Leon Lemmer: Die lot van blankes in Kenia

Blankes in Kenia vier die einde van die Tweede Wêreldoorlog

In Kenia word die klein blanke bevolking in selfs groter mate as in Suid-Afrika deur swartes verswelg. ‘n Ander opsig waarin Kenia histories tersaaklik is, is dat daar eens ‘n gevestigde Afrikaner-boeregemeenskap veral in die omgewing van Eldoret op die hoogland was.* Ek het by vorige geleenthede hieroor geskryf (Praag 4 en 11 Maart). Volgens laasgenoemde rubriek was daar aan die begin van hierdie eeu nog net ‘n enkele (en daarby kruipsugtige) Afrikaanssprekende boer, Fanie Kruger, in Kenia oor. Wat in Kenia gebeur, kan aandui wat blankes plaaslik te wagte kan wees. Met politieke onafhanklikheid in 1963 het baie blankes en Asiate Kenia verlaat. “Of whites who are citizens of Kenya today, those with family roots in the colonial era number only between about three and five thousand” (McIntosh, bron hier onder, Kindle 162). Dit is minder as ‘n tiende van wat die getal eens was (1153).

[* “European and South African settlers … ran their farms on the back of poorly paid Africans squeezed into labor by household taxes.” (McIntosh 1256). Hier word na die Britse koloniale regering se hutbelasting verwys, wat as doel gehad het om swartes te verplig om te werk en sodoende die land te ontwikkel. In beginsel kan dit nie verkeerd wees om teenprestasie vir owerheidsaalmoese te vereis nie.]

Ook in ‘n ander opsig gaan ek in hierdie rubriek op een van my ou weë terug. Sommige linkse akademici, veral sosioloë en kulturele antropoloë, meesal Amerikaners, vind dit skynbaar onweerstaanbaar om veldwerk onder polities regses, of blankes wat bloot nie graag met swartes sosialiseer nie, te gaan doen. Daardie akademici onderneem sodanige navorsing nie om self tot ander politieke insigte te kom nie maar eerder om hulle politieke byderwetsheid op ‘n meerderwaardige manier in die resultate (in die vorm van gepubliseerde artikels en boeke) te adverteer. Weens gebrekkige objektiwiteit kan die wetenskaplike gehalte van sulke navorsing ernstige tekortkominge hê. ‘n Voorbeeld hiervan is Arlie Hochschild, ‘n sosioloog, se relaas oor regse blankes in die suidelike Amerikaanse staat Louisiana (Praag 4 Februarie).

Vandag skryf ek weer oor Kenia se blankes. Hierdie keer na aanleiding van Janet McIntosh (gebore in 1969) se boek, Unsettled: Denial and belonging among white Kenyans (Oakland: University of California Press, 2016, 307p; Amazon Kindle $18,43). Tot onlangs het hierdie boek $27,75 gekos. Ek het die aankoop uitgestel totdat die prys meer bekostigbaar geword het. Anders as Hochschild is McIntosh ‘n kulturele antropoloog. Soos Hochschild is sy polities onredbaar links. Sy beskryf haarself as “a leftist American academic” (823). Vir haar doktorale proefskrif het sy navorsing oor die Swahili- en Giriama-stamme in Kenia gedoen (2997).

McIntosh se linksheid kom van haar ma, Peggy (gebore in 1934), wat ‘n feminis en “anti-racism activist” is (Wikipedia). “I must give special acknowledgement to my mother, Peggy McIntosh, who in the late 1980s [1988] wrote a now well-known paper about [unearned] white privilege before that became a household phrase” (105). “My project [in Kenya] was (at least partly) about whiteness. I am sure my mother saw it before I did …I am particularly grateful for her intellectual influence” (112). Daardie invloed voed McIntosh se vooroordeel, soos ‘n mens uit ‘n sin soos die volgende kan aflei: “Although here and there one could find a settler with an unusual affinity for ‘the natives,’ most considered Africans to be intellectually inferior, polluting, and potentially dangerous” (162).

