Wretched Afrikaner

WRETCHED AFRIKANER

By Johannes Adriaan Snyman

shattered dreams
invincible destructive spirit
floating smoothly
yet in an instant
casting upon one a despondency
tearing away all joy
all love
all peace
sickening and pathetic
our Afrikaner nation
a sorrow to behold
invincible destructive spirit
hovering like the scent of death
over the silence of shattered dreams

*****

The Stables

The Stables

By Johannes Adriaan Snyman

It wasn’t the swirl of the kiss. The energy levels were too high.

It wasn’t her old fashioned farm style dress, with the short sleeves and the embroiled material around the fine lines of her neck. The excitement was too much.

It was the idea, that this very young beautiful girl, barely seventeen years of age, took a sincere interest in a man, she very well knew to be eight years her senior.

The idea that this new found, deep and pure affection the couple had toward each other, were as immovable and as firmly planted as the hundred –odd year old oak tree that stood next to the stables.

It was around this oak, on this incredibly humid summers day, that Emily took her beloved firmly by the hand, and with some resistance lead him in by the back door where they had no other choice than to be positioned between a great stud horse and a roughly built wall.

As is custom on such a warm day, the thunder clouds started building up, with a beautiful dark blue sky, showing off with lightening in a distance, clearly seen but not yet heard. The sun shining its powerful rays on the various colours of green grass, made for a spectacular view against the strong blue sky, and it was this sight Benjamin saw, looking over Emily’s head, through the open stable window behind her.

Since dragging him into the stables, she didn’t hesitate for a moment, and threw her arms around him, hugging him with her head to side, pressed against his breast. Having her eyes open though, she saw the remarkable peculiar shade of brown on the rear of the thoroughbred, standing only a few inches from the couple.

The intense heat has reached its peak, and the zoom of the cicadas has suddenly and notably stopped. So much so that she looked up in to Benjamin’s eyes, and with a half whispering tone asked him to kiss her.

They have never been this close to each other, and for a good reason to. This sort of behavior wasn’t the least sanctioned by Emily’s parents, who also happened to be Benjamin’s employers for the previous two months.

Although they both were very much aware of the possible consequences, should they be found out, Emily was less concerned about the matter, naturally because of her comfort and luxury being brought up on such a prestigious ranch, and it wasn’t exactly her job which was at stake at the particular moment. Above all, Benjamin supposing to be the more mature individual, was expected to show some responsibility regarding the matter, but Emily, being used to always get what she want, knew that a serious tantrum with a stream of tears would flow, should her beloved choose not to grant her their first kiss.

And so he did.

He gave her a quick kiss on the side of her mouth and tried to loosen himself from her grip.

But she wouldn’t let go, and somehow, with no explanation, they looked in each other’s eyes, complete motionless for a moment.

A moment in which they realised that there would be no resistance.

Benjamin gently took Emily’s face in the palms of his hands, lowered his face toward hers and with an equally gentle touch, kissed her lips with the passion she desired.

Heavy drops of rain started beating down on the corrugated iron roof, causing the kiss to last much longer than either one ever intended.

*****

The Wedding

The Wedding

By Johannes Adriaan Snyman

It was the brightest of sunny days any bride could have wished for, but the pale look upon Lydia’s face revealed a different cloud hovering over her heart.

The venue, spectacular in every way, reflected the beauty of couples joining in matrimony, but the nothingness in her heart overwhelmed any thoughts toward a life lived happily ever after.

Lydia was sitting on the grass under a big willow tree some distance from the chapel where Jonathan and herself were suppose to tie the knot only a couple of hours earlier.

Given the circumstances, she didn’t want any company, yet when Kathy, her best friend from childhood came strolling over the lawn, Lydia felt a sudden relieve from the deep and dark aloneness that surrounded her.

“If you want to be alone…” Kathy started saying, looking with empathy and with a question mark on her face at her friend, whose wedding dress has made a neat circle around her..

“No, you are fine,” Lydia uttered with a coarse voice, which she thought of as very strange as she didn’t cry a single tear since she ran out from the patio of the chapel.

She cleared her thought and quickly said; “Please, sit with me.”

