Skip under the spotlight … again

Dear Skip,

I have read your article ‘Out of Africa’ (The Resident, December 2 edition), which I found most confusing. Do you know Africa at all? Have you lived there? Do you know, for example, that when the Portuguese arrived in Africa, there were only a few thousand living there? This, of course, refers to Angola, Mozambique and Guinea. Do you know that with the help of the Portuguese, their numbers increased from near zero to millions? Do you know that while the Portuguese ruled these countries, they had virtually free health care, schooling, housing, while the colonisers paid 80 per cent taxes, which made some benefits possible? Do you know that while the Portuguese ruled these countries, no one died of starvation and malaria was totally eradicated? The blacks lived healthy and very happy. So, what is your problem?

The answer to Africa is not to continuously pump aid and donations, like Dr. Barroso so generously gave 5.4 million euros to Mugabe recently. The answer is for the so-called colonialists, in particular the Portuguese, to go back and take over these territories completely, in order for everything to return to what it used to be, which was very good for everyone. If not, very soon, you will have to visit a museum to see a black African for they will be exterminated completely!

Your article should be entitled ‘Back to Africa’ and not ‘Out of Africa’.

Rui Barandas, Lisbon

Skip responds: Dear Mr. Barandas, I find myself at a loss as to what to say to your comments regarding my “Out of Africa” piece. Yes, I do know Africa. I was born there, I have lived there (co-incidentally until 1974) and I studied its history, economics and politics at university. My father has been closely acquainted with the continent’s evolution since 1953. So, no, I am not writing without first-hand knowledge and experience. I did not advocate aid or donations in my article, I tried to concentrate on the root of the problem, the post-colonial legacy, corrupt leaderships encouraged by their former masters, who neglected to support the growth of an African middle-class. I am particularly perturbed by your view that “the blacks lived healthy and very happy” – this kind of assertion was frequently used by white South Africans to justify the universally abhorred Apartheid regime. Pets enjoy free health care and housing, too, but they do not seek freedom – they are animals, Africans are human beings. Upbringing and life-experiences play an important part in forming our attitudes, and I can understand that you must long for the return of what, for you personally, must have been a golden era. For Africa, the answer cannot be “to go back and take over these territories completely”. Fortunately, we live in a democracy and you are entitled to voice your opinion freely.

Dear Editor,

I have never written to your publication before, but I was so impressed with Skip Bandele’s ‘Out of Africa’ article that I felt compelled to write and congratulate him.

Rarely do we find clear facts about this subject, written in succinct and accessible way. The sins of our past must be acknowledged and, as he said, we need to assume responsibility for the massive unequality on our planet, which, in part, is due to our repressive and brutal past. Well done, Skip! You said it like it is!

Sylvie Gomez, Lagoa

Skip responds: Dear Sylvia, thank you for letting me know that I am not alone in the world – I wonder sometimes! Your words re-enforce my conviction that, from time to time, it becomes necessary to look at the truth, ugly or not, in all walks of life. I hope you keep reading and put pen to paper more often.