Leon Lemmer: J A Froude oor Britse kolonialisme

Deel op

Na my bespreking van twee biografieë oor James Anthony Froude (1818-1894) (Praag 13.06.2020 en 27.06.2020) kom Froude in hierdie rubriek en ten slotte self aan die woord in twee van sy boeke. Die een boek handel onder meer oor sy drie besoeke aan Suid-Afrika. ‘n Mens sal ver moet soek na ‘n Brit wat so krities oor Britse kolonialisme in Suidelike Afrika was en terselfdertyd so ‘n groot bewondering vir die Boere/Afrikaners gehad het. In sy ander boek, oor die Wes-Indiese Eilande, belig hy talle sake van aktuele belang in die nuwe Suid-Afrika. Daar word dinge gesê wat deesdae polities byderwets nie meer gehoor word nie.

Oceana: England and her colonies

Froude het baie in Britse kolonialisme belang gestel. Van hom is die volgende boek gepubliseer: Oceana: England and her colonies (1886/2018; Amazon Kindle $1,14). As Engelsman en entoesiastiese Britse imperialis het Froude in 1874, 1875 en 1885 besoeke aan Suid-Afrika gebring. In laasgenoemde geval het hy daarna ook Australië, Nieu-Seeland en Amerika besoek. In die hoofstuk wat handel oor sy skeepsreis na Kaapstad in 1885 skryf Froude: “In 1852 we had discovered that wars with the natives and wars with the Dutch were expensive and useless; that sending troops out and killing thousands of natives was an odd way of protecting them” (Kindle 580). Hy verwys na die onafhanklikheid wat die Britte aan die Transvaal (1852) en Oranje-Vrystaat (1854) toegeken het, net om dit kort daarna te berou toe eers diamante en daarna goud ontdek is. In die daarop volgende twee hoofstukke beskryf Froude sy besoeke aan Suid-Afrika; eers hoofsaaklik die 1874- en 1875-besoeke en in die daaropvolgende hoofstuk sy 1885-besoek. As ‘n gerekende historikus het hy toegang tot belangrike mense gehad en onderhoude met hulle gevoer. Sy besoeke in 1874 en 1875 het boonop die finansiële ondersteuning van die Britse regering se departement van kolonies geniet.

Reeds met die intrapslag klink Froude pro-Boer/Afrikaner: “Better colonists or more successful did not exist than the Dutch” (601). Froude is krities oor die Britse koloniale bewind. “They [the Dutch] have had fewer native wars than we have had. There has been less violence and bloodshed” (601). Dit verduidelik waarom Jan Smuts so dikwels na hierdie boek verwys in sy Eene eeuw van onrecht (Praag 14.03.2020). Oor die Britse benadering van die nie-blankes, insluitende die manier waarop die slawe vrygestel is, skryf Froude: “The Dutch … were regarded in England as slave-owners at heart, as barbarians and tyrants, as illiterate savages … The unfavourable impression of them became a tradition of the English press, and unfortunately of the Colonial office. We had treated them unfairly as well as unwisely, and we never forgive those whom we have injured” [!] (634).

Froude verwys spesifiek na die manier waarop die Britte die Oranje-Vrystaat van die diamentveld ontneem het. “The annexation had been a swindle and a trick” (754). “Tens of thousands of guns and rifles were distributed in two or three years among the surrounding tribes as a direct menace to the Dutch, who had now a semicircle of armed men drawn outside them from Kimberley to Zululand. Naturally there was the greatest alarm and the greatest indignation among them. They were threatened with invasions and inroads of savages set on and countenanced by the British Government” (741). “From that day no Boer in South Africa has been able to trust to English promises” (715). “We justified our action, by posing before the world as the protectors of the rights of native tribes, whom we accused them of having wronged” (722).

Wat baie Britte nie besef het nie is “that the Dutch were still the majority, and a very large majority, in the [Cape] colony itself. Nor were they only the majority, but they were doing all the work which was really valuable” (688). “We persisted in a policy which threefifths of its white inhabitants detested” (942). Verder: “The Colonial Office had undervalued the Dutch as a fighting power” (768). Dan kom Froude met ‘n karakterisering wat destyds algemeen in Britse geledere aangetref is: dat Afrikaners stadig [slapgat?] is: “The Dutch are slow to move, but when moved are moved effectually” (728). John Molteno (1814-1886), die eerste minister van die Kaapkolonie (1872-1878), “told me that he was as sorry as I could be; that he had himself opposed the annexation [of Griqualand West, the Daimond Fields] (762). Uiteindelik is ₤90 000 skadevergoeding aan die Oranje-Vrystaat betaal. “The Dutch of South Africa, though obstinate as mules, are emotional and affected easily through their feelings” (802). “We took note of their faults; we forgot our own” (861).

