘land reform’ (taking land from white farmers without compensation ‘because all white-owned land was stolen’) and the ruling party happy to comply, Rupert referred those clamouring for change to study Zimbabwe where an entire economy was destroyed and millions of poverty-stricken people streamed into South Africa to survive.

He has caused enormous anger and resentment among the rulers and the ruled whose entire raison d’être is premised on the belief that they and they alone have been victims of oppression. Rupert pointed out that some of his Afrikaner ancestors perished in the concentration camps constructed by the British in the Boer War, that his people also suffered under oppressive rule and he spoke of the economic hardships they endured that rendered most Afrikaners poor and alienated. “In a sense the Afrikaner was downtrodden,” he said. “They were driven, they studied. They studied like crazy and saved like crazy. They didn’t go and buy BMWs and hang around .. (nightclubs)..”.

This drew a furious reaction from Julius Malema’s EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters) who Rupert referred to as the “red beret Vendas” who “buy their struggle uniform at ‘Pepkor’”. The party-supporters have recently been trashing and looting mobile-phone stores because a guest speaker at an awards ceremony said something critical about the EFF. And the EFF leadership is now accused of involvement in the looting of a bank that was supposed to provide a safe depository for the poor black people of the Limpopo Province. Unsurprisingly their leadership quickly condemned Rupert as “the ultimate face of white racism” and referred to him as an “arrogant white Afrikaner who sees nothing beyond his selfish white capitalist interests”.

But when talking about the Afrikaners, Rupert only gave his audience a glimpse at a past that is replete with facts and figures that are destined for the dustbin of history, because, in the twisted world of contemporary thought and learning, we mustn’t know anything the Afrikaners did right; we should only hear about the legends of the African Nationalist movements like Walter Sisulu, Steve Biko, Oliver Tambo and of course Nelson Mandela. Little or no mention of men like Louis Botha and Jan Smuts who also struggled against injustice, saw their families incarcerated, risked violent death repeatedly and endured extreme hardship simply because they also believed in a cause.

Botha, as a teenager, fought alongside Zulu warriors in a common quest to secure the land on which his family would farm and eventually prosper but at great risk and against enormous odds. In return for the land in Natal the Afrikaners then struck a deal with tribal leaders which involved a trade of livestock for land; they ‘stole’ nothing. They then provided protection for their black neighbours.

Smuts only went to school aged 12 because the family could not afford to send him earlier. Until then he laboured on a farm in the Western Cape that was stolen from nobody and learned in his spare time.

Both these men then went on to fight gallantly and ferociously for their right to self-determination, against the English who they viewed as a hated oppressor. When the guns finally went silent at the end of the war in 1902, the country was wrecked and bitterness abounded, but these two soldiers exhorted their countrymen to forgive and forget, to embrace their former enemies and chart a new course based on magnanimity and nation-building.

Both men went on to fight on the side of their former arch-enemy in WW I with Botha running a brilliant campaign against the Germans in then German South-West Africa while Smuts led the Allied Forces in German East Africa. Smuts went on to become a Field Marshal who played a decisive role in WW II as one of Churchill’s closest confidantes. And at Versailles if the victors had bowed to the pleadings of Botha who preached forgiveness above vengeance there is every likelihood the world would have been spared the tragedy of another world war.

Thanks to them and Afrikaners like the Ruperts, the platform was laid for what was to become the Union of South Africa which would become the most powerful and prosperous country on the continent, providing the best schools, hospitals and communications-infrastructure in Africa and an economy that would make the country’s black people the wealthiest on the continent. But that’s a side of a story nobody wants to know and few are prepared to tell. That’s because they were white.

Goodness me: it’s difficult to know where to begin. Few intelligent observers would disagree that the ludicrous ‘land reform’ plans proposed in South Africa are destined to end in utter disaster (à la Zimbabwe), but Christ alone knows why this perfectly rational assertion suddenly turned into a self-pitying tirade about ‘British Oppression’…. Perhaps desperate to score some points in ‘Boer War Bingo’, we are treated to a comment about people who ‘perished in the concentration camps constructed by the British in the Boer War’, and then an equally throwaway remark about how the down-trodden Afrikaners toiled away under ‘oppressive rule’.

Well, of course people died in the Concentration Camps – a virulent measles epidemic and Victorian-era infant mortality rates will do that. We are all used to knee-jerk rants about ‘the camps’, but quite what ‘oppressive rule’ and ‘injustice’ Mr Wessels thinks the poor, innocent Afrikaners suffered at the hands of the wicked Brits is not really made clear… perhaps because there simply wasn’t any?

The Afrikaners living under British Imperial rule enjoyed democracy, equality before the law, good access to education (in 1877, for example, 50% of white children attended school in Britain’s Cape Colony, compared to just 8% in the independent Transvaal republic), a free press, freedom from military conscription and all manner of other things which sound distinctly un-oppressive. Indeed, those Cape Afrikaners who stormed off in a huff in the 1830s to set up their own republics did so precisely because ‘oppressive British rule’ prevented them from owning slaves, while those who stamped off from Natal in the 1840s were incensed by the ‘oppressive’ British refusal to allow ‘any distinction of colour, origin, language, or creed’ – my heart bleeds for them.

Wessels brings up Jan Smuts, though neglects to mention that this supposedly poor, impoverished, down-trodden and oppressed fellow was actually the son of a long established, prosperous farmer in Britain’s Cape Colony. Smuts did indeed only start school at age 12, though this was because rural farming tradition dictated that only the eldest son would get a full, formal education. When Smuts’ older brother died, the 12-year old Smuts was sent in his place (yes, in that period, the tragic reality is that children died like flies, whether they were in concentration camps or not).  Smuts excelled at school and won a scholarship to study at Cambridge University.
Unlike the situation in Kruger’s Transvaal (where slavery was still practiced in all but name, where Jews and Catholics were treated as second class citizens and the ruling claque of Afrikaners moved heaven-and-earth to prevent English-speakers and non-whites from having the vote) in Britain’s Cape Colony all races and religions had equal access to the franchise under the colour-blind ‘Cape Qualified Franchise’.