“I was an anthropologist conducting research and rightly divined that my academic (and American) background gave me progressive leanings and an inclination to be critical of colonial projects” (472), asof Amerika nie koloniale of oorsese gebiede het nie. “In speaking to me, most settler descendants knew that I was unlikely to see things the way they do, or to represent them in a way they find flattering” (86). Hulle het haar tereg getakseer as “an embodiment of American liberalism” (1855). Met ander woorde, diegene met wie sy onderhoude gevoer het, kon haar bevooroordeeldheid aanvoel. Volgens die etnograaf, Stephan Pax Leonard, is antropologie as akademiese dissipline in Amerika en Brittanje in buitensporige mate links verpolitiseer, “turning fieldwork into some kind of politicised academic tourism. It is a form of intellectual terrorism that insists education is embedded in global structures of repression” (Travels in cultural nihilism, London: Arktos, 2017, 305p; Amazon Kindle $9.11, 1233 – ‘n buitengewoon briljante boek).

Ter wille van objektiwiteit in navorsing moet daar glo teen “ethnographic seduction” gewaak word, “in which ethnographers develop a certain sympathy as a result of being embedded in the world of their respondents” (McIntosh 507). “The elderly former settlers and younger settler descendants who at first had seemed like museum pieces became real, human, and, in some cases, likeable … most did not enact the boorish persona of the hard-line white supremacist” (529). Terwyl McIntosh veldwerk gedoen het, kon sy heel moontlik die redelikheid van die blankes se standpunte en houdings insien, maar dit is myns insiens vir haar belangriker om eerder in die oorweldigend linkse Amerikaanse akademie aanvaarbaar te wees as in Kenia, wat sy nooit weer hoef te besoek nie. “I had to work harder to reestablish my critical distance – something that was easier once I returned from the field” (536).

McIntosh se vooroordeel blyk ook duidelik uit die term “settler” wat sy deurgaans vir Kenia se blanke inwoners gebruik. Soos ‘n Keniaanse blanke dit stel: “‘Colonial’ and ‘settler’ … suggest something brutal, unimproved, unchanged” (2420). ‘n Blanke is “just a visitor here” (222) of ‘n “guest” (732) en word dus as ‘n “outsider” (290) of “interloper” (400) beskou, al het blankes hulle sedert die einde van die 19de en begin van die 20ste eeu in Kenia gevestig en grootliks tot die ontwikkeling van die land bygedra. ‘n Hedendaagse blanke Keniaan sê: “It would be a lot harder to demonize colonialism if the infrastructure of Kenya had moved on [since independence in 1963] and didn’t still look like the 1950s” (2493). Die meeste van hierdie sogenaamde setlaars “had been raised to think that their settler family members were good, giving people who lived bravely and sacrificed much, and that the colonial endeavor had been engineered to uplift Africa. Now they are informed that their forebears were oppressors, and that perhaps in some fashion they are too” (252). “Shame is not a comfortable dwelling place, and many settle into a defensive stance … A few, though, a small minority, have come to soul-search” (260).

Nie-wit inwoners wat Kenia later as die blankes binnegekom het, veral Indiërs toe die spoorlyn gebou is, noem sy nooit setlaars nie. Die “unsettled” in die boektitel verwys na hierdie blankes se “tenuous task of finding their place in Kenya when the structure that their ancestors supported has been exposed – and widely re-presented – as deplorable” (112). Apartheid is dus nie ‘n voorvereiste vir die veroordeling van blankes in Afrika nie (maar McIntosh noem dat daar “passes and segregation” was “that looked like a prototype for apartheid” – 629), al het blankes voor politieke onafhanklikheid en swart regering ‘n konstruktiewe bydrae tot ontwikkeling oor sowat sewe dekades (1895-1963) in Kenia en selfs eeue (1652-1994) in Suid-Afrika gelewer. Beskou McIntosh blankes wat ná 1652 in Amerika aangekom het (wat heel moontlik haar en haar voorgeslagte insluit) as setlaars? Amerika was immers tot 1783 ‘n Britse kolonie. Wat blankes se bydrae tot Kenia se ontwikkeling betref, word daar woordeliks presies geredeneer soos Nelson Mandela plaaslik gedoen het: Die blankes “built a country for white people on the backs of black people” (857).

