The White Man, He Never Learn

A review of Last Days In Cloud Cuckooland: Dispatches From White Africa, by Graham Boynton

[1997, Random House, NY, 299 pp., illus., map, index.]

by Gregory J. Krupey

Graham Boynton's book on the decline and fall of White Africa takes its title from a 1987 statement made by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher: "Anyone who thinks that the ANC is going to run the government of South Africa is living in Cloud Cuckooland." Mr. Boynton takes ironic pleasure in remembering that rash pronouncement, but, as he reveals, those clouds ominously display an ever darkening lining, and the birds are not cuckoos, but vultures.

His book, part reportage, part memoir, displays the first-hand knowledge of the ongoing African apocalypse that only a White native can reveal. Born in England but brought to Rhodesia as a small boy, Boynton's experiences were typical for Whites of his generation, different only in that he was more fortunate. He opens the book by relating the fate of his friend, David Dodds.

Dodds was "tall, blond, rugged looking, a commercial photographer of some repute", and "a die-hard bachelor who serial-dated Johannesburg's most beautiful models." In contrast, David's brother John, married with two children, had founded his own computer business. Both lived in the affluent suburbs of Johannesburg which were increasingly becoming barricaded enclaves due to the racially-motivated black crime that exploded in the wake of Nelson Mandela's election, and both were "concerned about the future under a black government -- they said they'd seen it all before in Kenya and Rhodesia -- but they were determined to retreat no further. They had been born Africans, and they believed they belonged in Africa." (Pp. 5-6)

To Boynton, the Dodds' story paralleled his own.

"He was born in Kenya...In 1963, when Kenya gained independence and began to be Africanized, Dodds senior lost his job. He packed up his family and headed south, to Rhodesia...But then Rhodesia became independent, and in 1980, Dodds packed up his family again and headed farther south, first to Swaziland, and then to South Africa. Finally, after the sons...had left home, he and his wife retired to...the southern tip of the continent. They could go no farther south.

"The Dodds' retreat is the story of white colonial life in Africa in microcosm. Since 1960, the white settlers who brought the twentieth century to Africa have been on the run. When independence swept through the continent from north to south, the new African leaders made conciliatory statements about their former oppressors, but they didn't really want too many whites around. Just enough to keep some of the essential services going. You could see their point. We had stolen their land, and we had hardly been benevolent landlords. So, like the Dodds family, most of us retreated, bit by bit, until we reached South Africa, or abandoned the continent entirely." (pp. 5-6)

In that summation, Boynton displays the double-mindedness that shadows this book, like a man vehemently arguing with himself and losing at every point. Boynton sincerely believes that Whites oppressed the black man on the very lands he stole from them; but he also knows that the new black lords need a remnant of the white oppressors not only to keep the trains running on time, but to keep them running at all. Like the Dodds, Boynton viscerally dreads the specter of black rule, knowing full well what horrors it will bring, yet the liberal chimera that has locked its jaws firmly upon his conscious mind will not let him come right out and say what is obvious to even the most casual reader: black rule is a catastrophe, accompanied by genocide.

In December 1993, John Dodds was killed in what Boynton describes as "a typical armed robbery gone wrong". Five blacks forced the maid to scream for help while they lurked in ambush. When John came, they burst into the house and in the ensuing struggle, he was shot through the arteries. Still alive when the paramedics arrived, he later died on the operating table.

David Dodds' reacted to his brother's death by fortifying his home, "erecting an eight-foot high wall strung with coils of razor wire and putting up electronic security gates. The house was fitted with an alarm system...For all that...armed gangs broke in four times, always while David was out. He installed more security equipment and bought a flock of geese to patrol the grounds with his two golden retrievers. There were now coils of razor wire running along the wall beside the lawn." (pp. 6-7)

Despite these precautions, David Dodds almost met his brother's fate one night in August, 1995. Returning home to find everything in order (even the geese were silent), he entered his house with a sense of disquiet, realizing that he should have been carrying his 9mm pistol which he had left inside in his safe. In his living room, Dodds realized that there was a "strange shadow in the dark far corner of the room," in fact the strange shadow was two blacks, one of whom was aiming a pistol at his head. Dodds grabbed a wooden stool and rushed at the intruders. Three shots were fired at him. One missed, the second ricocheted and hit him in the stomach, and the third grazed his skull.