Froude verwys na die “philanthropists [eg missionaries] whose mission in life is the championship of innocent negroes” (867). “The country has been the prey of well-intentioned philanthropists” (3194). Dit lyk nie asof Froude werklik die plaaslike verdeling in swart stamme verstaan het nie, want hy skryf van “Caffres [Xhosas?], Basutos, Zulus” (815; ook 1043), wat op kruisklassifikasie neerkom. Hy noem die Transvaalse Boere “a brave and honourable people” (848). “The origin of all the anger in the Transvaal had been the arming [of] the native chiefs against them from the Diamond Fields” (854). “The chiefs whom we called our friends had been drawn into an attitude of open menace against the Boers” (861). “Public opinion in England would certainly not permit a war of extermination against the Cape Dutch, and the alternative might easily arise between a war of this description [civil war, whites against blacks] and the evacuation of the country” (900).

“If South Africa is to rule itself under a constitutional system, we must cease to impose English views of what is expedient on a people unwilling to act upon them” (907). Die Britse regering “had despised the Boers – had not treated them with ordinary honesty” (962). “The Boers had been so systematically abused and misrepresented that the English scarcely regarded them as human beings to whom they owed any moral consideration” (969). “If we could think more of the wrong things which we have done ourselves, and less of the wrong things which we accuse the Boers of having done, I believe that would be considerably more effective” (975). Froude verwys na Suid-Afrika as “that country being a most signal example of all the faults in the past methods of colonial management” (3181).

“The success of the Dutch in the Free States – a small monority of whites in the midst of twenty times their number of warlike blacks – proves that a modus vivendi can be found under which the two races can live side by side, and the white man can acquire his natural ascendency. But if we withdraw, it will be the Dutch method which will be adopted all over the country, and not the English. I should not myself object to this. The Dutch method, in the long run, is the more merciful of the two. We have killed hundreds of natives where the Dutch have killed tens. But the Dutch, who are the majority [of whites], would be virtually masters of South Africa. They look on themselves as the lawful owners, and on us as intruders” (3201).

In Nieu-Seeland het Froude in 1885 besoek aan George Grey (1812-1898, goewerneur van die Kaapkolonie 1854-1861) gebring. Grey was toe ‘n Nieu-Seelandse parlementslid. Voor dit was hy die goewerneur (1845-1854 en 1861-1868) en eerste minister (1877-1879) van Nieu-Seeland. “His own large experience and thorough knowledge of South Africa confirmed the views which I had myself formed. He understood the Boers. He had gone to the Cape with the prejudice against them generally entertained in England, and he found the Boer of the English newspapers and platform speeches a creature of the imagination which had no existence in ‘space and time’. The Boers were simply the Dutch gentlemen and farmers from whose fathers and grandfathers we had taken the colony. Many of them had been Sir George’s subjects, and in his opinion, as in mine, they were a quiet, orderly, industrious, hard-working people, hurting no one if let alone, but resentful of injuries and especially of calumnies against their character. They were accused of cruelty to the native races. Had the charge been true, Sir George Grey, of all men, would have been the last to pardon it; but it was no more true of them than it was true of us and, necessarily, of all colonists who come in collision with the original owners of the soil, and he thought our perpetual interference with them to be foolish and unjust. Our interference alone had created all the troubles in South Africa” (4303).

“The Dutch were the majority, and a harmonious administration in South Africa was politically impossible unless we were prepared to treat the Dutch as honourable men, to meet them on their own ground, and leave them the same liberties which we do not think of refusing to the Australians or Canadians” (4309). Maar hou in gedagte dat Grey destyds nie ‘n tipiese Brit was wat rassesegregasie voorgestaan het nie. Grey se beleid was “civilisation through mingling” (Hermann Giliomee, Die Afrikaners: ‘n Biografie, Kaapstad: Tafelberg, 2004, p 242). Froude was teen rasvermenging gekant.

The English in the West Indies

Froude het ook somminge Britse kolonies in die Wes-Indiese eilande besoek en die volgende boek gepubliseer: The English in the West Indies; or, The bow of Ulysses (1888/2019, Goodpress, 122p; Amazon Kindle $1,14). Hy het teen die einde van 1886 per skip uit Engeland vertrek en sy 1887-indrukke van die Wes-Indiese Eilande te boek gestel. Baie van sy opmerkings is vir Suid-Afrikaners ter sake en het steeds aktualiteit, bv “It does not follow that because people of the same race and character are drawn together by equality and liberty [eg whites in South Africa], people of different races and different characters, who have quarrelled for centuries, will be similarly attracted to one another [eg whites and blacks in the Caribbean]” (Kindle 81).

Barbados, die oudste Britse kolonie in Wes-Indië, onafhanklik sedert 1961, was die eerste eiland wat Froude besoek het, gevolg deur Grenada (onafhanklik sedert 1974) en Trinidad (saam met Tobago onafhanklik sedert 1962). Hierna is hy terug na Barbados en het agtereenvolgens Dominica (onafhanklik sedert 1978 – nie St Domingo/Dominikaanse Republiek nie) en Jamaika (onafhanklik sedert 1962) besoek, asook die nie-Britse kolonie Kuba – “Cuba had been governed as a province of Spain” (4144). Onderweg na Jamaika en terug van Kuba af na Barbados is by Haiti (onderskeidelik die Jacmel- en Port-au-Prince-hawe) aangedoen omdat “I much wished to see this paradise of negro liberty” (2523). “Hayti, as everyone knows who has studied the black problem, is the western portion of Columbus’s Española, or St Domingo, the largest [West Indian island] after Cuba and the most fertile in natural resources of all the islands of the Caribbean Sea. It was the earliest of the Spanish settlements in the New World” (2530).

