Sunday August 13 2017

Defeat of the British Empire by an African prince and his wife

Prof George W. Kanyeihamba

Prof George W. Kanyeihamba 

By Prof George W. Kanyeihamba

I grieve for people with no reading culture. They miss so much of what they could have known or enjoyed. No matter how they describe themselves, or how others see them, they remain firmly planted in the category of the ignorant and the uneducated mobs and masses of this world.
Immediately I arrived in the UK for my usual visits, I read Susan Williams’ classic political and social book on the love story of young Botswana prince Seretse Khama, the heir to the African kingdom of Bechuanaland, and Ruth Williams, a beautiful, well-balanced English girl with a pure heart and unshaken love for that African prince.
I was initially attracted to the book by its description as the true story that shook an empire. Then my interest turned into literary hunger to know more when I read the reviewers’ comments. The Daily Mail newspaper hailed it as one of the greatest love stories of the 20th Century.
“When they met and fell in love, it would change the world. Their marriage sent shock waves through the establishment, defied an empire and finally triumphed over the prejudices of their age,” read one review.
David Oyelowo adoringly said, “Reading the book, I realised that I had never seen an African love story of the cinematic scope. It spoke to me as an African, a man and as a romantic.”
Finally, Alexander McCall Smith saw the book as a story of forgiveness and healing that is relevant today.
The author is to be applauded for the way she displays five themes in the behaviour and acts of human beings, weaves them together to expose the evil in some men and women, which is eventually vanquished by good accompanied by love, truth and sincerity.
Of all human senses, love is the most important and invariably triumphs over all obstacles. In its unending search for natural acceptance, love has led humans to abandon their original habitats and plans for others.
It has led to conflicts and wars while uniting hitherto irreconcilable and warring nations and families. It is inexplicable and magical for it creates compelling attractions between peoples and forces that are apparently the opposite of one another, dissimilar in every other way seen or perceived by fickle mortals. That is one theme and objective accomplished in this story as exemplified by the love between Seretse and Ruth.
The second theme that is fully illustrated in this book is the folly and barbarism of people who believe that there are discernible differences between the IQs or intellectual abilities credited to any human race or tribe by virtue of their respective classification.
It is more instinctively primitive for anyone to imagine that their particular appearance is or was intended to show that they are superior to any other races. The author demonstrates beyond any shadow of doubt that such a notion is not only manifestly absurd but those who believe in or advocate it have brains more rudimentary than those of the creatures that dwell in marshes and ponds of the earth. It is not the successors of racists and advocates of apartheid but those of their opponents who govern Africa and Asia today.
The third theme of this wonderful publication is the exhibition of the galaxy of stars and their European, Asian, Caribbean and American counterparts and friends, including Mandela, Tambo, Nkomo, Njojo, Robeson, Garvey, Appiah, Padmore, Tsekedi, Kenyatta, the Kabaka, Brockway, Grimond, Benn, Collins, Home, Huddleston and McMillan, among others who championed the causes of justice and human rights regardless of colour, race or ethnicity.
Fourthly, the author exposes the hypocrisy and cruelty of many aspects of imperialism and colonialism.
Fifthly, the masterpiece ends happily with celebrations of the victors of righteousness over evil and the Khamas’ son succeeding to the democratic leadership of the kingdom.
In shame, the reader will recall the treachery, lies and mischief committed by the practitioners of colour bar, racism, savagery of imperialism, slavery and barbarism exhibited by the racist governments of the British and their kith and kin who inhabited and ruled their overseas territories.
The reader is awestruck by the dominance imposed on the political, social and economic policies and decisions of the British government by the racist minority rulers and apartheid of South Africa, Rhodesia and Kenya.
Finally, it is sad to note that in some of the former colonial territories, the ghosts of minority or oppressive rulers have returned with a vengeance. As we write, tyranny, violation of human rights and torture of suspects and innocents alike have returned to many independent states whose founders fought and sometimes died for the betterment of their people.

Prof Kanyeihamba is a retired Supreme Court judge.