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Apartheid switch: South African call for 'whites only' homeland

An august and highly influential Afrikaans academic body called the South African Bureau for Racial Affairs (SABRA) has finally come up with a version of the government's race policy that sounds remarkably like "please stop the world, we want to get off."

Distressed at the government's failure to achieve effective racial separation (in spite of a multitude of discriminatory laws and regulations) it now proposes that dedicated "racially pure" whites should set up a new mini-state inside South Africa where no blacks or people of mixed race would ever be allowed to live or work.

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The proposed site for the new white Homeland is in the center of the country, alongside a huge dam named after former Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd, the architect of "apartheid" -- the South African government's policy of enforced social, political, and economic racial segregation.

Although the dam provides a considerable water supply, the countryside around it is harsh, rolling scrubland, presently occupied mainly by sheep farmers.

The SABRA officials say it is ideal because it is presently relatively undeveloped and because relatively few blacks live there. These would be moved out of the area if the plan becomes reality.

And although it is being criticized by many Afrikaners and Afrikaans newspapers as unrealistic, as an attempt to escape reality, and as a "caricature" of apartheid and Afrikaners, SABRA is deadly serious about carrying it out.

It hopes to get government support, saying it has a right to state funds for a white "homeland" because the government already regularly spends millions on "homelands" for blacks.

Dr. Chris Jooste, the director of SABRA, suggests the all-white mini-state should be called Orania or Oranika, and believes it could turn a "dream" of Afrikanerdom into a reality.

He believes idealistic whites could be attracted to the project to build Orania from the ground up "with their own hands" instead of relying on blacks to do heavy manual work, which is the present fashion.

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"Everything will be done by whites," Dr. Jooste says enthusiastically. "The land will be bought privately with white money. White laborers will dig the trenches and make the roads and build the houses. And finally white servants will bring richer whites their coffee in bed."

He insists that though blacks will not be allowed to live or work in Orania, the concept is not "racist." "Blacks will be allowed to visit, for sporting or cultural activities. They will simply not have a home there in any sense at all."

A quick poll of white predominantly Afrikaans farmers and white residents in the little towns in the area that SABRA would like to take over indicates that they generally regard the scheme as crackpot.

One sheep farmer, Pieter Lubbe, told a reporter: "There is no way I would ever sell my land for such an idiotic plan." And a political columnist in the country's biggest Afrikaans newspaper, Rapport, is so appalled that such a highly regarded organization as SABRA should try to escape from reality in this way that he suggests it might be a good idea if the organization were to disband.

But SABRA is pressing ahead. It is distributing pamphlets about its apartheid shangrila, intends to appoint a fulltime manager of the project, and has already obtained the services of a consulting engineer.

Nor should SABRA'S influence be underestimated. It has long been a think tank on race relations for the ruling National Party.

And a "pure white state" -- preferably pure white and Afrikaans -- has long been the cherished dream of many of the most prominent Afrikaans leaders.

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