Haiti is sedert 1804 onafhanklik ná ‘n suksesvolle slawe-opstand teen die Franse koloniale bewind waarin al die blanke inwoners vermoor is. Dit was die begin van meer as twee eeue se chaos, agteruitgang en agterlikheid. “Perhaps nothing better could be expected from a liberty which was inaugurated by assassination and plunder” (2550). “Republics which begin with murder and plunder do not come to much good in this world” (4666). Kan ons beter van die die nuwe Suid-Afrika verwag ná die ANC aan die bewind gekom het weens dekades van hoogs onbeskaafde terrorisme? Die ou en nuwe Suid-Afrika kan bv soos volg gekontrasteer word: “Communities … have existed where people have thought more of their obligations than of their ‘rights’, more of the welfare of their country, or of the success of a cause [eg spreading European/Western civilisation] to which they have devoted themselves, than of their personal pleasure or interest [eg corruption]” (5016).

“What is the use of the colonies to us? The colonies are a hundredfold multiplication of the area of our own limited islands. In taking possession of so large a portion of the globe, we have enabled ourselves to spread and increase, and carry our persons, our language and our liberties, into all climates and continents. We overflow at home; there are too many of us here already; and if no lands belonged to us but Great Britain and Ireland, we should become a small insignificant power beside the mighty nations which are forming around us. There is space for hundreds of millions of us in the territories of which we and our fathers have possessed ourselves. In Canada, Australia, New Zealand we add our numbers and our resources … The sections of men on this globe are unequally gifted. Some are strong and can govern themselves; some are weak and are the prey of foreign invaders or internal anarchy; and freedom, which all desire, is only attainable by weak nations when they are subject to the rule of others who are at once powerful and just” (2867) – soos Brittanje, volgens Froude.

Sedertdien het Brittanje die grootste deel van Ierland verloor en al die Wes-Indiese kolonies wat Froude besoek het. Baie van hierdie eilande en selfs nie-Britse kolonies, soos Mosambiek, is in die Statebond opgeneem, maar sonder dat Brittanje effektief beheer oor hulle kan uitoefen. Wat Froude onmoontlik kon voorsien het, is dat die Wes-Indiese eilande nie meer die bestemming vir Britse immigrante is nie, maar dat die migrante-verkeer ná die Tweede Wêreldoorlog in die teenoorgestelde rigting is. Agtereenvolgende Britse regerings het toegelaat dat derduisende Wes-Indiërs en ander nie-blankes uit eens Britse kolonies hulle in Brittanje vestig, met aanvanklik feitlik net ‘n enkele Brit, Enoch Powell (1912-1998), wat die aandag op bv die nadelige kulturele gevolge hiervan gevestig het (Praag 30.04.2016). Wat sedert 1994 opval, is dat Suid-Afrika nie meer soos voorheen in dieselfde asem as Australië en Nieu-Seeland as ‘n tuiste van Westerse of Britse beskawing genoem word nie. Froude het Suid-Afrika reeds in 1887 uit hierdie lysie weggelaat weens die oorwig van swartes, maar hy het vertroue in die toekoms van Kanada as ‘n oorwegend blanke land gehad; ‘n vertroue wat deur veral die Trudeaus, Pierre en Justin, as staatshoofde geskend is. Hulle het as ideaal dat Kanada se inwoners die wêreldbevolking moet weerspieël. Daarmee kan die wêreld se probleme vrywilliglik op ‘n enkele land afgelaai word.

Vanweë kulturele verwantskap, indien nie eendersheid nie, kon Britse kolonies soos veral Australië en Kanada maklik hulle bande met Brittanje behou en as bestemming vir Britse immigrante dien. Dit geld ook in groot mate vir Nieu-Seeland en in mindere mate vir Suid-Afrika. Die situasie word problematies wanneer ‘n blanke minderheid, soos die Britte in die Wes-Indiese Eilande, dieselfde grondgebied met ‘n oorweldigende swart meerderheid, wat kultureel hemelsbreed van hulle verskil, moet deel. “The white minority could not be trusted with the exclusive possession of political power. The blacks could not be trusted with the equally dangerous supremacy which their numbers would insure them” (2887). “The Europeans would not remain to be ruled under a black representative system; nor would they take any part in it when they would be so overwhelmingly outvoted and outnumbered. They would sooner forfeit all that they had in the world and go away” (2657). Dit herinner aan die deurlopende uittog van Suid-Afrikaanse blankes sedert 1990.

