FW de Klerk statement on white culture

Image via: flickr

FW de Klerk Foundation slams Ramaphosa for ‘rejecting white culture’

The FW de Klerk Foundation said the right of people to enjoy their own culture and history is at odds with the South African constitution.

FW de Klerk statement on white culture

Image via: flickr

The FW de Klerk Foundation has criticised President Cyril Ramaphosa for his Heritage Day speech last week. It claims Ramaphosa has rejected the culture of white South Africans. 

As a starting point, the foundation quoted the president as saying that “Heritage Day is a time to appreciate the many facets of our cultures, customs and traditions.” 


The foundation said Ramphosa’s sentiments, however, did not include the cultures, customs, and traditions of white South Africans — and particularly of Afrikaners. 

“According to the President, they should not be put on display to be appreciated and celebrated with others. Instead, the ‘naming and renaming of towns and cities’ should be used to expunge the contribution that they have made to our collective history,” said Chairman of the FW de Klerk Foundation Dave Steward. 

Steward asked what was left for white South Africans to celebrate on Heritage Day?

“Was there nothing in their history since 1652 that is worthy of commemoration? What of figures like Jan van Riebeeck, Wolraad Woltemade, Piet Retief, Paul Kruger, Jan Smuts and Louis Botha – are they to be viewed only through an oppression/liberation prism?” asked Steward. 


In response to the President’s statement, CEO of the Federation of Afrikaans Cultural Organisations Dr Danie Langner regretted that “…the President spoke from on high about the Afrikaners’ cultural heritage, but not with us. There has thus far been no discussion by the government with the Afrikaans cultural communities about their culture.” 

He added that the Afrikaans cultural community would like to speak about the statues that still stand in public spaces especially because some of them had been vandalised. He said that a new heritage strategy was needed but it would first be necessary to consult with all communities.

“There is, unfortunately, nothing new in President Ramaphosa’s rejection of white culture and history,” said Steward. 


Steward asked if Ramaphosa truly accepts that the culture of white South Africans is part of the country’s common heritage. 

“Does he really believe that they have a right to practise their ‘cultures freely and openly’ – or should they be permitted to do so only to the degree and in the manner that he – without consultation – determines?”

“The negation of this role and of the right of any people to enjoy their own culture and history is profoundly at odds with our constitution. More seriously, the right to culture is an essential component of the foundational right to human dignity. There can also be no question of a right to equality if some people are regarded as morally inferior because of their history and culture,” said Steward. 

Steward said it is extremely dangerous in multicultural societies for governments to target “language, cultural or ethnic minorities for opprobrium”. 

“This inevitably leads to scapegoating and to the current leitmotif that, because of apartheid, whites are responsible for the problems that continue to afflict the country – including poverty, unemployment and inequality,” said Steward.