Notes From a Native Son: Nelson Mandela and the Politics of Forgiveness

Hal Austin

Hal Austin

Almost without exception, the entire civilised world came to a standstill on the sudden, but not unexpected death of Nelson Mandela. Only one nation failed to express any condolence and its prime minister, for security reasons, did not see fit to attend the formal service. But most people, through the developed and developing world, paid homage to the former South African president and US president, Barack Obama, used his full oratorical skills to remind us why Mr Mandela was seen as such a great man. Most emphasis was on has almost Biblical sense of forgiveness, a moral act that compares with any other person throughout human history. How could he, after 27 years of incarceration by one of the most savage regimes the world has ever seen, find it in his heart to forgive his oppressors? That he did so showed how he dug in to the recesses of his soul to find that kindness, courage, the ability to turn the other cheek, that this we all, black and white, rich and poor, old and young, are now agreed was exceptional.

But Mr Mandela was more than the forgiving angel, which undoubtedly he was; he was also someone with a deep respect for all he encountered, as we are told; he had humility and humour, understanding and foresight, and, of course, an ability to forgive which gave him that special public moral authority. But questions remain: moral duty often involves conflicting moral pressures: is forgiveness superior to justice?

Most of all, however, Mr Mandela was a model of how public servants should behave, of a standard of public integrity that almost no African or Caribbean state has embedded in its governance. And it is this public integrity, this impeccable behaviour, that will become his historical legacy, a roadmap for all aspiring young public servants, professional and elected, to emulate. Above all, Mr Mandela has set a benchmark for the morality of politics in developing nations, of the supremacy of the collective above the individual, of focusing on the bigger picture and ignoring the spiritual poison of anger and bitterness. He has re-written the standard work on the politics of sharing and giving, of serving one’s people, of putting others before self.

However, Mr Mandela’s principal legacy in the short-term, his forgiveness, in the cold light of day may not be as powerful and lasting as many suggest. For there is a broader morality of forgiveness which cannot be forgotten that easily.

Did he have the moral right to be so forgiving for the injury and hurt, the brutality and naked violence inflicted on millions of people across generations?

Was it part of his remit to forgive the oppressor on behalf of his people without any expressed or implicit authority?

We can, and should, measure Mr Mandela against post-war African freedom fighters, both before and during his involvement: the Mau-Mau in Kenya, Robert Mugabe and Nkomo in Zimbabwe, of Kenneth Kaunda in Zambia, of those fighting in Angola, Mozambique and other places. How does he measure up?

The brutality of colonial forces in Kenya was singularly savage; support for Ian Smith, Pik Botha and Verwoerd, in Southern Rhodesia and South Africa respectively, carried on in to the 1980s. Are these acts of wild violence and debilitating inequality acts that a single person, whoever he or she is, can forgive on behalf of a wronged people?

Economic Legacy:
It is often implied that the trade-off for Mr Mandela’s forgiveness was social peace, if so at what price? The core of the fight against apartheid was equality of opportunity for all, education, jobs, health and housing. Post-apartheid, economic power remains in the hands of the same people who held power during the dark years. In the period leading up to the first democratic general election in South Africa, when it was clear that one person, one vote will return a ANC government, a number of world-class, South Africa-domiciled financial institutions gradually shifted their headquarters to Europe. Their operations in South Africa became mere subsidiaries or branches, while their leading executives re-located in Britain or the Channel Islands. We can also be sure that a number of wealthy and mass affluent people also shifted their wealth out of South Africa, to New Zealand, Australia, Britain and elsewhere. It is still not clear what the total shift of capital out of the country has been valued at, but it is fair to suggest it was very substantial.

The miners at Marikana who were brutally shot by police, black and white, could not care less if that brutality was under apartheid or democracy. All that mattered was that 34 people were murdered while protesting for their rights as workers. Middle class professionals and university students are becoming increasingly hostile to the ANC, the country is caught up in the global economic struggle and, like the world over, the Chinese have moved in in a big way. But there are other questions to be asked: what happened to South Africa’s nuclear capacity on the dawn of the transfer? Can we afford to forget the role of the South African Communist Party, the Pan-African Congress and others, whether negatively or positively?

Analysis and Conclusion:
Nelson Mandela was rightfully celebrated in his death and will no doubt be remembered for decades to come. But, I suggest, his real legacy will not be one of his moral strength of forgiveness – the truth and reconciliation model has been rejected by the Israelis and Palestinians and the IRA and Protestant groups. His real legacy will be that of honesty, integrity in public office, common courtesy, no matter your social status. He brought a morality to politics that is not talked about often enough. These qualities are not insignificant; any of us would be happy to be remembered for any single one. They are the single lessons he has taught the world after his 27 years of incarceration: that there is honour in serving the people, that a person can be measured by his honesty and integrity, that politics does not have to be a dirty word. If for no other reason, we are very lucky to be alive at a time like this when an ordinary man with towering integrity walked amongst us.

