Picture: 123RF/HASLOO
Picture: 123RF/HASLOO

Carol Paton's most recent column refers ("Land matters. It is as simple and as complicated as that", April 8). We see a similar debate in the US, where the issue of reparations for slavery has gained political favour on the Capitol, which is now barricaded and kept safe by 5,000 National Guards to protect politicians from the electorate who elected them.

Paton must be reminded that apartheid was not a land acquisition exercise. That honour must go to the British mandarins under the influence of the Randlords, who wanted cheap labour and used the Land Act of 1913 to ensure blacks would be legally shanghaied into selling their labour underground.

Apartheid was merely an attempt at partitioning the country, like what took place in India in 1947, to give the Afrikaners protection from what they perceived would be their domination by blacks post 1945. The creators of apartheid honestly believed that giving islands of land based on tribal affiliations, and installing in each of these regions a black political officialdom, would be sufficient to create a middle class of black Africans that would continue to supply labour at a discount. We all know what that led to.

Assuming Paton is right, on what basis would the redress take place? How would this recompense be different to what took place in Zimbabwe, which is now sitting with 75% unemployment and, ironically, its largest income coming from remittances from its citizens working abroad at a discount to their real worth?

We as South Africans need to accept the reality that the problem with Africa is not a shortage of land — we actually have too much of it — but rather how to educate a population that has suffered more than 70 years of gross neglect of education delivery during both the apartheid years and now under ANC dominion.

The serious question is how do we provide the appropriate skills to the legions of uneducated citizen to equip them to become productive workers in the 21st century? Victor Hugo said it best: “He who opens a school door, closes a prison.”

Africans, like African Americans, need to leave their mental prisons and understand that their salvation will not come from owning land, but from possessing skills that have value.

John Catsicas
Via e-mail

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