Leon Lemmer: Oor imperialisme en kolonialisme

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Volgens die ANC/SAKP se siening het kolonialisme nie in 1910 plaaslik tot ‘n einde gekom nie. Omdat hierdie kamerade kolonialisme met blanke heerskappy assosieer, was Suid-Afrika van 1910 tot 1994 na bewering onder die juk van ‘n spesiale soort kolonialisme. Dit is, soos so baie van die ANC/SAKP-ideologie, rasgebaseerd; indien nie rassisties nie. Anders as by hierdie kamerade is dit vir my doeleindes belangrik om duidelik tussen die werklike kolonialisme (tot 1910) en die al hoe meer soewereine blanke bewind (vanaf 1910) te onderskei. Daar is aspekte van die werklike kolonialisme wat veral deur Afrikaners veroordeel kan en moet word, bv die Anglo-Boereoorlog en alles wat daarmee saamhang.

Wat egter ten gunste van sowel die Hollandse as die Britse kolonialisme gesê kan word, is dat dit die grondslag vir Europese beskawing en blanke kultuur in Suidelike Afrika gelê het. Ná 1910 het hierdie beskawing voortreflike wasdom bereik deurdat Suid-Afrika in talle opsigte by verre die uitnemendste Afrikaland geword het. In so ‘n mate dat dit jaloesie en vyandigheid by agterlike en relatief prestasielose Afrikalande gewek het. Anders as die bedenkinge wat ek oor vóór-1910 koester, is daar baie in Suid-Afrika se latere geskiedenis (tot omstreeks 1989) wat my met bewondering en trots vervul. Suid-Afrika was ‘n land waarin ek tuis gevoel het. In 1990/94 het daar weens ongekende dwaasheid ‘n radikale breuk in ons geskiedenis gekom, met katastrofiese gevolge wat heel moontlik onherstelbare skade berokken het. Suid-Afrika het ‘n land geword waarin ek glad nie tuis voel nie.

Jeremy Black (gebore in 1955) se jongste boek is Imperial legacies: The British empire around the world (New York: Encounter Books, 2019, 216p; Amazon Kindle $17.24). Hy is ‘n deurwinterde historikus wat as dosent aan die University of Exeter verbonde is. Black het dosyne gesaghebbende boeke gepubliseer. Hierdie boek is ‘n distillasie van die beste insigte waartoe hy in staat is. Hy is veral sensitief vir besware wat uit Indië opklink: “The amnesia essentially on the part of the newly independent” (Kindle 446). “‘Amnesia’, however, is a term that is not only employed selectively, but has also been ‘weaponized’ as a term of criticism” (453). Black probeer nie om imperialisme en kolonialisme ten alle koste te verdedig nie. Hy poog eerder om aan te toon dat ander regeringsvorme nie noodwendig (altyd en in alle opsigte) beter is nie. “The intention is not to ignore drives for economic, geopolitical, and military benefit, which are more generally true of imperialism and, indeed, of governmental policy as a whole” (2601).

Dink aan hoe dikwels blankes tydens die WVK-verrigtinge van gerieflike geheueverlies beskuldig is, maar die ANC/UDF/SAKP-terrorisme is sover moontlik aan die vergetelheid toevertrou. Black gee sy afkeur van politieke byderwetsheid duidelik te kenne. Hy skaar hom aan die kant van nasionalisme en teen globalisme. “The transnational world can be presented as resulting in a new type of empire and new forms of imperialism. This was allegedly the case with the new international order devised in the 1940s, with bodies such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the United Nations. The order at once offered liberal international values, such as free trade, and reflected what can be seen as an imperial conceptual order on behalf of the United States” (1161).

Black is opvallend still oor Suid-Afrika. Dit kan wees dat hy nie so sleg van apartheid/rasseskeiding dink as wat van hom verwag word nie. Maar soms noem hy ‘n verskynsel te maklik rassisties. Hy verwys wel na die Rhodes Must Fall/RMF-beweging (616) en die gesindheid van die RMF-voorbokke, naamlik: “We are looking at how to decolonise knowledge and in particular decolonise our literature and pedagogy” (626). “It constituted ‘historical revisionism for what is a crime against humanity'” (642). Hy noem ook dat “the treatment of detainees in the Boer War” soms as ‘n voorbeeld van “Britain’s gulag” opgehaal word (649) – gulag: “Russian term for the system of prisons and labour camps used to silence dissidents and opponents of the Soviet regime.”

