Orania, South Africa’s whites-only town

An Afrikaner boy plays near a painted wall saying "Welcome to Orania" in Afrikaans/AFP

An Afrikaner boy plays near a painted wall saying “Welcome to Orania” in Afrikaans/AFP

South Africa, May 8 – Welcome to Orania, South Africa: a whites-only enclave established in 1991 during the dying years of apartheid.

The town in the sparsely populated Karoo region is inhabited only by Afrikaners.

These descendants of Dutch-speaking migrants who arrived in South Africa in 1652 with Jan van Riebeeck, now make up six percent of the “Rainbow Nation’s” population.

But they make up 100 percent of rural Orania.

It was the Afrikaners who formed the backbone of the National Party that introduced apartheid, and many South Africans regard Orania’s residents as little more than latter-day bittereinders — term used for Boer War holdouts — who rage against today’s majority rule.

But residents maintain the town is not racist.

They argue that Orania is the best way of preserving Afrikaner culture and language and offers a safe sanctuary from crime-ridden neighbourhoods.

“We are safe here,” said resident Kobus Jonck. “We do not worry about locking our cars at night, even the (house) doors… they are never locked.”

Its easy to see why some may find the setting idyllic.

The town is built on the 8,000 hectares (19,768 acres) of a private farm, along the Orange River, in the beautifully desolate Northern Cape province.

There are no high-rise buildings or factories. Children run barefoot between small prefabricated homes.

According to the town’s authorities, its modest population of 1,000 is growing at nine percent a year.

Jonck, a sheep farmer, settled in Orania in 2012 with his family only after going through an interview process with the town committee.

“When new people come to Orania, they are interviewed by a group of people to make sure that they have sufficient understanding of what the town is about,” said Carel Boshoff IV, the son of the late founder of the town, Carel Boshoff III.

Its leaders have dreams of turning it into an independent state for the Afrikaner minority, who today number three million.

In line with the town’s motto of “working for freedom”, residents are encouraged to be self sufficient, and the majority are farmers or traders.

They all work to grow and develop the town and labour is provided by the townspeople, as little as possible comes from the outside.

Like any other town, Orania is run by a council which is elected on an annual basis, according to Mayor Harry Theron.

It boasts shops, schools and its own flag and currency, the ora, which is pegged to South Africa’s rand.

But unlike other towns, blacks are not welcome.

At the entrance of the town, a statue of Hendrik Verwoerd, the architect of apartheid, stands proudly among other prominent icons of the old South Africa.

The town’s flag with blue, white and orange colours similar to the old apartheid flag is visible everywhere across this microstate in the making.

Perhaps ironically, Orania’s existence is protected under article 235 of South Africa’s Constitution which ensures right to self-determination.

The legislation was adopted after the end of apartheid, following years of fighting against the system of separate homelands for native blacks.

“This republic is growing,” proclaimed Quintin Diederichs, a former rugby player who became a resident three years ago.

“We have fifty companies that we have created with our own hands,” said Diederichs.

But beneath the seemingly safe and secure environment lurks paranoia, some residents believe that one day blacks might turn against them.

A waiter at a bar said that he fears “black South Africans will kill all white people” when peace icon Nelson Mandela dies.

The 94-year-old who was jailed by the apartheid regime became the country’s first black president in 1994.

Upon his release from prison in 1990 he preached reconciliation and non-racialism.

Orania is probably not what the revered statesman envisaged for a new South Africa.

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  • Ove

    I think the article is a fair representation. To refer to the union flag as the old Aprtheid flag is wrong of course. The Union of South Africa was estblished in 1910 long before Verwoerd put Apartheid on the law books. But I agree with the description of Orania since I have in fact been to Orania and stayed over in one of their holiday cottages. We did indeed find it a ‘safe sanctuary from crime-ridden neighbourhoods.’ Perhaps Kobus Jonck should not advertise the idyllic situation which allows such a low level of preparedness against crime. I wish them good luck (even if it is not to make a political statement but just to create a good and safe environment).

  • Peter Hennigan

    I do not understand the media’s obsession with Orania. If the Palestinians do their own thing – it’s fine. If the Aborigine’s do their own thing – it’s fine. If the Iraqi’s do their own thing – it’s fine. Even if the Chinese do their own thing in South Africa – it’s fine. But if the Afrikaner does his own thing! UNACCEPTABLE! What is this FEAR of the AFRIKANER all about?

