Skip to comments.Let Africa Sink
Posted on 06/07/2003 2:58:41 AM PDT by dennisw
Let Africa Sink
Kim du Toit May 26, 2002
When it comes to any analysis of the problems facing Africa, Western society, and particularly people from the United States, encounter a logical disconnect that makes clear analysis impossible. That disconnect is the way life is regarded in the West (it's precious, must be protected at all costs etc.), compared to the way life, and death, are regarded in Africa. Let me try to quantify this statement.
In Africa, life is cheap. There are so many ways to die in Africa that death is far more commonplace than in the West. You can die from so many things--snakebite, insect bite, wild animal attack, disease, starvation, food poisoning... the list goes on and on. At one time, crocodiles accounted for more deaths in sub-Saharan Africa than gunfire, for example. Now add the usual human tragedy (murder, assault, warfare and the rest), and you can begin to understand why the life expectancy for an African is low--in fact, horrifyingly low, if you remove White Africans from the statistics (they tend to be more urbanized, and more Western in behavior and outlook). Finally, if you add the horrifying spread of AIDS into the equation, anyone born in sub-Saharan Africa this century will be lucky to reach age forty.
I lived in Africa for over thirty years. Growing up there, I was infused with several African traits--traits which are not common in Western civilization. The almost-casual attitude towards death was one. (Another is a morbid fear of snakes.)
So because of my African background, I am seldom moved at the sight of death, unless it's accidental, or it affects someone close to me. (Death which strikes at strangers, of course, is mostly ignored.) Of my circle of about eighteen or so friends with whom I grew up, and whom I would consider "close", only about ten survive today--and not one of the survivors is over the age of fifty.
Two friends died from stepping on landmines while on Army duty in Namibia. Three died in horrific car accidents (and lest one thinks that this is not confined to Africa, one was caused by a kudu flying through a windshield and impaling the guy through the chest with its hoof--not your everyday traffic accident in, say, Florida). One was bitten by a snake, and died from heart failure. Another also died of heart failure, but he was a hopeless drunkard. Two were shot by muggers. The last went out on his surfboard one day and was never seen again (did I mention that sharks are plentiful off the African coasts and in the major rivers?). My situation is not uncommon in South Africa--and north of the Limpopo River (the border with Zimbabwe), I suspect that others would show worse statistics.
The death toll wasn't just confined to my friends. When I was still living in Johannesburg, the newspaper carried daily stories of people mauled by lions, or attacked by rival tribesmen, or dying from some unspeakable disease (and this was pre-AIDS Africa too) and in general, succumbing to some of Africa's many answers to the population explosion. Add to that the normal death toll from rampant crime, illness, poverty, flood, famine, traffic, and the police, and you'll begin to get the idea.
My favorite African story actually happened after I left the country. An American executive took a job over there, and on his very first day, the newspaper headlines read: "Three Headless Bodies Found".
The next day: "Three Heads Found".
The third day: "Heads Don't Match Bodies".
You can't make this stuff up.
As a result, death is treated more casually by Africans than by Westerners. I, and I suspect most Africans, am completely inured to reports of African suffering, for whatever cause. Drought causes crops to fail, thousands face starvation? Yup, that happened many times while I was growing up. Inter-tribal rivalry and warfare causes wholesale slaughter? Yep, been happening there for millennia, long before Whitey got there. Governments becoming rich and corrupt while their populations starved? Not more than nine or ten of those. In my lifetime, the following tragedies have occurred, causing untold millions of deaths: famine in Biafra, genocide in Rwanda, civil war in Angola, floods in South Africa, famine in Somalia, civil war in Sudan, famine in Ethiopia, floods in Mozambique, wholesale slaughter in Uganda, and tribal warfare in every single country. There are others, but you get the point.
Yes, all this was also true in Europe--maybe a thousand years ago. But not any more. And Europe doesn't teem with crocodiles, ultra-venomous snakes and so on.
The Dutch controlled the floods. All of Europe controls famine--it's non-existent now. Apart from a couple of examples of massive, state-sponsored slaughter (Nazi Germany, Communist Russia), Europe since 1700 doesn't even begin to compare to Africa today. Casual slaughter is another thing altogether--rare in Europe, common in Africa.
More to the point, the West has evolved into a society with a stable system of government, which follows the rule of law, and has respect for the rights and life of the individual--none of which is true in Africa.