Responding to the commotion, Dodds' maid pressed the alarm that would alert the private security service Dodds subscribed to. They arrived almost immediately, having already been in the neighborhood in response to a carjacking alert. But at the sound of the alarm, the two black burglars quickly escaped.

"That night, Dodds began to think the unthinkable. As his father had said, they could go no further south and the choice was to stand up to the bastards or leave Africa forever...Dodds made his decision. He was going to stand his ground. He would resist with appropriate force. The next day he laid down more razor wire and planted a series of trip wires on the front lawn that were connected to homemade guns. He began carrying his nine-millimeter revolver [sic] everywhere he went...even when he got up to answer the phone. If his clients expressed dismay, he'd tell them that pretty soon every white would be carrying a weapon. His entrances to and exits from his fortress were conducted with military precision, as if he were anticipating an armed attack." (pp. 8-9)

This account of the effects of black crime on two white brothers in post-apartheid South Africa is an apt parable for the whole nation. Boynton drives the point home with statistics on the increase in crime following the abolition of apartheid: a crime rate twice that of the international average. A serious crime every 17 seconds. A robbery every 60 minutes. Fifty murders every day, averaging to 45 per 100,000, as compared to the international average of 5.5 per 100,000. In the first six months of 1995, carjackings totaled 5,033, with 4,060 of them in the Johannesburg area. But most telling of all, an 80% increase in rape since 1990, the year the ban on the ANC was lifted, and Nelson Mandela was released from prison after an unprecedented international pressure campaign waged against South Africa by the usual cosmopolitan do-gooders. This is the South Africa vouchsafed to us by Mandela and Joe Slovo, Desmond Tutu and Helen Suzman, Alan Paton and F. W. de Klerk.

Disappointment awaits the reader who anticipates an angry polemic denouncing those culprits for their complicity in destroying a civilized society and turning it over to a horde of ignorant savages. While there are flashes of insight and sane thinking sprinkled throughout Boynton's book, he hews, albeit with difficulty at times, to the standard liberal line. Considering Boynton's background as a White African, you would think he would know better. But as this book proves again and again, the White man, he never learn.

One of Boynton's earliest memories was the influx of panicked, dispossessed Belgian refugees who swarmed into Rhodesia when Communist-inspired upheavals turned the Belgian Congo into a racial inferno. Their tales of terror regarding the atrocities committed by black revolutionaries raised the hackles on the White Rhodesians, and instilled a determination in many of them never to surrender to the same fate. Looking at the situation in contemporary Rhodesia, now the Black-ruled terror state of the Marxist dictator Robert Mugabe and renamed Zimbabwe, we can only wonder what happened to that vaunted resistance.

What happened to White Africa was exactly what happened to the rest of the White world since the end of World War II, that far-reaching social, cultural, and political revolution that erupted in the 1960s and 1970s that turned everything upside down. Boynton wistfully chronicles its "liberating" effects upon himself and his generation. But who was responsible? Was this result, foreseeable to those unsentimental souls who knew Africa and Africans intimately, due to conspiracy or altruistic foolishness?

It is important to understand that White Africa, focused on the southern tip of that immense continent, is actually the story of two White Africas, Boer and British. They shared a skin color, and little else. The Boers, descendents of Dutch Calvinists, arrived in 1652. Much like the early American pioneers, whose odyssey they paralleled, the Boers came in search of freedom and wide-open spaces. To them Africa was a new Canaan to be conquered in order to build a new nation. The British arrived later, in 1795, with more ambitious concerns. To them, Africa was just another ripe plum for the Imperial pudding, the Cape a strategic asset that must be secured. It wasn't until the 1820s that British settlers in any great numbers arrived, and as they poured in, the Boers pulled up stakes and retreated into the interior. This attempt to escape the British brought the Boers into greater and more frequent conflict with the indigenous inhabitants, including the warlike Zulus, who were busy carving out an empire of their own.

Caught between the British and the Zulus, the Boers fought back with a resistance that was astonishing. From the Great Trek of the 1830s to the Boer War of 1899-1902, these scrappy Dutch farmers inflicted devastating, humiliating defeats on the much-vaunted warriors of both the mighty Zulu nation and the mighty British Army. At the 1838 Battle of Blood River, 350 Boers killed 3,000 Zulu warriors without suffering one fatality. As Boynton points out, such a miraculous victory would have convinced anyone that they were the Elect of God.

