Opposing Apartheid, or When I Was Clever 132

If you live long enough, your past catches up with you and this year for the first time highly classified papers I wrote in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office are starting to be released under the 30 year declassification rule.

My first FCO job was in the South Africa Section as the South Africa (political) officer, at a time when Apartheid was in full sway in South Africa. It was the official policy of Her Majesty’s Government to oppose international sanctions efforts, and the Thatcher government’s official line was that Mandela was a terrorist properly in jail after a fair trial. There was a huge tension between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and 10 Downing Street.

The government looks to control the historical narrative as papers are released by official histories. The FCO official historian, Professor Patrick Salmon, has produced a selection in a volume entitled The Challenge of Apartheid.

He frames the political situation in the introduction:

focusing on the period after 1979 and the respective attitudes of Mrs Thatcher and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It then discusses some of the key themes of the 1985-86 period, including the formulation of policy towards South Africa at the FCO, the debate over sanctions and the Commonwealth dimension. Within this framework, there were particular difficulties for relations between the FCO and No. 10, including the establishment of formal contacts between the British Government and the ANC, and the merits of quiet personal diplomacy (through Mrs Thatcher‘s confidential correspondence with President P.W. Botha) versus the managing and gradual stepping up of international pressure favoured by the FCO.

Salmon acquits Thatcher of actually supporting apartheid. I would dispute this. I was only a Second Secretary but the South Africa (Political) desk was just me, and I knew exactly what was happening. My own view was that Thatcher was a strong believer in apartheid, but reluctantly accepted that in the face of international opposition, especially from the United States, it would have to be dismantled. Her hatred of Mandela and of the ANC was absolute. It is an undeniable statement that Thatcher hated the ANC and was highly sympathetic towards the apartheid regime.

By contrast the Tory FCO junior ministers at the time, including Malcolm Rifkind and Lynda Chalker, shared the absolute disgust at apartheid that is felt by any decent human being. The Foreign Secretary, Geoffrey Howe was somewhere between these two positions, but very anxious indeed not to anger Thatcher. South Africa was an issue in which Thatcher took an extreme interest and was very, very committed. Not in a good way.

British diplomats were almost banned from speaking to any black people at all. Thatcher favoured the Bantustan or Homelands policy, so an exception was made for Gatsha Buthelezi, the Zulu chief who was regarded as anti-ANC and prepared to oppose sanctions and be satisfied with a separate Zulu “homeland” for his Inkatha movement and essentially accept apartheid exclusions. That may be unfair on him, but it was the policy of the UK government to steer in that direction. Our Consulate General in Johannesburg was permitted to talk to black trades unionists, and that was our main angle in to the black resistance movement. These contacts were made by the excellent Tony Gooch and Stuart Gregson, and before them the equally excellent Terry Curran, then my immediate boss in London. Neither Terry nor Tony were “fast-track” public school diplomats. None of them talked to black South Africans at all.

I flew off the handle when I discovered, when dealing with the accounts of the Embassy in Pretoria/Capetown (a migrator capital), that the British Ambassador, Patrick Moberly, had entertained very few black people indeed in the Residence and the vast majority of Embassy social functions were whites only. In 1985 most of the black people who got in to the British Ambassador’s residence in South Africa were the servants. I recall distinctly the astonishment in the FCO that the quiet and mild-mannered young man at the side desk had suddenly lost his rag and got excited about something that seemed to them axiomatic. Black people as guests in the Residence in Pretoria? No, Craig, I was told, we speak with black people in Johannesburg. Different culture there.

It was my fury at this that led me to write a policy submission advocating a fundamental change in our approach. And this is where we can see that I was much cleverer at age 26 than I am now.

There was no point in advocating that we make contact with the ANC. The entire submission would have been instantly binned and I would have been transferred to the paperclips department. But in South Africa there was a group which, though massively persecuted and its leaders frequently jailed, was not actually illegal. The United Democratic Front was a coalition of community groups and trades unions which opposed apartheid but was not officially connected to the ANC. I proposed we open contact with the UDF.

To make this palatable to the Tories, I proposed this argument. It was very possible that in a decade or two black Africans would rule South Africa. Our current policy had demonstrably led to a position where we were in danger of being hated by black South Africans because of the mistaken perception (God help me, I knowingly wrote mistaken without believing it) that the British government supported the apartheid regime. Therefore in the future interest of the British investments and British business, we should aim for a closer relationship with the black opposition for the sake of our corporate interests.

That may sound obvious to you, but it was an argument in 1985 that had not been previously heard in the FCO, and which it turned out many colleagues were itching to pitch in and support once I had stuck my neck out. And it emboldened the anti-apartheid element of the Conservative Party to stand up to Thatcher on the issue. But it did not make any change in one particular policy that infuriated me – the Tory insistence that anti-apartheid activists who were sentenced had received a fair trial in a legitimate justice system and were rightly criminals.

This policy minute of mine faced Professor Patrick Salmon with a dilemma in writing his official history. As a whistleblower, I am persona non grata in the Foreign and Office, a non-person who has been airbrushed from history as comprehensively as an executed Central Committee member. But at the same time I played a pivotal role at a key moment in the precise subject of the book. Salmon gets round this by the really weird device of publishing extracts of minutes from various people commenting on my minute, without giving the minute on which they were commenting.

Minute from Mr Curran to Mr Humfrey, 22 August 1985

Confidential (FCO 105/1961, JSS 011/16)

Contacts with South African Blacks
1. Mr Murray has lucidly argued the case for tackling a perennial problem, one that was debated at length throughout my time in South Africa. The Embassy must deal with two increasingly divided societies. But the shifting balance of power if nothing else requires us to pay more attention to explaining our case and improving our image with Blacks. Our brief for the Inspectors, to which they paid scant attention, emphasised the importance of this work.
2. Contact with radical, influential Blacks is not easy. In my experience they are highly critical of our policies, suspicious of our motives and too often see us as the willing partners of the US in ‘constructive engagement‘. The depth of our trade and investment interest is known to Blacks. An apparently unsympathetic British Government attitude will, as Mr Murray suggests, serve to strengthen the perception that the private enterprise system supports the apartheid system.
3. Reporting from the Embassy confirms how radical Black opinions are becoming. Recent developments and our perceived reluctance to do anything to bring such pressure to bear on the South African Government make it essential that we make a greater effort to cultivate Black contacts. Our continuing opposition to any sanctions, in defiance of world opinion will make this task increasingly difficult.
4. I agree with Mr Murray that we need to examine ways of improving our credibility with Blacks. We should, for instance, take every opportunity to give tangible evidence in South Africa of our rejection of apartheid. We could have made much of our intervention on the Moloise case and the Embassy should have authority to react quickly and critically to any publicised case involving an abuse of human rights. We cannot afford to be over-sensitive to the attitudes of the South African Government.
5. A co-ordinated attempt should be made to develop contacts with a wider range of urban Blacks. The UDF has 600 affiliates: it might be worth looking at the organisations as well as the few high-profile leaders. We could consider expanding our contact with the trade unions; the community committees such as the Soweto Civic Association and the committees at Winterveldt, Cradock, etc. which will become the only credible local organisations; various Church groups particularly in Cape Town and around Johannesburg, and white action groups such as Black Sash and the Legal Resource Centres which enjoy high credibility with Blacks.
6. We have little to offer in material terms for these contacts. The Heads of Mission Gift Scheme and British Council scholarships do not give us much scope for largesse. But what is really required by South African Blacks is evidence that Britain is genuinely concerned about their future. We must take every opportunity to show that we are genuinely committed to peaceful but early and fundamental change. We need to discuss this matter with Mr Moberly and obtain the Embassy‘s views as soon as possible.

From Prof Salmon’s footnotes

Mr Craig Murray, a desk officer in SAfD, had argued in a submission of 6 August, ‘Anti-British
Feeling among Blacks‘, that it was ‘essential that to protect British interests in South Africa in the
medium to long-term we should cultivate better relations with the black opposition groupings, other
than the ANC/PAC whom I believe have been ruled out of bounds‘. Mr Murray was concerned in
particular ‘at evidence of genuine and growing anti-British hostility in the Black Community and
particularly from the UDF, a body which can, with some justice, claim to represent the majority in
South Africa‘. This, he felt, represented a long-term danger since there was ‘a real possibility that
the leadership of South Africa in fifteen years’ time will include many present UDF activists‘. He
urged that the presentation of British policy should be slanted to appeal to blacks by focusing less
on opposition to sanctions and more on condemning apartheid and human rights, and that there
should be ‘more regular formal and informal contact with the UDF‘ (FCO 105/1961, JSS 011/16).
See also No. 110.

Benjamin Moloise, a poet and ANC activist, was condemned to death in 1982 for the alleged
murder of a policeman. He was executed on 18 October 1985.