Among old Africa hands, we have a saying, usually accompanied by a shrug: "Africa wins again." This is usually said after an incident such as:
a beloved missionary is butchered by his congregation, for no apparent reason
a tribal chief prefers to let his tribe starve to death rather than accepting food from the Red Cross (would mean he wasn't all-powerful, you see)
an entire nation starves to death, while its ruler accumulates wealth in foreign banks
a new government comes into power, promising democracy, free elections etc., provided that the freedom doesn't extend to the other tribe
the other tribe comes to power in a bloody coup, then promptly sets about slaughtering the first tribe
etc, etc, etc, ad nauseam, ad infinitum.
The prognosis is bleak, because none of this mayhem shows any sign of ending. The conclusions are equally bleak, because, quite frankly, there is no answer to Africa's problems, no solution that hasn't been tried before, and failed.
Just go to the CIA World Fact Book, pick any of the African countries (Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi etc.), and compare the statistics to any Western country (eg. Portugal, Italy, Spain, Ireland). The disparities are appalling--and it's going to get worse, not better. It has certainly got worse since 1960, when most African countries achieved independence. We, and by this I mean the West, have tried many ways to help Africa. All such attempts have failed.
1. Charity is no answer. Money simply gets appropriated by the first, or second, or third person to touch it (17 countries saw a decline in real per capita GNP between 1970 and 1999, despite receiving well over $100 billion in World Bank assistance).
2. Food isn't distributed. This happens either because there is no transportation infrastructure (bad), or the local leader deliberately withholds the supplies to starve people into submission (worse).
3. Materiel is broken, stolen or sold off for a fraction of its worth. The result of decades of "foreign aid" has resulted in a continental infrastructure which, if one excludes South Africa, couldn't support Pittsburgh.
Add to this, as I mentioned above, the endless cycle of Nature's little bag of tricks--persistent drought followed by violent flooding, a plethora of animals, reptiles and insects so dangerous that life is already cheap before Man starts playing his little reindeer games with his fellow Man--and what you are left with is: catastrophe.
The inescapable conclusion is simply one of resignation. This goes against the grain of our humanity--we are accustomed to ridding the world of this or that problem (smallpox, polio, whatever), and accepting failure is anathema to us. But, to give a classic African scenario, a polio vaccine won't work if the kids are prevented from getting the vaccine by a venal overlord, or a frightened chieftain, or a lack of roads, or by criminals who steal the vaccine and sell it to someone else. If a cure for AIDS was found tomorrow, and offered to every African nation free of charge, the growth of the disease would scarcely be checked, let alone reversed. Basically, you'd have to try to inoculate as many two-year old children as possible, and write off the two older generations.
So that is the only one response, and it's a brutal one: accept that we are powerless to change Africa, and leave them to sink or swim, by themselves.
It sounds dreadful to say it, but if the entire African continent dissolves into a seething maelstrom of disease, famine and brutality, that's just too damn bad. We have better things to do--sometimes, you just have to say, "Can't do anything about it."
The viciousness, the cruelty, the corruption, the duplicity, the savagery, and the incompetence is endemic to the entire continent, and is so much of an anathema to any right-thinking person that the civilized imagination simply stalls when faced with its ubiquity, and with the enormity of trying to fix it. The Western media shouldn't even bother reporting on it. All that does is arouse our feelings of horror, and the instinctive need to do something, anything--but everything has been tried before, and failed. Everything, of course, except self-reliance.
All we should do is make sure that none of Africa gets transplanted over to the U.S., because the danger to our society is dire if it does. I note that several U.S. churches are attempting to bring groups of African refugees over to the United States, European churches the same for Europe. Mistake. Mark my words, this misplaced charity will turn around and bite us, big time.
Even worse would be to think that the simplicity of Africa holds some kind of answers for Western society: remember "It Takes A Village"? Trust me on this: there is not one thing that Africa can give the West which hasn't been tried before and failed, not one thing that isn't a step backwards, and not one thing which is worse than, or that contradicts, what we have already.
So here's my solution for the African fiasco: a high wall around the whole continent, all the guns and bombs in the world for everyone inside, and at the end, the last one alive should do us all a favor and kill himself.
Inevitably, some Kissingerian realpolitiker is going to argue in favor of intervention, because in the vacuum of Western aid, perhaps the Communist Chinese would step in and increase their influence in the area. There are two reasons why this isn't going to happen.
