About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

01 Sep 1991: Moolman, Johan

Click here for more information on the Interviewee

Click here for Overview of the year

POM     Jo, you were the first person to settle here in Orania?

JM     That's right.

POM     What made you want to come here? I assume you gave up your job, sold your home and moved in here to become the first person in a new community.

JM     Yes, Patrick, you see I was working there as an engineer.

POM     You were working in?

JM     In Eastern Cape at a sawmill as an engineer. I have designed and built sawmills and we have sold everything and come here because of the fact that our nation, our Afrikaner nation, you can't force us into something. We can't be forced into a thing. I don't know why, don't ask me why, don't ask me all the facts, but we are just not there to be forced into any situation. Out of nature we don't like that. My forefathers didn't and I didn't like that. I came here because they want to force me to put my kids into school with other people of other races and colours and that is not acceptable to me because we are sitting with the problem, our school level is quite different from the blacks. Our education standard is completely different and then you've got the fact that, say for instance, in Standard 4 you've got my girl, say she's in Standard 4 and she is 14 or 13, now a black in Standard 4 is 19 or 20. Now it did happen in this country that the white females was forced to have sex, those kind of things, then they get told that if they talk about it their houses will be burnt off and they get a bit intimidated. The fact is that there is no balance in that portion and integration I will never ever accept. I don't have to accept it. De Klerk thinks that we have to accept it. We don't have to accept it because we've got a will, we want to live in our own culture. That's why I came to Orania to bring up my kids in my own culture, in my own language. In the new South Africa there is no place for my language. So I don't belong there. I've got nothing that holds me in the new South Africa. They want integration, they don't accept my language, so then I must not be part of it. So that is why I came to Orania.

POM     Have you been a political person at all throughout your life? Have you been a member of a political party?

JM     Always, always to the right side, not extreme, not extreme right, but always feelings that I want to keep my nation as it is. In that view always a right winger.

POM     So there are now about 200 people living here at the moment?

JM     I would say, I haven't got a figure for you, but I would take a guess and say about 180 or 130, but I'm not sure because it's growing day by day. You can never say. The one day you pass a house and it's empty, the next day you come there it's occupied by the owner. So it's hard to say.

POM     Is this a very tight knit community?

JM     Very.

POM     People socialise with each other? People for the most part stay here do they, or do they go to Kimberley or Pretoria or Johannesburg? Is this the centre of their lives?

JM     No, this is the centre of their lives. To anybody that lives here it's work to go to any other place because there you're back to the old system. People spitting in businesses, they're throwing papers around all over, there's always this junk of talking about apartheid and this and that and, you see, we're different. I don't hate the blacks, I don't hate the coloureds and I don't look for trouble with these people never! If a kid would stand in front of the cafe and a coloured is passing in the road and he would say anything discriminating or joking in a cheap way to that coloured man, he would get a hiding from me. I don't care whose kid it is or what the time of the day is. That's my attitude. Don't look for trouble but don't become a trouble for me. That's why I'm in Orania.

POM     How would you compare the value system that the people who live in Orania have with the value system outside of it, with the rest of South Africa?

JM     Our values here are completely different. We're living here near to nature. If you live two weeks in Orania and you walk past a flower you look at it, you identify it, you evaluate it and you thank God that you can have a look at a flower in your own place without people running around destroying things that are beautiful to you. Our values are different. The values of the people in South Africa if the one does something for the other one, if he just changes the wheel of his car, he says, "Five rand."  Here we will help each other in many ways and, "Thank you very much I appreciate it", that's good enough. So, I don't know actually in which way you want to explain, which values. Is that good enough or do you want more values?

POM     Look at a number of them.

JM     You see here in the first place is silence. I mean you can feel it, you can hear it. You can listen to a dove, you can listen to the birds and the main thing that is created by this real Boere platteland, real Boere situation, is that you can appreciate those things and that you can do business with your own people, that your workers are your own people. There is not this question of if you say something to somebody then you must always think, oh, am I not going to discriminate now or am I not going to say a word that this oke can run to some black union. You're amongst your own people. You have got the same culture. He understands you when you come upon somebody and say, "Look I don't want that, I don't want ever to see it again." Then he does exactly realise why. He knows exactly all the facts. So it's not a person of a different culture that you must explain, "Look, you people think about that thing in that way and we feel about it in this way." Are you with me? There is a lot of communication and time cut out by this lot. You can talk to a guy, you can make a statement, he knows exactly what you mean and the job goes on.

POM     In the schools, what is the emphasis on in terms of the schooling of the children here?

JM     Why is that?

POM     What is the emphasis on? What sets of values are instilled into the children that would be different than the values in the rest of South Africa?