Mr Humfrey minuted on 22 August: ‘We mentioned this to Mr Moberly who has copies of this
minute and the submission from Mr Murray which he intends to reflect on.‘

Letter from Mr Moberly (Pretoria) to Mr Reeve, 11 November 1985
Confidential (FCO 105/1961, JSS 011/16)

Dear Tony,
Contacts with South African Blacks
1. When I was in London in August I undertook to let you have my comments on various papers prepared in the Department on the subject of contacts with South African blacks. We have subsequently considered the minuting forwarded to me with Terry Curran‘s letter of 6 September. We asked Richard Thomas to let us have his views before he left Johannesburg at the end of his tour in view of his own special responsibilities in this area, and he agreed generally with the remarks which follow.
2. Let me say straightaway that this whole subject is one of our constant pre-occupations here. We put a lot of time and effort into maintaining contacts with blacks. As you will realise, however, it is far easier said than done. I will say more of this in a moment; but the point to establish at the outset is that we cannot take it for granted that leading blacks want to see much of us, let alone that they will pay attention to the message we bring. I am certainly not suggesting that British policy should be changed. Yet so long as we are seen as less willing than others to put pressure on the South African Government our standing with blacks is bound to be diminished. We have to live with that fact.
3. As I say, contact with blacks is already a high priority for posts in South Africa and we have regular contact with a wide spectrum of black political personalities more or less continuously. Particularly on a personal level individual members of the staff of the Embassy and consular posts are on good and easy terms with many leading blacks. I myself make a point of seeing people such as Buthelezi, Motlana, Tutu and others. Our staff in Johannesburg have wide ranging contacts with blacks in their consular area, Tony Gooch has useful contacts among black trade unionists, Simon Davey in Durban sees blacks in the UDF as well as the leaders of Inkatha on a day to day basis. Our staff in Cape Town and particularly Ian Marsh have developed useful contacts particularly among the Cape coloured community. This pattern of contacts is supplemented by relationships built-up by other members of the Embassy including Derek Tonkin, Graham
Archer and David White. Tony Gooch is well placed to get an insight into the attitude of black trade unionists and others, and I am proposing that he should try to make maximum use of this as a contribution to our political reporting. During the last twelve months members of the Embassy have also visited various regions, and reports have been sent to the department of the useful black contacts made in the Eastern Cape, Northern Transvaal etc. Nor should we overlook the continuing and important work carried out by the British Council here. The staff of the Council collectively certainly see as many blacks in the professional field as the Embassy and I know that their work is held in high esteem in the black community. I do not think, therefore, that there is any question of our not having the need to keep in touch with the black community constantly before us and I believe that our performance in meeting this objective is reasonable.
4. At the best of times it has not always been easy to establish close contact. Practical difficulties are considerably greater in present circumstances. Unrest in the townships has tended to make them no-go areas at least for regular visits. Our staff in Johannesburg have been strongly advised by their black contacts not to try to continue with the regular visits to Soweto that they had conducted until earlier this year. Similarly we have been cautioned by blacks in the Pretoria area to be careful before visiting the local townships, and violence in the Cape Town area in recent weeks has also somewhat curtailed Ian Marsh‘s programme of visits. Fortunately many of our contacts work in central business areas and are still prepared to spare time during the day to meet us. Evening functions are more difficult though not wholly out of the question (half the blacks whom we invited to the Residence for a farewell dinner party for the Thomas‘s cried off at the last minute) and the Soweto curfew does not help. Tony Gooch was unable to see members of the FOSATU group of unions in Durban recently because of a decision that they would boycott contact with representatives of the British Government following what they consider to be insufficient support in a FOSATU union dispute with the British-owned company in Howick. There is a strong possibility that this decision to end contact will spread and may hamper official contact with the largest group of black trade unions. Although we are still seeing members of the UDF our contacts with them have been curtailed by the detention of many UDF leaders. For instance Graham Archer was unable to see contacts in the UDF whom he knows personally and who have always been ready to talk to him during his recent visit to Cape Town because those in question had either been detained or had temporarily gone underground. The practical difficulties are of course compounded by a widely-held feeling among township blacks, and especially among the more radical of them, that HMG are not doing all they might to support the black cause at the minute. So why should blacks go out of their way to be in touch with the Embassy? Not a boycott, more an impediment to our doing as much as we would like with contacts.
5. Individual attitudes however are sometimes misrepresented to us. An example was a recent claim by the Mandela family lawyer, Ismail Ayob, who is a difficult and sometimes misleading individual, that Winnie Mandela had decided to have nothing to do with the British. It was gratifying that she subsequently saw Richard Thomas before he left the country, greeted him warmly, listened
attentively to Richard‘s defence of our sanctions policy and was by no means critical of all the reasons behind our policy. Significantly she also spoke very favourably of our scholarship scheme, seemed to have a much higher regard for HMG‘s policies than those of the United States and said that Britain had always had a better understanding of the struggle of blacks in South Africa against apartheid than the United States. She spoke warmly of the British Government‘s policy in allowing the ANC to have an office in London and in allowing anti-apartheid exiles to remain in the United Kingdom.
6. In short, although we see blacks and can continue to have discussions with them, the fact of contact will yield little unless there is a feeling on their part that our policies are designed to help them. In this respect our efforts will be largely in vain if the general attitude is that the British Government are unsympathetic to black demands and we are unable to quote chapter and verse when this is not the case. Our individual contacts are certainly useful and enable us to assess black attitudes. But they cannot be a substitute for public statements and in this respect I think we need to keep two questions regularly in front of us:
(a) what more can we say that will be reassuring to blacks about our real concern to provide effective support for their demands?
(b) how should we be seeking to get our views across to blacks in a way which will have some impact?
7. There are a number of practical suggestions that I would wish to make in response to these two questions. The point was made in the minuting in London that our public utterances and statements in South Africa appear to be largely confined to explanations of our appreciation of our relationship with South Africa and of the importance we attach to trade. Of course this comes into it, but it is not the whole picture. For the record I attach a copy of the speech which I gave to SABRITA in September which was deliberately designed to give a balanced picture of our policies including a strong condemnation of apartheid and the reasons why we want to see it abolished. I have had a number of reactions suggesting that my message was noted. The trouble is that this kind of speech is apt only to reach a restricted audience with little notice being taken by the press. I am at present planning to try to get a similar message more prominently reported in the South African press including papers that will be read by blacks.
8. Much that emerges in the press here on British Government policy is, in fact, in the form of reporting on British Government statements made in London which naturally count for more than anything I may say here. Statements in London which emphasise our sympathy for blacks are therefore helpful. In particular there
may be a case for saying more about our concern for human rights. We are planning to let you have a further report on the current situation on human rights shortly with comments on how we might respond to the present situation.
9. Another area in which we can hope to influence black attitudes is through our programme of sponsored visits to the United Kingdom. We have in recent years been able to get a number of good black visitors to Britain. It has been helpful that the programme this year has included visits by Dr Motlana and Bishop Tutu as well as Chief Buthelezi. We also approached a number of UDF leaders including the secretary in the Western Cape and an Eastern Cape clergyman but for various reasons they were not free to come to the United Kingdom at present. I am sure we should continue our efforts to get the right type of blacks to Britain. We have two further slots available in the visiting programme before next April and we are currently trying to interest two widely respected black clergymen in visits. It may be that any eye-catching joint visit by four or five leading blacks within the next year would be as good a way as any of using the scheme. We shall be giving further thought to this, and may want to ask for extra places on the Category 1 visiting programme.
10. Finally there is the whole question of our aid programme. I think that we have on the whole made good use of the resources allocated for use in South Africa. I believe that we have been right to concentrate on specific areas such as English language teaching and science education and to take the view that we can most usefully assist here by making an input to the improvement of black education standards. The numbers applying for British scholarships and bursaries have been rising year after year and we have ample testimony that study places in Britain are widely regarded and sought after. I shall be discussing the whole question of our future aid programme with the British Council staff later this month and will be reporting to London on our conclusions. At this stage I do not expect that we shall wish to recommend any radical change in present approach, only to keep up the good work.
11. May I suggest that you show this letter to Tessa Solesby? I hope she will be able to take a particular interest in co-ordinating our efforts to keep in touch with the black community as part of her job here.
Yours ever,

PS There is one additional dilemma for us which I should mention: how far to go in cultivating people who are regarded with suspicion or downright hostility by the authorities and in some cases have actually been charged before a court of law (e.g.Boesak). I think we should err on the side of courage rather than caution. But it sometimes calls for quite a tricky judgement on our part.

No. 110

Letter from Mr Gregson (Johannesburg) to Mr Archer (Pretoria),
3 December 1985

Confidential (FCO 105/1961, JSS 011/16)

Dear Graham,
Black Perceptions of United Kingdom Policy towards South Africa
1. I read with interest Tony Gooch‘s minute of 22 November about black opinion on our policy towards South Africa.
2. The views expressed by the trade unionists to whom he has spoken are identical to the views of a wide range of my contacts in the black community. There is no doubt whatsoever that British policy towards South Africa is widely condemned by my contacts, including the more moderate ones. The one single item which is criticised most is our policy on economic sanctions. The majority of my black contacts are for total sanctions against South Africa, with a minority favouring much stronger (but necessarily total) sanctions. Of the lines which we use to defend our policy on actions, the one which comes in for the most criticism is that the black population would be the hardest hit. To many blacks to whom I have spoken this smacks of the Afrikaner attitude towards blacks, that they (Afrikaners) know what is best for them (the blacks). They consider our comments to be similarly paternalistic. The standard line in this regard is that blacks cannot really suffer much more than they are at present, but if sanctions do impose more suffering, they are prepared to accept it, particularly as they believe whites will also suffer greatly from sanctions. In fact, the only argument in support of our sanctions policy which the black community is prepared to accept is the economic damage and the resulting increase in unemployment in the United Kingdom which would result from economic sanctions. In effect, they believe that there is a certain amount of dishonesty in our trying to find other reasons against sanctions than our own self-interest.
3. This message was also brought home fairly strongly to Andy Tucker of the Assessment Staff during his recent visit to South Africa. The best example of this was from a group of three fairly prominent and fairly moderate blacks whom he met over lunch: they were Sam Molebatse (an executive with Barclays National Bank Limited), Harry Mashabela (a journalist with the Financial Mail), and Vusi Khanyile (the Secretary of the Soweto Civic Association, and spokesman for the Soweto Parents‘ Crisis Committee). Their view—and I believe they meant it very sincerely—was that the British Government should be taking a much tougher stance on South Africa. Their principal line of reason was that the more South African blacks and the more the ANC were critical of the policies of Britain and
the United States, the more they would be pushed towards an eventual Marxist state. All three believe in a free-enterprise economy and their comments sounded like a plea that we should be changing our policy in order to prevent a drift further towards the Left. They believe that South African Communist Party (SACP) influence in the ANC would benefit from a weakening of our influence with the black community.
4. At the same time that I received Tony Gooch‘s minute I received two letters from Terry Curran, one dated 18 November to Graham Archer (about the Rev David Nkwe), and the other dated 22 November to Tony Gooch (about Rubin Denge). Paragraph 3 of the letter about Denge is a good example of the views being expressed in London by visiting black South Africans, and is similar to the
comments which I hear from my contacts. Furthermore, David Nkwe, whom I would consider very moderate, made it quite clear to Terry how deeply disappointed blacks were with HMG‘s policy towards South Africa.
5. The Consul-General has also drawn my attention to an article which appeared in Beeld on 28 November (which I have not seen referred to in any of the English-language newspapers) concerning a report by The British Council of Churches (BCC) following a visit to South Africa in September. Their report is highly critical of HMG‘s policy and suggests that HMG is out of touch with black opinion in South Africa. My black contacts frequently express a similar opinion.
6. I would also like to refer to the minute by Craig Murray dated 6 August which was sent to the Ambassador under cover of Terry Curran‘s letter of 6 September about contacts with South African blacks. I completely agree with paragraph 7 of Craig‘s minute, in which he warns of the long-term danger of the trend of anti-HMG feeling within the black community. The parallel with the collapse of the Shah in Iran is also mentioned in Craig‘s minute, and although the circumstances are very different, it is true that we must appreciate and take account of the feeling of the masses at grass-roots level.
7. One further point which has been expressed by several of my black contacts concerns Chief Buthelezi and HMG‘s contacts with him. We all know the dislike and distrust which non-Inkatha-supporting blacks have for Buthelezi, and certainly outside Natal his following is fairly small. Although the recent meeting between the Prime Minister and Bishop Tutu has helped in this regard, they resent the fact that Buthelezi‘s views appear to be given greater weight (particularly on sanctions) than the views held by most blacks in South Africa. Although I agree that Buthelezi is considered by many people outside South Africa to be a moderate and influential leader, I just add these comments as a warning of how some blacks regard our contacts with him.
8. In summing up, I would like to support Richard Thomas‘s comments in his letter of 23 September to you suggesting some solutions towards a better relationship between HMG and the black community. However, I think that unless we are seen to be taking a tougher line against South Africa on economic sanctions, Richard‘s suggestions and the remedial steps suggested in Craig
Murray‘s minute may have little effect on black opinion, and the black community will continue to see HMG as one of the few supporters of the South African Government.
9. As you will see, I have copied this letter to Terry Curran and Ian Marsh. May I suggest that Tony Gooch‘s minute and some of the August minuting enclosed with Terry Curran‘s letter of 6 September also be copied to Ian Marsh in Cape Town?
Yours ever,

But the most senior Foreign Office official involved, Deputy Under Secretary Euan Fergusson, believed we should continue to shun activists who were the wrong side of the law. As the laws were apartheid laws this was an appalling fault in our policy. He also felt senior officials should have an excellent relationship with the “white” South African government and only junior ones have contact with blacks.

Minute from Mr Fergusson to Mr Cary, 4 December 1985

Confidential (FCO 105/1961, JSS 011/16)

Contacts with South African Blacks
1. No one serving in South Africa at any time in recent decades has been under any illusion about the importance for the Embassy and Consulates of having a wide spread of contact. This applies particularly to Black, Coloured and Indian people but also to the Afrikaners. It is all too easy in a society like South Africa‘s for British officials to slide into the agreeable liberal English-speaking environment.
2. In the last 5 years or so, it has become more not less difficult for British officials to have contact with Black people; that is because South African society has become more polarised and ordinary social contact between Black and White generally more difficult. The English-speaking liberal has become a less effective channel to the educated Black than he was.
3. One must remember the small number of people involved on our side. In the Embassy and Consulates, including the Ambassador, Consul-General and Consuls, perhaps 10 British officials are brought into contact with Black, Coloured and Indian people as part of their work. For the 6 months of the year when Parliament is in session in Cape Town the Ambassador and Embassy staff with him are perforce cut off from more than irregular contact with Black people or even from the opportunity to keep existing contacts warm.
4. On the whole, I should say that British officials have reasonable contact with the top echelons of non-White people, in politics, trades unions, the academic world, business etc. That pool is relatively small and is grossly over-fished by those from inside and outside South Africa wanting to have contact with them. Below that level there is what I can only call a class problem. Most Black, Coloured and Indian people form the mass of the working class of urban and rural South Africa. It is exceptionally difficult, in the conditions of South African society, to discover with whom among them it would be worth having contact. Our work in education, through the British Council/ODA, is a particularly valuable means of making contact. So too is the small Ambassador‘s Fund which is an excuse for forays into the Black community.
5. It would be wrong to under-estimate the sensitivity of contacts between foreign missions and radicals whose activities may barely be on the right side of the law. I firmly believe that the better the relationship at the very top between the UK and South Africa the more protection the Embassy and Consulates are afforded for being courageous in their lower-level contacts.
6. It is disappointing but not surprising to find that the impression of our policy towards South Africa held by Black people is becoming a negative factor for the contact work of the Embassy/Consulates. This is a very difficult problem, not least given the nature of the South African media. I am not entirely convinced that more rhetoric about apartheid and human rights would offset the reality of our policy of continuing economic involvement.

Finally I was delighted to find this little snippet in Salmon’s book:

Sometimes junior members of the Department could make a difference. Craig Murray recalled: ‘I spent the first two years of my FCO career trying to push the FCO to pressure South Africa to release Oscar Mpetha.‘ Document No. 60 shows that his efforts on behalf of the severely disabled anti-apartheid activist did bear some fruit.

This has been an emotionally difficult trip down memory lane for me. I do think it is a fascinating glimpse inside policy making. It is astonishing to me that the question of whether we should oppose the evil of apartheid was tackled in such a shifty fashion, not as history, but in my own working lifetime.

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132 thoughts on “Opposing Apartheid, or When I Was Clever

1 2
        • fedup

          In your clever little quip you have not done your home work; hence your incredulity of Craig’s claim. This has been corroborated by Ray McGovern on RT, this morning. There again you probably were staring at the seismographs and tracking the US earthquake machines to have time for such a mundane investigations.

          That is one heck of a clever foot work, those days probably you had more patience and were far too ready to accommodate the rat’s knackers than at these times, hence your clever foot work.

          • Bobbice

            Russia Today: CrossTalk – ‘Russia Card’, with Peter Lavelle
            When it comes to American politics specifically and European politics in general, there is nothing like playing the Russia card. If there is something wrong or there is something you don’t like, simply blame Vladimir Putin. That is exactly what the CIA is doing.
            CrossTalking with Ray McGovern, Philip Giraldi, and James Jatras.

            Lavelle: We also have Ray McGovern. He’s a former CIA analyst, and co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

            McGovern: So, let me just repeat: there’s a big difference between a leak and a hack. A leak is done physically … that’s what Bradley, or Chelsea, Manning did. That’s what Ed Snowden did. OK, that’s a leak. Now, to hack, there’s an electronic signal that is produced that NSA – our experts say – inevitably would be able to trace through these tens of thousands of trace mechanisms to trace who sent it and who received it. So what we’ve got here is a situation where the physical manifestations of this don’t bear out.
            [10:22] Now the other thing is this – and I don’t want to hog the time here – Craig Murray, the former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan, is a very good friend of mine. He is one of the awardees of the Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence. Now he claims that he met the source. He claims that he talked to the source. And I can substantiate that claim.

            Lavelle: And I’m pretty sure he’s not a Russian.

            McGovern: I’d like to come back if I may to my friend, Ambassador Craig Murray. He, like I, am a good friend of Julian Assange. I had dinner with Julian on the fourth of November, and he was riding high because he had revealed all manner of things that needed to be revealed before our election. Now, were these things surreptitious? No, no – they were factual. This is something to remember. Julian Assange doesn’t fool around with any of this stuff: he doesn’t edit, he doesn’t take off the data on the top, he doesn’t take off the social security numbers. Even Ed Snowden has a problem with that. But in order to keep this pristine pure, Julian Assange doesn’t change anything. So it’s ground truth. Now, what does it say? It says Hillary Clinton stole the election–stole the nomination–from Bernie Sanders. “Oh, what are we going to do about that??” That was two days before the Democratic convention. “Oh, well, let’s blame it on the Russians.” “But it wasn’t Russia … it was Julian …” “Well, was it Julian who … ??” “And why?” “Because they wanted Trump to win.” It’s all a canard.

            Lavelle: Yes, it a canard.

            McGovern: And the American people are so …

            McGovern: If people are really interested in finding out whether it was a leak or a hack, and who did it, there is an ambassador in good standing in London whom they could call. Neither the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Steet Journal … nobody has called Ambassador Murray. I just checked with him last night: still, no-one from the United States … they write all these things. And Murray says “I met the source”. And I can verify that because Murray was in town here … at the end of September (I’ll let the FBI figure out which days, OK?) but he was there … he was here to give … he was MCing the Sam Adams Award ceremony for John Kuriakou. And after it, Craig always goes out to have a drink or some food with us. Well this time, I watched him and he sort of silently walked backwards over a little hill into a wooded area. And I said “You know, that’s really strange. Isn’t Craig going to join us?” We never saw him again.

            Lavelle: Well, he was on RT today. He was on RT today. Don’t worry, he’s OK. Go ahead. Keep going, Ray.

            McGovern: No, well … when I say we never saw him again, I just mean that he didn’t join us for the party; he had more important things to do. And I would have to say that the FBI or the Homeland Security folks who were supposed to follow him that day–we could say they should be fired, but they’d probably be moved up to higher positions now cos that’s where the misfeasance and malfeasance get you … that kind of thing.

