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
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.”