“I can image how you must feel,” Kathy said sincerely but to the two of them, those words were very superficial, as Kathy clearly didn’t know what else to say.

“You are right,” Lydia replied without thinking. “You don’t know half of it!”

Kathy could hear the hurt in her voice.

“Do you want to tell me?” she asked with caution.

“The car accident he was in…” she stuttered. “Promise me you won’t tell anyone!”

“Of course dear, I promise,” Kathy said, more with the frame of mind of supporting her friend in distress rather than thinking about the weight of the promise.

“The car accident… It is true. Jonathan was in a car accident this morning.”

“Of course it is true,” Kathy retorted totally taken by surprise, touching Lydia’s hand. “We told you about it, remember?

“Yes but it is only half of what happened.”

Kathy didn’t say a word but with the big question mark on her face, it wasn’t necessary for any form of a syllable.

“Kathy, you saw the police vehicle about half an hour ago?”

“Mmm, not sure?”

“It was the police constable who told me the actual events…” Lydia said, having her gaze in front of her but not seeing anything.”

“Told you what Lydia? Told you what?” Kathy replied slightly impatient.

“Jonathan was shot… murdered!”

“Lydia darling, wait a minute, I can see you are upset. Calm yourself for minute will you?”

“You don’t believe me? My fiancé was shot! My husband to be, he was shot!”

Kathy took Lydia’s hand but she pulled it back.

“I have no one else to tell, Kathy. Jonathan was mixed up with some really bad people a couple of years ago. He was a drug addict, and owed some people money. So I helped him out with funds I inherited, but my family, to this day, doesn’t know anything about it. He came clean after that, no more drugs, and we had a good life. I don’t know how this happened, but he must have relapsed, because the police know what they are talking about. They say he was under the influence of some substance, on his way to the wedding, and according to some eye witnesses, were pushed of the road by some red sports car. When he hit one of the lamp posts, the driver in the red car got out, put a gun against his head and shot him at close range.”

“Dear me, no… Lydia darling, how can you be sure?” Kathy asked trying not to look shocked.

“I know that red car.” Lydia said without emotion. “It was also the same police constable who helped us getting Jonathan free from these drug dealers. I know that red car…”

 

 

*****

Helena Artenton

Helena Artenton

By Johannes Adriaan Snyman

When a young woman lives on a farm all by herself, deliberately keeping herself from the rest of society, it becomes a rather dreadful challenge to distinguish reality from invented stories. Contributing to the challenge is the fact that more than often, the gossip roaming about is based on actual events, seen or heard by the very society initiating the account, thus eliminating all possible doubt that what is being said could indeed be of an artificial nature. It is because of this then that I find the story of Helena Artenton, indisputably one of the most difficult stories to tell.

The Anglo Boer war left many of the Afrikaans school teachers, either through injury or death, unable to continue their occupation, and it so happened that a man by the name of Arno Botha, barely twenty-four years of age, was appointed as a high ranking official to participate in the draft regulation for education in the Union of South Africa. I myself was sent from Pretoria to go and assist Mr. Botha in matters the newly found government referred to as linguistic barriers. Arrie, (the title Mr. Botha didn’t last beyond our first encounter) was from the Free State and needless to say a hefty Afrikaans farmer with a ferocious love for the Afrikaans language. His English could be compared to that of the German missionary in Westville trying to speak Zulu. Being temporarily stationed in Pietermaritzburg, Arrie and I became very good friends and, as is the habit of Afrikaners, we could go on for hours complaining about the bizarre ways of our English speaking neighbors. We would develop our craft in uttering our grievances so well that most people, rather than being offended would just shake their heads at the remarkable entertaining fashion we conducted ourselves in. Arrie especially, would go out of his way to make known to the tea drinking community what he, along with the entire Republic of the Free State thought of the Vredesverdrag van Vereeniging. Arrie was set in his ways and it would have taken something phenomenal to bring a change to some of his extreme, yet justified viewpoints. Barely two months passed before something phenomenal did come along. It came along in the form of a very attractive lady, attending the Dutch Reformed Church in the misty town of Pietermaritzburg.

