The eminent British statesman, Mr. Harold Macmillan, Prime Minister of Britain turned to Africa, including the Union, "to see." But, in the end, he did more than "see." He gave us oppressed people some inspiration and hope and to all in the Union something to think about.
Some of us, fearing that he might be manoeuvred by his host, the Union Government, to act and speak in support of apartheid, advised him that neutrality might be his best policy in the circumstances. But great man that he is, he spoke his mind without let or favour and gave a lie to our fears.
Most of what he said brought to truly progressive non-racial South Africans a refreshing breeze in a land already befogged by apartheid with its stress on sectionalism and racialism. Most of what he said could pass as a re-affirmation of the aspirations of the oppressed people in Africa, particularly those in Southern Africa.
It was heartening to hear him categorically reject discrimination: "We reject the idea of any inherent superiority of one race over another our policy, therefore, is non-racial."
He presented the British concept of the "rights of man" as finding fulfilment in the creation of free non-racial communities in which men are given opportunity to grow to their fullest stature including the opportunity to share in political power and responsibility.
He entertained no fears of the rising African consciousness, but rather saw it as a natural development which, as in Europe, will give rise to separate nations of Africa, some of them multi-racial. In the multi-racial nations democracy, with its rule of majority, would prevail.
One should here point out to Mr. Macmillan that we have always been disappointed by the stand of the representatives of the United Kingdom at the United Nations, when most nations, lately including the USA, have voted against the apartheid policy of our Government. Mr. Macmillan rightly pointed out in his speech that there is a limit to a nation saying to others, "Mind your own business," because it could be said to that nation that it should mind how its conduct affected other peoples business.
We applaud the stand of the British Government in the interests of world peace. But we must stress that nations which, by their actions external or internal, try to keep other people in subjection, are a danger to peace not only in their own countries but also in the world. Such countries should be reprimanded and disciplined in some way in world councils.
It may be necessary to employ economic sanctions on such nations, to shock them to repentance. We therefore find ourselves in disagreement with our honoured guest when he denounced the campaign for the boycott of Union goods by people and groups in his own country and other countries.
Mr. Macmillan pointed out that in the present world setting, with an Africa fast emerging, it is a path of wisdom to win the alliance of African countries; and he urged that in this connection the West should give assistance and guidance to the emergent countries of Africa.
One is not much critical of this, save to say that aid should be given to Africa in a disinterested manner, not with a purpose of wooing her. After all, we are underdeveloped largely because Africa was drained by the exploitation of the West. Any aid given is but paying back to Africa what the countries of Europe especially took away from her to benefit themselves.
The Early Years