We must also reflect on the role of the succeeding generations of ANC apparatchiks, the professional trade unionists and academics who metamorphosed in to multi-millionaire business people. The princes and princesses of the revolution, the sons and daughters of the people who went in to the bush to fight, who believed it was a right that they should inherit the spoils of war. The people who betrayed their parents’ generation. Mr Mandela’s integrity has given way to a generation of corrupt politicians who have abandoned the welfare of the people.

Post-apartheid South Africa is still not the ideal so-called Rainbow nation; there is still a growing disparity between the haves and have-nots, the only change is that there is now a wealthy black middle class, professionals and business people, that increasingly are pulling away from their own people, financially and metaphorically. Whereas under apartheid race and ethnicity were the dividing factors, it is now class and material success.

We must also remember the role of women in the liberation struggle. Winnie Mandela endured 27 years of animal-like behaviour from the authorities while Nelson was in prison. The authorities saw her as a soft target, someone they could break, the weak link. What they got was a determined woman, a warrior, someone prepared to stand up, for herself and for her absent husband and, most of all, for her people. Throughout it all she has remained dignified, despite attempts by the media and informers to smear her. Loyalty and sincerity should be repaid with loyalty and sincerity. She too must be remembered when the annals of this period are written, not just dismissed as the flawed wife as the racist authorities would like history to remember her. Wars of liberation are never won as a one-off, each generation must re-fight those battles, go over the same old debates, negotiate the same old agreements, as previous ones, only these contests get a bit more sophisticated.

When all is said and done, Mr Mandela has taught us that politics too can be a moral force for good. We must work out for ourselves, test the boundaries, of the moral limit to forgiveness.

26 thoughts on “Notes From a Native Son: Nelson Mandela and the Politics of Forgiveness

  1. Why the West Loves Mandela and Hates Mugabe

    In the wake of Nelson Mandela’s death, hosannas continue to be sung to the former ANC leader and South African president from both the left, for his role in ending the institutional racism of apartheid, and from the right, for ostensibly the same reason. But the right’s embrace of Mandela as an anti-racist hero doesn’t ring true. Is there another reason establishment media and mainstream politicians are as Mandela-crazy as the left?
    According to Doug Saunders, reporter for the unabashedly big business-promoting Canadian daily, The Globe and Mail, there is.
    In a December 6 article, “From revolutionary to economic manager: Mandela’s lesson in change,” Saunders writes that Mandela’s “great accomplishment” was to protect the South African economy as a sphere for exploitation by the white property-owning minority and Western corporate and financial elite from the rank-and-file demands for economic justice of the movement he led.

    • Mandela: Goodness Personified, Terrorism Purified!
      There appears to be an unwritten code of conduct in most societies I know that you speak good of the dead or hold your peace and let them rest in peace.
      In the last few days I have longed for some people to do the latter and not pollute the spiritual balance of the Universe by rewriting history, making self indulgent claims and choosing to dissociate the goodness of Nelson Mandela from the evil he laid his life on the line to confront.  Some commentators proclaim as if Mandela’s ‘terrorist’ belief in the legitimacy of armed struggle against a genocidal regime was cured in the furnace of Robben Island, thus qualifying him to return to the fold of decent, peace loving citizens the world over.
      Bizarrely, the Los Angeles Times carried an article on 7 December 2013 with the headline Robben Island:  The place that changed Nelson Mandela. Changed from what to what?  This writer does not say. But, writing in the same paper the day before, David Horsey noted:

      Mandela was a militant black man with a raised fist and that scared many people. But the revolution in his heart freed him from narrow ideology or racial enmity and made him able to seek the national reconciliation that led to a more complete liberty for all the citizens of South Africa, no matter the color of their skin. Yes, he was just a man, but he learned a key lesson that most revolutionaries, politicians and world leaders never learn: before you can change the world, you must change yourself.

    • Mandela has been sanitised by hypocrites and apologists

      Nelson Mandela is greeted by Fidel Castro on a visit to Cuba in 1991.
      We have now had a week of unrelenting beatification of Nelson Mandela by exactly the kind of people who stood behind his jailers under apartheid. Mandela was without question a towering historical figure and an outstanding hero of South Africa’s liberation struggle. So it would be tempting to imagine they had been won over by the scale of his achievement, courage and endurance.
      For some, that may be true. For many others, in the western world in particular, it reeks of the rankest hypocrisy. It is after all Mandela’s global moral authority, and the manifest depravity of the system he and the African National Congress brought to an end, that now makes the hostility of an earlier time impossible to defend.


    1892-1985 Beatrice Henry today now 28 years past and the Fraud live on,
    St Marys Church yard in Bridge town Barbados ,

    The Queen work will never die, As Land Fraud in Barbados also live on ,
    With many of the same crooks doing their Best to do what they know is wrong , As they look to build more Churches in the name of God.
    Must be the god of hell they dealing with.

  3. Mandela didn’t forgive Apartheid,
    Apartheid was over so his mission to kill Apartheid was over

    He didn’t return white brutality with black brutality as he wasn’t a devil / beast

    Mandela’s fight against Apartheid and his efforts to keep peace in new South Africa were both righteous.. You don’t have to descend to your enemies level

  4. Mandela is slated to be the new face of “tolerance and forgiveness” for the upcoming generation who would know little about the out of date Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Arab and African worlds, LOOK OUT …!

