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Why blacks need their own Broederbond

There are excellent lessons to learn from the past, writes Sipho Ngcobo.

How is it possible that people have battled with a simple economic concept (Black Economic Empowerment) for such a long time?

We have defined it clearly in black and white. We have debated it emotionally and argued about it for nearly two decades.

But, all things considered, it’s evident we are failing dismally.

Even though we say we know what we want to achieve, we seem to forget or get confused with what it is that we want or how to go about achieving it. BEE in its current form and practice does not create new jobs. It does not alleviate poverty amongst the historically disadvantaged (HDIs). In fact poverty is getting worse among this segment of the population.

We cannot mobilise capital to start our businesses from Ground Zero. We don’t know how to. In fact we have no enthusiasm to do so.

We seem to be shooting in the dark. And in fact we have turned on our own noble idea, pouring scorn on and ridiculing it at every turn. In short it’s become a joke. But also we do not want to learn from history.

Black people must start their organisations from Ground Zero, which the Afrikaner did before the War (II).

So, in fact, there is a solution.

And the solution is to be learnt from the Afrikaaner, for those who are interested. They have the template.

Before World War II, the Afrikaner systematically and methodically embarked on a project to educate, employ and empower their people. The project worked wonders for the ordinary Afrikaner folk.

In this, one organisation made the difference. That organisation is, or was, the Broederbond. I know this subject will elicit fear and loathing among some readers. But it shouldn’t. Just adopt an eclectic approach. Take out of it what is useful and leave what you dislike. This information is readily available. What is key is how you use it.

So, here it goes: 

Once the Bond was in full control of the Afrikaans cultural sphere in the 1930s, it decided it could concentrate its attention on the economic plight of the Afrikaner.

At the time, the Bond leadership could describe how the Afrikaner had been humiliated in society. “It was more oppressive in our daily existence as members of an all-embracing socio-economic whole. We were the poor of the poor whites, the Boers without markets and without capital – the lowly paid and unskilled workers in the mines and the factories. We were the civil servants in the inferior jobs, on the railways, in the post office, in the police.

“When the drought came, we were the first who toiled merely to live and when the Great Depression came, we were the first unemployed . . .”  said one Bond leader a Dr Meyer,  quoted by ex-journalist Hennie Serfontein.

On November 14, 1931, an extra-ordinary Bondsraad, later to be known as the Economic Bondsraad, was held in Johannesburg. Up for discussion was the establishment of an Afrikaner commercial bank because the banks of the time exercised a power grip, especially over the farmers. So, after a series of investigations by various commissions, Volkskas (Kooperatief) Beperk, the first Afrikaans commercial bank, was established on April 3, 1934.

Now the capital of the Afrikaner could be mobilized to provide financial backing for Afrikaner business undertakings.

In 1938 the Broederbond capitalized on the enthusiasm generated by the Afrikaner Voortrekker centenary festival, to build on the economic interests of the Afrikaner. As a result, the Economic Volkskongres on October 3, 1939 was held in Bloemfontein.

One of the most important organisations to emerge from the conference was the Economic Institute. The Economic Institute gave birth to the Redingsdaadbond (RDB), an organisation which raised funds to assist Afrikaners in economic difficulty, and also to assist with the financing of Afrikaans business undertakings. By 1943, the RDB had more than 50 000 members across the country. The congress also led to the establishment of Federale Volksbeleggings Beperk (FVB), whose aim was to weld together in one company, a portion of Afrikaner capital and to make it available for the establishment or take-overs of commercial and industrial enterprises.

A lot happened thereafter, including the all-famous Afrikaanse Handelsinstituut, whose main objective was to promote the interests of Afrikaner businesses.

So, whoever you are, whatever your cynicism, your skepticism, your hypocrisy, your dishonesty, trust me when I say that Afrikaners have the template nobody else has.

Don’t tell me how shady, how ruthless and how brutal the Bond was. Don’t tell me how it plotted apartheid . . . I already know that. I should know that.

From this, it is clear that the Bond played a major role in the mobilisation of Afrikaner capital and enterprise to start Afrikaner-owned companies from Ground Zero. Some of these companies can only be described as the country’s economic monuments employing thousands of people. These enterprises have turned some Afrikaner families and individuals into billionaires. What blacks have done in this context pales into insignificance. Just look around you and tell me what you see.

Afrikaners mobilised Afrikaner capital to empower themselves and turn around the economic fortunes of a poor nation of people. Their drive and commitment carried them forward.

Everything is connected. You cannot invest without capital. Blacks need their own bank to be able to spread capital and start businesses. The broad-based approach is a mirage.

Don’t whinge and whine. 

At first Afrikaners didn’t even have a government to support them. They just had themselves.  

Certainly, there are excellent lessons to learn from this. There must be.

