by Meshack Mabogoane
THIS month is the centenary of the South African state, whose founders would have marvelled at their creation — the foremost in Africa and a world-class entity, which is now being undermined.
An inspired act of courage, vision and determination, it brought together diverse peoples when Europe’s overarching multinational entities were disintegrating into separate nation states.
Former colonies, republics and kingdoms were forged into a unitary and variegated state, the first — and still the only modern state — founded by natives on a continent whose other states were created outside by foreigners.
The founders — Louis Botha, Barry Hertzog, and Jan Smuts — were war-seasoned generals, who had led a genuine anti-imperialist struggle in a true people’s war. These great men laid the foundations and frameworks that have enabled the evolution of a complex and dynamic country with a thriving economy and vibrant society.
The generals had valiantly fought with their troops within the country, which stands in contrast to the history of another liberation movement — the African National Congress (ANC), which was led by a globe- trotting former lawyer who now, appropriately, has an airport named after him. He lacked military courage, unlike his legal partner, who trained and then returned to fight — but was betrayed and islanded.
The forces under the exilic former lawyer “fought” away from the country, hurling spears from afar, a tactic Shaka discarded with contempt as cowardice. The hurlers returned to stab an unsuspecting nation in the back, typical of cowards.
Without these founders — Botha, Smuts, Hertzog — and their successors, SA would not have existed and developed. Their outstanding statecraft, which has still to be emulated in sub-Saharan Africa, is now being destroyed by un patriotic elements.
Even black and other movements owe their existence to the creation of the state by these men. Black people benefited from these inheritances without the commensurate initiatives of blood and sweat, hence their estrangement and nonappreciation.
Undoubtedly, racial inequity existed and full democracy was absent. But social, health and material provisions — the best in Africa — existed for black people. Long before 1994, blacks had voted directly, at least, for urban and rural councils and executives — izibonda and bungas. Now all races don’t even vote for central and provincial legislators but for mere party representatives.
If apparent or real oppression and the absence of liberal democracy are criteria for condemnation, the worst is elsewhere. The US was founded by only the Virginia aristocracy; most whites were not enfranchised and blacks were enslaved; however, its history and founders are acknowledged.
Democracy never existed in the Soviet Union and there is still none in China. But everyone is indifferent to this, including the ANC, its proteges and friends now selling the economy to imperialistic Beijing as it monkeys around in international relations.
Racism raised its head elsewhere: Jim Crow and lynching for blacks in the US; from pogroms to the Holocaust for European Jewry. Providence and goodwill mercifully saved SA from terrible racist manifestations, but the current regime’s evil racial programme is catastrophic.
The centenary of Africa’s greatest state is eclipsed by a sports jamboree; Blatter overshadows Botha. A fake “patriotism” is being whipped up to opiate the masses. National challenges and historic events are ignored, much befitting a banana republic in crisis.
The early statesmen tackled a complicated state energetically and responsibly with creative initiatives, however controversial some were, unlike the current impotent and parasitic incumbents, who are short on substantive initiatives and solid responsibility.
This month, let us salute Botha, Hertzog and Smuts for their creative genius and their great legacy — as meanwhile, inveterate non-white elites and their non-black fellow travellers insidiously manipulate this highly centralised state in a manner that is unsuitable for such a diverse society.
– Mabogoane is a freelance writer.
Taken from the South African publication, Business Day.