“In this ethnography, I explore the subjective lives and stances of white Kenyans descended from colonial families as they navigate their unsettled sense of identity in the nation today … my material emerges from participant observation among roughly 150-200 individuals of middle- to upper-class status, about fifty of whom I interviewed … They continue to enjoy enormous privileges, but their self-consciousness and uncertainties suggest that in some respects, they are of two minds about their entitlement to belong. The phrase that captures the unease of some white Kenyans is ‘moral double consciousness’ …’this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others'” (222). McIntosh ontleen die frase “double consciousness” aan die swart Amerikaanse aktivis, WEB du Bois (1868-1963). Waarop dit neerkom, is dat blanke Keniane nie net bewus is van wat hulle is (dus hulle identiteit) nie, maar deur die verswelgende swart meerderheid geïntimideer word om ook (dalk veral) bedag te wees oor hoe hulle deur swartes bejeen word. Volgens McIntosh, “it can open the possibility of much-needed self-critique” by blankes (237). Maar let op McIntosh se gebruik van die woorde “privileges” en “entitlement,” waarmee sy impliseer dat blankes (noodwendig) op meer aanspraak maak as wat hulle regmatig verdien. Dit is blykbaar net swartes wat (selfs sonder teenprestasie) op bevoordeling geregtig is.

McIntosh hou van Du Bois se “characterization of the fragile white American ego when challenged by even the slighest recognition of black humanity” (245). Sy pas dit toe op Kenia: “Among former settlers and their descendants, their nascent double consciousness stems from an unsettling of the colonialist notion that whites are paragons of humanity, and a realization that to some, they and their history represent injustice … they see themselves ‘othered,’ that is, refracted through essentialist stereotypes that portray them as part of an undesirable, alien social mass” (245).

As swartes reekse misdade teen blankes in Kenia pleeg (bv diefstal, vee-rooftogte, die stigting van brande, plaasmoorde) is daar geen bohaai nie. Maar as daar ‘n uitsonderlike geval voorkom waar ‘n blanke ‘n swarte benadeel, selfs vermoor, het, word ‘n veldtog vir bv “redistributing white-owned farms” gevoer (148). “White Kenyans’ colonial history marks them as easy targets for grievances – ‘out group’ members who weren’t born from the soil, but instead, stole it (their ancestors did, anyway)” (724). Soos in Suid-Afrika is die nie-wittes, sonder kaart en transport, glo die “rightful owners” (1386) van al Kenia se grond. Swartes se “failure to make something perceptibly new out of the land, and perhaps even the invisibility of their blood, sweat, and tears, disqualify them from holding it” (1565). Die suiwer rassistiese redenasie teen ‘n blanke oortreder is soos volg in swart geledere verwoord: “He does not really represent Kenyans. Kenyans are black while he is white … for some his race made him unsuitable as a representative of the nation” (206). Dit bevestig McIntosh se onderskeid tussen setlaar (wit) en Keniaan/Afrikaan (swart).

“The public stance of many white Kenyans has shifted from identification with Europe to proud Kenyan nationality. But beneath the surface, this change has been fraught with ambiguity. For one thing, history has left most of them with trappings of privilege, and for all of their efforts to support those in poorer communities, they prize their lifestyle of manicured gardens and cheap domestic help” (185). In Suid-Afrika het talle blankes sedert 1994 (skynbaar) ook entoesiasties pro-swart geword. As blankes beter as swartes daaraan toe is, is dit noodwendig weens bevoordeling of veel eerder danksy kundigheid, talent, ondernemingsgees, harde werk, ens? Is dit in die openbare belang dat die blankes se lewenswyse verlaag word totdat dit op dieselfde vlak as dié van die meeste swartes is? Word hierdie vereiste vir blankes net so dikwels aan bv Asiatiese inwoners gestel?

Oor die beweerde goedkoop dienste van huishulpe: Dikwels word hier net aan die kontantloon gedink en nie aan die ander byvoordele (huisvesting, kos, klere, mediese versorging, aalmoese, gesteelde items, onterugbetaalde “lenings,” ens) nie. Die blanke werkgewers “know they are the backstop” (3272). Maar McIntosh skryf: “I couldn’t help thinking again that it’s the low pay itself that creates the need for this ‘backstop’ to begin with” (3280). Swartes verkies blankes as werkgewers bo swartes en Asiate. “They preferred to work for whites because they felt they were less likely to be physically or financially abused. But the pay from white Kenyans, they agreed, is low, and while several noted that their employers had an ‘urge to help’ with soft loans and emergency money, some indicated they had to make a strong case ‘with evidence and facts,’ as one man put it, to extract such assistance. When they received aid, employees appreciated the sense of a social safety net, remarking that there are advantages to being employed by the same family over the long term” (3322). “Employees do not necessarily beg for help; sometimes they simply expect that their employers, who assume responsibility for their basic need, will comply … If they do agree to help, they [whites] get a chance to feel virtuous … a gift or a personal loan is social glue” (3227).

