Afrikaners for Dutch in WCup because of heritage

For some South Africans, there is still a “home” team to cheer

for in the World Cup final.

When the Netherlands faces Spain on Sunday at Soccer City, a

good part of the Afrikaner population will be watching closely, and

mostly because of their Dutch roots.

“I feel a strong connection to them because of my heritage,”

said Anja Bredell, a 25-year-old fashion design student from

Pretoria. “I also have blonde hair, blue eyes and fair skin like

most of the Dutch.”

The Dutch East India Company established its first settlement in

Cape Town in 1652, creating what became the Afrikaans culture. More

and more Dutchmen settled in the Western Cape in the ensuing years,

and it is still home to many Afrikaners.

“I certainly feel a connection to the Netherlands, and I feel

like one of them as my great-grandparents are Dutch and because

Afrikaners are possibly closer to them than to any other team that

played in this World Cup,” said Pieter Seyffert, a 24-year-old

professional cyclist from Johannesburg.

Besides the bygone cultural connections between the Afrikaners

and their forebears from the Netherlands, the two peoples also

share a language – though the Afrikaans dialect may get some stares

from people on the streets of Amsterdam.

“As Afrikaners, we do care whether the Netherlands win just

because we have a connection to them,” said Judith Visser, a

21-year-old student from Vanderbijlpark, south of Johannesburg. “I

think half of my family cheer for the Netherlands because of this

reason.”

After the Dutch migrants, known as “Boers,” created

settlements throughout much of what has become South Africa,

English people started to arrive in the country, creating a bitter

rivalry that resulted in the 1899-1902 Anglo-Boer War.

The English won the war, but the Afrikaners – most of them poor

and uneducated farmers – remained and thrived.

The connection between Afrikaners and the Netherlands also has

to do with the fight for democracy and equal rights in South

Africa. The Dutch were one of the strongest and most effective

contributors in the fight against Apartheid.

Between 1948 and 1994, the Afrikaner-dominated government

segregated the population, forcing black people to live in

townships while many whites resided in plush urban areas. Since the

end of that era, civil rights have been restored.

But close connection or not, not every Afrikaner cares too much

about the historic relationship.

“I want Spain to win. I feel no connection whatsoever with the

Dutch,” said Greta Bredell, a 55-year-old copywriter from

Pretoria. “I don’t like them at all.”

Since the end of apartheid 1994, Afrikaans became one of 11

official languages in the multicultural and multiracial South

Africa, and many Afrikaner students now learn in English instead of

their mother tongue. That may be one reason why some of the younger

generation feel more separated from their roots.

“I am not really concerned about my language relations to the

Netherlands,” said Karin van Rooyen, a 21-year-old student from

Witbank, a town southeast of Johannesburg. “But if they should

win, it would be great.”

Another reason for a certain amount of apathy toward the Dutch

national football team is the lure of rugby, traditionally the main

sport for most Afrikaners.

“To me it doesn’t really matter. Whoever plays the best of the

two teams should win,” said David Maree, a 21-year-old

professional cyclist from Potchefstroom. “The Afrikaners in South

Africa have only recently started to watch football, so they are

not as focused on traditions but rather on whether the team that

wins played well and fair.”