30 – the Afrikaner Volkstaat
From a young age, Frank was fascinated by maps and atlases, and the stories they contained. Finding his birthplace on the map in the endpapers of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings only increased his interest in the mystery and message of maps.
While pursuing a career in journalism, Frank started a blog called Strange Maps, as a repository for the weird and wonderful cartography he found hidden in books, posing as everyday objects and (of course) floating around the Internet.
"Each map tells a story, but the stories told by your standard atlas for school or reference are limited and literal: they show only the most practical side of the world, its geography and its political divisions. Strange Maps aims to collect and comment on maps that do everything but that - maps that show the world from a different angle".
A remit that wide allows for a steady, varied diet of maps: Frank has been writing about strange maps since 2006, published a book on the subject in 2009 and joined Big Think in 2010. Readers send in new material daily, and he keeps bumping in to cartography that is delightfully obscure, amazingly beautiful, shockingly partisan, and more.
‘Volkstaat’ is Afrikaans for People’s state – the people in this case being the white South Africans who identify themselves as ‘Afrikaners’ (mainly descendents of Dutch settlers, speaking a language derived from Dutch and considering themselves an indigenous nation in Africa).
The idea of a ‘Volkstaat’ came about with the end of Apartheid in 1994, when the white minority finally gave in to the black majority, and handed over the reins of power to Nelson Mandela’s ANC. According to some surveys, about 30% of Afrikaners, thinking back to the independent ‘Boer republics’ that were established in the nineteenth century to escape Britsh rule over the Cape, would like to establish a similar state where Afrikaners can rule themselves. Most South Africans (and indeed most Afrikaners) are opposed to the idea, as it is essentially racist.\n
A practical problem in the establishment of a ‘Volkstaat’ is the fact that Afrikaners are quite evenly spread out over the whole of the country, nowhere forming a majority. Two small communities have been formed to be the nuclei of possible Volkstaat options. One is Orania, founded in 1991 in the West Cape, the other is Kleinfontein in Gauteng.\n
This map shows the proposal for a Volkstaat in the West Cape, which is sparsely populated and thus might more easily be ‘settled’ by Volkstaters. The idea seems to have waning support among Afrikaners, however, and therefore will probably never materialise.\n