Firstly, the PRC doesn't have that kind of money to throw around; and secondly, the result of any communist assistance will be precisely the same as if it were Western assistance. For the record, Mozambique and Angola are both communist countries--and both are economic disaster areas. The prognosis for both countries is disastrous--and would be the same for any other African country.
Africa has to heal itself. The West can't help it. Nor should we. The record speaks for itself.
Africans? Which tribe are you discussing?
Bantus feel deeply, but keep their emotions in check especially in front of strangers. When someone died in our hospital, they would scream and cry loudly, then quickly get up and coldly make arrangements to take the person home. (usually a baby or a child, since old people preferred to die at home).
But lack of emotion? No, because when I learned the language I would have mothers tell me sadly of how their firstborn died, or when their children were sick, or why they named their children. (My name was "troubles" because I was born in the year of famine. My 8 year old is named "Leave him" because he was born right after measles killed children in the village and we wante God to Leave him with us).
This stoicism is often interpreted by more direct tribes-- like the British immigrants or by the Boer tribe (du Toit is a Boer name) as lack of feeling.
it is not. It is a passivity in the face of what cannot be changed. The good part of this passivity is a quiet grace and deep feelings. The bad part is that common people do not fight back when a tyrant orders them to kill, or indeed when a tyrant kills them. The flip side of passivity is violence: witchcraft, poisoning, burning people in huts at night, and outbreaks of terrible wars.
When I worked in Africa, our German nuns would shake their heads about this violence. I usually replied, yes, sisters, you Germans were much more civilized and neat in your killings.
Finally, Africans, like other primitive peoples (such as Hindus, Baptists and Catholics) believe that death is not the end, but that the soul lives beyond death. This faith is much much deeper than many in the secularized west. So death is not an end, merely a passing over.
Cardinal Arinze says that what we can learn from Africa is how to pray. Indeed, African priests serve "heathens" in many countries, both in Africa, but also in Europe and in my own diocese. An African bishop is supporting the "anglican mission in America" to revive Christianity in the Anglican church. You see, in these countries, Christianity still has meaning.
During Idi Amin's atrocities, someone asked a visiting Anglican African bishop what he needed for his people. He said Roman collars. The American reporter asked why, thinking it was a vanity request. The bishop replied: We need the collar so that when they murder our people, they know we priests are still with them, and that God is there.
You're wrong there, Ricpic.
They ceased being our dollars after we were mugged by the vaious and sundry taxing authorities and our money taken from us.
That's all goobermint money. What you are left with after the mugging is yours.
You're so right. The people themselves have to want it and want it badly in order to make success possible. I think the main reason we failed in Vietnam was not that our military was inept, but that the Vietnamese themselves didn't want freedom badly enough. You can lead a horse to water ...
Africa must sort out its own problems, or wither on the vine. But we cannot allow Africa to take the West down with it.
Intervention Africa. What a noble thought! Bring civilization to Africa, and bring all those African diseases to America and Europe. We can do it in the name of Equality.
Oh, so it's ok that HE comes here from Africa with his "life is cheap" attitudes, but don't let any of THOSE OTHERS in.
Some of these groups of refugees are persecuted Christians. I prefer their outlook to his aetheism.
What's this "us" business Kimosabe ?
"Us" are not all bigoted racists like you.
BTW Dennis, why are you posting this crap ?
Dennis, would you find this kind of bigotry acceptable if it was directed at YOUR people ?
It seems that colonialism worked, at least for a time. It is hard to escape the conclusion that African independence has been a big mistake.
Some wag once said that Africa was not a continent but a condition of the mind, and that it would remain forever incomprehensible to the West for that reason. Du Toit's essay points up some of the central factors in that disconnect.
Freedom, Wealth, and Peace,
Francis W. Porretto
Visit the Palace Of Reason:
What is happening in Africa is Darwinian selection in action. Those who are inferior will be eliminated and those who are strong will survive. Outside forces cannot change the basic tribal, read biological, diffrerences that are at work selecting those who will survive and those who will die.
White faces can not counter these forces except to kill the strong and merely prolong the conflict.
Your solution flies in the face of EVERYTHING Africans have argued for, the end of colonialism. White Europeans are blamed for EVERY ill on the continent, though most left in the 60's, and sending troops back would reinforce the argument. Let those that wanted the Europeans out, those here and in Africa, solve the problem.
