The Black Man’s Burden?

Mauritius Times – 60 Years

By Humanist

Under the caption, ‘We don’t want another Mauritius here’, the Sunday Post of Nairobi of the 25th of January, carried an article in reply to Mr Jamal Din’s, by Mr A.J. Simpson, a European farmer, in which he argues, in a most indecent, vitriolic, and vituperative language, that the Asians’ claim for land for their growing population should not be granted. His arguments can be summed up as follows:

Indian trader’s family in Bagamoyo, German East Africa. Pic – BarchBot| wikimedia commons

(a)   Asians were only allowed to come to Kenya and should now either go back to their homeland or cut down their population by means of birth control — Mr Simpson had observed “over the many years in the past” the “enormous hordes of children in schools and playgrounds and the “innumerable indications of many more on the way.” The Asians “are about to suffer for their folly, and, on the pretext that land cultivation is the main occupation that this country has to offer them, they think that the solution to the problem of their daily increasing numbers and of their excess population is to seek some method of sneaking into and encroaching upon the ‘European Land Reserves’, well-knowing that these reserves will be fully required by the steadily increasing European population who have been tending them for years past.”

(b) Asians would lower the living standard as they have done in Mauritius where they are now driving out the Europeans. — “If Asians were allowed into the ‘European Reserve’ or grazing area, it would reduce Kenya to the same sorry state as Mauritius. There the British Government, not realising the great danger not only granted the Asian unrestricted immigration but gave him full rights in the land and in the Government.”

“It would appear that Mauritius is on the verge of utter poverty, squalor and disease — if the Asian were given rights in the European Land Reserve in Kenya, in a short space of time the same conditions would be produced with falling living standards and gradual decadence, so that they would be a liability to the state.”

Asians were not “allowed” to go to Kenya. Rather, they allowed themselves to provide cheap labour for the Europeans who have made money and grown fat at their expense — at the expense of their blood, tears, toil and sweat. Now that the Asian, through his own human efforts, has made a position for himself, he is told to go back home. Why should he? If he has to go, so has the European got to go back to Europe! What right has he to stay there as in any other places in the whole world where he is known to have gone, and always as a master, never as a manual worker. Might is no longer Right — not in this enlightened world of the 20th century. There is no more jungle law whereby the “survival of the fittest” is apathetically tolerated: there are human rights. But let us quote a great European in Africa who understood the problem clearly and correctly: “It is not the vices of the Indians (Asians) that Europeans in this country fear but their virtues.”

But Mr Simpson proceeds further to say that he too wants his land for his steadily growing population. So where is the harm in an Asiatic wanting space? Is a European more human, and must he have more human rights than the Asiatic? Well, one should mind one’s glass house, don’t you agree?

Let us turn to the Asians in this tiny little island of ours. We must inform Mr Simpson that no European has as yet been driven out of Mauritius. How can Asians do so when Mr Simpson’s kind own all the big sugar factories and almost all the land, the banks and all the big business of the island? Asians are the jackals slaving for the lions here. We admit that there is poverty and disease — Asians are not intransigent, but tolerant and humble enough to admit — but these are the direct outcome of oppression through cheap labour for which the British government is responsible.

This island, as Mr Simpson ought to know, is a British colony. And where else can jackals live but in squalor! Doesn’t the lion inhabit the cleaner parts of the forest and isn’t he always so conscious of his superiority? Mr Simpson, unwittingly — or is it deliberately? –, lets it out that he believes in the superiority of his race in saying that the British Government here gave full rights to the Asian both “in land and in the government”. He definitely thinks he has to have more rights, perhaps because he is a white man, and less burden, much as he would like to show (to the black or brown man, of course) that he shares the “white man’s burden”.

6th Year – No 234
Friday 6th February 1959

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 28 July 2023

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