De Klerk is no African

De Klerk is no African

I read a number of articles earlier this week in which FW de Klerk of The FW De Klerk Foundation was quoted as saying, “I am an African” during a lecture he gave on the 25th of October 2013. The lecture was the 12th Europe lecture in The Hague. It is no secret that he [De Klerk], for years, was part of a racist state apparatus whose business it was to oppress Africans for the sole purpose of looting for the economic benefit of whites; who until very recently classified themselves as European.

He is also responsible for violence and killings of Africans during the period of negotiations for the transition in to a democratic dispensation. More recently, in a CNN interview with Christiane Amanpour in May of 2012, De Klerk defended apartheid and refused to denounce it as morally repugnant. So such a person making such a declaration naturally roused suspicion.

I then decided, for the sake of thoroughness, to search for a recording of the speech and that mainly because my relationship with the mainstream media is that of mistrust; with very good reason too. I also wanted to avoid being accused of lacking context as the presidency did in its response to the outcry about President J Zuma’s latest gauchely gaffe about Africans; whatever context meant in that context.

I managed to find a written version of the speech published on The FW De Klerk Foundation’s website. The first point of curious interest was the title itself, “Europe in the World – A perspective from Africa and South Africa”. Which seems to separate South Africa from the rest of the continent.

De Klerk first talks about his personal relationship with Europe as a descendent of the French Huguenots. He also shared that his religion, culture, and language all have their roots in Europe. He stated that his ancestors came to South Africa in 1688, as if it was by invite or their coming was friendly in its nature. Curiously, what he does not mention however is that 1688 is also the year when they began on official policy of colonisation in the Cape. Which according to the Huguenot Society of South Africa, the first ship to arrive with that mandate, did so on April 13th of that year.

Strangely, he later goes on to say that around 115 years ago, “… my people fought one of the first and greatest anti-colonialist wars in the history of Africa. The Anglo-Boer war was the the costliest of the more than 40 wars that the British fought between the Napoleonic War and the First World War.” This is strange because the Boer themselves were colonisers.

De Klerk specifically excludes Africans when he says, “…my people…” This is evidenced by the fact that despite that war being officially referred to as the South African War, owing to the contribution of Africans, De Klerk refers to it as the Anglo-Boer War and therefore by direct implication, excludes Africans. Yet he cowardly evades the responsibility of saying it explicitly.

He states that despite his European roots, he regards himself as an African. That in itself is an admission, if not a declaration, that he is not an African. Africans do not regard themselves as such, they just are. He tries too hard, by further stating that he even supports African sports teams when they play. Something that has very little to do with being African but that only exposes the hypocrisy of his words.

Now I want to examine his claims that he strives to promote the interest of Africa in its relationship with other parts of the world. That examination of his carefully constructed speech reveals that FW De Klerk does not, in the slightest, have the interest of Africa in mind and in fact promotes European interest that are detrimental to those of Africa. Therefore his statement is a blatant lie that is not supportable even by the very same speech in which he makes the claim. It only serves as a political convenience.

His true interest and perception of Africans is laid bare in the following part of his speech:

For a relatively brief period of little more than 75 years -­‐ a single lifetime -­‐ Europe ruled its far-­flung possessions in Africa. Europeans built cities and railways; they developed agriculture and trade; they brought European education and religion -­‐ nearly always to their own advantage -­‐ but often also to the advantage of the peoples that they ruled. And then, at the end of the 50s and during the 60s they left -­‐ almost as suddenly as they had come.

The withdrawing tide of European rule left country after country floundering on the beach of independence, surrounded by the flotsam and jetsam of empire. Constitutions that were not rooted in African traditions and ideas of government were hastily written -­‐ and just as hastily torn up. Institutions of governance -­‐ independent courts and electoral commissions -­‐ were often too shallowly rooted to survive the harsh African sun. Little wonder then that in so many African countries power quickly reverted to those who controlled the guns -­‐ or the leaders of the most powerful tribal factions

De Klerk here follows the common racist rhetoric that is so ubiquitous among the comments by anonymous white South Africans in online news platforms and blogs; that Africans, being inferior, were waiting around in complete darkness for the Europeans to come and civilise them. That Europeans came here, built cities, educated us, and introduced trade and agriculture. Nothing could be further from the truth or more ridiculous for that matter.

Firstly, Africans developed agriculture before there was a single white person on earth. In an article titled, “An ancient harvest on the Nile” research done by Fred Wendorf, Romuald Schild and Angela E. Close indicated that between 17,000 and 18,500 years ago Africans were already engaged in agriculture; raising various crops. The same is true of the domestication of animals too, such as cattle which Dr. Charles M Nelson and his team found was happening 15,000 years ago, here in Africa.

So the arrogance that Europeans developed farming and agriculture in Africa is nothing more than a schizophrenic fantasy that has more to do with maintaining a system of racism than it does with reality or history.

And the idea that, in Africa, trade too was developed by Europeans is just as ludicrous. There is ample evidence demonstrating that Africans engaged in internal and inter-continental trade, with virtually every part of the world, way before Europeans even set foot on the continent of Africa. This fact alone, demonstrates that De Klerk still maintains delusions of superiority, and is enough to dismiss his claims outright.

Europeans, in their cold and brutal thirst for material, destroyed entire civilizations here, not just cities. They destroyed cultural systems, educational systems, economic systems, families and murdered hundreds of millions of Africans; they unleashed unprecedented levels of violence in the history of life itself. Ironically, this they did immediately after Africans lifted them out of their Dark Age and introduced them to an organised and civil way of life; during the approximate 700 year African rule of much of Europe ending around 1492.

Then De Klerk makes the outlandish suggestion that Africa’s problems are as a result of the sudden withdrawal of Europeans. In what I can describe as dishonesty of pathological proportions, he then concludes this point by saying, “…Little wonder then that in so many African countries power quickly reverted to those who controlled the guns -­‐ or the leaders of the most powerful tribal factions.”

One doesn’t need to be African to at least acknowledge the role of the so called West in these conflicts in Africa. Virtually every last one of the armed conflicts in Africa is a direct result of military interference by western countries, most times through proxies, hell-bent on regime change or control of mineral resources. To outright deny that or to attribute it to tribal factors is utter dishonesty.

As if such denial is not enough, De Klerk then characterises this imperialist relationship as a traditional alliance. First he laments the waning influence of Europe, and expresses a desire for Europe to regain that influence. For Africans, that influence has been one of destruction and impoverishment. One need not wonder then what he means when he says Europe needs to be stronger so it can play its proper role in Africa. The role he so desires, is without question that of imperialism.

In calling for the continuation of the imperialist policies of Europe in Africa, he sees Africa as a ground to extract raw mineral resources and invites Europe to do exactly that. He expresses no desire for Africa to control and beneficiate (to use a popular term) its raw materials in order to extract maximal value. He expresses no desire for an industrialised Africa that can guarantee its sovereignty.

De Klerk expresses no desire for the re-emergence of Africa as one of the world’s powers. He in fact states that Europe has to rise so as to, “… counterbalance the influence of the United States on the one hand and the growing influence of China and India on the other.” Nothing in his statements suggests a desire to see the balance of power in Africa’s favour.

In a typical European paternalistic attitude, he concludes by saying, “...Europe is going to have to give Africa much more attention in its strategic worldview.” What he succeeded in doing was to demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt that his loyalty lies with Europe.

A citizen of the Republic of South Africa; yes by all means but an African not by any measure.