Wanneer aan ‘n imperiale ryk gedink word, is die Britse Ryk meesal op die oog. As na kolonialisme verwys word, word daar gewoonlik aan Britse kolonies gedink. Dit is ten minste in die Engelssprekende wêreld en in Engelstalige tekste die geval. Black is ‘n konserwatiewe gees wat as ‘n versigtige pleitsbesorger vir die Britte optree. “This book considers this imperial legacy from the British perspective, and from those elsewhere” (77). Oordrewe kritiek teen die Weste en die blankes is hoog in die mode. “In practice, ‘decolonization’ is frequently a call for a hostile engagement with the supposed legacy of the past” (3184).

Black poog om sommige sodanige aantygings met historiese feite te weerlê. Byvoorbeeld: “The habit of blaming the Atlantic slave trade simply on Europeans rather than allocating due agency to enslavement and sale of Africans by Africans” (2038), asook “The British, although earlier the most active of the slave traders, were instrumental in ending the slave trade and slavery” (118). “Furthermore, those who deploy hindsight might be better served directing their energy toward urgent present abuses, which include a continued slave trade and slavery” (129), bv in hedendaagse Mauritanië en die Soedan (2541).

As leser het ek Black as outeur soms jammer gekry. Apartheid, dus die blankes, kry die skuld vir alles wat in die nuwe Suid-Afrika verkeerd is, al is baie van die huidige plaaslike probleme ongetwyfeld die maaksel van die ANC-regime. Insgelyks word die Britte se imperialisme en kolonialisme dikwels op ‘n uiters vyandige en oordrewe manier die skuld gegee vir wat ná politieke afhanklikheid in die eertydse kolonies verkeerd geloop het. Byvoorbeeld: “The government of Zimbabwe, when under Mugabe from 1980 to 2017, tended to present its difficulties as derived from the legacy of British imperial control and the continuing reality of British economic pressures; rather than addressing serious issues in its government composition, policies, and structures” (2278).

Dit maak skynbaar glad nie saak hoe baie tyd sedert die beëindiging van kolonialisme verloop het nie. “Many of the works that are published on empire are certainly very politically committed, as are their presentation. This establishes norms within which further works are written, presented, published, and considered” (522). Naas die Britse imperiale gewelddadigheid is daar “the unethical violence of pre- and postclonial governments and societies” waarop die aandag ewewigtigheidshalwe ook gevestig moet word (83).

In hierdie konteks gaan dit deesdae dikwels om anti-Westerse en anti-blanke retoriek. “It can be an aspect of the ‘virtue signaling’ of conspicuous morality. This signaling is a process that is highly important to individual and political assertion, and notably so given the emphasis on feelings as a way to validate attitudes and to justify policies: ‘I feel’, rather than ‘I think’. The cult of the victum is also pertinent” (144). Onderliggend het ons dus maar weer met die geykte polities byderwetse twak uitgedruk in oorbekende retoriek te make, bv marxisme: “Imperialism serves for many critics as an equivalent to, or surrogate for, capitalism” (709).

Omdat die gesindheid wesenlik anti-Westers en anti-blank is, word naas Brittanje noodwendig ook die Verenigde State van Amerika betrek. “The transfer of blame to the British Empire and/or to the United States was all to typical of a postcolonial failure to accept responsibility” (396). Black merk tereg op: “Indeed, empire is an aspect of the culture wars” (72). “It is normal to present the energy and power of imperialism as directed against non-Western peoples and thus as racist” (2691).

In die Handwoordeboek van die Afrikaanse Taal (HAT) word imperialisme (afgelei van empire) beskryf as “politieke beleid van ‘n staat om ander gebiede onder sy mag en invloed te bring” en kolonialisme as “ekonomiese, politieke en maatskaplike beleid waardeur ‘n groot moondheid sy kontrole [beheer] oor ander landstreke en volke handhaaf of uitbrei; beleid waardeur kolonies verkry en behou word.” Aan die woord empire kleef daar ‘n onverkwiklike geurtjie. Die Afrikaanse vertaling, ryk, proe en ruik seker nie so sleg nie. “Notably among the young across the political spectrum, and increasingly so, commitment to empire was perceived as the antithesis of what is meant to be ‘modern’, as an obstacle to economic reform, and emblem of oudated social values, and a view out of kilter with democratic political values” (3012). Die woord empire word (nog) nie as ‘n Afrikaanse woord in die Afrikaanse Woordelys en Spelreëls (AWS, 11de uitgawe, 2017) erken nie. Die progressiewe HAT (6de uitgawe, 2015) lys Empaaier. ‘n Oorverligte gees soos Willie Esterhuyse gebruik empire en ryk afwisselend in sy boek, Oorlog en vrede (Naledi, 2019, 353p).

Sodra Amerika in hierdie konteks naas Brittanje betrek word, word dit nodig om tussen ‘n formele ryk (soos histories dié van Brittanje), dus egte kolonialisme, en ‘n informele ryk (soos dié van Amerika), dus “neo-colonialism” (396), te onderskei. “‘Informal’ empire fitted the American trajectory more so than that of Britain” (840). “Informal empire can serve, for example, to discuss the speading economic and military power of China, or the interventionist conduct of Russia and India in neighboring states, or the attempts of Brazil, Nigeria and South Africa to act as regional powers” (1207). Aan die woord imperialisme kan dus meerdere betekenisse geheg word. “The range of types of rule described and critized, or described through criticism, as imperial or imperialism is very extensive. It operates as a catchall phrase for the external imposition of power, although external, imposition and power are all subject to varied understandings and usage” (1192).

Australië is bv al hoe meer deel van die informele Amerikaanse ryk ter vervanging van sy historiese verbintenis met die formele Britse ryk. “Growing cultural affinity between the United States and Australia was an important part of the changing situation. In so far as imperial legacies were concerned, Australia had increasingly to adapt to the informal American empire, rather than the formal British one” (2129). Die Australiese bevolking is oorwegend Westers, maar geografies is hy in die Ooste geleë. Die land is dus op Oosterse handelsbetrekkinge aangewese, maar terselfdertyd het hy, ter behoud van sy tradisionele kultuur, die diplomatieke en militêre ondersteuning van Amerika nodig.

“The [British] empire was seen as being transformed into the Commonwealth, rather than lost” (2987). Omtrent al wat substansieel van die Britse Ryk oorgebly het, is die Gemenebes (“Commonwealth”) van 16 lande, hoewel daar steeds 14 ander Brits-afhanklike maar minder beduidende geografiese gebiede is. Laasgenoemdes kan “vasalstate” genoem word; ‘n term wat Esterhuyse dikwels gebruik. Die Australiese Aboriginals gebruik die term “Stolenwealth” (1990), asook die frase “Stolen Generations” (2011), as deel van hulle “grievance industry” (2033). Die Gemenebes word nie eens meer die Britse Gemenebes genoem nie. Soos by mense het hier gelykheid ingetree, sodat die leiding nie meer (noodwendig) van die Britte uitgaan nie. Die Britse monarg het darem (voorlopig) haar posisie as die formele hoof van die Gemenebes behou. “The Commonwealth did not meet British hopes that it would serve as a continuation of imperial cohesion. The creation of an equal partnership proved a goal that was incompatible with British leadership” (3060).

Die Amerikaners is bekend/berug daarvoor dat hulle graag beweer dat hulle geen ryk of kolonies het nie. “As with [the expansionism of] India, Indonesia, and China, it is an irony unappreciated by most Americans and resented by many of them that the United States was itself to be regarded as an imperial power. It certainly took an imperialist course in North America in the nineteenth century at the expense of Native Americans, Spain, and Mexico, and in attempts to conquer Canada and later to limit its expansion” (829).

Indonesië het soveel moontlik eilande in die omgewing van Java probeer inpalm, bv Oos-Timor (1975-1999). Oor Indië en China skryf Black: “Indians denouce British imperialism and then defend their own conduct in Kashmir; and their Chinese counterparts do the same over Tibet” (922). Van groot aktuele belang is die “‘inchoate [wordende] imperialism’ in modern Islamic geopolitics” (927). Rusland se formele ryk (die eertydse Sowjetunie) en voortgesette informele ryk is algemeen bekend. “Soviet policy in Eastern Europe was definitely imperial” (1079). “Communism … ruthlessly exploited anti-imperialism while suppressing it in the Soviet Union” (1157).

Maar naas Amerikaanse uitbreiding in aangrensende geografiese gebiede, is daar baie lande wat in meerdere of mindere mate bv ekonomies en/of militêr van Amerika afhanklik is. Insoverre hulle afhanklik is – dus nie werklik onafhanklik is nie – is hulle vasalstate. Dit geld veral vir state in of naby die Amerikas (Noord-, Sentraal en Suid-Amerika). “American policy in Central America and the Caribbean was frequently seen by critics as imperial in character … as with the American invasions of the Dominican Republic in 1965, Grenada in 1983, and Panama in 1989, and with American pressure on Cuba from the 1960s and on Nicaragua in the 1980s” (1079).

Die oorsprong van hierdie Amerikaanse inmenging in die sake van buurlande is die “Monroe Doctrine: declaration by the US president James Monroe [1758-1831, 5th president 1817-1825] in 1823 that the USA would not tolerate any European nation trying to establish a colony in the Americas, and that any attempt to do so would be regarded as a threat to US peace and security … The doctrine, subsequently broadened, has been a recurrent theme in US foreign policy” (Collins World Encyclopedia, 2003, p 622). Die Sowjetunie/Rusland het in 1962 tydens die Kubaanse missielkrisis agtergekom dat hy ingesluit word by die Europese lande wat nie in die VSA se dampkring/invloedsfeer/geografiese omgewing mag inmeng nie. Haïti is sedert 1804 polities onafhanklik ná ‘n geslaagde en dikwels geromantiseerde slawe-opstand teen Frankryk as die koloniale moondheid. Maar agtereenvolgende regerings was so onbekwaam dat Amerika bv van 1915 tot 1934 beheer oor Haïti geneem het.

Ná die Tweede Wêreldoorlog het Amerika ongetwyfeld die leidende Westerse moondheid geword. Brittanje moes voortaan tweede viool speel. Uitgaande van die (skynheilige) veronderstelling dat hy nie kolonies het nie, het Amerika hom kragdadig vir dekolonisering beywer, asook vir die vestiging van demokrasie in sulke lande. “This process of continuing American hostility to empire, notably to that of Britain, was encouraged by the extent to which many immigrants to the United States fled imperial rule elsewhere … This was the case with Jews leaving Russia … The Irish diaspora in the United States is instructive in this light. The devastating Irish Famine that occurred between 1845 and 1852 and the resulting large-scale emigration … attract lasting attention, and thus characterize the Irish experience of the British Empire in a very hostile light” (Black 810).

Daar is ‘n Amerikaanse teenhanger vir Jeremy Black se boek, naamlik Daniel Immerwahr se How to hide an empire: A history of the greater United States (2019, 528p; Amazon Kindle $17.24). Aanvanklik was dit my voorneme om Immerwahr se boek saam met dié van Black te bespreek, maar dit is op die oomblik ongewens omdat ‘n hersiene, ietwat verkorte uitgawe (416p, $14.46) op 27 Februarie 2020 gepubliseer gaan word. Intussen kan daar egter kennis geneem word nie net van lof vir hierdie boek nie, maar ook van die substansiële kritiek wat deur bv Howard Hills in die Kindle-katalogus uitgespreek word.

Black skryf: “Between 1750 and 1900, Britain became the foremost power in the world, both territorially and economically” (101). “Empire was in part supported and defended on the grounds that it provided opportunities for the advance of civilization” (105) – ‘n regverdiging wat hedendaagse kulturele marxiste glad nie wil hoor nie. Polities byderwets mag aan ‘n hiërargie van beskawings, lande, rasse, etnisiteite, individue, ens, eintlik nie gedink word nie. Lank gelede is aanvaar dat die aarde plat is. Deesdae het dit evangelie geword dat alles wat met die mensdom te make het gelyk, dus nie-hiëragies, is. Iets soos ‘n elite, dus meerderwaardige mense – mense wat bv intellektueel of moreel beter as ander mense is – bestaan glo nie meer nie. Gevolglik word die wil by bv die gepeupel om te verbeter, gesaboteer.

‘n Belangrike deel was die Westerse imperiale beskawingsinisiatief was om inheemses in die kolonies tot die Christendom te bekeer. Maar die rol wat religie, oftewel sendingywer, in hierdie konteks gespeel het, het met verloop van tyd radikaal verander. “Attitudes toward Christian trusteeship were significant, in Britain, the United States, and elsewhere, in encouraging support, first and foremost, for imperial rule and then for decolonization” (972). Op ‘n soortgelyke manier is die christelike religie voorheen ter regverdiging van rasseskeiding gebruik terwyl dit die afgelope dekades ingespan word om (gedwonge) rasse-integrasie aan te moedig. Insgelyks is die Bybel voorheen gebruik om homoseksualiteit te veroordeel terwyl dit deesdae al hoe meer gebruik word om (feitlik) enige vorm van seksualiteit te regverdig. Tradisionele waardes word dus in hulle teenoorgesteldes omgekeer.

In die konteks van vermeende Britse meerderwaardigheid gee Black nogal heelwat toe. Afrikaners is immers goed met die hooghartigheid van die Britte bekend. “There was a clear sense, with England (from 1707, Britain) as of other empires, of superiority to lesser societies and of value, both to England and in world-historical terms, of bringing them under control and, through the plantation system of establishing settlers, of using the land in a more fruitful fashion … There was a clear attempt to present Western civilization as not only superior to other civilizations, but also as defining the de-civilized nature of these civilizations” (160). Die benutting van grond, bv vir produktiewe landbou, behoort vir boere ‘n sterker reg op daardie grond te vestig as dié van nomadiese inheemses wat vóór hulle daar rondgetrek het. Dit is ‘n beginsel wat bv in Australiese howe aanvaar is.

Daar is onder meer twee dinge wat Black bekemtoon. Eerstens dat geskiedkundige gebeure in die konteks van hulle tyd beoordeel moet word. Byvoorbeeld, “The modern criterion of equality is not a terribly helpful one when considering values prior to the twentieth century” (441). Wat om ideologiese redes deesdae gebeur, is dat “the appropriate contextualization is generally absent” (344). In die imperiale/koloniale konteks het ontwikkeling (“development”) iets anders beteken as die hedendaagse klem op “self-determination, democracy, and human rights” (695).

Tweedens dat geskiedenis glad te dikwels geskep of aangepas word “to serve a modern narrative” (290); dus “to present the past in order to satisfy current mores” (344). Dit is wat die ANC met oorgawe in bv skoolgeskiedenisboeke doen. Die regime vind spreekwoordelike nuttige idiote onder historici, wat in ruil vir geld doen wat polities byderwets van hulle verwag word. Naamsverandering van bv stede, dorpe en strate en die verwydering van standbeelde is van die aanstootlike maniere waarmee die ANC die geskiedenis herskryf.

Malcolm Turnbull, die Australiese eerste minister (2015-2018), het gesê: “A free country debates its history – it does not deny it. It builds new monuments as it preserves old ones, writes new books, not burns old ones” (1980). In Australië, soos deesdae in Suid-Afrika, is ‘n linkse vertolking van die geskiedenis aan die orde van die dag. Byvoorbeeld, byna ongelooflik: “In 2018, the national airline Qantas issued instructions to its staff that they were to refer not to the settlement of Australia but to its invasion” (2084).

Die Britte is nie die uitvinders van rykskepping nie. Vóór die Britse Ryk het daar talle ryke bestaan. “Britain generally was not the conqueror of native peoples ruling themselves in a democratic fashion, but, instead, overcame other imperial systems, and that the latter themselves rested on conquests” (300). Met die “generally”-kwalifisering word erken dat daar uitsonderings was.

