Coenraad Bezuidenhout
Coenraad Bezuidenhout

Mbeki’s legacy — what legacy?

A flip through a KwaZulu-Natal newspaper the other day revealed former minister in the presidency Essop Pahad had been defending former president Thabo Mbeki’s legacy in front of a group of Durban students last week.

Rather hard-pressed by, among other, a few combative researchers from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) Centre for Civil Society, Pahad had a couple of interesting quotations attributed to him, some of the more brow-raising of which expected us to believe that: the government was in the habit of promising services to the people that it could not deliver; it was the norm for one administration to leave “gaps” for the next to “fill”; socialism was probably the only desirable alternative to remove class distinctions in service delivery; since everybody was going to die regardless of their HIV status, Mbeki’s administration prioritised the fight against pharmaceuticals selling expensive drugs above the efficient roll-out of anti-retrovirals and since it would boil down to him being seen as a tool of the West, Mbeki criticised Mugabe but resisted pushing for regime change in Zimbabwe.

With messages such as these, one may quite rightly ask what type of legacy it is that Pahad set out to salvage? I believe there is much the former minister can do to help the former president recover his lost honour. Therefore, regardless of whether the former minister may or may not agree that a change of tack would be in order, I would like to recommend one anyway, starting with some time out to catch a good movie and to read up a bit on political history.

Ron Howard’s Frost/Nixon graced our cinemas earlier this year. The movie may make Pahad recall something of his recent nightmare experience at the UKZN, but the truth is we have never had the equal of the Frost/Nixon interviews in South Africa. Knowing that it was indeed one of the former minister’s favoured scapegoats while in office, Pahad may also gesture to that fateful encounter in Die Wilderness between the architect of the “third force”, PW Botha, and his chief apologist, Cliff Saunders, a couple of years ago. But since no public broadcaster would touch PW’s last pearls of wisdom with a barge pole, Pahad would do well to cast his mind’s eye back even further.

If he did, he would learn that South Africa has had its fair share of fallen leaders. Before the Groot Krokodil (“Great Crocodile” as PW was known in Afrikaans) we had BJ Vorster. BJ was not only a contemporary of Nixon. Within the context of apartheid, the information scandal that felled Vorster was at least the equal of Watergate, which ended Nixon’s presidency. Both scandals entailed a range of unlawful activities that included money laundering, apparently with the knowledge of these two former heads of government. For Vorster it would have been about the consolidation of the apartheid regime; for Nixon, a victory in the ’72 election was at stake.

If he embarked on this journey, Pahad would find that Vorster had to vacate his position as prime minister in 1978 in much the same way that Mbeki did in 2008. While it was a parliamentary investigation that made a crisis of confidence in Vorster’s leadership a fait accompli, the fact that Parliament was entirely dominated by the National Party gave it much the same ring as Mbeki’s “recall” by the ANC. Pahad will also note that where the final chapter in Mbeki’s public life has yet to be written, Vorster met a rather dreary end when he had to stand down again after a short stint as ceremonial state president in 1979. The reason: a judicial enquiry — rumoured to be a witch hunt hastily arranged by his successor, PW — found that BJ always had deep knowledge of wrongdoings perpetrated in the name of the information scandal.

Had the cultural boycott not been in full swing and Frost could subject Vorster to an interrogation at the time, the latter would probably have been able to pronounce of Botha in his own characteristic drawl, just as Nixon first said of his political opponents: “I gave [him] a sword and [he] stuck it in. And [he] twisted it with relish. And, I guess, if I’d been in [his] position, I’d have done the same thing.” Having considered these examples, Pahad would have to admit that, despite his insistence that there is continuity in Jacob Zuma taking over the reins of the ANC and the country from Mbeki, the latter could definitely echo Nixon’s immortal words too. After all, Mbeki tried to pre-empt things by already getting his sword in, in 2005 after Zuma was implicated in arms deal corruption by the Durban High Court.