“Although it is undesirable or impossible for the blacks to be ruled by the minority of the white residents, it is equally undesirable and equally impossible that the whites should be ruled by them” (1246). Dit volg dat iemand soos FW de Klerk skynbaar die onmoontlike reggekry het. “There are two parties to every bargain” (1508). Die nuwe Suid-Afrika is nie ‘n wen-wen situasie nie. Die blankes is die groot verloorders. Van swart meerderheidsregering word gesê: “It will be a rule by the blacks and for the blacks” (1726). “Nature has made us unequal, and Acts of Parliament cannot make us equal” (3255). “Whites and blacks may be nominally equal; but from the enormous preponderance of numbers the equality would be only in name, and such English people, at least, as would be really of any value, would refuse to remain in a false and intolerable position” (1252). Vandaar Afrikaners se ideaal van ‘n eie tuisland. “The forced equality of the races before the law made more difficult the growth of any kindly feeling” (1488). Plaaslik word daar egter van die blankes verwag om hulle met sulke haglike omstandighede te versoen.

“The gulf which divides the colours is not arbitrary prejudice” (1740). “The two races are not equal and will not blend. If the white people do not depart of themselves, black legislation will make it impossible for any of them to stay who would not be better out of the way” (1726) – dink bv aan regstellende aksie, swart ekonomiese bemagtiging en grondonteiening sonder vergoeding; dus in vele opsigte blatante rassediskriminasie ten koste van die blankes. “Our own Anglo-Norman race has become capable of self-government only after a thousand years of civil and spiritual authority” (1753). Maar die swartes, bv ANC-kornuite, wou ten alle koste uitsluitlike politieke mag dadelik oorneem. “But it does not follow that what can be done eventually can be done immediately” (1740). Die ANC het hom vóór 1994 herhaaldelik tot “ready to govern” verklaar maar maak sedertdien ‘n klaaglike mislukking daarvan.

Volgens Froude moet nóg die swartes nóg die blankes toegelaat word om in so ‘n situasie te regeer omdat die regerende rasgroep sy belange ten koste van die ander een sal bevorder. As oortuigde kolonialis en imperialis is Froude se oortuiging dat Brittanje in sulke omstandighede moet bly regeer ten einde onpartydig aan albei groepe se belange reg te laat geskied. Hy het ‘n imperiale (kon)federasie bepleit. “It seems so easy. You have only to form a new parliament in which the colonies shall be represented according to numbers, while each colony will retain its own for its own local purposes” (5029). Maar as verteenwoordiging volgens die bevolkingsgetalle geskied, sal die nie-blankes noodwendig (spoedig) die blankes oorheers. In hierdie opset word die kolonies dan eerder provinsies van die moederland, soos in die Franse koloniale model. Die gevaarlike tendens wat hy opgemerk het, is dat die Britse regering geneig was om al hoe laer vereistes vir stemreg te stel, met die gevolg dat swart oorheersing, veral op die langer termyn, al hoe meer ‘n voldonge feit geword het. Dit het meegebring dat ingesete blankes geneig was om die wyk te neem en dat plaasvervangende blanke immigrante ongeneë was om hulle in die Karibiese gebied te vestig. Bowendien het die hoë geboortesyfers by swartes die blanke minderheid al hoe meer verswelg.

In die Britse kolonies waar die blankes in die meerderheid is (Australië, Kanada, Nieu-Seeland), was daar nie groot probleme nie. In Suid-Afrika is daar ‘n substansiële blanke bevolking (Afrikaans- en Engelssprekendes), maar omdat die blankes kultureel verskil, is samewerking problematies. Dit is eintlik net die Britte wat imperiaal ‘n eenheid kon vorm. “The British people everywhere intend to remain one. With the same blood, the same language, the same habits, the same traditions, they do not mean to be shattered into dishonoured fragments” (87). Naas die kolonies wat ‘n oorwegend Britse karakter gehad het en selfonderhoudend was, was daar kolonies, soos dié in Wes-Indië, wat ‘n finansiële las vir die Britte geword het; des te meer nadat rietsuiker nie meer lonend geproduseer kon word nie vanweë die mededinging met beetsuiker. “I could not help asking myself of what use such a possession could be either to England or the English nation. We could not colonise it, could not cultivate it, could not draw revenue from it … We might have spared ourselves so unnecessary a conquest” (945). ‘n Kolonie kon alleenlik Brits gemaak word as ‘n afdoende getal Britse immigrante hulle permanent daar vestig.

Ná die vrystelling van die slawe is welvaart ook aan bande gelê omdat daar grootskaalse onwilligheid by die swartes was om arbeid te verrig (591). Die Karibiese blankes wou eerder na die moederland (“a stepmother” – 314) terugkeer of ekonomiese en politieke aansluiting by Amerika soek. “All the whites in the islands wished at the bottom of their hearts to be taken into the Union [USA]; but the Union Government was too wise to meddle with them. The trade would fall to America of itself” (1939), onder meer vanweë die nabyheid van Amerika en die groot afstand tussen enersyds Wes-Indië en andersyds Brittanje en Europa. Anders as die blankes begeer die swartes politieke onafhanklikheid, maar volgens Froude is hulle nie in staat om doeltreffend te regeer nie. “The black and white races had not amalgamated and were not inclining to amalgamate” (134). Die vrystelling van die slawe het hierdie twee groepe nie nader aan mekaar gebring nie. “[They] were further apart than ever” (147). Amerika is glad nie geneë om die Wes-Indiese Eilande te annekseer nie. Finansieel sou dit eerder nadele as voordele inhou. Ook: “They did not wish to absorb another million and a half of blacks and as many Roman Catholics, having enough already of both” (1515).