Vergelykenderwys het die Britte na bewering (soms) beter as ander veroweraars/besetters gevaar. “Germany, earlier in the 1900s, followed policies in East and South West Africa that were far harsher than those of Britain, as were those of the Congo when King Leopold II of Belgium ruled it. Moreover, the brutality used by the Italians in the 1920s and 1930s to suppress resistance in Libya and to conquer Ethiopia, and that of the Japanese in Korea and, even more, in China, were far worse than that seen with the British Empire in the same period, or possibly any period” (309).

Daar is hierdie interessante opmerking: “Libyan troops considered themselves white Arabs closer to Italians than to black Ethiopians” (325). Dwarsoor die wêreld behou ‘n ligte vel sy prestige-waarde op grond van hierdie groep se bewese prestasies, ten spyte daarvan dat blankes meer as enige ander kleurgroep veroordeel word. Omgekeerd: “In Brazil, Cuba, and Venezuela … in what have been termed ‘pigmentocrasies’, those with a darker skin found themselves discriminated against, a situation that is still very much the case” (2460).

“A negative account of British imperialism was necessary not only to give additional meaning to the process of national liberation, but also in order to provide a stronger logic for nation, country, and state” (377). Byvoorbeeld, die ANC se strategie is om die plaaslike blanke bewind in propaganda so sleg moontlik voor te stel, sodat die huidige opset vergelykenderwys nie so sleg daarby afsteek nie.

Die volgende verskynsel is ook maklik in die nuwe Suid-Afrika herkenbaar: “Independence movements pledge to preserve freedom but then frequently acted to limit it … These movements claimed to reject the imperial state, but in practice sought to take it over and maintain its power” (386). In die nuwe Suid-Afrika word sowel liggaamlike vryheid (bv om veilig in die land te woon) as geestelike vryheid (bv om te dink en sê wat jy wil) al hoe meer aan bande gelê.

Daar is hierdie waarheid: “Corruption appears to have gotten worse since imperial rule ended in many countries” (417). Dit herinner aan die keer toe Thabo Mbeki die waarheid kwytgeraak het: “Bevryding van ‘n diktatorskap [bedoelende diktatuur; na bewering die “apartheidsregime”] bring noodwendig [!] ook korrupsie mee” (Willie Esterhuyse, Eindstryd, Kaapstad: Tafelberg, 2012, p 166); iets wat Suid-Afrika sedert 1994 in buitensporige mate ervaar.

“Critics sometimes underplay the extent to which the Mau Mau Uprising in Kenya in the 1950s and early 1960s involved murderous attacks on other Africans, who indeed made up the bulk of the victims” (458). Plaaslik vind soortgelyke verdraaiing plaas. ANC/UDF/SAKP-terroriste het baie meer swartes as blankes gedood. Dit is gedoen om die swartes te intimideer sodat hulle die “bevrydingsbeweging” steun en vanaf 1994 daarvoor stem. Desnieteenstaande word voorgegee, of ten minste geïmpliseer, dat kamerade se bloed uitsluitlik gevloei het om van die blanke “juk” ontslae te raak. Uiteraard kan hierdie ANC-benadering nie op oorspronklikheid aanspraak maak nie. Byvoorbeeld, op ‘n herdenkingsplakkaat in Indië staan: “This place is saturated with the blood of those Indian patriots who were martyred in a nonviolent struggle to free India from British domination” (1376).

Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948) kon net so min soos Desmond Tutu met reg daarop aanspraak maak dat die “onafhanklikheidstryd” nie-gewelddadig, dus vreedsaam, gevoer is. Byvoorbeeld, as deel van die Indiese “bevrydingstryd het Udham Singh in 1940 vir Michael O’Dwyer vermoor. “The murderer was treated as a hero by many Indian contemporaries … There is a museum dedicated to him … and he has been the subject of films. The day of his death is a public holiday” (1412). Dieselfde gebeur in die nuwe Suid-Afrika. Moord en terrorisme geld nie as diskwalifikasie vir die bekleding van ‘n hoë pos nie. Museums word ingespan, selfs uit die grond uit opgerig, om die ANC-regime se ideologie te propageer, bv die Slawe-, Robbeneiland- en Apartheidsmuseum. Ná 1994 is meerdere openbare vakansiedae ingestel spesifiek met die doel om ANC-mitologie te voed. “Collective grievance thus becomes empowering” (1524).

