At the turn of the twentieth century, Rudyard Kipling wanted the colonial powers to bear a burden that only
advanced societies could endure. Take up the White Man's burden was the theme in his poem that summoned up an entire age of
guilt and greed. When the verse first appeared in McClure's Magazine, the lines of empire were long drawn by Western
Nations as they sliced and diced colonies under the chant that they were protectorates of the mother country.
Cited by Jim Zwick, ed., Anti-Imperialism in the United States, 1898-1935 from a letter to the editor of The
Nation, "Mr. Kipling's Call to America", Feb. 7, 1899, written by Alfred Webb - offers the following assessment:
“There is something almost sickening in this "imperial" talk of assuming and bearing burdens for the
good of others. They are never assumed or held where they are not found to be of material advantage or ministering to honor
or glory. Wherever empire (I speak of the United Kingdom) is extended, and the climate suits the white man, the aborigines
are, for the benefit of the white man, cleared off or held in degradation for his benefit. Where the climate does not suit
us, and the natives are in too advanced a condition to be cleared off, the first consideration (at least with the majority,
men of Kipling's turn of mind) is our material advantage and honor and glory. We are in a precious hurry to lay burdens down
when they do not pay, as in the case of our solemn obligations to the Armenians. We are ever ready to shirk them, as in the
case of the status of our Indian fellow-subjects in our colonies, when the bearing of the burden of seeing fair play done
would be inconvenient. In so far as is compatible with our interests and honor and glory, we have perhaps made the interests
of "natives" under our rule of higher and more enduring consideration than that recorded of any other conquering and governing
Power. But this talk of burdens is, as I have said, unadulterated cant.”
Such critical appraisals were common and especially applied to the Dark Continent. Africa no longer baked
in the glory of the Pharaohs or fed on the commerce of Timbuktu, it was there for the taking. Mineral resources were
the path to newly accumulated wealth and cannibal bloodlines were feasting grounds for saving souls. Kipling rallied the faithful
for a noble mission and offered cover for the ‘Great White Hunter’ in a quest for booty. Was this era just misguided
and wrong, or did it civilize a backward continent?
Now that Idi Amin is dead, can there be any doubt that a dictator of his aptitude was the mark of a predator in search of prey?
Human rights groups say from 100,000 to 500,000 people were killed during his 8-year rule,1971-79. But he is not alone. When Jan Lamprecht states on his site, South Africa in Crisis: “It should be remembered that from the first, whites in Africa had said that the so-called "Liberation"
of Africa was not going to benefit the common black man, and that in the end, it was about a bunch of Marxists/Socialists
being placed in power . . . “, one must question if that Kipling burden is restricted only to the Caucasoid race! The
legacy of colonialism looks decent in comparison to the Mugabe regime of despotic carnage and murder of European heritage farmers.
While Statist ideology is color blind, tribal ancestral feuds are often genetic. Those who revere Mandela
as a saint, never wore a tire necklace collar from Winnie. If Charles Taylor is a practicing Christian, his form of bloodshed
is a strange ritual of faith . . . What are the chances of vacationing in Sierra Leone? Remember that Holocaust in the Sudan!
Or how about breaking bread with Hutu and Tutsi clans in Rwanda?
What drove the colonialism of the past was a combination of imperialism and false guilt. While the specifics
and emphasis have changed over time, the duel union of avarice and altruism is a deadly fusion. But separate they are still
Only those who are in total denial or maintain mindless Afro-Centric illusions, would defend the current conditions
emanating out of witch doctors wearing Armani suits. While King Leopold treated the Congo as his personal possession, his
exploitation of the contrived “Congo Free State” is hardly an excuse or justification for the kind of rape that
locals cultivate. Who really has a “Heart of Darkness” ? Asserting that Idi Amin had the higher moral ground to
Leopold II is like saying the lion can eat their young to prevent their cubs from becoming quarry for the safari huntmen.
In Joseph Conard’s European trader, Kurtz was in search of ivory, was he any different than the military ruler General
Abubakar from Nigeria in their exploration for the continued flow of oil?
Africa has become a total mess with national liberation. Angola under Cuban tutelage didn’t supplant
Portuguese civility, nor has the ANC brought prosperity to the Zulu kingdom. That part of South Africa under Boer rule benefited
more residents than just Dutch decedents. Affrikaans didn’t call every black a “Kaffir”, while the reign
in Mozambique treated most of their own kind as “Boy” . . .
Walter Williams has it right: “President Bush has pledged to send more foreign aid to some African nations. Foreign aid
has historically gone to governments. Instead of helping the poor, foreign aid has enabled African tyrants to buy cronies
and military equipment to stay in power, not to mention establishing multibillion dollar "retirement" accounts in Swiss banks,
should their regime be toppled.”
George W Bush’s version of compassion that pledges $15 billion for HIV/AIDS program, will be spent on
chateaus in the South of France. The burden that Kipling favored will be borne by the slaves that Bush now commands. The bleeding
hearts that foster altruistic intervention actually promotes the obstruction of the natural order. If survival of the fittest
rules the Serengeti, the shadow of Kilimanjaro blocks the sun and prevents heat stroke. Allow nature to take it’s own
course. The West built the railroads and humanized the continent. Now primitives turned a paradise into a purgatory. The betrayal
of Rhodesia produced the horror of Zimbabwe. Cape town has now become a Soweto. Colonial rule seems a blessing to a civilized
world in comparison to the Idi Amin - Robert Mugabe formula.
Will a return to a satellite continent ever be revisited? When all hell lets loose, maybe something could
be salvaged. If that happens, just tell the Kipling advocates to keep Gunga Din out of Africa.
SARTRE - August, 16, 2003