For my second assignment, I decided to visit a town in the Northern Cape, called Orania.
The town was purchased from the Department of Water Affairs, who originally created the small town to house workers and staff responsible for the construction of the nearby Vanderkloof damn, in 1990 at a cost of R1,5 million. Orania was officially opened on the 11th April 1991. Orania’s founders created the town with a vision of ensuring the Afrikanerdom heritage and way of life is not only strictly observed, but also an actual practice. At the heart of this heritage is selfwerksaamheid (‘self reliance’).
All jobs in Orania are filled by Afrikaners only; non-Afrikaner workers are not permitted.
Instead of relying on black people to perform menial tasks, as is the norm within South African households, residents perform most of the work themselves, or use fellow Afrikaners.Orania is like many other towns and cities in South Africa, there are the poorer areas and the more affluent areas.
The main difference with Orania is that you will often only see white people, Orania does not have any black, Indian or coloured residents.
That doesn’t mean black people aren’t allowed, on the contrary. During my period in Orania, I saw a handful of black people entering the town, purchasing goods from the local shop and also filling up with petrol at the local petrol station. Recently, outspoken ANC Youth League leader, Julius Malema visited the town and asked to erect ANC election posters, the request being granted by the Orania leaders.
ANC members wandered around the town, without any hostilities from the residents.I spent the Easter weekend, an important religious weekend for Christians, in Orania with the objective of obtaining a deeper understanding about their way of life.Driving through the Karoo scrubland that neighbours Orania, you are greeted with vast stretches of land, countless land.
Overlooking the town is a bust of the former president of South Africa, H. F. Verwoerd, often referred to as the architect of Apartheid. Inside the town, a small museum has been created to showcase the life of Verwoerd, with personal possessions on show.
Initial impressions are that this is a town where no black people are allowed. Previous media reports have been quick to anchor this as their main story lines, but spending time in the town and speaking to various people, this is anything but the truth.
Under the South African constitution, it is illegal to discriminate based on a colour of a person.
Orania is not breaking the law, there is no discrimination, they choose to do all the work themselves and not rely on the cheap labor force, as fellow South Africans are quick to do.Self sufficiency is a big part of Orania life. The town has a large Pecan nut plantation and also has its own currency, the Ora, which can only be used in the town.
The crime levels are low, it has two schools where an emphasis is placed on Afrikaner history and Christian religion.It has a group of shops, including an OK supermarket, a petrol station, Internet cfe and a swimming pool. Contrary to recent media reports, Orania is not fading away, but is growing in size and strength with those Afrikaners wanting a return to a more traditional way of life.
TF1 has produced a video about Orania and it can be viewed, in French: