The Ecphorizer

Controversy (South Africa)

Issue #57 (May 1986)

Letters about last month's article "Boeru, Britu, and the Press"

Dear Mr Towner:

As I opened the much awaited April issue of The Ecphorizer with my usual glee, little did I know how sorely disappointed I would be. I now feel that all truly intelligent people should carefully guard against such dangerous and subjective articles as yours ["Boeru, Britu, and the Press"]. It is apparently true that you have consumed a good deal of highly clever propaganda purposefully aimed at you in the hope that it would reach the United States. It worked. First of all, as a white man, where exactly did you travel in South Africa? Did you ever come across any violent outbreaks or demonstrations? You report seeing black farms "cleaner and more prosperous" than those of any other African nation. I am certain that prior to the Emancipation Proclamation, black American slaves lived on cleaner and more "organized" plantations in the South than any in underdeveloped Africa at the time.

You have mentioned seeing a 'whites only' sign at a South African beach. In my mind that is justification enough to stage a massive overhaul of the ruling government. Have we forgotten so soon the hardship and pain black Americans suffered over here for civil rights?

Subjugation of any kind cannot be tolerated, not necessarily because of any difference in skin color. African nations are situated very closely and tightly together and unrest may even be said to be expected. How so? What of similar situations in history with such neighbors as the English and French, Mongols and Chinese, Germans and French, Japanese and Russians, or Indians and colonial settlers in North America? To say that the invaders (and I feel the term is quite descriptive) are in fact well-treating their subjugates is missing the point entirely. No educated person in his right mind would compare a blatantly bad situation with others that are worse. Yet you, Mr Towner, have done just this by providing a list of injustices committed by other neighboring African governments. If you continue this form of reasoning you may just as well choose another international concern and mislabel it. In this way you would antagonize many innocent people and wrongly influence many more. For example, might not one label simple punishment as cruel inhumane torture or compare the death penalty with Nazi execution methods? The simple point is that to compare something shameful with something inexcusable is to mislead.

When Bishop Desmond Tutu arrived in the US to lecture and publicize his country's plight, after receiving his Nobel prize, he held up his passport to the Press to show them where his citizenship was declared "unknown" and left blank. He, like all other black Pretorians, has inferior status in his own country and must inhabit poor tracts of land set aside for his use by foreigners who have no right to be there. I am not implying that you are blind Mr Towner; I am saying that there must be some inherent reason why millions of people across the globe have cried out against the Botha regime. I am also saying that there must be some horrendous injustice behind that which has driven millions of black South Africans to risk their lives in protest. You must simply gain information from all sides in order to write a truly non-biased article. Perhaps in this way we can truly decide right from wrong.

Reza Hakimzadeh
Towson, MD

Towner replies
As author: I am unaware of having "consumed a good deal of highly clever propaganda" before writing my article, "Boeru, Britu and the Press." I tried mainly to report my own observations plus the historical facts. My point in listing some of the evils of black African governments was not to exculpate the "Boeru," but rather to illustrate what I believe would replace them if they were ousted. Regardless of how one views the white government in absolute terms, I still think they represent the least repressive practical alternative.

I disagree with Reza's labeling the South African whites as "foreigners who have no right to be there." The whole point of my capsule history was that they immigrated about the same time as the blacks, joining them in destroying the aborigines. Their unique language and culture was already flourishing more than a century ago, when America was still being populated by Europeans.

As Editor: At press time we had received four letters about this article. The other three are excerpted below:

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I enjoyed your well-written South African piece. It confirms what I have heard from other sources (non-Nobel black African clergymen) that blacks' inhumanity to blacks, in other African countries, is worse than whites' inhumanity to blacks in RSA. The ANC has stated that elimination of apartheid is only a first step. ANC has said that they will not rest until they have complete political and economic control. I note that deaths from black tribal fractionation are exceeding deaths cause by white tribal policemen. And this is only the beginning...

Roy Shaw
Santa Rosa, CA
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I wanted to thank you for your piece in the April Ecphorizer, "Boeru, Britu, and the Press." I consider this the best-reasoned and best-written item to appear in that magazine for the last six months...

Terry T. Tilford
San Francisco, CA
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...I just had to sit down and write you immediately. Bravo!

R. Bradner Mead
Sierra City, CA

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