          • Trowbridge H. Ford

            Ray McGovern apparently no longer works for the Agency, and is not informed about what is going on there now, especially its finding that Russia hacked the DNC emails – what all agencies and the POTUS accept now.

            McGovern, like Robert Parry, is a notorious narcissist, wanting to grab headlines by busting into lectures uninvited and the like.

            Don’t have a seismograph, but am tracking US special attack subs, now off the Chinese coat, looking, with the help of their drone subs, where they can deliver a vast earthquake to Beijing.

            P.s. Couldn’t wait for your bullshit link to work, but I am well aware of what McGovern claims.

      • lysias

        Trowbridge has revealed himself to be a backer of warmonger Hillary and the CIA plot for a soft coup. He wants to create the impresion that Craig’s disproof of the Russian hacking story has somehow been proved wrong.

        Where, by the way, are the trolls? Are they awaiting instructions on what the new line they are to take will be?

        • Trowbridge H. Ford

          Never been a backer of Hillary or the CIA, only chose to vote for her instead of the Russian ‘Loose cannon’ candidate Donald Trump.

          Hardly any theory is proven wrong, only found this one suggestive enough that it is taken as a basis for some kind of truth.

          In this case, the US government is holding Putin totally responsible for what happened because of his hacking rather than Trump taking it so seriously that he became POTUS.

          And the trolls are still here for anyone who cares to read their posts.

          • Glenn T MacLeod

            As an service man (Royal Navy), I would willingly give my life for Russia against the Zionist controlled ‘West’ – Anyone who voted for and is supportive of Hillary Clinton should should hang their heads in eternal shame. This wretched harridan from Hell was taking the world towards nuclear armageddon with Russia, and her rabid Zionist controllers are now playing the Russian card. They are dispicable beyond words and your constant attacks on Craig Murray are repugnant to say the least!

    • Republicofscotland


      That’s a bit unfair, I think, not many stood against Thatcher and prevailed, the treatment of the miners springs to mind. Back then, it would have been almost impossible for Craig to make real difference.

      • bevin

        I think that Trowbridge is accusing Craig, who he appears to believe has made the mistake of questioning the conspiracy theory being put forward by the Clintonites and the neo-cons (sorry for the repetition) regarding Putin’s personal selection of the next President of the USA.
        You are probably wondering, as I am, who Putin has lined up for PM next and First Minister of Scotland, who he will choose to be Taoiseach and, most of all which Saudi Prince he favours to take King Salman’s place.
        Perhaps Trowbridge knows?

        • Trowbridge H. Ford

          I am only putting forward my own theory which is largely based upon Snowden’s fleeing to Putin’s Russia – i. e., she claimed that his taking him in showed that he could not be trusted for any resetting of relations with Moscow.

          Sure that Putin is still so celebrating Trump’s election to be engaging in any other regime-change,

          • fwl

            You need to look at matters in the round. It is not just Don and Vlad. There appears to be a major regaling of American strategic interests. The Japanese and Russians are also making a speedy rapprochement. Take 3 parties. Tog dog sides with 3 to prevent 2 & 3 aligning against 1. Top dog avoids siding with 2 as 3 is easier and cheaper to manage. If 3 becomes no 2 then top dog considers realigning. When this was planned and by who is beyond me, but you could say Democrats content with status quo and Libertarians prefer realingment. That there is a change of essential policy is not in itself treason, but the realignment is a dangerous moment. 1 is US 2 has traditionally been Russia and 3 had traditionally been China. Opportunity for Russia although essentially it is not complementary as it suggests a demotion. As irksome as events are for China it is actually a compliment ie recognizing promotion. What will happen? Don’t know.

          • Muscleguy

            As you well know Snowden did not ‘flee to Russia’ he was in transit at Moscow airport when his passport was rescinded. You will recall he was in the transit hotel behind the immigration barrier for some weeks before he reluctantly applied for asylum in Russia having lost hope of onward travel.

            Your propaganda attempt is contradicted by recent history in present public knowledge. As a propaganda attempt it is lame in the extreme and you insult the intelligence of everyone who reads it if you expect it to be taken seriously.

            Or maybe you are 8 years old.

        • Republicofscotland


          Clinton and the corrupt DNC, need some sort of excuse as to why Hillary failed to become POTUS, cue Putin and his Kremlin hackers, aided and abetted by a self exiled Snowden.

          It’s a straight forward case of diversion, put out by Hillary the DNC, and Obama, the POTUS who has been at war the longest in US history.

          Incidently I watched the film Snowden last night, Oliver Stone, has created a fine film, with a easily recognisable cast, but don’t expect to see the establishment push any plaudits its way anytime soon.

          It’s not until you hear and see Joseph Gordon-Levitt, (who portrays Snowden) speak and illustrate the very intrusive programme called XKeyScore, that you realise, the US has access to just about everything online.

          Snowden (Levitt) tells us that almost all EU nations that have allowed US bases, to set up camp under the guise of locating and neutralising terrorist. Have had their infrastructure compromised, by back door accesses, that allow the US intelligence community to shut off the power, if that nation is no longer friendly, with the US.

  • Tony_0pmoc

    Craig wrote “As a whistleblower, I am persona non grata in the Foreign and Office, a non-person who has been airbrushed from history”

    I think you have painted yourself back in.

    Incidentally, I think British Musicians – with their live events broadcast all over the World from places like Wembley Stadium, did as much as anyone to end the state of Apartheid in South Africa.

    I remember singing Free Nelson Mandela and I also remember this Live

    “Peter Gabriel – Biko”



  • rich

    “Thatcher was a strong believer in apartheid, but reluctantly accepted that in the face of international opposition, especially from the United States, it would have to be dismantled”

    I always suspected that it was the USA that kept Apartheid South Africa going for so long. My assumption was that the Americans pulling their secret funding out was what ended the Apartheid regime, given the timing, i.e., shortly after the end of the Soviet Union.


      • Loony

        You appear to be alluding to the ill fated Zulu Column.

        The Voertrekkers were comprehensively conned by the CIA – but hey what’s new

    • Old Mark


      Fair point; Thatcher & Reagan both saw SA thru a Cold War lens, and it was a pertinent fact to both of them that most if not all the high profile whites in the ANC were also stalwarts of the SACP. Thatcher’s palpable dislike of Africans was also a factor of course, as Craig stresses, and this hostility was made worse by the grandstanding over Apartheid by the African contingent at COHGM meetings throughout her premiership; she obviously thought, as most of them were in post without the benefit of regular elections, that their repeated demands for ‘free and fair and non racist’ elections in SA stank of hypocrisy- and she was undoubtedly ‘wright but wrevolting’ on that issue.

      I’d question Craig on one of the points he makes, namely-

      ‘Deputy Under Secretary Euan Fergusson, believed we should continue to shun activists who were the wrong side of the law. As the laws were apartheid laws this was an appalling fault in our policy.’

      In fact some of the anti government activists the FCO were wary of dealing with were actually criminals under non racist codes of law as well- the actions of Mrs Mandela (whose image in 1985 graced many AAM activists study bedroom walls in Uni’s across the UK) for starters. Craig’s minute was also apparently fulsome in its praise for the UDF- whose leader at the time was subsequently found to have stereotypically African feet of clay-


      • giyane

        ‘Deputy Under Secretary Euan Fergusson, believed we should continue to shun activists who were the wrong side of the law. As the laws were apartheid laws this was an appalling fault in our policy.’

        Count Dracula, Phillip Hammond, he who believes in retaining a few quid up our sleeve for emergencies that this government will create, like regime change in Syria, has stated that all of the people who Saudi executes have broken their laws.

        No doubt if Al Qaida gains power in Syria, which will never happen because they have pissed off everyone in Syria more than Assad, he will repeat this ridiculous posture , without irony.

        I think it’s time to apply the label ” Saudi Apartheid ” to Saudi executions and state rape by prison staff. No doubt there are ‘clever’ Craigs in the FOC now who are suggesting that in the event of regime change in Saudi Arabia, we ought to have prepared links with Muslims who don’t agree with Saudi’s harsh interpretation of Shari’ah law.

        In fact I’ve met them. Trump might have to drain the neo-con swamp sooner rather than later.

  • Phil the ex-frog

    Is there any evidence, beyond your claims to brilliant duplicity, showing you weren’t arguing for the corporate interests you actually argued for?

    Even if you really did have secret and silent motivation, isn’t it the case you still gave voice to the eventually successful policy of protecting business interests, thus ensuring the continued misery of most people there.

    • bevin

      My guess is that, as he went through life, with the world changing around him and his view of things also changing, Craig’s character and principles evolved.
      Does that surprise you? Do you think he should have entered the world ready to make a full statement of his political philosophy and determined to stick to it until he died?
      If you looked beyond the tree, of Craig’s personal probity(which you appear to doubt) into the wood, a chance to see policies being made in the Foreign Office, you would recognise what a substantial post this is. Muckraking really does, as, I believe, The Bible argued, narrow the mind.

      • Phil the ex-frog

        OK so accept that CM really didn’t mean what he said back then, it’s largely moor to the wider point: he partook in a process of prioritising corporate interests that sustains the misery in SA to this day, whilst claiming he did a good thing.

        Such are the contradictions of the imperialist mind.

    • Phil the ex-frog

      Some context for those who may have the idea that South Africa is a rainbow country.

      The continued poverty and misery for most South Africans was negotiated. Craig seems to be boasting of being an innovator in that process (but with a silent kindness in his heart), thus partaking in the continuing misery whilst claiming the moral high ground. Such are the contradictions of the imperialist mind.

      John Pilger on the continuing misery of South Africa.


    • craig Post author

      I guess my evidence would be that, before I joined the FCO, I was a member of the Anti-Apartheid Movement for seven years.

