Tag Archives: David Livingstone

BRITISH EMPIRE WAS A BLESSING

It has been suggested that citizens of the sixteen Commonwealth Realms be given their own “fast lane” at UK Points of Entry.   This will be good news for citizens of Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the smaller realms.   If the idea is approved, it will be a first step toward restoring closer Commonwealth ties that ended when Britain joined the EU.

While Britain has been a member of the European Union, EU citizens were able to go through the fast lane, while the rest of us waited for up to two hours, slowly inching forward in the “Aliens” line.

Post-Brexit, it will certainly be in Britain’s best interests to enter into closer trade and defense ties with the countries that share Britain’s parliamentary system and all have the same Head of State, Queen Elizabeth II.   Other Commonwealth countries have opted for a republican form of government, recognizing the Queen as Head of the Commonwealth but not retaining her services as their own sovereign.

It will also mean that, for the first time, the United Kingdom is reversing five decades of history and turning its attention again to its former Empire.

The word “Empire” has been a pejorative for two generations.   Before World War One, there was a great deal of enthusiasm for the British Empire around the world in territories that constituted the “empire upon which the sun never set.”   Over a quarter of the world’s people lived under the British flag.   Imperialism was in vogue and inspired millions of people to help develop other nations.

Today, people forget what a blessing the Empire was.  Let’s take a look at a few of those blessings.

1.  The Bible and religious freedom.

The fourteenth century philosopher and theologian, John Wycliffe, was the first man to translate all the scriptures into English.   His favorite verse was Philippians 2:12: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”   He struck the first blow for religious freedom and democracy by encouraging people to study for themselves and make up their own minds.

Two centuries later, the English Queen Elizabeth I, secured the Protestant Reformation by bravely sending her smaller fleet against the Spanish Armada.   England defeated the Spaniards, thereby thwarting an attempt by the pope to force the country back into the Catholic Church.

In the nineteenth century, the British and Foreign Bible Society, took the Bible into dozens of different countries.   The Wycliffe Bible Translation Society still exists, sending volunteers into poor and backward countries to develop a written language and then translate the Bible so that all may read it.

The most famous British missionary, David Livingstone, took the Bible with him into central Africa, to “bring light into darkness.”  He was also motivated by a desire to see the end of slavery, perpetrated by Arab slave traders, who were seizing black Africans as slaves.

2.  Britain was the first major country to abolish slavery.

Slavery was universal and had not been questioned until the eighteenth century.   It wasn’t just Africans who were taken as slaves.   One million white people were being held by Muslim slave traders at this time.   (“White Gold”, Giles Milton, 2004.)

In 1772, the Somerset decision by an English court, ruled that British people could not hold slaves, that all people in Britain were free. It took another 35 years before the slave trade was abolished and a further 27 years before slavery itself was ended throughout the British Empire.  (Denmark banned the slave trade in its territories a few years before Britain.)

One year after the abolition of the slave trade, the British government authorized the Royal Navy to stop ships on the high seas and free all the slaves.   Wikipedia has this to say about the West Africa Squadron:

“The Royal Navy established the West Africa Squadron (or Preventative Squadron) at substantial expense in 1808 after Parliament passed the Slave Trade Act of 1807.   The squadron’s task was to suppress the Atlantic slave trade by patrolling the coast of West Africa.   With a home base at Portsmouth, it began with two small ships, the 32-gun fifth-rate frigate HMS Solebay and the Cruizer-class brig-sloop HMS Derwent. At the height of its operations, the squadron employed a sixth of the Royal Navy fleet and marines.

“Between 1808 and 1860 the West Africa Squadron captured 1,600 slave ships and freed 150,000 Africans.[“1]

Because of its role in fighting slavery, Britain was seen as a Liberator around the world.  Many tribes in Africa asked to be annexed into the British Empire, seeking protection from slave traders.  At one point, so many African tribes were asking to join the Empire that the British were overwhelmed. “The Dualla chiefs of the Cameroon repeatedly asked to be annexed, but the British either declined or took no notice at all.”  (Pax Britannica, James Morris, 1968, page 43)

In the last three decades of the nineteenth century, Victorians were caught up in an enthusiastic desire to see slavery ended in Africa, and the Bible, Protestant Christianity, democracy and the rule of law introduced (“Africa and the Victorians,” Robinson and Gallagher, 1961)

Sadly, in the sixty years since the end of the British Empire, slavery is back in every single African country, according to UNESCO.   The former Ghanaian President, John Kufour, condemned slavery in Ghana a few years ago on the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade throughout the British Empire; he also apologized for the role Ghana’s own chiefs had played in promoting slavery by selling their own people and members of other tribes.

