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100% Moron

100% Moron

by 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.

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RESPONSES (15)
  1. Zoe says:

    I totally agree! I remember being disgusted by that flag when I was really little and it was still our official flag. In fact, when I was about four or so, my nanny knitted me a sweater that was blue and orange stripes, and I refused to wear it because it was the same colours as that oppressive flag! Shame, my poor nanny.

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  2. grim says:

    Gooi mielies in Oranje where he belongs. Its ous like him that fuck this beautiful country up.
    The Mthrfckr still owes me money. Dinged my car at the arts fest in grahamstown. He makes inferior factory garments, made by inferior people for inferior people from inferior materials. (cant believe no one has shut him down for stealing ideas and concepts)

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  3. Sindy-Lou says:

    They come in adult sizes as well. Saw ’em at a stall at a music festival as well as a craft shop in Fish Hoek. I, for one, cannot imagine what sort of insensitive tosser would buy it for their kid or for themselves for that matter.

    Perhaps the protestors outside Sexpo should arm themselves with placards and bitch and whine about something like this that’s worth the effort.

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  4. Oldtimer says:

    No support for rip-off inferior garments. Granted. Seems like Gooie Mielies might just be exploiting symbols and identities.

    But hang on, that flag was never a purely political symbol. It was hoisted in 1928 as you point out, as a symbol of national unity between the Boer republics and the Cape & Natal colonies. 20 Years before the National party even existed. Nothing to do with Apartheid. Just as the current flag was hoisted as a symbol of unity and has nothing to do with the corruption and black racism we see today. To me it symbolizes Western culture and its ideals. Sure, Western culture of the day was exclusive, denying entrance to the general tribalist culture. It had to be, it couldn’t survive otherwise.

    But this is what people do. They demonize things to make themselves feel better: “Its an Apartheid flag”, they are “insensitive tossers”. It won’t make the problem go away. You still have to face up to the fact that there are two cultures in SA today – a Western culture (with ideals of Democracy, respect for rule of law, etc.) and a Tribalist culture (allegiance to chiefs, annexure/inheritance of power, kangaroo courts etc.). That’s where the clash is. Not in mere symbols, but in the culture we choose to be part of.

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  5. alleman says:

    Oldtimer oppression of blacks did not start with Apartheid – it existed long before that. Also under British rule, and the old flag is a symbol of white unity between Afrikaners and white English people and had the blessing of Britain to keep black people out of power. Apartheid was only a chapter in that game.
    See also this:
    http://alleman.wordpress.com/2009/04/21/wat-presies-is-n-blanke/

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  6. Andy says:

    Oldtimer you make good points, not all I agree with, but good points all the same. However, I still think most of the people buy this t-shirt because they associate it with apartheid – and choose to make that statement.

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  7. Oldtimer says:

    @alleman – true. The British disenfranchised non-whites before the Union in 1910. Ja, the word Apartheid is extended beyond just the Nationalist policy, rightly/wrongly no matter. The British seemed to take the view, this is our colony, you okes are not our subjects, you get no vote. The Afrikaaners took the position, this is our culture (Western democracy), you okes have a different culture (African Tribalism), so cool you do your thing and we’ll do ours (Apartheid). Of course the spending on each system wasn’t equal because it wasn’t sustainable. That was correct in that it did not have the right to impose/enforce Western values on the indigenous African population, but it was incorrect in that it didn’t allow people to choose which culture they wanted to live under. Thing is, if you want the lekker stuff that Western culture has, you have to live like them. Get educated, pay your taxes, obey the policeman, vote etc. If you want to live in a tribe, nothing wrong with that, but don’t expect to get lekker stuff, or to be able to steal it. People need to think about these things. The blind support that JZ enjoys is what is expected of a tribal population for their chief; paying him “bribes” is just the usual benefits; ducking the legal system is acceptable – as chief he IS the legal system.

    Thanks for your article link, well written and I agree with most of it. Blanke is a label that fits with Afrikaaner and Brit because they shared a common western culture – although uneasily because of the language difference as you point out. Your article supports my point – the oranje-blanje-blou is a symbol of the unity of western culture. Sure, to the exclusion of tribal culture, but they were under no obligation to force the tribalists to join them. In fact they had no right. People should live how they choose.

