Gandhi did not help the South Africans at all. He condoned the Zulu massacres, defended the killing of the innocent and defended the British in all their actions.
- The sex life of Mr. Gandhi, and his failures as a politician
- The myth of Mohandas K. Gandhi debunked. He gets an “F” on South Africa, Salt Match, Non-Violence, and independence
- Which war did Mohandas Gandhi support. All of them. There wasn’t a war that the prophet of Non-Violence did not support. He was Sergeant Major in the British Army and won a medal for his war duties
- Gandhi’s racism. The truth behind the mask. Behold Sergeant Major Gandhi who supported the British during the Boer war, Zulu rebellion. Behold the prophet of peace who worked to stratify the South African society.
- Gandhi did not bring the British Empire down.
- Gandhi’s letter to his friend Hitler.
- Sex life of Mohandas Gandhi, his failures and sexual perversion
His world view of the Africans was based upon the caste structure, where he saw the Indians above the Blacks and below the European. He tried his best to make sure tha the Indians were used against the Africans (Zulu, Kaffirs and others).
Gandhi joined in the orgy of Zulu slaughter when the Bambata Rebellion broke out. It is essential to discuss the background of the Bambata Rebellion, to place Gandhi’s Nazi war crime in its proper perspective.The Bambatta Rebellion–Background
The spiritual foundation of Nazism was the superiority of the Aryan race or its modern version, the Anglo-Saxon race. When Disraeli was Prime Minister, Britain enunciated a doctrine, like the Monroe Doctrine, warning other European powers that Africa would be a British preserve, and that from the Cape to the Limpopo, if not to Cairo, only white people would have local political power. Successive British Governments pursued this policy.
In the 1870s, the Zulu Kingdom was by far the most powerful African State of the Limpopo. Cetewayo, who succeeded his father in 1872, was an able and popular ruler. He united the kingdom and built up a most efficient army. He followed a policy of alliance with the British Colony of Natal. The Zulu Kingdom and the Boer Republic of the Transvaal had been feuding for a long time.
The Zulus were defeated twice by the Boers, in 1838 and 1840. By 1877 Cetewayo was ready to invade the Transvaal. But the British stepped in and annexed the Transvaal in 1877, only to prevent Cetewayo from doing it first and becoming powerful and a challenge to white supremacy.
Some contemporary reports throw light on the relative strength of the Zulus and their Boer enemies. Colonel A.W. Durnford wrote in a memorandum on July 5 (“The Secret History of South Africa” by Abercrombe. The Central News Agency Ltd., Johannesburg South Africa. 1951 p.6):
About this time (April 10th) Cetewayo had massed his forces in three corps on the borders, and would undoubtedly have swept the Transvaal, at least up to the Vaal River if not to Pretoria itself, had the country not been taken over by the English. In my opinion he would have cleared the country to Pretoria.
Shepstone, the British Administrator, himself wrote concerning the reality of the danger on Dec. 25 1877:
The Boers are still flying, and I think by this time there must be a belt of more than a hundred miles long and thirty broad in which, with three insignificant exceptions, there is nothing but absolute desolation. This will give some idea of the mischief which Cetewayo’s conduct has caused.(Ibid p.7).
The above facts explode the myth that the British protected the Zulus from the Boers.
British barbarity on Blacks: After annexing the Transvaal, Shepstone turned his attention to destroying all the independent African states in that region, particularly the Zulu Kingdom. Before annexation of the Transvaal, Shepstone sided with the Zulus in their border disputes with the Transvaal. After annexation he made a volte-face and used those disputes as excuses to invade Zululand. The British public was told that the Zulu War was to liberate the Zulu people from a tyrannical ruler, and South Africa from a menace to “Christianity and civilisation”.
