There comes a time in ones life when one feels a curiosity to know about the past and where one has come from. Sometimes we see great people in our history that we can be proud of and sometimes those whose actions bring us dishonour and shame. Of course, we are not defined by what our ancestors did and each of us needs to take responsibility for our own actions, yet, looking back to the past can help us to reflect on where we have come from and in turn where we desire to go.
I am no different. Taking an honest look at history has been a cause for both pride and pain. Part of this goes back to the Apartheid era.
To understand the abomination that Apartheid was, one must understand the background of the country, the races and the peoples of Southern Africa.
The house of Naudé ( originally Nagel / Nadault) hailed from Burgundy in France and spread through the northern part of mainland Europe. The Naudé clan had a scholarly disposition which led some of them to positions of power, examples include Gabriel Naudé the librarian to various clerics and nobles who became the personal physician of Louis XIII.
On May the 19th, 1718, Jacques stepped off the ship "Abbekerk" onto the Cape of Good Hope. He had been fleeing the religious persecution and genocide of French Huguenots under the edict of Louis XIV. He was one of the last few to escape.
The collection of refugees from France, Netherlands, Germany and the odd Scot or Scandinavian (plus Jews who had secretly escaped Europe) started to form a unique culture resulting from Dutch mixed with plenty of French becoming the common language of communication. The trickle of refugees had begun in 1652 and continued until the early 1700's.
South Africa 1700 onward
Imperative to their survival was the kind help given to them by the Khoikhoi people who started to intermix and led to the creation of the Griqua race ( Dutch-Khoikhoi, sometimes Dutch-Tsonga, Dutch-Khoikhoi- Tsonga). In certain places communities were accepting of each other and the Griqua became excellent marksmen. It is important to know that these people were not slaves, but for the most part viewed as equals at the time. Slavery was not however completely absent, as you will see.
The Dutch East Indian Company needed to build their colony for maximum profit and really didn't care either about the refugees or farmers who were trying to survive on this harsh continent. The Khoikhoi were pastoral farmers of cattle and held a vast amount of botanic knowledge in regard to edibles but did not actively farm plants for consumption and were not very chuffed by working on farms for small returns.
This caused trouble for the company because the farmers refused to use slavery on Khoikhoi and the company knew very well that this would likely cause a massive backlash if they were to try and force these farmers into doing this. There was another legal problem for the company too. According to Dutch law, any individual within its colonies who was a slave but who became Christian, was to be released from slavery.
This law was a source of annoyance for the company as they wanted cheap (I.e. Free) labour but dare not risk angering the House of Orange. The solution was decided upon using three steps. Step one, raid slaving vessels of the Spanish, French, British etc. The Dutch ships were often smaller and far more agile than the large cumbersome slaving ships (sadly, most of the time they only took "choice slaves"due to a lack of space on the smaller vessels, this meant that the remaining slaves were condemned to death at sea, a true travesty).
The second step involved buying slaves from other African Kingdoms. At the early stages the Bantu tribes has not yet migrated South so there was no trade with them. The Dutch did not want to risk going into the territories controlled by other colonial empires. Hence, Madagascar became a prime source of slaves. During this time the Malagasy Kings were in a power struggle and all too happy to off load their "spoils of war", that is to say captives from other tribes by selling them to the Dutch.
The final step involved "importing" slaves from Malaysia because from their non-Christian background the company could legally have them as indentured workers. (Later, after the British gain dominance over former Dutch territories they would start the import of indentured Indian workers especially from Punjab to work in the sugarcane plantations of what is now Kwa-Zulu Natal ).
South Africa 1800's
While the Dutch East Indian Company was bent on the use of slaves, the now ethnically shifting (and language shifting) Afrikaners were reluctant to implement this. Even these few ethical and moral standards would not last however.....
Trouble started arising as the Dutch Reform Church started to impose their twisted view of Bible scripture and agitating the Griqua by their racist teachings. Formerly peaceful communities were split by Griqua- Afrikaner tension and also by the tension between Pro-Griqua Afrikaners and Anti-Griqua Afrikaners. Sadly, the Griqua left and separated into their own Afrikaans speaking communities (currently they speak their own dialect which retains many of the older Dutch grammar forms).
The Griqua started to migrate north, many times alongside the Afrikaans Trekkers. Some Afrikaans and Griqua communities held good relationships as the Huguenot descendants had a greater degree of tolerance towards them, in part due to a rejection of the Calvinist teaching of predestination and that the "Curse of Canaan" applied to dark races. The Naudé clan being primarily French Huguenot, had shown resistance to this fundamentalist ideology, something, that in of itself, caused tensions as you will later see. Strongly Dutch Reformed communities started to become more insular.