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  8. Oldtimer says:

    @Andy. Thanks.

    You may be right, but in the absence of a poll, who knows why they bought the T-shirt. We shouldn’t just jump to the conclusion that they supported Apartheid.

    I for one don’t see it as an “Apartheid flag”. To me it symbolizes the days of my youth, when the system worked; people had jobs, the Rand was worth something, life was ordered, crime was low. I understood my culture and my place in it. Sure life wasn’t perfect, but hey, you have to accept the birthright of where and when you were born. I could have been born in the USA but I wasn’t. Tough, deal with it. Of course I was aware of the other cultures in RSA. Didn’t understand them fully, didn’t speak much of their language. Sure, “we” looked down on “them” – doesn’t every culture?

    Were they “the good old days”? For me, hell yes.

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  9. Anthony says:

    @Oldtimer

    To be frank, while this flag might accurately symbolize ‘the days of [your] youth’, it certainly doesn’t symbolize a chapter in South African history, where ‘the system worked’ – in fact, anything but that. It may symbolize the chapter where the system worked for a vanishingly slight fraction of the population, but at the expense of the dignity, freedom, equality and human rights of the overarching rest – so unless you’re operating in a paradigm outside of democracy, the mathematics alone suggests the system didn’t work.

    Furthermore, my blood boils boldly when you write something as ignorant, callous and laughable as ‘life was ordered/ crime was low’ – on what planet, precisely, were you living on? I venture somewhere in the separatist Apartheid cosmos, where systematised, continuous assaults on human worth don’t count as ‘crime’ (forced evictions, arbitrary arrests, pass laws, prison-murders, daily humiliation), and massive lacunae with regard to respect for human rights evince an ‘ordered’ life. Of course life was ordered – it was ordered into a heinous and despicable system separatism and racism.

    I’ll attend to all your legimating talk of ‘people should live how they choose’ when I’m done wiping the vitriol of my lips – with all due respect.

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  10. Oldtimer says:

    @Anthony. The system “worked” for the westerners in a way they liked, with democracy and cool stuff. It worked for the tribalists with chiefs and kraals and cows, and had done so for thousands of years. Your “mathematics” and “slight fractions” belies your inability to see anything from a vantage point outside your own culture and your patronizing insistence that things only work when they work the way YOU think they should.

    If you read what I wrote, you would see that I did address the issues of dignity, freedom, equality and human rights. But with blood boiling, all you have is ineffective arm waiving and insults. I have no respect for vitriol.

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  11. Anthony says:

    “Cool stuff” – are you pulling my leg, or what?

    My problem with your argument is that you attempt to legitimate the Apartheid system by installing noble intentions that didn’t exist in the first place. On the legal issue, African Customary Law was entirely ruled by the repugnany clause in the Native Administration Act of 1927 – meaning, in other words, that all African Customary Law was essentially subject to the ‘western’ laws of the colonizers anyway.

    On the social issue, the system didn’t work in any holistic sense whatsoever (outside of the fact it was entirely unsustainable) – as you yourself admit, it ‘worked’ “for the westerners in a way they liked”, regrettably entailing a cocktail of subjugation and anti-egalitarianism. They may have been parliamentary sovereignty bestowing rights on the white populace, but the vast proportion of non-whites were living by a different set of rules – and if they were so happy, and the system ‘worked’, why don’t you ask yourself a very simple question: why, oh why, was there civil unrest, the Soweto Uprising of 1976 etc., etc.?

    Let’s move away from the African population, who admittedly had a functioning set of (admittedly, patriarchal and non-egalitarian) tribalist rules by which they lived: What of the ‘coloured’ and Indian population? Why weren’t they integrated wholeheartedly into the system?