3.  British capital developed many nations.

The definitive books on British investment around the world are the two volume “British Imperialism” by Cain and Hopkins.  The books highlight “London’s role as the chief provider of economic services during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries” (back cover, volume one).   London remains the world’s number one financial center (New York has the world’s biggest stock exchange).   Not only did British capital develop every country in the Empire, it was also responsible for developing the United States, Argentina, Brazil,Chile, the Ottoman Empire and China.

Interestingly, one reason that members of the European Union are upset over Brexit, is that Britain has been a net contributor to the EU, helping to finance development in other member nations.  When the UK leaves, where is the money going to come from?

4.   Another blessing of British rule was its governmental system and the administration of its various colonies.

Britain’s democratic parliamentary system and its constitutional monarchy is the most stable political system in the world.   It was successfully exported to all its colonies and dominions.  Sixteen of those countries have retained the same system since independence, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand and a number of majority black countries in the Caribbean.  Queen Elizabeth remains as Head of State in all of these countries.

38 other countries, former colonies of Great Britain, did not retain the Queen as Head of State but still look to her as the Head of the Commonwealth.  Many of these nations have suffered through coups and counter-coups and periods of military rule.  In many, corruption is rife and the people are worse off than they were when colonies.

Interestingly, it was recently suggested that the United States join the Commonwealth, as an Associate member.  The Royal Commonwealth Society is opening a branch in New York City.

5.   The free world’s first line of defense.

For two centuries Great Britain was the “policeman of the world.”  The country brought down Napoleon, after which she was the undisputed leader of the world.  A century later, with her dominions and colonies, she brought down the Kaiser.  In World War Two, the British Empire was the only power that was in the war from beginning to end.   With later help from the Soviet Union and the United States, the Empire defeated Hitler and his monstrous Third Reich that was the most racist regime in modern history.  The Empire’s forces also kept the peace on the North-West frontier of India, in what are now Pakistan and Afghanistan and in other trouble spots around the world.

America’s pre-eminent historian, James Truslow Adams, wrote his history of “The British Empire 1784-1939” in the year that World War Two started, 1939.   This is the final paragraph in his book:   “In this world crisis, we in America have a great stake.  We know that stability is impossible without respect for law and order, for the honesty of the written and spoken word.  Without liberty of thought, speech and press, progress is impossible.  What these things mean to the world of today and tomorrow has been amply demonstrated by the negation of them in certain great nations during the past few years.   Different peoples may have different ideals of government but for those who have been accustomed to freedom of person and of spirit, the possible overthrow of the British Empire would be a catastrophe scarcely thinkable.  Not only would it leave a vacuum over a quarter of the globe into which all the wild winds of anarchy, despotism and spiritual oppression could rush, but the strongest bulwark outside ourselves for our own safety and freedom would have been destroyed.”  (page 358)

The Empire has indeed been replaced by “the wild winds of anarchy, despotism and spiritual oppression.”

It’s no wonder that, at the height of the Empire, during Queen Victoria’s reign and the first few years of the twentieth century, many people in Britain and its overseas territories, believed the Empire was a fulfillment of biblical promises made to Joseph, one of the twelve sons of Israel.  In Genesis, chapter 48, we read of howJoseph’s descendants were to become a great “multitude of nations” and a “great (single) nation,” the British Empire and Commonwealth and the United States.  They were to be a physical blessing to the world (Genesis 12:3).  In the late Victorian period, believers published a weekly newspaper called “The Banner of Israel”  — they enthusiastically tracked the daily growth of the British Empire and the United States at the time.

This belief was widely held in the trenches of World War One.  It’s ironic that those same trenches shattered the religious convictions of many, who witnessed the carnage first-hand.

No empire was perfect.  Britain made mistakes.  Often listed by anti-imperialists is the Amritsar massacre of 1919.  This was not deliberate government policy, but rather the misjudgment of the commanding officer.  The 1943 Bengal famine is also often mentioned; overlooked is the fact that this was in the middle of World War II when other nations also experienced famine. Historical mistakes were made in Ireland, which caused problems to this day.