Any particular reason He has waited so long?
Every single nation where the guilty white westerners have allowed the native population to take over has seen that nation fall into savagery and barbarism.
The western liberals advocated the overthrow of South Africa's government and apartheid...and now South Africa is descending into the same third world hell of most other nations on the continent. South Africa is now the rape capital of the world. Crime is out of control. The white population are being killed, raped, robbed, and assaulted at record levels and you hear nothing in the western papers. Yes, the leftist, liberal vermin don't want you to know that their "multicultural Utopia" actually has descended into Dante's Inferno...
And every other nation taken over by the native blacks in Africa has turned into a violent, savage, hell hole - a total kleptocracy.
Uganda, Rwanda, Namibia, Nigeria, and Mugabe's Zimbabwe.
I say we leave these barbarians to themselves and let the savages work it out. Sink or swim. Not another western dime should go into that continent.
It's too late for the poor European whites in places like Zimbabwe and South Africa, but we shouldn't do any more to prop up these governments.
But to what end is this education? In this land of triablism there is a very wide and very deep distain for manual labor. What does this have to do with education?
History has shown again and again, that these educated folk do not open their own business/industry, or seek to work in one. They're goals are not to become doctors, engineers, agronomists, dentists, vets, biologists, nurses, chemists, etc. Their goal is to become a burocrat. Period. You know, indoor work, no heavy lifting, get to carry a brief case, wear a tie, get to boss people around, + let's not forgot all those government perks.
With an "education" mind set like this, well...what you've got, you've got in Africa.
God is there.
Amen, even when so much of the world averts its eyes.
Christians are primitive people? All right, you had me agreeing until you inexplicably came out with that one. Perhaps your definition of "primitive" is different from mine....
I'm not Baptist, by the way, but as a Christian my doctrine is essentially identical to theirs....
Giving up is not the Christian way. If the Muslims and pagans want to leave, fine. But God doesn't call Christians to give up on people, let alone entire continents.
Everyone is so afraid of being called "racist". I spit on the moral cowards. The truth is, under all white rule, South Africa was a civilized, safe, beautiful country. Under black rule, it's degenerated into a dangerous, violent country of almost pure savagery.
Leftists are solely responsible for the destruction of that country, and the blood of the white population is on their hands. The blacks who have taken over are nothing more than thieves (looted the national treasurey, and robbery is almost a national pastime), thugs (talk to the white farmers - those that are left), and savages (it's now the "rape capital" of the world. Robbery, burglary, assault, and murder, are off the charts...especially against whites).
Africa was a virtual paradise in countries under white rule - and the truth is that when white rule was removed or overthrown, in every case, the native black population reverted to barbarism and savagery in a millisecond.
Facts are facts, and the left should have it rubbed in their smug faces, like a puppy having its nose rubbed in its own sh!t.
Read "Fly the Beloved Country", written by the wife of the author of "Cry The Beloved Country" (a novel that was a primary source on the "evil's of apartheid" and standard reading in radical left circles). Well, in the article, the deceased author's wife is fleeing the rampant crime and violence of South Africa and decries the horrible changes in South Africa since the overthrow of apartheid. She describes the rampant, savage violence, the lawlessness, the thuggery of the Mandela government.
That's what the do-gooder left gets for their idiocy...
What a racist statement.
Fly The Beloved Country
by Anne Paton
I am leaving South Africa. I have lived here for 35 years, and I shall leave with anguish. My home and my friends are here, but I am terrified. I know I shall get into trouble for saying so, because I am the widow of Alan Paton. Fifty years ago, he wrote a book called Cry, The Beloved Country. He was an unknown South African schoolmaster and it was his first book, but it became a world bestseller overnight. It was eventually translated into more than 20 languages and became a set book in schools all over the world. It has sold more than 15m copies and still sells today at the rate of 100,000 copies a year. Two films have been made of it.
As a result of the startling success of this book, my husband became famous for his impassioned speeches and writings championing the cause of the black man in South Africa and bringing to the notice of the world their suffering under apartheid.
He campaigned for Nelson Mandela's release from prison and he worked all his life for black majority rule. He believed that at last the black man would come into his own. He was incredibly hopeful about the new South Africa that would follow the end of apartheid, but he died in 1988, aged 85. I was deeply upset that he wasn't alive for Mandela's release and the birth of this new South Africa.