  5. There is a way that SEEMS right to mankind…..but the end thereof is the way of death….
    What a fella sow, he must reap, and those white racists who sowed and nurtured hate and violence were allowed to reap peace and security and ill-gotten wealth through Mandela’s forgiveness….. (Mandela was NOT first! Many black revolutionary leaders – INCLUDING EWB- chose to “forgive and forget”, contravening the laws of nature…..

    We have now also accepted this principle in our legal system such that the WORSE kind of criminals are ROUTINELY forgiven, “rehabilitated” and exonerated – after preying on innocent citizens.

    This all sound REAL ethical, mature and dandy ….like that white man from “International human rights” or some shiite group- here recently calling on Barbados to abandon the death penalty altogether and to be more kind and forgiving of our convicted murderers….


    Wunna keep listening to those white people and see where it will get us…..

    Look at the blacks in South Africa DECADES after Mandela took control and see where it got THEM
    ….or indeed where EWB’s forgiveness got us blacks in Barbados.

    JUSTICE is NOT about endorsing shiite…..
    Bushie would have forgiven them ALL ….and then hanged every last guilty one of the brass bowls….

  6. @ Bushman

    “(Mandela was NOT first! Many black revolutionary leaders – INCLUDING EWB- chose to “forgive and forget”, contravening the laws of nature”

    Thank you for saying what few dare open up and admit!


    Even Zaccheus the tax collector understood that because he had wronged too many that he MUST back: “I will give half my wealth … And if I have extorted anything from anyone, I’ll pay back four times as much!

    20 years on and the tables have not been rebalanced! The masses of Blacks still live in dilapidated conditions while the SA President can spend 14 million on his house!

  7. Everything this writer has ever said about anything, was and is wrong. Let us deal with two for lack of time. This man talks about a ‘civilized world’, we wonder where that is. His civilized world only exist when White people seek to destroy Black people. Like when Churchill was killing ‘sand niggers’ (Arabs) or George Bush was using nuclear weapons on Iraqis. Or Obama, in killing innocent people everyday using drones make a soring speech, with bloodied hands. This is the language they use to denigrate the ‘other’. He talks about Obama, a man that intelligent people should be more interested in listening to what he didn’t say than the actual words which come from his fork mouth. A critique will on every point Obama was ignorant, self-serving and drew irrational comparisons. As helpers in getting Mandela out of jail and workers for the end of Apartheid, using all means necessary, it is indeed sickening to see that mendicants are praising a man for his capitulation to White global economic power while still assisting another Apartheid state (Israel) maintain White supremacy over the Palestinians. How civilized can we be?

    • @Bush Tea

      Isn’t this the point Jeff Cumberbatch made another blog? Yes Mandela is to be commended for what he has done but what about reparations which never eventuated? It was recommended to him from the Truth Commission.

  8. @David,
    The photo at the top shows a jubilant Nelson Mandela with Fidel Castro. What is the significance of this photo though? the significance is really in two words;”Cuito Cuanavale.”.
    Cuito Cuanavale was the turning point in the fight against apartheid and the release of Nelson Mandela. It was there, between October 1987 and June 1988, that the South African Defense force (SADF) were humiliatingly and decisively defeated by the Liberation forces of Angola and Cuba.(MPLA) Cuban assistance to Angolan resistance to the SADF was vital. This defeat meant that the South African Regime was doomed. The outcome was that Angola got its freedom, Namibia became independent and Mandela won his freedom. Over two thousand Cubans died in that struggle. Barbados played a vital part by providing a staging point and use of its facilities for the mustering of Cuban fighters. The MPLAwas in the process of becoming the ruling power in Angola. Faced with this prospect and the end of Portugese rule, the SADF invaded Namibia, and moved into Angola with over 11,000 troops and sophisticated arms supplied by the US and UK and air support. These caused the retreat of the Angolan army to Cuito Carnavale where 6000 survivors, along with 1500 Cubans were besieged. Faced with the SADF and fighters of SWAPO prepared for a 23 pilots swept the South African Air Force from the skies. Moreimportantly South Africa even considered using tactical nuclear power in the fight. the Cuban Angolan and SWAPO fighters outflanked the SADF. they were cut off 300 miles from their bases in Namibia. this resulted in a decisive defeat of the SADF. the US orgainsed talks to save the Apartheid regime, but the end was in sight. Following negotiations between South Africa, UK and USA, Namibia gained its Independence, in March 1990 one month after Mandela walked free from prison and Aouth African liberation movements were unbanned. Thr Military wind of the ANC said of the Cubans” these patriots and Internationalists were motivated by a single goal-an end to racial rule and genuine African independence. After 13 years of defending Angolan sovereignty, the Cubans took nothing home except the bones of their fallen and our gratitude.” Chester Crocker, a Reagan era Us diplomat negotiated the face-saving SADF exit from Angola in which CUBA insisted that Mandela had to be freed.The US and its allies knew that a white blood bath would have taken place in South Africa with the defeat of the SADF and the West could not support apartheid any more.
    With the feeing of Mandela the regime of South Africa gave up its nuclear weapons because they did not want a Black Nation to possess nuclear weapons.
    Mandela’s freedom and the dismantling of apartheid is due in no small measure to Fidel CAastro and the Sacrifice of the Cuban people.