JM     Yes, there are a lot of values, Patrick. You see the system is different and that makes the whole situation different. Our kids in this system of school, of education, they've got a bit more time and because it's not one teacher and 30 or 40 children they've got a bit more time to go and study what is really important to us. Our kids are making a study of a tortoise. If one finds a tortoise nest with the eggs he is telling that to his school master and they first go and look in the library about tortoises, what they are allowed to do at the nest, what they are not allowed to do at the nest, what they must look for, and then they go in a group and they go there and investigate all this and then every week they go back to this nest, keep an eye on it. That means something to us. We teach them, we will put a ladder next to a tree and say, "Look there is a little bird's nest with two eggs in it. Go and read about it. When those birds come out you must check them. Never touch a thing." In their spare time they're doing these kinds of things that brings them nearer to their God. God is the only way that we will survive in our own state. If God doesn't give this to us then we've got a problem.

POM     So is this, in that sense, a religious community, is the emphasis on religion?

JM     Yes, yes, definitely. We will build our volkstaat on our God and the trust in our God and in the bible. That is the first thing. We are not angels, we are persons and we're sitting sometimes with workers who want to come in here and don't handle our quality of our standards and some of them we had to remove from town. We had to put them out. And we will still do that. If a person really doesn't belong here, if his values are completely skew and we have tried to uplift this man to spend time on him, do work on him, and he doesn't want to get better, then we have to get rid of him otherwise we won't be able to build this community and this volkstaat.

POM     Is this very family oriented?

JM     Yes, very much. In our school, for instance, sport is part of the parents. The community must organise sport, not the school. The school is academic, you can identify it as an academic institution. We don't want that system where somebody goes, drop his kid off at the school, leaves. Now he doesn't have to teach that kid anything, he's not at school. And you must teach your kids about the bible. You also get it at school but you must see that he's got a foundation for that, that he's got manners, that he can behave himself, the normal things. So the community is part of that and that is what we want. We don't want the big difference between the school and the people.

POM     Looking at the larger picture, this is like the first Afrikaner settlement, so to speak, do you see a number of these settlements occurring or this being the jumping off point for an Afrikaner homeland? How do you see the future unwinding?

JM     Orania was the first project to try and channel money of the right wing into one direction. Although we have built up a complete land from nothing to where it is today and we have paid for that, we had to pay now for our freedom. So we bought this with our own money but this was strong enough to give other people the real view and to start similar things in other towns inside the border of the volkstaat.

POM     Which is the border of the volkstaat?

JM     I will show you that on a map.

POM     Is this Carel Boschoff's ?

JM     Yes, Carel Boschoff's volkstaat. You know about that. So Olifantshoek, there is work going on there and I would say the progress is very good. And then we've got Pofadder is also a very, nice work going on. Pofadder it's a place here in Namaqualand.

POM     Now are they town lands too or just smaller areas?

JM     They're just normal towns, but our people got in there and infiltrated and we got more and more of our own people there. That's the only way we can have our volkstaat to have enough people inside our borders and say, "Look here is our register and we've got so many people so we want this country please." And there is a list of people outside this that want to move in here. And then also Port Nolloth, it's a town on the coast, it's a diamond area there are also a few families moved in there and they also do very good work there. So in some ways and means we are working a lot on the farmers to get them to think in the volkstaat way, if it's acceptable to them. So that is the work on the small towns that we're doing and that's the way we're doing it.

POM     When you look at the rest of South Africa what do you see happening there in the next four or five years?

JM     Patrick, I've got different views than other people. That's why I was the first guy to move to Orania. Yes, not to be the first guy here but because of certain pressures. I would say before Christmas Azania will be a disaster. The reason why I say it, is the ANC is playing more and more, the government is giving everything that they ask. The government is giving them each and every demand they're making, they get it on the table. It doesn't work that way. We can demand what we want, there is no democracy. But the ANC have got power. You must never underestimate the power of the ANC. And the government is giving complete, total control of this country, they have given it already, to the ANC by means of demands. Total control of this country. The ANC is controlling this country. Not the white people. Not De Klerk. He is just 'sommer' nobody. He is nobody. He can say what he wants, the next morning the ANC, "We demand that." Finish. Boom. End of the story. Are you with me? So he doesn't control this country any more.