Dubbele standaarde is aan die orde van die dag. ‘n Imperiale moondheid soos Brittanje kan kwalik van volksmoord in sy multi-kulturele ryk aangekla word, maar (oorheersend) monokulturele lande kom (grootliks) kritiekloos daarmee weg. “‘Ethnic cleansing’, or, at least, control, is logical from the perspective of ethnically based states, such as Turkey, Serbia, and Myanmar [Burma]; but not from that of polyglot empires, or not to the same extent” (1115). “From the perspective of many groups, such as Copts and Jews, empires such as those ruled by the Ottomans, Habsburgs, and Britain were frequently more benign than the ethnically based nation-states that succeeded them. The harsh plight of the East African Indians once British rule ended, such as life in Uganda [and Kenya]” (1131), het Brittanje verplig laat voel om die instroming van derduisende Indiër immigrante toe te laat.

Dit verduidelik deels waarom die meeste plaaslike Indiërs nie die ANC-regime steun nie; des te meer omdat daar in vergelyking met swart swartes teen hulle gediskrimineer word. Eintlik word die multi-rassigheid en -kulturaliteit van die Suid-Afrikaanse bevolking in baie opsigte deur die ANC-regime misken. Daar word by voorkeur geregeer asof Suid-Afrika ‘n mono-rassige swart bevolking het. Sommige waarnemers sluit die voorkoms van volksmoord, bv in die geval van plaasaanvalle op blankes, veral Afrikaners, nie uit nie.

Ras- en etniese kwessies kom opvallend min in die boek voor, behalwe: “Australian-born John Curtin, prime minister from 1941 to 1945, declared: ‘This nation will remain forever the home of sons of Britishness who came here in peace to establish an outpost of the British race. Our laws have proclaimed the standard of a White Australia … We intend to keep it, because we know it to be desirable.’ Also Australian-born, Harold Holt, the immigration minister from 1949 to 1956 (and prime minister in 1966-67), declared in 1950: ‘This is a British community, and we want to keep it a British community living under British standards and by the methods and ideals of British parliamentary democracy.’ Also Australian-born, Robert Menzies, prime minister from 1939 to 1941, and from 1949 to 1966, claimed, ‘A migrant from Britain to Australia is not lost to Britain; he merely serves the true interest of Britain in another part of the British empire'”(2129).

“Close to 1.5 million Britons immigrated to Australia from 1947 to 1981. However, in contrast to the earlier dominance of immigration by Britons, notably as late as the 1970s, the principle groups of immigrants are now Asian. The same change has occurred with Canada with resulting shifts in notions of nationality and identity accordingly. By die 2010s, the quesion in Australia was rather that of competition between two informal empires, those of the United States and China. The British legacy remained, notably in institutions and in the family connections of many individuals, but was largely individual; there was pressure for an end to the link represented by a shared monarch, and a widespread belief that it would end after the death of Elizabeth II. So also, albeit not to the same extent, with New Zealand. Empire had passed and the imperial legacy has become much weaker” (2139).

Ras is ook prominent in die hedendaagse vertolking van slawerny. Die blankes word as die skurke en die swartes as die enigste slagoffers voorgestel. In werklikheid was daar iets soos blanke slawerny, bv in Berberse (“Barbary”) Noord-Afrika (van die16de eeu tot die middel van die 18de eeu – kyk “Barbary slave trade” (Wikipedia). Die verslawing van blankes het ook in die Amerikas voorgekom. Byvoorbeeld: “Indentured labor … had been plentifully used in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries,” toe baie blanke werkers na Noord-Amerika gestuur is (2475). “Although ‘white slavery’ existed in the British world, notably in the 1650s in Barbados, including for Irish prisoners, slavery, as a condition, was increasingly affected by racial attitudes. This approach served to preserve Englishness at the expense of Africans, who were the key labor supply for plantation agriculture; and, to a far more ambivalent extent, at the expense of Native Americans” (2448).

