This book is Dominique Lapierres epic account of South Africas tragic history and the heroic men and women — famous and obscure, white and black, European and African — who have, with their blood and tears, brought to life the co
untry that is today known as the Rainbow Nation.
By M. V. KAMATH
Western nations talk Human Rights today as if they have just discovered them and want to enforce them wherever they think it is necessary. Their arrogance is a huge joke. If only they remember what they did in the 17th century onward, but more especially in the 18th and the 19th centuries and even right up to the 20th, they will shut up.
The most guilty nations are European – and they include Netherlands, Denmark, France, Spain, Portugal and, of course, Britain. They were primarily barbarian.
The ‘invasion’of South Africa started with the founding of the Dutch East India Company in 1602. By 1688, some 175 Huguenots landed at the Cape of Good Hope.
What followed thereafter is history at its most brutal.
The Dutch took possession of land that belonged to the blacks. Later the British followed and fought a war against the Dutch, not to establish justice, but to capture power. And both the Dutch and the British went after the native blacks, took possession of their land, deprived them of their freedom, treated them as slaves, put down their rebellion, and despised them as beasts to be treated as animals.
If the British treated the Dutch badly, both treated the blacks much worse. The latter were dispossessed of their land under Native Land Act that Lapierre says is ‘one of the greatest acts of dispossession in history’. The white man deprived the black man of the most bountiful and productive land and ‘overnight hundreds and thousands of poor blacks found themselves obliged to leave their villages, their farms and their bones’. Apartheid came into existence. Reading Lapierres story of Nelson Mandela who fought for his countrys freedom and self- respect, ones blood boils at the thought of how he was treated. Lapierre tells us how the African National Congress came into existence way back on January 8, 1912 as ‘the incarnation of black South Africas non- racial and non- violent crusade for equality and liberty’and how ‘after spending twenty eight years in a white prison, one of its heroes would become the first President of a multi- racial and democratic South Africa’. And who is he? Nelson Mandela, of course. Certainly, there were other leaders before him like Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisulu. But it was Mandela who paid the heaviest price. The way the African National Congress and later the Youth League were formed remind us of how the Indian National Congress was formed. Their credo, writes Lapierre ‘still held to the ideal of nonviolence, the ANC had originally taken from Mohandas Gandhi’. But that ideal was not to last.
The manner in which apartheid was being enforced – talk of Human Rights! – on the blacks called for militant defiance. The ANC, under Mandelas leadership, set up an operation called the Defiance Campaign, with just one objective – the abolition of the heinous laws promulgated by the apartheid state. Defiance began on June 26, 1952. As the British did in India, during the Salt Satyagraha movement, the white government put 20,000 blacks behind bars. Worse followed, forcing Madela to say: ‘The time for passive resistance has ended. Passive resistance has been a useless strategy. It will never overturn a white minority regime… Violence is the only weapon that will destroy apartheid.’What followed then is just unbelievable.
A whole town of 60,000 blacks was bulldozed, driving people into homelessness.
Soon, some 4 million blacks suffered the same fate. Blacks were arrested arbitrarily, abducted, interrogated, tortured and executed mercilessly. Some 250 Namibian prisoners- of- war were dropped into the sea from high- flying planes. Poisoning of blacks was attempted.