     Now whites are not controlling the country, the ANC is ruling the country. So if you look at the strategic points that the squatters squat around the big cities and you go and think a little bit for yourself and see in which way the army and the police are involved to keep these people away from each other, not to fight, and to try and keep stability and peace. Our whole army is in that job, they're only trying to keep this lot away. Now the moment Mandela has got control over this army that's going to fall flat, that you know and I know. And these people will be able to fight each other. They won't only fight themselves. And their plans for the future is to let the violence go from the black areas to the white areas. And my! The things that I've heard! Information is that that is going to start in four or five weeks from now. The trouble will run over from the black areas to the white areas. They are already killing our people, 15, 20 a week. Just look on the TV. There's a woman found in her car or there's a car found and the woman is gone. There they've killed four or five old people last night. The police can't control it. They have got no ways or means to control this lot. If they catch this oke he's three days in gaol and he's out on the street. The law doesn't protect us any more. The law doesn't keep criminals in jail any more. The moment you put a criminal into jail then they say, "No, he's a political detainee, you must let him out."

POM     So what age is your child now? You've got one child?

JM     No we've got three.

POM     Three? What ages are they?

JM     Seventeen, a girl, that one girl that was sitting next to me now, and an eight year old girl and a six year old son.

POM     What are their names?

JM     Gisela that's 17 years old and Monica is eight years old and Jurgen is six years old.

POM     Is the 17 year old going to live here with you or work here?

JM     Yes she's part of the school. She's getting trained now as a primary teacher.

POM     At the school?

JM     At the school itself.

POM     Yes. So you see your children - what you see happening in four or five years in the rest of South Africa, basically you see them going to hell. That's what you're telling me?

JM     Of course.

POM     So do you see your children when they get to 17 or 18 staying here or do you want them to go on to university or do you want them to live in this community and stay within this community?

JM     Where is the university?

POM     That's what I was going to ask you.

JM     There's no university that they can go to because it's all filled up with blacks. My kids will never, as long as the sun is shining, will go to a school with any black or any coloured. Never in my life. That is my peace offer. Give me my own school. Give me my own land. If they don't do that then I don't know.

POM     So do you think the community will be able to create job opportunities? Is somebody making plans about this, are people already planning the manner in which this community must develop if it is to sustain itself over the years rather than one or two years?

JM     Yes. We will not plan on Orania. Orania is just a beginning. We actually want our independence in one year so that we can utilise the rest of our land. We have got sections that we can do it in. There's a lot of farming that must develop. There's a lot of industries in our volkstaat area that must get developed and mechanised and creating new factories. We believe that we will be the only food producers in the future because the blacks won't produce any feed. They don't do it in any other part of Africa, so food producing factories are on our list and by that ways and means to provide work for our people. Also we want to establish our own university in 18 months or in two years, but with the same standard as the outside world, like in your country or America or Canada. We want to establish the same level of education with the same standard. We want the best, nothing but the best.

POM     Now I'll ask you the obvious question of what happens to black people who live within the borders of the white homeland?

JM     Yes. That's very interesting. To us that's also a problem. I wish I could show you a map. You see there are virtually very few blacks and there are quite a lot of coloureds. Now when I say quite a lot I don't mean millions, I mean there are a few hundred thousand. Now, look, in our system there is no work for these people because we must create work to our own people. In Pretoria alone 20,000 people at this stage are sitting without work. They're dying of hunger. White people. I have put one advert in Pretoria last Wednesday and up to now I've got about 57 or 58 people that have applied for the job already and five of them are here already. Really. So it's a very, very serious situation. It's serious. It's not just saying or talking. It's serious. Some of those kids get fed by some right wing organisations and they get food in the schools. Now many of those kids are eating Friday the last meal at school. Monday when they get food at school again that's their first meal again. That is, as true as God, the real situation at this moment. So, to come back to the coloureds in our area. Look, if you do anything in your life, you can do anything in your life. I don't care what you do but you will never satisfy everybody. Are you married? The day that you marry there will be somebody unsatisfied that you have taken that women. Are you with me?

POM     I don't know whether there ought to be.

JM     But there's nothing in the world that you do that you satisfy everybody. So, we have also got a nation to look after and there is more than enough place for all of us. Are you with me? For the same coloureds there is the whole of Cape Town, that whole area right to the Eastern Cape, right to Natal where they can stay. Our people must also move from South Africa where they've got factories that are worth millions that they must leave, get nothing for it, and move to a place where they do not even have got work. Are you with me? So that's not a question that we move in, we're here, and now we're going to make money. We also come here, leave everything behind that we've got and move to nothing and start creating something. Those people, they cannot work for us. It won't be a one day thing. Nobody's going to tell them, "Look this is now a volkstaat, move!" Nobody's going to do that, but with time coming, if somebody goes out of a job you will put a white man into his job. And in that system it is going to be a period of switching over and he will have to move to where he is satisfied and where he can work and where he can belong. I mean these coloureds are the same problem to us as the blacks. They're all part of the ANC. If you're part of the ANC you want to destroy the white man. You're killing the white man. Not want to kill - killing the white man. They're killing us now for how many years? They're taking our people in the street. They come around the white woman, touch her body all over, put their fingers in and let her walk. That's what they're doing. That's why I moved here because if they do that to my wife I will kill thousands of them before I stop. And then I'm no use to my family, to myself, to my country, to nobody.