Ná 1994 is die Maleisiese voorbeeld van rassediskriminasie telkens vir Suid-Afrika aanbeveel. “It is the Malaysian government, in its consistent affirmative action policies (in effect, positive discrimination [?]) towards the Muslim Malays, that has very much disadvantaged the native Chinese and Indian populations, both of whom did well under British rule” (2165). Van Suid-Afrika kan gesê word dat die blankes en Indiërs beter as die bruines en veral die swartes onder die Britse en latere blanke bewind gevaar het. Deesdae word veral die swartes deur die ANC-regime bevoordeel en veral die blankes, maar in toenemende mate ook die Asiate, brutaal benadeel. Rassediskriminasie was glo die groot euwel vóór 1994. Waarom is rassediskriminasie dan nie in die nuwe Suid-Afrika absoluut verbode nie? Dit is maar net nog ‘n opsig waarin die NP se grondwetlike onderhandelaars klaaglik misluk het. Die resultaat is ‘n mislukte staat met rommelstatus.

Soos in Suid-Afrika word die koloniale verlede in polities onafhanklike lande sleg voorgestel of gerieflikheidshalwe aan die vergetelheid oorgelaat, sodat die era ná onafhanklikwording vergelykenderwys nie so sleg daaruit moet sien nie. “To visit … national museums is … instructive. Indeed, this is very much a case of amnesia. The impact of empire, and certainly of the British Empire, is underplayed, and notably so if the impact was in practice positive. The major extent of accommodation to empire also tends to be ignored. The theme, instead, is one of opposition and liberation. History, thereby, becomes both one-dimensional and adversarial” (2184).

Die konstruksie van ‘n nuwe gedekoloniseerde nasie “inevitably come with nationalistic conceits” (2189). Dit is waarom die ANC-regime die aanvang van die geskiedenis van “ons nasie” op 1994 stel. Die gebeure vóór 1994 wat beklemtoon word, is hoe die swartes glo hulle kosbare bloed in hulle stryd teen die bose blankes opgeoffer het. Die bloed wat in swart-op-swart geweld gevloei het en steeds vloei, word doelbewus buite rekening gelaat. “The strength and villainy of [the imperial/colonial/white power] have to be inflated in order to enhance the value of overcoming it, and thus the inheritable and inherited virtue of this achievement” (2248). In hierdie proses word skurke, bv moordenaars en terroriste, as helde opgehemel. Suid-Afrika het talle voorbeelde hiervan opgelewer.

Teen die einde van die boek kom Black by die weerslag van imperialisme en kolonialisme uit. “There is also major change in Britain as a consequence of demographic transformation” (3168). Pleks van sy tradisioneel redelik kultureel-homogene bevolking sit die Britte deesdae met snel goeiende etniese minderheidsgroepe. “The rise in ‘New’ Commonwealth immigration, from the arrival of West Indians on the Empire Windrush in 1948, meant empire ‘coming home’ in ways which certain politicians (and some of their constituents) found distinctly troubling. The British Nationality Act of 1948 gave citizenship of the UK and Colonies to all people living in either, and the right of entry and settlement in the UK” (3018).

Die probleme wat vir Brittanje hieruit voortgespruit het, is aanvanklik deur die meeste Britte en veral die politici en joernaliste ontken of verswyg. Mettertyd is al hoe meer tot die besef gekom dat die tradisionele Britse kultuur groot skade ly; skade wat voorkombaar was. Baie politici is steeds lugtig om die situasie openlik aan te spreek. Daar is darem bv ‘n 2009-verhoogstuk van Richard Bean (gebore in 1956), England People Very Nice (3023), wat uitgesproke oor die inkommers is, bv “accusing the Bangladeshis of being ‘curried monkeys'” (3028). Dit is duidelik dat daar groter uitdrukkingsvryheid in Brittanje as in die nuwe Suid-Afrika is. “The prospect of the Thames running ‘with blood’ is frequently mentioned in the play. The ability of England to cope with its diversity is left unclear, but room for optimism is limited” (3028). Die verwysing is na Enoch Powell (1912-1998) se beroemde/berugte 1968 “Rivers of Blood”-toespraak.

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