Orania, Northern Cape

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A view of the town of Orania
A view of the town of Orania
Orania is located in South Africa
 Orania shown within South Africa
Coordinates: 29°49′S 24°24′E / 29.817°S 24.400°E / -29.817; 24.400Coordinates: 29°49′S 24°24′E / 29.817°S 24.400°E / -29.817; 24.400
Country South Africa
Province Northern Cape
District Pixley ka Seme
Municipality Thembelihle
Established 1990
 • Type Company
 • Chairman/mayor Carel IV Boshoff
 • Total 8.95 km2 (3.46 sq mi)
Population (2011)[1]
 • Total 892
 • Density 100/km2 (260/sq mi)
Racial makeup (2011)[1]
 • Black African 0.9%
 • Coloured 1.9%
 • White 97.2%
First languages (2011)[1]
 • Afrikaans 98.4%
 • English 1.6%
Postal code (street) 8752
PO box 8752
Area code 053
Website http://www.orania.co.za/

Orania is an Afrikaner-only South African town located along the Orange River in the arid Karoo region of Northern Cape province.[2]

The aim of the town is to create a stronghold for Afrikaans and the Afrikaner identity by keeping their language and culture alive. Anyone who defines themselves as an Afrikaner and identifies with Afrikaner ethnicity is welcome in Orania.[3] In 2004 Orania introduced its own currency, the Ora. Seventy businesses are located in Orania.[4]

The town is split in two halves by the R369 road, and lies halfway between Cape Town and Pretoria.[5]


According to its founders, the purpose of Orania is to create a town where the preservation of Afrikanerdom's cultural heritage is strictly observed and Afrikaner selfwerksaamheid ("self reliance") is an actual practice, not just an idea. All jobs, from management to manual labour, are filled by Afrikaners only; non-Afrikaner workers are not permitted unless they have skills no resident has. "We do not want to be governed by people who are not Afrikaners", said Potgieter, the previous chairman. "Our culture is being oppressed and our children are being brainwashed to speak English".[6]

The town's ultimate objective is to create an Afrikaner majority in the northwestern Cape, by encouraging the construction of other such towns, with the eventual goal of an Afrikaner majority in the area and an independent Afrikaner state between Orania and the west coast, also known as a volkstaat.[7]

Carel Boshoff, the founding father of Orania, had originally envisaged a population of 60,000 after 15 years.[8] While Boshoff conceded that most Afrikaners might decide not to move to the volkstaat, he thought that it is nevertheless essential Afrikaners have this option, since this will make them feel more secure, thereby reducing tensions in the rest of South Africa. In this regard he considered it as being analogous with Israel, which serves as a refuge for Jews from all over the world.[9]


Orania has its origins in the late 1980s, when Carel Boshoff, a right-wing academic, founded the Afrikaner-Vryheidstigting (Afrikaner Freedom Foundation) or Avstig.[9] At the time, mainstream right-wingers supported the bantustan policy, which allocated 13% of South Africa’s land area for black South Africans, while leaving the remaining 87% to whites.[9] The founding principles of the Avstig were based on the belief that since black majority rule was unavoidable and white minority rule morally unjustifiable, Afrikaners would have to form their own nation, or volkstaat, in a smaller part of South Africa.[9] Orania was intended to be the basis of the volkstaat, which would come into existence once a large number of Afrikaners moved to Orania and other such ‘growth points’.[9]

Boshoff's plans excluded the area of traditional Boer republics in the Transvaal and the Free State, which encompass the economic heartland of South Africa and much of its natural resources, instead focussing on an economically underdeveloped and semi-desert area in the north-western Cape.[9] Even proponents of the idea conceded that this model would demand significant economic sacrifices from Afrikaners who moved to the volkstaat.[9] The model is based on the principle of ‘own labour’, requiring that all work in the volkstaat is performed by its citizens, including ploughing fields, collecting garbage and tending to gardens, which is traditionally performed by blacks in the rest of South Africa.[9]

Orania had been established in 1963 by the Department of Water Affairs, to house the workers who were building the Vanderkloof Dam. After the dam was completed most of the workers moved away, and the town fell into disrepair.[5] In December 1990, about 40 Afrikaner families, headed by Carel Boshoff, the son-in-law of former South African Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd, bought the dilapidated town for around US$ 200,000.[10]

In a conciliatory gesture, then-President Nelson Mandela, visited the town in 1995 to have tea with Betsie Verwoerd, widow of Hendrik Verwoerd.[11] By 2003, Orania had grown to about 750 residents, and local amenities included a holiday resort on the Orange River, a home for senior citizens, two schools, a private hospital and a growing agricultural sector.[9]

