Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine


Stones Versus Guns

In the Good Book, the young David managed to lay low Giant Goliath in spite of the giant's armour of iron. A sling and a piece of stone was all he needed, backed up, of course, by the invisible hand of the almighty.

The current confrontation between the native inhabitants and the settler community in South Africa can be compared to the biblical story with the hope that invisible Hand is backing the downtrodden blacks. But in employing stones against the might of the apartheid regime, the blacks obviously are in need of divine intervention.

The stones are no match for armoured vehicles, the guns, the tear gas and all the other paraphernalia of modern weaponry at the disposal of Mr Botha and his white friends and yet the stones have drawn the ire of the ‘civilised' world and brought condemnation of 'violence' the blacks, apparently the native South Africans are expected to accept slave status in their own country forever and ever.

A lot of sanctimonious noises have been made about the destruction and senseless vandalism by black mobs and a lot of head shaking by liberal westerners because black youths were looting Asian shops.

It is possibly difficult for such people to appreciate the fact that when you are denied citizenship in your own Country, one can no longer talk about fair and foul means of fighting the oppression. If that is difficult to appreciate, it should be easy to see that after so many years, the blacks know exactly who their oppressors and collaborators are and will hit out at them in their frustration.

Without even considering the fact that the majority blacks have been the target of violence all their lives and must therefore feel entitled to fight back, it cannot be lost on them that after decades of appeals and peaceful protests had fallen on deaf ears, a few weeks of violence have concentrated the minds of Mr Botha and his friends most wonderfully.

As we went to press Mr Botha was supposed to be making his earth-shattering announcement in which it was hoped he would make concessions to the blacks. Such choice of words only serve to underline the fundamental flaw in the attitudes of the apartheid practitioners, their collaborators inside and outside South Africa and even at the critics, for, when the talk is of whites making CONCESSIONS, the supposition is that they have something that is naturally, legally, and morally theirs and they would out of the kindness of their hearts, give to the beggars.

In such circumstances, the blacks would accept such CONCESSIONS at their own peril for that will only go to confirm forever their second rate status. There is an African proverb which, loosely translated, states that the stone that lies on the river bed does not complain of feeling cold, that being its normal state of affairs.

Accepting half measures at this stage from Mr Botha will be an endorsement of the status quo and the indigenous South Africans are hardly likely to be any the worse for the inclement atmosphere in the country today they have been on the river bed all these years. Long enough for them to know who their friends are. Long enough for them to see through the "utter condemnation of apartheid and expressions of revulsion against this evil system" regularly emanating from the West.

They know that the US, West Germany and Britain are the three largest investors in South Africa and its biggest trading partners and that these countries lead the anti-sanctions effort.

They know that even the most "progressive" institutions in these countries, the trade unions, the universities, the political parties, all have investments in South Africa and keep them there because they make obscene profits generated and nurtured by the blood of the oppressed people.

It is to be noted that much capital is always made out of the few "Russian-made arms" that a few of the freedom fighters have, and it might be worthwhile for the West to realise that in this fight, the South African blacks owe no apologies to anybody where they get their arms from. Indeed they wonder when the great western democracies have taken the side of Mr Botha and his friends, the Soviet Union does not offer them help.

As for the rest of Africa, it is time it was realised that after years of fruitless condemnation and innumerable resolutions against apartheid, Africa recognised and discharged its responsibilities to the suffering peoples of South Africa.

The state of the rest of Africa has a more potent bearing on the events in South Africa than a thousand strongly worded resolutions of the United Nations or the Organisation of African Unity.

The fact that the majority in many independent African states have no say in how they are governed and the fact that the quality of life for many people has deteriorated with independence makes the fight in South Africa that much more difficult.

The greatest help that African nations can give South Africa is a clear demonstration that our countries can be run sensibly, efficiently and even more importantly, that freedom and justice reign in our countries. The blacks in South Africa do not need the armies of independent Africa, nor arms, and as for resolutions, they have had enough. What they do need is the restoration of freedom and justice and individual liberties they will do the rest themselves.

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