In September of last year though, Pietermaritzburg Judge Chris Nicholson found that the corruption case against Zuma was procedurally flawed and that political interference from Mbeki was apparent in the National Prosecuting Authority’s decision to charge Zuma. This, as we know, afforded Zuma the chance to bring Mbeki to a fall. Notwithstanding any satisfaction there was to be had from a subsequent appeal court finding earlier this year that Judge Nicholson’s finding went outside his jurisdiction, even Mbeki must have realised that the many unanswered questions around his presidency would keep his status as fallen leader firmly in place. Pahad may want to cling on to a key moment in the Frost/Nixon-encounter, where Nixon answers “well, when the president does it, that means that is not illegal”. It would be a false peace, though, for Mbeki has never been pardoned for any of the allegations against him in the way that Nixon was pardoned by his successor, Gerald Ford. Pahad would therefore serve his former boss well if, instead of peddling vague and ill-advised defences to protect his legacy, he used these examples from history to give his former boss some good and honest advice.

As Vorster and Botha’s altercation showed, things may change quicker than anticipated, despite a veneer of continuity. Though President Zuma has never appeared to be the vindictive type, it must be remembered that he emphasises leadership of the collective, and that there are still a number of actors in the wings baying for Mbeki’s blood. And just as the collective does not end with Zuma, the ANC will also not end with Zuma. There may therefore still be many future political ructions or court actions, which could prompt further investigation into issues such as the case against former police commissioner Jackie Selebi and the arms deal. Mbeki would therefore be well advised to take every step to win back the approval of the public at large.

In order to do this, Pahad would have to bring Mbeki to some form of acknowledgement that while they might feel his residency was squeaky clean, there are many who did not like its many unresolved controversies and its perceived darker aspects. Aside from every point that Pahad so unfortunately failed to defend at last week’s gathering at the UKZN, Mbeki would also have to display some reassuring frankness about a number of other questions. These include why he never instituted a full judicial inquiry into the arms deal when there was real concern over corruption on his watch. He should also say what he believes would constitute actual interference in the prosecuting authorities, and what assurances he could provide that he did not do it in the Zuma case or in the prosecution of Selebi.

Regardless of whether it is about rebuilding his image, about sensible civil participation or pure personal interest, Mbeki has registered a real desire for an active post-presidential career. There are also good reasons why he should have it. It is indeed to his credit that he led South Africa in its transition to a modern state against strong internal resistance. Like Nixon, Mbeki delivered some of his biggest triumphs on the diplomatic front. His continued efforts resulted in the African Union, the institution of the peer review mechanism and a much improved international position for South Africa through its inclusion in the United Nations Security Council and by securing the ear of the G8 group of nations.

These are the big successes of Mbeki’s presidency on the basis of which he, like Nixon, can serve in the interests of broader society going forward. Should Mbeki show a willingness to have the accusations against him confronted in public, there is no reason why he could not continue to serve the broader interests of society. This is, if it is in any way possible for him to exhibit the same non-partisanship that Nixon did. He voluntarily served both his Republican and Democratic successors with advice; critically reflected in his extensive biographical writings on his time in the presidency and did not let his personal or party-political proclivities exercise undue influence on his facilitation of foreign policy or peace negotiations. If not, Pahad should be frank enough to warn Mbeki that the best he may hope for is to become an increasingly lone voice in the wilderness.

  • Al

    @skumbuzo and Lyndall Beddy
    “Afrikaners did not tolerate corruption”
    Lyndall uses the Info as an example to prove this.
    I think (she?) is wrong. That any politician was fired over this was simply political opportunism as various factions jockeyed for power. At any other time those same politicians woudl have been congratulated and promoted and the whole thing covered up. Anyway, that’s my perception and understanding.
    I can’t verify the R60 000 that eagle quotes but I certainly agree with his overal assertion that corruption under the Nats was a drop in the ocean compared to the billions that the ANC and their cronies have managed to extract from the system without shame or remorse.

  • Brave Heart

    Dear Gordon
    What I wrote here will be drivel because it is not in line with your thinking of trying denude black people of their humanity like it happened under apartheid. Then we couldn`t respond as adequately as we could because of repression, today you have to contend with an avalanche of voices in defence of what we know to be true and good.
    What your Coenraad did is to paint a picture of a Mbeki that we don`t know, a construct of his prejudices. If you wish to stand in judgement against Mbeki take the full import of what it takes to judge a man`s legacy. Don`t be selective and pick only those aspects which are in line with your pet prejudices.

  • Nicholas

    Thabo Mbeki secured the the headquarters of the African parliament her in GAuteng’s Midrand and so created the basis for an emerging Brussels/Washington of Africa.