  9. @David,
    slight correction and clarification Part of the above should read:
    “Faced with the full power of the SADF , Cuban Angolan and SWAPO forces prepared for a counter attack. Cuban MIG 23 pilots swept the South African Air force fromAngolan skies..”
    I was very pleased, in my short visit to Cuba last year to have had discussions with one of the Cuband who took part in thet battle in Angola, they were/are all heroes as far as I am concerned.

  10. Could it be that Infowars is on the run ?
    Alex “Allah” Jones and his klan love to bleat on about free speech,
    yet within a week of challenging them on issues of racism Nat Turner finds he can no longer comment on the site.
    It may be as a result of challenging their disgustingly racist “cannibal” article,
    (“Castro Handshake? What About that Obama Photo Op with an African Cannibal?”)
    or it may be as a result of daring to stand up to some of the insidious racism which permeates the comments section.
    Nat is promoting a petition against the Boeremag terrorists who tried to bomb the late President Nelson Mandela and Facebook’s support of them.
    Nat says “the work with the petition will continue and that the cowardly Infowars/Prison Planet will now become a part of any further publicity”

  11. I think the forum will like to know that the ANC has banned archbishop Tutu from Mandela’s funeral.
    A lifelong fighter, the greatest moral authority in the country now Mandela is dead, one of his great friends (he spent his first night of freedom at Tutu’s home), yet these political tribalists have seen it fit to ban him just because he has been critical of them.
    Does anyone see any similarities with the party bias in Barbadian politics?

  12. @ Hal Austin | December 14, 2013 at 8:24 AM |

    That is a portent of things to come with that potentially factious tribalistic organization. Bishop Tutu has been a voice for change and was always prepared to speak out against injustices not only apartheid but also against all forms of discrimination including homophobia, sexism and religious bigotry.

    As Madiba departs this earthly plane the likes of the present president would be the one to take control of that once revered freedom fighting movement and “blacken” its image as a rainbow agent of change for a better SA.
    Fortunately the armed forces and control of the economy are still insulted from the dirty hands of these budding dictators who are just chomping at the bit to create an environment that could lead to tribal warfare to make Rwanda look like a Sunday picnic.

  13. I really have a problem with the concept of the CIVILIZED – WORLD, because by all intents and purposes it more than likely applies to those of us who aren’t of the European Linage. So therefore, we ought to circumspect with respect to usage of this terminology in the future.

  14. We can attempt to eulogize Nelson Mandela in whatever manner we see fit. But Mandela had always regarded himself as a simple man. Who was forced through the dictates of his conscience, to do what he thought was right and what others thought was extraordinary.

  15. “Politics too can be a moral force for good”. Loll

    Yes, I agree that politics can be a moral force for good, but only if we’re able cure the faults and failings that are embedded in the nature of man. Listen! I love man Mandela and what he stood for. But, I am cognizant of the fact the he also had his faults and failings like any other man that walked the face of the earth. Jesus had also taught us the Religion can be a force for good and yet Judas Iscariot betrayed him.

  16. “Politics too can be a moral force for good”. Loll

    Yes, I agree that politics can be a moral force for good, but only if we’re able cure the faults and failings that are embedded in the nature of man. Listen! I love the man Mandela and what he stood for. But, I am cognizant of the fact that he also had his faults and failings like any other man that walked the face of the earth. Jesus had also taught us that Religion can be a force for good and yet Judas Iscariot betrayed him.

  17. @Hal Austin
    I am surprised at few things and this is one of them but Zuma and his cronies have been exposed and embarrassed on the World stage from the booing from South Africans at the Memorial Service to the humiliation that was the “interpreter” for the Deaf.

    Having Tutu speak about them not living up to Mandela’s legacy e.g. the refurbishing of Zuma’s private residence at a cost of 21m US of the taxpayers money and the massacre of the miners under their watch would make it a trifecta.