    Now then, I wish to take issue with something else. Not only is your use of the word ‘working’ so tenuous you might as well be speaking German, the comparisons you invite are founded on inherently unequal terms. The system ‘worked’ then, ie it doesn’t ‘work now. Observe, my good fellow: (this is taken from an e-mail exchange I had with a friend – equate the word ‘efficiency’, as I’ve used it here with ‘working’. They are different, I understand, but exist in the same continuum)

    When you have a system of divisive parliamentary supremacy (as in our Pre-1994 days) that grants democracy to the few, and subjects the overwhelming majority to a systematised assualt on dignity, equality and freedom, ‘efficiency’ is defined within a very narrow paradigm – And needless to say, is a lot easier to administer. If you’re not taking cognisance of the rights of literally 90% of the population, proving ‘efficient’ to the other 10%, at the expense of tens of millions, is not exactly an administrative challenge. Furthermore, with labour practices that perambulate a few steps shy of outright slavery (for example, forced farm labour in lieu of gaol for pass-law offences), the cards of (the Apartheid government) are stacked in favour of efficiency to the few.

    So when we enter a democracy proper circa 1994, the ruling party is now having to shoulder the rights and burdens of an additional (I don’t know, what is it, 40 000 000 people?) – the arithmetic of inequality past, means ‘efficiency’ will suffer.

    Now, this is not at all to vindicate the machinations of the ANC over the past fifteen years, or excuse their predictable corruption and lack of skills… But it is to say that their running of the country shouldn’t be compared to the Nationalist Party rule (as you quote Tutu on, simply because, why take heart that your efforts are more humane than that of a tyrant?), and furthermore cannot be compared to Nationalist Party rule, in terms of efficiency – it’s an unequal comparison, and frankly insulting – The ‘efficiency’ of governments past comes at a barbaric expense, and with an expendable attitude to human worth we don’t have the sick luxury of recourse to in this day and age. It’s like saying of Stalin’s Five Year Plans, “Hell, at least he got something done.”

    The above to me is so obvious as to be axiomatic. The problem is that you define “working” within such a provincial, blinkered purview as to completely negate the experiences of the overwhelming majority – to whom the system certainly did not work. You may labour all you like (I certainly hope you will continue), but I will continue to engage you and utterly eviscerate any idea you have that Apartheid was even remotely tenable, that it was a worthwhile enterprise, and that is wasn’t intrisically sick and a cause of grief, suffering and pain to millions (and thank Darwin we no longer have gross human rights violations etched into the very fabric of our legal system).

    On your point about vantage points – I’m a ‘westerner’, in your parlance, so chew on that awhile. We aren’t all insensitive, atavistic pricks completely out of tune with the history of our country.

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  12. Anthony says:

    Oh, sorry, one more point I forgot to add. You wrote:

    “The system “worked” for the westerners in a way they liked, with DEMOCRACY and cool stuff” [emphasis added]

    By definition democracy is: “the political orientation of those who favor government by the people or by their elected representatives” / “a political system in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who can elect people to represent them” / “majority rule: the doctrine that the numerical majority of an organized group can make decisions binding on the whole group” (taken from wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn)

    So how exactly can there be democracy with the exclusion of 90% of the population? You can’t have democracy for a select portion of the people – that’s not democracy, mate.

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  13. Afrimoon says:

    Ed

    Some valid points, if steeped in rhethoric to the extent that it’s cliche.

    And a tad melodramatice.

    Smells of fashiobale leftist views that quickly evaporated when faced with reality of the miracle post 1994.

    De Klerk got the Nobel prize WITH Mandela.

    Arno is a boer like Bok, and even did time in the SAW. (Admitedly he’s on record that brown was not his colour.)

    One bullet is still proclaimed for one setler. Messir Malema is running around proclaiming that which can only be quoted, in order not to detract from its power.

    Not worth getting your blood pressure up over this, we have more pressing problems in the ZAR.

    See you in the waves

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  14. Anthony says:

    @Oldtimer

    Not going to defend your intellectual integrity? I patiently await…

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  15. Neville says:

    Why does it need to refered to racism then we see that flag??
    I quite like that flag does this mean I am a racist??

    It has our history written on it, indeed it does not include all the pther cultures in our nation, notwithstanding it has meaning.

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