It seemed strange at first, this fair looking woman, with dark eyes, wearing only black Sunday after Sunday. She kept to herself at all times, not speaking a word to any of the members in the congregation. Particularly strange was the fact that nor the reverent, nor the church elder, or anybody else for that matter could recall an English speaking person ever attending the Dutch Reformed Church. It came as no coincidence then that Arrie, as it were a visitor to the congregation himself, being the first person to reach out to her, advancing to a level of, if one can call it that, speaking terms. She didn’t seem exceedingly friendly, but with Arrie being an exceptionally straight forward man, he managed to not only get her name, but also invite himself over to her place for dinner the following week. Most fascinating of all was how Arrie, as if struck by lightning, all of a sudden lost his sense of reason by acquiring a fondness for the British culture, even admiring the bizarre ways of the British nation. His sense of reason temporarily surfaced when he realized he might need some assistance expressing himself in English, and consequently invited me to come along. Something that did not cross Aries’ mind at the time was the fact that to avoid the small society of Pietermaritzburg’s special attention to the possible improper conduct of a very outspoken Afrikaner, it would have only been natural for Arrie to be accompanied by another person, on the occasion of such a visit.

Consequently we took the steep, muddy road which through the forest, up the hill in a northern direction. The late Tuesday afternoon grew dark as the mist was moving slowly down the side of the mountain and it wasn’t long before the horse cart was fully covered in a thick and unwanted dense fog. Even though our destination for the evening wasn’t too far out of town, we missed the turnoff to the farmstead twice and consequently, came to a halt practically inches from the house. Albeit in a very low tone, Arrie suddenly felt the urge to mention that if it wasn’t for the horses’ wit of knowing to stop and not continue to walk right through the wall, we most certainly would have disembarked from the horse cart right next to the coffee table in the lounge. Seeing how close to the house we actually came to a halt, it reminded him also of a story in the Bible where the donkey of some prophet came to a halt because a wall in its way, and if he wasn’t mistaken the donkey started to argue about the matter. ‘At least our horses aren’t as arrogant as that, fancy they to be arguing over such matters’, Arrie expressed his thoughts.

I, on the other hand thought it appropriate to sternly remind Arrie that it was no such time as to be talking about horse carts in lounges and talking donkeys, all the while our host stood on the front porch of the cottage waiting for us to come in. That very moment, it struck me that, even through the fog, I could see her wearing that very distinctly black dress. I’m not sure why it came as such a surprise to me. Perhaps I somehow had it in the back of my mind that she wore the dress only to church on Sundays. Still, her dressing code did not make her any measure less attractive. Her manner of standing, her gracious way of moving about and the slight downward tilting of her head when she looked at you all added to the discourse of a most delightful, yet slightly mysterious young woman.

She waved us in and with a formal, but polite greeting we entered the cottage.

It might have been as a result of the discomfort of the journey through the cold and wet weather but the spacious cottage felt very hospitable and even with the little amount of conversation going on, our host had a rather cheerful air around her. Arrie more than once came to the point of opening his mouth for the purpose of uttering something he thought would contribute to the discussion, but between his extremely limited knowledge of the English language and his remarkable strong will to not make a fool of himself, he thought the better of it.

With supper at hand, we were invited to be seated at the dining table which stood in a section of the house adjoined to the living room on the one side, and the kitchen on the other end. While sitting down, she saw me noticing two Martini-Henry rifles hanging on the far side of the wall. Helena and I looked at each other for a moment in silence.

She then, with a firm voice said slowly; “Mr. Vorster, under usual circumstances it would have been quite rude of me to directly enquire about your insolvent in the recent conflict between our two nations, yet I suppose that you yourself have had an experience in the last couple of years which would testify to the fact that each and every rifle has an exceptionally distinct story to tell?”

Slightly baffled by her forwardness, I replied in an almost forced casual manner: “Indeed Mrs. Artenton, indeed. I can assure you though; that here on the Southern part of Africa, unlike in the decent town of Europe, the stories of our rifles includes conflict with man, and nature alike.”

With those words, Helena and I reached a mutual understanding of each other, as if our souls connected without any logical explanation.

The room was rather dim as the dark and heavy mist enfolded the entire house with only a few candles lightening what served as the dining room.