I was so sorry he did not witness the euphoria and love at the time of the election in 1994. But I am glad he is not alive now. He would have been so distressed to see what has happened to his beloved country.
I LOVE this country with a passion; but I cannot live here any more. I can no longer live slung about with panic buttons, bunches of keys, special gear locks. I am tired of driving with my car windows closed and the doors locked, of being afraid of stopping at red lights, because this is where one can be attacked. I am tired of being constantly on the alert, having that sudden frisson of fear at the sight of a shadow by the gate, of a group of youths approaching - although nine times out of 10 they are innocent of harmful intent. Such is the suspicion that dogs us all.
I am tired of the endless litany of disaster that is repeated every time friends gather together. "Do you know what has happened to so-and-so?" is invariably the opening gambit.
Among my friends and the friends of my friends, I know of nine people who have been murdered in the past four years. One old friend, a very elderly lady, was raped and murdered by someone who broke into her home for no reason at all; another was shot at the garage.
We have a saying, "Don't sack the gardener", because of the belief that it is so often an inside job - the gardener who comes back and does you in. All this may sound like paranoia, but not without reason. I have been hijacked, mugged and terrorised.
A few years ago my car was taken from me at my local post office at gunpoint. I was forced across into the passenger seat as they intended to take me, too. I sat there frozen. But just as one man jumped into the back and the other fumbled with the starter I opened the passenger door and ran away. To this day I do not know how I did this. But I got away, still clutching my handbag. That was when I lost my first car.
On May 1 this year, a public holiday, I was mugged in my home at three in the afternoon. I used to live in a community of big houses, with big grounds, in beautiful rural countryside. It's still beautiful and green, but the big houses have been knocked down and people have moved into fenced and gated complexes like the one I now live in. Mine is in the suburbs of Durban, but they're springing up all over South Africa.
That afternoon I came home and omitted to close the security door. I was careless in those days. I never shut my front door. I went upstairs to lie down. After a while I thought I heard a noise, perhaps a bird or something.
Without a qualm I got up and went out onto the landing. Outside there was a man. I screamed and immediately two other men appeared. I was seized round the throat and almost throttled. I could feel myself losing consciousness.
My mouth was bound with Sellotape (my own, which they had taken from my desk) and I was threatened with my own clasp knife (Girl Guide issue from long ago) and told: "If you make a sound you die." My hands were tied tightly behind my back with string and I was thrown into the guest room and the door was shut. They took all the electronic equipment they could find except the computer. They also, of course, took the car - this is when I lost my second car.
The complex was full of people, all watching a rugby match on the television. But my house is fairly private and the thieves were able to load up my car and drive away without any problem. It was made easy for them because the keys were hanging tidily by the front door.
A few weeks later my new car (courtesy of the insurance company) was comfortably in my locked and fenced carport when I was woken by its alarm in the early hours of the morning. The thieves had removed the radio, having cut through the padlocks in order to bypass the electric control on the gates. Radio thieving is quite sophisticated here. There are organised gangs that "do" areas, taking as many as they can in one night.
A few weeks ago came the last straw, shortly before my 71st birthday. Once again I returned home in the middle of the afternoon and walked into my sitting room. Outside the window there were two men in the act of breaking in. I retreated to the hall and pressed my panic alarm.
This time I had shut my front door on entering. I had become more cautious by now. Yet one of the men ran round the house, jumped over my 6ft steel fence and proceeded to try to batter down the front door, shouting to be let in. Meanwhile, his accomplice was busy breaking my sitting room window with a hammer.
All this took place while the sirens were shrieking. This was the frightening part - that they kept coming, in broad daylight, while the alarms were going. They were not deterred. They know that there has to be a time lag of a few minutes before help arrives and there is time for a "smash and grab" type of action where they can dash off with the television and video recorder.
In fact, the front-door assailant was caught and taken off to the cells. Recently I telephoned to ask the magistrate when I would be called as a witness. She told me she had let him off for lack of evidence. She said that banging on my door was not an offence, and how could I prove that his intent was hostile?
I have been careless in the past - a fence topped with razor wire and electric gates give one a feeling of security. At least it did. But I am careless no longer.