Sommige blankes vind huishulpe “emotionally exhausting … it’s easier to use appliances to clean one’s home, and they don’t have to deal with what they call the ’emotional rent’ of their servants” (3242). Met verwysing na die voorgeskrewe minimum loon beweer die voorbeeldige McIntosh: “I’d pay domestic staff at least three times that amount” (3025). “‘Staff’ is the word white Kenyans prefer today, skirting the decadent connotations of the term ‘servant'” (3071). As blankes aan die bewind is, word hulle vir die lae lone verkwalik. As swartes aan die bewind is, word blanke werkgewers steeds daarvoor verkwalik. Grootskaalse werkloosheid druk lone noodwendig laer. Dit is ‘n kwessie van vraag en aanbod. “I was struck by the contrast between their [whites’] gated residences and the tremendous poverty just a short stroll away” (514). Die blankes leef glo in ‘n “isolation bubble” (521). Die blankes tref veiligheidsmaatreëls weens misdadigheid. Hulle behoort nie daarvoor verkwalik te word nie. Die owerheid is veronderstel om almal teen misdaad te beskerm, maar doen dit nie doeltreffend nie. Armoede behoort ook eerder voor die deur van die regering gelê te word as om die klein blanke bevolking daaroor te verwyt. As die swartes beter regeer het, sou daar meer blankes én meer werk gewees het.

McIntosh verwys dikwels vergelykenderwys na die omstandighede in Zimbabwe en Suid-Afrika. “In South Africa and Zimbabwe … whites have had reason to feel more destabilized, more unsettled, than perhaps ever before” (436). “To be sure, they [white Kenyans] haven’t seen the nadir of loss faced by white Zimbabweans forcibly removed from their farms over the past decade and a half in Robert Mugabe’s violent campaign of land reform. Nor have they faced an economic restructuring like that in South Africa, where racist apartheid-era protections for white employment were replaced by an affirmative action program to empower blacks” (199). Teen die blatante rassediskriminasie en doelbewuste benadeling van blankes in Zimbabwe en Suid-Afrika opper McIntosh geen beswaar nie. Dit lyk eerder asof sy dit verwelkom as blankes se verdiende loon en dat dit ook in Kenia toegepas moet word.

Vir swart Keniane “to own land increasingly hinges on having deep ancestral roots in local soil” (252). “Many Kenyans hope to be buried on their ancestral homesteads, to dwell alongside the spirits of their forebears” (1241). Sommige swartes verwoord dit soos volg: “The land contains our history; it is the keeper of our memories and culture, and protector of our forefathers’ bones” (1580). Die swartes dateer hulle aanwesigheid in Kenia terug tot “since time immemorial” (778), soortgelyk aan die Khoi-San in Suid-Afrika wat as hedendaagse bruines daarop aanspraak maak dat hulle altyd hier was. Kenia se blankes, daarenteen, het glo “limited time-depth” (778).

Hoe reageer Kenia se blankes op die skurkstatus wat sedert politieke onafhanklikheid in 1963 deur swartes en hulle wit meelopers (soos McIntosh) aan hulle toegedig word? Blankes “must lead a more clandestine existence” (274). By hulle is daar “political invisibility … most lie low” (800). Hulle vind hulleself “grasping for self-esteem” (283) en dit word bemoeilik deurdat swartes “control over the plotline of Kenya and the narration of its colonial past” het (283); soortgelyk aan die herskrywing van Suid-Afrika se geskiedenis sedert 1994 en die beheer wat swartes en spesifiek die ANC toegelaat word om op die openbare lewe met bv propaganda uit te oefen.

Met politieke onafhanklikheid in 1963 is besluit dat Keniaanse burgerskap net aan nie-swartes toegeken sou word as hulle hulle ander burgerskappe opsê (741). Die gevolg was dat talle blankes en Asiate die land verlaat het. Sedert 2010 is dubbele burgerskap wel toelaatbaar, wat seker daarop dui dat Kenia graag blankes wil teruglok; ‘n stadium wat nog nie in Suid-Afrika bereik is nie. Van owerheidsweë word blankes in die nuwe Suid-Afrika eerder vervreem as gekoester. Byvoorbeeld, volgens Jacob Zuma het Suid-Afrika se probleme in 1652 begin.

