SPEECH GIVEN BY A.D.HARVEY AT THE LAUNCH OF THE LONDON BRANCH OF THE SPRINGBOK CLUB


Ladies and gentlemen,

It is difficult to be able say with certainty where the true origins of the Springbok Club lie. There is definitely a continuous thread going all the way back to several grass-roots patriotic movements existing in the Durban area during the late 1970s, though it could even be argued that the actual ancestry of the organisation begun with a tour of Rhodesia undertaken by five then young pro-Rhodesian British patriots in 1976.

One thing is for certain however, and that is that many of those actively involved with these Durban-based patriotic organisations subsequently became instrumental in the establishment of the Springbok Club "in exile" - and that the majority of them were English-speaking South Africans rather than Afrikaners, with a significantly high proportion who were actually born in the UK who had emigrated to Southern Africa because they supported the Rhodesian and South African causes.

The organisations involved included the Save Rhodesia Campaign, the South Africa First Campaign, the National Forum and the Voters' Policy Association, and of course in those days of the late 1970s the main focus of attention was in supporting the Rhodesian struggle (and of course events in Zimbabwe over the past few years have confirmed how absolutely accurate our warnings were all those years ago!). With the fall of Rhodesia in 1979, however, all that changed, and our efforts then became geared to saving South Africa itself. In this regard a most important meeting was staged on 8th January 1980 at which several of the previously independent organisations joined together to form a new united patriotic movement called the White Rhino Club. The success of the WRC was almost immediate, with a number of effective petition campaigns being staged, and the surprising generation of international support and publicity (proving that South Africa possessed far more support around the western world than was generally realised in the country itself). Unfortunately petty personality differences within the Executive Committee of the WRC caused the organisation to collapse within a year of its foundation, but one most important and significant triumph came out of its short existence, namely the foundation of the magazine S.A.Patriot.

S.A.Patriot survived the collapse of the WRC, and indeed grew and prospered over the following decade, obtaining much internal publicity and the support of many of the patriotic parties and organisations in South Africa itself. For this we probably have John Samuel to thank as much as anybody - a true hero of our times if ever there was one. A sincere and dedicated Ulster loyalist he appreciated the similarities between the Ulster and Rhodesian struggles at a young age, and voluntarily emigrated to Rhodesia and enlisted to serve in the Rhodesian Armoured Car Regiment because of his devotion to the Rhodesian cause. Following the fall of Rhodesia he came south to South Africa, and continued his support for the cause as a whole by becoming deputy editor of the magazine. Ironically, however, S.A.Patriot seemed to obtain more support outside South Africa than in the country itself, thus again confirming that South Africa enjoyed far more support around the western world than South Africans themselves ever appreciated.

Following the collapse of the White Rhino Club the National Forum carried on holding the banner for a while, until it too went into demise during the mid-1980s. It was then decided that a new organisational side of operations should be founded via S.A.Patriot, so in early 1985 the Patriotic Forum was launched - neatly combining facets from the names of both S.A.Patriot and the National Forum. Significantly the first person to speak on the Patriotic Forum platform was Alan Gresham, one of the five young pro-Rhodesian British patriots who toured Rhodesia in 1976, and who was visiting South Africa at the time. Over the following few years the Patriotic Forum gained great success, obtaining a number of very prominent South African, South-West African and overseas pro-South African guest speakers. The organisation also gained great publicity in the Natal press and even in the national South African media, and its increasing success was in no small measure due to the dedicated support of Paul Robinson, a stalwart of the movement from its early days, and another true hero of our times.

Increasingly during the late 1980s the sell-out policies of P.W.Botha and F.W.de Klerk were having a detrimental effect upon South African society however. Many of those involved with S.A.Patriot and the Patriotic Forum were suffering personal financial hardship due to "Affirmative Action" policies and the consequent lack of employment opportunities, and the movement as a whole suffered as a result, as financial support simply started to dry up. Many closely involved with the organisation therefore eventually came to the conclusion that because of the apparent imminent fall of South Africa there was no longer any hope either for themselves personally or for the movement in South Africa itself, so decided to relocate back to the UK, where not only would employment be more plentiful, but it would also provide a more secure base to continue the struggle "in exile".

John Samuel was the first to make such a move, and together with Kevin Puttock (now sadly deceased) he founded the Rhodesian Forum in London during the late 1980s. It didn't take them long to learn that a larger and more vibrant ex-Rhodesian organisation was already in existence however, namely the Rhodesians Worldwide movement, and so, not wishing to tread on any toes, the Rhodesian Forum was put into "cold storage" and they gave their support to RW.

Others of us moved back to the UK in 1990 however, and were soon able to make good contact with several long-standing subscribers to S.A.Patriot (and it is ironic in retrospect to recall how the magazine always had relatively higher numbers of subscribers outside South Africa than in the country itself!). Furthermore, a group of these long-standing British supporters almost immediately made an offer of financial assistance in order to re-establish the magazine, and so in 1991 it was re-launched as S.A.Patriot-in-Exile.