    Today most pissed off whiteys regard the PAP as just that PAP… 200 years ago Washington was swampland… today it is invaluable. Without PAP Gauteng would slowly have become a post-gold mining, post-industrial Detroit

    A hundred years from now this [PAP]decison will cause generations then to venerate this far reaching decision and call him Thabo the Great irrespective of his many irrefutable flaws.

  • skumbuzo

    @Al, Lyndall Beddy and Eagle

    Are you seriously arguing that the Nats were the best (political) thing we have ever seen in this country? Sad! You still fail/refuse to acknowledge that apartheid, which was the main reason for the Nats’ existence was in itself extremely corrupt – a system that benefitted a few at the expense of a majority – sounds just like the BEE you’re so critical of!

    Back to Mr Mbeki – his legacy, like any other, has positives and negatives. We can wish away the positives or the positives. The tempetation from participants here seem to wish away the good things Mr Mbeki has done. If we are honest with ourselves, we cannot accept that in his almost 10 years as a President, Mr Mbeki achieved nothing positive. To his credit, Al admits that under Mr Mbeki more people received sociall grants.

  • Lyndall Beddy


    Thank you for that video. It shows more than you think.

    Mbeki in exile was totally isolated from South Africa. His vision of SA was a nightmare of his own imagination. The biggest influences on him were Black Power/Black Racism from the USA, and Russia (where he was indoctrinated into Marxist communism). BOTH those groups were into Aids denialism as your tape shows.

    AIDS went from a homosexual plague (by pute co-incidence that they had the first contact with it in Africa) to a black plague. Black denialism became rampant – it was a white plot etc etc

    The scientific truth was much simpler. It appears likely, from recent research, that the same gene that makes the negroid/bantu susceptible to AIDS is the gene that gave them immunity from maleria, which whites had no tolerance for.

    Remember ALL the slaves came from the same Congo/Niger Delta as our Bantu of SA.

  • Lyndall Beddy


    And if the whites had not come? You would have been better off under Shaka?

    You MUST be joking!

  • Eagle

    @ Nicholas

    Rarely that I have read so much drivel.

    Please let us have the evidence or sources of these wonderful conclusions.

    Of course you will disagree that the first thing these African rulers hit you for is aid, preferably monetary aid in their own hands so that people like Mbeki and Zuma who value international cudos way above the needs of the people who voted them into parliament can be induced to raid the coffers, taxpayers and citizens of their own countries. Hence the scandalous handing over of R 200 million recently to Zimbabwe when there are millions of people in SA who do not have jobs, food, housing, etc. etc.

  • Gordon

    @ Brave Heart – You are very wrong & I think there is a huge misunderstanding here. I do not want to deny anybody anything that is not rightfully theirs. I would love to see the black middle class grow and develop. I also think that although the disaster that was apartheid needs to be addressed, the way that the current govt is handling it is NOT the right way. The BBBEE and Affirmative Action policies are not working. BEE is not filtering down to those who need it most and a handful of already wealthy black elite are creaming it! Affirmative Action has resulted in a massive brain drain as well as comrades being deployed into vital positions of responsibility that they cannot handle. Although us whities are being the most vocal about the decay, the whole country is being affected. Personally, I think that Zuma needs to answer the questions that are hanging over him (like a shower rose), but at least he seems to be trying to unify the country, where TM only served to polarise us even further.

  • Al

    @ Shumbuzo
    “Are you seriously arguing that the Nats were the best (political) thing we have ever seen in this country? Sad!”

    WHERE did I argue that, even remotely or indirectly? I DISAGREED with Lyndall Beddy about assertion that Info scandal proved that Afrikaners did not tolerate corruption.
    WHERE did I say anything positive about the Nats? Not me, buddy. I detested them now and I still detest them.
    The ONLY thing you could possibly have picked up from my comments was that the degree of corruption under the Nats was less than under the ANC. And not because the Nats were less corrupt. No, more like because there was not the same transparency that we have these days and definitely because the Nats did not have the same barefaced cheek that the ANC has. This cheek is such that everyone knows about the corruption, much is exposed, and the ANC simply does not care, knowing that they will STILL be able to snow the voting public into voting for them.

