orania: afrikanertuiste


Perched on a hill overlooking a dusty town stands a three-foot statue of Prime Minister Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd. Acknowledged by all but the most die-hard of supporters as an unrivaled villain in South African history, Verwoerd is known as the architect of “grand apartheid.” While “petty apartheid” had ensured that restaurants and other public places would be subject to the same sort of segregation found in Jim Crow America, it was Verwoerd who, with the mad zeal of the social scientist, implemented a policy of forced removal by which the government razed homes, loaded blacks onto trucks, and deposited them in remote Bantustans. A statue of Verwoerd (who was knifed to death by a parliamentary messenger in September 1966), however diminutive, seems totally out of place in the new South Africa, that country born in 1994 and constantly touted as a land transformed. Over the past fourteen years, symbols of South Africa’s apartheid history have been removed and painted over, from the national anthem to Afrikaans street signs to the name of the Johannesburg airport. But this town, Orania, is like none other in South Africa. Like the “black spots” of the apartheid era—small pockets of black-inhabited land in designated white areas—Orania is an island unto itself. A large sign beside an (always open) entrance gate that abuts the highway reads: orania: afrikanertuiste—the Afrikaner homeland.

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