In November 2005, around 60 Cape Coloured families lodged a land claim with the government, for around 483 hectares (1,190 acres) of land within the town. These families claimed to have lived in the town from 1965, when it was first constructed, up until 1990, when it was sold by the government. The claimants hold that they were forced to leave in 1991, when the town was converted into Orania, and that this constitutes a forced removal in terms of race. The community of Orania opposed the claim.[12] The land claim was settled in December 2006 when the South African government agreed to pay the claimants R2.9 million in compensation.[13]

Orania today[edit]

In June 2007, the Afrikaner enclave was visited by the Coloured community of Eersterust, outside Pretoria.[14] The groups met to discuss community development and discussed methods of self-governance. According to visitors the reception was good, and they had "definitely learned from the experience" and experienced no racial tension. The community of Orania gave a donation to the community of Eersterust in support of their nursery school.[14]

In 2009, an African National Congress Youth League delegation visited the town. The leader Julius Malema praised the co-operation between residents: "they co-operate instead of working against each other".[15]

As of 2011, Orania is home to about 900 inhabitants,[1] with around 10,000 registered supporters.[16] According to town authorities, the population had reached 1,100 by October 2013.[5] Orania has three residential areas Kleingeluk ("small happiness"), Grootdorp ("big town") and Orania Wes ("Orania West"). In Orania people from all levels of society perform their own manual labour.[6] Kleingeluk is a separate district about 1.5km away from Grootdorp, and is poorer than the main town, although progress has been made in narrowing the gap in living conditions.[5]

On 14 September 2010 President Jacob Zuma visited Orania. He met with Orania founder Professor Carel Boshoff and his son, Orania mayor Carel Boshoff IV and other community leaders. After the meeting Zuma visited housing projects and several agricultural sites in Orania.[17]

Orania and the Xhosa community of Mnyameni signed a cooperation agreement on 11 December 2012. The objective of the agreement is to assist in the development of own institutions and the transfer of knowledge between the communities in order to reduce their dependency on government initiatives for development.[18][19]


The Dorpsraad (town council) is the main political institution in Orania, and is responsible for running the daily affairs. It is elected annually, and consists of five members and a chairman (the mayor).[5] Political parties are not allowed in Orania's local elections.[4] The Orania Beweging (Orania Movement) is a separate political and cultural organisation that promotes Afrikaner history and culture.[5]

On Thursday 5 June 1998, Mr. Valli Moosa (then Minister of Constitutional Development in the ANC government) stated in a parliamentary budget debate that, "The ideal of some Afrikaners to develop the North Western Cape as a home for the Afrikaner culture and language within the framework of the Constitution and the Charter of Human Rights is viewed by the government as a legitimate ideal."[20]

On 4 July 2007 the town of Orania and the Northern Cape government agreed that the question of Orania's self-government should be discussed at all government levels.[21]

In the South African general election, 2009, the community decisively voted for the Freedom Front Plus party.[22]

Debate surrounding a volkstaat returned to the mainstream media following the murder of AWB leader Eugene Terre'Blanche in April 2010. Boshoff claimed a symbolism of the murder for farm murders that he described as "nothing other than a state of war". Yet, he rejected an invitation to Terre'Blanche's funeral, "I'm not enamoured of him. He chose a path of confrontation, of conflict. We wanted another way."[23]

Election results[edit]

Since 1994, citizens of Orania have voted all five times in the national elections. Over the last three elections, Orania had an average vote turnout of 65%, based on registered voters.

Party Votes (2004[24]) % (2004) Votes (2009[25]) % (2009) Votes (2014[26]) % (2014)
Freedom Front Plus 158 84.95% 242 86.73% 224 76,89%
Democratic Alliance 16 8.60% 26 9.31% 44 15,12%
African Christian Democratic Party 3 1.61% 3 1.07% 7 2,41%
African National Congress 3 1.61% 3 1.07% 5 1,72%
Congress of the People[a] - - 3 1.07% 1 0,34%
National Action[b] 3 1.61% - - - -
Independent Democrats[c] 2 1.08% 0 0% - -
New National Party [d] 1 0.54% - - - -
Economic Freedom Fighters [e] - - - - 4 1,37%
Front National[e] - - - - 4 1,37%
Ubuntu Party[e] - - - - 2 0,69%
Spoilt votes 2 1.08% 2 0.71% 0 0,00%
Total 188 100.00% 279 100.00% 291 100%


  1. ^ Party did not contest in elections before 2009.
  2. ^ Party only contest in the 2004 elections and then submerged into the Freedom Front, making it the Freedom Front Plus
  3. ^ Merged into the Democratic Alliance in 2012.
  4. ^ Merged into the African National Congress in 2005.
  5. ^ a b c Party did not contest in elections before 2014.