  • John Richards

    Read “Apartheid Grand Corruption” Lyndall Beddy and company and you soon realize the dishonesty of your comments. There report by the ISS documents the endemic and more brazen corruption of the apartheid state. It documents that tons of documents were destroyed by the Nats, in 1993 over a six month period, which implicated them in corruption and crimes. Interestingly you seem to use rand values from thirty years ago to prove that the value of the corruption was less, but the ISS addresses this falsehood and commonsensically adjusts for the time value of money. You will red of Nico Diedrichs secret overseas bank accounts amounting to R2.3 Billion in corrupt funds received as member of cabinet. You will read of arms illegal and illicit arms trading by your former NAT govt (the corruption linked to arms dealing is easily exemplified by our modern arms deal, so imagine the extent of corruption in a closed system with no oversight). Eskom alone lost the equivalent of R490 Million in one deal for a nuclear plant! R3.9 Billion lost in drought support! R 44 Billion in the nuclear arms program was lost! SADF involvement in the illegal ivory trade, R 2.5 Billion to fund one terrorist organization (UNITA) in 1987 alone, R339 Billion in secret fund allocation (1878-1994), R87 Billion in oil embargo busting (1978-1993), etc.

    These are facts which Lyndall and company can ignore but can’t hide!

  • John Richards

    “R339 Billion in secret fund allocation (1878-1994)” should read (1978-1994).

  • skumbuzo

    @Lyndall Beddy

    So, all of your arguments are based on the premise that whites are superior and somewhat, free of corruption and blacks are not. That’s very sad, indeed. A response to your diatribe about white people coming to South Africa and Shaka would serve only one purpose – dignify it (your diatribe).

  • Una

    There is no greater statesman presently that Africa can boast of except Thabo Mvunyelwa Mbeki. Being the politician that he is, it is expected of him to make mistakes as he is neither an Angel of light nor God. Despite some flaws in his legacy he will stand tall as the greatest gift to Africa for generations to come. I agree with one of the participants on this blog that he will be known as “Thabo The Great” by most Africans regardless of race. He is a visionary and an intellectual par excellance. Mbeki is the leader that weith his brilliance restored the the pride of African people in the present era. He was a man of substance and displayed a profound sense of commitment to the continent, because he knows exactly what Africa has been blessed with. That Africans themselves regardless of race had to work hard torwards unleashing the unsarpassed timeless beauty of the continent that God generously bestowed. It is Thabo Mbeki who recognised without being prompted the uniqueness of the South African nation, acknowledging the role played by each ethnic group in the country, including the Khoisan people in creating a mosaic of what is simply known as the rainbow nation (Mbeki’s speech in parliament when defining his legacy – I AM An African). Mbeki is an icon and will remain one for generations to come. We are aware that the west hated and yet respected him. I salute him He never never ever sold us out.

  • Al

    @John Richards

    Thanks man. I dont doubt for a moment that it happened, I was just saying that it was not so easy in those days to find out about those things.

  • Al

    @ Una

    Without even the slightest trace of racism but with a huge amount of humour as your suggestions are so laughable

    “what you bin smokin’ boy?”

  • john carlisle

    Sadly, you just lost it with the Shaka ref. I agree with skumbuzo and john richards. Perhaps you would like to discuss Mosheshwe or Sandile of the same period. And, by the way, the civilised whites managed, in the same period as Shaka the great ruled, to kill at least 3 million people in the Napoleonic Wars. (And that is not counting the slaughter following the French Revolution). Makes Shaka look like an amateur.

  • Una

    Mbeki’s legacy will be embedded in our hearts for generations to come. You are free to join the hate Mbeki campaign, time will tell

  • Una


    I agree with you 100%. Mbeki is the only ANC president that made South Africans to give it almost 70% mandate, that is 69.4% in 2004 elections. In my view he will be the only one to do that for the ANC without breaking the bank, there will be no other.

  • skumbuzo

    @ Al

    I apologise for misunderstanding your position!

  • Phemelo

    If there are Black Africans, are there White Europeans out there?It is very intriguing to hear labels assigned to us for convenience.A convenience that seeks to subject Afrikans to accept colonialism and its legacy.The former Ghanain President Kwame Nkrumah and Marcus Garvey agreed that an Afrikan is one who can trace his roots in Afrika and pays his/her allegiance to Afrika.All the years during the struggle against colonialism and apartheid we accepted this notion.Now that we have been engulfed by Madiba mania,all this has to be conveniently forgotten.We are all of a sudden this “rainbow nation”.A rainbow that has no “Black” African nor “White” European.