So quite what ‘oppression’ and ‘injustice’ Wessels wants us to believe that Smuts suffered at the hands of the British Empire can only be guessed at – tellingly he fails to give a single example.

In stark contrast, about the only thing the constantly bickering trekkers who established the Transvaal republic could agree on was the line in their 1860 constitution which asserted: ‘The people are not prepared to allow any equality of the non-white with the white inhabitants, either in church or state’. With admirable forthrightness, the Boers’ chief cheerleader in Europe, Dr Kuyper, described the difference between the relatively benign rule in the British colonies and that in the Boer republics: ‘The English prided themselves on protecting the imaginary rights of the natives… The Boers are not sentimentalists, but are eminently practical. They recognized that these Hottentots and Basutos were an inferior race.’

An Austrian visitor to Kruger’s republic observed:
‘The standing of the Kaffir in the Transvaal is worth notice. While in the English colony they enjoy equal rights with white men, and even have a vote, in the Transvaal their standing is very different. The Kaffir must not walk on the pavement, he must salute every white man, and must not leave his house after 9pm … every Boer has the tacitly recognized right to punish his blacks. He never does it in passion. When the Kaffir does anything, he is told to appear the next day at a certain hour. He is then tied to the wagon, the braces are dampened, and he gets the necessary number of lashes.’

The summation of Kruger’s republic by esteemed historian, Andrew Roberts, probably puts it best:
‘The Transvaal was in no way a democracy. No Catholic or Jew was allowed to vote or hold office. Every Boer was compelled to own a rifle; no non-Boer was allowed to. Johannesburg, with 50,000 mainly uitlander inhabitants, was not even allowed an unelected municipal council. English was banned in all official proceedings. Judges were appointed by Kruger, who controlled all the Government monopolies from jam to dynamite. By far the largest proportion of the tax burden was carried by the uitlanders, yet no open-air public meetings were permitted. Newspapers could be closed down arbitrarily without any reason given. Above all, full citizenship was almost impossible to gain for non-Boers. Pretoria ran a tight, tough, quasi-police state.’

Bear in mind that Smuts left the Cape Colony and moved to Kruger’s Transvaal. I shall let the reader draw his own conclusions as to which system was ‘oppressive’.

Despite Kruger’s gang having started the Boer War, Britain was magnanimous in victory, and (unlike the endless chicanery practiced by Kruger) did nothing to prevent Afrikaners from dominating the political scene in the Transvaal post-war and, a few years later, in the Union of South Africa. Indeed, Botha was elected as the first Prime Minister of the latter, with Smuts holding the Ministries of the Interior, Mines and Defence – essentially the second most important man in South Africa… ‘oppressed’ indeed.

Equally entertaining is the way that Wessels sagely assures us that Botha ‘as a teenager, fought alongside Zulu warriors in a common quest to secure the land on which his family would farm and eventually prosper but at great risk and against enormous odds’, but then – just a moment later – proudly declares: ‘they ‘stole’ nothing’… so who, one wonders, does Mr Wessels think was living on the land that Botha had to fight ‘alongside Zulu warriors’ to ‘secure’ (ie. ‘take’)? If the land was empty, why, one wonders, did Botha et al need to fight alongside Zulu warriors at ‘great risk and against enormous odds’ to grab – sorry – ‘secure’ it?
The reality is that, in 1884, the 22-year old Louis Botha got involved in the Zulu Civil War, leading a group of Natal Boers in support of the paramount Zulu chief (Dinuzulu) against another chief (Usibepu) who had been permitted by the British to retain his lands. As Dinuzulu paid Botha and his mercenaries for their services by giving them some of Usibepu’s land after his defeat, it is doubtful that Usibepu would agree with Wessels’ bizarre claim that Botha ‘stole nothing’.

And as for Wessels’ assertion that, just like the various icons of ‘the Struggle’, Smuts and Botha also ‘saw their families incarcerated’, it is worth noting that, at the end of the Boer War, Botha remarked: “one is only too thankful nowadays to know that our wives are under English protection”. What a strange ‘incarceration’ that would appear to be.

But of all the self-pitying, sob-story hogwash we are treated to in his article, the pièce de résistance must be this:

‘Both these men [Smuts and Botha] then went on to fight gallantly and ferociously for their right to self-determination, against the English who they viewed as a hated oppressor’.

This is presumably Wessels’ crackpot way of describing how Smuts and Botha were intimately involved in Kruger’s invasion of British territory in 1899? Aided by Prussian staff officers, Smuts drew up the final invasion plans, while (due to the chaotic command structure favoured by the Boers) Botha found himself a General overnight… but one is left baffled at how Wessels thinks that declaring war, then invading and annexing someone else’s land can possibly be described as ‘fighting for self-determination’… especially when the clearly stated aim of Kruger’s ill-considered Crusade was to build ‘an Afrikaans Empire, from the Zambesi to the Cape’. Presumably Wessels would also have us believe that the vast tracts of land the invading Boers annexed in the British territories of Natal, Cape Colony and Bechuanaland were ‘not stolen from anyone’ and were not actually grabbed at all, but merely ‘secured’.

Alas, it would seem that a few decades worth of endless Apartheid-era propaganda still has an impact on the mental capacities of some today.

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