  18. This worth a discussion.

    Keith A. P. Sandiford
    Mr Justin Trudeau, the present Prime Minister of Canada, is making a great deal of his determination to promote a programme of multiculturalism and diversity in such a way as to make our country the one most likely to attract hard-working and useful immigrants to a place long famous for its enormous size and incredible underdevelopment. Canada is almost 3,856,000 square miles in extent but caters only to a population of less than 38 million souls. It is larger, that is to say, than the United States of America with its 328 million people occupying approximately less than 3,538,000 square miles. Canada is also just marginally smaller than the whole of Europe, whose present population is estimated at almost 743 million as of January 2019 in an area measuring 3,930,000 square miles. There is no question that Canada has been severely underdeveloped ever since its indigenous population lost control of the land. One of the major reasons for this situation, quite ironically, is that, until very recently, the Canadian government persisted in retaining some of the harshest Immigration Laws imaginable. It was not until the 1950s that Blacks and Browns were offered any opportunity to settle in this country. While white alumni from the prestigious Caribbean secondary schools had always been encouraged to immigrate here and make useful contributions to the country’s development, others were discouraged. Such white Barbadians, for example, as Professor Charles Bourne, Dr Wesley Bourne, Dr James Bovell, Colonel Richard Clement Moody, Lt Commander Wesley Alleyne Seale, Henry Peter Simmons, John Taylor and Professor Emeritus Frederick Winter all left indelible marks on Canadian life and culture. In stark contrast, thousands of black alumni of Combermere School, Harrison College and The Lodge had joined the Canadian military services during World War I and World War II and hundreds of them had sacrificed their lives on behalf of the British Empire. Very few of them received promotions or were offered Canadian citizenship. And it took several decades of determined action on the part of Owen Rowe (1922-2005), a native of St George, Barbados, to have
    governmental approval to establish a plaque in Ottawa in memory of those Caribbean-Canadian soldiers who had made enormous sacrifices during World War II. Finally, on 11 November 2000, he managed to persuade the federal government to lay a wreath at the Cenotaph in Ottawa “in honour of West Indian WWII Veterans”. Owen Rowe’s experience is simply one indication of the extent of Canadian racism throughout the 20th century. All kinds of opportunities were cruelly denied the Blacks and the Browns from the Caribbean and elsewhere. Coloured alumni from the prestigious secondary schools could enter this country, on Student Visas, to further their education at places like McGill University and the University of Toronto. Others were allowed to enter as “Landed Immigrants” to work temporarily on farms or as porters on the trains. The only loophole left to the Non-Whites was the Naturalisation Clause which automatically offered full Canadian citizenship to any person (of whatever origin) who was born in this country. One particular Barbadian family of no little renown was destined to make considerable use of this “birthing” clause. It was the Searles Family from St James that eventually played a major role in persuading the Government to liberalize Canada’s Immigration Policy. II. INITIAL CRACKS IN THE CONSERVATIVE WALL The situation gradually changed during the 1950s. Canada found itself in dire need of domestics, nannies and nurses. It therefore decided to import hundreds of Caribbean young women, as landed immigrants, to fill these needs. They had to come without their husbands, parents and their children. They came literally in droves, settling particularly in Ontario and Quebec; but full citizenship remained beyond their grasp and the vast majority of them were left at the mercy of wealthy and white landlords and landladies, who could always hold the threat of deportation over their heads. It took a vigorous and prolonged protest from Caribbean leaders in Montreal and Toronto to bring about some liberal reforms during the time of John Diefenbaker’s tenure. These changes had nothing whatever to do with Pierre Elliot Trudeau or his son, Justin, as several Canadian journalists have recently been claiming. The major advocates of liberal Immigration Reform were actually black community leaders with Caribbean roots, such as the Barbadians Donald Willard Moore (1913-94), Edsworth Searles (1921-2009), (Dr Gerald Searles (1925-2006), and Dr Kenneth Searles (1923-2001) and Jamaicans
    like Bromley Armstrong (1926-2018), Harry Gairey (1898-1993) and Stanley Grizzle (1918-2016). They founded the Negro Citizenship Association (NCA) in 1951 and campaigned earnestly for some measures to release the domestics (especially) from their peculiar form of slavery in its modern guise. Led by Donald Moore, they organized a delegation to Ottawa in 1954 to seek reasonable amendments to the existing Immigration Laws. They were royally and repeatedly snubbed by Louis St Laurent, the Liberal prime minister. It was not therefore before 1958, thanks mainly to the support of the Conservative “Dief the Chief”, that legislation was finally passed to permit post-colonial Blacks and Browns to apply for permanent residence. This law, however, soon needed to be buttressed by several other legislative measures to make life liveable for the Caribbean-Canadians in big urban centres like Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. The first was the “Fair Accommodation Practices Act” of 1961. This was eventually followed by a new “Bill of Rights” which announced the principle of “racial equally before the law”. Later on, a more comprehensive “Charter of Rights and Freedoms” had to be passed. As the gulf between white and coloured jobs and salaries continued to widen, the Government tried its best to legislate some form of equity. But such efforts have never really succeeded. Racist Whites, in spite of the new legislation, continued to discriminate against the Blacks and Browns so furiously that the Non-whites gradually found themselves confined to urban ghettos from which the Whites had angrily departed. From the very best jobs and the very best areas the Blacks, Browns and Yellows found themselves steadily excluded – as had so long been the case in the UK and the US. III. THE SITUATION BECOMES MORE COMPLICATED Considering that post-colonial Blacks and Browns had come mainly to Canada, the UK and the US with similar European cultural habits and religious beliefs, it was mainly racism which often militated against the establishment of so-called “melting pots” and mosaics”. The problem has become considerably more complex in recent years when millions of Arabs, Asians, Buddhists, Hindus, Indians, Jains, Muslims and Sikhs began to seek refuge in the West. Their religions, ideologies and behaviours are too vastly different to be squeezed comfortably into any kind of “melting pot” or “mosaic”. All too often, Eastern religions and traditions are woven into the laws and morals of the various countries. There is therefore a strong temptation to worship and behave
