Outside of the town where I live a man built himself a house years ago. It was a very beautiful house, but the man ignored the advice of the older citizens in town that he was building on a piece of swampland. The earth was too marshy to lay a solid foundation. Consequently the house started cracking and paint was peeling off and dampness rose up in the walls. The owner had to spend thousands on constant maintenance, until he eventually sold the house at a big loss.
The new owner immediately invested a lot of money and effort in securing the foundations, but he only managed to buy a little time. After some months the problems were bigger than ever. He had no choice to put the property up for sale and move out.
In a while a number of homeless people moved into the empty house. They had no experience of owning a property before, knew nothing about maintaining a house and that water and electricity had to paid for. After those were cut off, they started carrying water from a stream nearby where the cattle also drank and started making a fire on the kitchen floor tiles to cook on. For this they used the beautiful yellowwood ceiling- and floorboards and the solid mahogany doors.
Three weeks ago the house caught fire. Yesterday afternoon I drove past the house and I saw some squatters from a nearby squatter camp dragging away the scorched corrugated iron and cracked tiles and burnt bricks which they could still use in putting up ever more shacks.
And it struck me that I was looking at the history of South Africa.
South Africa is that house.
The real house was built, co-incidentally in 1910, the year of the Union of South Africa. This union was a political construct of two British colonies and two self-governing states forced into one at the whim of Jan Smuts, John X Merriman and MT Steyn. Nobody really wanted the Union and nobody paid any attention to the challenge of forcing opposing ethnicities, language- and cultural groups together. Smuts therefore had to resort to expanding the segregationist racist legislation which the British already implemented in Natal in the 1870’s to keep the irreconcilable groups apart. He had to use force to crush the miner’s strike of 1922…and still he couldn’t manage to keep his house standing. So the first change of ownership took place in 1961 when it became a Republic.
Verwoerd then expanded on the segregationist policy. He spent a lot of time and effort in keeping the challenge and the consequence apart, but it was only a postponement of the inevitable collapse of the House which was South Africa. So in 1994 the second owner moved out.
The ANC was the homeless. They moved in for free. Everything was handed over, but they had no experience of government or of basic housekeeping. The house just kept falling apart further and further. Eventually the day came when the decay became so bad that there was no more electricity, water and sanitation. The people in the house had to live like primitive beings in a state of dilapidation…and inevitably the house caught fire and was completely destroyed.
In these last weeks of 2014 we are at the point shortly before the house was burned down. And we know we cannot avoid that.
The ruins of the house is a warning and a lesson to us. The warning is that there is no sense in trying to keep a sinking ship afloat. The lesson is: Take what you can and use that to the benefit of everybody.
South Africa failed under British Colonialism, it failed under the SAP and the UP as a Union, apartheid NP South Africa failed and the state of Unity which Mandela and De Klerk proposed, is also failing now. What, therefore, remains?
The only logical solution lies in recognising the irreconcilables of a variety of ethnicities, each having a historical and demographical claim to a part of South Africa. Use that to sit around a table, negotiate and plan and discuss and redesign South Africa into a Confederacy of Southern African States where each member state is self-determined and where each member state takes care of their own education, social development, heritage conservation and wealth creation. A state where no black man will ever be ruled by a white man again and no white man be subjected to black majority government, but where all people, white, black, Coloured and Indian, can live without the fear of losing their identity or suffer the indignity of being forced to be ashamed of what he or she is.
That is the only option, otherwise the house will be no more…sooner than what we think.
By Daniel Lötter (Front National)
South Africa Today