      It is certainly true that in power the anc have been an awful disappointment and there has been almost no progress in tackling wealth inequality. But I find it hard to believe that is entirely my fault 🙂

      • Phil the ex-frog

        Fair enough, I accept your position was moral. However, I didn’t say the situation was entirely your fault.

        I pointed out that you took part in a process that has prolonged to this day the misery you opposed. I don’t see why on earth you think yourself ‘clever’ for doing this.

    • fwl

      Read Craig’s book on aspects of his time in Africa and he doesn’t come across as putting business on a pedestal, or as one looking for a post career non ex role, but you work with what you have and any Brit dip should consider biz interests to some extent when selling his policy recommendations.

    • giyane

      Phil, you are the one with previous for trying to discredit Craig’s sincerity. Craig is demonstrating that by listening to his heart he found a way to engage the good will of colleagues at a time when Thatcher was implacably in favour of apartheid. The intelligence of the heart is powerful and prophetic. Maybe he believes that his opposition to torture would be received in the same way.

      Putin has made UK Tory and US Democrat support for Saudi and Terrorist torture in Syria look pretty disgusting. It goes without saying that 2 wrongs- viz Assad torture sponsored by USUKIS in the rendition program, and Saudi and Al Qaida torture sponsored by USUKIS now – don’t make a right.

  • Republicofscotland

    Memory lane, can sometimes, throw up emotions, you thought, that you’d gained control of. I suppose back then as youngish, ideological man you thought you could (if not change) at least make dent, on British foreign policies, in SA.

    The big question I suppose, is looking back on SA, and apartheid, and Thatcher’s determined opposition to the ANC, do you feel that you should’ve done more? Or were you in the position of just no being able to do anymore, to soften the feelings of the British government towards the ANC, and I suppose the black population overall.

    Then again, if the whole world couldn’t come up with a feasible solution on SA. What real difference could a young ideological man such as yourself make?

    At least you tried to make a difference in SA, unofficially of course.

  • Bob Smith

    One of my favourite memories of 1979, and it may have improved in the intervening years, was the reporting of a London rugby refs dinner I attended in the December. Denis Thatcher was a former London ref and as the husband of the newly elected Prime Minister was an obvious choice of main speaker. During his very funny speech he bemoaned the fact that the Home Countries and the Lions never got to play South Africa anymore and that we could only call ourselves world beaters if we continued to play them and beat them.
    I believe it is the only time the rugby correspondent of The Times had a front page story. The headline, “Thatcher recommends sporting links with South Africa”.
    At the next years dinner he informed us that she who must be obeyed had banned him from ever speaking at one of our dinners again.

    • Courtenay Barnett

      I saw Margret Thatcher as a racist. She made political speeches in coded language which the National Front related to and she was no friend of blacks in England or in South Africa, where left solely to her – Apartheid would have continued.

      • John Spencer-Davis

        Ray Hill of the British National Party, who was a right-wing activist who changed his views and worked secretly against the British extreme right, said that Thatcher was hated by the extreme right because she stole their power base with remarks such as British people feel swamped by alien cultures.

          • Anon1

            You weren’t “swamped”. You had good systems of government which your people are still trying to learn to implement. You didn’t have 650,000 people dumped on you by your political elites in the name of “diversity”.

            As regards slavery, the British ended the practice which was started by Arabs and continued by black Africans long after the colonial nations abolished it.

        • Courtenay Barnett

          Yes – because her expressions and attitude for prolonging Apartheid prove that Thatcher was a racist. I say it because she was parochial, prejudiced and racist. Her racist anger caused her to fall down the steps in China when no one kow-towed to her.

          • Shatnersrug

            Courtney, it was fairly clear growing up and becoming an adult in the thatcher years that she was fundamentally a small town racist, but it was quite common in those days, and almost regarded as accepted logic by the over 45 year old white Brits. The Torres nurtured a permanent undercurrent of intolerance. Even in those that disagreed with her. I think the Tory secret moto is “given something to moan about and they’ll let you take anything”

  • Macky

    “It is astonishing to me that the question of whether we should oppose the evil of apartheid was tackled in such a shifty fashion, not as history, but in my own working lifetime.”

    I wonder if in some years from now, a future retired FCO officer might be making similar remarks iro Apartheid Israel.

  • John Spencer-Davis

    I don’t understand something you say.

    “Our Consulate General in Johannesburg was permitted to talk to black trades unionists, and that was our main angle in to the black resistance movement. These contacts were made by the excellent Tony Gooch and Stuart Gregson, and before them the equally excellent Terry Curran, then my immediate boss in London. Neither Terry nor Tony were “fast-track” public school diplomats. None of them talked to [b]lack South Africans at all.”

    How could these three people talk to black trades unionists without talking to black South Africans? Please can you clarify? Thanks.

  • Anon1

    Of course, South Africa has been a dizzying success under the ANC.

    It was always being seen to rail against injustice that mattered most, never the consequences. Just look at the career of Peter Hain.

    It will be the same in Israel, if the Pallies ever take over. But by that time the likes of Craig will have lost interest as they bask in the glory of having “overthrown the apartheid regime”. The country will quickly descend into basket case status but by then they will have washed their hands of it and moved on to their next cause célèbre.

    • Hmmm

      Why the comment about ANC? Craig advocated discussion with UDF. It appears others felt like they better represented the whole nation too… I know its a long post but worth reading it all

    • Alister

      Zimbabwe being another great example. They soon lost interest once comrade Mugabe came to power and proceeded to destroy the country.

  • Hmmm

    Really good post, and moving for me. I dated a lass from Joberg, her family moved to Zim after the chimerenga(sp?) Upsetting to hear her and her family friends etc described as blacks, in such a dismissive way…

    • Sharp Ears

      Yes I agree. That was the mindset in those days. Much like racist diminutives like ‘Pallies’ being used above in reference to the Palestinians.

  • Tom

    Apartheid was no more evil than the systems of government of most of the rest of Africa at the time, probably less so. South Africa was singled out because it was whites doing the oppressing. The white governments left a first-world infrastructure that was the envy of Africa. Unfortunately, since 1994 the country has not capitalised on the legacy of the white governments (although fortunately has avoided collapse) because of the incompetence of some black officials promoted beyond their abilities and the corruption of black governments. Most black people are no better off than they were under apartheid, although it is positive that there is a much larger black middle class.
    So I’m afraid that there needs to be recognition of the achievements of the white governments as well as their failings – or else South Africa is condemned to make the same mistakes as Zimbabwe, which I think most people would agree was a much better place under Ian Smith.

    • craig Post author


      People would only agree that Zimbabwe was a better place under Ian Smith if they are weird twisted white racists who get their news from the Daily Express

      • Tony_0pmoc


        My niece met this guy from Zimbabwe in Brighton about 10 years ago.

        They got on Really Well..and she called on us with her new boyfriend…

        I hadn’t seen her for years not since her Dad – My brother died.

        I just thought he was such an incredibly nice man – very shy – but very genuine – soft and very well spoken…

        It just so happens that – I being a bit nuts had just bought – this electric violin direct from China for about £80…

        It looked pure class – but I could barely tune it up..I couldn’t play it.

        He is a Musician – and he had played various African strung Instruments – in his young life – but he had never played a violin…

        He picked it up and played around with it for 5 mins looked at the bow..

        and just played it – as if he’d played it all his life..

        Even his girlfriend- looked at him – and thought Blimey…

        So she got the nod from me.

        What a nice man.

        They got married and have several children now..

        We occasionally meet at family events – like my Sister 70’s Birthday Party last Year.

        Their cousins – some born in America – don’t notice the difference either.

        The children just play together.

        They don’t care about the colour of skin.


      • Loony

        Alternatively people would only agree that Zimbabwe was a better place under Ian Smith if they actually lived there.

        I have this strange idea that hyperinflation and food shortages tend to eat into virtue. After all there must be some reason why approximately 5 million Zimbabweans have moved to South Africa. There, they are frequent targets of “xenophobic” violence, as the locals don’t seem to like them too much. I guess it must be all those white racists venting their spleen on Zimbabweans now they are no longer allowed to kill the locals. Alternatively…

    • bevin

      The essential problem in both South Africa and Zimbabwe is that the land theft programmes of the past have not been reversed.
      By expropriating all the most fertile lands the settler regimes transformed peasant and other subsistence communities into property-less proletarians fit only for manual labour for wages.
      What the political settlements did in both countries was to buy off the demands of the nationalists, for restoration of the resources stolen from them, by offering the leaders of the nationalist parties political office. It was a very tempting offer particularly as it was made with the clear alternative that failure to compromise would lead to a resumption of hostilities, which had already demonstrated the genocidal propensities of the settlers.
      It is fatuous to blame Mugabe or the ANC for the current difficulties in their countries. It is idiotic racism to blame their failures to square socio-economic circles on cultural or genetic weaknesses.

      • Loony

        What land theft programs do you have in mind?

        The first white settlers arrived in South Africa in 1652. In order to steal something then there must be an existing owner. Who owned the land in 1652? What subsistence communities were in existence at that time? It could not have been to Koi bushmen as they were nomads, so were these land owners and subsistence communities?

        • Hmmm

          Wrong. Appropriation of land, assuming ownership is theft. No one HAD to own it. The cultural differences of the various countries we invaded can be no excuse for our theft.

          • Loony

            Your argument is not with me, but with the dictionary.

            A theft is committed by a thief, and a thief is someone who steals another persons property. Therefore if the property in question was not owned by anyone then it could not have been the subject of a theft.

            This is simple logic and except to a zealot is unarguable. When people appear to willing to declare war on a dictionary in pursuit of their own ideological purity then it is perhaps instructive as to how little hope remains..

          • Hmmm

            Its a cultural thing, same as a dictionary is a record of cultural terms. Simple logic. Thanks and good night

          • Phil the ex-frog

            “if the property in question was not owned by anyone then it could not have been the subject of a theft.”

