Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) is an Afrikaans-South African far-right group fighting for an independent Afrikaner Republic. Consisting of approximately 6,000 members (as of 2016), AWB can be described as a white-supremacist, Christian nationalist group. Founded in 1973 due to the gradual dissolution of apartheid-era politics, its founder – Eugène Terre’Blanche – opposed what he perceived as the oppression of the white minority in South Africa. Following the fall of apartheid-era South Africa, the AWB has faded from the main stage due to the imprisonment, murder, or otherwise increased inactivity of its members. However, the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging remains contemporarily pertinent as some groups have become inspired by their previous tactics (such as the Boeremag), and continue to carry out sporadic and seemingly isolated attacks (The rise and fall of South Africa’s Far Right, Rosa Lyster).
History & Foundations
The AWB formed in the 1970s, during a time of great socio-political change for South Africa. The group encapsulated many fears of the white South African population, such as the fears of being replaced and marginalised. Capitalizing on a time of change, Terre’Blanche rallied against laws allowing for equality on the basis of skin color, called for the AWB to harass liberal politicians, attempted assassinations on journalists, engaged in sporadic combat, and stormed government buildings. In one event, six AWB members set up fake road-blocks murdering four black civilians (Truth and Reconciliation Commision 1998, SAPA), and in an uninvited attempt to defend pro-Apartheid dictator Lucas Mangope of then-independent Bophuthatswana, four AWB members were killed while engaged in a firefight with local defence forces (Tebbut Commission, SAPA). Following the imprisonment of Terre’Blanche in 2001 for the assault of a black gas station employee, the AWB sought to reform their image as a pro-theocratic, reformed, and tamed political organisation, which would instead focus on the cultural preservation of the Afrikaans population in post-Apartheid South Africa. The murder of Terre’Blanche over a payment dispute in 2010 with one of his employees has seen the AWB shift dramatically in its methods of insurgence. Currently, they maintain the position that they have legal grounds upon which to reclaim historical Afrikaner land, and cultivate a manicured online presence of confidentiality and secrecy (“Die Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging.” AWB).
Objectives and Ideology
Prior to the complete reformation of apartheid-era politics in South Africa, the AWB sought to form a free and independent Afrikaaner state in South Africa by any means possible. Ideologically opposing racial integration, the AWB was unafraid to carry out acts of violence on the basis of their beliefs (“The Beloved Country”, Saskia Vredeveld).
Following the incarceration of many members and the reformation of South African politics, the AWB’s membership has dwindled. With increased public visibility, a loss of support for their beliefs within the country, and the murder of Eugene Terre’Blanche, the AWB still holds on to beliefs of supremacy and the desire for an independent state.
Alliances & Approach to Resistance
During Apartheid era South Africa, the AWB managed to form and maintain a number of unofficial alliances with prominent political parties such as the Afrikaner Volksfront, the Boerestaat Party, and the Vereniging van Oranjewerkers. All of which were prominent dissident political parties and organisations whose aims were similar in nature to that of the AWB. (“Carrots and Sticks The TRC and the South African Amnesty Process”, Intersentia)
On June 25th, 1993, hundreds of members of the AWB stormed the World Trade Centre in Kempton Park, Johannesburg in order to disrupt proceedings. The former President F.W De Klerk condemned the storm on national television, “[the disturbance] discredited the conservative Afrikaner right-wingers when they were trying to unify and present themselves as a serious and respectable section of the South African public”. (“The…AWB Invade the World Trade Centre” South African History Online).
Works Cited (MLA-Style)
Bevan, Stephen. “AWB Leader Terre'Blanche Rallies Boers Again.” Telegraph, 6 Jan. 2008, https://web.archive.org/web/20080604050426/http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/southafrica/2059457/South-Africa-AWB-leader-Terre%27Blanche-rallys-Boers-again.html.
“Commission of Inquiry into the Incidents That Led to the Violence in the Former Bophuthatswana on 11 March 1994, and the Deaths That Occurred as a Result Thereof.” Tebbutt Commission, https://web.archive.org/web/20070430053711/http://www.polity.org.za/polity/govdocs/commissions/1998/tebbutt/contents.html.
“Die Afrikaner Weerstandbeweging.” AWB, 27 Sept. 2022, https://awb.co.za/.
“Goldstone Commission : Events at the World Trade Centre June 1993.” Commission Of Inquiry Regarding The Prevention Of Public Violence And Intimidation, https://web.archive.org/web/20070714080229/http://www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/history/transition/gold_worldtrd.html.
Lyster, Rosa. “The Rise and Fall of South Africa's Far Right.” The Outline, The Outline, 30 Oct. 2017, https://theoutline.com/post/2433/the-rise-and-fall-of-south-africa-s-far-right.
Pirtle, Whitney N. Laster. “‘White People Still Come out on Top’: The Persistence of White Supremacy in Shaping Coloured South Africans' Perceptions of Racial Hierarchy and Experiences of Racism in Post-Apartheid South Africa.” MDPI, Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 14 Feb. 2022, https://www.mdpi.com/2076-0760/11/2/70/htm.
Sarkin-Hughes, Jeremy. Carrots and Sticks: The TRC and the South African Amnesty Process. Intersentia, 2004.
“The Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) Invade the World Trade Centre, during Constitutional Negotiations, in Kempton Park, Johannesburg, Transvaal.” South African History Online, https://www.sahistory.org.za/dated-event/afrikaner-weerstandsbeweging-awb-invade-world-trade-centre-during-constitutional.
Vredeveld, Saskia, director. The Beloved Country, CineTe, 1992, https://vimeo.com/ondemand/mybelovedcountry.
ZeroEightyFour. “The Death of Apartheid: The Whites Last Stand.” YouTube, YouTube, 27 Sept. 2012, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DBGVHZc30k.