THE WINDS OF TREACHERY
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When on February 3, 1960, Prime Minister Harold McMillan made his dishonourable Wind of Change speech to the parliament of South Africa; the smarter of us were underwhelmed.
In smooth diplomatic platitudes, the premier informed South Africa’s ethnic-Europeans, who had turned what was once a wilderness into one of the world’s most peaceful and prosperous republics that they were to be betrayed. His speech was met with stony resignation.
Macmillan, like Churchill, was half-American. Throughout his life too, MacMillan worshipped most of all the United States and supported the concept of American Imperialism.
What we were witnessing was the transfer of European colonialism to Wall Street’s banking dynasties. Many colonies, like the then Belgian Congo, were scuttled. Sadly, life for Black and White Africans is far worse now that it was under European colonialism.
The Congo Crisis occurred between 1960 and 1965 during which time I spent a while in Boma. The small town stands on the Congo River 100 kilometres upstream of the Atlantic. Due to my facing death on at least two occasions my mortal remains nearly became part of the local fauna.
The horror of being captured in nearby African forests never leaves one. On another occasion, I was held by up to ten fully armed trigger-happy troops of the Armée Nationale Congolaise (ANC).
Spending much time during several visits to the nations that make up West Africa I learned much and I identified with the many ethnic groups scattered along the West African coasts.
Senegal and Gambia, Guinea and Sierra Leone where I had the pleasure of being treated for a medical condition by the country’s Minister of Finance, who was a doctor and chemist.
Liberia and what were then the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, and Benin, I visited them all on occasions. Then there was Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and on to the Congo; much more besides.
Nail-biting adventurous, high risk and high humour, I have nothing but the fondest of memories. Strangely, Europeans who were familiar with Africa for all its risks love it better than they do Europe.
I feel sorry for post-colonial Africa and I know many Africans and Europeans look back and see the colonial past as a Golden Age. Colonialism is never perfect, although it has to be said that vast tracts of Africa that once belonged to Imperial Germany, were paradisiacal compared to now.
Macmillan’s Wind of Change was one of many of the 20th century’s great deceits. Perhaps this is why politician and journalist, Woodrow Wyatt, quoted McMillan’s son, Maurice, who before his father’s death exclaimed: “I hope he dies before they find him out.”
The Last Gladiators authored by Michael Walsh and published by Amazon details the mercenary wars of post-colonial Africa.
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