Oor Geloftedag en Amerikaanse skynheiligheid
As an Afrikaner, I take exception to the article of Barry Bearak: Holiday of White conquest persists in South Africa, published in the New York Times of December 16th, 2009.
Subjective and thoroughly biased, your report writer presents himself as somewhat of an expert on early South African history. In a thinly veiled derogatory manner Mr Bearak takes issue with Afrikaners’ annual celebration of the Day of Vow in South Africa. He not only juxtapose this celebration with the ideal of racial harmony in South Africa, but then goes on to marry the Day of Vow celebrations with racial inequality in South Africa and the general discrepancies between races in South Africa. Hereby Mr Bearak not only shows his own ignorance about South African history, but also exemplify the convenience of Americans’ own limited historical memory.
By subtly bashing the Afrikaners and their Voortrekker descendants, the writer conveniently forgets about the white American settlers’ own violent history of exterminating the native American tribes of North America during the 18th and 19th centuries. He conveniently (or purposefully?) does not remember the white American pioneers’ wars of conquest and the many battles that may be considered genocide today. The way the American settlers exterminated the native American Indians, is indeed a shame for most Americans. May I refresh your memory? Herewith just a few of the atrocities committed by white American settlers against the indigenous population of North America (and this list isn’t even exhaustive):
1818: The Chehaw Affair (about 50 Muscogee women and children killed)
1832: The Battle of Bad Axe (150 Indian men, women and children killed)
1850: The Bloody Island Massacre (60-100 Pomo people killed)
1853: Kaibai Creek Massacre (42 men, women and children killed)
1860: Wiyot Massacre (188 Wiyot women and children killed)
1862: Tonkawa Massacre (240 Tonkawa tribe members killed)
1863: Bear River Massacre (200 Indian men, women and children killed)
1864: Sand Creek Massacre (160 men, women and children of the Cheyenne tribe killed)
1865-71: The Yahi Massacres (200 of the Yahi tribe killed)
1870: Marias Massacre (173 women and children of the Piegan tribe killed)
1871: Camp Grant Massacre (100 Apache women and children killed)
1890: Wounded Knee Massacre (128 Sioux men, women and children killed)
Mr Bearak writes about the Afrikaners and the Voortrekkers, but doesn’t mention that the travels and trials of the Afrikaner Voortrekkers were not much dissimilar to those experienced by the pioneers of the Oregon Trail during the 19th century. To tell the truth it is very much the same: Attempts at deals with indigenous tribes for land expansion, treason, war and conflict between the European settlers and the native tribes. To see no correlation between the early European settlers and their expansion in North America and those in Southern Africa, is indeed shortsighted and reveals the writer’s bias toward Afrikaners. The surviving native American Indians were even horded into so-called Indian Reservations, not much different from the old apartheid regime’s bantustans. The last time I cared to check, the native American Indians – the original owners of American land – had to be satisfied with only about 2-3% of the land in the USA. Do you call this justice?
The writer further continues to mumble about the bad racial relations in South Africa, the inequality etc. As if this phenomenon does not exist in the USA. Please go and check your facts and see the significant inequalities that exists in the USA between African-Americans, Hispanics and white Americans.
The writer’s recall of the battle of Blood River and the circumstances surrounding this battle also leave much to be desired. You give absolutely no context to the battle and merely reduce it to the “slaughter of 3000 Zulus” (do you also refer to the “slaughter” of Stalingrad, where hundreds of thousands of Germans were “slaughtered”?). I beg you to give more attention to South African history when you write about South Africa again, but moreover: please inform yourself on your own bloody history of conquest and genocide, before giving your (oh so morally correct!) version of other peoples’ or countries’ histories.
At least it is not the Afrikaners or South Africa who are currently involved in two wars where poor civilians more often that not are the target of “precision bombing” by undiscriminating drones. It is also not the Afrikaners or South Africa that continue to support the illegal and violent Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.
And then Americans so often wonder why the world don’t like them…