“Karel is on board” Gert, the Dominee, assured them all.
A group of half a dozen men of the older generation were over at Andre’s house, sitting about the kitchen table while their women folk sat apart in the lounge. Sonja was in the scullery washing dishes from dinner. She’d volunteered for the chore even though the house staff would normally handle it the next morning. She took her time, carefully avoiding any noise so that the men forgot she was present.
This was not an arbitrary group of friends; it had a purpose; a self-styled militia, though now only loosely formulated. But once, not long ago, it had had a formidable reputation for influence.
They were a brotherhood—a shadow and husk of The Afrikaner Broederbond, the once secret exclusively male Calvinist Afrikaner organization dedicated to the advancement of Afrikaner interests in South Africa and its influence abroad.
The Broederbond was founded in 1918 and was known as Jong Zuid Afrika—Young South Africa. Two years later it adopted what became a chilling name for any who opposed them—Broederbond.
For most of the 20th Century the organization had enjoyed a vice-grip over the South African political system and its leaders. In this, it may reasonably be compared to Freemasonry, or at least the legend of what Masons are according to conspiracy theorists.
But the Broederbond was no illusion; it was all too real. They achieved their greatest heights during apartheid, the divisive racial system that was a Broederbond brainchild in the first place.
Officially, the organization no longer existed.
Though these men had lost the power that their fathers had wielded, they had not lost the attitude or self-assurance.
They maintained an iron-cast conviction that the Afrikaner volk, its people, had been planted in the country directly by the Hand of God; destined to survive as a separate volk, apart from all other influences with its own calling directly from the gospels. It was a meme that gripped and held them in its grasp, a meme they were determined would live on in their children and grandchildren; they worked hard at cementing it there.
“Could that old Bushman even grasp what you wanted?” Jan de Villiers, a Kommandant under the former government’s army infantry asked.
“It would be a mistake to think that one is stupid, Jan,” Willem Bauer, owner of the farm on which Karel lived and worked cautioned, “…he’s as crafty as a bag full of monkeys.”
“You are right,” the Dominee agreed. “Karel is like a clever bobbejaan. The first he’ll go to with this news is to his nephew… that donner… Bennie Pieterson.”
Tjaardt’s uncle, Bennie Pieterson, the town’s Burgemeester or Mayor.
A coloured of mixed race and distantly related to Oom Karel, Bennie had been a prominent member of the ruling government until he’d been forced out of favor and to the backwaters under a cloud of rumour and intrigue. And even as the town’s coffers strained under the weight of the drought, Pieterson flaunted newfound wealth that seemed to be steadily growing.
Much as Bennie claimed to be a scapegoat, that he had taken the fall for illegal shenanigans that went up to Presidential level, the group gathered here this evening and the white community at large, would hear nothing of it. Ordinarily they would love to see the President brought down by small fry like Pieterson, but it suited their local agenda to rather perpetuate the distrust in Pieterson in spite of these claims of Presidential collusion.
In short, they wanted Pieterson out, at any costs. He wielded too much local power and influence for their liking.
“I didn’t fall off the turnip truck yesterday,” said the Dominee, adopting a cunning expression. “We’ve out-thought him already… I chatted to Willem earlier. He’ll see to it that this can’t happen…”
Willem Bauer was Oom Karel’s employer; he nodded, endorsing Gert’s words.
“The Coloured who outwits me has not yet been born… and we have an ace up our sleeve,” Gert smiled.
“The Discover Group…?” Andre blurted, then checked himself. Developments with the American-based Discover Group had been on his mind since Gert had discussed it with him in private the previous week.
The Dominee shot him a glare.
“Discover Group?” Jan asked cautiously.
“We may need cash to do this,” Gert pointed out. “Enough said.”
“Understood.” Jan nodded, “it’s need to know....”
“It’s not that you don’t need to know, Jan. It’s just best to keep our powder dry as the rooinek says. I’m working on something.”
“So long as the Boesman is with us, I think that’s all the powder we’ll need.”
“Old Karel says he must meet with his ‘advisors’.” They all laughed at the notion, “But I’ll buckle the old fool, yes. Willem can put some pressure there too,” the Dominee assured.
“It’s not like it used to be in the old days, manne. But I still have some influence” Willem suggested with a smirk, and the way he’d said it made the men laugh again. “But my concern is when the Xhosas get wind of it? You know the way they’re going everywhere else—next thing you know they will think this is a clever idea… an idea just perfect for them.”
“We have the claim over them all—we have the documentation, they only have stories,” Gert, the Dominee, assured them. “And I’m reading this from the official history of this area.”
He opened a giant old dusty book he had already marked for the meeting.
“The first documentation of the pre-history of Schietfontein—of Carnarvon—comes in the form of the official granting of grazing rights by the Cape Government to Pieter Hugo on 26 September 1758. For this privilege an annual rent of 20 ‘rijksdaalders’ had to be paid’… and-so-on, and-so-on.”
He stopped reading, “Now, that’s a hundred years before anyone recognized the Xhosa in the area—so they are out of the claim when it comes to land ownership. It is only the Bushman’s right to protect the land from development we’re motivating… only the usage of the land and their claim to a spiritual priority. We must stay far away from any notions of an actual land claim and ownership. They just deserve heritage status so their spiritual wellbeing is not damaged.”
“Ja… But I’m still worried about the Xhosa… those filthy rooinek lawyers will smell money and jump on the cause. They are very tricky, especially the Jewish ones… you know how they got into bed with the Xhosa long ago… with Mandela, and even before that.” Jan warned. “The first thing they’re going to claim is that some ragtag bunch of their ancestors roamed the area hundreds of years ago before our people and used these hills for initiation rites, or something.”
“I still don’t understand why we are following this one issue…” Willem Bauer interjected. “The main problem for me, Dominee… and I say this with all respect… goes beyond the insult to our beliefs, real as it is. I am keeping my farm…”
“For now…” Andre reminded him.
“Yes… for now,” Willem agreed to the implied threat that still kept him awake at night that some day the dreaded call may come as it had for so many that he was now in the path of the next phase and would have to sell, “…and I’m sorry for the families who are losing theirs, but even keeping my farm I can hardly cope. I have no mobile signal, they’re making me take down the satellite dish I use to link to the Internet… I can’t do banking, I can’t make phone calls. My windmills are all coming down, so I can’t water the sheep… I can’t even kick start a motorbike and this fokken SKA machine gets disturbed by the spark. I must live and do business like a voortrekker… They’ve pushed us back a hundred years and call it progress. Without even the security of a phone, how do I protect my family if they get attacked and murdered in a country where life means nothing?”
“Because,” Gert assured him, “when we tried to deliver that argument at the meetings nobody here cared. Nobody came to the meetings… how many out of hundreds of farmers? Less than ten. Nobody would put money up for a legal challenge. Our people won’t stand together, it’s our fault… But when you challenge our beliefs…” he said with conviction.
“It is true,” Andre backed up his Dominee as a Diaken should. “Our beliefs are our culture.”
“I have a plan,” Gert assured him. “Don’t you worry yourself, we can get outside money for this fight… I have very big guns lined up.”