“This chapter is an extended digression,” Biella informs the Group. “But, it’s handy backstory for the environment the YM grew up in. What’s most interesting is how, later, he came to see much metaphor in this historical recounting. Also, he noted, to himself, his account of the history was based on his schooling, an account which at the time he had no reasons to doubt. He purposely related an un-updated account, sharing what had been his perspective at the time of the YYM.” Nora grins, “Thoughtful of him.” “Yes, however, as ever, be careful of inference and assumption, the usual, as usual, does not apply.”
5/8, 7:24pm The Young Man: – Back to the next incident.
L: – “Listening…”
The Young Man: – This one happened on one of the first days of school. The town we lived in until age nine was very small. Right in the heart of nowhere. The town was mainly Afrikaans speaking, with literally only a handful of English speaking families. I only knew of one other family at the time which was English speaking who had kids. One slightly younger than me. Strangely enough our families weren’t friends. I barely knew that boy.
L: – “Were your parents from Britain? Expats?”
The Young Man: – Friendliness between English and Afrikaans speaking kids was not always a given.
No – Both my parents’ ancestry is South African. My father’s side ancestry goes back to the very first white settlers to arrive in Southern Africa. Before even blacks came to be in that part of the continent. They were migrating in from the north at the time of what is now South Africa. Thus I have more South African ancestry than many black South Africans. 🙂 Both my parent’s fathers for many generations were born in South African but both my grandmothers had been from England. Hence English as the home language. It had been so for a few generations.
L: – “Wow… That history, fascinating story.” “👑 👙”
The Young Man: – Haha. Yeah, I am African by any definition. 🙂 An African is someone born in Africa. And if you want to extend it, who also has African ancestry. Mine go back I believe more than a dozen generations.
The animosity and prejudice between English and Afrikaans was no longer overt in the society at large. Yet lingered. And as kids do, would resurrect when looking for a reason to justify bullying. Not in any significant way. But had very real roots. My parent’s parents or grandparents could have been interned by the British in the world’s first concentration camps, as we now know them, during the Boer War at the turn of the 19th century.
L: – “Scary.”
The Young Man: – Yeah. Since you like the history, a little bit more… The Dutch were the first Europeans to settle the Cape, via a large Corporation at the time. Germans were included in those early settlers, which are my fathers’ roots. Over time employees left the company to establish farms to grow produce to supply the ships of the Corporation, growing to a sizeable population. After about 150 years the British decided they needed to have the Cape for strategic reasons. British Empire days, early 1800s. So they came and annexed the Cape.
L: – “Interesting. I too have German roots. The Brits were quite eager for more in a negative way. Not that Germany was a saint lol.”
The Young Man: – Lol no, but the British are certainly one of history’s chief troublemakers on a more global scale. Along with annexation and British rule came British law and English as the official language. One of those the abolition of slavery. Now interestingly enough, the Settlers, or as they called themselves, the Afrikaners, the Dutch way of saying Africans, actually mostly agreed with the abolition of slavery. Other problems with British rule followed.
L: – “Yep. Interesting they abolished slavery in Africa, then imported to America!”
The Young Man: – At that time the British were no longer in America. American slavery was mostly an American thing. The British law which prohibited slavery was sudden, with no realistic compensation policy. A major issue, causing significant economic disruption. Plus a number of other issues caused trouble. So some of those settlers, about 20%, said, fine, we didn’t ask for you to be here and we disagree and there’s nothing we can do about it in the enclave of the Cape, so we’ll go. And that’s just what they did.
L: – “Your family have slaves?”
The Young Man: – And the Great Trek, as it was called, begun. Similar to the pioneers of America going out west. Except in the case of the Great Trek it was organized on a relatively large scale. A significant portion of the society pretty much moving to set up their own country.