There is nothing unusual about my housing complex, they are all equally vulnerable. No fence - be it electric or not - no wall, no razor wire, is really a deterrent to the determined intruder. Now my alarm is on all the time and my panic button hung round my neck. While some people say I have been unlucky, others say: "You are lucky not to have been raped or murdered." What kind of a society is this where one is considered "lucky" not to have been raped or murdered - yet?
I know there is a moral ambiguity here. In the past whites felt in charge, no matter what their politics were. Whether they supported apartheid or not, they were top dogs. The Africans were contained. Now we are simply a small minority no longer in charge, and there is an atavistic fear among us.
The contrast between the present and the years Alan and I spent together could not be greater.
I was born in London when Britain ruled the world and jingoism was the order of the day. When we opened our school atlases, the world was covered with red blobs denoting the Empire on which the sun never set. Right down at the bottom of the map was the small red blob of South Africa.
I married a South African who was with the RAF and we came here with our two children in 1963. I first met Alan under very unfortunate circumstances. We actually lived next door to him in a place called Kloof, though we never met socially. He was regarded as a rather dangerous agitator. I was quite unaware of his fame and just thought of him as a nuisance neighbour, whose servants were rowdy at the bottom of his garden and upset mine.
One day some birds flew across from his garden and promptly dropped dead in mine. I phoned up this bird poisoner and gave him a piece of my mind. I thought no more about it, but suddenly up my drive there walked a rather disreputable elderly gentleman, wanting to look at the corpses I had by then buried. I gave him another piece of my mind and he tottered home to his ailing wife, muttering about that harridan next door.
He was, in fact, a fanatical bird-lover and would no more poison a bird than his friends.
Within a year or so, his wife had died and my husband and I were divorced. A mutual friend, deciding that I needed a job and Alan needed a secretary, arranged for us to meet. So I brought order out of chaos, and my initial awe and terror of this great man turned to love. We were married in January 1969.
Alan had a unique attribute: you never knew from the tone of his voice whether he was talking to black, white, coloured or khaki. He treated everybody alike.
Our life together was quite rocky. He was 25 years older than me, with a brilliant mind - a genius really - while I was a simple soul with an inferiority complex engendered by the fact that I had not been to university.
Alan never talked down to me or made me feel inadequate, but some of his friends did. Most of his friends did not like me. Before I came on the scene they had free access to him at any time of the day or night, they wanted him to speak at functions, write this and that, lend his influence here and there.
They gave no consideration to his advancing years. He could not get on with his writing and his life was not on his own. Some of his friends were quite unscrupulous and would make use of his name and fame for their own ends.
I changed all this. Everybody, except for a selected few, had to make appointments to see him. All sorts of ploys were tried to get round the dragon at the door, and I made many enemies, but Alan was delighted at his newly ordered existence. He got back to his writing and literary life.
At the time Alan had no passport. It had been taken away from him at Johannesburg airport on his return from a trip abroad after he had said derogatory things about the government while he was in the United States.
At the end of 1971 he wanted to take up an offer of an honorary degree from Harvard and to do research in Spain. He was reluctant to apply for a new passport, however, because he thought that by doing so he was being disloyal to his banned and restricted friends.
The government would serve a banning order on anybody it considered dangerous. Banned persons could not attend gatherings of more than three people, were restricted to their own districts, and sometimes to home. Alan's greatest friend, Peter Brown, one of the leaders of the Liberal party, was banned for 10 years and could not even attend his son's speech days. Yet it was Peter who persuaded Alan to apply for a passport.
He was given a restricted passport for one year. This opened a new life to us. We travelled the world, usually starting off in the United States at some university, where he would work immensely hard for a few days lecturing. Then we would set off on holiday. The American universities are extremely generous and would pay our fares back and forth with a little extra as well and this would enable us to indulge our passion for journeys.
Travelling with Alan was like travelling with a child. I would pack the suitcases, load the car, drive all day, arrive at our destination, book us in, unpack the suitcases and do the washing, while he would sit down happily with his cigarette and whisky. But we loved travelling; it was the one interest that we really had in common.
Because of the difference in our ages, intellects, education and background, we had divergent views on many things, and we had very few friends in common. In fact, my friends were terrified of him.
When we were at home I managed his life 24 hours a day as secretary, housekeeper, cook, handyman, hostess, protector, accountant. The telephone shrilled constantly for him. Newspapers wanting comments on items of news or for him to write articles.
