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.
Critics accuse the town authorities of rejecting the Rainbow Nation concept, and trying to recreate pre-democratic South Africa within an enclave, while residents contend that they are motivated by the desire to preserve their linguistic and cultural heritage and protect themselves from high crime levels, and that they are seeking the right to self-determination as provided by the Constitution of South Africa. The town's relations with the South African government are non-confrontational, and although opposed to aspirations of the community, the government has recognised them as legitimate.
The small community has a radio station and its own currency, the Ora. The population was 1,085 at the time of a local census in 2014, and is growing steadily at about 10% per year. News24 reported on 7 June 2016 that there were by that time 1,300 Afrikaners in Orania. More than 100 businesses are located in Orania as of 2013. Due to its unusual nature, the town is often visited by journalists and documentary-makers.
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".
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.
Carel Boshoff, the founding father of Orania, had originally envisaged a population of 60,000 after 15 years. While he 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.
Newcomers often say their decision to move to Orania was motivated by a desire to escape the violent crime prevalent in the rest of the country, and many had been previously victims of crimes, while Orania residents claim the town is a secure environment and they have no need to lock their house doors.
The idea that white South Africans should concentrate in a limited region of South Africa was first circulated by the South African Bureau of Racial Affairs (SABRA) in 1966. By the 1970s, the SABRA advocated the idea of transforming South Africa into a commonwealth, where population groups would develop parallel to each other. May 1984 saw the establishment of the Afrikaner Volkswag, an organisation founded by Carel Boshoff, a right-wing academic, to put the ideas of the SABRA into practice. Boshoff regarded contemporary plans of the white-minority government to retain control through limited reforms as doomed to fail. Believing that black-majority rule could not be avoided, he instead supported the creation of a separate, smaller state for the Afrikaner nation.
In 1988 Boshoff founded the Afrikaner-Vryheidstigting (Afrikaner Freedom Foundation) or Avstig. 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. 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. 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’, and would eventually include the towns of Prieska, Britstown, Carnarvon, Williston and Calvinia, reaching the west coast.
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. This desert state, Orandeë, because of its very inhospitableness would not be feared or coveted by the South African government. Even proponents of the idea conceded that this model would demand significant economic sacrifices from Afrikaners who moved to the volkstaat. The model is based on the principle of ‘own labour’, requiring that all work in the volkstaat be performed by its citizens, including the ploughing fields, collection of garbage and tending of gardens, which is traditionally performed by blacks in the rest of South Africa.
The Orania region has been inhabited since about 30,000 years ago by Stone Age hunter-gatherers who lived a nomadic lifestyle. A number of late Stone Age engravings indicate the presence of San people, who remained the main cultural group until the second half of the 1700s, with the arrival of white hunters, trekkers and Griqua people. The earliest indication of the presence of white people in the area of Orania dates to 1762, and in the early 19th century many farmers moved seasonally back and forth across the Orange River in search of better grazing. An 1842 Rawstone map shows the farm Vluytjeskraal, on which Orania would later be built. The first known inhabitant of what is today Orania was Stephanus Ockert Vermeulen, who purchased the farm Vluytjeskraal in 1882.
The town was established as Vluytjeskraal in 1963 by the Department of Water Affairs, to house the workers who were building the irrigation canals connected to the Vanderkloof Dam. It was part of a bigger scheme to bring water to the semi-desert central parts of South Africa. Other comparable construction towns like Vanderkloof and Oviston where also established Its name was changed to Orania, a variation of the Afrikaans word oranje, referring to the adjoining river, after it was chosen in a competition. By 1965 it was home to 56 families. Coloured workers who participated in the construction project lived in a separate area named Grootgewaagd. The first phase of the project was completed in 1976. After the dam was completed most of the workers moved away, and the town fell into disrepair. The department completely abandoned Orania in 1989, though a group of coloured people continued to live in Grootgewaagd.
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, on behalf of the Orania Bestuursdienste (OBD). The first 13 inhabitants moved in April 1991. During the same month, the people who still lived in Grootgewaagd were given alternative accommodation in nearby towns, and the village was renamed Kleingeluk. At that time, the town consisted of 90 houses in Orania and 60 in Kleingeluk, all in a grave state of disrepair. In August 1991 the 2,300 hectares (5,700 acres) farm Vluytjeskraal 272 was added to Orania. The town council was established in February 1992. Orania elected its own transitional representative council, a temporary form of local government created after the end of apartheid, in 1995. Construction on an irrigation scheme to cover a 400 hectares (990 acres) area began in 1995 and was completed in October 1996.
