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Zulus, Whites Proclaim Harmony in Small Part of South Africa

August 9, 1986

LOUWSBURG, South Africa (AP) _ Afrikaners and Zulus who feared racial strife might strike their small corner of Natal province have proclaimed themselves partners and hope their peace-forging efforts will prove contagious.

″We have come here as black Africans and white Africans ... to pioneer a new thing in human relationships,″ Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini told about 3,500 blacks and 300 whites gathered on a rugby field Friday for the formal proclamation of racial harmony in the 3,360-square-mile Ngotshe district of northern Natal.

″There is in the accord reached between black and white in this area a spirit of a new South Africanism that transcends racial barriers.″

Black drum majorettes, in long-billed caps and red tunics, pranced down the only paved street in Louwsburg, a village of 1,500 where no building is taller than two stories.

At the rugby field, Zulu maidens danced in beaded skirts, and club-swinging tribal warriors capered barefoot in skins, feathers and Christmas tinsel. Fifteen oxen and 10 buck were slaughtered for a giant barbecue.

″We didn’t realize their needs and problems,″ said Tjaart van Rensburg, speaking for 200 white farmers in the district. ″There was a lack of communication, the two cultures were so different. ... Now we are partners and we recognize each other’s birthright. From today, Ngotshe will speak with one voice.″

″Tjaart van Rensburg is my brother,″ said David Masuku, speaking for 40,000 blacks who live on the farms. ″We are black and white Zulus together, because God has blessed us.″

Masuku came to van Rensburg three months ago with a list of complaints familiar among rural blacks: they had been paid low wages and expelled from white farms after decades of tenancy, the district had no black high school, whites had evicted clan chiefs and destroyed tribal society.

Outside this remote region, rural South Africa has been increasingly torn by anti-apartheid violence, and van Rensburg said in an interview: ″We were worried that the trouble would come here. Masuku said we must get our house in order before it came to us.″

Negotiations began with Inkatha, a Zulu social organization based in the nearby KwaZulu tribal homeland that opposes apartheid but seeks peaceful solutions.

Van Rensburg said the Afrikaners and Zulus wanted to prevent the upheavals that might come from infiltration by guerrillas of the African National Congress, which seeks to end white control of the government.

Both sides focused on practical ways to improve daily life within the apartheid system and avoided the big issues of racial mixing that grip South Africa, including demands from the black majority for a vote in national affairs and for integrated schools and neighborhoods.

″We have achieved a lot and we have a lot more to do,″ van Rensburg said. ″We are a conservative community and it wasn’t easy, but now I’d say we have about 90 percent support from both sides.″

Under the Ngotshe Cooperation Agreement, which has been implemented gradually, Masuku and van Rensburg make up a two-man ″people’s court″ to handle disputes between the races.

Van Rensburg said they had resolved 15 eviction cases so far ″to the benefit of both parties.″ The families stayed on their farms in most instances, he said.

Other steps include agreement on standard procedures for dismissal of farm workers, and restoration of Zulu chiefs in the district. Van Rensburg said money will be collected to build a high school for blacks and to create jobs, and the community may ask the central government to allocate more land for black housing.

Masuku, who had worked for a trade union in Durban, will have an office in Louwsburg and act as spokesman for blacks in the district.

King Zwelithini, the ceremonial leader of South Africa’s 6 million Zulus, told the crowd at the rugby field:

″South Africa thirsts for reconciliation. This pact is a concrete example of the reconciliation black and white must have if they are ever going to survive on this tip of Africa.″

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