White residents-only town booms in ‘Rainbow Nation’ South Africa
ORANIA, SOUTH AFRICA: Seen from afar, Orania looks like any other small town in rural South Africa.
But once inside, visitors will be struck by a clear difference.
Everyone here is white.
And in a country where the hard work in affluent areas is often done by black employees, whites here mop supermarket floors, use leaf blowers and harvest nuts on lake farms. dig.
Orania residents are 100% white in a country that has declared an end to apartheid.
The history of this irrationality dates back to 1991, when racism was in full swing.
The white Afrikaners – descendants of 17th-century Dutch settlers – purchased 8,000 hectares (19,000 acres) of land on the banks of the Orange River, in the sparsely populated Karoo region.
Using post-apartheid constitutional autonomy, they created a privately owned town that until now only admitted white residents.
Today, Orania’s population has grown almost tenfold, reaching around 2,500, and the economy is booming.
Old Dutch-style houses in the Cape with modern townhouses, separated by low walls or without, but beautiful gardens. Children ride bicycles and adults jog comfortably on clean roads.
Small orange-white-blue flags – the colors of South Africa under apartheid – flutter in the afternoon wind at construction sites.
Sensitive to accusations of racism, residents insist they are not nostalgics of the apartheid era but a community that pursues “freedom with responsibility”.
In their view, this means a community that manages its own affairs, away from crime, power cuts, dysfunctional local governance and other problems that are plaguing South Africa. nowadays.
Wynand Boshoff, 52, a pioneer resident, said: “People see Orania and can see there are no black workers … and their first idea was ‘wow these people must be racist… race’, that’s not exactly the case”.
In the affluent suburbs elsewhere in South Africa, manual work was almost exclusively performed by black laborers.
But Orania says they broke with colonial and racist labor practices.
“We do our own work, from gardening to cleaning our house, our toilets to construction, everything,” said spokesman Joost Strydom.
Orania was the only community to move away from the “cheap black labor system,” he said.
Under South Africa’s constitution, Orania enjoys self-determination and operates autonomously from the central government.
It has its own currency, the ora, pegged 1-1 to the rand.
The town is also seeking energy independence through solar power, in a country largely coal-powered and deep in an energy crisis.
Prospective residents are screened and must have no criminal record.
Strydom, 28, born in the southeastern US province of KwaZulu-Natal, says: “It’s like going into a marriage.
Residents will be “sharing values and subscriptions” with the town’s goals, he said, adding that Orania is not “racist” or “desperate against racism”.
Boshoff says there’s nothing stopping any non-white Afrikaners from applying – just that no one has ever done so.
“We haven’t found anyone yet,” he said.
Strydom says Orania’s population has grown by as much as 17% annually in recent years, and by 2021, new business creations have increased by a quarter. Tourism is one of the main business activities, attracting an average of 10,000 visitors annually.
“Suddenly other communities were saying ‘how can we learn from you?’,” he said.
When AFP journalists visited Orania recently, a number of traditional royal emissaries from the Xhosa and Tswana ethnic groups arrived in town on a “diplomatic” visit.
“It’s important to me to go… Right or wrong, somewhere there is a success story,” said Gaboilelwe Moroka, 40, chief of the Barolong Boo Seleka clan, part of the Tswana ethnic group in Neighborhood Free. Province.
“Unfortunately these things have been overly politicized,” she said.
Boshoff, the grandson of the racist architect Hendrik Verwoerd, argues that the Afrikaners created Orania because they needed a place to call home.
“Every African tribe or clan has a unique position that they use as a reference point,” said Boshoff, who is also a right-wing lawmaker in the national parliament.
Orania has “become part of the South African landscape”, he said, after preaching Sunday morning at a Dutch Reformed church.
Urban management expert Sandile Swana says private towns like Orania are not unusual.
“You’ll see more of these,” says Swana.
“The only difference with Orania is that they chose their own ethnic background and culture” as a pre-condition.
Another Afrikaner-only town, Kleinfontein, is located about 30 kilometers (18 mi) from the “Rainbow Nation” capital Pretoria.
South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela, worked tirelessly to reconcile the deeply divided country.
He visited Orania in 1995 and had tea with Verwoerd’s widow. A glass of white tea they drank was one of the neatly arranged memorabilia in the simple white house where Betsie Verwoerd spent her last years.
Outside the church, Ranci Pusher, a 58-year-old former government employee who moved to Orania from Pretoria in December, said she prefers socializing with neighbors on the street.
“It’s a community where I can express myself in my own culture,” she said.
A short drive up a hill is a collection of statues donated by people who no longer want anything to do with Afrikaner history after the fall of the apartheid regime.
“Afrikaner’s history is almost criminalized,” says Joost.