In 1879, the British invaded the Zulu Kingdom and defeated Cetawayo. Then they started their complete subjugation. First the army was broken, thus destroying their ability to defend themselves. The country was then split into thirteen separate units under the nominal control of the chiefs, salaried by the Government. The white magistrates supplanted the chiefs as the most powerful men in their districts. Most important of all, the land was partitioned. Before the war, Shepstone had expressed the hope that Cetewayo’s warriors would be “changed to labourers working for wages”. It makes a sad story, how this was accomplished. In 1902-4, the Land Commission delineated a number of locations for the Zulus, and threw open the rest of the country to white settlement. Out of a total acreage of more than 12 million acres, the Africans held some 2 million acres. They numbered, at the lowest reckoning, over three hundred thousand. The Europeans, who were less than 20,000, owned most of the best land. A large proportion of the African population was forced to live upon land to which it had no legal claim. Where the Africans lived upon private or crown lands, they lived there entirely upon sufferance and without legal title. By this time, other independent African states in that region were also destroyed by the British army. Wheresoever, they marched, in Basutoland, Zululand or Bechuanaland, the Queen’s horses and the Queen’s men were like unto a “Salvation Army” ministering to the welfare of the colonists. The sufferers were the Africans.
Gandhi wrote in his Satyagraha in South Africa (p.15):
The Boers are simple, frank and religious. They settle in the midst of extensive farms. We can have no idea of the extent of these farms. A farm with us means generally an acre or two, and sometimes even less. In South Africa, a single farmer has hundreds or thousands of acres of land in his possession. He is not anxious to put all this under cultivation at once, and if any one argues with him he will say, `Let it lie fallow; lands which are now fallow will be cultivated by our children’.
Also in his Indian Opinion (March 15 1913), he wrote:
General Botha has thousands of acres of land … (there is) a big company in Natal which has hundreds of thousands of acres of land.
Thou shalt not steal but rob.
It did not seem to occur to Gandhi how these people came into possession of thousands of acres of land, whereas Africans were cooped in locations like chicken in pens.
Grabbing the land was not enough: it needed manpower to cultivate that land. The cry of the farmers was for labour. Naturally it found a favorite response from Shepstone, whose dream it was to convert Cetewayo’s warriors into labourers for white men. His native policy was to meet the demands of the European farmers. He agreed that Europeans could not expand or grow in wealth unless they could draw more fully upon the reservoirs of labour in the African reserves.
In the process of European colonisation, the swiftly expanding land-hungry Europeans turned the bulk of the African population into a proletariat. Due to the congestion and landlessness in the reserves, created deliberately by the white rulers, their agricultural return was not sufficient for bare existence. Then there were the taxes on huts, cattle and what not. On the other hand, working for white men did not provide them with adequate sustenance. In Natal, the sugar farmers of the coast relied upon the Indian indentured labour, whereas the stock farmers of the interior relied exclusively on Africans, and regarded the failure of Africans to work for them as a criminal offence. In a report to the Chief Commissioner of Police in 1903, the Police Inspector W.F. Fairley wrote:
“With regard to crime, the principal complaints made by Dutch farmers to patrols was of the refusal to work on the part of the natives.” (Department Reports 1903 p.67 cited “Reluctant Rebellion” by Marks p.17. Clarendon Press, Oxford 1970).
Complaints about the shortage of African labour were voiced in all parts of the country. The farmers were later joined by the mining industries. The most obvious change was the broadening of the economic base from being entirely agricultural to one in which mining played a more and more important part. Diamond, gold, coal became major industries, and with this development, the deeper involvement of the big finance houses, particularly Rothschilds. So the fate of the Africans as the source of cheap labour, and the fat dividends derived from mining by the British ruling class, became interlinked. This still continues in a modified form. Now it is Anglo-American corporations.
Cheap labour from India: Europeans assumed that Africans lived only to meet their requirements of cheap labour, and as such they had no right to establish themselves as self-sufficient and independent farmers because this conflicted with European interests. Famines in India facilitates the recruitment of indentured Indian labourers for white employers in the Colonies. It was no different in relation to Africans. In a Report of the Native Affairs Commission, (Native Affairs Commission Report 1939-40 cited “Oxford History of South Africa” p.182. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1969) it was admitted that
“African reserves were regarded by whites as reservoirs of labour, and congestion, landlessness and crop failure were welcomed as stimulants to the labour supply”.