POM     Can I ask? Were you really keen to move here? Where in the Eastern Cape did you live?

JM     Stutterheim.

POM     Were you fearful for the future of your children living there?

JM     I must translate - she can't talk very well English. She's Afrikaans.

Mrs M     Yes, I'm afraid for my children. To me the most important thing making me come here to the volkstaat, Orania, the serious thing was the religion. I don't want my children to get involved with other people who don't believe in my God. It's too serious for me. Because of that I take my children away from school. For six months this year my children never went to school till Orania school opened on 3rd August.

POM     Now you took them out of the schools because - ?

Mrs M     The religion.

JM     Religion and politics.

Mrs M     The politicians were mixed up with the other colours but the most serious thing was the religion.

POM     Was it the way of teaching religion?

JM     No.

Mrs M     There's Moslems, there's blacks who don't believe in God, and at the school in Azania at the moment you can say there is no teaching the children the religion of God, because he cannot. There is the Moslem, there is the black, all of those children don't believe in one God you see. And for me it's not acceptable. I don't want this, for me it's not right.

POM     Now were your children keen to move here too?

Mrs M     Yes, very keen. Every day they tell us, "Please, when do we start moving to Orania? Please I don't stay here. I want to go to Orania, to the volkstaat."

POM     So what kind of future do you want for your children here? What do you want for them?

Mrs M     The first thing they must know is that everything they have is God-given. Every day must say thanks. Never must forget it's God-given, everything. And on this basic principle we must know who God is, God, we must respect Him and God is our culture. He must feel strong about it. Black people are the other people. It's not right if he says, "I hate him", because he's other people, other person, other culture, other nation. I don't know how to explain it. And this school here for me is very, very good because you see maybe if the children can every day walk with food and eat and then this from small, starting school, and the teacher he can do very good things with food and then starting in that line.

JM     May I? What she means is that from small, in Azania if I haven't the right IQ they measure me one time in my life and say this oke has got an IQ of so much and for the rest of my life I'm bound and I'm married to that IQ. Even if I grow up, even if I'm an old man I'm bound to that stupid thing. Here we say, no, give the oke a chance. See which way his interest is, see which way he's good. We have got people, pupils here from other schools, they're in Standard 3, they can't even write or read because they're not interested in it. But they have got a Standard 3 certificate. White people my friend! Now this guy that you have met, Julian Visser, is a very, very clued up guy. He's born to teach children, finish, full stop, born and bred. Now he took that specific pupil or kid and he found out which way this guy was interested in. He found out that this oke is the best biologist that he ever met.

Mrs M     You see, God gives us, every one, something he can do very good and the other schools don't see it, everyone is the same, don't talk like that.

POM     Different children have different talents.

Mrs M     Yes. Everyone has a chance in life to be a good worker, a successful businessman, because the school can see what he can do really.

JM     Can I just finish? So this oke, sorry, I'm not trying to interrupt, I just want to make a point. So they found out that this oke is a very, very good biologist and now he was interested because he could draw his drawings on a computer and this and that and Julian said to him, "Ja, but you know you've got a problem. You want to go in this line but you can't read. So you rather get yourself some books there out of the library and start to read about these things." And that self-motivation, that kid is now two months in the school, he can read as good as anyone, he can write as good as anyone because he has to do it because he wants to get to his aim. That is self-motivation, that is our biggest influence. Self-motivation. From day one the kids must go to the library, get information, they get something to do. They get a task. Go and do a task about a bird, a certain bird. Now he must go to the library, look for a book, read it up, swot it up, then go back and do his thing. That's self-motivation. That's what she's trying to tell you. He gets taught to be responsible for himself. Not as a group. He's on his own. He's responsible for his own benefit, for his own downs.

Mrs M     Yet from small that feeling I believe is very important in life.

JM     All over the world you see people are in groups. Groups are making trouble because they were taught in a group. They were brought up in a huge group. They smoke dagga in a group, they use LSD in a group. There's no individualism.  Any questions?

POM     No. I think I will leave it there so I can do some other people today. This is like a start and I will come back at the beginning of next year and I hope this will be the first of a long number of conversations.

JM     Good. Very interesting.

POM     It was very nice meeting you and thank you for participating.

JM     It was a pleasure meeting you as well. Really.

POM     Can you point us to the way of Julian? Where we might find him?

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.