I don’t know specifically, but I assume so. Everyone’s ancestors at one time had slaves. And also at one time were slaves. The Romans enslaved everybody for instance. Africa has a history of slavery dating back long before the Romans. Ancient texts have many stories of slavery. The bible is a good example. Everyone’s ancestors were slaves and slavers at some point.
People forget Slavery in Africa is rampant. All over the world really. There’s this myth slaves were hunted down and captured along the beaches of Africa a la Roots. But that’s by far the exception. Most slaves from Africa were bought, in the pre-existing slave markets, going back to biblical times from *African* slavers. Lol, people don’t remember their history, the black slaves in Rome for instance.
L: – “Interesting. Must have been treacherous in Africa to trek!! Roots = U.S. slave history.”
The Young Man: – Yes and no, not too much on the trek. At least not initially The trek there was more like if they had started from California. Once crossing the mountains into the interior most of it’s like Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico.
In that area there were nomadic Bushman and Hottentot for indigenous people. Neither of which were a hostile problem to the settlers except as occasional livestock thieves. They moved through a huge area which was primarily unpopulated. The blacks, or Bantu tribes, as blacks in that part of Africa are known, had moved into the north and north east of the country, where they were moving to, to be outside British influence. There yes, it was more treacherous. But, firearms and horses provided an overwhelming advantage.
Lol Yeah on Roots. And of course whenever one’s history comes from Hollywood it’s going to be distorted.
L: – “Haha no! (lol)”
The Young Man: – The Trekkers move to the interior and set up their Orange Free State, as they called it, and lived happily for a little while, content to just do their own thing. Having much of the Amish type of mindset, similar in essence. Amish just a bit more extreme in certain aspects. Like the way they dress. The Trekkers were religiously similar and were also very keen on being left to their own devices. Then some idiot went and discovered a huge find of Diamonds. Right on the southern side of the new Free State.
L: – “Fascinating!”
The Young Man: – …of course the British had to get their greedy paws on the diamonds. So they come and annex the Orange Free State. Our independence minded Trekkers up and leave again. Moving further north, encountering more Bantu tribes. But they succeed, through treaty, hostilities and such, to establish another country. The Transvaal this time. There they live happily for a while.
Until of course another bloody idiot goes and discovers huge gold deposits Right in the middle of their new country. This is about 1870 or so. And of course what happens?
L: – “? Lol. Bloody hell! The British keep coming and coming!!”
The Young Man: – “Yeah you guessed it, the British come and annex them again!” “Put out, but not undaunted, the independence needing Trekkers move yet again! This time the only place to go is the east coast of Natal. Homeland of the Zulus. But the Zulu are also relatively new to Natal, having migrated south from central Africa. Only a couple hundred years, so there’s still land available. And as a power, they can be negotiated with.
So they live more or less happily again for a while. 🙂
By this time the gold mines are going gang-busters. Big time international business.
Yeah, poor guys. remember, they have Amish mindsets. Just want to be left alone to be God-fearing and all that. What you do is your business, just leave me alone to do mine. That’s the mentality and prime philosophy. None of the conquering attitudes of the British, or money grubbing. But of course they are also now much fewer, attrition to the diamond and gold mines and of course to the various wars with hostiles. Most choosing to remain in the annexed territories.
The rapid growth of the gold mines caused a problem for the British. They needed to get the gold out of the deep interior that is the Transvaal, where Johannesburg is, out to the rest of the world. The nearest port, Cape town, is very far away. They need a better option.
In Natal of course! On the other side of our luckless independence seekers. Along come the British again, and of course Annex Natal!
L: – “Ha! The bastards!”
The Young Man: – This time at least the Zulu give the British plenty trouble. Yeah lol, it would be funny if it weren’t sad. Well the story doesn’t end there yet.
A much smaller group moves north and set up yet again a small republic, eventually also falling under British rule. We are closing in on the turn of the century.
Most of the Afrikaners are now of course living in what is then already called South Africa. Same as it is now geographically, but under British rule. British settlers have also come, as well as sizeable groups of religious refugees from France, but small compared to the Afrikaners.
