100% Moronby Brendon Bosworth / 18.05.2009
Young kids have a lack of agency. It makes them particularly vulnerable to parental manipulation. If little Hennie or klein Yvette was of a completely rational age, fully versed in South African history and politics – a factually objective version, would they choose to don the oranje-blanje-blou? How about that proud proclamation of apartheid era Afrikanerdom?
With Afrikaners feeling displaced under the new dispensation, their position in the Rainbow Nation neither here nor there, bold exclamations of nationhood and unity are nothing unusual. Bok’s ‘De la Rey’ has become an anthem, a binding cultural artefact that roars across rugby stadiums and is belted out word for word by emotional crowds at his gigs. Even JZ declared it akin to a Zulu praise song. There’s nothing wrong with stretching the vocal chords, honouring fallen soldiers, and feeling that stir of patriotism. But like many things – religious texts, Umshini Wam – it’s when statements are interpreted as an incitement to arms that the danger becomes imminent.
This child-size T-shirt is not a call to arms. In any manner of speaking. If it was just the written text, “100% boertjie,” I wouldn’t have a problem with it. Pure, undiluted, farmer – makes me think of someone who’s shunned the big city and all its ills for the simplicity of farm life. Agro-proud. Nice. Something I wouldn’t mind growing up to be.
But it’s that flag. First hoisted in 1928, 18 years after the formation of the Union of South Africa. Finally taken off the pole in 1994, discarded along with a regime that denied our citizens their basic human rights for too many decades. To me, that flag represents the grossest of governments. A nexus of control-freaks running this country in a way that, to any rational mind, seems completely insane. It is the banner of Apartheid; a symbol of disenfranchisement, brutality, death, shame, violence and pain. It bears the stains of those that died at the hands of the secret police, those murdered in the streets – the tortured, abused and broken. It drips with the blood of the young men sent to absorb the bullets in Angola, Rhodesia, Mozambique – on both sides. It disgusts me.
Why anyone would choose to brand themselves with it, I cannot fathom. But to foist it onto a kid, who probably doesn’t know what it stands for, whose mind is still a relative tabula rasa, that’s just exploitative. If Hennie sal daai hempie draai, be sure he knows exactly it means. Let the kid make a decision like that when he or she is old enough to realize the implications.
Ed’s note: Gooi Mileies, the idiots who produced this T-shirt, also do a roaring trade in ripped off Laugh It Off shirts, and other small, original South African clothing labels. Basically they lift the designs, print them on some cheap t-shirts and sell them as their own. In short, they’re totally unscrupulous, small time flea market sheisters, with bad taste.