Mr. President,


It is a very great honour to be asked to speak at this august and honourable house this evening, even though in opposing this motion all I will be doing is simply stating - in Basil Fawty's immortal phrase - "the bleeding obvious".


It was Lord Curzon who stated "Wherever the Empire has extended its borders, there misery and oppression, anarchy and destitution, superstition and bigotry have tended to disappear, and have been replaced by peace, justice, prosperity, humanity and freedom of thought, speech and action".


He was right of course. Prior to the establishment of the great European Empires in Africa during the later half of the 19th century life for the average Black person in Sub-Saharan Africa was literally nasty, brutish and short. It was the Dark Continent indeed. Apart from a few coastal areas colonised by European nations - the Portuguese along the Angolan and Mozambiquen coasts, the Dutch and British in the Cape, and the French in North-West Africa - there were no hospitals or health services of any form, there were no educational institutions, there were no tarmaced roads and there was no manufacturing industry. There wasn't even any written language, nor such a simple device as a button to fasten clothes.


But what failed to exist even more fundamentally then anything else was any form of a functioning state. Sub-Saharan Africa consisted purely of wandering and warring tribal clans, ruled over by strongmen (be they called chiefs or kings, or sometimes even emperors) who had risen to the top purely by the force of arms. In most cases these tribal chiefs were despotic tyrants, who rarely hesitated to eliminate - often in the most sadistic fashion - all those who opposed them, or who were even suspected of opposing them! But it was their treatment of women which was the most unforgivable aspect of their rule in the eyes of all civilised people; it was not only that they were treated as mere chattels - semi-slaves - but were also often subjected to the most painful and humiliating of practices, female circumcision. Adolescent boys didn't fair much better however; they had to undergo weird tribal initiation ceremonies which not infrequently resulted in the deaths of those who did not achieve the required standards.


One even worse evil still remained in Sub-Saharan Africa prior to the establishment of the great European Empires however. Slavery. Although slavery had been abolished in the West a century earlier (and never forget that it was the triumphant tribal chiefs of West Africa who sold their vanquished foes to Western slave traders!), with the Royal Navy patrolling the West African coast to prevent any resumption of this illegal practice, in East Africa the slave trade still flourished, with the likes of the Black Muslim Tippu Tip eagerly rounding up unfortunates for deportation to the Arabian slave-markets.


It was simply a case of "survival of the most ruthless" everywhere in Sub-Saharan Africa before the arrival of European settlers and administrators. The Bushmen (the San) were practically obliterated in the Kalahari prior to the arrival of the Dutch to the Cape in 1652, and other relatively peaceful tribes such as the Igbo in Nigeria, the Kikuyu in Kenya, the Tswana of Southern Africa and the Shona of what was once Rhodesia, also suffered at the hands of more warlike and vicious attackers such as the Hausa, Yoraba, Masai, Zulus and Matabele. Undoubtedly other smaller peaceful tribes were completely wiped out in the centuries prior.

Happily all this sad and sorry state of affairs was soon to change however, as from the early part of the 19th century Europeans were to take an increasingly benevolent interest in the "Dark Continent". First adventurers such as Mungo Park, Cameron, Burton, Speke and Bourgnis-Desbordes opened up the dark interior, then missionaries such as David Livingstone, Robert Moffatt and Albert Schweitzer brought Christian caring and compassion, next came traders and explorers such as Charles Rudd and Henry Morton Stanley who established mutually beneficial commercial links with Europe, thus substituting peaceful trading for incessant war, and finally came the Imperial administrators such as Rhodes, Lugard, Goldie and Brazza who established the infrastructure of the modern world, together with countless other minor philanthropic colonial administrators.


Where previously there had simply been barren bush, new and vibrant cities such as Salisbury, Nairobi, Brazzaville and Leopoldville sprang up within a few short decades, complete with all the modern manifestations of their European counterparts such as stable brick buildings, tarmaced roads, piped water and sewerage systems. Hospitals and other health institutions were rapidly built, which catered not only for the European colonists, but increasingly for the indigenous populations as well. Schools and colleges were established, firstly by the churches and missionaries, and then by the colonial administrations.