Economy and agriculture[edit]

Farming is an important part of Orania's economy, the most recent project being a massive pecan nut plantation.[27] Since purchasing the 430 hectares (1,100 acres) town, the community has added 7,000 hectares (17,000 acres) of agricultural land to the town.[28] Seventy businesses are located in Orania.[4]

During April 2004, Orania launched its own monetary system, called the Ora, based on the idea of discount shopping vouchers.[29] The Orania local banking institution, the Orania Spaar- en Kredietkoöperatief ("Orania Savings and Credit Co-operative") is in charge of this initiative. Orania recently launched its own chequebook.[30]

Orania's tourism industry is showing rapid development with the completion of a luxury river spa and boutique hotel complex in 2009.[31] Orania Toere (Orania Tours), Orania's first registered tour operator, was also launched in 2009.

In 2010 thirteen independent hospitality businesses operate in Orania.[32] This includes a caravan park, self-catering flats, rooms, hotel and guest-houses.

Ownership model[edit]

The town is privately owned by the Vluytjeskraal Aandeleblok company. The farm on which Orania was founded, is called "Vluytjekraal". Along the Orange river grows a fine reed, called "fluitjiesriet" or in old Dutch spelling "Vluytjesriet," meaning whistle reed. A kraal is an Afrikaans loanword borrowed from Portuguese curral,[33] for cattle enclosure. As wood for poles is scarce, these reeds were traditionally used for building cattle enclosures, until stone structures could be erected. Aandeleblok ("share block") refers to the company structure that allows people to buy shares and thereby obtain the right to stay on and work a piece of ground within the property of the company. The shareholders thus own the company, which in turn owns the property.

Environmental practices[edit]

The people of Orania believe in protecting the environment.

  • The town recycles the garbage of its residents. Residents sort their own garbage and place it into five different trash cans.
  • All new houses must have solar-geysers for hot water.
  • Various people in the town are looking at ways to switch over to green electricity.
  • In the town there are a number of different ecological buildings, for example a straw bale house with a living roof.
  • An earthship (aardskip)[34] is currently being built in Orania. Progress of the earthship construction can be seen at the Project Aardskip blog.[35]

Bicycle sharing system[edit]

In 2014 Orania opened its bicycle sharing system, called the Orania Openbare Fietsprojek (Orania Public Bicycle Project).[36] 30 Bicycles are divided over 3 stations in different parts of the village. One station is near the information office of the Orania Movement in the western part of Orania, while another station is located in the Aan-Die-Oewer holiday resort. A third station is located near Die Kuierstoep shopping centre in the Kleingeluk neighbourhood. The use of these bikes within Orania is free for everyone.


The Koeksister Monument in Orania

The flag comprises a small boy, pulling up his sleeves, and a blue and orange background, traditional Afrikaner colours. The Koeksistermonument, erected in 2003, celebrates the koeksister and is one of the town's tourist attractions.[5]


There are two schools, the CVO Skool Orania (where CVO stands for Christelike Volks-Onderwys or Christian People's-Education) and Die Volkskool Orania (Orania People's School). Although the official curriculum is followed, special emphasis is placed on Afrikaner history and Christian religion, though with some differences in their teaching methods.[37]

  • The CVO-school is run along conventional lines.[38]
  • The Volkskool use a self-driven teaching (selfgedrewe) system which is unorthodox by South African standards.[39]

Orania's schools have consistently achieved a 100% matric pass rate since 1991.[40]

Cultural holidays[edit]

A list of cultural holidays in Orania:[41]

Date Afrikaans Name
27 February Majubadag
6 April Stigtingsdag
31 May Bittereinderdag
14 August Taaldag
10 October Heldedag
16 December Geloftedag


In 2005, after complaints by citizens, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa shut down Orania's unlicensed Radio Club 100 radio station, on grounds of its alleged racism.[42] The station's equipment was seized. No criminal charges were laid against the operators of the radio station, who claim that the radio station broadcast harmless news about birthdays and social events. Management of the radio station claimed that they repeatedly applied for a radio licence in order to be a community broadcaster like other radio stations in the country.

After being granted a licence toward the end of 2007 Radio Orania restarted broadcasting on 13 April 2008 on 95.5 MHz.[43]

In January 2010, Afrikaans daily newspaper Beeld published an article by Frans de Klerk, chief executive of Orania, in which he sets out what he views as the successes of Orania.[44] De Klerk also distanced the town from racist organizations using Orania to further their own causes. Shortly after, Die Burger, another Afrikaans daily newspaper and sister publication of Beeld, published an article by author and journalist Marida Fitzpatrick, describing her experiences when visiting Orania.[45] Fitzpatrick praised the town for its safety and environmentally friendly approaches to living, but also wrote that overt racist ideas and ideology still underpinned the views of many residents.[45]