    in oriental ways, sometimes at variance with the host traditions. Some Muslims and Sikhs, for example, have become so committed to the notion that religion always trumps politics and laws, that they have been trying to subordinate local regulations to the demands of Salarian law. Many of them have actually managed to compel the British Government to legalize the religions of their own native countries. The Muslims are always the most aggressive immigrants and as they are also the most reproductive among the host peoples, their numbers have grown the most rapidly over the past few decades. They have thus become a real danger to the Anglo-Saxon elements of the society. The Canadians have thus seen some of the most negative results that can follow from a tendency to deal too liberally with hostile and aggressive invaders. Our government must be very firm in insisting that citizenship can only be offered to those who swear to obey the laws of Canada. All immigrant felonies should lead to immediate deportation. Moreover, all applicants should be thoroughly screened to prevent the infiltration of criminals, drug dealers and potential terrorists. Schools and colleges should be open to all newcomers to allow them to adjust as soon as possible to the Canadian conditions and to make positive contributions to our economy and culture. There are many Canadians who believe that the Liberals, in their anxiety to save thousands of oriental victims from torture and death, have been too lax in their screening methods. Already there is evidence of young Muslims declaring war on Christian institutions and of angry Christians going so far as to destroy Islamic mosques in some major urban centres.
    Within the past few decades, too, Canadian immigration has produced some difficulties that could not easily have been foreseen. Many wealthy Chinese families, for example, have been welcomed into the country, especially in British Columbia, where they completely destroyed the real estate market by lifting the price of housing beyond the ability of the locals to compete. Hundreds of workers have been forced to abandon the major urban centres like Vancouver and Victoria and seek refuge in the suburbs and rural areas. They simply cannot afford to purchase houses in the cities. They therefore have to use public and other forms of transportation to get to their previous places of employment. The municipal governments have welcomed the foreign millionaires who
    can afford the exorbitant property taxes. Provincial and municipal politicians are also vying among themselves to secure Chinese votes since the Chinese contingent has become so huge. There is also an Indian population that can be manipulated. In these ways, the newcomers are generally able to wield an enormous and unfair influence over Canadian politics and defeat the whole purpose of multiculturalism. V. SOME CONCLUSIONS
    History has shown that the major obstacle to multiculturalism and diversity in every part of this earth, be it Canada or elsewhere, is blatant racism. So long as the majority of Whites continue to believe that they are (and always have been intended by God to be) the cream of humanity and civilization, any effort to promote diversity and multiculturalism is doomed to failure. Many Whites have been known to favour Indian and oriental cuisine and sometimes music. But most of them still regard Blacks, Browns and Yellows as inferior beings. Note how, even the 21st century, American Whites have embraced Donald J Trump, despite his obvious and incredible bigotry, stupidity, ignorance, mendacity, vulgarity and narcissism. Please note, too, how shabbily the British have recently been treating the same Blacks and Browns, whose ancestors had fought so nobly and unselfishly for “The Mother Country” during two World Wars. Nor is there any secret that US police have traditionally been killing and brutalizing innocent Blacks and Browns with total impunity despite the Civil Rights legislation of the 1960s. Too many important Caribbean Blacks have been known to suffer too often from Canadian forms of stereotyping. Such well-known writers as Austin Clarke and Cecil Foster have attested to this. And only the other day, such a popular and very well-known television personality as Marci Ien was stopped by cops in her own driveway in Toronto because she seemed to be driving a car that a black young lady could not have been expected to afford. For any attempt at multiculturalism to succeed, the host country must educate and train its police forces to fully understand the concept of racial equality. It must promote the idea that nonwhite professionals are generally of equal value and intelligence in comparison with their white counterparts. In the same way, it should encourage Canadian Heads of Departments and Ministries to make a careful study of foreign colleges and universities, their syllabi, staffs and standards. Only
    in this way will they be able to properly evaluate the merits and abilities of Eastern and Oriental professionals seeking employment in this country. Multiculturalism and Diversity can only be accomplished if the host country is prepared to make all immigrants as comfortable as possible. Canada must treat them as equals to native citizens and make them feel even more “at home” than they had previously felt. On the other hand, Canada must insist on total obedience to its laws, customs and traditions. It is very indecent and unconscionable, after all, for a friendly neighbour to seek refuge in your home and then attempt to control your family’s behaviour.

