Helen Zille got it completely wrong

2017-06-09 08:44

So Helen Zille has been suspended over claims that colonialism brought motorcars, aeroplanes, tarred roads among other technology to Africa. The DA got it right.

Hellen Zille's narrative is wrong on several fronts. It paints all whites with the colonialist brush. Many were simply migrants running away from poverty and disease (such as The Black Death) in Europe.

She claims colonialists brought technology which did not even exist when colonialism happened. If colonialists are to be credited with bringing motor cars and aeroplanes to South Africa then the ANC should be credited with bringing smartphones. It is a fact we all started using smartphones during ANC rule.

Her tweets also reveal that she holds a deeply racist belief that Africans could not have adopted technology had they not been colonized. To me that is as good as telling me that I cannot be a competent engineer today because I am African. If you believe my forefathers were too stupid to learn technology why should you believe that, I a person with their genes, am competent enough to learn to say design a power system or build a motor car?

Below I highlight just three of the lies that Helen Zille seems to treat as gospel truth.

Lie number 1. Colonialism brought whites to Africa.

Despite people's perception Jan Van Riebeeck did not come as colonialist. He was simply a migrant riding on a boat, seeking better life and wealth. Just like the thousands trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea today.

Thousands of other Europeans who came to this continent over three entire centuries, between Vasco da Gamas journey to India in the 15th century and the late 19th century, also did not come as colonialists. They were simply migrants seeking wealth.

Things turned nasty when vampires like Cecil John Rhodes, Lothar von Trothar and Leopold II of Belgium started grabbing everything of value and murdering Africans en masse.

Colonialism is not the only means of migration. When did China colonise the USA for there to be so many Chinatowns there.

Besides Robert Moffat in the late 19th century there were many Europeans living 'native'. These were wiped from history books because mentioning them would have proved that segregationist policies and laws were nonsense.

The immorality laws that were passed in Rhodesia and South Africa were aimed at stopping white men from 'going native'. Those laws did not stop white men from breeding an entire Coloured race with black women.

Lie Number 2: Colonialism brought technology to Africa

If I may ask, what model car was Cecil John Rhodes driving? What was his private aeroplane like? There is no answer because those things did not exist at all during his time. When he organised his band of bandits he called the pioneer column, to go and colonise my country, it was not transported by a fleet of superlink trucks, but ox-drawn wagons, most of the oxen stolen from the natives some bought.

Therefore Cecil Rhodes and his fellow colonialists could not have brought cars, airports and tarred roads to Africa because those things did not exist in the whole world.

Yes indeed technology was improved worldwide during the time Africa was colonized. However, through denial of rights to Africans, colonialism actually held Africa back from adopting the emerging technology together with the rest of the world. Africa was not short of people with intellectual capacity. Rather most of them were forced to abandon their chosen professions and fight the system that oppressed them. Nelson Mandela first chose to be a lawyer but he ended up holding a gun fighting for his freedom, and ultimately a prisoner.

Lie Number 3: Africans do not have the capacity to adopt technology

Helen Zille clearly implies that if there was no colonialism, Africans could not have adopted new technology. None of the things she mentions was invented in Russia. Can she tell us, when was Russia colonized for it to become a manufacturer of jets, cars and even nuclear bombs? We could ask the same question of China and Japan.

Adoption of technology was happening in Africa without colonialism. Some clans on the central plateau had acquired gunsmithing and gun powder making skills from the Portuguese. The term gokoro re unga is Shona for the place for making gunpowder. Some families including my great-grandfather owned such locally made muskets.

Africans definitely had mining and metalworking skills as well. We did not import spears from Europe did we. All that mining and metalworking skill, however rudimentary it was, was eradicated not enhanced by colonialism. That not one post-colonial African can identify iron ore and make spears, is an example of how colonialism removed African knowhow and replaced it with nothing.

Yes we do have skilled Africans today, most of us were only allowed to acquire those skills after colonialism ended.

In short Helen Zille's views on colonialism are not only based on false assumptions, but reveal a deeply racist psyche.
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