Letters to the editor: June 15 to 22 2017

Dispossessed: A reader maintains that ‘settler denialists’ blame the Nguni people for displacing the Khoikhoi and San, when in fact black clans intermarried with the indigenous people. (Florilegius/Leemage)

Dispossessed: A reader maintains that ‘settler denialists’ blame the Nguni people for displacing the Khoikhoi and San, when in fact black clans intermarried with the indigenous people. (Florilegius/Leemage)

The exterminators were VOC and Boer troops

  It is scary that 23 years after apartheid was overthrown “an Englishman now living in South Africa” parrots exactly the official line that was pushed by the apartheid regime’s department of information brochures, school history books and the then SABC (There are two sides to colonialism’s legacy)

Richard Garratt alleges that “the Nguni people colonised Southern Africa, displacing indigenous people, [San and Khoikhoi] marginalising them, and displacing them ruthlessly to its desert regions”. All that he left out was the rest of that official line: “until the white man brought law and order”.

San/Bushmen lived everywhere from Lake Chrissie in Mpumalanga to the Transkei and Free State more than 1 000 years after Nguni and other Iron Age cultivators arrived. It was a century of genocide by Boer and Dutch East India Company (VOC) commandos that exterminated them where they lived.
Read Mohamed Adhikari’s The Anatomy of a South African Genocide: The Extermination of the Cape San Peoples.

It seems the settler variant of Holocaust denialism is displacement – to project the atrocities of white invaders on to their current political opponents – the black majority.

The Nguni and other black clans did not “displace” but intermarried with and assimilated the local Khoikhoi, from Mapungubwe on the Limpopo to the Eastern Cape. Jeffrey Peires’s The House of Phalo devotes an appendix to listing how one-third of today’s Xhosa clans are entirely Khoikhoi by ancestry.

Contrast this assimilation with the white settlers designating Khoikhoi as “half-castes”, “Basters”, “coloureds”; dispossessing them from their pastures, enserfing them as “apprentices” and “displacing ruthlessly” the Griqua from Saldanha Bay district to the semidesert north of Griqualand West.

The calls for decolonisation of university syllabuses fall short of how to unbrainwash whites who never went to university, or learnt the last-century settler hagiography of Die Groot Trek and Rhodes. Perhaps TV and the internet could be used to remedy the cultural damage wreaked not by only apartheid, but apparently also English colonial mythology? – Keith Gottschalk, Cape Town

For and against a Zille apology

I can no longer be silent when a great injustice is being played out in our country.  Helen Zille has, all her life, fought against injustice.

As a young reporter she and her editor, Allister Sparks, exposed the truth about the death of Steve Biko at the hands of the apartheid police force, at considerable risk to herself. Since then she has gone on to work tirelessly against forces of evil and cruelty and to establish the party as a completely diverse band of people of different colours, creeds and background, according to the vision of Nelson Mandela in 1994.

How is it possible that she is now being treated as a criminal for an ill-advised remark on Twitter, expressing her excitement after having seen a state that has been transformed, after a comparatively short time, into a very efficient country. Her observations included the words “not entirely bad” in connection with colonialism, which had been an important contributor in Singapore.

To any English-speaker that says the term being used means that colonialism was not good but it had some positive implications. How can this be interpreted as Zille supporting colonialism? That Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane, despite knowing her well, took that misinterpretation up and led the attack against her is inexcusable. He has betrayed the trust I, and many others, had put in him to carry out the vision of a party that was going ahead to advance the vision of 1994.

My concern is: Will we ever get beyond looking backwards at all the wrong things done by our forefathers over many years, and start concentrating on doing things right, better and positively, in the future to realise a great future for all who live in the Beloved Country? – Rosemary Sundgren, Somerset West

■ Zille could sully her image forever and be put in the league of hard-core racists like Steve Hofmeyr and Dawie Roodt if she keeps on defending colonialism as salvation to the apparently ignorant and/or clueless.

Her legendary investigation and exposure of the National Party’s cover-up of the death of Steve Biko would soon be forgotten and disregarded by ANC supporters who were indoctrinated into believing that “freedom” was a won tennis match between Nelson Mandela and the apartheid government.

Please, Zille, apologise, whether you would be suppressing your true insight or not. The stand-off is not worth losing the legacy you have built till now. – Luyanda Marlon Kama, Port Elizabeth

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