Selfs al het sommige van die blanke inwoners Keniaanse burgerskap word hulle verwerp omdat hulle glo nie “cultural citizens” is nie, dus “on mingled grounds of race, class and history” (306). “Many settler descendants I met cleave to their cultural comfort zones, and this, in conjunction with their geographic choices, often amounts to self-segregation” (2755). Soos ‘n blanke Keniaan dit stel: “When you actually socialize … you naturally do it with the people you feel most comfortable with” (2771). “Culturally we [whites] are quite different” (2810). Volgens hom is die blankes “merely one among many self-segregating tribes” (2771). “People stay with their own cultures. It’s the same even within the black culture, there’s tribal divisions” (2780).

Onder die swartes vier swart bewustheid as “ethnic nationalism” hoogty en word oor blankes gevra: “How ‘African’ are they – and how African do they want to be?” (313). Dit is ‘n verlore stryd vir daardie blankes wat hulle identiteit wil behou en selfs ook vir blankes wat bereid is om hulle identiteit sover moontlik prys te gee, bv deur met swartes te trou. “Interracial dating was on the rise and increasingly accepted in the settler-descendant community … such relationships are ‘a real problem, because of the cultural issue'” (2849). “Although Kenya’s settlers were loath to marry Africans, and most kept African society at arm’s length, a select and striking few did stake their belonging on a particular kind of cultural intimacy” (2959). ‘n Keniaanse antropoloog en politikus, Richard Leakey, sê: Blankes se “most intimate relationships were nevertheless with other whites. If settler descendants are looking for a way out of the charge that they are socially isolated or racist, why don’t they publicly woo and marry black Africans more often? … they don’t feel bigoted or racist. So how do white Kenyans interpret their aversions to interracial marriage?” (2644). Maar Leakey het self albei kere met ‘n blanke getrou.

Die blankes kan nie die kultuuroorlog teen swartes in Afrika wen nie, onder meer omdat hulle relatief te min is. Soos ‘n Keniaanse blanke dit stel: “Yeah, we don’t totally belong. We’re white people in an African country” (2315). Selfs in Amerika, waar blankes tans nog in die meerderheid is, is dit moeilik om die kultuuroorlog te wen vanweë die groot aanhang wat kulturele marxisme (onder die vaandel van bv liberalisme, progessiwiteit en politieke linksheid of byderwetsheid) onder al die bevolkingsgroepe geniet. Iemand soos McIntosh spreek die swartes oor niks aan nie.

Swartes roei die natuur en wildlewe uit terwyl blankes bewaringsgesind is, maar ook dit word hulle nie ten goede gereken nie. Blankes kan glo “conserve and protest poaching precisely because they own so much land” (700). “The whites care more about African wildlife than they do about Africans” (1386). Hedendaagse blankes word vir “Kenya’s colonial history of sport hunting” verwyt (1604), maar “sporthunting was banned in 1977” (1686). In Kenia, soos in Suid-Afrika, word swartes in die omgewing van wildreservate bv geldelik beloon; nie om iets te doen nie, maar om te keer dat hulle wild stroop (1760). “Some ranches use the profits from tourism to support schools and clinics” (1784); dus ubuntu.

Naas “moral double consciousness” gebruik McIntosh die frase “structural oblivion.” “The worst of the colonial past is sometimes renounced, sometimes held at arms’ length as a product of another time and another attitude, or sometimes denied altogether. These announcements of loyalty and protestations often seem heartfelt, but they are also adaptive efforts to belong in the face of having the wrong sort of history and the wrong lines of descent. Locating their comfort zone – that mode of moral conscious in which white Kenyans use their own yardstick – requires particular dismissals and blind spots, and particular ideas of good. To capture these, I have coined the phrase ‘structural oblivion.’ Structural oblivion is a state – a subject position – of ignorance, denial, and ideology that emerges from an elite social structural position, and it is constituted by the refusal of certain implications of social structure. In particular, structural oblivion includes refusing the experience of and/or reasons for the resentment of less privileged groups, and overlooking the ways in which one’s ideologies, practices and very habits of mind continue to uphold one’s privilege … If double consciousness has precipitated a minor crisis of identity for some settler descendants, structural oblivion is what allows them to shake it off” (328).