Imperialism had been in vogue before 1914; after two world wars, there was great disillusionment.   Additionally, the colonial powers had serious financial problems.  Decolonization followed.  It was the end of the European empires.

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DEATH OF AN OLD FRIEND

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Keith Keogh was a friend of mine.   He died in November, aged 80.

Keith was a member of the church my wife and I attended when we first got married.   At the time, we lived in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).   Keith’s farm was in the middle of nowhere, in a place called Tjolotjo, in Matabeleland.   If I remember correctly, Keith had 9,000 hectares, over 22,000 acres.   His farm was about 60 miles one side of Bulawayo, while we lived 30 miles in the opposite direction.   We met with others for a monthly church Bible Study in Bulawayo, the country’s second biggest city.

I went out to his farm on one occasion to join a small group of people hunting on his land.    I wasn’t too successful but I have one lasting memory of that day.   Keith’s employees had just killed an elephant. Elephants were royal game, protected by law.   Farm hands could only kill one if it was a “rogue elephant” – in other words, if it was destroying crops or homes or killing people.   This was one that had been a problem for some time.

I remember watching them cut up the elephant after it was killed.   The meat from the huge animal would keep them all fed for some time.   They even cut open the stomach and turned its contents into some sort of stew.   The elephant’s feet were to be sold to make tables for foreign tourists, the tusks for ivory artifacts.   It’s hide likely ended up making purses and briefcases.   When we left Rhodesia in May 1978 for Ghana, the local church presented me with an elephant skin briefcase, an item I still have as a memento of the country and the Salisbury church (we lived in the capital for over a year after moving from the Bulawayo area).

At the time we visited Keith’s farm, the country was in the midst of a civil war and Tjolotjo was in the thick of it.   In fact, Ian Fyffe, who had taught me my job in Essexvale where I worked for the District Commissioner, was transferred there after I took over his job in Umzingwane.   Ian was younger than me. He was attacked by terrorists and seriously injured.   After two months in the hospital, he was back at work, only to be killed some time later by terrorists. His wife Linda remarried a farmer who, in turn, was also murdered by terrorists.

At about the same time, Keith gave refuge to a couple we remember well and loved dearly – Martin and Cobi Visser.   The Vissers had left Holland after World War II to farm in Africa.  They were dairy farmers.  We often visited them and loved the raw milk they gave us on each visit.   I’ve forgotten why, but they lost their farm and were then invited to live and work on Keith’s farm.   Mrs. Visser looked after the farm store, which sold food and other essential items to the workers there.   On one occasion the farm was raided by terrorists and Cobi, together with Keith’s wife Winnie, scared them off with a loud car horn.

After seven years, the war ended in December 1979.   The whites, under incredible pressure from liberals and socialists in the US, UK and South Africa, lost and saw their country become Zimbabwe.   As the last white leader, Ian Smith, had predicted, Zimbabwe would have “one man, one vote,” meaning that the new leader Robert Mugabe had the only vote that mattered.   Theoretically, there’s universal suffrage, but President Mugabe has had dictatorial power for 37 years.

One of the worst things he did was expel the white farmers.   Keith lost his farm with no compensation in 2002.   He left everything behind him and moved to Botswana, a neighboring country with better race relations and better government.   I lost touch with him at about this time, but I have learned since that he was very successful there in helping local people to improve their farms and build for the future.

A few years ago, we returned to Zimbabwe and visited Essexvale, where we went to see the farm of a friend, Colin Martin, who had lived there.   He fled the country with his wife and dogs and nothing else about the same time Keith left.   A brief visit to his farm was heart-breaking – it lay in ruins.   It was not being used to produce food.   Africans are subsistence farmers, not commercial farmers like Keith and Colin.

Keith, Colin and others like them are part of central Africa’s story. They helped make Rhodesia the breadbasket of Africa and gave it the second most developed economy on the continent.   Since independence, the country they loved has become the basket-case of Africa.

The white liberals in the West who helped destroy the country are now silent.   Zimbabwe has created thousands of jobs for western aid agencies who try to feed the people with hand-outs. In hindsight, it would have been better to keep the white farmers and ensure there would be enough food for everybody.   Neighboring countries, like Botswana, Mozambique and Zambia have taken in some of the farmers, who have boosted food production in their countries.

Instead of forking out endless aid to help peoples in Africa, it would be better to send in just one highly productive white farmer.   Given 99-year leases, as in Zambia, they can make the land very productive.

