By Mike Smith
23rd of April 2010
Nobody can understand Apartheid unless they understand the diversity of the people of South Africa.
Let us start with the whites.
In South Africa there are several groups of whites. The two main groups are the Afrikaans speaking and the English speaking ones.
The Afrikaners are the descendants from mainly Dutch, Flemish, French, German and some other Western European backgrounds. The Afrikaners have a unique culture, their own language and they are mostly protestant.
The English speaking whites of South Africa are from mostly British background. They are made up of English, Scots, Welsh and Irish descendants...as well as a large contingent of ex Rhodesians. These English speaking Whites of South Africa can today not be referred to as British anymore. Very few hold British passports. They developed a unique accent and culture in South Africa and are fully South African today. Their forefathers came to South Africa long before there were any Whites in Australia or New Zealand.
South Africa also has other large white communities such as the Portuguese (300,000), the Greek (+/- 100,000) and the Jewish communities (70,000). They all have their own religions and cultures. The Portuguese are mostly Catholic, the Greeks are orthodox Christians and the Jews are mostly orthodox Jewish.
Further, South Africa has a Chinese population who arrived around 1870 to work in the gold mines until Chinese immigration was stopped by an exclusion act in 1904. The South African Chinese community is about 300,000 strong.
The Cape coloureds are also diverse and complex from a wide variety of backgrounds. Today there are the two main groups, Christians and Muslims. There is about 4 million coloureds in total.
It is commonly understood by most foreigners and also amongst many South Africans, that the coloureds are a mixture of Black and White ancestors. This is false. The coloureds as a group existed long before the Whites saw any Blacks for the first time around 1770 in the Eastern Cape about 1000km from Cape Town. This was 120 years after the Dutch settled at the Cape (1652).
The indigenous people of the Cape were the Khoi Khoi(Hottentots). They were almost 90% annihilated by a smallpox epidemic at the Cape (1703).
The Dutch also imported artisans such as bricklayers, carpenters, etc from Malaysia and Indonesia. These were the Muslims or Cape Malay people. The KhoiKhoi and the Cape Malay also intermarried and interbred. A small percentage of Whites also married coloureds, but it was actually very rare. A large amount of the passing sailors frequented coloured prostitutes. Today the Cape Coloured features vary from dark brown to almost White or yellow and their hair vary from peppercorn curly to straight black. Some have KhoiKhoi features and some Arabic or Malaysian. Today the Muslim and Christian coloureds have distinct and different cultures. Some speak a dialect of Afrikaans and some English.
In Natal we find most of South Africa’s Indian population. They total about one million and are descendants of indentured labourers (for the sugar cane plantations) and traders from India and Sri Lanka. They speak mostly English, but many still speak Tamil, Hindi or Urdu. Their religion is mostly Hindu but many are Muslim.
So far I have not even started with the blacks yet.
Most foreigners believe that South Africa has one group of Blacks that speak one language and have one culture. Nothing could be further from the truth.
South Africa’s Black population is not homogenous. There are several different tribes who all speak different languages and who have distinct and hugely different cultures.
There are main tribes such as the Zulu, Xhosa, Tswana, Venda, Ndebele, Sotho, Swazi and the Shangaan/Tsonga people. But it does not stop there, because these main tribes consist of smaller tribes. For instance the Xhosas are made up of Mpondo, Fingo, Thembu, Bhaca, Nhlangwini and Xesibe tribes. The Sothos are made up of North Sotho (Bapedi) and South Sotho (Basotho) tribes. The Tswanas are only a part of the main tribe known as the West Sotho. Other tribes that make up the West Sotho are the Kwena, Kgatla, Tlhaping, Tlharo, Rolong and Ngwato.
The Venda tribe is made up of mainly the Mphephu and the Lemba, but in total the Vavenda can be bordered off into 27 clearly distinguishable tribes.
The Zulus are made up of about 200 smaller tribes
The Swazis are made up from the Nkosi, Shongwe, Khumalo and Hhlatyawako tribes. The Northern Sothos are made up from the Pedi, Koni, Phalaborwa, Lobedu and Kutswe tribes....
And so I can go on...All in all South Africa has nine official Black languages, with 23 sub categories and innumerable dialects.
Yes, these different tribes of South Africa all have different languages, cultures and belief systems. The Vendas for instance have a special affinity to crocodiles. The Zulus consider themselves as a warrior tribe and they do not circumcise their boys when they are initiated into manhood, they have to kill a bull with their bare hands. The Xhosas on the other hand do circumcise their boys and therefore Xhosas consider Zulus as mere boys regardless of their age.
When a Xhosa and a Zulu work together and they have words, the Xhosa will first and always accuse a Zulu of being a boy, thus not a man.
Another remarkable piece of information that very few people know about is that the Lemba people who form part of the Venda tribe are JEWISH.
No. They did not convert to Judaism after meeting some Jewish immigrants to South Africa. President Kruger found them already with their Jewish belief system going back more than two thousand years. They migrated from the Kenya or Ethiopian regions. South Africa’s black Jews
I hope that the reader can see that South Africa is a palette of people, cultures and religions, but also note that I started with the white people who were leading in the atomic age into Africa and I ended with Blacks who are for all intents and purposes still nomadic Negro tribes stuck in the stone-age.
With this background, is it really so unimaginable and difficult to understand that the way of “Separate development” (Apartheid) was the best and fairest solution for the problems of South Africa?
.../ To be continued