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“We cannot mobilise capital to start our businesses from Ground Zero. We don’t know how to. In fact we have no enthusiasm to do so.”

An excellent article Sipho. The problem lies in the above. The black South Africans just don’t have the zest to take on the problem. You mentioned that the Afrikaaner didn’t even have a government. My opinion is that that was a blessing. That put the fate of the poor white in their own hands because there were no grants or hand outs.

I love this article. a really positive start to my week. thank you

Dear Sipho,

What a great article! Could you please forward this article to the man himself: “Hon. President JG Zuma”?

If blacks had the ability to create such an organization they would have done it a long time ago. On the other hand, blaming apartheid gives you all the excuses you need to fail to do for yourself what everybody else have to do for himself.

On the contrary Sipho, one could argue, that, relative to prevailing modern-day circumstances, on paper, black individuals have all the institutions, regulations, frameworks etc supposedly needed to guarantee success, what is lacking here is the wherewithal & buy-in needed to execute all these carefully laid-out plans properly, that I’m afraid is where the public’s & investor confidence is lost and will continue to be a wait and see game.

Too true. Due to the Anglo Boer war, the Afrikaners (mostly farmers) lost everything and were reduced to poor whites looking for jobs in the cities. However, the businesses which emanated from the above mentioned initiatives were NEW business like Volkskas, Rembrant (later Remgro), NASPERS, SANLAM, Medi Clinic etc. The government didn’t force the English businesses to have a 25% Afrikaner shareholding or face sanction. The Afrikaners had to make it work for themselves and it was sink or swim. Neither were universities forced to accept Afrikaners based on a quota system and the same applied to the English sports of cricket and rugby. You had to earn your place – finish and klaar. How many REAL black entrepreneurs do we really have in this country?

Time for the Afrikaner to focus on a private Afrikaans university is now.

Very good. Hope Curo is preparing medium/long term plans to do this. It will take a while. When it happens it will be overwhelmed with applications from English speakers too. Ultimately the UCTs and Wits will just fade away.

Interestingly, even in the late 1990’s one of my cousins in Jo’burg didn’t want to send his English speaking kids to Wits which was very politicised. He sent them to Stellenbosch instead. They battled initially with the language since they were like many English speaking people who can understand and read Afrikaans very well, but are not used to speaking it. A couple of close friendships with other students in the residences solved that problem very quickly, specially where those friends who lived closer to the university were often able to take them home to their families for weekends.

“Don’t tell me how shady, how ruthless and how brutal the Bond was.” Hey sipho please tell me………………..I never heard these things. Please do .

Yeah… and look where it got SA. As long as we remain race/culturally divided, we (SA) will achieve squat.

Hi Sipho. You have a bank. In fact, you have something better than a bank. You have the PIC – R1.7trillion assets. Not subject to Basel III. Compulsory depositors (government employees pension contribution) and the original source of the money is the tax-payer. You don’t need a bank, you need a leader who knows how to manage an economy and not just a herd of sheep.

You lost my attention when I read “Black people must start their organisations from Ground Zero”, do your research before you make insinuations about black people. I am a business owner, started from the ground up without any government help and the BEE you clearly hate.

I generally don’t support BEE, however due to the ignorance of people like the writer and all the ignorant white South Africans. I must say, I stand behind it!

Bottom line of the article is the bottom line….”certainly, there are excellent lessons to learn from this. There must be.”
if we do not take lessons from the past, from whatever source, we are immature short-sighted fools.
I am sure that the broederbond was pulled in different directions by different ideologies, it would be interesting to see how it was unified and channelled

Sipho’s article is a well-known and documented history of the Afrikaner. What is missing however (and this has eluded many activists and commentators), is that at the centre of Afrikaner success was and still is Afrikaner Nationalism, an Afrikaner consciousness that made all the things Sipho mentioned in his article possible. I therefore believe that the starting point for Black South Africans is Black Nationalism, not to be confused with Black consciousness. I’ve attempted to contribute to this proposition in a book I recently published: “South Africa: The Black Agenda – The Curse of Noah Revisited and the Final Rise of the Black Race.” Visit http://www.theblackagenda.org.za. Let’s start the conversation

Sipho’s article is a well-known documented history of the Afrikaner people. What he misses though (and this has also eluded many scholars and commentators), is that at the centre of the successes of the Afrikaners was and still is Afrikaner Nationalism, the glue that bonded and continues to this day to bond all Afrikaner institutions (both open and clandestine, including the Broederbond). What Black South Africans need is Black Nationalism (not to be confused with Black Consciousness Movement) as a change agency beyond class, ethnicity and ideological differences in the Black community. I’ve made my humble contribution in a book I published recently: “South Africa: The Black Agenda – The Curse of Noah Revisited and the Final Rise of the Black Race”. Visit http://www.theblackagenda.org.za. Let’s start a conversation

End of comments.

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