Oral waar Froude gekom het, was daar tekens van agteruitgang en verval. Dit is ‘n geval van “burnt his house to roast his pig; such waste was never seen” (3300). Oor Grenada skryf hy: “Round us when we landed were unroofed warehouses, weed-choked courtyards, doors gone, and window frames fallen in or out. Such a scene of desolation and desertion I never saw in my life save once, a few weeks later in Jamaica … Nature and the dark race had been simply allowed by us to resume possession of the island” (767). In Dominica “the grass was growing between the stones, and the houses generally were dilapidated and dirty” (2137). “It is the same as in Grenada: the whites … have lost heart, and cease to struggle against the stream. A state of things more helplessly provoking was never seen. Skill and capital and labour have only to be brought to bear together, and the land might be a Garden of Eden” (2222). “Kingston [Jamaica] is the best of our West Indian towns, and Kingston has not one fine building in it” (4000). In Havana, Kuba, daarenteen, was daar “the numerical preponderance of the white element” (4170), gevolglik: “The buildings are all good in Havana” (4286).

Oor Jacmel, Haiti, skryf Froude: “The streets were filthy and the stench abominable” (2584). Van Port-au-Prince, Haiti, sê hy: “Long before we came to shore there came off whiffs … of active dirt fermenting in the sunlight … We were in a Paris of the gutter” (4693). “My prejudices, if I have any, had not blinded me to the good qualities of the men and women in Dominica. I do not think it was prejudice wholly which made me think the faces which I saw in Hayti the most repulsive which I had ever seen in the world, or Jacmel itself, taken for all in all, the foulest, dirtiest, and nastiest of human habitations” (2610). Hy het terug op die skip geklim. “I had to strip and plunge into a bath and wash away the odour of the great negro republic of the West which clung to my clothes and skin” (2617).

Die keuse was duidelik: “Either an English administration pure and simple … or a falling eventually into a state like that of Hayti, where … no white man can own a yard of land” (801). “As it has been in Hayti, so it must be in Trinidad if the English leave the blacks to be their own masters” (1381). “One felt it strange that with so beautiful a possession lying at our doors, we should have allowed it to slide out of our hands” (808). “The plant of civilisation as yet has taken but feeble root” (801). “The continued civilisation of the blacks depends on the maintenace there of English influence and authority” (838). Oor Trinidad skryf Froude: “Of sanitary arrangements there seemed to be none … Dirt of every kind lies about freely” (918). In Jamaika “odours … from open drains reminded me of Jacmel. The streets … looked dirty and the houses shabby” (2734).

Wat vir Froude opgeval het, was hoe tevrede die swartes met hierdie situasie was: “Singing, dancing, and chattering all night long, as radiant and happy as carelessness and content could make them” (692). “If the West Indies are going to ruin, Barbados, at any rate, is being ruined with a smiling face” (551). “My poor downtrodden black brothers and sisters, so far as I could judge from this first introduction [in Barbados], looked to me a very fortunate class of fellow-creatures” (631). “The blacks there [in Dominica], as everywhere, are happy with their yams, and cocoa nuts and land crabs. They desire nothing better than they have” (2027). “The earth does not contain any peasantry so well off, so well cared for, so happy, so sleek and contented as the sons and daughters of the emancipated slaves in the English West Indian Islands” (1101). “They are perfectly happy … They have no aspirations to make them restless. They have no guilt upon their consciences” (712). “[Slavery] descendents … have nothing now to do save to laugh and sing en enjoy existence” (719). “The inheritance [is] turned into a wilderness” (2391).

Later verwys Froude weer na “the boundless happiness of the black race. Under the rule of England in these islands the two million of these poor brothers-in-law of ours are the most perfectly contented specimens of the human race to be found upon the planet … If happiness be the satisfaction of every conscious desire, theirs is a condition which admits of no improvement were they independent … Under the beneficent despotism of the English Government, which knows no difference of colour and permits no oppression, they can sleep, lounge, and laugh away their lives as they please, fearing no danger” (1128). “Orderly habits are not immediately lost, but the effect of leaving the negro nature to itself is apparent at last. In the English islands they are innocently happy in the unconsciousness of the obligations of morality. They eat, drink, sleep, and smoke, and do the least in the way of work that they can. They have no ideas of duty, and therefore are not made uneasy by neglecting it. One or other of them occasionally rises in the legal or other profession, but there is no sign, not the slightest, that the generality of the race are improving either in intelligence or moral habits; all the evidence is the other way” (4767).