  • Lyndall Beddy

    John Richards

    I am not ignoring facts. BUT when the media exposed corruption then – these people were fired. When the media exposes corruption now, like they did then – the ANC could not care a damn, and fire no-one!

    And it is not JUST corruption – it is also incredible overpayment of pals and mismanagement of taxpayers money.

  • Lyndall Beddy

    John Carlisle

    There were some very good black chiefs (Moshesh was only one of them).

    BUT Shaka would have eventually wiped out all the other tribes, had the whites not come.

  • Eagle

    @ Phemelo

    Alas, yet another denialist.

    Whereas I agree that the issue of the black labelling is thoroughly ridiculous the purpose of it is not it is not to “to subject Afrikans(sic) to accept colonialism and its legacy.”

    The statement shows that the shackles you wear are clearly on the log which you choose to carry on your shoulder. The reality is that the white man has nothing to do with classification of the population as, guess what? You now have a black government who are responsible for these things. “Oh darn, another thing we can’t blame whitey for anymore.”

    It is for covert political reasons that this strange anomaly occurs. Whereas before there were Indians and coloureds and Chinese etc. etc. everyone, except for lily whites, are now all regarded as black. Even Chinese are now “honourary blacks” it was decided by your government recently.

    However, the plan is working. Whites are now thoroughly marginalised and outvoted at a population of 4 million whites to roughly 44 million blacks, which, as I was saying, now includes, Indians and Coloureds and Chinese and Hong Kongians and Koreans and Kenyans and Zimbabweans and Nigerians and North Africans and Rowandans and ……………………. Get the picture?

  • Eagle

    @ John Carilse

    If you have to bring Napoleon and the French into a discussion concerning South African governments and SA history then clearly you are unable to prove your point. Give it up and try something else.

    Concerning Shaka even minimal Googling will bring up the following:

    “Conquering tribe after tribe, causing the death and displacement of thousands. His actions were responsible for spreading the Southern African tribes as far away as Mozambique. He was disliked by other Africans, including his own people, who suffered under his long, cruel and debilitating rule of constant war. After 10 years of unrelenting warfare that placed incredible strains on the Zulu nation, Shaka, always psychologically unstable finally snapped into derangement after the death of his mother in 1828. He created brutal conditions for his subjects….”

    The truth is that Shaka during his rule, killed and/or displaced more that 1 million Africans. Never in all South African history has a SOUTH AFRICAN WHITE GOVERNMENT come anywhere near these murderous atrocities.

  • john carlisle

    Shaka was assassinated in 1828 by Dingaan after only 12 years of rule. The impis were demoralised and confused by then, and had lost two key regiments to the Ndebele and Shangaans.
    No way would there have been a wipe out.

  • john carlisle

    What a strange reply. How vulnerable you are making your goodself.
    You are saying that the very people who colonised SA and, whom I would assume you would consider “civilised” are not to be compared over the same time period with the Zulus!!?? What is your rationale? You perhaps do not agree philosophically with comparative analysis?
    Or perhaps you are unable to engage with the concept of the Europeans being more barbaric than blacks?
    I too have read the classic Ritter; but also Wright, Eldredge and Stanhope. Huge variations in numbers, including a standing army of between 40,000 and 100,000. Numbers affected vary between 200,000 and 1,000,000. Enough to satisfy a variety of prejudices. But what they agree on is that Shaka was a military genius.
    To your point of a white South African not displacing or murdering anywhere near these numbers, umm let’s think now.
    The displacement caused by the Group Areas Act by 1984 has been estimated at conservatively 126,000 families. At 6 per family that is – lots and lots. Include in that figure 600,000 Coloureds, Indians and Chinese. What were you and your family doing while this body blow to the non-white psyche was being delivered? Protesting with the Black Sash?
    Now add to that the incursions into Namibia, Angola and Mozambique. Thousands of deaths and much destruction – mfecane!

  • Legadima Leso

    The legacy of the former President is in many respects overshadowed by few bad decisions that he decided to follow under the davice of his friends like Pahad. It is not amazing to hear someone being given the praise that Mbeki is receiving, but what is important is how does this praises move the country forward and contribute to healing the rift that was seen just before Polokwane. I am convinced that History will be a good judge. I am aware that Mbeki leadership has its own victories and setbacks, but that does not mean we cannot set the record straight now and give the correct advice as the article by Coenraad suggest. Legacy is something very elusive – you can do well for 99% of your work and then fail just 1% – that will be your downfall. South Africans are however greatful of teh contribution made be every leader or each ordinary person to move the country to a higher trajectory of development.