Strukturele vergetelheid as doelbewuste selektiewe geheue word hier uitsluitlik aan blankes toegedig. Maar die swartes in Kenia wil (soos in Suid-Afrika) enersyds nie herinner word aan wat hulle alles aan die blankes te danke het nie (dink aan die bohaai wat opgeskop is toe Helen Zille beweer het dat daar ook iets goeds in kolonialisme/blanke bewind kan wees). Andersyds wil swartes hulle grusame wandade tydens die “bevrydingstryd” (in Kenia gepleeg deur die Mau Mau en in Suid-Afrika deur die ANC/UDF en PAC) onder die mat vee. Ek vind dit ironies elke keer as ANC-politici geweld in die nuwe Suid-Afrika veroordeel. Dit is ‘n geval van: Maak soos ek sê. Moenie maak soos ons kamerade in die vorige eeu met oorgawe gedoen het nie.

Melissa Steyn, ‘n blanke sosioloog gemoeid met diversiteitstudie aan die Universiteit van die Witwatersrand (en bekend vir haar anti-blanke en pro-homoseksuele gesindheid) praat nie van blankes se strukturele vergetelheid nie, maar van “‘The Ignorance Contract’ and contends that white South African ignorance of the depredations of apartheid ‘must be studied as a social accomplishment, not just as a failure of individual knowledge acquisition'” (342). McIntosh borduur voort: “I locate systematic ignorance as well among some of my respondents, but with the phrase ‘structural oblivion’ I highlight the architecture of elite ignorance, self-deception, and ideology, a crucial component … like most people of European descent, my white Kenyan respondents presume a liberal, individualistic model of personhood in which persons are (ideally) self-determined and rational; a largely capitalist model of economy in which private property structures access to resources and land should be made ‘productive’; and a model of civic nationhood, in which ethnicity and descent should be irrelevant to rights. In the moral domain, they presume that a person’s intentions are or should be crucial to the adjudication of their morality, while individual deeds should be central to one’s entitlements” (350).

“Such assumptions cluster together again and again, and their logic privileges European expertise by envisioning an ideal, ‘developed’ Kenya that looks like the West, eschewing customary African modes of organization and power (collective land rights, expansive kinship structures and attendant structures of reciprocity and obligation, ritual healing, or respect for occult agency, to name but a few) and actively marginalizing the colonial past, deeming it irrelevant; after all, if the individual is sovereign, the son does not inherit the sins of the father, and belonging is (or should be) established at the individual level rather than by descent” (357). Wat McIntosh in hierdie betoog aantoon, is dat die kultuur of lewensbeskouing van blankes en swartes verskil en nie dat blankes se oriëntasie of benadering noodwendig verkeerd is nie; eerder dat dit bloot onversoenbaar met dié van die swartes is. Selfs McIntosh erken: “It is possible that some of these liberal individualistic ideologies … might hold seeds of a less ethnically turbulent Kenya” (357).

“Self-professed liberal whites in South Afrika treat fluency in a Bantu language as a signal of important social contact with black South Africans, and – more important – an index of feeling” (3557). In Suid-Afrika leef ons in ‘n tyd waarin van die inwoners, veral skoolkinders, verwag word om ‘n inheemse taal te leer, met “inheems” wat van owerheidsweë sorgvuldig omskryf word sodat die (verpligte) aanleer van Afrikaans uitgesluit word. Dít ten spyte van misleide, kruipsugtige Afrikaanstaalkundiges se onvermoeide pogings om die wesenlik Europese aard van Afrikaans so veel moontlik te verdoesel en Afrikaans eerder as ‘n inheemse Afrika-taal te deklameer.

In Kenia “Kiswahili was decreed the national language in 1974, and English remained important as part of ‘the wider demand for equality of opportunity’ … English is also required in school and stands as the language of higher education … high court proceedings and parliamentary deliberations are conducted primarily in English, most national newspapers are written in the language” (3642). “In Kenya’s linguistic landscape, then, English is the paramount language of education, wealth, and cosmopolitanism, while Kiswahili is seen by most as a lingua franca with a nationalist flavor” (3650). “English is the language of highest prestige” (3667; ook 3898). Daar is ‘n “Kiswahili-English … hybrid form known as ‘Sheng'” (3658).