Oor die swartes skryf Froude: “They would have been slaves in their own country if they had not been brought to ours, and at the worst had lost nothing by the change” (692). “Slavery itself was the first step of emancipation” (1395). “As life goes he has been a lucky mortal. He was taken away from Dahomey and Ashantee – to be a slave indeed, but a slave to a less cruel master than he would have found at home” (1134). “They lived better than the honest day-labouring man in England, without doing a fourth part of his work in a day, and I am fully convinced that the negroes in our islands are better provided for and live better than when in Guinea” (1141). “The blacks would not work for wages more than three days in the week, or regularly upon those, preferring to cultivate their own yams and sweet potatoes” (2935). “The chief complaint [of the whites] is the somewhat weary one of the laziness of the blacks, who they say will work only when they please, and are never fully awake except at dinner time. I do not know that they have a right to expect anything else from poor creatures whom the law calls human, but who to them are only mechanical tools, not so manageable as tools ought to be, with whom they have no acquaintance and no human relations, whose wages are but twopence an hour and are diminished by fines at the arbitrary pleasure of the overseer” (1871).

Sosiale gebruike, soos slawerny en rasse-segregasie, is nie uitsluitlik goed of net sleg nie. Slawe het bv nuttige werk verrig en dus nie so maklik of dikwels in ledigheid en misdaad verval nie. “The name of slavery is a horror to us; but there must have been something human and kindly about it, too, when it left upon the character the marks of courtesy and good breeding” (3394). In die gedrukte en massa-inligtingsmedia word daar meesal slegs van swart slawe melding gemaak en nie van die talle blankes wat gedwonge arbeid in die vroeë Amerikaanse en Karibiese geskiedenis verrig het nie. In die hoofstuk oor Barbados staan: “There were some thousands of wretched Irish, who had been transplanted thither after the last rebellion, and were bound under articles to labour. These might be counted on to rise if an invading force appeared” (584).

In Trinidad is Indiërs as kontrakwerkers vir die suikerplantasies ingevoer omdat hulle beter arbeiders as die swartes is. Soos in Natal het hulle in die land aangebly pleks van na hulle geboorteland terug te keer. “Without them sugar cultivation in Trinidad and Demerara [Guyana] would cease altogether” (1080). “They are proud … and will not intermarry with the Africans” (1046). “[The Asiatic] comes to work. The negro does not want to work, and both are satisfied. But if there is no jealousy there is no friendship. The two races are more absolutely apart than the white and the black. The Asiatic insists the more on his superiority in the fear perhaps that if he did not the white might forget it” (1087). Die Indiërs en swartes woon in aparte buurte (1067). Woongebiedskeiding op ‘n rassegrondslag is iets natuurliks. Dit is nie iets wat slegs vanweë rasse-segregasie of apartheid aan mense opgedring word nie. “Between whites and blacks no relations remained save that of employer and employed. They lived apart. They had no longer, save in exceptional instances, any personal communication with each other. The law refusing to recognise a difference, the social line was drawn the harder, which the law was unable to reach” (1488).

Oor die aanwesigheid van rassisme by swartes, wat deesdae graag ontken word, bestaan daar geen twyfel nie. “The blacks hate the mulattoes” (1368; ook 2961). “The mulattoes despised the blacks, and would not intermarry with them” (2961). “The black does not love the mulatto, and despises the white man who consents to be his servant” (1246) – soos bv verloopte Afrikaners in die nuwe Suid-Afrika doen. Dit is ‘n geval van “social exclusiveness increasing with political equality” (2961). “In Hayti the black republic allows no white man to hold land in freehold. The blacks elsewhere with the same opportunities will develop the same aspirations” (1259). Dít kan die onderliggende motief van die ANC-regime se beleid van die onteiening sonder vergoeding van blankes se eiendom wees.

“The future of the blacks and our own influence over them for good, depend on their being protected from themselves” (1273). “The blacks whom, in a fit of virtuous benevolence, we emancipated, do not feel that they are particularly obliged to us. They think, if they think at all, that they were ill treated originally, and received no more than was due to them, and that perhaps it was not benevolence at all on our part, but a desire to free ourselves from the reproach of slaveholding” (1705). Insgelyks word geredeneer dat die nuwe Suid-Afrika nie aan FW de Klerk se goedertierenheid te danke is nie. Hy het glo geen ander keuse gehad nie. “[The blacks] were persuaded that they were an oppressed people and required fuller liberties” (2249).

“[In] the West Indies … the negro vote would make a residence there for an energetic and self-respecting European less tolerable than in any other part of the globe. The republic of Hayti not only excludes a white man from any share of the administration, but forbids his acquisition or possession of real property in any form” (2310). “The presence of Europeans in any form is barely tolerated. A few only are allowed to remain about the ports” (2563). “They are called ‘white trash'” (4707). Hierdie frase, wat deesdae vryelike in anti-blanke literatuur gebruik word, kom dus uit die verre verlede. “There is a saying in Hayti that the white man has no rights which the blacks are bound to recognise” (2670). “I had left that miserable cross-birth of ferocity and philanthropic sentiment [Hayti]… The ninety years of negro self-government have had their use in showing what it really means” (4734). Dit lyk asof die nuwe Suid-Afrika streef na die voorbeeld wat Haiti stel. Blankes word grootliks uit die staatsdiens geweer en grondonteiening sonder vergoeding is in aantog.

