Perhaps it is not surprising that, after the UK, the country that provides the largest number of visitors to the British National Party website is South Africa, where there are still many white residents who hanker after the country’s apartheid past.
Many of them may be friends and relations of the growing number of South African BNP members, of whom Arthur Kemp, editor of the BNP website and in charge of the ideological training of the party’s 250 or so elite activists, is the most prominent.
It has clearly not escaped the notice of the BNP leadership that white South Africans who fled black majority rule and now live in the UK are potentially a fertile recruiting ground for the racist party.
Especially of interest to the BNP, which has run several major fundraising campaigns over the past year, are wealthy South African business people and well paid financial services professionals in the City and Canary Wharf, many of whom meet up at the Aardvark pub in Rotherhithe, southeast London. Run until last month by Werner Swanepoel, it boasts “true South African hospitality”, live performances by South African artists and traditional South African food.
It was also the venue in July 2006 for an international meeting of the hardline white separatists of the Orania Movement, an attempt to set up a white homeland in the village of Orania in South Africa’s Northern Cape province. With only around 1,500 residents, the privately owned village is a minuscule shadow of the ambition by Professor Carel Boshoff, a grandson of the architect of apartheid, Hendrik Verwoerd, to grab a large part of the province for a self-governing Afrikaner homeland at the time of the collapse of the apartheid regime.
Hopeful of rich pickings for the BNP, in both members and financial support, and with one eye on the potential for building a South African resistance against majority rule, Neil McAllister, a South African BNP activist and failed publican now living in Chessington, Surrey, has cultivated a link with Swanepoel. He has been helped in this by Una Rice, a white exile from Zimbabwe, who works hard for the BNP in Barking and Dagenham.
A graduate, Rice, 31, was the victim of a road accident in 1984 which is reported to have left her disabled with brain injuries. She had arrived in the UK two years earlier with her mother. Now living in Barking, east London, she has gone about establishing herself as a political and clerical prop for councillor Bob Bailey, the leader of the BNP group on Barking and Dagenham council, and Richard Barnbrook, a Barking and Dagenham councillor and the BNP’s sole member of the London Assembly.
Last November McAllister and Rice arranged for Bailey and other senior BNP members to go with them to meet Swanepoel at the Aardvark pub, carrying a wad of BNP membership forms, with a view to recruiting South African key players to the party.
McAllister also passed Kemp the names of South African businesses to contact as potential financial backers, a task he will have to fit in between his many speaking engagements at BNP branches around the country, where he eagerly touts his overpriced and tedious books about the history of the white race and the neo-nazi South African AWB paramilitary group.
Despite McAllister’s enthusiasm to sign up South Africans for the BNP, he does not confine his political activities to that party. He was seen toting the South African flag from apartheid days on last November’s National Front Remembrance Sunday march.
Alongside him, waving the flag of the illegal Ian Smith white regime in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), was Chris Hurst, a university student from Richmond studying at the University of Kent in Canterbury. Hurst was among those invited to go to the Aardvark pub to help McAllister’s BNP recruitment drive.
McAllister and Kemp appear especially keen to enlist young people, such as Hurst and Rachel Hill, a 24-year-old English woman who grew up in South Africa after her parents emigrated there. A British nationalist from an early age, she joined the BNP two years ago after leaving school in Pretoria and returning to the UK. Her eager activism quickly propelled her into party office, as secretary of Melton and Rutland BNP, despite her apparently living in Oxfordshire. She also managed to get her picture onto the front page of issue 101 of Voice of Freedom, the BNP’s monthly newspaper, sitting in the front row at the 2008 BNP conference last November.
Many BNP members have no difficulty accommodating their leaders working in close conjunction with European fascists and nazis, whom they see as allies in a pan-European struggle for the future of the white race, and with US white supremacists who can bring financial support.
They find it harder to swallow Kemp, who now has a big say in the way the BNP is run and a strong influence on its ideology and policy. They will also be worried about the BNP’s growing links with South Africans who threaten to get the party embroiled in what might become a second wave of assassinations and sabotage back in their homeland for very little return for the party here.
The Orania Movement
The Orania Movement’s aim is to set up a self-governing Volkstaat for South Africa’s minority Boer-Afrikaner population. The Afrikaner Freedom Foundation (Avstig), formed by Professor Carel Boshoff (pictured) in the late 1980s, bought the dilapidated village of Orania in 1990, a few months after the repeal of the apartheid laws and the release of Nelson Mandela from prison.
Orania, which has around 1,500 inhabitants, is now a self-proclaimed Afrikaner homeland, which follows the strict racial segregation of the apartheid era. Only Afrikaners are welcome and non-white residents are banned. All jobs are filled by Afrikaners. Black people can visit the village but are not welcome.
Around 60 Cape Coloured families who were forced to leave the village in 1991 after Avstig bought it received financial compensation from the South African government in 2006.
Situated in the middle of the Karoo desert in the Northern Cape Province at the border of the Free State, its economy is largely agricultural. In 2004 Orania launched its own currency in an attempt to move further towards self-sufficiency. It also has its own flag, consisting of a small boy pulling up his sleeves against a blue and orange background, traditional Afrikaner colours.
The villagers celebrate Afrikaner holidays and do not participate in South African national elections.
The South African government has mostly ignored the Afrikaner enclave, one of only two all-Afrikaner white settlements in the country – the other being Kleinfontein near Pretoria. However there has been some concern that Orania may provide shelter for white supremacist terrorists.