Out of Africa

Baroness Deech

I am spending the new year break in Cape Town.  I have a deep interest in and affection for South Africa, having been a trustee of the Rhodes Scholarships and of the Mandela-Rhodes Foundation.  The Rhodes Scholarships bring American, S. African and other commonwealth graduates to Oxford – but the Mandela-Rhodes Foundation returns some of Cecil Rhodes’ legacy to S. Africa by supporting students to study there, and it has been one of the most enriching experiences of my life to meet wonderful young S. Africans of every race who will contribute to their country’s future.  S. Africa has done much for the UK through its lawyers, and its lawyers distinguished themselves in the fight against apartheid.  Lords Steyn and Hoffmann in the House of Lords; Lord Joffe, Sydney Kentridge and Edwin Cameron to name but a very few. Most of them studied law in England, such is the influence of our legal system.

On a lighter note, I spent today at the first day of  the Cape Town test match.  The barmy army accompanied the cricket with “Jerusalem” and “The 12 days of Xmas” and all was good natured in the sun, with 17000 spectators.  I ruminated on the pay of cricketers, the hierarchy of seating and the difficulty of getting tickets for the match, which make an outing to Covent Garden (sometimes described as ‘elitist’) a picnic by contrast.  The spectators (including Desmond Tutu) and the teams were thoroughly mixed.  Sport seems to do nothing but good for S. Africa.  The nation is delighted t0 be hosting the World Cup in 2010.  All 10 stadiums are ready; half a million overseas visitors are expected and the event will contribute billions to the economy.  This is much needed because the poverty and the stark differences in living standards cannot be overlooked or allowed to continue.  One cannot but share the optimism and wish the nation well.  President Zuma  is popular; this is despite the fact, or maybe because he is about to wed his fifth wife.  The newspapers report that the marriage has created a vacancy for a fiancee, which has been filled.

5 comments for “Out of Africa

  1. Gar Hywel
    04/01/2010 at 9:13 am

    How enjoyable.May you enjoy the rest of your break too.

    From time to time I dip in to the very vexed history of South Africa and the Boer war.

    I noticed the other day that Cecil Rhodes main interest at that time was the Kimberley diamond area which was hard fought over.

    Somehow my family on either side have not been involved in wars, but one adventurer great uncle got caught up in the after math of the war by finding work at the diamond mine with his brother. They were both accomplished mine designers,from West Wales but unfortunately he was killed in a skirmish
    in the post Boer war guerilla action by the Boers.

    The family got very good compensation for his death, which is still argued over, even today occasionally.

    Cecil Rhodes was said to have attended the funeral in the town of Kimberley, but I was wondering precisely what form the compensation took!

    Whether his brother hotfooted to Hatton Garden with a cluster of n carat diamonds in his pocket, representing the worth of his brother’s life, I do not know.

    I was very glad therefore to hear of the undisclosed sum compensation made to the Menendez family of Brazil. These things can have a very adverse effect on family life for a long time.

  2. Carl Holbrough
    04/01/2010 at 9:49 pm

    “enriching experiences of my life to meet wonderful young S. Africans of every race”

    Ahh District 9 was actually a documentary then ? http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1136608/

    There are other races in S.A, besides the human kind !

    Apologies my Lady but differentiation in terms of whatever you meant maybe percieved as racism, in my view anyhow. I`m not Black British, Asian British or White British just British. To catagorise and differentiate breeds racism.

    I look forward to the World Cup and know that South Africa will benefit, I hope a lot of that benefit goes to the extremely poor of the Country.

    Good luck to President Zuma, one wife is plenty enough for most of us and our two ears ! 😉

    • baronessdeech
      05/01/2010 at 7:29 pm

      Sorry if the word “race” is the wrong one. They use it in S. Africa in discussing questions of diversity. Is “colour” preferable? Carl – I think you mean District 6 of Cape Town.

      • Carl Holbrough
        05/01/2010 at 8:47 pm

        Most enriching experiences of my life to meet wonderful young “Lords” of every “sex” who will contribute to their country’s future.

        Substituting “sex” with “colour” or “race” still doesn`t make it seem right. It still seem`s an attempt at justifying there were people there that needed the justification.

        District 9 is a recent film :
        In 1982, a massive star ship bearing a bedraggled alien population, nicknamed “The Prawns,” appeared over Johannesburg, South Africa. Twenty-eight years later, the initial welcome by the human population has faded. The refugee camp where the aliens were located has deteriorated into a militarized ghetto called District 9, where they are confined and exploited in squalor.

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