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Amazingly, no, not what I thought

My four-year-old daughter is asking questions about colonial history. How do I respond in an age-appropriate way?
Sisonke Msimang

The response goes on to say that Captain Cook was a very bad man.

Pity really, I was expecting something truly educative like how the Bantu colonised Soouthern Africa, enslaved the Twa and Khoi San and yet still stopped at the Fish River. Which was then settled by whites from Europe with their Mediterranean agricultural package. Meaning that the Cape has never been Bantu at all.

If we are to talk about colonisation we should talk about it all, yes?

44 thoughts on “Amazingly, no, not what I thought”

  1. The article was written by a self-righteous shit-stirring guardian BIPOC. What on earth did you expect?

    (Admittedly a white guardianista would have come up with something identical, ditto ChatGPT).

  2. One could of course also talk about how the wicked Africans rounded up all their convicts, paupers and general nuisances and sold them to the whites so they could colonise the Americas at no expense to the people at home.

    Maybe Sisonke could also admit that she’s a wicked colonialist as well.

  3. The sooner you start talking to children about history and race, the better, Sisonke Msimang writes

    Oh, don’t worry. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

  4. Bloke in North Dorset

    I enjoyed listening to this guy talk about his new book, Untold Story of African Empires. It was quite refreshing to hear an African talk openly about the negatives as well as positives in Africa’s history. When asked about the role of his ancestors in the slave trade and how it is seen in the area his answer was basically: Shrug, it was trade.

  5. Bloke in North Dorset

    I should go without saying, but you won’t be surprised find that there aren’t any articles by him in the Guardian.

  6. My bullshit meter is bumping against the end stop. A four year old asking about colonial history is about as likely as a vegetarian cat.

  7. From the article:

    “some might say that history tells us James Cook was a bad man (bad being a word that describes someone who goes back on his word, breaches trust and disrespects others within the logics of what is acceptable in the time in which he was living)”

    Ah, relativism! Some might say that nearly all slavery was OK, then.

  8. Sisonke Msimang: “Do you want me to tell you about colonial history?”
    Child: “I hate colonial history. I want an ice cream”

  9. If I had the misfortune to encounter this creature I’d coach my children to ask her whether she thinks ‘necklacing’ is an appropriate form of punishment for those who dissent against state power? Would be interesting to hear her answer given her last published book- ‘the resurrection of Winnie Mandela’.

  10. “Your daughter probably isn’t ready for this story yet, but I remind you of these events, dear reader, because they speak to the fact that history holds the answers to many of the questions we ask today.”

    Yes, murder of the evil white man as a solution to the evils of colonisation should wait until at least age seven, eh..?

  11. Yes, murder of the evil white man as a solution to the evils of colonisation should wait until at least age seven, eh..?

    Turns out that we’ve been judging them by the content of their character all along.

  12. The locals were stealing so many nails that Captain Cook’s ships were becoming unseaworthy. If I’d been in his position I’d have been a bit grumpy too.

  13. “talking to children about history and race”

    Yes, that was what Martin Luther King dreamed of, wasn’t it? Something about judging people by the colour of their skin rather than the content of their character, I think. I’m sure that was it. Must have been, because that’s what the Yanks seem to do, and it’s spreading over here.

  14. Michael van der Riet

    The motives and execution of colonialism weren’t pretty. That it has often turned out positive is Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand.

    Where it has not turned out positive is inevitably a return to the status quo ante the arrival of European colonists. The Boers who trekked away from the British-ruled Cape Colony in 1838 interrupted a series of thrilling wars between Bantu nations (known as Difeqane or The Threshing) for lebensraum. Whites don’t have a monopoly on genocide.

    But yeah Black is the new black and indoctrinating your children into racial hatred from an early age is just getting with the programme.

  15. You’ve got a point Michael.

    I just glanced at Wiki to see what it said. The first recipients of blame for the Mfecane as they call it were the wicked Portuguese.

    They introduced maize to the locals. This caused an increase in population, which led to wars during a subsequent drought.

    Another proposed cause was the ivory trade. Introduced by the wicked Portuguese. This led to deepening inequality in African societies, which is also supposed to have led to war.

  16. English nationalists and racists in Britain want all people in the World to claim no English or British government did anything bad EVER!!!!!!
    Far right snowflakes put their fingers in their ears and scream like spoiled brats when someone talks about the potato famine of Ireland killing 2 million people, or if you talk about the tens of millions killed in famines in British Empire India.
    Grow up far right snowflakes.
    Take the red pill.

  17. There were famines in India before, during and after the British. That has little to do with colonialism. Pick better examples if you’re going to pretend that other than a trivial handful of Brits believe their empire was all wondrous.

    In NZ we gave the Maori the vote before the UK gave it to women. But we also stole all their land and tried quite hard to extirpate their language. But White Kiwis also welcomed some Maori culture, like the Haka.

    That’s actual colonialism. Some good things among the bad.

  18. BTW Captain Cook barely appears in NZ culture. The Maori mostly don’t like him, the Whites barely consider him, and the rest wouldn’t know who he was.

    There’s a few things named after him, but fewer and fewer.

  19. The famines in India during the British Empire were far worse than any of those famines before and after British control. The Potato Famine in Ireland was also a terrible act.

  20. “In NZ we gave the Maori the vote before the UK gave it to women” No you didn’t. Some English women had the vote before the Great Reform Act of 1832. (Perhaps some Scottish and Irish women too but I don’t know.)

    I’d often wondered why that wasn’t true of the North American colonies until I read that it was true in some places within them. When they lost that vote I don’t know. I do hope it was before 1832.

  21. Captain Cook was not a coloniser, he was an explorer and navigator. He had been trained by Quakers and had instilled in him a culture of tolerance and respect of other peoples, which he adhered to in his voyages, treating both his crew and the people he encountered far better than the standard prevalent in other cases at the time. The people who denigrate his name are just racist revisionist hate-mongers.

  22. @TMB
    Don’t feed the trolls

    He’s not trying to make a logical argument or contribute to the discussion

  23. I’m a solid British racist. And quite prepared to say that the Empire did a bad thing once, when Percival surrendered at Singapore. Ok twice, permitting the partition of India.

  24. Boganboy – Someone who has made far right evil views on many comments, is evil. Bigotry is evil.

    Gunker – So you are cancelling me for giving a different view to you. Freedom of speech only seems to work one way. You are no platforming.

    Pf – I do not suffer fools gladly.

    Bongo. Racists are evil. Nothing to be proud of.

  25. @Barry Bailey

    Eh, nobody is cancelling you. You can troll here all you like. Sensible comment is preferred but it’s not compulsory.

  26. Mark : I have made perfectly sensible comments. You can’t tell the difference between someone holding a different view to you, and someone not making sensible comments. If you want sensible comments, then tell Boganboy to cool down on the far right nonsense. Tell Bongo that racism is evil, and tell Gunker to stop living in a bubble where nobody is allowed to be left wing.

  27. Mark : So now you are open to the claim of you being a troll. The only possible reason for your statement, of saying, that was easy, is that you are a deliberate troll trying to initiate a response in your targets.

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