Why It's Insensitive Of Mr Dave Steward To Justify Colonialism

2015-01-19 19:49

Dave Steward is the executive director of the FW de Klerk Foundation. He recently published an article in Independent Online titled ‘Excoriating whites not the way to go’, in protest of President Zuma and others’ continual lambasting of whites as the cause for all that bad in South Africa. This complaint was sparked in response to the recent ANC’s 103rd birthday celebrations held in Cape Town, at which the historical founder of the Cape Colony Jan Van Riebeeck was thoroughly vilified and denounced.

Mr. Dave Steward proceeds to state his issue against the ANC’s insistence that the arrival of whites in Southern Africa was disastrous to the indigenous inhabitants. He disproves this by adding matter-of-factly that Van Riebeeck had “strict instructions not to colonize the Cape and stayed for only 10 years before moving on.” But then everybody else didn’t ‘move on’, but they formed a colony, with magistrates, civil servants and ‘land lords’. This was orchestrated by the Dutch of Holland.

“Nevertheless, there is some truth in the charges”, he hesitantly admits in another paragraph. Mr Dave, like many other former oppressors of his ranks, concedes but only to a certain degree, which can be confusing, if not downright frustrating. He consequently makes a rather evasive confession that the expansion of Europeans did lead to the subjugation and dispossession of the Xhosa and the Zulu, among other native nations.

Bantu vs San Narrative

Mr. Dave Steward, who is a former ambassador to the United Nations, acknowledges that the atrocities of conquest and subjugation which came with colonialism are ‘more than enough reason for bitterness’, but he wryly advises that ‘history is never quite so (sic) simple as it sometimes appears’. Like most colonialism apologists, he elaborates by predictably employing the tried and tested counter argument that the Bantu themselves had conquered and slaughtered the San so to take possession of South Africa.

He does stick to the common fold by also separating the San (and Khoi) as a whole different race to blacks by ingeniously asking if they too should ‘complain that the arrival of [blacks] in South Africa was a disaster for them?’ He also audaciously claims in his unfounded accusation that the same San once occupied ‘the whole of South Africa’ before the alleged conquest by the Bantu, whom in his understanding were as guilty as the Whites they so condemned.

What Mr. Dave Steward will definitely not comprehend is the fact that there were three basic Khoi groups before colonialism, namely the Khoi, the Nama, and the San. The Khoi had settled in the very region that first fell victim to Dutch annexation – the Cape. The Nama seem to have interacted with some groups around the Limpopo region before moving westward to present day Namibia. The Nama and the Khoi might have led pastoral lives, while records suggest the San were more nomadic, like many other ethnic groups elsewhere in Africa, Australia, and the Americas.

A lot of cultural exchange and intermarriages happened between the Bantu groups and the Khoi, as evidenced in linguistic, cultural and genetic influences of the former in both the Nguni and Sotho nations. What a lot of European historians tragically fail to grasp is some Bantu tribes were formed or branched out in South Africa, as opposed to migrating as fully fledged nations from the enigmatic north. Those who accuse the Bantu of displacing the Khoi will have to cite evidence as to where exactly these acts were committed and by which particular tribe during which specific period.

Even if it were true that the Bantu had indeed bullied and conquered the Khoi, whites certainly didn’t find the Khoi enslaved to the Bantu like their ancestors did to black people all over the world. Many nations often competed for land and resources but sub human bondage was not practiced by the Bantu on the Khoi. It was actually the Dutch who almost exterminated the Khoi by warfare and insidious infection with deadly diseases. It was the Germans who almost exterminated the Nama and the Herero in Namibia.

Appalling Justifications

The act of colonialism in Southern Africa was more than a battle for land but was a planned subjugation and genocide of the indigenous people of Africa, as similar inhuman tactics and methods were applied across the continent and the world against black people in general. If the whites were simply interested in land due to space shortages in Europe they would have rather strategically pushed the Bantu and the Khoi futher north in the interior while they took possession of the coasts. But as history evidenced, the Europeans engulfed and destroyed ALL the native kingdoms and additionally subjected those they had conquered to their will and system of governance.

In yet another appalling attempt to soak the blood drenched coat of colonialism in waters of absolution without prior atonement, Mr. Dave insists that whites had not introduced warfare and social disintegration into the sub-continent. He fortifies his claims by pointing that the worst conflicts to afflict South Africa were the Mfecane wars, which he vindictively states ‘were unleashed by the president’s own people under their great King Shaka’.

As if to reference a great achievement, Mr. Dave Steward continues to suggest there would be no Union of South Africa had it not been for the British. He then disturbingly cites the founding of the ANC as one of the wonderful consequences of colonialism, along with other white valued contributions. Like one reasoning to retards, he points there would be no Cape Town and other great cities, had it not been for colonialism, which to his astonishment was being underappreciated by black South Africans.

But then, isn’t justifying a cruel and savage act of colonialism as civilization similar to a man justifying raping a young virgin as sex education? Do Mr. Dave and his fold not insult our ancestors’ intellect and humanity by making such insensitive remarks? How can we so bald-facedly justify infrastructural development as civilization while overlooking the conduct and attitude which came with its inception?

According to this alarmingly flawed hypothesis, if an Alien race with a more advanced technology than ours landed on our planet, then the same would be well justified to attack us violently, enslave us and then rule over us while they install their advanced systems for ‘our eventual benefit’. These aliens would have the right to destroy our governments, armies, rape our women, and even subdue our cultures, so long as they are helping to advance our primitive technology in the long run. But doesn’t civilization begin and end with how you treat the next person?

Blacks Should Be Grateful

“The fact is that, 21 years ago, the ANC took over the governance of by far the most developed country in Africa”, insists Mr. Dave Steward. Like many ignorant whites, Mr. Dave is overly gratified by esthetic development, while overlooking the horrid mental and emotional wounds inflicted by the system of colonialism. This is like a rapist saying, ‘Yes I raped you, but I also bought you nice things’. He assumes the indigenous nations would have never developed had it not been for ‘white contribution’.

Mr. Dave Steward, who was FW De Klerk’s chief of staff during his presidency, goes on to say, “Despite apartheid, the black population of South Africa was in many respects more advanced than any other people in Africa.” In this, he echoes the sentiments of the forefathers of apartheid, who defensively and arrogantly insisted black lower class townships were basically an improvement from pre-colonial mud huts, and thus expected blacks to show gratitude rather than protest.

Quite ironically, Mr. Dave Steward concludes his awfully skewed opinion piece by ‘respectfully’ reminding the president “to pay a little more attention to healing – rather than deepening – divisions of the past”. But I feel such opinions by the likes of Mr. Dave will similarly go a long way in doing exactly what he critiques President Jacob Zuma of – deepening the divisions of the past.

Indeed, I neither support the ruling ANC’s consistent jabs at whites in general, since they supposedly made peace with the latter and have had 20 years of power to rectify the imbalances and injustices brought about by colonialism and apartheid. As the president of a democratic Rainbow Nation, Mr. Zuma was supposed to acknowledge the past and its present challenges without resorting to name calling and sowing racial divisions in the process.

Likewise, whites should sensibly avoid justifying the inhumane and barbaric deed of colonialism for whatever deemed reasons. What we expect from the white minority, which ‘unduly benefitted’ from colonialism, is to acknowledge and show remorse on behalf of their ancestors and rather encourage forgiveness, unity and nation building, as opposed to seeking out counterproductive excuses so to evade responsibility, rededication and redress. The white private sector could have specifically invested a substantial more towards black education, social redevelopment and economic empowerment. ©

(Visit And Follow My Blog on Twitter: @JustSmartRage)

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