In a conciliatory gesture, then-President Nelson Mandela visited the town in 1995 to have tea with Betsie Verwoerd, widow of former Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd. Orania reached 200 permanent inhabitants in 1996, while the 2001 Census found 519 residents. By 1998 R15 million had been invested in the town, for expenses including the upgrading of water and electricity supply, roads and businesses. A violent incident occurred just outside Orania in April 2000, when a white man shot and wounded a 17-year-old black girl, hitting her leg.
In December 2000, the provincial government ordered the dissolution of Orania's town council and its absorption into a new municipality along with neighbouring towns. Oranians lodged an application with the Northern Cape High Court, which found that negotiations between the residents of Orania and the government for a compromise on Orania's municipal status should take place; until such an agreement can be reached, Orania will retain its status quo. By 2003 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.
A dispute arose in May 2005 with a faction of residents who claimed the town was being run like a 'mafia', with a number of lawsuits being filed as part of the dispute. A raid on the town's radio station in November 2005 was linked to a tip-off received from internal dissenters. The dissenters ultimately left the community. In November 2005, around 60 Coloured families who lived in Kleingeluk before 1991 lodged a land claim with the government for around 483 hectares (1,190 acres) of land within Orania. The land claim was settled in December 2006 when the South African government agreed to pay the claimants R2.9 million in compensation.
A R5 million shopping centre, the Saamstaan-winkelsentrum, was inaugurated in 2006. In 2011 the farm Vluytjeskraal-Noord was bought by residents of Orania, though it was set up as a separate legal entity and intended for residential development rather than agriculture. Commercial developments launched in 2013 include Stokkiesdraai Avontuurpark, an adventure park, and Ou Karooplaas Winkelsentrum, a shopping centre.
The area around the town is semi-arid. Orania is part of the Nama Karoo biome, and receives 200-250mm of rain a year. More than 30,000 trees have been planted in Orania and the surrounding farmlands. Prospective residents are warned of the inclement weather conditions, with extreme temperature differences between summer and winter.
A local census carried out in 2014 found 1,085 inhabitants distributed in 386 households, for an average of 3.5 people per household, with children making up a quarter of the population in 2007. According to town authorities, the population had grown by 10% annually over the three years to 2015. Male residents outnumbered females 60% to 40% in 2011, and the lack of young women is a cause of complaints among local men.
White South Africans were the main population group at the time of the 2011 census, representing 97% of the total. Afrikaans is the only language used in all spheres of local life. According to a 2014 census carried out by town authorities, Afrikaans is the main language spoken at home for 95% of residents, followed by English with 2%, with speakers of both English and Afrikaans making up the remaining 3%.
Orania is a deeply religious community, with local churches including the Dutch Reformed Church, Apostoliese Geloofsending, Afrikaanse Protestantse Kerk, Evangelies-Gereformeerde Kerk, Gereformeerde Kerk, Hervormde Kerk, Israel Visie and Maranata Kerk; all are Protestant, with the exception of Maranata which is part of the Charismatic Movement. The origin of Orania residents from various parts of South Africa means that newcomers brought a relatively large variety of denominations to their new town. On important holidays such as the Day of the Vow interdenominational services are held. Works stops on Sundays, except for services that are deemed essential. According to a 2014 local census, the Afrikaans Protestant Church was the most popular denomination, followed by 21.9% of households in Orania, followed by unaffiliated households with 15.6%, the Dutch Reformed Church and the Maranatha Church (both 14.8%), Gereformeerd Church (7.4%). In total, 84.4% of households are affiliated with a religion.
The Afrikaanse Protestantse Kerk was established in 1991, making it the first church to be established in Orania. The congregation counts 145 members. The church is a prefabricated building, the only church in Orania with a steeple.
The Dutch Reformed Church in Orania was established in 1999, when it detached from the Hopetown congregation. The church is part of the ring (presbytery) of Hopetown and the synod of the Northern Cape. In March 2015, the Dutch Reformed Church in Orania voted against changes to the DRC Church Order allowing for the adoption of the Belhar Confession, as did a majority of churches in the Northern Cape Synod.
Orania has three residential areas: Kleingeluk ("small happiness"), Grootdorp ("big town") and Orania Wes ("Orania West"). Kleingeluk is a separate district about 1.5 km away from Grootdorp, and is poorer than the main town, although progress has been made in narrowing the gap in living conditions.
