Recently, Orania, a town in the Northern Cape, South Africa has been receiving a lot of attention as the only hope for a better future. Twenty years into a democracy and Orania remains a “whites only” town. Orania attracts more residents annually and the population growth is climbing at 10 percent a year.
Orania is a town for white people who identify themselves as Afrikaners. The town is peaceful, safe and home to more than 1,000 people. It is a small community where everybody is friendly, helpful and radiates an authentic Afrikaans culture.
Carel Boshoff, son-in-law of former South African Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd established Orania in 1990. Almost 40 Afrikaner families bought the dilapidated town, from the Government Department of Water Affairs. Orania is an arid region along the Orange River.
Carel Boshoff claimed white minority rule was immoral and black power was inevitable. The establishment of Orania is for the Afrikaners to have a town of their own. The aspect of keeping the Afrikaner language and culture alive was the main purpose for creating Orania. The concept of being governed by the practices and traditions of the Afrikaner heritage dominated the design.
Non Afrikaners are not allowed to work in Orania. There is a culture of keeping the Afrikaner language intact and forbidding the oppression of forcing their children to speak English. Formed on the method of creating a stronghold for Afrikaners, Orania continues to flourish as a growing town of cultural heritage. The primary objective is to create an Afrikaner majority in the North-Western Cape and encourage establishment of similar towns. In many ways, Carel Boshoff’s Afrikaner state is considered to be similar to Israel by offering refuge to a distinct ethnic group from all over the world.
Self Determination and sustained growth are strong factors from within this exclusive group of people. The building of Orania from zero to a thriving town, boasting of almost zero crime is admirable. In fact, Orania does not even have a police station. Tourism is an advancing industry within the small town and the rapid growth within the tourism boundaries are expanding.
Orania boasts two excellent schools focusing on Afrikaans, history and Christian education. The teaching system is self driven and often criticized as being an unorthodox method in comparison to the education system of South Africa. Its citizens are proactive and respecting the environment is a key factor. Clear visions, conservation and recycling methods are practiced as they strive to remain green and consistently work on improving their surroundings.
Orania is not a model of separation but one of determination and hard work. The town continues to attract South Africans interested in buying land and investing in the haven that is Orania. Racial segregation began during the Dutch and British colonial times and became official in 1948. Orania is the only hope of survival for the Afrikaners wanting their own government, in their own territory.
True Freedom according to Orania residents is all about self-determination and letting each cultural group rule themselves. The only benefits of their self-governing system are low crime and unemployment.
Orania built from nothing and without government support is a sought after town that people continue to visit. The humanity is the stark difference among these people, and that should be upheld above all. There will always be racial conflict yet the respect morals and self-reliance are the benchmark of efficiency.
The town boasts a statue of assassinated Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd, the man who governed South Africa under apartheid and who was responsible for sending Nelson Mandela to jail. During 1995, Betsy Verwoerd received a visit from Democratic President Nelson Mandela, and they shared a cup of coffee. Betsy told Mandela she identified herself with the wishes of her people and the development of their own state. Mandela replied that he wanted a united South Africa, one that would stop thinking in terms of color. This desire is a shared regard by many South Africans today.
The Afrikaners want to live in peace with the rest of the world and help Africa to develop the continent. Strong ties with other communities have been a steady progress, based on mutual respect and trust. A hope for the future is that Orania, South Africa will become an independent state for the Afrikaans people.