  • skumbuzo

    @ Eagle

    Again, where have you been? Apartheid displaced millions of South Africans. People were moved to “homelands” in far away places. Land was taken away from black people so that they could work in the mines. Because of the apartheid system, blacks become foreigners in their own country having to carry passes to show that they belong in the cities. Please do not be selective in your arguments.

  • Lyndall Beddy

    John Carlisle

    My ancestor was with the Zulu at the time of Dingaan. He was as bad as Shaka and his own son was worse. He simply told his sons to fight it out for the throne – and they both slaughtered each others people -even mothers with babies on their backs were speared through both.

    That was when John Dube’s tribe was wiped out and his grandmother fled to sanctury at my ancestor Daniel Lindley’s mission station at Inanda.

  • Phemelo

    @ Eagle

    It shows yet again that as long as Europeans write AFRIKAN(this is not a misspelling) history according to the way they see fit,we shall have commentators like the aforementioned.What I am trying to bring forth is that the Conquerer came and took and benefited himself and generations to come.Simply put,if we take a Poverty Index of European descendants 100 years ago and compare it to the present,the divide is wide.Yet when you take the very same index of Afrikans the story is not the same.This is the legacy of colonialism and apartheid.If you fail to appreciate this, then maybe you should stop blogging to this site and join the Paris Hilton brigade.I fail to see what am I a denialist of.

  • Mbuya Munlo

    Thabo Mbeki is to me the best President Africa/South Africa will ever have. You cannot use a strange pandemic like HIV/AIDS to judge the whole legacy of an assertive and intellectually sophisticated leader. Again it is shallow to compare Shaka and his deeds with apartheid governments. The two operated under different legal/constituional frameworks.

    How do the legacies of George Bush and Tony Blair and the long list of apartheid leaders compare with that of Mbeki. The former killed people physically note through a critical questioning of a disease.

    Mbuya Munlo.

  • Eagle

    @ john carlisle

    “You perhaps do not agree philosophically with comparative analysis?”

    Whereas I think, from my engineering background, that techniques like comparative analysis, benchmarking, statistical analysis, etc. are extremely dangerous in the wrong hands, you are obviously the expert so let’s develop your “comparative analysis” further.

    Your stated hypothesis is that all whites worldwide, through all centuries, are one homogeneous mass, are all the same and therefore all whites in SA are responsible for all atrocities committed by whites everywhere and we are therefore much crueller than Chaka.

    SA whites are therefore responsible for those killed in the Napoleon wars, the French Revolution, the holocaust, the Irish civil wars, the American civil wars, in Russia, WW1, WW2, in Vietnam, etc.

    Your reverse hypothesis is therefore that all blacks are also the same and therefore SA blacks are responsible for all those killed by blacks everywhere through the ages. Therefore, there are the millions killed in the Chinese revolutions as Chinese are classed as blacks in SA, the millions in Rwanda, in the DRC, and of course, the black plague of 1348 which killed about 100 million. Besides the name being a dead giveaway it was initially spread by the Central Asians who, in South Africa, would probably be classed as black.

    So, in terms of numbers killed, SA whites still lag behind and your conclusion therefore is that Chaka and his descendents are the worse murderers. Shame on you for being such a racist.

  • john carlisle

    10 years after Shaka’s death 470 boers defeated the Zulus at the Ncome (Blood) river. What kind of threat could they have been to cause the havoc you suggest? Compare that to Isandlwana about 40 years later when they were well oprganised and led – and, by the way, were reacting rightly to being invaded.

  • john carlisle

    @phemelo and @skumbuzo

    come on you guys, stop picking on @eagle. Not fair. You know he does not have a leg to stand on!

