White Dictators

Here's a list of white dictators, including real world ones, who were either African or operated on the continent.

Ian Smith, on the right with a gun. (Reddit).

In a new advertisement for the Cape Town Fish Market, local ad agency Lowe Cape Town, part of the Lowe and Partners SA group, decided to put a white actor in blackface make-up as “an African dictator.” Yes, we don’t know why people still do this in South Africa. Anyway, earlier today we posted T.O. Molefe’s takedown of their excuses. As said at the end of T.O.’s post, Lowe Cape Town could have asked us for advice and we could have suggested a number of white dictators, including real world ones, who were either African or operated on the continent and who Love Cape Town could have used to model the role after.

(1) Lothar von Trotha: He was not African, but a German military commander in German-controlled South West Africa, who showed dictatorial tendencies during the Herero genocide in 1904.

(2) Various British monarchs (Victoria, Edward VII, George V, Edward VIII, George VI and Elizabeth II): Named head of state in many British colonies in Africa, presiding over colonial dictatorships and crimes against humanity; in the case of Elizabeth II  in Kenya during the Mau Mau uprising.

(3) King Leopold II. During the 23 years of his Congo Free State, between two to fifteen million Congolese were killed and many others brutalized by his regime. Never set foot in his Congo.

(4) Mr Kurtz in Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” (since Lowe Cape Town like fiction).

(5) Lord Lugard, a mercenary who became “governor” of Nigeria. Just ask Mahmood Mandani.

(6) Cecil John Rhodes: He named a country for himself. Enough said. Though we can see through Robert Mugabe’s electioneering, we could not help enjoy the spectacle of members of Mugabe’s party threatening last year to dig up Rhodes’ remains and have it returned to the UK. Mugabe blocked them, but The Daily Mail and its readers were predictably upset.

(7) Benito Mussolini. Not only did he make the trains run on time (fascists seem to be obsessed with on-time trains) in Italy and help write the playbook for modern fascism, his army also occupied Ethiopia between 1935 and 1941.

(8) Ben Balthazar John Vorster: He was imprisoned during World War II for his Nazi sympathies, before he joined the National Party (which ruled Apartheid  South Africa between 1948 and 1994) serving first as prime minister and briefly as state president between 1966 and 1979 of what amounted to a racial dictatorship.

(9)  PW Botha: Apartheid South Africa’s state president prime minister following Vorster’s retirement and later as state president. Botha suffered a stroke in 1989. For much of his tenure, Botha effectively ruled South Africa along with his general through a State Security Council, akin to a junta.

(10), Finally, Ian Smith: Everyone we mentioned thus far would be ideal, but Smith would be the most photogenic to recommend to Lowe Cape Town–especially prancing around like Dirty Harry with a big gun. Smith ruled Rhodesia from 1966 to 1979, refusing democracy and leading the country’s whites into a civil war with the black majority. Smith foolishly proclaimed: “I don’t believe in majority rule ever for Rhodesia, not in a thousand years.” Unrepentant till the end, he died in 2007.

To who at Lowe Cape Town do we send the bill?

Further Reading

Between two evils

After losing its parliamentary majority for the first time, the African National Congress is scrambling to form a coalition government. The options are bleak.

Heeding the call

At the 31st New York African Film Festival, young filmmakers set the stage with adventurous and varied experiments in African cinema.