So the Afrikaners have had their independent countries stolen by the British and were not happy. And there’s massive trouble with the mines. The British are again screwing over the Afrikaners. I don’t remember the details but it was one of the factors which led to the Boer wars around the turn of the century. Mainly they just didn’t like being under British rule, as indeed none of the colonies did.
L: – “Boer? Sorry, ignorant American alert.”
The Young Man: – Things are vastly more complicated with the mines needing huge amounts of labour. This attracts black migrant workers from all over the subcontinent. Lots of troubles.
Boer just means farmer. It’s how the Afrikaners called themselves. Kinda similar in meaning to Settler or Pioneer in America.
L: – “Ah.”
The Young Man: – So they fight two losing wars against the vastly outnumbering British army. Mostly guerilla tactics which are hugely successful. Which leads the British to put the women and children of the Afrikaners, or Boers, into the newly invented Concentration camps. First use of barbed wire for this purpose.
L: – “Sad!”
The Young Man: – Yeah. And the British use scorched earth policies to burn the farms of the Boers. They lose the wars, but it does lead to home rule in 1910.
Then comes the two world wars and all the stuff in between and after. South Africa is prospering very nicely thanks to the mining and is now coming to be a big deal when it comes to supplying minerals to the world. With the cold war after WWII the sea route around the Cape became important.
Britain has lost its world power status and has been replaced by America. All the former colonies are attaining Independence. But of course Britain is hanging on to South Africa as long as they can, due to the wealth. Well finally South Africa says, to hell with you, and gives Queenie the finger and declares a Unilateral Declaration of Independence. I was born at that time.
L: – “Yeah!”
The Young Man: – This of course does not go over well with the Empire, but since they are no longer an empire, there’s little the British can do. South Africa finally has its independence.
That’s how come there’s still left over animosity between Afrikaans speakers and English speakers by the time I start school. Of course the overwhelming majority of English speakers are South Africans and by this time and aren’t necessarily fond of the British either. But as is the nature of these things, discrimination is not particularly discriminating. Lol, I grew up a minority, discriminated against in South Africa. The ridiculous irony of this always amused me, but, I understood discrimination and learned how to deal with foolishness and prejudice of all kinds..
L: – “Lol.”
The Young Man: – A quick bit of extra history before connecting back to the incident, which takes place a few years after that new independence. Just in the interests of completeness.
After the UDI, a group of what really would be the exact equivalent of Trumpers today – ultra-conservatives, narrow minded, prejudiced etc, but a distinct minority, succeed in getting into power through massive gerrymandering and political manipulation. Much like Republicans have been doing here for a while now.
L: – “Yep.”
The Young Man: – They are the morons who institute Apartheid.Actually *removing* the franchise from some non-whites. It’s complicated because of the particular demographic peculiarities of South Africa. But essentially a process of full enfranchisement had begun, but reversed by these idiots.
Besides skilful political manoeuvres like the gerrymandering, they were clever propagandists, succeeding in staying in power this way. But the basic goodness and humanity that’s the core of the Amish mindset won the day in the end.
When the distortions of the propaganda and the underlying untruths could no longer be denied it gave way for the great handover of power.
L: – “Franchise? So it was really anti-apartheid?”
The Young Man: – Franchise as in vote. Before these monkeys, the National Party, South Africa had an enlightened leader, Smuts, ahead of his time. This is just after WWII. I suspect too ahead, which enabled the backlash, He went too fast for the ultra-conservative who still hankered after doing their own thing and weren’t too keen on sharing the vote, but the majority were fair-minded and thus the process had begun.
L: – “Ah.”