Sadly, South Africa seems likely to follow Zimbabwe.   Militant voices are calling for the confiscation of white-owned farms.   A friend of mine related to me on Friday how his cousin and wife were murdered on their farm by African militants, members of the governing ANC’s “youth wing.”   Julius Melema, their leader, is one voice wanting all the land seized.   South Africa’s commercial farmers have helped feed Zimbabweans and others; if the farmers lose their land, where will the food come from?

It was the great Scottish missionary, David Livingstone, who first opened up the interior of Africa in his zeal to end the slave trade on the continent and to bring light into darkness, preaching the gospel to people who had never heard it.   Muslims were raiding central Africa and taking slaves back to the Middle East.

Others from Britain went out to central Africa and farmed.   They did not steal the land as is popularly believed today – the land they farmed was mostly un-used.   They saw themselves as bringing civilization into the area.   Some believed they were fulfilling Old Testament prophecies about the modern descendants of Israel being a blessing to the world (Genesis 12:3); the colonies they settled were forming the “multitude of nations” promised in Genesis 48:19. The Victorians had a mission to save the Africans from ignorance, poverty and slavery.

Sadly, the end of the British Empire in Africa has seen slavery returning in every single country in Africa.  It is estimated there are more slaves today than there ever were at the height of the 18th century slave trade.   This is a direct consequence of today’s white liberals who succeeded in destroying the empire.

This can also be said about Africa’s food problems.   Again, it’s western liberals who have set back African food production.

Keith Keogh was one of the men who helped boost food production on the continent during the colonial era.   Right up until he died, he remained dedicated to helping improve farms and the lives of farmers.

It’s time to honor the work of men like Keith and to speak out about the African leaders who have done so much harm to the continent.

Footnote:   African countries are planning a mass exodus from the International Criminal Court (ICC).   They claim bias by the court, which has highlighted atrocities committed by African leaders, including genocide perpetrated by some presidents against tribes other than their own.  Rather than risk prosecution by an international court, they are withdrawing from the jurisdiction of the court.  This decision is not unexpected – South Africa, Burundi and the Gambia withdrew last year.

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AMERICA FIRST – PHONE CALL TO AUSTRALIA

I was saddened and troubled this morning upon hearing the news that the new American President, Donald Trump, yelled at the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, during a phone call that reportedly lasted 25 minutes.   The US president apparently was so angry he slammed the phone down, cutting off the prime minister.  The PM has since denied this.

The issue they were discussing was an agreement between the Obama Administration and the Australian government, whereby the US promised to take in 1,250 Muslim migrants that Australia did not want to accept.

The real problem here is the migrants themselves.   This situation has been going on for years and has led to extreme violence by Muslim immigrants in both the US and Australia.   Why is it governments still have not come up with a solution?

Why is it that thousands of migrants cross dozens of countries to get to Australia, the US, Canada and the nations of Western Europe when they could quite easily go to a neighboring Muslim country?

Just as disturbing is the question: why did President Trump get so angry with a vital American ally?   Australia has done a great deal to help the United States in recent decades, in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. It works both ways – the US is pledged to defend Australia in times of war. But Australia has fought in American wars that were not in their own interests.

Additionally, the US has a large trade imbalance with Australia, to America’s advantage.   Aussies buy far more American products than the other way round.   (I do my bit to buy goods from Australia, but one can only eat so many Tim Tams!)   Australians are already disappointed at the US backing out of the TPP.

Hopefully, the president will learn quickly who America’s friends are, friends who themselves have often put “America First.”

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IS AMERICA UNRAVELLING?

Frank Luntz, a Republican strategist and regular CBS contributor, expressed grave concern this morning following the riot at the University of Southern California, Berkeley.  The riot was intended to stop a conservative speaker who had been invited to speak on the campus.  As so often happens nowadays, whenever a conservative is asked to speak, a “rent-a-mob” turns up to stop them.  Whether or not these were all university students is a matter of speculation.  But what’s going on threatens the historic freedom of speech that has been a hall-mark of American democracy going right back to colonial times.

Mr. Luntz said he feels the country is unraveling, adding that “we have 1968 all over again.”   Prior to the latest election, 1968 witnessed the most tumultuous election in recent times, with riots and assassinations against a backdrop of war.

Mr. Luntz is correct when he notes that there is “nothing that binds Republicans and Democrats together” any more.

He also observed that Donald Trump is keeping his promises, that people had plenty of warning of what he intended to do in America.