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See also: Afrikaners
A Boer family, circa 1900

A Boer is a descendant of Dutch, German and French speaking immigrants to 17th and 18th century southern Africa. After their wanderings into the interior, they established a number of republics, which are currently subsumed in the Republic of South Africa.


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  • Let it be remembered that the Boers of a century ago bitterly resented the English Government's abolition of slavery, ...
    • Vernon Bartlett, News Chronicle, 1947, as cited by Tom MacDonald in Jan Hofmeyr: Heir to Smuts, p. 218, 1948
  • The Boer has a penchant for building his home on a slight prominence, or against the rise of a low, flat hill which offers him a vista of the surrounding terrain, and from where he, equipped with a long telescope, can survey his surroundings for hours, the places his sheep or cattle are grazing, without him having to leave his home.
    • Liefst bouwt de Boer zijn woning op een kleine verhevendheid, of tegen de helling van een lagen, platten heuvel, zoodat hij een vergezicht kan hebben over het omligginde landschap en, met een langen scheepskijker gewapend, uren ver in het rond kan zien, waar zijn schapen weiden of zijne beesten grazen, zonder dat hij zijn woning behoeft te verlaten.
    • F. L. Cachet, De worstelstrijd der Transvalers aan het volk van Nederland verhaald, p. 423
  • What is the true and original root of Dutch [i.e. Boer] aversion to British rule? It is the abiding fear and hatred of the movement that seeks to place the native on a level with the white man … the Kaffir is to be declared the brother of the European, to be constituted his legal equal, to be armed with political rights.
  • I found the Boers ("Boer" is the old Dutch name for "farmer"), taking their young and old, dwellers in towns and land workers, a more intelligent people than the corresponding classes in England, which would include English farmers and labourers. They are far more moral in their lives and more sincerely religious than the British people. Young Boers are better men in every respect – physically and morally – than young Englishmen; and more intelligent, speaking as they nearly all do two languages, Dutch and English; while in their character and behaviour, in living clean and sober lives, they are far above the personal and moral standard of the average young Englishman of any class. Boer women never become prostitutes.
  • Not only does a crude theology colour the life and guide the political existence of the Boers, but it absolutely threatens to prove the source of their disintegration. From the earliest days of their history church disputes have been readily fomented and violently contested. … It is no exaggeration to say that over this dispute the Boers were in measurable distance of civil war.
    • W. L. Distant, A Naturalist in the Transvaal (1892)
  • ...the average Boer is, according to his lights, a citizen pioneer, and a rough, God-fearing, honest, homely, uneducated philistine.
    • W. L. Distant, A Naturalist in the Transvaal, 1892
  • Take a community of Dutchmen of the type of those who defended themselves for fifty years against all the power of Spain at a time when Spain was the greatest power in the World. Intermix with them a strain of those inflexible French Huguenots who gave up home and fortune and left their Country forever at the time of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The product must obviously be one of the most rugged, virile, unconquerable races ever seen upon Earth. Take this formidable people and train them for seven generations in constant warfare against savage men and ferocious beasts, in circumstances under which no weakling could survive, place them so that they acquire exceptional skills with weapons and in horsemanship, give them a Country which is eminently suited to the tactics of the huntsman, the marksman and the rider. Then, finally, put a fine temper upon their military qualities by a dour fatalistic Old Testament religion and an ardent and consuming patriotism. Combine all of these qualities and all these impulses in one individual, and you have the modern Boer. The most formidable antagonist who ever crossed the path of Imperial Britain.
  • The Boers rarely failed [in combat] when commanded by a resolute leader who knew his own mind and was able to impose his own will upon them. In isolated enterprises daringly conducted, they were usually efficient, and sometimes irresistible, but like most primitive communities in which the military instinct is individual rather than collective, they were incapable of forming themselves into a coherent and unified Army for action in mass.
  • All you read about the Boers in England is absolutely untrue. They are most kind to the wounded and prisoners, looking after them as well as their own wounded, and anything they've got they'll give you if you ask them, even if they deprive themselves. [...] In fact we can have everything we like except our liberty...
    • Letter by Lieutenant C. E. Kinahan of the Royal Irish Fusiliers who was taken prisoner at Nicholson's Nek, as quoted in the Daily News of 28 December 1899.
  • The old Boer — and the type survives — was a Puritan who loved his five-thousand-acre farm where he could neither see nor hear his neighbors, who read the Good Word three times a day, drank prodigious quantities of coffee, spoke "taal" the Dutch dialect, and reared a huge family. ... Isolation was the Boer fetich.
  • I was one of the first to see the Boers arrive and to visit them at Diyatalawa. The war had let loose a flood of literature and we heard ad nauseam that the Boers were rough and uncultured, dirty in their habits, crafty and treacherous. The impressions I formed were of a totally different kind. Taken as a whole it must be admitted that the Boers were not tailor-made men. But their appearance and habits were not different from those of civilized farmers in any part of the world. Certainly there were some Boers at Diyatalawa whose culture and refinement would not have failed to make an impression on any assembly of men whatsoever. It must be remembered that the Boers constituted an entire race with necessarily varying types. Let us try another source – the villagers who live round Diyatalawa, amongst whom the Boers moved for over two years and who were able to estimate their character. “Good men” is the unanimous verdict. And so they were – simple, unsophisticated farmers most of them, deeply religious. It was pathetic to see them at camp poring over the Bible, drawing inspiration and comfort from its pages.
    • E. H. van der Wall in The Boers at Diyatalawa, Journal of the Dutch Burger Union of Ceylon, Vol XVIII No 3, January 1929
  • Noble and of good race for the most, they live on their farm like in the castles of old, free and isolated… These people are standing up in the face of the whole world defying the decline of our too advanced civilizations.

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