it’s hard out there for an Afrikaner


I had a farm in Africa. Or rather, my mother’s family, the Bothas, had it from the 1940s until the 1990s, and it was the wrong type of farm: not Blixen’s bucolic liberal ideal, but an unprofitable, insular dustpan in the Afrikaner heartland of South Africa’s old Transvaal, near Rysmierbult (Termite Hill). If the adjacent districts of Krugersdorp and Roodepoort were the Afrikaner Bible Belt, then Rysmierbult could be called the buckle – the men on the farm were always loosening theirs to piss outside. This was Boer territory, where the men were manne and the women were supposed to produce children for the manne, and koeksusters for the church bazaar. In fact, though, my grandfather, Oupa Frikkie Botha, was not really a farmer at all, but a schoolteacher of Latin and maths with a dangerous fondness for Virgil. Hence the farm. And, as it turned out, he couldn’t do the maths. In spite of generous government subsidies, the mielies didn’t multiply. The sheep didn’t fatten. The peaches rotted. The dream of rural self-sufficiency failed.

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