NEWS

Solidarity CEO Writes To Prince William About Anglo-Boer War Atrocities

At the same time, the union continues to be critical of black presenter Tumi Morake speaking out about apartheid.

21/09/2017 15:22 SAST | Updated 22/09/2017 09:51 SAST
Solidariteit.co.za
Dr Dirk Hermann.

Trade union Solidarity's chief executive, Dr Dirk Hermann, has penned an open letter to the UK's Prince William in which he recalls some of the atrocities suffered by Afrikaners at the hands of the English during the Anglo-Boer War.

At the same time, Hermann's organisation has over the last few days been highly critical of Jacaranda FM breakfast show co-host Tumi Morake, who spoke out about apartheid and its repercussions on black people.

In the letter, published on the organisation's website on Wednesday, Hermann explains how the struggles faced by Afrikaners during the Anglo-Boer War can be seen as reasons why Afrikaners developed a "nooit-weer-gevoel-sindroom" [a feeling of never-again*] and that this had an influence on their justification of the oppressive apartheid system.

Hermann writes about the influence that the war -- which took place between 1899 and 1902 and ended 115 years ago -- has had on modern-day Afrikaners. "Revisiting the war is necessary for the postcolonial debate in South Africa and for the sake of the conscience of Britain and the royal house," Hermann writes.

In the same week as Hermann's call to revisit the Anglo-Boer War, Solidarity's #TooFarTumi campaign garnered much support from mostly white, Afrikaans-speaking people, who feel that Morake should not still be speaking out against apartheid, which ended 23 years ago. In an open letter to Morake, Hermann took exception to white people being likened to bullies in Morake's analogy.

The furore over her comments led to Eric Barnard Meubels -- a prominent furniture store in Pretoria -- withdrawing advertising worth R100,000 from Jacaranda FM. The store's Marius Barnard said that black people should "stop saying we [white people] are to blame for their problems".

Apartheid was a system designed and implemented by white people, which systemically and cruelly discriminated against people of colour. The United Nations Rome Statute declared it a crime against humanity.

Read: Ferial Haffajee: Tumi Morake, Solidarity And 21st Century Baasskap

Herman writes about the deaths of approximately 34,000 Boer women and children at the hands of the British in their notorious concentration camps, as well as the cruelty they experienced.

"My great-grandmother and her two small children... were transported like cattle on open train carriages without toilet facilities," Hermann writes.

"A debate can not be conducted without a proper understanding of the period of British colonialisation and its influence on the Afrikaner psyche"

Hermann then says South Africans are still struggling with the question of what a postcolonial country looks like. He believes "a debate cannot be conducted without a proper understanding of the period of British colonialisation and its influence on the Afrikaner psyche".

Herman then invites Prince William to South Africa. According to the Solidarity leader, because both he and Prince William are part of postcolonial families, they can look back on history and "understand each other".

"Let's show mutual understanding of each other's history within a postcolonial context and debate on decolonisation," he writes in the letter.

Full Open Letter Here

The trade union has been at the centre of a furore over perceived racist comments made by comedian and Jacaranda FM breakfast co-host Tumi Morake last week Tuesday.

It has also started a campaign against Morake calling on Jacaranda FM to "take action" against her.

The #TooFarTumi campaign was started by Solidarity last week and it handed over a memorandum of demands to the station's management.

Morake has been deluged with hate mail following her analogies about the effects of apartheid on her Jacaranda FM breakfast show.

Morake said "apartheid was about the oppression of black people".

She said all race groups were just expected to unite after the demise of apartheid without any form of retribution. She then employed a bicycle analogy that was perceived to be offensive by many of the station's mostly white, Afrikaans-speaking listeners.

"It's like a child whose bicycle was taken forcefully away from him and then you say to the bully, 'no, no, no, share the bike together, don't be like that,'" Morake said.

Jacaranda FM yesterday (Wednesday) arranged a "closed dialogue" between Solidarity and its breakfast show hosts, Martin Bester and Morake, scheduled for today (Thursday), according to a statement issued by the trade union.

"We are not unreasonable. [If] Jacaranda tells us they would like to have a discussion regarding this incident, we are more than willing to get into it," said Solidarity's head of research, Connie Mulder.

"But it will be a robust discussion in which we will put our position properly and represent our members' interest," he said.

*This article has been edited since publication to correct an ambiguous translation -- Chief subeditor