“Younger white Kenyans born since Independence [1963] rhapsodise about Kiswahili, as if sheer enthusiasm might atone for colonial disparagement” (3741). Sommige van hulle sê van Swahili: “I love it; it’s a beautiful language” (3741). “Such aesthetic evaluations seem an overcompensation for the past, reaching the opposite extreme of popular colonial opinions of Bantu languages” (3741). In Kenia doen sommige blankes moeite om Swahili, die enigste amptelike taal, te leer en dit met swartes te praat. Let op hoe mislik beoordeel McIntosh dit: “Many of my younger white Kenyan respondents talk about Kiswahili with an attitude I call ‘linguistic atonement’; a stance of enthusiatic feeling about African languages, pitched as if to mitigate a history of colonial discrimination. Part of linguistic atonement is the hope that Kiswahili might help them achieve a sort of ‘connection,’ a mutual sympathy of sorts, with Kenya’s majority, while signaling their eagerness to be part of the nation … But while their linguistic attitudes seem to reach for reconciliation – the mending of pathological colonial relationships – I also suggest that these amends are limited” (3408).

“What isn’t clear, though, is whether their efforts at linguistic atonement are enough for them to redeem their cultural citizenship … linguistic connection needn’t beget the bodily and social intimacies such as intermarriage or group socializing … And for all of the positive aspects of white efforts at linguistic atonement, it attempts reconciliation without making reparations inasmuch as it does not so much reapportion advantages as carve out a fresh way of inhabiting elite identity” (3979).

“Many settlers spoke a simplified ‘secondary pidgin’ version op die pidgin Kiswahili used by upcountry people. However, many others barely attempted to learn even the most rudimentary versions of this language, which colonials and their subjects alike called ‘kitchen Kiswahili’ [Kisettla] since whites used it mostly to communicate with domestic staff” (3447). “Kisettla embodied, in the phrasing of the Kenyan linguist John Mugane, ‘a state of mind’; a willfully belittling stance … Their choppiness and lack of fluency showed a certain indifference to the language and its speakers” (3500). Swartes “will often mimic the settler Swahili” (3526). “Neatly matching Kiswahili’s noun classes with the appropriate prefixes in one’s adjectives and verbs shows respect, not only for the language, but also for one’s interlocutor; it is both formal and polite” (3749).

Iets soortgelyks kan myns insiens van Kaaps in vergelyking met ordentlike, eerbare Afrikaans gesê word. In ‘n poging om die “eienaarskap” van bruines te beklemtoon, moet ons veral sedert 1994 dikwels aanhoor dat Afrikaans as ‘n kombuistaal ontstaan het. Daarteen voer ek graag aan dat Afrikaans, gedagtig aan die eerste vergadering van die Genootskap van Regte Afrikaners (GRA) in 1875, eerder ‘n voorkamertaal is waarop ons, veral in die gedaante van Standaardafrikaans, ongekwalifiseerd trots behoort te wees. Die mengeltaal Kaaps, daarenteen, is (soms/dikwels) ‘n uitdrukking van minagting, of dan ten minste van ‘n gebrek aan trots, vir die Afrikaanse taal en vir Afrikaners. Wanneer Kaaps in sekere kontekste gebruik word, is die sprekers nie vry te pleit van uittarting van Afrikaners nie. Daar word dan doelbewus met Afrikaans gemors.

Iets wat kenmerkend van volkekundiges is, is hulle belangstelling in onderontwikkelde mensgroepe se omgang met die okkulte. McIntosh is geen uitsondering nie. Sy skryf in besonderhede oor swart Keniane se bygelowe, bv hulle gehegtheid aan toordery en toordokters, asook hekse, spoke en voorvadergeeste, en die rituele wat daarmee gepaard gaan. Soos verwag kan word, is bygelowe by swartes tydens die “bevrydingstryd” uiters slu deur die Mau Mau ten koste van die blankes uitgebuit. Tans word die okkulte (bv voorvadergeeste) steeds polities tot die uiterste ter bevoordeling van swartes misbruik, bv om blanke plase (gratis) te bekom of daarop te plak of ten minste daar begrawe te word. Blankes het min simpatie met sulke irrasionaliteit en word daarvoor verkwalik. Dit word dus nog ‘n opsig waarin blankes kultureel nie Afrika-burgers is nie.