This financial support was alas not on-going, so in order to produce a second edition of S.A.Patriot-in-Exile it became necessary to hold a fund-raising function. Initially we were unsure under what name to hold this event, but eventually one of our British supporters, Kelvin Sanderson, suggested that we resurrect the title of the White Rhino Club (thus proving what a worldwide impact this organisation had had all those years previously), and so the White Rhino Club Mark II was born!

The WRC rapidly became the organisational side of S.A.Patriot-in-Exile, but in June 1993 an absolute disaster struck. One of the British subscribers to the magazine who had made contact with us was a certain Mark Cotterill from Torquay. We knew very little about him, but he seemed to be a sincere and dedicated supporter of our cause, and when he invited us to go down to Devon to stage a WRC meeting there we readily agreed. In order to make this an even more high-profile event it was agreed to combine it with a reunion of some of those who had toured Rhodesia in 1976, including Alan Gresham, so that they could tell everyone present about their experiences on this tour. Cotterill, however, turned out to be a very nasty grudge-bearing individual, who for some obscure reason had developed a chip-on-his-shoulder about our organisation shortly before the Devon meeting was to be held, and who then went out of his way to sabotage the entire weekend - something which unfortunately he did very effectively, and alas the WRC never really recovered from this disaster. (Incidentally, Cotterill was subsequently beaten-up in Torquay following a separate dispute, and then fled to the United States, where our latest information is that he's currently in serious trouble with the American authorities.)

Although the WRC soldiered on for a while, the aftermath of the Devon disaster continued to hamper development, and so it was eventually decided to start afresh. In June 1996 an ad-hoc meeting was held at the Clarence pub in Whitehall at which it was decided to unite the remnants of the Rhodesian Forum with the WRC, and after much discussion the new name of the Springbok Club was decided upon (one of the main reasons being that in the "good old days" Rhodesians and South-West Africans as well as South Africans were eligible to be selected for Springbok rugby and cricket sides). It was also decided that the new organisation would not solely concentrate upon Southern African affairs, but would adopt a broader neo-Imperialist agenda, as it was obvious to us that the only way that we could reclaim South Africa and Rhodesia was by way of outside western intervention, which would entail a new era of European colonialism throughout the entire disintegrating African continent.

The Springbok Club rapidly started to make a name for itself, and at its first meeting, which was addressed by Martin Schonteich (a stalwart from the Patriotic Forum in Durban, who was touring the UK at the time) the function room was absolutely packed. With increasing successes it soon became obvious that the organisation would have to be constituted on a far more formal footing with a proper constitution and an elected Executive Committee. On 23rd January 1999 the organisation was officially constituted therefore, again at a meeting held in the Clarence pub in Whitehall. After much discussion a formal constitution was adopted (based upon the constitution of the original White Rhino Club from our Durban days) and an initial Executive Committee of seven people was elected.

I feel that at this juncture, before going describing the successes and developments of the Springbok Club, it will be a good idea to detail the three basic aims and objectives of the organisation as laid out in the constitution:-

i) To bring together those Southern Africans living in exile and others who support the aims and objectives of the organisation on a regular social and informative basis.

ii) To inform those of a similar background still living on the African continent of our support for their rights and liberties, and our concern for the current dangers which they may be facing.

iii) To lobby the powers that be in the outside world concerning the anarchic state of current day Africa, and to advocate that steps be taken to restore civilised rule to the continent.

I think it is quite clear therefore where our true sympathies lie, and if there is any ambiguity in anyone's mind then the presence of the real South African flag on our logo should leave no-one in any doubts! In a nutshell our policy can be summed up in one sentence: "We want our countries back, and believe this can now only come about by the re-establishment of civilised European rule throughout the African continent."

Before telling you something about the great successes of the Springbok Club to date (and there are many), I feel that in order for this to be an honest appraisal I must also tell you of some problems which we have faced. There have actually been three, all of which I am happy to say have been successfully overcome. Firstly we have been subjected to quite a bit of cyber-terrorism. This has tended to be childish and sporadic, and although it has generated a lot of worries it hasn't had any lasting effects. As one of our supporters has stated however: "by so doing our enemies are simply confirming how important and effective we are becoming". Secondly there was the notorious "Yates incident" of November 2000. In a nutshell none of our long-established members wished to take on the position of Treasurer at the 2000 AGM, and only a very new member named Bill Yates volunteered for the post. He proved totally incapable however, and totally wrecked our UDI Day Dinner of that year by driving away many potential attendees and refusing to accept cheques on the night. This resulted in a very embarrassing incident in front of our guest of honour, Brig. Pat Lawless, and as a result most of the Committee resigned in protest, until Yates himself also resigned. Happily the organisation was successfully re-constituted in January 2001. Finally we have had very bad luck with our overseas co-ordinators. Our original U.S. co-ordinator, Ferdi Fourie, simply disappeared, but an even worse incident involved our original Scandinavian co-ordinator, Lars Karnestam. Our original Australian co-ordinator, Nick Maine, was visiting Sweden in April 2001 and so we tried to organise an "international get-together" in Stockholm at which supporters from Scandinavia, the UK and elsewhere in Europe could all meet Nick. Lars was supposed to do the organising of this event, but actually did nothing, and indeed announced his resignation from the Springbok Club without giving any valid reason whatsoever. The whole event therefore had to be cancelled at short notice, and Nick was quite understandably very annoyed about this last-minute change of plans, and also resigned his position as our Australian co-ordinator - though happily he agreed to become simply our Queensland Representative, and a new Australian co-ordinator has subsequently been appointed.