The Young Man: – Well Apartheid just means apart-ness., the propaganda selling point. Each to their own. Keep the races separate to avoid trouble and stuff like that. The Apartheid government played right in to that old trekker desire for freedom and the independence mindset of wanting to just be left alone to “do their own thing.” The nationalists manipulated the Amish-type mindset, that desire for separate living, for their racist ends. Pushing separate homelands for all the various groups and so on.
That Amish-like world-view is not actually a racist one. The Amish are not considered racist here in America, because they are choosing to be separate from other whites. But if they were in Africa then I’m assuming they would likely be thought of as racist. But really, it’s a separation based on religion and culture. Not race.
Now to me there’s a most fascinating end to the story of our independence and leave-me-alone loving Afrikaners. They were the bulk of the white population at the time of Apartheid’s end.
L: – “Listening…”
The Young Man: – When all the propaganda had come to be seen for what it was, and the facts of the reality became obvious, at the time just after Mandela is released from prison, despite still not publicly renouncing violence, which could have gotten him released long before that, crunch time comes for white South Africans.
The then South African president, FW De Klerk, who won the Nobel Peace Prize along with Mandela, is insistent the transfer of power be done *legally.*
A remarkable move. Historic. He calls for a referendum. The vastly minority white South Africans are called upon to *willingly* hand over power to the vastly majority non-white South Africans.
Which the majority of White South Africans vote to do. Amazing and profound to me. A confirmation of deep underlying Goodness. Truly remarkable. I don’t know of any other time in history where a minority willingly handed over power to a majority!!
L: – “So Mandela hype, propaganda?”
The Young Man: – Some. The propaganda I was referring to is the propaganda of the Nationalists, the bullshit they pushed regarding apartheid. The usual fear-mongering, playing on insecurities, and manipulating gullibility. Okay, quick bit on Mandela. He did become a truly good guy. But that was quite some time *after* his release and the handover of power.
Mandela was sent to jail for crimes of violence and as a lawyer, knew precisely what was what legally.
He also knew about Gandhi. Everyone in South Africa knew about Gandhi as he had spent time in South Africa.
Mandela, despite knowing abut Gandhi, chose violence as a means to overthrow the government. Yes of course there was a legitimate wrong that needed righting. But so was there in India.
L: – “Knew what about Gandhi? America totally 100% propagandised Mandela as a martyred saint! Oh okay.”
The Young Man: – Knew about the peaceful protests and their success. But that’s probably the, “Oh okay.” 🙂
Gandhi had already succeeded, using peaceful methods. There’s really no excuse for resorting to violent means to achieve political change. But much African culture was a culture of violence, where it was glorified.
L: – “Jeez. So tired of the total bs we are fed!!!!!!! Man, so sickening.”
The Young Man: – For instance, the legacy from Shaka Zulu days, you weren’t considered a man until you killed another man in battle. And traditionally you couldn’t marry either until you killed a man in battle. These were legacy cultural traditions in some of the black cultures. There are many different tribes in South Africa. Similar to the many Native American tribes. Each with their own language and culture. Very complicated demographics in South Africa. Such stuff was still in the culture at the time.
But that’s just one side of it. One of the largest and most influential groups at the time of the handover was the predominantly black Zionist Methodist Church. South Africa is a very complex place. That church was of course peaceful.
L: – “Ah the kill the gays church? Oh. Haha.”
The Young Man: – No no. This is a good church as they go, a large factor contributing to the peaceful handover of power. You’re thinking of a small group of Americans who started that church in Uganda. Far far away in a completely different part of the continent. Many countries in between. Fifty-four in the continent. It’s a diverse place, and not all black either.
Like lol, Gaddafi was African through and through, yet not black, same with most of his countrymen, and Egyptians and many other nations. Lol, like any continent, it’s a complex place with huge diversity. I’m always amused how people will say, “I’m going to Brasil,” or Argentina, but when they go to a country in the continent of Africa, they don’t say, “I’m going to Kenya,” or Egypt, or South Africa. Always it’s, “I’m going to Africa.” Lol, quite amusing.