            So what happens when in the not too distant future, in a land not far away, someone decides the air around you belongs to them? They just declare it and use force should you fail to comply. There’s always a mug who can be paid off (not too much!) to beat up his neighbours on behalf of an air distribution business. The air distribution inc, by royal appointment, finds profit elsewhere and little by little you are deprived of oxygen. By your logic, superior in tone and claiming natural right proven by a dictionary, this would be fine.

            Of course this could never happen could it? It seems highly improbable but then not long ago it would have seemed highly improbable that this could happen with water. Once it would have seemed impossible this could have happened with land. All land was the commons. Yet little by little some people declared their divine right to call it their own. They built fences and raised flags. Most people were driven into poverty. Into workhouses. Executed for vagrancy. The land owning lords wrote laws and dictionaries to convince others it was all fair and natural, they hired thugs to batter those who weren’t convinced, until the day that Loony sneers exactly as he fails to recognise his own position was indeed idealogical too. For he too had been mugged. He too had come to love and defend his assailants. They had dictionaries proving them right.

          • Loony

            Phil, – Not really. Either words have meanings or they don’t. If words have no meaning then it is going to make communication somewhat difficult. That of course may well be the idea.

            Ascribing a normal meaning to the words that you use then you seem to be talking about the transfer of public goods into private ownership. This is a problem, and nothing I have ever written could be reasonably interpreted to suggest that I think otherwise.

            The sequestration of public goods by private interests results in rising inequality and the effective disenfranchisement of the bulk of the population. It does however tend to meet the short term life maintaining requirements of the population. Take water as an example. In Northern Europe there is plenty of water and it is freely available to all – it is typically provided in the form of rain. There is nothing to stop you or anyone else from collecting sufficient rain water to meet all of your needs.

            You probably don’t do this. Most likely you consider it to be inefficient and a waste of your time. If lots of other people started to become self reliant with regard to water then you would probably start to develop concerns regarding the public health implications

            If land were to be returned to the commons then do you think that there would be any implications with regard to agricultural productivity?

            All of the problems that you refer to are real problems and I do not seek to diminish them. However it is likely that all of these problems arise as a consequence of aggregate population. There are too many people and this is a problem that does not lend itself to a solution. Should you kill yourself or should you kill me? Are we likely to agree as to the preferred outcome? The fact that reasonable people will not consider such questions, except in extremis, means that society offers ever increasing advantages to sociopaths – hence you see them gaining and maintaining power everywhere. As a consequence you see an increasingly large number of outcomes that repulse you.

          • Phil the ex-frog

            “However it is likely that all of these problems arise as a consequence of aggregate population.”

            No. Over population, a lack of resources, does not explain the appropriation of the commons by a few. Tens of thousands were executed for vagrancy in the 16th century. Post industrial revolution land clearances were essential to drive people, who were otherwise surviving, into the factories and keep wages low.

            The theft of the commons is all about profit.

            “If land were to be returned to the commons then do you think that there would be any implications with regard to agricultural productivity?”

            Yes. Assuming favourable wider conditions I would expect greatly improved efficiency. Even in the most challenging war conditions there were examples of improved efficiency from agriculture to shoe to tram making during the Spanish revolution. The possibility of removing all the inefficiencies of capitalism, such as endless wars over resources, economic boom & bust, transportation of goods from cheap labour to market, the lost potential of wage slave labour, to name a few, offers the possibility of vastly improved efficiency.

        • craig Post author

          This is more of a trip down memory lane than I expected, and not in a good way. Thirty years ago we had to bat away lunatic racist arguments of “the land was empty when we got here” which are extremely easily disproven. I am truly stunned anyone still spouts this nonsense.

          It is of course one of the many areas where Israeli propaganda and practice precisely mirrors that of apartheid South Africa.

          Really amazing to see the “Africa was better under white rule” crowd out in such force. Many of whom are precisely the same people who get all upset when I point out that UKIP and most Brexit supporters and all anti-immigration campaigners are racists.

          • Loony

            So the argument that “the land was empty when we got there” is extremely easily disproven. What a shame that you did not take the time to disprove it.

            If you had then you would have needed to address the fact that in 1652 the population of the entire continent of Africa was about the same as the current population of South Africa.

            Even today the population density of South Africa is about 44.52 people/square kilometer (this includes the 5 million Zimbabwean refugees). The comparable figure for the UK is 660 people/square kilometer.

            So, no not empty, in the literal sense of that word – but quite a lot of space on a per person basis both then and now. So much space that in 1652 a person of the time may well have reasonably concluded that to all intents and purposes the land was indeed empty.

          • Old Mark

            Thirty years ago we had to bat away lunatic racist arguments of “the land was empty when we got here” which are extremely easily disproven

            The area of Zimbabwe is 154, 446 square miles- roughly the size of California, Would you mind informing your readership of the number of black Africans in situ in what is now Zimbabwe at, say, the passing of the Rudd concession in 1888- and then enumerate the estimated population density of that territory prior to significant white settlement ?

            Your readership can then decide whether the ‘lunatic racist arguments’ you refer to are actually lunatic and/or easily disproved.

            Oh and in addition perhaps I should add that any of the black Africans in situ in 1888 could themselves be classified as ‘recent immigrants’ as the oral history of the Shona only records them as being in Zimbabwe after 1000AD (their original homeland being in modern day Tanzania)- and the Ndebele had themselves only entered the country a few decades before Rhodes and his crew-


          • John Robertson

            “the land was empty when we got here” The argument put by the right wing racists down here. Terra Nullius was it?

          • Nick

            Craig so true in terms of african governments. They have had a short time to adopt a system that colonialism bequeathed them….yet is not THEIR way. Give them time to find their own way. But please give it a break with brexit beimg racist. I am descended from polish freedom fighters who escaped whilst being taken to auschwitz…so hardly a little scotlander. The eu is just about bureaucrats funding eurocrats…it is not about serving the european citizen. I read your blog and enjoy most of the output..but cannot agree with the racism charge because i disagree about a bloated superstate. Surely working in sa in the 80’s showed you real racism?

        • lysias

          Nomads also need land on which to practice their hunting-gathering, don’t they?

          However, I’m not sure it would make sense to give the whole Cape Colony back to the Hottentots now, rather than allowing everyone now living in its territory, black or white, to continue to live there.

          However, perhaps there are sufficient grounds for giving reparations to the Hottentots.

          • bevin

            The question is not of who may live there but of who, among those living there,’ owns’ or has the power to dispose of, the great bulk of the land and resources.
            The fact is that ‘ownership’ of the land in South Africa was assigned on the basis of race, by a government which was unashamedly racist- which gave land to white people because it wanted them to control it and to control the black people who inhabited it.
            The currently unsatisfactory nature of matters in South Africa stems, firstly from the crimes of imperialism and secondly from the refusal of whites to cede their plunder at the time they ceded the vote to non-white electors. There is an unfinished revolution which needs to be finished.
            The problem in Africa is that most of the ‘black leaders’ represent the imperialists’ interests. If they did not, like Ghadaffi they would be dead or, like Mugabe, heading governments subjected to decades of sanctions, boycotts and attempted insurrections.

        • Hmmm

          It seems victors write dictionaries, as well as histories then…
          So we’re overpopulated. The tribes of Southern Africa had it just about right till the white man came and stole the land.
          Just out of interest, what exactly is the correct number of people for this planet?

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Now Hillary has ignored what she wrote about the importance of Edward Snowden fleeing to Russia in June 2013, and well she might, as she was no longer Secretary of State then.

    She took credit for what she could have only done behind the scenes after she left office.

    She now claims it was her complaints five years ago about how Putin stole the parliamentary elections that resulted in his “beef” about her.

    Still Putin must see her as the biggest impediment to resetting the button with Russia, explaining why he had Snowden manage the hacking attacks to prevent her from becoming POTUS.

    • Trowbridge H. Ford

      Just don’t understand you trolls, like Trump, not making the proper case against Hillary.

      She should have been attacked for continuing to pick fights with Putin rather than resetting relations with Russia while she was still Secretary of State.

      While sent to the sidelines, she continued to look for excuses for not doing so, and when Snowden was forced to flee because he suspected he was being set up for a long prison term, if not execution, Hillary pounced as if this was grounds for continuing her hard policy towards Moscow.

      Instead you trolls and Trump’s people continue to make out that she is a pedophile, a cheat and a liar.

      Actually, she is a dyed in the wool russophobe., and should have been attacked long ago for being so.

      If Trump had merely done so, his record to be POTUS would be without challenge.

  • Dave

    Beware the saintly and Craig’s post illustrates the point, because although his, unlike the neo-cons, evocation of human rights is genuine the fact is Apartheid was enlightened governance compared to the rest of Africa and to the present alternative, that involves mass murder on a daily basis.

    I don’t know the latest figures, but the silence is deafening, which goes to show that for some the thought of a white on black injustice is far more appalling than actual black on black or even black on white injustice. Apartheid or more specifically the Boer Government finally fell when following the collapse of Soviet Union the Globalists took the opportunity to own a black rather than a more difficult white South Africa.

    • Hmmm

      I raise my voice here then. Any oppression is an abomination. I can’t speak for Zim but Thatcher acted in OUR name.
      I am biased, as the only perspective I have of Mugabe is from the Ndebele side, but I hate him for many of the things he did.

  • Anon1

    President Jammeh of Gambia has more personal wealth than the entire GDP of the Gambia.

    He has always seen his presidency as part of an anti-colonial struggle.

        • Loony

          What is anyone culture? If you are British you could always try reading Hobsbawm for a sense of the brutally shocking effects of the Industrial Revolution on the mass of the citizenry. You might recall how they were forced to live in urban slum housing and periodically die in their thousands from outbreaks of cholera. How later they were forcibly conscripted to go and die in their hundreds of thousands in France.

