Manners are much more than a veneer. The ability to act courteously, professionally, and be mindful of etiquette in dealing with others is a reflection of something far more meaningful: one’s mettle. Columnist George Will once wrote that “manners are the practice of a virtue. The virtue is called civility, a word related—as a foundation is related to a house—to the word civilization.”
I began writing commentary in 1998, for an outstanding, hardcore, Canadian community newspaper (which was bought out and brought to its knees by the pinko-neocon media chain that monopolizes opinion in that country). Ever since, I’ve replied to almost every letter received from readers, unless abusive, or unless exchanges became—or become; as this obtains today—self-defeating, unproductive or sapping in any way.
In any event, letters from South Africans are especially precious. Although I’ve done my share (at a cost, professional and personal) for the people I’ve left behind in the Old Country, one is forever plagued by (irrational) survivor’s guilt. Letters help assuage this nagging (irrational) feeling.
This one comes from a man whose identity (shared in the missive) I’ve removed for his own safety:
Sent: Friday, August 30, 2013 2:23 AM
Subject: APPRECIATION INTO THE CANNIBALS POT
I cannot tell you how I got hold of the title of your book “Into the Cannibal’s Pot”. After having read an abstract I immediately decided to order the book. It wasn’t available in the —– Branch (—-, Pretoria) of Exclusive books and I had to wait a week for it. Since then I cannot wait for evening time so that I can lay my eyes on the book.
We are bombarded every day with apartheid and the despicable aspects thereof. And I am the first to admit that it was wrong and that it led to so much sufferings among the black people in South Africa. And government ministers and other officials cannot wait to attribute every inefficiency/misconduct and whatever, to the “evil” of Apartheid. The whole (dark and hopeless) Africa uses colonialism as an alibi for their inefficiency.
What is never said or mentioned is the benefits that colonialism brought for the SA or the continent.
In your book you made mention of the fact that Dr Verwoerd in 1956 said that SA blacks have the best life compared to any African country. I whole-heartedly agree and I once wrote an article which was placed in Rapport about this matter. In fact, with the abrupt power transfer, so many things just “…FELL FROM HEAVEN” for them: High salaries, fringe benefits and whatever. Apart from that they got a country with good infrastructure and numerous other things (which is degenerating day by day). I don’t have to tell you!
But I just want to thank you for this book. For so long I have been waiting for somebody with the guts to have a balanced view. I still refer people to view what is happening in the only (two) African countries which never experience colonialism, namely Liberia and Ethiopia. Liberia is the third poorest country on earth. And Ethiopia is not far from there. Just imagine what SA would have been without colonialism.
It is time my black brothers start acknowledging what benefits it brought to SA. But I know it will never happen because their alibi (and that of the whole Africa) will fall flat. Who will they have to blame then?
I am 60 years old now, ILana. I grew up extremely poor and I had to pay for my own studies. Today I have a BA, BA(Hons) and MBA. I was an officer in the SA Army until 1996 when I took a severance package as a Colonel. I know how much integrity we had in the system. And I am glad that I was part of the “old” system.
Again thanks for your book. You must be an amazing human being.
Note: My apology for my poor command of English. I am a boertjie! [Afrikaner]