A Tribute to Rural Africa

BY JOHN NASH

Everyone is aware of the furore over “Black Lives Matter” (BLM) and, although people are personally not guilty of racism, nor do they apparently harbour any racist thoughts and intentions, most people presume others, or our ancestors, must be guilty and so, being ordinarily helpful and sympathetic people, they go along passively with the general thrust of BLM. 

The question is, what if every rational person is quietly making the same presumption?  Where is the reality? 

I, like many others, have seen all of the shouty statistics and spurious, hindsight revisionisms, and I have concluded that most of them are highly selective or meaningless. We have now reached the strange situation where anyone who possesses a media connection and even a slightly dark complexion is able to rave about their BLM victimhood unchallenged, completely overlooking the fact that (a) they are not black and (b) young people of Indian and Asian heritage are doing particularly well in the UK compared to young white males.

In fact, the most apt description that I have seen is, “BLM is a crowd of angry people who have never been slaves, demanding compensation and apologies from nice people who never owned any”. You don’t, for example, hear Cornish people demanding reparations for the actions of African pirate slavers who enjoyed a jolly bit of rape and pillage while conducting 300 years of slave-grabbing excursions along the Southwest coast of the UK, as in ‘Barbary pirates raided on land as well as at sea. In August 1625 corsairs raided Mount’s Bay, Cornwall, capturing 60 men, women and children and taking them into slavery’. Please feel free to get down on one knee next time you eat a pasty, my son, but keep one eye open for the seagulls. I don’t wish to make light of the victims’ suffering, but from such acts of barbarity we must move on, and so we did. Cornwall’s very unwelcome slave-grabbing tourists were one of the reasons why Britain built a powerful navy that would one day rule the oceans of the world. It’s not as if we sat around moaning. We did something positive.

I spent years trading in the African bush when I was younger, and I whiled away many happy evenings under the stars getting as micturated as a rat round the kraal fires of lovely rural people. It is a truth that when you leave real Africa, the first thing you miss is the laughter and companionship of people who will cheerfully share everything they have with you, even if it is only a battered tin full of well-fermented pathology waste. Without a doubt, those happy years gave me an understanding and love of rural African people even if those same years probably wrecked my liver.   

Now don’t get me wrong – although I was no doubt viewed with suspicion by some local white people at that time (as in “What is that unwashed Cornish dronkaard doing with all those blerry bleks, man?”), I was no bleeding-heart liberal – I was prospecting and trading for skins, quills, seeds, carvings, crafts, gemstones, briar wood and the like. After work, I just happened to love the company of humans and, as proof, I only ever shot one (a burglar, colour immaterial).  

So now, much older, and retired back in the UK, I watch with immense interest the various social storms that rage here, particularly by people who claim African descent and especially those who pretend they are helping African wildlife. Those I come across neither represent ordinary, real Africans of the sort who are never seen in the UK, nor do they represent the silent majority of people in the UK who are lovely, kind, tolerant people.

So here is where I come to a tough position.  How can I show you some real Africa and real rural Africans so that you might understand the winter of my discontent?  

For wildlife, it is straightforward enough. You simply find some live cameras in Southern Africa (link at the end of this article) and perhaps click on Tembe reserve, where you can watch wild elephants and antelopes at a water hole, complete with noisy frogs, insects, birds and ever-present wood doves. Thus, thanks to technology, you can be transported at any time day or night to the sights and sounds of Kwazulu-Natal (formerly Zululand) border close to Mozambique.  It is especially recommended when you are self-isolating amid the ice and snow outside, but I digress. 

What I want you to do is to see real Africans.  Rural Africans.  Countryside Africans.  Wonderful Africans.  Positive Africans. Africans who are dignified and funny, who work like hell for little more than sweet Fanny Adams, but are optimistic and determined, and not even a wee bit surly.  

These are the Africans who, today, many years later, still sit round their evening fires deep inside my heart and my head, laughing and yarning as the firefly sparks and hardwood smoke carry the sounds of our inebriated friendship curling up into the night sky. Africans who are not begging or pleading or accusing – they hardly have a pot to pee in, yet they still get on with their lives, doing what’s necessary to get by in conditions of real hardship – a tsunami of hypertension brought on by extreme poverty, unemployment, a tight diet, an incompetent and kleptocratic ANC government and plagues of TB, HIV/AIDS and assorted COVIDs. 

Please look at these real Africans.  They will renew your faith in humanity.  Please look at them with pride, not pity. They are real Africans. They haven’t failed, just because they don’t have any material bling or a TV the size of a drive-in screen. They’ll tell you they are actually the lucky ones, with hope and access to a bit of help.  

These are the people I fight for, not the metropolitan celebrities and millionaires who kneel to show you how hard their rich, frothy, indulgent lives are. I shout for these lovely, skint rural people far away because nobody else will, not even the pious kneelers of BLM. These are genuine, wonderful people who don’t want your sorrow, but they deserve your admiration because the clowns who prance and pose and strut on our TV sets and tablets are a sick travesty.

Notes:

  • The organisation that I mentioned above is called ACAT.  Here is the  ACAT website.  Go to “ABOUT ACAT KZN” and drop down to “SUCCESS STORIES”.  
  • And for some soothing African waterhole therapy, go to africam.  It’s not a zoo or a hunting ground; if there are no animals there at the moment, wait patiently and listen to the birds.  Tembe is a place with lots of elephants….