I have tried not to comment on this South Africa issue for a while because I know the pitfalls of angering white people—especially the liberal ones—and many of them are my friends. There’s usually a smear campaign against you and seeing you as tribalist for seeking to correct a historic wrong. But I thought I will offer a few words here.
The discourse, especially the media discourse surrounding the land issue in South Africa has been dominated by talk about government theft of White South Africans’ land and legal institutional discrimination against white people in South Africa, and then comparing South Africa to Zimbabwe. These two points of focus in this discussion are both ahistorical and propagandist.
First, one thing every honest observer of history has to note is that white people are great at after-the-fact-rules that makes illegal what they themselves have done so as to shut out opportunities for others and to make their opportunities permanent and multigenerational. I will give two examples in addition to the South African issue to illustrate this.
1. When the discussion about abolishing slavery was raging on in Britain and the United States, one of the winning strategies the abolitionists use and one which was demanded by slave owners was compensating slave owners for the slaves they’d lose after abolition. Imagine this, you kidnapped someone and made him work for you for free, when the moral authorities catch up to you, you demand payment before the release of the kidnapped person. Instead of just being happy to still have your neck, you have the audacity to demand restitution for releasing the kidnapped person. And so it was that slave owners were paid blood money by American and European governments for ending slavery. To this day, the moneys paid, in addition to the wealth produced by the free labor has continued to be held by the progeny of that group. But again, these descendants of kidnappers and blood money takers, without any sense of shame, point fingers at other societies as immoral for doing things even slightly similar to what their ancestors did to make their lives today very comfortable. Sometimes when others are trying to correct this historic and continuing wrong, they are painted as monsters.
2. In the Americas, the vast majority of indigenous people of this land were killed off in war and by treachery by way of diseases by European settlers. The lands that belonged to these indigenous communities were divided up and literally given to European settlers by the settler colonial administrations from north to Central to South America. In the US in particular, every expansion the settler government wanted was achieved by promising land to European settlers. So literally, the government evicted native peoples, and gave their land freely to European settlers. In turn, these free lands became private property of these settlers. Today, there is no country in the world where the idea of “my private property” pride and defense is as passionate as it is in America. If you step into a settler’s private property, he’ll literally shoot you dead. No trespassing allowed at all. And you can see signs of “Private Property, No Trespassing” all over the place in the US. How ironic.
So here we are in South Africa, where Dutch and British settlers did what they do best, and took most of the arable land from the native people they came to meet. In most cases, they actually forcefully moved already established villages to barren and depleted areas so that their rich Agricultural land could be given to white settlers. That is why we have massive townships in South Africa today with obscene poverty levels. By the time Apartheid ended in South Africa, the white population who made up less than ten percent of the population owned upwards of 85% of the Agricultural land in South Africa. So the native peoples who luckily the settlers weren’t able to annihilate like they did in the US, made up of over 90% of the population owned less than 20% of the land. In addition to Agricultural land, virtually 100% of South Africa’s vast mineral deposits and companies were owned by settlers. After Apartheid, this situation remained virtually unchanged and here we are today.
One of the reasons I don’t like Nelson Mandela is because of this. You cannot have political emancipation of people without a corresponding economic emancipation. But he became the darling of especially the liberal white man because he sacrificed real emancipation for optics. The same kind of optics that led Europe and America to pay restitution to slave owners for their freed slaves. In the constitution Mandela left South Africa, white settlers were to be paid compensation for land the government takes back in attempts to ensure balance of resource allocation in a country where everyone is supposed to be equal. Remember that the land was forcibly wrestled from its owners whose children and grandchildren are alive today without any restitution. But to give them back their land, the government must pay those who stole it restitution. What kind of nonsense is this. But to the white man, Mandela is a saint. He is a saint because he followed the logic of Europe.
In a country where everyone is supposed to be equal according to the law, how can anyone be equal when the economic structures put in place by Apartheid remain fully intact? It is the same situation we have in the US where after slavery, black people were just told “you’re now free, go and be equal.” How on earth can any fair minded human being think this is equality? But today, you have descendants of the race of slave owners ignorantly shouting they didn’t own slaves. But have you forgotten the wealth generated by theft of land and labor passed down to you? And in America’s case, the meager promise to former slaves of a mule and forty acres was broken and never fulfilled. But today, you see that white people think they’re better than black people in the US forgetting the blatant free lands, and money, and more recently cheap mortgages government gave them to give them a leg up. They are the loudest voices when it comes to private property and keeping government away even though their success is entirely built on government giving their communities free stuff.
There is absolutely no way South Africa can be an equal society without the natives getting their land back without compensation. With compensation, you’re simply giving the settlers another leg up and with that, their children will one day say, you got your land back, why am I still doing better than you? Forgetting that he got money that moved him up again in comparison to the native.
Finally, people in the media, especially the Western media, love to compare South Africa to Zimbabwe. I want to assure you that this is pure propaganda. Absolutely 💯 propaganda. In Zimbabwe, most of the Agricultural equipment even under the old white regime were imported from Europe and America. After Mugabe forcibly returned the land to the natives, Europe and America decided that their tribalism was more important than justice. They crippled the Zimbabwe economy by imposing a lot of sanctions on the country. So the so-called failure of natives to properly use the land is a ruse by Europe and America to force Zimbabwe to give land back to settlers. I’m confident that South Africa will do just fine if the land is given back to the natives. That is, if Europe and America don’t sabotage the people of South Africa with crippling sanctions. I am also hoping that, with Agricultural equipment manufacturing now global, especially with advancement in Chinese, Japanese, Korean manufacturing, South African farmers can easily turn to these markets if Europe and America decide to play their treacherous games like they did in Zimbabwe. In the long run, I hope South Africa and other African nations will build their own farming equipment.
I want to end by acknowledging that it is not pretty to lose land and I can see why Settlers in South Africa are rightly shouting theft and crying. I truly sympathize. But justice isn’t always happy to witness. It can be very cruel. But injustice is worse. There is absolutely no way that even 20+ years after the end of Apartheid, less than 10% of the population own more than 72% of the land. It is unjust to have this continue. And it is unjust to demand payment for return of the land that was forcibly wrestled from its owners. If you kidnapped my sister and I demand her return, I shouldn’t have to pay you money unless you agree that you’re a criminal. But if we operate on that basis, I’ll definitely try to kick your ass when I get the chance because kidnappers are criminals. You either give her back without a ruckus or there’d be bloodshed. Your choice!