Located along the Orange River in the dry Karoo region of Northern Cape Province, Orania has been the subject of many discourses, both in Africa and abroad, particularly because of its apparent racial bias. Orania, a Whites-only town, was established in 1994 by Carel Boshoff III, the son-in-law of the architect of the deadly Apartheid in South Africa, H.F. Verwoerd.
Boshoff III and several other White South Africans bought an abandoned workers village during the last phase of Apartheid and turned it into a Whites-only town where the majority Blacks were and are still not allowed to reside.
According to historical accounts, the aim of establishing the town was to create a stronghold for White South Africans and protect the Afrikaner identity by keeping their language and culture alive.
For many years, critics have accused Orania authorities of rejecting the concept of a Rainbow Nation and attempting to recreate the idea of White supremacy, more than two decades after the end of Apartheid.
No Black South African or any other person who is not an Afrikaner is allowed to reside in Orania town, even if they speak Afrikaans or are married to an Afrikaner.
Residents of the town, which is estimated to host about 1,300 people, are often screened by a special committee and new applications are rigorously vetted to remove any pretenders to their cause.
Orania’s relationship with the rest of South Africa is non-confrontational and although many oppose the community’s aspirations, the government of South Africa recognizes the town as legitimate.
Even so, the notion that a certain community can segregate itself from the rest of the world on the basis of skin color, language, sexuality, or religion is parochial and discriminatory.
Culture Erosion and Crime
The residents of Orania contend that their self-imposed segregation comes out of the desire to preserve their linguistic and cultural heritage and to protect themselves from the high levels of crime in the rest of South Africa.
Although not all Afrikaners in South Africa live in Orania, most of them support the idea of having an Afrikaner-only town as it makes them feel secure, thus minimizing tensions in the rest of the country.
Many of them liken the town to Israel, which serves as a safe haven for Jews from all over the world.
The majority of residents in this small town say they used to be regular victims of violent crime before relocating to Orania.
South Africa has one of Africa’s highest crime rates, with the majority of crimes committed by the Blacks.
Despite the significant steps that have been taken towards eradicating racial discrimination in South Africa, racial attacks are still very common in the country, with Blacks accusing Whites of advancing bigotry agendas that were common during Apartheid.
Many critics view the establishment of a Whites-only town in a Rainbow Nation such as South Africa as a way of advancing the dishonorable concept of White supremacy.
This is not to say that White people in South Africa or any other part of the world shouldn’t protect themselves if they feel threatened. However, they should do so without disregarding the dignity other people, be they Black or Yellow.
BY FREDRICK NGUGI