“The possession of a vote never improved the character of any human being and never will” (2317). As aktiewe terroriste was die ANC moreel reeds bankrot genoeg. Die ANC as regime bevestig herhaaldelik al die vrese wat die blankes van hom as terroristiese monster gehad het. Dink aan hoe sommige ANC-kornuite verstik in merietelose oorvergoeding en ongebreidelde korrupsie. “Democracies are always extravagant. The majority, who have little property or none, regulate the expenditure. They lay taxes on the minority, who have to find the money, and have no interest in sparing them” (3002). In Suid-Afrika is dit by uitstek die nie-swartes wat eiendomsbelasting en vir munisipale dienste betaal. Elke jaar ruk hierdie situasie al hoe meer handuit sodat die befondsing op die vlak van plaaslike regering glad nie volhoubaar is nie. “The blacks object to taxes. As long as there are white men to pay them, they will be satisfied to get the benefit of the expenditure” (3202). Onlangs is daar in Soweto getoog vir die reg op gratis elektrisiteit.

“The Radical faith is this: all men are equal … Right is right because the majority so declare it, and justice is justice because the majority so declare it” (3481). Daarenteen is Froude se standpunt: “We have no … right to make the emancipated slave his master’s master in virtue of his numbers” (3891). “[The blacks should be] allowed such freedom as they are capable of using [wisely]; they can be allowed more as they are better educated and more fit for it” (3898). “I presume no one can seriously expect that an orderly organised nation can be made out of the blacks, when, in spite of your schools and missionaries, sixty per cent of the children now born among them are illegitimate” (4579). Dit is bekend dat die meeste swart kinders in Suid-Afrika in enkelouergesinne grootword. Ten spyte van alles bly Froude idealisties optimisties: “You can do for the West Indies … what you do for the East [eg India]; you can establish a firm authoritative government which will protect the blacks in their civil rights and protect the whites in theirs … By keeping the rule in your own hands you will restore the white population to their legitimate influence; the blacks will again look up to them and respect them as they ought to do … in such following and obedience their only hope of improvement lies” (4579).

“As for the West Indies there are but two genuine alternatives: one to leave them to themselves to shape their own destinies, as we leave Australia; the other to govern them as if they were a part of Great Britain with the same scrupulous care of the people and their interest with which we govern Bengal, Madras [Chennai], and Bombay [Mumbai]. England is responsible for the social condition of those islands. She filled them with negroes when it was her interest to maintain slavery, she emancipated those negroes when popular opinion at home demanded that slavery should end. It appears to me that England ought to bear the consequences of her own actions, and assume to herself the responsibilities of a state of things which she has herself created” (4874). In hierdie konteks verwys Froude na die newetitel van sy boek: “The bow of Ulysses [the hero of Homer’s Odyssey] is sound as ever; moths and worms have not injured either cord or horn; but it is unstrung and the arrows which are shot from it drop feebly to the ground” (4901).

Die kern van Froude se boodskap is: “The theory of constitutional government is that the majority shall rule the minority, and as long as the qualities, moral and mental, of the parties are not grossly dissimilar, such an arrangement forms a tolerable modus vivendi. Where in character, in mental force, in energy, in cultivation, there is no equality at all, but an inequality … to expect that the intelligent few will submit to the unintelligent many is to expect what has never been found and what never ought to be found. The whites cannot be trusted to rule the blacks, but for the blacks to rule the whites is a yet grosser anomaly” (3602). Op grond hiervan kan geredeneer word dat die ou Suid-Afrika beter was as wat die nuwe Suid-Afrika is.

Ten spyte van al die ontnugtering wat Froude in Wes-Indië te beurt geval het, het hy merkwaardig optimisties gebly. “The equality between black and white is a forced equality and not a real one, and nature in the long run has her way, and readjusts in their proper relations what theorists and philanthropists have disturbed” (3400). Froude het hom in vele opsigte vir verlore sake beywer. Ten minste in hierdie sin het hy aan my en hopelik aan (baie) ander Afrikaners ‘n navolgenswaardige voorbeeld gestel. “Even when a cause is lost utterly, and no rational hope remains, I would still go down, if it had to be so, with my spirit unbroken and my face to the enemy” (2664). Dit is ongerieflik om ‘n Afrikaner-bittereinder te wees, maar dit is nie verkeerd nie.


Froude se boek oor die Wes-Indiese eilande is heftig aangeval, veral deur swart Wes-Indiërs. Die bekendste kritiek het uit Trinidad van John Jacob Thomas (1841-1889) gekom in sy boek, Froudacity: West Indian fables by James Anthony Froude (Good Press, 1889/2019, 142p; Amazon Kindle $3,20). Soos verwag kon word, word Froude van rassisme, beswaddering, laster, paternalisme, kwaadwilligheid, roekeloosheid, eensydigheid, gemeenplasigheid, onkunde, ens, beskuldig; ook van vermetelheid (“audacity”) – dit is immers waarop die hooftitel van die boek sinspeel. Froude word selfs “this apostle of skin-worship” (Kindle 1173) en “this prophet of evil” (1193) genoem. Maar Thomas is deur mede-swartes verwyt dat hy nie radikaal genoeg pro-swart en anti-blank is nie. ‘n Opsomming van Thomas se kritiek is onder die opskrif “Froudacity” op Wikipedia gepubliseer. Eintlik gebruik Thomas sy boek nie net om Froude af te kam nie, maar ook om in besonderhede sy besware teen bv die (blanke) Britse goewerneurs, regters en magistrate te lug.

