In the early 1700’s my ancestors moved from England to Ireland, by a promise of cheap land and a new life, by the British government. As Protestants in a predominately Catholic country, it was never going to be easy, especially as they were viewed as “privileged” and “landed gentry”. They were merchants, farmers, soldiers and ship’s captains, and employed mostly in furthering the interests of the Crown.
Ireland then, was a challenge, as it has been ever since, but my family persevered, raised and educated their children, accumulated land in the county of Kilkenny and became prosperous. The rebellion of 1798 took it’s toll on our family, with one of my ancestors, Captain Patrick Cuthbert, losing his life in defence of the Crown, at the Battle of Gores Bridge, against the Irish rebels.
Relations between the Catholics and Protestants rapidly deteriorated from that point onwards, and members of our family slowly left the country due to religious persecution, and moved to the US, Australia and South Africa, with my line arriving here (SA), in 1880.
We came as settlers, and did what we do best, setting up shop as merchants in Knysna, and raising and educating our children. Things were certainly easier here than back in the “homeland”, with a fantastic climate, plenty of cheap fertile land, and gold and diamonds being discovered on the Reef.
The dreaded “Blacks” were hundreds of miles away, in conflict with the poor suckers who had been conned by the British Government into settling frontier territory in Grahamstown.
The Xhosa and Zulu, who had been migrating South for hundreds of years, also came as settlers, and the poor Khoisan, who had been here all along, were just squeezed out.
Now, you may ask, why am I boring you with this amateur history lesson? Well, I am doing this to prove a point. My point is this. Yes, I am a settler, but so too are 99.9% of the current population of South Africa. My family didn’t come here and “steal” land from blacks. Where we settled, there weren’t any, and even in the areas where they did live, they in turn had settled there and driven the current residents off by threat of war. The land we settled on, we bought, and obtained legal title to.
By mere force of numbers the current (and I use this term optimistically) ANC government, is just re-writing history, with their version being that Black Africans (you know what I mean) had occupied the whole of South Africa, from coast to coast, for thousands of years. They were organised and civilised and lived in peace and prosperity, but then along came the Dutch and English and stole their land, and then from 1948 the National Party government further entrenched this system, and it was finally over-turned by a resounding military and political victory by the mighty ANC in 1994.
Let’s face it, we’re all settlers, the white ones just didn’t breed as fast. Period.
Enjoy your weekend.
P.S. The child bride objected strongly to the photograph, supposedly of her, that I published in my blog entry titled, Aquaponics has changed our lives and demanded that I put the record straight. Here is a photo of her tanning in our garden. (Note to Synaptoman : maybe I should tidy up the garden a bit this weekend?)