          How the survivors came home and were forced to endure the Great Depression before being shipped off overseas once more to go and kill the foreign man.

          ..and how today they are simply abandoned to their fate in public housing projects – kept docile with small amounts of freshly printed money and larger amounts of cheap alcohol and both legal and illegal drugs. Now they are resolutely ignored for they are too disgusting for the educated eye to alight upon. Except periodically, when someone wants to divert attention from some crime they have committed, they will become the subject of an orchestrated 2 minutes of hate. Here they will be roundly jeered as ignorant racists and told that they are to blame for all the ills of the world as a consequence of their rapacious, colonizing, slave owning mentality – which just cannot be washed away not through ignorance, not through education and not through death.

          I am just waiting for the day some social Justice Warrior takes the logical step and sets out to desecrate the war memorials to the fallen racists.

          • bevin

            “…the brutally shocking effects of the Industrial Revolution on the mass of the citizenry. ..”

            And largely because, like the indigenous people of America, the Africans in colonies like Zimbabwe and the Congo, and many others around the world their land and resources were taken from them, in a series of legal tricks, and they were reduced to proletarian dependence on wage labour. Capitalism depends upon taking the means of independence from the people.

            Your problem is that, like all racists and authoritarian progressives, you are so anxious to demonise the foreign victims of British imperialism that the fact that what is done in the colonies is not only modeled on what was done at home, but is used to justify doing even worse, squeezing the poor even more, escapes you notice.
            Which is why it is no coincidence that the enclosure of more than five million acres of land, coincided with the reduction of India’s peasantry to effectively share croppers whose surplus, after minimal deductions for subsistence and seeds, was seized by the government.
            Like the people of Zimbabwe the people of the United Kingdom have a moral right to insist on the return, to them, of the land and resources stolen from them. They might start. for example, by demanding the return into communal hands of the vast tracts of land seized from their Church, in the sixteenth century.

          • Loony

            The real world is more complicated than you seek to paint it.

            Let us assume that you are completely correct with regard to South Africa and that white people stole all of the land. Therefore they should be compelled to give it back. Once they have no land where exactly are they going to live? Physical people need physical space.

            If white people are a problem in South Africa then by definition their removal would improve the lot of the natives. Where could they go? Well they came from Europe, so perhaps they could go back there. But oh look Europe refuses them any right of return, so they can;t go there. White people in South Africa speak English, and a lot of them speak a derivative of Dutch and they tend to be hard working, self reliant and skilled people. But Europe does not want them. Rather Europe wants millions of immigrants from who knows where (certainly Europe has no idea where they are from because they cannot be bothered to check, all that seems to matter is that they are not white).

            So Europe accepts an unknown number of immigrants with unknown skills and unknown backgrounds and unknown ideological motivations. Europe will not accept a defined quantity of skilled, self reliant white people. A consequence of this refusal is to deliberately and willfully make life harder for the native population of South Africa who are forced to co-exist with people who have stolen everything from them. White people are not hurt too much because still live off the fruits of their theft. The real victims of refusing white people a right of return to Europe are native Africans. So what is it about native South Africans that makes people like you feel that they are not deserving of your help?

            Could it possible be that you don’t give a toss about anything other than your ideology. A long time ago now I was in a land called Cambodia where I saw the effects of ideology in all of its glory.

            There is no hope – and there is no hope because zealotry trumps all efforts at understanding. Look at the world today and you can understand many things – from the fall of Rome to the rise of the Nazi’s. It will not end well.

          • bevin

            “Let us assume that you are completely correct with regard to South Africa and that white people stole all of the land. Therefore they should be compelled to give it back…”
            This was never suggested. The problem is not that settlers are there but that they insist upon their exclusive right to control the land-their property. The problem is property in the means of sustaining life.

            As to the rest of your argument, Loony, it is largely casuistry shot through with abuse and anti-communist cliches. You would be more convincing in your claim to be concerned about others if you argued honestly.

  • Mark Golding

    Fascinating snoop into British actions re South Africa and apartheid. There is of course many other ‘shifty’ threads that litter the event horizon such as when my first draft on HMS London. HMS London docked at Simonstown in late 1969 after those crew off duty had enjoyed a banyan at a beach near Freetown (Freetown in 1969 was considered unsafe for a jaunt by white sailors). I was fortuitous at the time to read the decrypted CinC signals headed ‘NOT FOR SOUTH AFRICA EYES’ that were linked to the SA nuclear program.

    It appears some years before Craig’s SA appointment the UK foresaw a democratic South Africa where Black people would be in power, and (1) her involvement with uranium enrichment and fission experiments already established using HEU from America.was a worry, a future Black government might proliferate say to Libya and (2) SA’s entanglement with Israel and her own nuclear WMD preparations which would aid Israel’s clandestine nuclear testing program.

  • Anti-khazi

    Ok so we will petition the Pope to canonise you. But your debunking of this “Russia hacked” US election narrative surely deserves you a place at least in the lowest Heaven !

  • giyane

    “So Europe accepts an unknown number of immigrants with unknown skills and unknown backgrounds and unknown ideological motivations”

    I’m married to one of them and I am constantly delighted by my extended family.
    Unknown delights I might say.

  • Old Mark

    John Robertson @-1/15am

    Oohh err missus he’s got the Latin! When he grows up he can become a judge! (c P.Cook esq)

    Now excuse I whilst I depart to play with my sjambok

  • nevermind

    Apartheid is alive and well in Israel but also in our society now. By disassembling the national services, under classes are created such as the homeless, disabled and what falls under the tabloid heading of scroungers. Misogyny and attacks of a sexual nature against women and children is rife and morals are disbanded by our highest servants and figure heads.
    Its good to have an accurate record of history, providing that nobody has re written it whilst we weren’t looking, to make out that the empirical zest still carried like a torch, our inane hatred of all things Russian, is not all that bad.

    I do not believe any of the anti Russian propaganda, its more like its describing the unsustainability and un-viability of our financial and economic systems which are slowly collapsing round our twisted side burns.

  • Republicofscotland

    Well it was only last week, that Mhairi Black SNP MP put forward her Private Members Bill, which proposed that JobCentre staff , treat their clients with a little bit more consideration. The bill callously talked out by the Tories.

    Fast forward a week, and the British government, has acted, but not in a positive way. They have decided to close 66% of JobCentres in Scotland’s largest city Glasgow. The closure will see those with little income unable to spend much needed money on expensive fares to reach JobCentres, which inevitably will see more folk unfairly sanctioned.

    You may be asking yourself how the scrooges at the DWP, decided which JobCentres should stay open or close, the geniuse’s used Google maps to decide. They didn’t even have the decency to inform the Scottish government about their plan. The Scottish government learned of the closures through the press.

    It’s also understood, that HMRC are to close 95% of their offices/departments in Scotland.

  • Sharp Ears

    Agreeing with Nevermind and RoS above.

    Cameron’s cuts enforcer, Esther McVey, who lost her seat last time, would like to return to the HoC. I bet she does. She is on Any Questions on Radio 4 at the moment.

    Could former Wirral MP Esther McVey be on the verge of a political comeback?

    If there is a god, please NO!

    ‘Former Wirral West MP Esther McVey could be on the verge of a political comeback, the ECHO can reveal.

    The former GMTV presenter, blamed by many for the implementation of the controversial ‘bedroom tax’ and other benefit cuts when she was a Government minister, is keen to make a return to the House of Commons.’

    • Republicofscotland

      Thank you Sharp Ears, yes McVile as she was known before she fell out of the spotlight, is indeed a nasty piece of work.

      Speaking of nasty, the self named “nasty party” aka the Tories (though not all of them I might add on this occasion), specifically MP Philip Davies, tried to filibuster and derail MP Eilidh Whitefords bill.

      Yesterday in the House of Commons, the bill aimed at abuse and violence against women, and ratifying the Istanbul Convention, received cross-party support.

      However Mr Davies blustered on for 90 minutes hoping to derail the bill. His pathetic attempts failed and the bill received backing.

      Mr Scrooge aka Davies has form, on such matters, he (Davies) once spoke for 90 minutes to stop carers getting free parking at hospitals.

      Old misery guts Davies, also blocked a bill that would’ve required landlords, to make homes fit for human habitation.

      Ebenezer, (Davies) also filibustered a bill out, that would’ve required children to get first aid training, in schools, which could’ve saved another childs life.

      The Grinch (Davies) was also one of three Tories, who managed to stop it becoming illegal, for circuses to use wild animals in their shows.

      Finally Davies railed vehemently at the proposal that Britain should spend 0.7 percent of national income on foreign aid, calling those in favour “lentil eating sandal wearing misguided do gooders, with a guilt complex.”

      Mr Davies, what a lovely man.

  • lysias

    Obama repeated the false claim that Putin had been head of the KGB at his press conference yesterday. (Earlier yesterday morning, before the press conference, I had heard him say the same thing in an interview on NPR radio.) What’s up with his repeating such a lie? Hadn’t his advisers told him that he was mistaken?

  • Republicofscotland

    I’m sure Fred alighted us to the appointment of David Freidman, by Trump, to US ambassador to Israel, an appointment that in my opinion, speaks volumes about Trump, and not in a good sense.

    The appointment should concern those who see a two-state solution as an answer to the Israeli/Palestinian question, a question which has still to be answered.

    Freidman a right wing lawyer, is (allegedly) staunchly against a two-state solution. He also (allegedly) supports building more Israeli settlements on occupied lands.

    Friedman has also said (allegedly) that J**ish people who sympathise will Palestininans are worse than “Kapos” Friedman also sees Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, even though the UN does not recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    Anon 1 ( at 20:16)

    You said:-

    ” You didn’t have 650,000 people dumped on you by your political elites in the name of “diversity”.”

