Wednesday, November 02, 2016


There is a big conversation in South Africa about decolonisation. The first wave of European colonisation from C15-19th focused on the Americas. Unlike Africa, the majority of New World countries ended up having European-descendant majorities. North Africa's colonialism at that time was connected to the Muslim world. New Imperialism was an arm's race style speedy conquest. Driven by a thirst for resources. Justified by ideas of 'civilising missions'.

Canada was officially proclaimed a confederation in 1867 shortly before the fateful Berlin Conference that kick started the Scramble for Africa. It was the Canadian model Britain was trying to impose on Southern Africa when it took on the Zulu Nation in 1879, the ninth addition of the Xhosa Wars also in 1879, and the Boers in 1902. South Africa became a union in 1910.

Canada is the second largest country in the world, and far more sparsely populated. There have been several large waves of immigration. The population is increasingly multi-cultural but still 77% of European descent. Initially there was also atrocious treatment of the estimated 500,000 indigenous population already there when Europeans arrived. 40-80% of them died through conflict and introduction to new diseases. In the C18-19th there were attempts at forced integrations and relocation.  

When I visited Canada, it was interesting as a South African to see the different dynamics and after effects of colonisation on indigenous minorities, vs. South Africa where, for most of the country, the relatively short dominance was perpetrated by the minority over the majority. The extended Americas/Australian style colonisation focused on the Cape Colony and the indigenous Khoisan people. South Africa had a Truth and Reconciliation Commission after the end of Apartheid. Many are feeling that it left the job unfinished despite majority rules. A Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established in 2008. It completed in 2015 with 94 "Calls to Action" to redress the legacy.

A horrible history, if the current generation accept responsibility rather than blame, can become a platform to create a better world. Canada in many ways is the shining light in the world for a positive response to history.

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