“I am however more interested in the stories of those two rifles against the wall there,” I said quite at ease but with such a tone, that Arrie realized if ever there was a time for him to keep quiet, it was then.

She hesitated a moment, and then started her narrative.

“You Afrikaners don’t know what it was like coming over to South Africa… They told us that if ever we were captured, it would be the end of us. They told us you were barbarians, of the worst kind, savagely torturing your enemies to death in the most awful possible manner.”

Helena’s face was lit by the light of two candles on the table, and the shadows falling on her moving lips, gave her speech an over-dramatic effect.

“I came over from England with my husband,” she continued. “With me being trained as a nurse, my husband and I, barely married, thought it a noble idea for me to help Her Majesty’s Royal Army with all matters medical, as necessity dictated. I so strongly held to the believe that we, the big and civilized British empire, were fighting against a notorious savage enemy, as we were convinced over and over again from our superiors. That believe was reinforced not only when my husband was killed in one of the battles in Elandslaagte, but also at the sight of how many of our beloved soldiers died in mere expedition excursions. The bullets rained down upon our young, inexperienced soldiers in a way no proper person would deem as noble fighting.”

Helena’s voice was that of sincere meaning, not at all judgmental or of blameworthiness.

“I myself didn’t have time to mourn my husband at the time, for I was caught up in the siege of Ladysmith…  Oh! The many deaths I’ve seen! I so hated the Afrikaners…”

I was now genuinely intrigued by this account, and slightly raised an eyebrow when I asked; “What happened? What changed your mind?”

Her mouth formed a faint smile, almost as if embarrassed by her former naivety.

“I was helping out, performing my duties as a nurse in a makeshift military hospital no more than five kilometers outside Ladysmith. I do not at all understand military conduct, but during the siege of the town, our leaders apparently reached an agreement to make this hospital neutral, treating casualties from both British and Boer. We started out with an initial hundred beds, but toward the end it grew to a thousand-nine-hundred beds in rows, with over ten thousand admissions received and treated, most of them British. There, in that hospital, I saw the heart of the Afrikaner Boer. It was there where I saw, amidst conditions of war, the humanity, caring and loving way the Afrikaner nation conducted itself toward its own, as well as to the fearsome imperial enemy. There I saw the courageous hearts of a farming people, not at all like what we were told to believe, a barbaric people lacking any form of decency. I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would see so much kindness, so much lightheartedness amid military conflict, all coming not from my own people but from the very people we were fighting.”

“I’m confused,” I proclaimed with no sign of a change in facial expression, “You helped so many of your fellow countrymen, probably saved hundreds of lives. What then, Mrs. Artenton would be the reason for your unpopularity among the English in this town?”

I paused for a moment and then added; “If I may be so blunt to assume your distance from town, coupled with your attending the very Afrikaans, Dutch Reformed church, as terms less friendly with the English occupants in town?”

“Not at all Mr. Vorster, not at all.” She softened her gaze on me, and her voice filled the room with a welcoming essence. “I was so swayed by the notion of a decent Afrikaner people, their families and their children, that as the war advanced, a Boer commando came around my farmhouse for some food and refreshments. They were only about eight farmers on horseback, and conducted their way in a sociable, non threatening manner.”

Helena’s eyes lit up in the candle light as she brought the event to mind. “I noticed two of the farmers didn’t have rifles, and I offered them the rifles of my late husband, these very Martini Henry’s you see hanging on the wall. Word got out that I helped them, and so, in all stately affairs of British demeanor, I became an enemy of the empire.”

Oddly, she smiled broadly as she uttered the words, ‘enemy of the empire’ as if it gave her great pleasure not to be associated with the Royal Queen’s service.

Our conversation was then interrupted with the maid bringing in a vegetable soup as a starter, and Arrie, feeling his input to the evening necessary but not sure of what to say, exclaimed his very wise, thoughtful and calculated words; “Ah! How lovely the smell of the soup!”

As the three of us started enjoying our starters, I carefully put the spoon down on the table, sat back and said; “Mrs. Artenton.”

She looked up from her dish and replied amused; “Yes Mr. Vorster?”

Without thinking why, I paused for a moment.