Ek het in besonderhede oor Froude se boek geskryf omdat hy idees verkondig wat deesdae onderdruk word. Thomas, daarenteen, propageer al die oorbekende drogredenasie waarmee ons daagliks gekonfronteer word. Sy boek toon hoe lank reeds dieselfde argumente herhaal word. My kernbeswaar is dat Thomas oor en oor beweer dat die verskil tussen blankes en swartes bloot velkleur (“mere colour” – (926), dus pigmentasie (“purely epidermal” – 989), is; ook genoem “skin-prejudice” (894) en “skin-superiority (1102). “Are we to be grateful that the colour difference should be made the basis and justification of the dastardly denials of justice?” (855). Die blankes word verwyt vir “the cheap condition of showing a simple bodily accident erected by themselves into an evidence and proof of superiority” (1442).

In werklikheid gaan dit nie om velkleur nie maar om die (groot) kulturele verskille tussen blankes en swartes, dus verskille in lewenswyse, hoe daar gedink en gehandel word; ook ontwikkelingsverskille. Soos ek dink Thomas dat ontwikkelings/prestasie-verskille ‘n sikliese verskynsel kan wees: “In the past different races have successively come to the front, as prominent actors on the world’s stage” (1765). Maar hy oordryf heel moontlik: “The European world is looking with wonder and admiration at the progress made by the Negro Race – a progress unparalleled in the annals of the history of any race” (1938). Ras is nie ‘n ignoreerbare konstruk wat onnodig uitgedink is nie. Ras is deel van die onontwykbare werklikheid. Waarom is daar sedert 1994 geen sprake van ‘n nie-swart president, vise-president of nie-swarte in watter hoë (politieke) pos ook al nie? Omdat swartes die werklikheid van ras erken. Omdat swartes (ten alle koste) mede-swartes in topposte wil hê, dus mense wat soos hulle dink en doen. As pigmentasie die enigste verskil tussen blankes en swartes was, sou dit om ‘t ewe gewees het of bv ‘n blanke of ‘n swarte die president van Suid-Afrika was.

Thomas is erg neerhalend en beledigend teenoor Froude. Hy word bv smalend oor en oor ‘n profeet of filosoof genoem. Soos verwag kon word, word die blankes vir die “hideous atrocities of slavery” verwyt (54) – “the trade in African flesh and blood” (1277). Haiti is reeds meer as drie eeue lank die toonbeeld van swart rassisme, maar Thomas noem die besware wat Froude teen Haiti opper “perversity gone wild in the manufacture of analogies” (80). Mungo Park (1771-1806) word genoem as een van die blanke ontdekkingsreisigers wat “the natural friendliness of the Negro in his ancestral home” ervaar het (1153). Maar Park het in Wes-Afrika verdrink omdat hy deur vyandige swartes aangeval is. Froude is oortuig daarvan dat rasseskeiding natuurlik is. Thomas verwys egter na “the inevitable atttaction of one race to the other by the sentiment of natural affection” (1823). Die result is “Mulattos” (1836). Die Britse immigrante wat hulle in Wes-Indië gevestig het, dink anders as Thomas oor ras: “That class of them [Anglo-Saxons] who had left Britain were likelier than the more refined of their nation to exhibit in its crudest and cruellest form the innate jealousy and contempt of other races that pervades the Anglo-Saxon bosom” (1856).

Volgens Thomas “the Negro voter would elect representatives whom he knew he could trust for competency in the management of his affairs, and not persons whose sole recommendation to him would be the possession of the same kind of skin” (1347). Is ons ondervinding in die nuwe Suid-Afrika dat die meerderheid kiesers glad nie kleurbewus is nie? “No one can deserve to govern simply because he is white, and no one is bound to be subject simply because he is black” (1436). Maar in die nuwe Suid-Afrika regeer die swartes bloot omdat die meerderheid kiesers swart is en die blankes is teen wil en dank die onderdane of tweedeklasburgers omdat hulle die minderheid is. “At present most officials are appointed (locally at least) according to their merit, and not to their epidermis” (1442). In die nuwe Suid-Afrika, daarenteen, word baie, waarskynlik die meeste, aanstellings en bevorderings deurslaggewend op grond van ras (swart) en geslag (vroulik) gedoen pleks van bekwaamheid.

Die polities verligte Julia Markus (Praag 27.06.2020) hou van Thomas se verweer. Hy “accurately described Froude’s quick and incorrect assessment of different island peoples … Yet it is the subtitle of another book of criticism [by Davis N Darrell, 1888], Mr Froude’s negrophobia, that best describes Froude in the West Indies: Don Quixote as a Cook’s tourist. It could not be said better” (4974).

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