When I left for America 13 years ago to study, I never expected that I would end up swearing in as an American citizen; it was supposed to be just a short adventure. But then it happened in April this year, and now being American is unequivocally part of my identity: I proudly sing the American national anthem, I adopt the language and culture as my own, and I have to decide whether I will vote for Donald Trump next year for his second term or for the Democrat who will stand against him. Or maybe the Libertarians will eventually nominate a good candidate?
America often gets a bad image, mostly due to Hollywood’s antics, but it would be a mistake to think 350+ million people are all birds of a feather. I have experienced tremendous love and care from my fellow Americans.
But while I am absorbed in being American, being an Afrikaner remains close to my heart. One of my Afrikaner friends, who was also sworn in as an American, says he doesn’t believe you can cling to one identity while trying to grab another. He doesn’t even teach his son Afrikaans.
To me, it feels like throwing the baby out with the proverbial bath water if you become a citizen elsewhere and just leave your former language and identity behind.
That’s why I decided to spend more extended periods in South Africa where most Afrikaners still reside. I want to rediscover the culture because I now can appreciate how precious it is – even though most people take it for granted. Note: I’m not saying South African culture, because that is even harder to define. If we assume the Afrikaner and Zulu and Xhosa and Indian cultures, etc. are all part of South African culture, is it not like saying that German culture is the same as French culture? It doesn’t make sense, does it?
It seems so to me you steal something from every Southern African culture if you try to stir them together just because they are trapped within the same colonialist boundaries. So now I tour and breathe in Afrikaner culture – from Aardklop to Orania, from farm stall to home industry, from long arm dance to jukskei. There is so much to enjoy and be proud of; also a lot making you grin and shake your head.
But Afrikaner culture and history remain part of me, with all the beautiful and all the scars. And I firmly recommend that all Afrikaners – those in the diaspora and those still in Africa – each support the culture in their own way. Take advantage of the websites of Wêreldwyd and AfriForum Netwerk. Find and support the businesses near you that offer services in Afrikaans. Also, list your own business and help the language and culture with your purchasing power and customer acquisition to survive.
And finally, make technology your friend. Nowadays, there is so much online information available in Afrikaans. Listen to my podcast and many others on Podmedia, a brand new, alternative media company. Get involved on Twitter. We look forward to hearing from you.
This post is also available in: Afrikaans