Holidays were a blissful relaxation away from the telephone and the mail. This was prodigious. Alan had a huge amount of fan mail, mainly from America, and much of it from students who were "doing" Cry, The Beloved Country and wanted answers to the most complicated questions. Every letter he answered.
People used to ask us what we talked about. Well, two of the things we did not talk about were religion and politics. Alan was a deeply religious man and insisted on going to church every Sunday. I was not a faithful worshipper like him and found it difficult to accept this routine, and it was rather a bone of contention between us.
As far as politics were concerned I was not quite on the same wavelength as Alan, and so by tacit agreement we never really discussed it. But we talked about everything else under the sun, and played endless word games, and quoted poetry, and made up silly stories about our friends.
A character in Cry, The Beloved Country said: "I have one great fear in my heart, that one day when they are turned to loving they will find we are turned to hating." And so it has come to pass. There is now more racial tension in this country than I have ever known. But it is not just about black-on-white crime. It is about general lawlessness.
The black people are suffering more than the whites. They do not have access to powerful private security firms, and there are no police stations near them in the townships and rural areas. The majority of hijackings, rapes and murders are perpetrated on them. They cannot run away like the whites, who are streaming out of this country in their thousands.
President Mandela has referred to us who leave as "cowards" and says the country can do without us. So be it. But it takes a great deal of courage to uproot and start again.
We are leaving because crime is rampaging through the land. There are no jobs for these gangs of marauding youths, and doubtless they have minimum education. The evils that beset this country now are blamed on the legacy of apartheid. One of the worst legacies of that time is the result of the Bantu Education Act, which deliberately created an inferior quality of education for black people. Illiteracy and joblessness make for crime. This apartheid education act denied blacks the chance to build a middle class, which would have helped the post-apartheid state to prosper and stop crime.
The situation is exacerbated by the fact that there is virtually no deterrent. The criminals know that the chances of being caught are negligible, and if they do get caught they will be free again almost at once.
So what is the answer? The government needs to get its priorities right. We need a powerful, well-trained and well-equipped police force. And this means good pay and assurances of compensation for families. This means money. The right kind of person has to be attracted to life in the police, where he can do a job he can be proud of.
The police force today is hopelessly undermanned, undertrained and undermotivated. We need hundreds and thousands more policemen. We need a visible police presence, with men walking around on the beat. Now the only visible form of protection is provided by private security guards, employed at great expense by shops, banks and, of course, private citizens.
We have had a recent incident where a shopping centre was broken into in the afternoon. A call to the police station elicited the reply: "We have no transport."
"Just walk then," said the caller, as the police station is about a two-minute sprint from the shop in question.
"We have no transport," came the reply again. Nobody went. In these circumstances how can crime not be a resounding success?
Of course, there was a lot of crime in the wicked old days but nothing like this. It was a police state. If people were wandering around, the police would drive up and say, "Where is your pass?" and lock them up. Now you can do anything and go anywhere.
Here is another quote from my husband's book: "Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. Let him not be too moved when the birds of his land are singing, nor give too much of his heart to a mountain or a valley. For fear will rob him of all if he gives too much."
What has changed in half a century? This quote is as apt now as it was then. A lot of people who were convinced that everything would be all right are disillusioned, although they don't want to admit it.
The government has many excellent schemes for improving the lot of the black man, who has been disadvantaged for so long. A great deal of money is spent in this direction. However, nothing can succeed while people live in such fear. Every available rand (and there is much money available) must be diverted and poured into the creation of a viable police force.
We are reduced to spending more and more money on doing our own policing and protecting ourselves. Those of us who lose their nerve, or have too many fears for the future, emigrate if we can.
I do not want to be a target for the rest of my life. I want to live in peace, where I do not constantly have to be minding my back, where I can sleep at night.
In the middle of last week, six or seven miles from my home, an old couple were taken out and murdered in the garden. The wife had only one leg and was in a wheelchair. Yet they were stabbed and strangled - for very little money. They were the second old couple to be killed last week. The next day a chap was shot nearby in his car, the father of three children. It just goes on and on, all the time. We have become a killing society.
As I prepare to return to England, a young man asked me the other day in all innocence if things were more peaceful there. "You see," he said, "I know of no other way of life than this. I cannot imagine anything different." What a tragic statement on the beloved country today.