Sunday, April 4, 2010

Racial tensions on the rise in South Africa

Keep an eye on South Africa for the near future, because racial tensions are on the rise. Today saw the murder of EugĂ©ne Terre'blance, the leader of the AWB (Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging - Afrikaner Resistance Movement), the largest political and paramilitary organisation of the far-right, white-supramecist fringe of SA politics (recently re-activated). I won't be shedding any tears for him – even under apartheid SA, he became a figure of ridicule in the mainstream, his movement clashed even with apartheid-era police and in the late 90s was jailed for assault and attempted murder on two blacks – but this bears watching. He was apparently beaten to death in his sleep by two blacks, on his farm. This touches a few sensitive issues for Afrikaners: firstly, for years there has been an endemic phenomenon of white farmers, still a heartland consituency of Afrikanerdom, being murdered on their farms, sometimes including torture and the murder of very young children; secondly, the leader of the ANC's youth wing, Julius Malema, has recently though well of it to resurrect violent chants like 'kill the Boer [white farmer]' and accordingly as been found guilty of hate-speech, causing huge public controversy. Malema is a major public figure, and considered by many to be a possible future leader of South Africa, and his vitriol towards non-blacks (predominantly, but by no means exclusively, whites) is a major sticking point in current SA politics. Terre'blanche's support is more vocal than widespread, though it must be mentioned that it has mobilised violently before, once to spectular effect, and once in bloody farce. But the major danger of this episode is as a bellwether, or as something which causes the lines of racial conflict to again be drawn across my homeland.