Similar situations among whites were viewed as national calamities. The Government lent millions of pounds to white farmers, gave them tax relief in times of famine, paid subsidies, facilitated the export of their produce, and wrote off their debts. But what about Africans? Famine would be rampant, crops ruined, food exhausted, thousands of Africans and their cattle would starve to death, but the government would not raise a finger.
The whites not only stole the land from the Africans, and used them as cheap labour, but also looked to them for revenue. They drew a relatively large and growing income from the Africans. “The Native population of Natal”, Shepstone admitted (“Imperial Factor” by De Kieweit p.193. Clarendon Press, Oxford 1970),
“contribute to the revenue annually a sum equal, at least, to that necessary to maintain the whole fixed establishment of the Colony for the government of the whites as well as themselves.”
Taxation is a financial measure to gather revenue to meet the expenditure of the state. But in South Africa it was used to reduce Africans to slavery. The sole motive behind the extra taxation imposed on Africans was to force the Africans to work on terms dictated by the whites.
Always there was resentment against any measure which would allow the Africans to settle in locations instead of keeping them as labourers. It was not only the farmers’ conferences, the press owned by the mining magnates joined the outcry of the farmers to enact special laws to compel the Africans to come out of their locations and work for the whites. The press was in the forefront to arouse the sentiments that Africans not in European service were necessarily living in idleness. Gandhi’s Indian Opinion played second fiddle to the white press in this respect. To Gandhi, the imposition of taxes upon the Africans to compel them to work for the white employers was “gentle persuasion”.
By a stroke of the pen, the major part of the available land was taken away from the Zulus and given to Europeans. Some of the dispossessed Zulus were allotted locations and others remained on the land of European landlords on sufferance. Bambata was one of these unfortunate chiefs. He became Chief in 1890 and he and his people were placed in private locations on very high rents. The land was useless for any agricultural purpose. To make things worse, the Boer farmers suspected Bambata of informing the British about their pro-Boer activities, and naturally they tried to victimise him and his people. But after the war, the British rulers leaned backwards and went out of their way to kiss and hug the Boers. So Bambata was caught in a cleft stick. By 1905 the tension between Bambata and his white landlords reached crisis point. The Assistant Magistrate of Greytown, H. Von Gerard, wrote to the Under Secretary of Native Affairs recommending the allocation of a location for his people. Gerard described how people were being oppressed and squeezed by the landlords, what useless land it was for agricultural purposes, and how summons after summons was being issued against people who were unable to pay high rents. Finally he remarked (“Reluctant Rebellion” by Marks. P.201):
A most desperate state of affairs, the more so as there seems no remedy for it….My sympathies with Bambata’s people…but I see no way out of the difficulty.
The military and civilian leaders of Natal were consciously developing a picture as if an uprising was imminent. Not that they could foresee one, but they wanted to foresee one because that would give them a golden opportunity to inflict severe punishments on Zulus who, according to the colonists, were growing insolent. They drew up a plan to deal with this imaginary uprising swiftly, and all agreed that was the way they could save not only Natal but North Africa from the “barbarities which only the savage mind can conceive.” (Ibid p. Xvii)
Zulu Revolt: But outside Natal, people were not so sure. Styne, President of the Orange Free State, called it “hysteria”. Smuts, Botha and Merriman expressed concern as to whether the whites of Natal would spur a rebellion. Some churchmen and many radical humanitarians in Natal, as well as England, produced volumes of irrefutable evidence proving that it was a conspiracy to goad the Zulus into rebellion and then massacre them. In this, Hariette Colenso, the famous daughter of a famous father, Bishop Colenso, made the most outstanding contribution. There was a cry of imminent native revolt in the press long before active rebellion broke out.