On now therefore to far happier matters. We have been very honoured and privileged to have had Mr. Peter Fisher as our Chairman ever since we were constituted. Peter is a tower of strength, and has proved to have a lot of very useful contacts!

We have constantly managed to attract a string of very high-profile guest speakers. These have included two peers of the realm (Lord Bellhaven and Stenton and the Earl of Burford), two former British M.P.'s (Neil Hamilton and Jacques Arnold), Dr. Ferdi Hartzenberg, the Leader of the Conservative Party of South Africa, and Andrew Roberts, the eminent historian.

We have achieved considerable Internet success. Our South African Exiles web-site has now attracted almost 24,000 hits, and has received high praise from several sources, and even attracted an article in the Mail & Guardian. Our Springbok Cyber Newsletter has now been in existence for four years and again is highly praised, with items often reproduced in printed publications. Our circulation list rises most months, and currently stands at 390.

We have become closely identified with the real South African flag (much to the chagrin of our enemies!), having in the past managed to obtain stocks both of actual flags and lapel badges to retail - all of which have now been sold out! We have also entered in to a beneficial arrangement with Covos-Day Books to retail several of their titles in the UK via their supplier.

We have established some very close and beneficial links with a number of other organisations. Most notable is our close liaison with the London Swinton Circle, with whom we have now staged three joint meetings, one addressed by Mr. Bill Cooke of the Falklands Society from the United States, one by Mr. Philip Benwell MBE of the Australian Constitutional Monarchy League, and one by Mr. Maurice Xiberras, a former Deputy Chief Minister of Gibraltar. We have also established very good links with both W.I.S.E. and New Britain, as well as friendly but unofficial links with both Rhodesians Worldwide and the Rhodesian Army Association.

A number of organisations have approached us for support and assistance. Most prominent among these has been the MDC Solidarity Campaign, and indeed several of our members have regularly taken part in anti-Mugabe protests outside Zimbabwe House. The Friends of Gibraltar Heritage Association has also approached us for support, which of course we will eagerly be giving during the next few months. More recently we've been approached for assistance by the Zimbabwe Agricultural Welfare Trust and Ukkasie (an Afrikaans cultural organisation in the UK). We've even been contacted by solicitors acting on behalf of "Cotton Traders" who wanted our assistance in a legal dispute which they've been having with the SARFU concerning alleged copyright of the springbok badge on their replica rugby shirts!

We're slowly establishing a branch structure of the Springbok Club around the UK. Already Peter Fisher has managed to establish a branch in Hampshire, Robert Shipley and Colin Lucas a branch in Kent (who incidentally held a most enjoyable summer braai in June), and David Williams a branch in the Chilterns. Today of course the London Branch is being launched, and in October a branch will hopefully be launched in Lancashire by Austin Stonham and Bridget Kik.

In spite of problems with overseas co-ordinators, we have still have established structures of the organisation in Australia (where Adrian Alexander has taken over as our co-ordinator) and in the United States (where Dennis Duncan has recently been appointed). The South Africans Staying Alive organisation in Spain has now affiliated to us, and a supporter in France, Sebastien le Roux, is very keen to establish a structure of the Springbok Club there. In addition we have significant numbers of supporters in Canada, New Zealand, Scandinavia and the Low Countries, and are just waiting for someone to take the lead in each of these places.

As can be seen therefore, the Springbok Club has already done a lot in its short existence, and today's launch of the London Branch is yet another important step. More can and must be done however, but alas two commodities seem to be against us - time and money. With a circulation list as high as ours postage costs are always a constant problem, and in addition we really want to be able to produce a glossy recruitment brochure as soon as possible - as well as information cards and "stickers". S.A.Patriot-in-Exile remains a big worry of course, as we now haven't been able to afford to publish for almost three years, and many subscribers are quite naturally asking when they will be receiving their next editions. In addition we will really like to increase our stock of books, as well as obtaining fresh stocks of real South African flags to retail. Ideally, of course, we would like to be able to establish an office and to employ one or perhaps even more people full-time - after all if the ANC could do this during their years in exile then why can't we?

Even if you can't help us financially then merely by your attendance you are still being a great help, for there is nothing more demoralising than having a poor turnout when we welcome a high-profile guest speaker. As well as coming along yourselves, however, also let us know of any friends or other contacts who might be interested in our movement, for the larger our database then the more effective we will be able to be. In closing therefore let me thank you all for being here at the launch of the London Branch tonight. Even by your attendance you are doing your bit to help the forward advance of the Springbok Club.


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