Die slothoofstuk begin soos volg: “White Kenyans have a slang term for whites in Africa they perceive as especially retrograde: kaburu. The word refers to an unreconstructed type, possibly Afrikaner, definitely low in intellect and high in racism. In the decades after Kenya’s independence, settler descendants circulated schoolyard jokes hinging on a character named van der Merwe, a fictive Afrikaner who embodies the kaburu spirit” (4623). “The kaburu is disrespectful to Africans, logistically incompetent, and morally backward” (4627).

Die blankes in Zimbabwe en Suid-Afrika word in woord en daad deur sowel die blanke Keniane as McIntosh as veel meer rassisties voorgestel as wat Kenia se blankes ooit was en veral is. In Kenia word deesdae dikwels gewag gemaak van “the mass incarcerations and human-rights abuses during the Mau Mau era [1952-1960]” (4694) deur blankes terwyl die gruweldade van die swart terreurbendes verswyg word. Dieselfde gebeur in Suid-Afrika. In Suid-Afrika “progressive white citizens are at pains to distance themselves from the apartheid regime and its racism, as well as the ‘Boer nationalists’ who continue to make separarist gestures” (4701).

McIntosh daal so laag moontlik en is so gemeen moontlik deur soos volg te skryf: “A hundred years ago, British settlers found Afrikaners in Kenya distasteful because, says the historian Brett Shadle,* they were too lowly. The crude ways of the barefoot, undereducated Boers who had migrated north during and after the Anglo-Boer war and lived on under-resourced farms near Eldoret blurred the lines between white and African and embarrassed the cause of British settler ‘prestige'” (4709).

[* Brett L Shadle, The souls of white folk: White settlers in Kenya, 1900s-1920s (Manchester University Press, 2015, 193p; Amazon Kindle $125,39). Teen R12,50 per Amerikaanse dollar kos hierdie boek R1567. Ek het ‘n gratis monster (tot by Kindle 285) afgelaai. Shadle is ‘n geskiedenisdosent verbonde aan die Virginia Tech, die derde grootste universiteit in Virginia. Hy is gemoeid met “courses on whiteness, African history and settler colonialism” (101). Hy bedank Janet McIntosh vir kommentaar op hoofstukke in sy boek (92). Volgens Shadle het ras nie ‘n biologiese grondslag nie. Dit is ‘n uitvinding (229). Vir Shadle gaan dit klaarblyklik om “the seamier side of European settlement in Kenya” (167). Hy erken: “It is a matter of what we wish te see” (177). In dieselfde reeks is die volgende boek, waartoe ek nie toegang het nie, gepubliseer: Will Jackson, The lives of Kenya’s white insane (19). Op die Amazon-webwerf word oor Shadle se boek gesê: “This book shows how settlers could proclaim real affection for their African servants, and tend to them with intimate medical procedures, as well as whip, punch and kick them – for these acts were central to the joy of settlement, and the preservation of the settlement.”]

Die gevolgtrekking waartoe ‘n mens na aanleiding van die voorafgaande kan kom, is dat wat blankes in Afrika ook al doen, hulle kultureel te veel verskil om ooit werklik Afrikane te kan wees. Dit is ‘n wete wat ontstellend of vertroostend kan wees.

Neem deel aan die gesprek en lewer gerus hier onder kommentaar!

L.W. U gebruik die Disqus-kommentaarafdeling op eie risiko en PRAAG, die redaksie of enige verwante persone of entiteite aanvaar geen verantwoordelikheid vir u kommentaar en watter gevolge ook al daaruit mag voortspruit nie. Terselfdertyd vereis ons dat u ter wille van beskaafdheid, redelikheid en die gerief van ander gebruikers, u sal weerhou van kwetsende taalgebruik, vloekwoorde, persoonlike aanvalle op medegebruikers, twissoekery en algemene "trol"-gedrag. Enigeen wat só 'n laspos word, sal summier verbied word en sy IP-adres sal insgelyks versper word. Ons sal ook nie huiwer om, waar nodig, kriminele klagte aanhangig te maak teen individue wat hulle aan dreigemente, teistering of intimidasie skuldig maak nie.