  • john carlisle

    Again what a strange reply. You produce a hypothesis I never made, then proceed to generalise absurdly from your “reverse” hypothesis to a conclusion that Shaka et al are worse murderers, and I am a racist! That is a wonderful syllogism that uses two false premises to produce not one; but two false propositions. As a piece of deductive reasoning it is as valid as that which made the earth the centre of the solar system.
    I hope, as an engineer, you don’t build bridges with that kind of logic?
    However, it is also a cunning, but cumbersome, way of avoiding my challenge, ie. that perhaps Europeans (I never used the word “whites”) were more barbarous than blacks. My approach attempted to be more inductive than deductive by looking at various reference sources.
    What I urge you to do is read (and weep) Adam Hochschild’s Leopold’s Ghost (1998), or watch the documentary by the same name chronicling the rule of King Leopold II in the Congo. Then you will understand, not just the extent of the Belgian barbarity, but why so much of that part of Africa is a basket case. It was in fact here that the practice of child soldiers was introduced – and the cutting off of hands.
    Leopold succeeded in reducing the population from 20 million to 10 million from 1885 to 1925. I have yet to see any figures that remotely approximate that for a single black run country.

  • skumbuzo

    @john carlisle

    Your advice to @phemelo and I regarding @Eagle is valid and highly appreciated. Perhaps you should take that advice yourself – @Eagle does not have a leg to stand on and perhaps you should leave him alone. His arguments (let alone logic) are somewhat scary, for an engineer.

  • Lyndall Beddy

    John Carlisle

    Guns will always defeat spears if the armies are properly organised. Of course the boers defeated the Zulu, and the Zulu defeated the Brits. The Brits were arrogant and underestimated the Zulu – but they wiped them out later.

    By the way, the Brits asked Paul Kruger to join them to fight the Zulu. He refused – but gave them some tips eg send out scouts, and camp in a laager. If they had listened they would not have been wiped out at Isandlwana.

    I have read Leopold’s Ghost by the way. Which proves Eagle’s point – that whites are NOT all the same!

    In fact I wrote a post on the Richmark Sentinel on that book “100 Years Later Europeans Re-Introduced Slavery”

    BUT you must admit that Leopold and Stanley conned everyone, AND that the book is also the story of a hero – the first investigative journalist!

    I really recommend you read “The Trouble With Africa” by Robert Calderisi. And you might enjoy “Diamonds, Gold and War” by Martin Merideth.

  • Eagle

    @ john carlisle, skumbuzo, phemelo, Lyndall Beddy

    I suggest we continue this interesting discussion on Marius Redelinghuys’s thread “Debating race in NOT backward”.

    On that thread freedom of speech seems to be encouraged, not supressed.

  • skumbuzo

    @ Lyndall Beddy

    You’re clearly well read. But do I understand you to say that you had to READ a book to know that “white people are not all the same”? Interesting!

  • Lyndall Beddy

    John Carlisle

    On what page of Leopold’s Ghost does it say 10 million were killed?

    And exactly how many people do you think were taken out of the Congo in the Arab Slave Trade of ONE THOUSAND YEARS ?

  • john carlisle

    @ lyndall
    The data on deaths came from the research for the film: Red Rubber, White King, Black Death (2008).
    Mark Twain put it at 15 million.
    Arabs: what have they got to do with the current debate? Not like you to submit red herrings.
    Also, the point I am making is that the Europeans (not “whites”) became very competent at slaughtering each other, and at developing the technology for doing it ever more efficiently until they reached their greatest success in World War 1 with 37 million casualties, of which 8.5 million were killed – in less than 5 years. They (we) then went on to better that in terms of civilian casualties around WW2 of about 20 million. And this does not include Stalin’s purges.
    They (we) then brought this mentality and technology to our colonies from the 1600s on just as naturally as they brought the other aspects of the culture – with quite devastating results, especially where the Germans and Belgians were in place. However, in the USA and Australia we were brutal.
    So, enough of the finger-pointing: where to now?

  • Lyndall Beddy

    John Carlisle

    My time is limited. I don’t see what European Wars have to do with the debate on the Congo. I am prepared to debate that later – but at the moment it is a red herring.

    The Congo was the main source of ALL black slaves which were spread around the whole world. Mark Twain was an activist for the Congo and I know from the same book we both read that he had NO source for figures.

    As for research for a film – are you joking? WHAT source data, and give us a web refernce. What data could there have been? All records were destroyed.
    The reason Leopold could “re-enslave” the Congo so easily is that the people had been weakened by the Arab slave trade over 1000 years. This is in a number of books, but also in King Leopold’s Ghost.

    You are distorting facts to make a political point.