As far back as 1902, Lieu. G.A. Mills in his report (GH18/02. Cited “Reluctant Rebellion” p.158) to the Chief of Staff, Natal, on July 1 informed him:
Every Boer expresses the most bitter hatred of the Zulus. They all express a wish that the Zulus would rise now while the British troops are in the country so that they may be practically wiped out. The Boers all say that in the event of the rising, every one of them would join the British troops in order to have a chance of paying off old scores against the Zulus. When I first came here, I visited farms and asked the Boers what they thought of the advisability of keeping troops here. They all said it was most necessary, as they were afraid of the Kaffirs and it would not be safe to stay on their farms if the troops withdrew…. Taking everything into consideration, I cannot help being forced to the opinion that many Boers intend to provoke a Zulu rising if they can do so.
It was Colonel Mackenzie, the military supremo before the rebellion, who was prophesying a native uprising and cleaning the barrels of his guns to use the “golden opportunity” to inflict “the most drastic punishment” on leading natives he found guilty of treason, and to “instill a proper respect for the white man”. (C.O. 179/233/12460. Dispatch 9.3.06 cited “Reluctant Rebellion” p. 188).
On June 14, Charles Saunders, Chief Magistrate and Civil Commissioner in Zululand (1899-1909) wrote to C.J. Hignet, the magistrate of Nqutu (“Reluctant Rebellion” p.241):
I quite agree with your conclusions as to our men trying to goad the whole population into rebellion, and you have no idea of the difficulties we had in Nkandha in trying to protect people one knew perfectly well were faithful to us.
In his communication of July 10 1906 to the Prime Minister, (PM 61/15/66 Governor to PM 10.7.06) the Governor described the “sweeping actions and the mopping-up operations as continued slaughter. Fred Graham, a permanent civil servant in the Colonial Office, in his Minute of July 10, described it as “massacre”.
Nazism & racism: The most revealing was the long letter of July 24 1906 (CO 179/236/24787 minute 10-7-06) sent by the Anglican Archdeacon, Charles Johnson, from St. Augustine’s in Nqutu division, to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospels in London. He was a man of the British establishment and not known to have excessive zeal for standing up for the rights of the Africans. He wrote (cited “Reluctant Rebellion” p. 241):
Many thinking people have been asking themselves, what are we going to do with his teeming population? Some strong-handed men have thought the time was ripe for solving the great question. They knew that there was a general widespread spirit of disaffection among the natives of Natal, the Free State and the Transvaal, but specially in Natal, and they commenced the suppression of the rebellion in the fierce hope that the rebellion might so spread throughout the land and engender a war of practical extermination. I fully believe that they were imbued with the conviction that this was the only safe way of dealing with the native question, and they are greatly disappointed that the spirit of rebellion was not strong enough to bring more than a moiety of the native peoples under the influence of the rifle. Over and over again it was said, `They are only sitting on the fence, it shall be our endeavour to bring them over’; and again, speaking of the big chiefs, `We must endeavour to bring them in if possible! Yes, they have been honest and outspoken enough-the wish being father to the thought-they prophesied the rebellion would spread throughout South Africa; had they been true prophets, no doubt the necessity of solving the native question would have been solved for this generation at least.
John Merriman was a veteran Cape politician. He was one of those so-called liberals who accepted Nazism as a doctrine, or in other words Anglo-Saxon superiority, but regretted its consequent atrocities and thus fumigated their consciences. He wrote to Goldwin Smith (Merriman papers NHo. 202, 16.9.06 cited “Reluctant Rebellion” p.246) in September 1906:
We have had a horrible business in Natal with the natives. I suppose the whole truth will never be known, but enough comes out to make us see how thin the crust is that keeps our christian civilisation from the old-fashioned savagery machine-guns and modern rifles against knobsticks and assagais are heavy odds and do not add much to the glory of the superior race.
In the letter of the Archdeacon the expression “practical extermination”, and in a letter of Lieutenant Mills “practically wiped out”, have been used. This was what the German Nazis wanted to do to the Jews: to exterminate them. Does it make any difference whether the victims of racial slaughter are Jews or blacks?