Despite their courage and sense of divine entitlement, the Boers eventually fell to the British Imperial juggernaut. They were waging a defensive war against a foe who had them outnumbered, outgunned, and outfoxed. After all, the Boers were sitting on gold mines and diamond fields, things for which Blighty has always felt a divine entitlement.

If the Boers were forced to concede defeat, they never completely knuckled under to the British vision of the Union of South Africa's place in the multiracial order that was the British Empire. For the Boers, the sticking point was racial separation. The Boers regarded African blacks as inferior, or at least alien, to Whites, and did not believe that the two races could or should live together on equal terms. The British didn't believe that Blacks were equal, either. But there were more blacks than Whites, and certainly more than there were Boers, and His Majesty's mines needed cheap labor. As the ill winds of socialism, egalitarianism, and anti-colonialism began to waft throughout the empire, the controlling elite realized that certain concessions needed to be made to His Majesty's darker-hued subjects. This, of course, put the Boers right back where they started, caught between the British and the Black hordes, with no place left to go. The Boers dug in their heels and took the British establishment on. In 1914, two years after the foundation of the ANC, the Boers (or Afrikaners, as they liked to be called) formed the National Party. It took the National Party 34 years to win an election, and when it did, it instituted the apartheid system of racial separation that helped produce the most prosperous, modern, and civilized state on the continent of Africa. It also unwittingly signed the death warrant for South Africa (which declared itself an independent republic in 1961), and the Afrikaner's hard-won way of life. The New World Order's plans for a planetary society of racially indistinct consumers does not allow for an economically-independent, resource-rich, White separatist state.

Boynton, of course, does not see things this way. He is too conventional to infer a hidden hand in the overthrow of White African rule, even though it occurred in an astonishingly short period of time from an historical perspective. To him, the end of White rule, while not without melancholy, was inevitable, a natural progression as well as a just and moral one. If he sees any manipulators behind the scenes, their reasons are banal and obvious, such as Harold Macmillan, British Prime Minister, a pragmatic politician expediently delivering his pro-Black "Winds of Change" speech to a sullen South African parliament. Or Garfield Todd, the New Zealand missionary who became Rhodesia's first integrationist Prime Minister, so dedicated to overturning White supremacy, that his own cabinet ousted him. Boynton paints Todd admiringly, as the personification of the British liberal clergyman, intent on ramming racial egalitarianism down the throats of his benighted, sinful countrymen with the robust enthusiasm and "jolly good!" smile of a vicar who is certain that not only is God an Englishman with a perfect BBC accent, but that life itself is a cricket match in which everyone deserves to play.

Eventually, Todd was arrested and placed under house arrest for his activities, which by that time had gone beyond dissent into treason. Todd's plight became the sort of international cause célèbre which the liberal elite lives to condemn, choking back the outrage with the canapes and champagne. Ian Smith, Mr. Todd's successor and the man who ordered his arrest, was reviled by right-thinking, left-leaning cosmopolitans as a devil incarnate. In one of the most poignant chapters in the book, Boynton interviews this old nemesis, a combination Nixon, Agnew, and Wallace for hip, young, right-thinking Rhodesians of the '70s, and finds himself "feeling some sympathy for the crusty old conservative," even to the point of patting him on the shoulder and saying 'good old Smithy'" (p. 189). But the sympathy doesn't last. "I caught a glimpse of him in the rearview mirror, and I saw the shadow of a man who once took a country to war to protect a nineteenth century lifestyle." (ibid.)

In contrast, when Boynton interviews Smith's bête noire, Garfield Todd, he does everything but kiss his ring. Noting that Todd, as well as his wife and daughter, who shared Garfield's pro-black activism, were "concerned about the...paths...the government was taking the country down...," Boynton highlights the liberal optimism of (as he dubs them) "the Good Family Todd" who "were not alarmed because they believed in the intrinsic goodness of the black African. They were, and always had been, much more than white Christian liberals. They were Africanists." (p. 181)

Nothing better illustrates the conflicting thoughts and emotions that batter Boynton than the following threnody to Todd:

"Why weren't more of us like Todd? If we had supported him in the late '50s, we would have most likely averted a civil war and would certainly have elected a more moderate black government than that of Robert Mugabe. But we did not, and the only logical explanation is fear of the unknown. Had we followed the Todds into the heart of Africa, then we may have overcome that fear. But we got tangled up in white-man's politics and followed the wrong leaders and stayed firmly rooted on the manicured side of the picket fence." (p. 181)