L: – “Yah. Never mind. You typing for 7 hrs now!”
The Young Man: – To get back to Mandela. He was jailed for violence. Amazingly, if one looks at the details of the trial, more than half of those arrested with Mandela were not black. Ah, feels like 7 mins to me really!
L: – “Wow.”
The Young Man: – Everyone forgets the others. So amazing. But it’s all politicized and made into a black vs white thing, which of course it kinda largely is. Except, blacks in South Africa are not all the same, speaking many different languages and have distinct cultures and histories. There are also sizeable populations which are neither black nor white, like East Indian, mixed, and Chinese. Lol, a complex place.
Many White South Africans knew the Apartheid government was all wrong and had been trying to get in power and change things for a long time. The official white opposition party, lol, The Progressive Party, had one man one vote as their policy.
So while in jail Mandela becomes the symbol for the struggle and the myth starts.
I forget exactly how long but I think almost a decade or so before he was released he was offered his freedom. The only condition: he publicly renounce violence as a means for political change.
At that time things had already started to happen politically and socially. Slowly to be sure, but significant changes. One could clearly see the days of Apartheid were numbered.
But Mandela steadfastly refused to renounce violence as a means for political change. And stayed in jail far far longer than he needed to. But those later years for him being in jail didn’t matter much. He was in minimum security most of that time and journalists and leaders etc. were meeting with him regularly.
L: – “Huh. Interesting.”
The Young Man: – But De Klerk, the president at the time, another truly awesome guy, releases him anyway, no conditions. And orchestrates that historic and unique *peaceful,* in the end, legal transfer of power by a minority to a majority.
Voted for primarily by the descendants of those independence seeking Trekkers who never did find their separated independence.
I guess they did not heed Force of Circumstance. If they had, things would have been a lot different for them. The U had so clearly clearly let them know their ideal needed overhauling.
There’s just a bit more on Mandela. I like his story also, because even though he was a knucklehead in the beginning, he really did grow into and become the myth and became cool and awesome for real.
For instance, right after he became President in the new South Africa he makes a comment saying he is most likely going to nationalize the banks.
L: – “Lol, …”
The Young Man: – This sets off a fuss like he’s never seen. All his European and American friends are no longer friendly at all. Shades of communism and socialism rising up, sets all the economics a-quiver. At that time the Johannesburg Stock Exchange is the 5th largest in the world. Mandela’s silly comment is threatening the global economy.
His party rapidly back-pedals and calls for an economic summit in Europe. And, lesson learned, you may be President and a cultural legend, but that doesn’t mean you can be foolish in an economy which matters to the world’s financial stability.
That really seemed to be a wake-up call for Mandela. To me anyway. There’s nothing to connect that occurrence directly to his change, but from then on he started to display a distinct sobriety, more careful in what he said. He truly did become a great statesman.
He really did do some remarkable things, but all long after being released from jail. And after being president for quite a while. The first few years of his presidency he was considered a fool politically. The international community did not really want to have much to do with him, in the early days. Except Hollywood, the press, academics and that side of it. The people who used him for propaganda purposes.
But he really did turn into a truly great and good guy. And I love the post-president Mandela. He had a not-so-rosy past. He learned, and that I find Awesome. For me, honourable ideals are not enough, we need to have honourable methodologies also, especially when we know them to be available. Easier or more expedient is not an excuse to me when ethics are compromised.
<3 <3 <3
OK. I will leave it here on that good note. and return to the incident on one of my first days at school. An incident which is profoundly connected to being Aware of the issues involved with Difference. 🙂
Good good night dear L. Thank you for staying with me for so long. I truly hope it didn’t put you out in any way. The time for me doesn’t seem long at all. Not until you mentioned did I know so much had passed.
But I hope you are happily sleeping and doing *Dreaming* now. Dream well and dream Aware L. <3 I’ll carry on with the story soon as I can.
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