Many houses in Orania are built in the Cape Dutch architectural style. Most of the original buildings from the water department era are prefabricated, and while some have been renovated others show sign of deterioration, as they weren't designed to last for more than 20 years.
The Orania Verteenwoordige Raad (OVR, Orania Representative Council) is the highest democratic institution in Orania and Carel Boshoff is the chairman (Mayor) of the OVR. It is the last transitional representative council extant in South Africa.
The Vluytjiekraal Aandeleblok (VAB, Vluytjiekraal Share Block) is responsible for running the daily affairs. It is elected annually, and consists of five members and a chairman. Political parties are not allowed in Orania's local elections. The budget for the fiscal year 2006/2007 was R2.45 million. The Orania Beweging (Orania Movement) is a separate political and cultural organisation that promotes Afrikaner history and culture. The Orania Movement has around 3,800 registered supporters from outside town.
Orania receives no fiscal contributions from either state or provincial government. The Helpsaam Fund, a non-profit institution, raises money for projects like subsidised housing for newcomers in need. The Elim Centre accommodates unemployed young men who come to Orania seeking employment. Most are destitute when they arrive. They are usually given work with the municipality or local farms, and provided with training. Nerina, the equivalent residential complex for women, was completed in July 2012.
The town has neither a police force nor a prison. Traffic monitoring and minor crimes such as petty theft are handled internally. Neighbourhood watch patrols are carried out by volunteers. In October 2014 Orania Veiligheid (Orania Security) was established, to handle reports of illegal activities such as drug dealing or car theft, but also more trivial matters such as littering and noise complaints. Apprehended suspects are taken to the police station in neighbouring Hopetown. Residents are exhorted to use mediation and arbitration procedures made available by the town council, rather than resorting to South African courts.
Orania has a small clinic, and a government-funded nurse visits twice a week. The town has two airstrips, one 1,300m and the other 1,000m.
Although Orania lies within the borders of the Thembelihle municipal area, Orania is not an administrative part of the Thembelihle Local Municipality. Orania has its own municipal structure in the form of the Orania Representative Council based on the Local Government Transition Act of 1993, whereas other municipalities are based on the Municipal Structures Act of 1998. Orania maintains it own municipal administration while Thembelihle provides no services (like sewerage, roads, rubbish collection) in Orania and collects no rates from the town (other taxes are paid normally). This legal framework was laid down in 2000 when an agreement between the Cabinet of South Africa, the Northern Cape government and the Orania Representative Council was reached about a provisional status for Orania. This agreement was confirmed by a ruling of the Northern Cape High Court.
The town is privately owned by the Vluytjeskraal Aandeleblok company. Ownership of plots and houses is in the form of shares in the company, according to a framework known as share block under South African law, similar to the strata title or condominium in other countries. No title deeds are provided, except for agricultural land.
Vluytjeskraal functions like a municipal administration, being funded by rates and delivering services like water, electricity and waste management. Utility companies like Eskom and Telkom provide services to this private entity, which then splits the costs and charges the end users.
Prospective residents are required to go through an interview process with a committee, which may deny access to people based on criteria such as criminal records. Once permission is granted, the new residents become members of the community, either as shareholders if they buy property, or as tenants.
Being an Afrikaner is the most important criterion for admission. Most news sources report that black or coloured people are not allowed to live in Orania, although Boshoff said that Jakes Gerwel and Neville Alexander (Coloured anti-apartheid activists) would be welcome to settle in the town, if they wished to do so. In 1990, Orania's founder defined the Afrikaner nation in cultural, rather than racial, terms. The town's spokesman similarly insists that there are no rules against allowing an Afrikaans-speaking coloured person to live in Orania.
Some people who try to live in Orania leave due to the limited choice of available jobs or the requirement to conform to local social norms. According to a 2004 study, 250 people had left Orania since its establishment in 1991, most of them due to "physical and social pressure". The difference in lifestyle compared to an urban environment is another factor that negatively impacts newcomers.
Town authorities have a strong focus on green practices, including recycling and conservation. Recycling is compulsory for all households, and residents sort their own waste place it into five different rubbish bins. Solar geysers are a requirement for all new houses built in Orania. Examples of green architecture can be seen throughout town, including houses built with materials such as stone, wood and hay.
In 2013, an earthship (aardskip) was under construction in Orania. It was designed by Christiaan van Zyl, one of South Africa's foremost experts on sustainable architecture. The building is unfinished as of 2015; once completed it will be the largest earthbag earthship in the world.
