No tears but grudging respect for Mandela in white Afrikaner enclave

Sat Dec 7, 2013 11:31am EST
 
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By Stella Mapenzauswa

ORANIA, South Africa (Reuters) - While the death of anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela triggered an outpouring of shared sorrow across South Africa's sometimes tense racial divide, eyes stayed dry in a white Afrikaner enclave in the heart of the country.

But even in Orania, where a small community of Afrikaners has closed itself off, intent on preserving its culture and language at all cost, the global icon who preached a contrasting ideology of racial integration commands respect.

Hours after President Jacob Zuma announced the 95-year-old's death, South Africans of all races took to the streets and the Internet to express sorrow at his passing and celebrate his remarkable life.

Former President F.W. De Klerk, the last white president who help dismantle the apartheid system of institutionalized racism, said Afrikaners had "very warm feelings towards Nelson Mandela" and would mourn him.

In Orania, however, the roughly 1,000 residents were unmoved.

"One can genuinely sympathize with the death of a person who is a father to someone, a husband, a friend to others without falling in love with that person," said Carel Boshoff, president of the Orania Movement and son of its founder.

"But this was a great person. We can recognize it, we can see it and as such we can reach out and say we shared something of a commonality around this person. He had more grace, more presence than many others."

A group of young people sitting at a cafe sipping drinks, eyes glued to a television screen tuned to an Afrikaans language channel, merely shrugged silently when asked whether they had been monitoring media coverage of the story.   Continued...

 
Former President Nelson Mandela and Orania Movement founder Carel Boshoff (R) inspect a statue of Apartheid prime minister Hendrik Verwoerd, during a visit to Orania, in this file photo taken August 15, 1995. REUTERS/Juda Ngwenya/Files