Monday, June 03, 2013

(HERALD ZW) White people are not sorry
Sunday, 02 June 2013 00:00

Let bygones be bygones, a cheerful Gordon Brown implored the people of Mozambique on a visit in 2005. Grilling Patrick Chinamasa in a television interview, Stephen Sackur, the BBC Hard Talk presenter, decried Zanu-PF’s relentless colonial rhetoric and asked if it was not “time to move on.”

It takes little imagination to understand why the white community in places like South Africa would prefer the black generality to quickly forget their apartheid past. A good black memory threatens the very butter on their bread.

The rapist demands forgiveness

There is quite a disconnect between black feelings of resentment and the optimistic let’s-sing-kumbaya-around-the-fire position taken by the white world. Their argument is you are no longer slaves, you are no longer segregated and you are no longer colonies, so from whence come your tears?

The whites have moved on but the blacks clearly have not.

The devilish violence meted out to white farmers in South Africa is telling. Some argue that these are merely robberies but the gratuitous nature of the attacks suggest otherwise. In one such sadistic attack a woman was cut through the groin right up to the neck, her intestines spilling out in the process. You need not go so far to steal a few hundred rands.

Black resentment toward the whites can be best explained through a rapist analogy. Consider a man who forces himself on a young woman and violates her in the most shameful way. The courts give him 15 years with hard labour.

If the two should meet after the service of his time it is unlikely the offended will be neutral. It would take quite some nerve for the man in question to demand that she forget the past and be hearty in his presence.

The abuses against the black man have not enjoyed even the little pleasure of seeing the offender sent away to a correctional facility. How then can he be asked to forget? The Israelis were so bitter they demanded that those who had violated them be sent to the gallows. Justice sometimes does require the payment of dues.

Given or taken?

[Ian Smith]

Ian Smith

The real problem is that the vast majority of blacks feel the white world is not sorry for its past sins.

Ian Smith and his fellow Rhodesians did not have an epiphany and suddenly realise the error of their ways. Right till the end (perhaps even till today) they never believed that blacks had a right to the dignity of equality.

They had to be coerced through violence to accept the humanity of the black man.

In the same way, the African Americans had to march and campaign to end segregation. This was not given out of white generosity or intellectual enlightenment.

Even after having managed these victories, the blacks continue to be discriminated in places of employment and other arenas of life.

These facts brought together send a clear message to blacks. While the white world might give outward expressions of oneness and equality their actions speak otherwise. If they believed in our equality they would give it, instead we are left to fight for basic rights.

An example is South Africa.

If the whites are truly sorry for their apartheid past why do they not voluntarily surrender lands that they stole in the name of apartheid, or even just half of them? The contradiction is similar to that of a robber who waylays a horseman, steals his beast and rides off pleading repentance.

The fact of the matter is that they will not voluntarily surrender that land because they are not sorry they took it.

The sincere restitute

It is worth noting that Britain has never apologised for its colonial past.

It has never offered an unqualified condemnation of its enthusiastic participation in slavery nor has it admitted that it enjoyed significant economic benefits from the same.

This is significant because it betrays British indifference to the evils they committed. Perhaps not even indifference, I have a lingering suspicion that the British are quietly fond of their imperial past.

They are certainly not overwhelmed with regret.

At those times that the white world has indeed been sorry for their actions they have followed up this remorse with concrete action.

Take the Irish potato famine for instance. Tony Blair offered an unreserved apology and accepted that those deaths were the direct consequence of a cruel British administration.

The Germans, especially contrite for their decidedly shameful Nazi past, went as far as building museums as an expression of their collective national regret. This was in addition to having paid punishing reparations to the allied governments.

The United States offers yet another example; during the Second World War the American intelligence services feared that Japanese Americans would side with their mother nation and launch attacks on American soil.

In a reactionary move that violated Americas said commitment to freedom and the rule of law, the authorities detained over 100 000 Japanese Americans without charge and placed them in camps. It was a form of imprisonment. Their crime was simply who they were.

In 1988 the Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 which allowed for the payment of $20 000 in reparations to each victim. In their estimation, an apology was not enough - words do come cheap.

It is against this background that it becomes clear that the white world is not truly sorry for the evils it has visited upon blacks both within its borders and here in Africa.

When will we get an apology without fighting for it?

The Kenyan Mau Mau fighters have had to fight the British in the courts. Britain was refusing to take responsibility for the tortures its military meted out to the African “savages’’.

What is even more troubling is that the British want to lay claim to assets acquired through the unjust actions of their predecessors but firmly reject any burden of responsibility and liability over violations that took place in acquisition of those assets.

In the same way, the African Americans are equally denied reparations.

The poverty of that community can be directly traced to racial segregation that denied them property rights, access to jobs and other economic opportunities.

This in turn gave birth to a menial underclass that had no access to the means of production. They have no inheritance to pass. They are locked in the poverty trap.

One would have thought the American conscience would recognise the injustice perpetrated against African Americans and seek to make amends.

Not so.

There are no special funds directed at African American communities to rebalance the economic unfairness brought about by racial segregation.

There are no special loans they can access to start businesses. There is no talk of reparations.

It is not difficult to understand why the white world treats the blacks so miserably.

They are just not sorry.

We may have forced their hand through armed struggle but they still harbour the same feelings they had on the eve of independence in 1980.

The hoisting of a black flag does not change a white heart.

We would be naïve to believe the Rhodesians were overnight turned into non-racialists.

The white farmers often complain that many farmers who lost their land had purchased it after receiving certificates of no interest from the government.

This is true.

What is curious is that not a single white African has ever come forward to accept that the land they owned was acquired through direct dispossession of the indigenous blacks.

Surely there should be at least a handful of such culprits. The fact of it is that they want to keep that land even if it was stolen.

How then can they claim they are sorry?

Politically incorrect as it is, my conclusion after an examination of the facts is that the white man is not sorry for his past misdeeds.

There is no evidence of contrition.

If anything, he continues to perpetuate domination but has cleverly modified his techniques to keep in step with civilised times.

Amai Jukwa is a loving mother of three. She respects Robert Mugabe, is amused by Tsvangirai and feels sorry for Mutambara.

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