Ilvy Njiokiktjien wins 2011 Canon AFJ Award

 Young white Afrikaners lay around at a defence camp. Photo by Ilvy Njiokiktjien

Young white Afrikaners lay around at a defence camp. Photo by Ilvy Njiokiktjien

The Canon Female Photojournalist Award for 2011, presented by the French Association of Female Journalists (AFJ), has been awarded to Ilvy Njiokiktjien, 26, for her proposed report on Afrikaner adolescents in South Africa.

Njiokiktjien’s story originated from a visit, in 2007, to a ‘defence camp’ in South Africa where adult Afrikaners were taught how to shoot a gun in case of attack. “There is a fear among some white South Africans that there’s going to be civil war when Nelson Mandela dies, but an even greater fear is the high crime rate,” Njiokiktjien told CPN. “Most know someone who’s been hijacked or shot at. They are afraid to walk in the streets and they live in compounds behind high walls.”

An increasing number of parents are sending their children to youth camps. The camps promote a separate Afrikaner identity by creating consciousness among the young Afrikaners based on their language, religion, skin colour and traditions. Njiokiktjien, and the writer and journalist Elles van Gelder, spent nine days on a camp about three hours drive north-east of Johannesburg.

Njiokiktjien said that the boys were clearly being indoctrinated. “They learn how to shoot, they do exercises, and the evenings are spent having lectures about race from the colonel who runs the camp. One such lecture was called ‘The Enemy’, which described black and mixed-race people as ‘a big threat’ to white people. There was another lecture about how bad Mandela is,” she explained. The uniforms they wear, sometimes ill-fitting, were worn by their forefathers in the battles they fought. “One boy told me that when he got his uniform there was still blood all over it.”

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