In September 2012, a German documentary film titled Orania premiered at London's Raindance Film Festival. The film is a sociological study of the town.[46]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Main Place Orania". Census 2011. 
  2. ^ Pumza Fihlani (6 October 2014). "Inside South Africa's whites-only town of Orania". BBC News. Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  3. ^ "DVD". Orania. Retrieved 2013-12-12. 
  4. ^ a b c "Insight into Orania". 2010sdafrika.wordpress.com. 2012-03-21. Retrieved 2013-12-12. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Haleniuk, Aleksander. "Orania – the embryo of a new Volkstaat?". Academia.edu. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  6. ^ a b "10 years on, Orania fades away". News24.com. 22 April 2004. 
  7. ^ "Orania - Home of the Afrikaner". Lief-orania.co.za. Retrieved 2013-12-12. 
  8. ^ "Orania, white and blue". Mail & Guardian. 1 November 2005. Retrieved 6 January 2014. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i Martin Schonteich; Henri Boshoff (2003). "`Volk` Faith and Fatherland. The Security Threat Posed by the White Right". Institute for Security Studies. pp. 43–45. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  10. ^ "Impact on Cultural Heritage Resources". Eskom Holdings Limited. August 2006. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  11. ^ Daley, Suzanne (23 March 1999). "Beloved Country Repays Mandela in Kind". New York Times. Retrieved 20 May 2010. 
  12. ^ Groenewald, Y (18 November 2005). "Coloureds Claim the Volkstaat". Mail & Guardian. Retrieved 2006-06-25. 
  13. ^ SAPA (5 December 2006). "Orania Pleased at Land Claim". News24. Retrieved 2010-04-04. 
  14. ^ a b "Orania community lauded". News24.com. 11 June 2007. 
  15. ^ "Malema surprised by Orania". News24. 28 March 2009. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  16. ^ Orania Inligtingspamflet, 2010
  17. ^ Jacob Zuma visited Orania News 24. 14 September 2010
  18. ^ Orania signs agreement with Mnyameni Mail & Guardian. 11 December 2012
  19. ^ Boshoff, Carel (2 January 2013). "Maak soos vriende". Beeld. Retrieved 9 January 2013. 
  20. ^ "VF se strewe legitiem, sê Moosa" [Freedom Front endeavour legitimate, says Moosa] (in Afrikaans). Beeld. 5 June 1998. 
  21. ^ "Orania, N Cape agree on way forward". IOL News. 2 July 2007. 
  22. ^ "Orania votes for FF+". IOL News. 23 April 2009. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  23. ^ "Orania building a different future". Sunday Times. 10 April 2010. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  24. ^ "2004 National Results". News24. Retrieved 2014-05-03. 
  25. ^ "Orania votes for FF+". Iol.co.za. 2009-04-23. Retrieved 2013-12-12. 
  26. ^ "2014 National Results". News24. Retrieved 2014-05-08. 
  27. ^ William Dicey (1 September 2007). Borderline. Kwela Books. p. 14. ISBN 978-0-7957-0189-4. 
  28. ^ "Zuma likely to visit Orania". IOL News. 29 March 2009. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  29. ^ "'Whites-only' money for SA town". BBC News. 29 April 2004. 
  30. ^ "Orania launches own cheque book". iAfrica. 22 February 2007. 
  31. ^ "Orania Oewerhotel en Spa". Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  32. ^ Flitslig, Mei 2010 and Voorgrond, 2010
  33. ^ "kraal". Thefreedictionary.com. Retrieved 2013-12-12. 
  34. ^ "Project Aardskip". Retrieved 14 May 2013. 
  35. ^ "Aardskip - Earthship". Retrieved 14 May 2013. 
  36. ^ Orania Openbare Fietsprojek (Orania Public Bicycle Project). Stokkiesdraai Avontuurpark en Winkelsentrum. 16 July 2014. Retrieved 21 July 2014
  37. ^ "Skole". Orania. Retrieved 2013-12-12. 
  38. ^ "Orania CVO-skool". Oraniacvo.co.za. Retrieved 2013-12-12. 
  39. ^ Red Apple Media. "Afstandleer Plus". Afstandsleer.co.za. Retrieved 2013-12-12. 
  40. ^ "The journey to hell and back". IOL Travel Western Cape. Retrieved 10 February 2015. 
  41. ^ "Voorgrond" (in Afrikaans). Orania Beweging. February 2009. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  42. ^ "Orania radio station kicked off the air". IOL News. 9 November 2005. Retrieved 2006-06-25. 
  43. ^ SABC (13 April 2008). "Radio Orania on-air again". Sabcnews.co.za. Retrieved 2013-12-12. 
  44. ^ [1][dead link]
  45. ^ a b Fitzpatrick, Marida (30 January 2010). "Ook net mens". Die Burger (in Afrikaans). Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  46. ^ "Orania". Raindance Film Festival 2012. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 

External links[edit]