Coming from a native White African, this classic piece of liberal cant is stunning in its naiveté. Rhodesians did not have to follow the Todds into the heart of Africa, the heart of Africa found them easily enough. It was because Rhodesians, and later South Africans, renounced "white-man's politics" (and what other kind should White people practice?) that they found themselves overwhelmed by that heart of darkness, and with Conrad's Mr. Kurtz, they can now cry, "The horror! The horror!" Still, Boynton continues, "And yet. And yet. There are many who believe that the calamities attending the first fifteen years of black rule in Zimbabwe are proof enough that Todd and his ilk were leading us down the road to ruin..." (ibid)

Despite Mr. Boynton's best efforts to portray Garfield Todd as noble saint and courageous martyr, I could not work up any sympathy for his plight as a government prisoner. I saw him as an indisputably evil man, the sort of race traitor who knows but does not care how his actions harm his own kind because he is wedded, like an addict to his drug, to the sweet poison that he knows leads nowhere else but to destruction. In any other than a Western society, Todd would have been executed for his subversive activities. Instead, he was allowed to take his place with the new black government he did so much to bring about. Ironically, both he and his daughter soon found themselves in opposition to the Mugabe regime over issues of corruption and press freedom. It seems to have been quite the disillusioning experience for daughter Judith, at least..

"I'm tired of being a dissident, ' she said. 'It was easier with Smith because it seemed so morally right, so straightforward. I was also an outsider -- I was young, and didn't know them personally. The people I'm up against now are people I've know all my life. And it's the mirror image of my struggle against Smith." For Judith, playing the principled rebel lacks that invigorating cachet once it's turned against one's precious black pets. Or perhaps her despondence is merely informed by the somber fact that rebellion against a real bloody-handed dictator like Robert Mugabe could exact a more serious price than rebellion against a desperate yet decent Ian Smith. A chip off the old block, indeed.

To this reviewer, Garfield Todd is the villain of this book, but there are no real villains to Boynton. Like a true liberal, he always sees impersonal but malevolent historical forces, like apartheid or faceless racists, as the collective Enemy. Boynton must be credited with sincerely trying to placate that discarded deity of journalism, objectivity. He tries, and often succeeds, in seeing the point of view of even those with whom he vehemently disagrees. Consider the Boers. Although he occasionally remembers to deride them as bigots or condemn their rigidity, he consistently displays a sympathy for the Boers as a people, and for the individual Boers he interviews. This is quite amazing for a Brit, much less one who was a student radical in the 1970s, a draft dodger from the Rhodesian army, and an associate of the White anti-apartheid activist Rick Turner, founder of the revolutionary Durban movement.

Here again Boynton displays his double-mindedness. At one moment he is castigating the Boers for perpetuating the crisis in South Africa with their threats of violent resistance, delaying the peace that can only come when they surrender to a multiracial South Africa; the next moment he is interviewing Boer resistance leader Manie Maritz, a descendent of Boer war heroes and photographed in the book somberly brandishing a firearm in each hand. As Boynton leaves Maritz' camp, the following exchange takes place,

"Manie stood up and placed a hand on my shoulder. He said he wanted me to leave before the police arrived. This was a private matter, he said, between the Boers here and the Boers who were coming in the police uniforms. He said, "Keep in touch," and he meant it. I said, "Vasbeit, Manie," using an Afrikaans word meaning "stand firm," and although I felt silly saying it, I meant it." (p.27)

Boynton also explores an incident that was greatly misrepresented, undoubtedly deliberately so, by the international press: the shooting death, before TV cameras, by black policemen in the semi-independent tribal homeland of Bophuthatswana of three Afrikaner Resistance Movement militiamen. I remember seeing the incident on TV. Three Boers in khaki and armed with pistols were ruthlessly dispatched by black policemen as they lay wounded and dying in a Mercedes sedan that was identified as their "get-away car," even as one of them begged for mercy. The announcer identified them as racist extremists who had gone on a hunting trip to kill blacks, and had had the tables turned on them. The implication was that they deserved their fate, and as I watched the horrifying images, I recall feeling doubly ashamed. Ashamed that men with the same color skin as I would indulge in such reprehensible behavior, and a perhaps greater shame that they had died cowards as well, begging for medical aid. Of course, that is exactly what the media wanted me and millions of others to feel.