  19. Interesting

    The co-opting of Black culture in the South Asian diaspora, hip hop and the n-word

    Dhruva Balram discusses how South Asian people often gravitate towards Black culture and music, and how use of the n-word became an issue.

    Moving to Canada from India at the cusp of adolescence, I instantly felt different, out of place – ‘othered’. Within a neocolonial society that continues to perpetuate whiteness, I found myself unconsciously gravitating towards the closest representation of myself within society: Blackness.
    When I immigrated to Toronto, the diversity of ethnicities making up the city was immediately apparent. It was a global melting pot; an amalgamation of the world’s culture, countries and continents – with communities hailing from Ethiopia, to Korea and as far-flung as Fiji. All walks of life were reflected in my new home. After a childhood marked by an infatuation with predominantly white celebrities – Backstreet Boys, ‘Nsync, Spice Girls, coveted pop stars of the 90s – I aspired to be white, i.e. to be happy.
    “In a Westernised pop culture framework, we have been portrayed through poverty porn or mockery. Films like Slumdog Millionaire are lauded for their ‘true’ portrayal of India as it feeds into the poverty-stricken, singing and dancing narrative of what India – and South Asia – is to whiteness”
    In Toronto, I was introduced to Black culture in a way most members of the South Asian diaspora are when yearning for a community with people who look like them. It was easy for me, as a young adolescent, lost and adrift, to adopt Black culture . In a world where whiteness was (and is) the default, we gravitated to the ‘other’. Without understanding the weight of history on our shoulders, we grouped with other cultures underneath an umbrella of marginalisation.
    Culture carries an unparalleled weight in shaping how communities are perceived. In a South Asian context, Bollywood tends to be the go-to for a feeling of representation (which, in itself, has a myriad of issues). In a Westernised pop culture framework, we have been portrayed through poverty porn or mockery. Films like Slumdog Millionaire are lauded for their ‘true’ portrayal of India as it feeds into the poverty-stricken, singing and dancing narrative of what India – and South Asia – is to whiteness. Apu Nahsapeemapetilon in The Simpsons is what whiteness reduces South Asians to be: a caricature. By erasing cultural complexities and representing us through a single lens, it is whiteness which ultimately decides how we are represented in the mainstream.

    Simpsons caricture, Apu Nahsapeemapetilon

    Like spice on an unseasoned dish, South Asians find themselves tossed around the world. With this comes a warped sense of otherness: that we are at the top of the pecking order of privilege, when it comes to Black people. There are plenty of South Asian youth in the diaspora who consider themselves Black.
    We grow up thinking we are Black, happy to exploit the culture and co-opt its identity for own capital and cultural gain. Yet, in doing so, we negate the lived experience of being Black. Not to mention the specific, inherited, cross-generational trauma that comes with it. We do not feel accurately represented in the mainstream and so we.position ourselves closer to Black cultures – or rather the packaged version marketed to us – in an attempt to feel something that always seems familiar but is an arm’s length away.
    In her book, Hip Hop Desis: South Asian Americans, Blackness, and a Global Race Consciousness, Nitasha Tamar Sharma writes: “European and American colonialists and imperialists constructed white normatively by conceptualising Asians and Blacks as deviant groups on each side of the spectrum with regards to matters of intelligence, physical ability and so forth.” An ethnography of individuals, Sharma explores the aesthetics and politics of Desi Hip Hop. What she finds is that people in the diaspora flock to a predominantly Black genre as that is where they feel most comfortable.
    “It [saying the n-word] was common growing up in New York,” Bangladeshi-American rapper Big Baby Gandhi stated. New York-based art director Amad Ilyas echoed the sentiment stating, “I think the use of the word can go as far back as I can remember”
    Writing in The Fader, journalist and critic Anupa Mistry eloquently encapsulated that “in the absence of aspiration that reflected our own hybrid South Asian identities, we gravitated towards Black culture and role models.” Sharma’s subjects leaned towards hip-hop as that was they felt most represented them. What Sharma’s subjects don’t discuss enough is the co-opting of Black identity, of using the n-word as if we have ownership of it. South Asians have positioned ourselves here, just far enough away from Blackness to allow this idea of hybridity to persist through co-option, through exploitation, through profiting off the labour of others.
    Navaraj Singh Goraya grew up in Rexdale, Toronto – not too far from me. A Punjabi-Canadian artist and producer, his self titled debut commercial mixtape, Nav, helped him soar to pop culture stardom: he co-produced Drake’s Back To Back – the viral Meek Mill death blow and diss track; he also helped deliver the chorus for Travis Scott’s Biebs in The Trap – the drug-laced anthemic club banger. Alongside his rise came a close inspection of his lyrics coupled with criticism. It was mainly to do with his use of the n-word – littered, at the time, throughout his discography.

