Johnny Masilela l Views: 69
Modimolle-Mookgophong Mayor Marlene van Staden spent most of the week pushing back at criticism that she appeared on Facebook against the backdrop of the flag of the 18th century Boer Republic.
All hell broke loose after van Staden was invited to attend an event hosted by bikers arriving from other provinces, with a picture of her and a member of the MAC’s Bikers Gang going viral on Facebook.
The picture was taken against the backdrop of the disputed flag.
The picture was lapped up by Van Staden’s political opponents, who gleefully touted it as alleged proof that van Staden was part of those who still flew the “Vierkleur”.
In response, van Staden moved swiftly, and issued a statement which she hoped would place the incident into a proper perspective.
She said the MAC’s Biker Gang held a rally at a hotel at Vaalwater last weekend.
“I was invited to address them on Saturday, November 25th. My talk was about small towns, the economy, infrastructure problems, and so on,” she explained.
She was initially booked to address the bikers from a truck transformed into a stage.
She said due to a downpour, the whole event was switched to the interior of the hotel.
Before leaving for home, she said, some of the bikers wanted to take photos with her, something she was only happy to do.
Van Staden swears she did not notice what was in the background and indeed posted some of the pictures on her personal Facebook, until she was contacted by DA National Assembly parliamentarian Desiree van der Walt.
“I immediately deleted the picture from my Facebook and sent an apology to everyone,” she said.
Van Staden said she had also made contact with the owner of the hotel, Faan Taljaart, who apologised for the incident, and has since removed the disputed flag.
The whites-only enclave of Upper Karoo Orania lies sprawling along the banks of the mighty Orange River.
The Mail & Guardian had an idea to assign a black journalist to interview balladeer Steve Hofmeyr on the sidelines of his nationwide Toeka tour.
For one reason or another, I was identified as that black journalist by M&G news editor, Charles Leonard.
Hofmeyr’s concert was held at Orania’s sports grounds, with upwards of 1 800 Afrikaners in attendance, and I the only black face around.
It was my first encounter with a show by the remarkable Hofmeyr, improvising on the legend Neil Diamond’s legacy and other country music ballads.
Hofmeyr had us eating out of his palm, with many arriving from as far afield as Bloemfontein.
Then towards the end of the show something incredible happened.
Hofmeyr stood still on stage, his eyes closed, and started leading us in the singing of Die Stem, that emotional anthem dating back to the halcyon days of the Boer Republics, I suspect.
As Hofmeyr stood there with his face skywards, we all rose to join in the singing and that was when the “Vierkleur” in its various forms and sizes rose above our heads.
While Marlene van Staden’s unfortunate saga of the “Vierkleur” sent her scurrying to damage control mode, I was very much aware where I was, and had no problem joining the singing of Die Stem, with the “Vierkleur” flying forlonly.
I wrote quite a lengthy piece about my experience of singing Die Stem alongside the 1 800-odd compatriots, and also the one-on-one interview with Hofmeyr the next day.
Then there was Carel Boshoff junior, the leader of the Orania community, who made sure I and the photographer from the M&G were well looked after.
Little things such as singing Die Stem against the backdrop of a couple of “Vierkleur” flags was not going to spoil my exclusive interview with the ever controversial Hofmeyr.
Besides, there was no way that I could scream at the top of my voice to tell those folks to stop flying their flag of choice, right in the middle of Upper Karoo Orania.
For the uninitiated, according to Google, the “Vierkleur” was designed by Dirk van der Hof and flown for the first in January, the year 1857, in Potchefstroom (now Tlokwe).
The flag was once again flown in Pretoria in February of the same year.
On 18 February, 1958, the parliament of the Zuid Afrikaanse Republiek, adopted the “Vierkleaur” as its State flag.
15 days ago 30 November 2017