    The irony of what you said is that several millions of Africans were dumped into Caribbean slave plantations by the political and financial elites of Britain.Visit this site to see just how far-reaching the slave trade was in Britain ( https://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/ ).

    You don’t know the history – it was the Danes who first abolished the slave trade – long before Britain. Additionally it was an economically expedient decision, which was prolong for 5 years to ensure that the slave owners were compensated for the loss of their property – the people – who had been enslaved in the Caribbean. Here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/britains-colonial-shame-slave-owners-given-huge-payouts-after-abolition-8508358.html

    The final point is that you pivoted. It would be pointless of someone who murdered to say – hey – look – others did the same long before me – so what that I did it? That is your line of reasoning. The real point is that we were actually referencing the African Atlantic Slave Trade.

    Over and out!

    • Anon1

      You’re not still going on about it are you?

      Why aren’t you bothered by the Arab slave trade? Why do we hear nothing from you of the African slave traders who sold their own brothers and sisters into slavery? Everyone was involved. The fact is the slave trade was around long before the British took part and continued long after they put a stop to it.

      Muslims in the Gambia were still taking and selling slaves in the 1890s. Slavery was not abolished in Mauritania until 1980! Are you going to blame all this on whites?

      So why do you carry this grudge centuries later against Britain? Why do you want us to be ashamed of ourselves? Is it because you feel inferior? Well I am not ashamed so screw you and your compo claims.

      • J

        You might read “An Interesting Narrative” by Olaudah Equiano. It stands a good chance of modifying your theory. You can bet his description of his childhood was responding directly to your very premise, being expounded by his contemporaries in the eighteenth century. Which demonstrates just how resistant to information effective propaganda can be.

      • Courtenay Barnett

        You pivot again to all of slavery to avoid addressing the specific instance of the African Atlantic Slave Trade. Interesting how you argue. I guess then because there were Jewish collaborators with the Nazi regime – this becomes a basis for arguing that the Holoucaust was not a crime against humanity; the Nazis and their apologists and sympathisers should not be truly ashamed and the German nation is wrong in having paid the Jews reparations?
        But since you go really wide on the specific instance cited – let us reflect really wide:-
        Specifically addressing the issue of slavery which is the main point of your post ( while ignoring the personal comments).
        You seem to suggest that the practice of slavery was something somehow normal because of the times. Less worse then than what we today consider slavery to be. In other words, in those times, slavery was not so oppressive, as it was just about a mere acceptable master/servant relationship.
        Now, if slavery was so benign, why then would the ancient Israelites want to get away from 300 years of bondage under Pharaoh? Why were they so much against those slave-owning nations whom they supplanted when they entered Canaan?
        I tell you why: because in both cases those Israelites saw slavery as a wicked system, for they at one time were victims of slavery. And as Lord Mansfield stated in the James Somerset case in the 1700s Britain it was an “odious” condition ( his word of choice – not mine). So it was just substantial wickedness across the ages.
        So I suggest that you simply show yourself to be who your are with ad hominem comments that you seem compelled to resort to.
        Not my approach. More interested in ideas than personal insults.
        All the best to you.

        • Anon1

          ^The above wants a big payout because my great-great-great-great grandfather was a sheep farmer in Shropshire. Does he even know who his great-great-great grandfather was?

          He can fuck off as far as I’m concerned, the grasping cunt. He won’t rest until he’s screwed white people for maximum compo for crimes committed over 200 years ago. He can’t explain why his countries are still shite.

    • Old Mark

      The real point is that we were actually referencing the African Atlantic Slave Trade.

      I can’t speak for Anon1 but I certainly wouldn’t seek to defend the Atlantic slave trade on the grounds that black Africans and Arabs were enslaving fellow black Africans, or their black African neighbours, before Europeans got in on the act and after Europeans withdrew from following this vile practice.

      However it is interesting that some of the Africans thus enslaved and brutalised, once removed from their continent of origin and its characteristics of permanent politico-economic SNAFUs, endemic corruption and incompetence, and general all round shittiness (which BTW cannot ALL be blamed on evil European colonialism) have built well functioning, relatively prosperous countries with health indices black African countries cannot come anywhere near to matching-


      Whereas black Africans continually attempt in their tens of thousands to cross the Meditteranean for the prize of living in white ruled countries Barbados, perhaps alone in black ruled polities, continues to attract a selective inflow of Europeans and others either as retirees or ‘economic migrants’- the ultimate vote of confidence in any country.

      The Atlantic slave trade may have been a crime about which the participating European nations are now rightly ashamed- but it seems in some instances to have had unintended beneficial consequences.

      • Courtenay Barnett

        Old Mark,

        Willing to weigh what you have said ( especially because unlike Anon1 – you are able to engage in civil commentary without personal attack).

        You said, in part:-

        ” Barbados, perhaps alone in black ruled polities, continues to attract a selective inflow of Europeans and others either as retirees or ‘economic migrants’- the ultimate vote of confidence in any country.”

        Actually, having moved around the world, but lived in the Caribbean for a long time – I observe – the entire Caribbean ( possibly with the exception of Haiti, because of extreme poverty there) proves a magnet attracting migrants and retirees from both Europe and North America.

      • Anon1

        I didn’t seek to defend the Atlantic slave trade. It was vile and abhorrent but it happened and it ended centuries ago. I can’t stick arseholes like Courtenay, no doubt egged on by white Marxist lecturers in post-colonialist faculties in Western universities, who think white people owe them money.

        • Courtenay Barnett


          Actually there is a continuum which you would want to invert and never for a moment consider.

          Consider this:-

          i) So-called aid from Europe or the EU is really a way of European enterprise funding its own productive capacities by having tied aid linked to the sums allocated to purchase of European goods and services.

          ii) By contrast Cuba with far less resources has contributed far much more to the Caribbean, South America and Africa than the EU and has built schools, trained doctors, provided much needed ophthalmological services, medical assistance and many institutions built not on the basis of tied aid.

          iii) By contrast – consider Haiti:-


          Q. ” Why must they always suffer so?”

          A. Because they had the audacity to liberate themselves in a successful slave rebellion; because the same powers that had enslaved the Haitians imposed “reparations payments” to the tune of 21m French francs – as repayment of the loss of French property ( namely – the lands and slave “property” ( people) that was the reality and inheritance that was Haiti); because of the debt trade off with the State of Louisiana between the US/France; because of the on-going debt that permitted the US to fix Haitian currency to a low level and obtain sweated-labour; because Aristide had the audacity of hope to seek repayment from France for the original 21m francs; because the US ousted Aristide to reimpose the old order; because Clinton and his clan are busy developing an enclave which will widen gaps between the haves and have-nots ( and on that I spoke to an aid worker from Haiti, just yesterday – who confirmed and explained to me what was afoot).

          And the mirror image with Margret Thatcher trying her utmost best to prolong Apartheid.

          And – in fact – all the above and more.

        • Courtenay Barnett


          If you are fully truthful – you did seek to defend the Atlantic African Slave Trade. Why do I say that – because it is true and you are trying to debate me – so continue.


          Clearly, tribes and nations exist in Africa and as with European warfare, so too did Africans fight Africans, but African leaders resisted the slave trade from its inception:

          “And we cannot reckon how great the damage is, since the mentioned merchants are taking every day our natives, sons of the land and the sons of our noblemen and vassals and our relatives, because the thieves and men of bad conscience grab them wishing to have the things and wares of this Kingdom which they are ambitious of; they grab them and get them to be sold; and so great, Sir, is the corruption and licentiousness that our country is being completely depopulated, and Your Highness should not agree with this nor accept it as in your service. And to avoid it we need from those (your) Kingdoms no more than some priests and a few people to reach in schools, and no other goods except wine and flour for the holy sacrament. That is why we beg of Your Highness to help and assist us in this matter, commanding your factors that they should not send here either merchants or wares, because it is our will that in these Kingdoms there should not be any trade of slaves nor outlet for them. Concerning what is referred [to] above, again we beg of Your Highness to agree with it, since otherwise we cannot remedy such an obvious damage.”…

          “And as soon as they are taken by the white men they are immediately ironed and branded with fire, and when they are carried to be embarked, if they are caught by our guards’ men the whites allege that they have bought them but they cannot say from whom, so that it is our duty to do justice and to restore to the freemen their freedom, but it cannot be done if your subjects feel offended, as they claim to be.” – Letter from African King of the Congo Nzinga Mbemba, a.k.a. Alfonso I, to the King of Portugal, dated October 18, 1526.

          Over to you – next point accompanied by your historical factual references in support.

        • bevin

          There is no doubt that descendants of slaves in the US and Caribbean do deserve reparation for the harm done to them by working their ancestors to death and impoverishing them, ‘unto the third and fourth generation.
          The obvious form of such compensation would be to transfer wealth from the classes that benefited from slavery to those who live in poverty because their ancestors were cheated out of the just rewards for their labour.
          The same logic applies to working people everywhere in proportion to the extent that they were cheated. Few were worse treated than plantation slaves forced to labour, but some, including displaced peasants in Great Britain were, in some respects such as subsistence, treated worse. After the slave trade ended the tendency of plantation owners to work their slaves to death and replace them with newly purchased imports led to the development of a highly profitable slave breeding industry, in which some slave owners were heavily invested. Thus we see in the United States, for example, a period during which the diets and living conditions of slaves improved as they were viewed as valuable ‘stock.’
          In Jamaica ‘Monk’ Lewis who inherited a plantation described the provision grounds of slaves, markets in which they were able to sell produce and other facilities-obviously designed to increase productivity and cut operating costs, rather than evidence of generosity- which were denied English labourers.
          In short reparations are due in every country, not as personal but as social compensation in order to improve the lives of all.

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