The Bantu Diaspora and Great Migration
During the Bantu expansion various lands migrated southward and eventually became tribes. One such clan arriving in 1709 was the Zulu who were part of the larger Nguni diaspora (Nguni are the progenitors of the Zulu, Xhosa and Swazi peoples). The collapse of the Gokomere Kingdom (which built Great Zimbabwe and became the progenitors of maShona and the waRozwi tribes in what is now Zimbabwe) allowed the Zulu to populate the area now known as Kwazulu Natal with relative ease.
The Tsonga arrived again in 1800 and had the habit of coming in and out of what is now South Africa over a wide area that stretches as far as Mozambique. The Tsonga people created alliances in the areas under their control, imposed taxes and traded with other groups. This brought them into contact with the expanding Afrikaners who often willingly traded and made other social and economic exchanges sometimes resulting in mixed marriages. The Xhosa settled territories below the Zulu lands and often fought skirmishes with the Zulu... more on that later.
The British arrived in 1820 ushering in a new age of cruelty. The Siswati arrived in 1839 and Tswana in 1852.
The land of the original Khoikhoi and San people was gradually claimed by more and more arrivals. One major problem was the barren nature of the Savannah scrubland which makes farming very difficult. Any part of fertile land then became a prized commodity to fight over. Disputes arose over cattle grazing and what belonged to whom.
In short, South Africa became an all out land brawl. Senseless butchery of one tribe by another killed thousands, with Shaka Zulu uniting the Zulu clans under his rulership and aiming to become a Zulu empire. Smaller clans and tribes fled inland and war broke out between the Zulus and Xhosas.
Fighting between the Zulu and Xhosa displaced the Fengu people (amaFengu) who quickly made British and Dutch alliances becoming invaluable in the fight against the Gcaleka Xhosa. During this time several Fengu families became inseparable allies to the Naudé clan. Interestingly, the Fengu were the first tribe to convert to Christianity, use the plough and grow wheat. (It is interesting to note that the amaFengu are ethnic Zulus who were enslaved and oppressed by Xhosa clans and assimilated to such a degree that they started to speak only the Xhosa language, today they remain a distinct clan).
Two Boer Republics, the British Empire and the Genocide of Afrikaners
The Naudé's became nationally divided as the nation states of the South African Republic (ZAR) and Orange Free State were formed. In the Orange Free State they were shown extraordinary kindness by Chief Moroka II of the Barolong (Tswana- Barolong ba ga Moroka).
The South African Republic (which was far more hardline and openly racialist than the Orange Free State) came into ideological conflict with the Orange Free State and war erupted. During this time the Naudé's of the South African Republic mostly remained on their homesteads. Later, the South African Republic and Orange Free State became allies which drew the attention of the British.
Under the approval of Queen Victoria, Lord Kitchener began an extermination campaign against the Afrikaners targeting their women and children by murdering them in concentration camps which would later inspire Hitler. The Clan of Naudé and the House of M'fengu (amaFengu) being co-owners of the land, were forced into defending their land and families.
The scorched earth campaign of Kitchener destroyed the land, various Bantu and Khoikhoi clans were decimated as they were indiscriminately murdered and confined to separate concentration camps. It is difficult to know how many black individuals were murdered as Kitchener did not even consider them worth counting (estimates put the death rate at at least 20,000).
After the genocide the few remaining Naudé and M'fengu returned home to lands that took a long time to recover.
Life was quiet for a time.
The 1900's and the Apartheid Abomination
Then the White Nationalists started their crusade. The Dutch Reformed Church providing "spiritual" guidance and claiming that the black race was defective and cursed started spreading their non-Biblical extremism. The church and the state sanctioned a faux-Christianity that not so much twisted scriptures as wrenched them into pieces.
Certain Naudé's started to become resentful of the policies that imposed on their social interactions with other races, although most remained silent in the early years, content to ignore the dictates of the government in their rural setting.
Policy became harder and harder to simply ignore. The "Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act of 1949" meant that many had their marriages annulled by the state without prior notification. The "Immorality Act" of 1950 essentially made sexual relations even of married individuals illegal because of difference in race. This sparked outrage in many places but this was harshly quelled by the Dutch Reformed Church and Government who were all to eager to stamp out this "heresy". Even arguments that the Griqua are technically our people and that the Khoikhoi, Tswana and Tsonga had aided us fell on deaf ears and were declared "invalid arguments".
Sadly, not all Naudé's were shining beacons, with Jozua Naudé founding the Afrikaner Broederbond, a secret society that was crucial to the implementation of Apartheid, something I finding deeply shameful.
Yet, his son, Beyers Naudé following the mindset of rural Naudés, started to deeply question the biblical validity of the Dutch Reform Church's teachings that were the basis of Apartheid. After a deep study of scriptures his conscience moved him to act. He stated, "I made an intensive study of the Bible to prove that those justifications were not valid. I concluded that the passages that were being used by the white DRC to justify apartheid were unfounded. In some cases, there was a deliberate distortion in order to prove the unprovable!"