Boynton reveals that far from being on the press-concocted "kaffir-shooting expedition," Alwyn Wolfaardt and comrades were part of a terminated operation undertaken by the unlikely allies of the Freedom Alliance (the Afrikaners Volkfront, the Zulu Inkatha Freedom Party, and the black government of Bophuthatswana) to keep the Communist-front ANC out of the Bophuthatswana elections. The black policemen who killed them were, prior to the collapse of the operation, their ostensible allies. This chapter, "Alwyn's Last Trek," an exercise in ferreting out the often complex truth that is distorted by politically correct journalism, alone makes the book worth reading.

For all that, Boynton's real sympathies are revealed in his account of the life and death of Rick Turner, White radical agitator, who is lionized over two chapters. Boynton depicts Turner as a "patriot" who almost single-handedly transformed (i.e., destroyed) South Africa. Perhaps the South African government agreed; its agents, Boynton argues, assassinated Turner.

Yet this apotheosis of Turner obscures more than it reveals, and highlights a severe shortcoming of Boynton's book. There are no interviews with South African Jews like Helen Suzman or Nelson Mandela's "mentor," the Communist Joe Slovo. Nor is there any mention of the Oppenheimers and their DeBeers empire of diamonds, one product curiously immune to demands for boycotting all products South African.

South African Jews were instrumental in forging a military alliance between South Africa and Israel (which may have resulted in a shared atomic bomb project), as well as in overturning apartheid through their contacts in the Diaspora. Surely at least one of them would have merited an interview, but if we rely on Boynton, we would be convinced that no Jews ever lived in South Africa.

Along with this serious omission, Boynton also strays into irrelevant territory. He wastes considerable space recounting the sordid career of Piet Grundlingh and Charmaine Phillips, who went on a murder spree in 1983, fueled by drugs, poverty, boredom, and, by Boynton's analysis, rage at their marginalization by the tide of black labor and the dismantling of apartheid. Boynton also devotes considerable thought to the fate of Africa's wildlife in post-White Africa. While indulging in the expected self-flagellation over the White man's unconscionable slaughter of animals, Boynton is compelled to report on the accompanying wholesale massacre of elephants and rhinos by black poachers to feed the insatiable Asian market for such exotic nostrums for impotency as ground rhino horns.

"If the poachers don't get the animals, then the black population, upon whom we have bestowed 'culture', 'civilization', and inordinate longevity, will surely outbreed them and crowd them into extinction." (p. 221)

It is here that Boynton finally deals with the crux of the horror story that is the end of White Africa and the atavistic resurgence of the Dark Continent. Boynton deals with it in the shortest chapter in his book, "Playing God in Eden," a mere three pages, and he lays it out in five succinct sentences:

"The arrival of Western medicines cut infant mortality dramatically among African tribespeople. Previously a woman would have eight children and expect only four to survive. Now all eight survived, as did their children and their children's children. At the turn of the century, Africa supported ninety-three million people, and as the millennium approaches, there are almost more than eight hundred million. This population explosion led to a demand for more land, and the resentment of the white man's [game] reserves and the white man's animals grew stronger." (p. 192)

If the enormity of that statement fails to sink in, dwell upon the fact that since 1900, 707 MILLION more Africans were added to the population of that unfortunate continent, and it is entirely due, as Boynton points out, to the White man's own blind altruism. Remember those numbers the next time you hear the White man accused of implementing "genocide" in Africa. Disastrously, the opposite is precisely the case. And once the animals are gone, and the last White man is pushed off the continent, those teeming millions, adding more numbers to their mass (despite famine, war, and AIDS), will have nowhere to go but follow the White man's retreat to the White man's own overpopulated homelands, where eager altruists of the stamp of Rick Turner and Garfield Todd will be awaiting them with open arms and public alms.

But perhaps Mr. Boynton will not be among them. He has titled the epilog to his book "The Last White Man in Africa." It was inspired by a dream he had, but he was not the man in the dream. Like many another White African altruist before him, Mr. Boynton did not remain behind to savor the victory for black domination he helped make possible. As his book jacket tells us, he now lives in New York with his wife and children. Maybe he did finally learn something.


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