    • Muhando Gedi

      Unacceptable because Afrikaner wants to do his thing in black Africa.Orania is a gimmick for segregation.It should be destroyed.Those who will not be happy with this destruction should quickly or forcefully be relocated to Holland.Then after returning to their homeland,they can be given an opportunity for their much loved self determination.Alternative to this will be the famous necklace for the instigaters of Orania.

      • Duncan Muchina

        Bad call. Much hoopla about nothing…..let the whites have their save haven. They deserve it after more than 100 yrs of toil and sweat and article 235 of the south African constitution supports such self determining efforts. Other folks should learn from such successful farming communities instead of kijicho. Africa has more than enough space for all.

        • Muhando Gedi

          I am thinking of a place in Holland where black africans can have haven for playing their drums and pipes,then others from europe can learn from such successful artistes.Whites will be out of bounds.Man this is Africa,it belongs to us AFRICANS not afrikaans.

          • Duncan Muchina

            They haven’t broken any laws and the government harvests huge in taxes. Economics 101. Africans playing drums and pipes and paying zero taxes (drums and pipes not known for generating income), will fall back on welfare sooner than later burdening the state….and Orania!

          • Muhando Gedi

            Orania is not about taxes and economy.Orania is about superiotity and inferiority.It is about racial segregation.It is an attempt by white skinheads to re-establish and reintroduce apartheid.For what reasons are Africans not allowed to be part of this economy?

          • Duncan Muchina

            The setting excludes them…these Afrikaners work like donkeys and think like foxes. Do you seriously believe any black can survive in their midst? I have been to SA and I know not a single black would even dare live amongst them. The government can take solace in the amount of taxes they get from Orania. That’s it.

          • Little Hiti

            ….so ….since they are so good and such nice people and such exceptional human beings …so have you applied to included into their community of superior people ???? If you want kiss their backsides for whatever reason …. do so quietly, hopefully it also some benefit for you …..but do try to tell us thy they have any right to curve territories that are exclusive to themselves. In the end,Orania will be abolished in one way or another ..and we will never shed a tear for it …and we will never make apologies for it.

          • Little Hiti

            …and you are also very wrong, Africa has enough space for Africans ….everyone else is a guest ….and no apologies for that too.

          • Duncan Muchina

            You are a hater for real. What if US says the same? Europe, China, Russia, etc….places where Africans are welcomed to the extent they climb in the political systems they adopt there however insignificant that might seem? You need to be educated before you destroy your good brain.

          • Little Hiti

            ….I don’t hate anybody…I treat everyone …the way am treated… and most important, when I can, I try not to be anyone’s fool. The Africans dying for lack of medical attention in China ???? I suppose you choose to ignore that too …so that you can be among the ‘nice black’ people that appreciate the finer things in other people . Now that you touched on my education or lack of it …am well educated, nice job, drive nice car …live in a nice neighborhood etc etc etc etc blah blah blah ….not that it’s necessary to list them …for you to brand me an uneducated because I can stand and express an opinion…you really are the one that needs an education….and most importantly…you need to decolonize your mind ….or you can go off to China, Russia, Orania and live like a Second grade or Third Grade citizen in those insignificant stations of life there, I doubt you would have a problem with that or maybe …you are already doing it …who knows

            You can continue believing what you choose to…but ANC is breaking down and its shady protectionism …give it a few more election cycles. Orania will go down.

            By the way, rule of Law is very relative ….40 years ago, there were streets, toilets for Whites, Colored and Blacks in south Africa in that order …that was the law, I suppose you would have agreed and supported it….it’s the Rule of the Law after all.

            ‘You are a hater for real’ as any w#ite person will tell you is nasty black grammar ….am sure you can better, try not to disappoint, they get sticky about those kinds of issues …something about intelligence,class,culture etc etc etc .

