The de-colonization project – a pretty prickly issue

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Where to begin?
Colonization is as much a thing of nature as it is of culture and is happening all the while we read and write here. Bacteria colonize organisms. Vikings raid and colonize foreign lands.
Comets are colonized.

In scientific parlance:

DARMSTADT, Germany — For the last two years, the Rosetta spacecraft has danced around a comet. Today, it finally made contact with the icy body — and sent its last signal.

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“Comets are primitive cosmic objects, left over from the time our solar system was just starting to take shape 4.6 billion years ago. Exploring the structure, composition and activity of these icy bodies could shed light on the evolution of our solar system, and help scientists write a more comprehensive history of how the building blocks of life were first delivered to Earth.” (www.space.com)

Foreign lands are explored, mapped out and subsequently colonized:

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John Thomson’s 1813 map of Africa. (Wikipedia)

“This hand colored map is a steel plate engraving, dating to 1813 by the important English mapmaker John Thomson. It is an early and historically important representation of the continent of Africa. Much of the continent is simply labeled “unknown parts”. Those sections that are known are surprisingly detailed. Caravan routes, temples, and even the distances between Oases are generally noted. Across the center of the continent Thomson details the mythical mountain range known as the “Mountains of the Moon”. The mountains of the moon were first postulated by Ptolemy to be the source of the Nile. This mysterious range remained on maps until the mid 19th century explorations of Burton, Speke, and Livingstone.” (Wikipedia)

Is colonization part of an regenerative process of shaking up existing states of things for their own good?

Is it, seen from the angle of the colonizer, an act of exploration only with the aim to gain knowledge about unknown parts of the world and universe? Or is it in any event a violent, destructive, rapacious intrusion of a well established natural or cultural realm for the intruder’s good?

Can it ever, from the angle of the colonized, be seen as an impulse to cultural renewal, testing the strength of defenses and developing capabilities to defend itself, absorb and digest?

Colonization is a good thing, of course. It means making the land and its people productive. Developing natural and cultural resources.

Colonialism however is not a good thing. It means the imposition of a foreign rule and exploitation of natural and human resources which can never be condoned.

To say colonialism was not all bad, it brought infrastructure etc. is tantamount to saying Hitler was not all bad, he built the Autobahn. Sorry Helen, this was, if not a calculated provocation definitely an unfortunate glitch.

Where to begin then with the project of decolonization?

Here are a few propositions what to do and not to do.

  • Do not tear down statues of classical colonizers.
    They are to be kept as reminders of the people’s history.
    To besmirch and pull down the statute of Cecil Rhodes is infantile.
  • Research and uncover knowledge disregarded by the colonizers.
    This might cover medicinal practices but also ways of looking at the sky and interpreting ways of being in this world.
  • Look at the difference between colonization and colonialism and separate the wheat from the husks. As much as colonialism is to be condemned, colonization has a lot to offer. This is where Helen got it wrong.
  • Empower all who are vulnerable, that is, all of us.
  • Try to dislodge the new colonizers, that is those in power who have usurped the position of the colonizers of old and are raping the country as of old.

The pricklyness of the de-colonization project lies in that the virus has disguised itself and has usurped the position of old under the mantle of liberation.
What are we to do?
What were the people of northern France and England to do when they were raided by Viking mobs?
They had to endure and bury their slain.
What are the Syrians to do in the enclaves of Mosul? They have to endure and bury their dead.
And South Africans? What are they to do to get rid of their new colonizers under the disguise of liberators?

We all are in a pickle. Attacked by all kinds of new challenges. To de-colonize is one of the least exciting issues. Let’s attend to the agenda of renewed colonial invasions in the guise of new forms of energy: fracking the Karoo to smithereens and Russian power plants dotted all over the country – the new colonial masters having been handsomely paid for their acquiescence already.

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With love from
Walter & Colleen
Stellenbosch 5 April 2017

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Disturbing the peace

Who is disturbing the peace? Structurally, the scenario develops as follows: into established ways of living and doing things, “foreign” elements are introduced and the peace is disturbed. The elements are easily identified where the population goes onto the street, calls for reform and/or radical change and for heads to roll. Or they are difficult to identify where climate change is discussed and where methods of analysis are still being researched and developed while the situation persists. In disturbances of the peace, the pendulum swings between such scenarios, where in one you lock up the population and restore peace and in the other you introduce measures to reduce poisonous emissions and restore the peace of mind – for a while at least.

So, what then is “peace”? Is peace an illusion of the mind? A drug of kinds that the brain is hooked on? And what is “disturbance”? A lack of essential minerals, vitamins and trace elements? Strangely, it always seems to be played out to be or to become political. The peace and the disturbance of it, is foremost a civic thing. But what is behind? A disturbance of the mind? Of pride? Of appetite? Of psychic matter? Or of so-called “culture”?

Colleen is reading a book about the Zimbabwean situation by Peter Godwin: When a Crocodile eats the Sun (Picador Africa 2006), relating passages from it to me. The following scenario, we thought, gave a glance of the inner heart of Africa. An American first world aid worker, Loki Osborn, sees how in a village the women have to go for miles to fetch water from a well. He brings in a drilling team, they sink a bore hole and construct a well near the village. Now a “foreign” element is introduced in that the villagers have to establish a hierarchy for who may be first at the new well. After much squabbling the new well is demolished and peace in the village is restored. The scenario is used to illustrate the point that you cannot rush in to help without understanding the inner workings of a village where the walk to the well, the activity of drawing water, the wait and chat around the well are an integral part to the village’s lifeblood.

But there is another thought that for the moment holds my interest: colonialism has disturbed the peace in Africa. According to one adage, the bad thing about colonialism is that it came to Africa, but the worst thing is that it left. I leave that as it stands. Having disturbed the peace is colonialism’s true crime and for which leaders – as they are seen in Africa – like Mugabe have found the true answer. Westerners call those who disturb our peace hooligans. Africans call us colonialists for disturbing their peace. What then is peace? And what disturbance? What kind of peace? What kind of disturbance?


A peaceful picnic above Bikini Beach in Gordon's Bay with Wiebke & Wolfgang

The "blue" hour

Drinking in public - you might be disturbing the peace! It's a civic matter - see!

Cheerio for now.
With love
from Colleen & Walter

Betty’s Bay, Thursday Feb 17, 2011