In 2014 Orania opened its bicycle sharing system, called the Orania Openbare Fietsprojek (Orania Public Bicycle Project).
The town's existence is allowed by the Constitution of South Africa under a clause that allows for the right to self-determination. Orania has a non-confrontational attitude towards South African authorities, which have likewise adopted a non-interference policy towards Orania. The ANC government mostly avoids the issue of Orania and its status, as it is seen as less important than many other political issues the party has to confront.
On 5 June 1998, 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".
Dipuo Peters, then Premier of the Northern Cape, visited the town in July 2004. Peters said she was impressed with how development takes place in the community. 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.
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". On 14 September 2010 President Jacob Zuma visited Orania, meeting its founder 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.
In June 2007, the Afrikaner enclave was visited by the Coloured community of Eersterust, outside Pretoria. 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.
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.
Members of the Orania Beweging, including its president Carel Boshoff, went on a European tour in 2013, meeting with MPs from the Partij voor de Vrijheid of the Netherlands, the Vlaams Belang party in Belgium and Südtiroler Volkspartei in Italy's South Tyrol province.
The largest right-wing party in apartheid-era South Africa, the Conservative Party, did not support the volkstaat concept until 1993, shortly before converging with other right-wing organisation into the Afrikaner Volksfront. Even then, their plan involved separating parts of Transvaal Province, including Pretoria, to form a state where the many black residents would have only limited voting rights. Negotiations to this end were conducted with the African National Congress, but were inconclusive. The last white-minority government led by F. W. de Klerk was also opposed to the creation of an Afrikaner state and the existence of Orania, but took no action against it, believing it would fail on its own.
Debate surrounding a volkstaat returned to the mainstream media following the murder of Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (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." Boshoff IV also noted that the Orania concept was at odds with the baasskap system of the apartheid period.
Prior to the 2016 local elections, the Thembelihle branch of the Economic Freedom Fighters campaigned on a platform including a pledge to terminate the autonomous status of Orania, if elected to govern the municipality. After a visit to Orania, Thembelihle mayor and EFF-candidate Danny Jonas said he wanted to retain the status quo while working together with Orania for the benefit of Thembelihle. The party ultimately won 11.6% of the municipal vote.
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. In the South African general election, 2009, the community decisively voted for the Freedom Front Plus party. The four votes recorded for the Economic Freedom Fighters party in the 2014 election elicited a number of comments from South African media.Notes
Farming is an important part of Orania's economy, the most prominent project being a massive pecan nut plantation, one of the largest in South Africa. The plantation is said to have given Orania a substantial economic boost. Most of the agricultural production is exported to China. 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. A pumping station on the Orange River, financed and built by the town's residents, provides water for agricultural use. The station is connected to a 9 km pipeline.
More than 100 businesses are located in Orania as of 2013. Economic services provided in the town include a call centre, stockbroking and architecture. The community's annual turnover in 2011 was R48 million. Property prices in 2010 ranged from R250,000 at the low-end, up to R900,000 for new riverfront property. Average house prices in Orania have grown by 13.9% a year from 1992 to 2006.
Orania's tourism industry is showing rapid development with the completion of a luxury river spa and boutique hotel complex in 2009. Orania Toere (Orania Tours), Orania's first registered tour operator, was also launched in 2009. In 2010 thirteen independent hospitality businesses operate in Orania. This includes a caravan park, self-catering flats, rooms, hotel and guest-houses. From October 2012 to February 2013, about 2,000 holidaymakers visited the town.
In Orania people from all levels of society perform their own manual labour. Local Afrikaners also work in unskilled positions such as gardening and waste collection. Rapid growth over the four years to 2014 led to the construction of new commercial developments and a rising number of young adult immigrants, but also caused an increase in class differences between residents. The average wage in Orania was estimated at approximately R4,000 per month in 2007, low by white South African standards. The lack of cheap black labour means that living expenses in Orania are twice as high as in the rest of South Africa; at the same time, unskilled workers are scarce. In 2009, 14% of the population was self-employed.
During April 2004, Orania launched its own monetary system, called the Ora, based on the idea of discount shopping vouchers. The Orania local banking institution, the Orania Spaar- en Kredietkoöperatief (Orania Savings and Credit Co-operative) is in charge of this initiative. Orania launched its own chequebook in 2007. The use of the Ora as a payment method also has the effect of discouraging theft, as it can only be used within Orania. About R400,000 to R580,000 worth of Oras were in circulation by 2011. New notes are printed every three years to replace the ones worn out by use. The E-series was distributed in April 2014.