    Nav and Travis Scott in a still from the ‘Beibs In The Trap’ video

    It was – and still is – common for brown youth to use the n-word in our lexicon. “It [saying the n-word] was mad common growing up in New York,” Bangladeshi-American rapper Big Baby Gandhi stated. New York-based art director Amad Ilyas echoed the sentiment stating, “I think the use of the word can go as far back as I can remember. I remember it being used by my uncles when I was young.” Mistry also weighed in, “growing up, I knew brown people who justified their use of the n-word by getting the ‘consent’ of their black friends. I also believe that some people use it because they equate the oppression and marginalisation of brown people with that of Black folks .”
    Facing backlash, Nav told Complex in an exclusive interview that he would drop saying the word. He stated, “Well, it’s like the neighbourhood I grew up in is very multicultural. It goes from Chinese to White to Black to Jamaican, everything, right? Everybody uses that word freely. A Chinese guy is saying it to me, I’m saying it to a Black guy, and a Black guy is saying it to me.” As Mistry stated, consent from Black peers does not permit us to use the word. For Nav, because he was making music for his friends i.e. his cohorts, he didn’t think his use of the word implicated him. It was only when he had entered the mainstream he was able to see the error of his ways.
    Nav, like many of us in the diaspora, postured himself close to Blackness. Like Chokalingam and myself, he did this subconsciously without ever absorbing the trauma that comes with being Black. We have all been shackled by white supremacy, but the weight and struggles we face are different; both are as important as the other, but each is a battle the other hasn’t had to experience. Brown celebrities like Riz Ahmed and Zayn Malik are just as much in the spotlight, yet tend to stay away from this language – understanding that we have our own culture to represent without stealing others’, knowing that when we trade language, there are enough words to choose from.

    Big Baby Gandhi

    “A lot of Americans co-opt Black identity on a baseline level,” Big Baby Gandhi said. “Black people are the largest creators of culture in America. South Asians are just as guilty, and probably go extra hard the more they feel maligned by/want to distance themselves from white America.” Once you strip away the fat, it really does boil down to representation. When South Asians are portrayed as meek, as emasculated versions of ourselves, why would we ever want to aspire to what we see being represented on a global scale: Raj Koothrappali from the Big Bang Theory. Like everyone else, South Asians gravitate towards coolness which, in this current climate, appears to be Blackness and Black culture. “South Asians should be aware of their own racism against Black people, in India or otherwise,” BBG continued.
    Marcus, a British person of Black Caribbean heritage, said: “At university, British born South Asian and Caribbean people had a kind of kinship, we were the children of Windrush and the migration that followed. On Fresher’s week, a group of South Asian guys fist-bumped me when I offered a courteous handshake. They were dressed in the hip-hop style of the era and worshipped Eric B and Rakim, Public Enemy and Dr Dre and wore “Malcolm X” snapbacks. They partied with us at our African Caribbean Society events, until the inevitable point when the police would come and shut us down – ignoring the white indie kids’ parties of course”.
    “But when i became good friends with a South Asian girl, it became a huge talking point among her South Asian peers that we were possibly dating (we weren’t – I’m gay) and she heard gossip about her turning her back on her culture. It was as if appreciation and appropriation of Black culture was fair game, so long as no one got TOO close”.

    Writer, editor, producer and host Anupa Mistry

    Wanting to be Black does not give South Asians an excuse to use the n-word, nor does it permit us to co-opt Black identity. However, understanding the root cause of an issue allows us to start fixing it. As Mistry said, “the onus should be on most people to use Google to educate themselves.” It’s simply a click away and our knowledge of both history and race-based issues is expanding quickly. We are conversing constantly about these topics. It is hard to keep your head up when Sony Music publishes a Punjabi rap song called N****r Banda, but as Mistry confessed, “It’s my hope/belief that most people will make thoughtful and right decisions when given the information and choice.”
    In the diaspora across the world. being South Asian is finally starting to have its own identity, with a particular thanks to people such as Zayn Malik, Imaan Sheikh, Riz Ahmed and Kumail Nanjiani to name a few. except due to years of conditioning, a lot of South Asians still equate the struggles of being Brown with those of being Black. Over email, Anupa Mistry writes, “South Asian people and other non-Black people, co-opt Blackness in ways that need to mitigated. It’s particularly egregious when people co-opt blackness for profit or personal branding, like when rappers use the n-word.”
    “I think being called out pushes people to a really defensive place, and if you’re really committed to collective justice you have to be able to stop centering yourself in that way because it’s actually not about you.”
    We need to learn to unpack the weight of conditioning that is firmly seeped into our minds; it is where we still equate the struggles of being Brown with those of being a Black person. And sometimes, that means seeking to educating each other.
    “I think being called out pushes people to a really defensive place,” Mistry explained. “And if you’re really committed to collective justice you have to be able to stop centering yourself in that way because it’s actually not about you.” If South Asian artists are using slurs of any kind – gender, caste, sex or racial – they need to be confronted. Yes, it’s uncomfortable but it’s for the betterment of society. And, maybe, start small as Mistry emphasised, “you need to talk to your cousins.”
    Part one of this series: Anti-Blackness in South Asian communities: how do we break the cycle?
    Part two of this series: Blackface and anti-Blackness in Bollywood – an endemic problem

    Dhruva Balram is an Indian-Canadian freelance journalist exploring interests in pop culture, music, communities, societal issues, and South Asian identity, Dhruva is currently based in London, UK.

  20. Hal Austin

    There one quality in East Indians I truly detest whether they are from Asia, South Africa or the West Indians, and that is they gravitation towards white culture … these people have been raised to think that Black people are beneath them… but with one exception of course … the Jamaican East Indian does not think this way for some strange reason …

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