But it was not only the colonial settlers who benefited from this sudden transportation of the structures of civilisation to the "Dark Continent" - the local Black peoples benefited vastly more. Not only did they suddenly have the advantage of modern medical services to eradicate tropical diseases and early deaths, but the establishment of the rule of law by the introduction of the European justice systems meant that tribal warfare and mass exterminations were eliminated. As a result the Black populations increased exponentially (e.g. the Black population of the erstwhile Rhodesia was estimated at only a quarter of a million in 1890 - roughly the same as the White population at the time of UDI barely 75 years later in 1965 - whereas the Black population was then estimated at 6 million!). But it was probably Black women who benefited most from the advent of European colonial rule, as their oppression was ended through the establishment of sexual equality, and the obscenity of female circumcision was outlawed. Another often overlooked beneficiary of European Imperial rule was the precious wildlife of the African continent, and indeed our common environmental inheritance as a whole. Prior to the coming of the European Empires the wildlife of Africa was hunted indiscriminately, with no legal safeguards put in place to protect the environment, so never forget that it was that man often demonised as a puritanical backwoodsman, Paul Kruger, who had the vision and foresight to establish the world's first protected wildlife park - the Kruger National Park.


If there was one colonial power against whom this motion might have some form of validity then it was Germany, for their genocide campaign against the Herero people was surely unforgivable. It must equally be born in mind, however, that the Herero people became truly grateful to Jan Smuts' South African government as a result of its military action in liberating them from oppressive German rule in 1914, and indeed were thereafter the most supportive indigenous people of South-West Africa towards continued White South African administration. Furthermore it should be remembered that both during WWI and WWII the Black peoples of Africa flocked to the British and French colours in order to fight against German militarism in SWA and Tanganyika etc., and against Italian fascism in the then Abyssinia. They surely would not have done so if the essence of this motion was correct.


Alas after WWII this whole increasingly improving and hopeful situation in the African continent came to a rapid end, as one European power after another abandoned their colonial responsibilities and succumbed to the demands of African Nationalism - in reality a return to tribal despotic rule. The results are crystal clear for all to see - Amin, Boukassa, Gowan, Mugabe and Mandela to name but a few. During the late 1960s a mainly suppressed Italian film called Africa Addio appeared, which showed the reality of post-colonial Africa. I will recount but two cameo scenes from this film which stick in my mind. The first was the mass slaughter of Arab-descended citizens on the beaches of Zanzibar, and the other was the sadistic killing of wildlife in the previously protected Kenyan national parks. Within just a few short years of the disappearance of the European Imperial powers Africa once again become the "Dark Continent" - the Congo, Biafra, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Dafur, do I need to say any more? And before you even try to blame these tragedies upon previous colonial rule let me remind you that two of the worst affected African states over recent years - Ethiopia and Liberia - were never realistically part of any European Empires! I had the very great privilege of being able to meet the Hon. Ian Douglas Smith during the final few years of his life. He stated openly that Blacks were often approaching him in the streets of Zimbabwe to say things like "I wish you were still in charge, for at least then our children didn't go to bed hungry". I believed him.


As can be seen therefore, Africa’s problems were not the fault of the European Empires, but in fact were the fault of the complete antithesis of this: they were caused by the reprehensible abandonment of Empire. I therefore make no apologies whatsoever for the actions of my grandparents' and great-grandparents' generations in establishing their Empires in the African continent. They were prepared honourably to "take up the White Man's burden" and to assist the sorry peoples of that continent and to help defend our common environmental inheritance. What I do apologise to the Black peoples of Africa for, however, is the way in which my parents' generation betrayed their responsibilities and abandoned the continent to the retrograde situation which alas is now all too clear for us all to see.


A few months ago an excellent series was shown on Channel 4 entitled "On Tour with the Queen". This was presented by a West Indian gentleman by the name of Kwame Kwei-Armah. He quite clearly had a pre-set agenda to show how much better Britain's former colonies were since achieving independence. What he discovered, however, was a revelation, for practically everywhere that he went (admitted mainly in the West Indies and the Pacific, and only to Uganda in Africa) the local peoples almost to a man and woman stated that life was far better for them under British colonial rule, and that they wished that somehow the British would return. Mr. Kwei-Armah had the journalistic honesty to report what he found rather than what he expected to find. I beg my opponents in this debate therefore to consider everything which I have said, and to have the equal intellectual honesty to admit that in proposing this motion they are wrong.


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