A R9 million dairy farm, the Bo-Karoo Suiwel, operated in Orania from 1998 to 2002. Though deemed one of the most modern dairies in South Africa at the time, the increased cost of imported machinery caused by a decline in value of the rand combined to a rise in the price of corn used to feed cattle led to its liquidation. Another ambitious project, a mill processing a range of corn products, was completed in 2005, but proved similarly unsuccessful and was closed down. The Orania management has since mostly eschewed large-scale projects, rather focussing on small- and micro-enterprises to develop the local economy.
Cultural institutions include the Orania Kunsteraad met orkes en koor (arts council with orchestra and choir) and the Orania Kultuurhistoriese museum (cultural history museum). Exhibits housed in the museum include the Felix Lategan gun collection and a Vierkleur flag carried by Jopie Fourie. A collection of busts of Afrikaner leaders, sourced from institutions that no longer wanted them after the end of apartheid, sits on a 'monument hill' outside town. There is also a Verwoerd museum, in which items and photos of Hendrik Verwoerd are on display and which was the house where his widow lived from 1992 until her death at the age of 98 years in 2000.
The Koeksistermonument, erected in 2003, celebrates the women that baked and sold koeksister to collect money for chairty and is one of the town's tourist attractions. The town also houses the Irish Volunteer Monument, dedicated to the Irish soldiers who fought on the Boer side during the Boer War (see Boer foreign volunteers). The monument was designed by Jan van Wijk, who also created the Afrikaans Language Monument in Paarl. It was moved from Brixton, Gauteng in 2002 by a group of Afrikaners concerned by its imminent demolition.
Orania has a mascot named Klein Reus (small giant), a small boy shown rolling up his sleeves. The symbol is used for the town's flag, its currency and merchandise. Traditional Afrikaner cultural activities such as volkspele dances and games of jukskei are promoted within the community. Karoo-style food such as skaapkop is part of the local culinary heritage. The town has a rugby team, the Orania Rebelle, playing in the Griqualand West Rugby Union.
The Orania Karnaval (formerly Volkstaatskou) is the main cultural event in town. Held annually since April 2000, it features exhibitions, competitions and concerts from local and national Afrikaner artists, with food stalls offering traditional Afrikaner treats. The Ora currency and the Kleinreus flag were both introduced during the celebrations.
Younger residents occasionally complain of a lack of recreational activities, a concern common to many small communities. Orania, a farming town, offers few amusements to teenagers and young adults, who miss the entertainment offered by city life. Quad racing is a popular pastime, but frowned upon by town authorities for safety reasons. The Bistro was a popular hangout for the youth of Orania, but it ceased operations after the owner died in 2009. Two notable businesses are the Wynhuis (a liquor store) and the Vaatjie (a pub). The Wynhuis is visited not only by locals, but also coloureds from neighbouring farms. The Vaatjie is a contentious place among members of the community, as it is seen as a place of loose mores, and fights occasionally break out between patrons; the Vaatjie burned down in 2009 and was reopened in 2011, but is currently closed. Things improved considerably with the opening of the Ou Karooplaas shopping Centre, which also houses a cinema, pizza parlor and DVD shop in 2014, and the Stokkiesdraai Adventure Park which also has a pub and Coffee shop, also in 2014.
There are two schools, the CVO Skool Orania (Christelike Volks-Onderwys or Christian People's Education) and Volkskool Orania (Orania People's School). Afrikaans is the language of instruction, while English is taught as a second language. Both schools follow the IEB curriculum, with special emphasis placed on Afrikaner history and Christian religion, though with some differences in their teaching methods.
The CVO-school, established in January 1993, is run along conventional lines; enrolment in 2014 was 225 students, with some coming from neighbouring towns. The Volkskool use a self-driven teaching (selfgedrewe) system which is unorthodox by South African standards. It was established in June 1991, with Julian Visser as its first principal.
There is a rivalry between the schools, which is generally friendly but can occasionally become quite fierce. Not all local children attend them, as some parents choose homeschooling or boarding schools in cities like Bloemfontein.
All educational activities in Orania are supervised by the Orania Koördinerende Onderwysraad. Orania's schools have consistently achieved a 100% matric pass rate since 1991.
