Belong Awkwardly?

Two readers have responded to the article ‘Belonging akwardly – white Africans’ (17 February, pg 36).

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I read this article on David McDermott Hughes with grave concern as it appeared to contain narrow and limited research into the broader reality of the Zim situation. Without countering every aspect of the article, I would like to make the point that we were brought up in Zimbabwe, lived, farmed and contributed enthusiastically to the development and fair progression of all, before, during and after the civil war.

In our small yet diverse country we came to know many other citizens in various occupations and, quite frankly, didn’t encounter the ‘clubbing together, flaunting of strength and wealth’ to the exclusion of all else in an effort to win the race. From the ‘privileged’ minority, hands of encouragement, teaching, mentoring, assistance and benevolent giving were extended to the majority.

The penultimate and ultimate paragraphs appear harsh. How much research has gone into the situation, where everything from the gift of land, teaching of expertise, mentoring as well as handouts – has come to nought? Perhaps it would spread the spirit of goodwill more if one recognised the effort and hard work that goes into elevating the ‘less fortunate’?
– Janet Smith, via email

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I am not sure how long David McDermott Hughes has been in Africa. He indicates he knows a lot about what is going on. His last remark, “I argue that whites in Zimbabwe should learn to ‘belong awkwardly’. If they do, they might one day counsel others, Americans not least, to learn to do the same”.

It seems he has maudlin tendencies, playing the weak man. Is he trying to win sympathy? Or has he had too much to drink? Or imbibed something else he has not told us about?

I know for a fact that showing weakness is one thing that annoys the strong. The strong kill the weak, especially in Africa! And if we follow his advice, will it be possible to take him to a court of law and sue for damages when things go wrong? When the first missionaries preached in Africa, they had their revolvers on them and at the ready in case they needed them in a hurry. They couldn’t show a weak front. Things haven’t changed.

When it comes to his “tragic areas like the KZN Midlands”, is he suggesting that we must partake of his entrée dish, ditch our inheritance, and “we are too stupid to believe we have been swindled”? I am not convinced he is right.
Peter Dawie, KZN