Conspiracy to massacre Blacks: Gandhi was well aware of the conspiracy to massacre the Africans. When there was war hysteria in the colonial press, this prophet of non-violence did not apply his mind as to how to stop such a conflict. On the contrary, he did not want Indians to be left behind, but wanted them to take a full part in this genocide.
In his editorial in the Indian Opinion of Nov. 18 1905, long before the actual rebellion broke out, Gandhi complained that the Government simply did not wish to give Indians an opportunity of showing that they were as capable as any other community of taking their share in the defence of the colony. He suggested that a volunteer corps should be formed from colonial-born Indians, which would be useful in actual service.
Indentured Indians lived in conditions worse than slavery. Gandhi during his 20 years’ stay in South Africa, did not raise a finger to ease their sufferings. But he was quick to suggest using them as cannon fodder for racists against Africans.
In his Indian Opinion in Dec. 2 1905 he referred to Law 25 of 1875 which was specially passed to increase “the maximum strength of the volunteer force in the colony adding thereto a force of Indian immigrant volunteer infantry”. To assure the Europeans that such Indians would only kill Africans, he pointed out that “section 83 of the Militia Act states that no ordinary member of the coloured contingent shall be armed with weapons of precision, unless such contingent is called to operate against other than Europeans”.
Gandhi defends massacre: Many years later, he wrote (p.233) in his autobiography:
The Boer War had not brought home to me the horrors of war with anything like the vividness that the `rebellion’ did. This was no war but a man-hunt, not only in my opinion but also in that of many Englishmen with whom I had occasion to talk. To hear every morning reports of the soldiers’ rifles exploding like crackers in innocent hamlets, and to live in the midst of them, was a trial.
Then to justify his participation in this massacre, he went on (Autobiography p. 231):
I bore no grudge against the Zulus, they had harmed no Indian. I had doubts about the `rebellion’ itself, but I then believed that the British Empire existed for the welfare of the world. A genuine sense of loyalty prevented me from even wishing ill to the Empire. The righteness or otherwise of the `rebellion’ was therefore not likely to affect my decision.
What about the Nazi war criminals? Did they not have a genuine sense of loyalty to Hitler and Nazism?
In Great Britain another storm of protest was raised against the atrocities perpetrated in Natal. The only time Gandhi mentioned the Zulu suppression was on August 4 1906, when he wrote in his Indian Opinion:
A controversy is going on in England about what the Natal Army did during the Kaffir rebellion. The people here believe that the whites of Natal perpetrated great atrocities on the Kaffirs. In reply to such critics, the Star has pointed to the doings of the Imperial Army in Egypt. Those among the Egyptian rebels who had been captured were ordered to be flogged. The flogging was continued to the limits of the victim’s endurance; it took place in public and was watched by thousands of people. Those sentenced to death were also hanged at the same time. While those sentenced to death were hanging, the flogging of others was taken up. While the sentences were being executed, the relatives of the victims cried and wept until many of them swooned. If this is true, there is no reason why there should be such an outcry in England against Natal outrages.
One may notice that the article was very cleverly written. First Gandhi stated that people in England believed that the whites of Natal perpetrated great atrocities on Africans, as if he himself did not know what happened, and also gave the impression that it was the local Natal Army and not the Imperial Army which was involved in the atrocities, which is not true. Even at this stage, he was not willing to tell the simple truth, that atrocities were committed. Then he borrowed the description of hanging and flogging in Egypt from the Star as if he did not know about that either. Did or did not Gandhi know that those Egyptians were not common criminals to be flogged and hanged that they were the patriots, the flowers of the Egyptian nation?
If Gandhi unequivocally accepted or found out that the Imperial Army committed those atrocities, then he could not claim that he believed the British Empire existed for the welfare of mankind. The last and the vilest of all was the subtle suggestion that if the Imperial Army did what they were accused of doing, then there was no reason why there should be such an outcry in England against the Natal outrage. Why could this Imperialist-manufactured Mahatma not say clearly that both were crimes against humanity?