The Church and state did not take this lying down. The Church told him to choose between government policy and keep his position or oppose and and be expelled as a heretic.
In his last sermon before stepping down, he quoted Acts 5:29 "We must show greater loyalty to God than to man". From that point onward Beyers Naudé became a leper to the Afrikaans people along with the clan of Naudé becoming viewed with great suspicion. However, this persecution and ostracism along with the Biblical argument caused certain members of the house of Botha, Myberg and Visser to become sympathetic toward the house of Naudé, even though they would not show this publicly.
Beyers was called "a true humanitarian and a true son of Africa" by Nelson Mandela.
During this time conscription became a serious problem for some of the Naudés and related Bothas. Several of my uncles from both Naudé and Botha sides were arrested for refusing to bear arms based on their belief in the scriptural injunction " thou shalt not kill". The Naudés became strongly polarised, those who refused to support the Apartheid ideology and those who where brainwashed by its self righteous fervour.
In prison, my uncles were beaten for refusing to wear prison uniforms because they were actually military uniforms. The prison officials left them in their underwear during winter, supposing that the freezing conditions would break their spirit. Eventually, it was the prison officials who broke and they were forced to provide blue overalls instead of the military uniform. After release life was still difficult as they were viewed as traitors in both racial and political sense (even though for religious reasons they were politically neutral).
My grandfather (Christoffel Naudé) in stereotypical Afrikaner manner was a pillar of stubborn defiance. The police came to his farm because of reports that there was "illegal social mixing" of the races (its a farm, people work, eat and live together which was apparently a problem). He let them know that he didn't take kindly to being told what to do on his own land, that a young police officer should mind his tongue when talking to someone much older (Afrikaans requires the use of honourifics), that the police officer was the only "boy" (derogatory term for black men that the officer used when talking about black farm workers) he could see, that accusations require proof and finally that our family and the farm worker family had been together for generations and that he would not intervene if they decided to defend their honour because of the comments the officer had made. Needless to say the officers left with haste and did not return.
Vindication came at the fall of Apartheid by which time part of our family had settled in Amamzim Toti (Sweet Waters), KwaZulu Natal in the heart of Zululand. Finally, we were free to live and mix as we saw fit. Growing up my memories of that beautiful landscape and it's beautiful people remain clear. As a white minority all my friends were Zulu and my nurse was Zulu too. Cynthia was an old friend of the family (and an exceptionally kind and gracious human being) who my mother employed so that she could earn some cash in her old age. I learned some isiZulu from her because my mother encouraged her to speak to me in it and she had the habit of singing me to sleep with traditional songs like "Tula Tula Baba"( still one of my favourite songs) also my friends taught me as we played and ran around in the scrub and forests together catching frogs and all manner of bugs and spiders.
Growing up as I did, surrounded by the Zulu friends whom I still consider family, I had never felt that there was a great difference between us. As I spoke English in public, Afrikaans at home and isiZulu with my friends, having the mindset of a child (Vygotsky discusses this well in his theory of cognitive development) I took it for granted that everyone viewed the world the same way as I did. Shock came later while having a pool party. In KwaZulu Natal swimming is a very popular past time and youngsters often gather together to play pool games and eat watermelon and pineapples or have a barbecue (Braai).
Our neighbour was a professor who was highly discontented with the fall of Apartheid. Looking over the fence he called my father and complained by asking my father if he really wanted "that filth polluting the water in our pool". My father sarcastically asked if blacks turn into coffee when they get wet and asked why a person is looking over the fence at children. There was a colourful exchange were the neighbour was basically told to mind his own business.
That was an eye opener for me. Why would someone hate someone else because of their skin? My parents always taught me that God accepts any righteous person regardless of their race (Acts 10:34,35). I was eight years old and it seemed completely idiotic to me then, that someone could judge skin, the thing someone did not choose but was born with, nothing has changed, it is still nonsensical to me. After immigrating to Australia I experienced my own challenges and became the target of severe racism. It was a good learning experience that made me a stronger person and gave me a good example of what not to be like. Sometimes pain builds compassion.... sometimes.
Today, many Naudés have spread out into academia as in the days of old, and are working to continually treat people as people, by breaking away the prejudice around them through positive behaviour. It is my hope that our clan, wherever they may be in the world, remember the legacy we have in the fight against unrighteousness and the dark side of human nature.
There is a danger in remembering the pain of Apartheid and forgetting those white voices that spoke out. Remember, that almost all media is designed to spread hateful propaganda, because hatred makes easy money. White, Black, Yellow...none of it is important, only being human is important. Today there are institutions, movements and individuals who for their own greed filled motives call for revenge, for violence and for genocide. Their blind hatred and rage means that they do not even care how many of their own people are hurt or even killed by their actions. We must all do our utmost to reject this damaging propaganda.
There are good and bad people in every race. So whoever you may be, always do good, always refuse to bow to evil, always conquer the evil with good.