African people not the original SA inhabitants

THE letter by Mthubanzi Mniki (“Taking back what was stolen”, The Herald, June 30) cannot go unanswered. His myopic views seeks to justify his entitlement without effort attitude, in particular his political/philosophical statement: “people came from wherever they came from, massacred our forefathers, took land and ownership of mineral resources and subjected our forefathers to institutionalised slavery on mines and on farms”.

This statement needs historical analysis to seek the truth.

South Africa was primarily inhabited by the Khoi and Strandlopers before whites came from Europe and Africans came from the north to displace the indigenous people.

Land and its agricultural potential and minerals are God-given and do not belong to the inhabitants – people only have custody of land while they are alive, they cannot take it with them when they die. If people are not good custodians of what they are given, it will be lost to them and given to someone who is capable.

Historically Mniki’s forefathers were livestock and subsistence farmers. Tribes were governed by chiefs and their success depended on their ability to fight off marauding tribes.

 My forefathers on the other hand came from Europe in 1769 and settled in the Langkloof. They never employed slaves – the coloured community willingly worked for them to feed their families and chose to live in their own community in Haarlem.

Similarly white farmers utilised unoccupied land or negotiated land acquisitions with local tribes to develop agriculture such as grapes and wine in the Western Cape, ostriches in the Southern Cape, wool and angora in the Karoo, chicory and pineapples in the Eastern Cape, sugar in KZN, wheat in the Free State and a greater variety in the northern provinces. This was no doubt only achieved with the help of Africans who chose to work on the farms.

These same African forefathers had the choice to farm for themselves and develop their own agricultural empires and compete on an equal level. Some did and some did not.

 The mining industry started as a result of white skilled people discovering diamonds and gold, etc and employing African labour from all over Africa who wanted to participate and share in the riches underground.

 Melius, Port Elizabeth

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