“I know that hospital you were talking about. It is called the Intombi hospital. I was stationed some distance from there to guard the offloading of patients from the daily train arriving from Ladysmith, making sure there were no soldiers or weapons on that train. Later on, you were short on staff there, and we helped getting the wounded from the carriages to the hospital beds. I recall seeing a young lady there. I also recall her being exceptionally hard working.”

“Yes Mr. Vorster?” Helena stopped eating, and knew where this line of talk was heading.

“Yes Mrs. Artenton. The lady I saw was not wearing black though. It could be because she wasn’t mourning her husband’s death at the time? I know it is not my place to say this, but maybe that lady will wear a white dress sometime again?”

“On the contrary Mr. Vorster, you are quite right,” giving her head a nod she said in an overly attractive manner; “Maybe even as soon as tomorrow morning, that lady will be wearing a dress, other than black again.”

*****

A curious case South Africa finds itself in

A curious case South Africa finds itself in

By Johannes Adriaan Snyman

Previously the enemy was without.  The film,“Boetie gaan border toe” fixates our attention to an enemy on the other side of an established border. The “communist threat,” at least in our minds at the time, existed in parts quite removed from our homes, our existence and our livelihood. The enemy was a force who could be seen, identified and dealt with. There was a measure of achievement, and strategies could be assembled based on the available information.

Not so today for the enemy is very much in our midst. The enemy is walking in our streets, in our shops and in our parks. The enemy has entered into our homes, our bedrooms, gruesomely killing our men and children. Our adversaries currently wait at traffic lights, killing our wives who just happen to be on their way to work, school or a shopping mall. It is an enemy we find it difficult and near impossible to see, or recognize. It is an enemy far more dangerous than any soldier fighting for honor and glory, for this enemy values his own life far less than we value our own. This kind of enemy has no morals, no reasoning and no sense of ethical behavior.  Though created in the imaged of God, he gave himself to a despicable and an atrocious behavioral pattern, worse than that of any animal on earth. It is extremely demoralizing in every sense. All of this despite South Africa being at the forefront in the battle for human rights, which to the people already killed, doesn’t mean anything. Even in this, the words of Jeremiah the prophet finds fulfillment where it states that they have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, Saying, ‘Peace, peace; when there is no peace.

Now what makes this case so curious is the fact that our adversary has for a long time now realized that farmers are easy targets, hence the vast majority of farm killings. Any person, Afrikaans or English, who have not looked the other way, and have familiarized himself with the gross and cruel acts against humanity taking place on South African soil today, would readily proclaim the grievous state the Afrikaner nation finds itself in. We are, particularly our farming community, in a situation where we, as a collective group of people, are forced to resort to a defense mechanism, very much based on the castles and forts in the medieval times. High walls, fortified dwellings, communities living together under the protection of a single and impenetrable system may seem like a probable solution for the moment. Surely such ideas will not stand against any military force, but the sole purpose would be the effective and most practical means of the protection of a united group of people.

Grand ideas you may say, but where will the money come from? Restructuring civilization does not come without a price. Well, neither does the way the momentum of violence are kept in the current state of affairs. Our turning a blind-eye and lack of action is costing us lives, the lives of innocent woman and children, in the most atrocious ways imaginable. Apart from the dreadful thought of the immediate sufferings, the crimes do have a price on monetary value as well. Every act of violence against the family of an individual, steals from that individual time, resources and the ability to focus on building his or her enterprise up, for the benefit of the community and in effect, the country as a whole.

I myself, on the other hand, have seen the amount of capital available for the purchase of wildlife, coupled with the turnover of the rapid growing game breeding industry. Much of South Africa’s private wealth has, and keeps flowing into a lucrative wildlife industry, bigger than for instance the milk and sugar industries respectively. From a coherent economical perspective, this might not sound like rational reasoning, but if the Afrikaner nation really wants an excuse not to act proactively regarding the safety of our people, the lack of funds would not be it.

Shouting at the top of your voice, either through the local or international media, or by means of international bodies will not be helping much either. There are worse circumstances of violence currently in Israel and the response of the United Nations is that of condemning Israel, having resolved no less than forty-five resolutions against them, almost more than on the rest of the world combined. To the rest of the world we, the apparent authors of Apartheid, are the adversary. The picture the world vividly remembers is that we were the enemy of equal right and humanity, but at long last, after many sanctions and with a noble prize in hand, the world of democracy has won.