The first local community radio, Radio Club 100, was shut down by Independent Communications Authority of South Africa in November 2005 for broadcasting without a licence and being a "racist-based station". Management of the radio station contended they had repeatedly applied for a licence and were merely carrying out tests, and that they broadcast harmless news about birthdays and social events. Icasa granted a licence to the new Radio Orania in December 2007, and the station started broadcasting on 13 April 2008 on 95.5 MHz. The community station is run by volunteers and counts over 50 contributors. Programmes include readings of Afrikaans literature such as Mikro's Die ruiter in die nag.
Dorpnuus, the town hall's newsletter, was launched in November 2005 and reports on local events and meetings of the town council. Volkstater is an independent local publication that is sent to supporters of the volkstaat idea, mostly non-residents of Orania. and deals with local events and Afrikaner history. Voorgrond, a publication of the Orania Beweging, is primarily aimed at non-residents who support the movement.
Geloftedag on 16 December is one of the most important holidays for the community. Locals wear traditional clothing and commemorate the victory in 1838 of 470 Afrikaners over an army of 15,000 Zulu warriors.
A list of cultural holidays in Orania:
The community receives a lot of visits from local and international media organisations, so that Oranians are constantly in contact with journalists. The existence of Orania as a homogeneously Afrikaner town is controversial, and news sources portray it as culturally backward and racially intolerant. Orania is generally talked about as racist and separatist place. In 1994 the Los Angeles Times described it as "one of [South Africa's] strangest towns" and "a bastion of intolerance". A year later the Chicago Tribune saw it as "the last pathetic holdout of the former ruling class of South Africa", continuing that "the Afrikaners who once forced blacks to live apart from the rest of society are now living in their own prison". A Mail & Guardian article describes it as a 'widely ridiculed town' and a 'media byword for racism and irredentism'. An article in The Independent similarly notes that residents of Orania have a reputation for being racists, and that the town attracts plenty of negative press.
One commentator noted the diverging perceptions of the town between white liberals and blacks: the former see it as a "pathetic outpost of embittered racists", refusing to live in equality with black South Africans; the latter see it as a 1950s-style fantasy shielding locals from declining white privilege. Orania was deemed to lack privilege, however, as residents have no domestic workers and few material luxuries; white suburbs in the rest of South Africa, with their high levels of segregation and heavy use of domestic labour, were felt to more closely resemble the apartheid era than Orania did. Along similar lines, Orania was also seen as "one of the few places in South Africa... where class is not determined by skin colour". Another journalist found comparisons of Orania to the apartheid system inappropriate, as town authorities do not seek to exploit or subjugate blacks, but simply demand separation. In its obituary of Orania's founder Carel Boshoff, Foreign Policy magazine agreed with Boshoff's proposition that the position of white South Africans as a privileged class dependent on black labour is untenable.
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. The town was also featured in a 2009 documentary produced by France Ô, Orania, citadelle blanche en Afrique.
The 30th South African Libertarian Spring Seminar was held in Orania on 8–11 October 2015. One of the attendees of the conference, Andrew Kenny, a regular contributor to The Citizen newspaper, wrote a generally positive article about the town. When the editor of The Citizen refused to publish the article on the grounds that it may be "highly offensive to victims of apartheid", Kenny published the article online. The Executive Director of the South African Free Market Foundation, Leon Louw, has also written an article questioning the perception that the town is a refuge for racial bigots.
Orania is mentioned in one of the leaked American diplomatic cables, relating details of a 2004 visit to the town, where it is described as a "sleepy country town with few signs of growth or vitality".
Most Afrikaners do not support the establishment of an Afrikaner state, as they see it as nothing more than an impractical pipe dream, though a survey of Beeld readers carried out in 2010 found that 56% of respondents would consider moving to a volkstaat. Shortly after the first residents moved in in 1991, the project was derided by many whites as unrealistic, with even right-wingers rejecting it for being located in such barren territory, far from traditional Afrikaner states. Orania and its leadership are poorly regarded by the Afrikaner far-right, as their official stance of opposing racism is said to be seen by them as excessively liberal.
In 2010 Marida Fitzpatrick, journalist for the Afrikaans newspaper Die Burger, 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. Members of the AfriForum group who visited Orania in February 2015 came back with mostly positive impressions of the town, comparing it to a Clarens or Dullstroom of the Karoo. Afrikaans singer Steyn Fourie is a supporter of Orania, and wrote a song about the town.
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. De Klerk also distanced the town from racist organisations using Orania to further their own causes.
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