The Colonialism Conversation

The cacophony of voices condemning Helen Zille and colonialism in its entirety is trending towards the law of unintended consequences.

Although in almost every instance the detractors disdain any pretext of historical context, it is the vitriol and the fanaticism of their condemnation that bodes ill for the constitutional right of free

speech and its corollary, freedom of thought.

As such, the conversation about colonialism is fraught with the threat of intimidation, demonisation and indictment, as Helen Zille knows all too well. The outcome of that trend is that the interpretation, appreciation and understanding of history and heritage risks becoming limited to a maligned, distorted and politically subjective view. In other words, an Orwellian situation in which Big Brother – the icon of political correctness – prevails at the expense of liberal and diverse thought and expression.

What is also surprising, it that many of the voices condemning colonialism have failed to note that the conversation is a deliberate ploy on the part of those responsible for governance to deflect attention away from their glaring failures and to erect colonialism as a scapegoat in the public mind.

A further disturbing factor is the lack of maturity displayed by many of the detractors.

Their deliberate neglect of any pretence of objectivity in condemning colonialism amounts to hypocrisy in terms of the positive legacies of colonialism which they enjoy and experience. Nonetheless, given their fervent, high octane feelings against colonialism, they should go viral and condemn the excesses of colonialism in Australia and North America where human rights violations reached genocidal proportions.

In any event, to promote the colonialism conversation my latest book, titled Portraits of Colonial Natal, is due out shortly. In a series of twelve essays, it pans the faults and stains of colonialism as well as its pioneers in the fields of agriculture, travel and commerce.  Portraits is published in the spirit of the preamble of the constitution which exhorts us to respect those who have worked to build and develop our country.

Colonial deniers and their ilk will be welcome at its launch.

Sent to The Mercury and The Daily News and published, 30 March 2017.

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