Do you, seemingly righteous Afrikaner, for one moment think that the noise you make, the seemingly legal arguments you have, the excellent reasoning and the brave opinions you utter will protect you from the weapons of the enemy? Will you with your clever way of thinking about who is wrong and who is right, prevent the bullets flying through your home and car?

Then of course there are those that would call a person like me a rigorous and absolute pessimist, viewing our lives in this outwardly wonderful democracy, completely out of perspective. My reply to that would be that they probably haven’t been moved by the trauma of one of these incidents, either personally or in close family, and that choosing to not believe in the devil, will not by any means protect one from him.

What shall we say to these things then? If God be for us, who can be against us? He who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him, also freely give us all things?

Yet I see many against us. You only have to look at the statistics to come to such awareness. Either the Word of God is in err then, or it is that we are doing something severely wrong. I personally tend to think on the latter, or else we might as well throw away everything we believe in. And that I cannot.

We are where we are, and experience what we experience, as a result of our own unrighteousness as well as that of our forefathers. We’ve accepted the grace of God, but through that, traded a relationship with a loving Father, for the love of wealth, comfort and luxury. Our dependence on our Maker has been replaced with our trust in riches. Our God has blessed us with more gold and diamonds than very few other nations on earth has ever seen, and instead of giving Him the glory, we proudly proclaim that in the light of other ethnic groups in South Africa, it was our intelligence which lead up to the building of this place and we ourselves were so grand as to have begotten this wealth in our own strength, contrary to what the book of Deuteronomy commands us in the latter part of chapter eight.

You may ask the Lord your God, what it really means to depend on Him, like our forefathers did while being exiled to concentration camps during the Second Anglo Boer War. You may ask the Lord your God what it means to really forgive someone, like our forefathers had to do when also their wives and children were murdered by an enemy from the North. You can ask the Lord your God what it means to give Him all the glory, like our forefathers did after a victory of a battle determining the existence of a nation.

I would not presume to know everything, but this one thing I know; our governance has been taken away from us, but we still have our wealth. Our religion has been removed from our schools, but we still have our homes and businesses. Our people are being murdered on their farms, but we still have land on which we can produce food for more than a nation.

A couple of thousand years ago, the nation of Israel was in a similar position. They were subject to Babylonian rule for a time appointed by God. But they still had their homes, their temple, their businesses and their agricultural activities. Only it was subject to Babylonian rule, but they still had it. They were also warned, and they did not listen. As a consequence, they lost everything. In a very horrific way.

I am convinced that, if we as an Afrikaner nation, collectively fall on our knees, remove the wickedness and idols from our hearts, and ask God to avenge us of our adversaries, He will, according to the Gospel of Luke, in the first part of chapter eighteen, answer our prayers. We might not as an immediate effect, get our governance back, but there will be a favor and grace upon this collective group of people and in a broader sense, on his nation, as has never been seen before.

If we, however, as an Afrikaner nation, continue in the fashion we do, having no hearts of repentance, not even caring for our own poor, trusting in our riches and refusing to open our eyes to the Word of God given us, then there will most certainly come a time where destruction will fall upon us, worse than we can ever imagine. It will start with the farms and we will lose everything, our homes, our schools, our shops, even the very products on the shelves of the shops will disappear. It will be unnecessary for me to elaborate on this, as we can all read it in the Word of God, readily available in our homes, but this I’m sure; the picture is slightly more unpleasant than you can fathom at this point in time.

Afrikaner nation, you are so beautiful, so rich in culture and in history, so loving and having been made so strong through centuries of character building. Take the covers of your eyes. Get to know a God, who is righteous but who doesn’t want to destroy a nation, and in His amazing grace, have given us a period to turn back to Him, to repent, to turn from our wicked ways and to serve and honor Him. He loves us, each individually and as a nation, with overflowing abundance and wants to do great things. But He wants it from a God-fearing nation, and not a nation who follows the ways of the world.

*****