Accepted paper:

The last hope of Afrikanerdom? Orania as an ethnic homeland


Sylvia Seldon

Paper short abstract:

The social landscape of South Africa is scarred by the division of the population into ethnic categories, and the designation of these to territorial spaces. It is pertinent to the discussion of the state of homelands in post-apartheid South Africa that the only presently existing homeland, privately funded and voluntarily joined, is for Afrikaners.

Paper long abstract:

In light of the legacy of government developed homelands, it is interesting that the only homeland existing at present in South Africa is one for Afrikaners. This paper will provide an ethnographic example not normally considered in discussion of South African homelands but which is similar in many ways. Orania is a privately owned and developed property, intended as the point from which a volkstaat should grow. It was founded by people closely associated with the apartheid system, but who apparently argued as early as the 1960s that there should be a separate homeland for Afrikaners, not just for other ethnic groups. Thus, the present white homeland has the same theoretical origins as the Bantustans, but the outcome is similar in many respects and different in others. Reasons for the difference includes that residence in Orania is voluntary rather than forced, structurally it is not a top-down government policy but an initiative of the people who live there, and economically it is private land with no government input in its development. Some who are affiliated with Orania believe that Afrikaner culture is under threat from government policies. For them, Orania is the means for the survival of Afrikaner culture, and thus symbolic of the main hope for the survival of Afrikanerdom itself. Thus, ironically, it exemplifies a homeland as a means for managing uncertainty.

panel W030
Home, lands and homelands in post-apartheid South Africa (EN)