The Afrikaners

By Farrell Hope

This article was originally published in Genesis,  a Genealogical magazine, in August 2013.

I am actually what is often referred to as a BoereJood, Three Litvak Jewish Grandparents, and a Boer Grandmother. My Great Grandmother was unilingual Afrikaans, I remember her well, and until she passed at 92 we had 5 generations living in direct descent. I use the word “Boer” deliberately, it is a specific group within the general Afrikaner group, and heavily interrelated. I was born in Pretoria. As well as growing up in an Afrikaner dorp upbringing in Malmesbury through my primary school life, in a one-room school house.  Most of my friends there spoke Afrikaans. I am talking about cultural and ethnic influences here, my Boer origin Grandmother did convert to Judaism.  In reading the article you will recognize I distinguish beteen being Jewish, and practicing Judaism.  In the British Empire the two are seen as the same thing; stop practicing Judaism and you are no longer a Jew, but that’s not how it is seen outside the British Empire and it’s remnants, and it is not how it is seen by me. I haven’t practiced Judaism much throughout my life since my Bar Mitzvah, and just about all of my Israeli relatives never even had a Bar Mitzvah, I’ve been an atheist all my life, but I’d like to meet the man who tries to tell me that I’m not a Jew. This article is mainly about my Afrikaner forebears, and whom the Afrikaners are, and whence they come.  I’m sure you will find some real surprises there, Afrikaners certainly aren’t just the Dutch with a group of French Huguenots thrown in.  I certainly was surprised as I researched it, and it ends with a summation comparing the heritage and origins of the Afrikaner, and their bond to the land of South Africa, with the Jews and their bond to their land of Israel. This is reflected in the title of the article  – The Afrikaners: Perhaps Africa’s Most Enigmatic Tribe.  And the parallels continue as the Afrikaners deal with their diaspora and dual allegiance.
Farrell Hope
Click on the Genesis 40 link below