          • Duncan Muchina

            You know, you could be saying something real and right but the way you sputter around leaves your readers hemorrhaging. You also have a selective mentality approach to issues. When you mention some places and omit others, it shows. In Britain, UK was welcomed the other day by a Lady Kenyan Councillor. Obama, that son of an African Dad, is the the most powerful person on earth as the US Prezzo. Holland has seen some African participation in their political system. That should put you to shame on your claim that Africa is for Africans. It belongs to all peace loving human beings.
            On SA, unless you address article 235, you changing nothing for real. ANC might seem like it’s breaking but not yet. It has some life left. Apartheid was enshrined in the constitution of the day and that’s why it was dismantled before real independence was won. The rule of Law governs the affairs of men not brawn. I never implied you were not educated because we have many educated but ill-informed fellas like you. That sounds like a better word.

          • Duncan Muchina

            Contrary to your belief, am not for the “exceptional human beings” idea you propagate above but I respect the rule of law. If what you say will happen, the law has to change first. Define what “self determination” means. Otherwise, as matters stand, it’s impossible to break them and they know it. This men have money and wealth too. Mandela left them alone. Mbeki the same and Zuma will not make a fool of himself neither will Ramaphosa (architect of the constitution). So they are safe. Cry beloved Gedi.

          • http://www.facebook.com/henrileriche Henri le Riche

            @Muhando Gedi – lol. What are you smoking? You’ve been watching too many late night movies. Clearly you’re buying into all the nonsense and sadly come across as not very well informed. Outside of South Africa Orania is one but many of such nations which is accepted under democractic international law…..yes! OUTSIDE of South Africa because inside SOuth Africa you are all slaves to ANC propaganda. Why do you think the ANC visits Orania to kiss who’s arses?? Not of the whites, but the international Community!! Get informed and look up the UNPO .ORG of which the Afrikaner is a member….and don’t forget to swallow that bitter pill called ignorance…

          • Muhando Gedi

            Thank you for not only a good read but for taking trouble to inform me.You are an afrikaan,are not you?You live in Orania,do not you?Dear Henri,I dont smoke nor watch night movies.I read and I am thoughtful.But to your imagination,I have never thought of the ANC visiting Orania to kiss asses.Where do you source your information?Is this not what you are referring to as propaganda?I am not privy to your information,but the boundaries of nations and the walls of separation in South Africa are creating isolation within the citizenry akin to segregation.It is a pity that this is causing insecurity in South Africa.Would you be pleased if South Africa reverted to apartheid?

      • http://www.facebook.com/henrileriche Henri le Riche

        Afrikaners have no homeland outside of South Africa you moron. That is why they are allowed their own piece of land by INTERNATIONAL LAW. So nobody cares what you or others say, it’s what is International law and what the international community say. Get informed because all this anti-Self determination talk makes South Africans look even more stupid.

  • Little Hiti

    ….I don’t understand somethings …..how does South African still put with this B#S …. kick them out, am sure there are lots of other Nice white only places the guys can go to ….American South, East Europe, mainland Europe etc. Africa, more specifically sub-Saharan Africa is the land of the black person, it’s poverty, its tears, it wildlife its everything is the continent of the black man….its does not matter blah blah blah …we should not have any territory that a black person cannot got to …if the so wished inf Africa. What’s very scaring for our country is that these apartheid types have been migrating upwards. Starting businesses that always fail, buying business that they always run down …the apartheid mentality and ideology runs too deep….we reserve the right to determine without any due regard to anybody else what happens in our lands. Just like we don’t tell Europeans, Chinese, Indians, Arabs what to do with theirs. We also do not discrimante against them in their native lands. Africans should be unwavering in ensuring the same. Zuma’s failings are far much more than I previously thought.

  • http://www.facebook.com/masumba Marotso Abraham Sumba

    I cant believe this is still happening in South Africa!! W

  • john oranjo

    Surprisingly It seems Muchina has already Kissed Afrikaans Ass that’s why he is trying to act as the Devils Advocate.Segragation was abolished many years ago and It shouldn’t Exist in this most developed Country of Africa.

  • http://www.facebook.com/vicente.shade Vicente Shade

    Lenasia is a muslims only town…. why don’t people fight with them & not like Soweto welcomes other national to live with them! All you comments go get involved in productive living. The would be a better if people respected each others right to live, Orania Town is not hurting you’ll lives… it’s all your ego that hurting you people… The world don’t need this, you people filled with ignorance… go pick Lenasia, that’s segregation!