|The Myth of Black Land Hunger||C. P. DeL. Beyers gives a South African view|
The following is a reproduction of an article first published in Impact magazine, obtainable from Box 28233, Sunnyside 0132, South Africa, to which we extend our acknowledgements. The article is particularly apposite at a time when liberals the world over, including Britain, are urging a need for land redistribution as an excuse for the brutal excesses against white farming communities now taking place in Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia).
In Sub-Saharan Africa, literally millions of hectares of fine, arable land lie either under-utilised or not used at all. Much of this land is blessed with good, dependable rainfall, and great perennial rivers which lend themselves to potentially huge irrigation schemes.
But nothing happens; there is no development and no forward planning. In the western and eastern world (with the exception of the former Soviet Union), every inch of arable land is farmed so that the various population can be fed. To develop industrially, a country needs to be able to feed its people. Agriculture has to come first, and the rest will follow.
Countries in the West as well as the East have well established farming sectors, which do not suddenly appear but develop over a period of generations. Should a farming sector be wiped out, this holds dire consequences for the country.
An example of this was the old Soviet Union. After the 1917 revolution in Russia and during the early '30s, the communists established communal farms controlled from Moscow. The Russian and Ukrainian peasant farmers (Kulaks) stood in the way. All their grain and livestock were confiscated, and millions died of hunger. So, a farming class of about 12 million disappeared. The result was that from that time onwards Russia was no longer able to feed its population. Grain had continually to be imported, whereas before the October Revolution in 1917, Russia was an exporter of grain. And today, although communism has been overthrown in Russia, and the Soviet Union has disappeared, Russia's economy cannot get going because its farming community was destroyed. It will take decades before it can be re-established.
The old Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) is another example. Before Kenneth Kaunda took over in the 1960s, 800 farmers (mainly Afrikaners) provided the country, including the huge number of people working on the copper mines, with grain, meat and milk. Kaunda made the lives of these hundreds of farmers impossible, and they left. Today there is no longer any large-scale farming in Zambia, only subsistence farming. All those fine maize fields around Lusaka lie fallow, and Zambia has to import food ever year.
Why agriculture stagnates
As already mentioned, Africa south of the Sahara has at its disposal good agricultural land and in parts good rainfall, but these resources are not used. The reason for this must therefore be sought, i.e. the human factor. The black man is by nature not a farmer. In the past, population pressure was never such that if he didn't produce food he would starve to death. Black women were and still are the workers, and they had to keep the subsistence farming going. No black farming class in this region of the world has arisen.
We have always known that the black man is not much concerned about the morrow. Indeed, it must be wonderful to live without worries for the future! The westerner envies this world view, but such a life-style definitely does not lend itself to successful farming, which depends on forward planning. And without careful planning a country is doomed to famine. These days it is not "politically correct" to imply that the black man is no farmer, and doesn't want to be. It is true that he wants to be a land-owner, but he doesn't want to farm it, preferring to squat. Naturally, there are exceptions to this, because here and there one finds a Black practising farming, but they are few and far between.
In the light of the enormous population explosion in the world, the question arise naturally. Is it acceptable that precious agricultural land in this part of the world, which can yield productively, be occupied unproductively by squatters? The rest of the world cannot afford this luxury. What would happen if the millions of peasant farmers that feed the Chinese multitude should suddenly decide to stop production and simply became squatters?
The meaningless parrot-cry of redistribution of land is being heard more and more, especially from the ignorant who have not the vaguest idea of what is at take. Redistribution of land in both Zimbabwe and South Africa can have only one results neither country will be able to feed its population and will have to beg for outside help.
The black militants who have seized white farms in Zimbabwe have not the slightest intention of working these developed farms, but will strip everything that can be stripped and then drift to the towns and cities in Zimbabwe. Even in African countries where agricultural land is freely available, Blacks stream to the cities. Simply put, they have no interest in farming.
A farmer has a love of the soil. He realises that he is only a temporary custodian and must leave the land to his posterity in at least as good a condition as he received it from his forebears. Because the Black man practises only subsistence farming, and doesn't relish the idea of building up and maintaining it in a good condition, he can hardly be said to have a love for the soil. The condition. of the areas in South Africa's former homelands testify to this. The soil is simply stripped bare. (It should be mentioned that the Indians and Coloureds in our country have a culture of soil utilisation that differs fundamentally from that of the black man).
Large areas of our country where fanning takes place are semi-desert. Exhaustion of arable land, for example, by over-grazing will be catastrophic. The balance cannot be disturbed because we are ready poised on the very razor's edge. To divide and redistribute the land and give it to those who have no feeling for this fine balance can only lead to disaster.
Let's look at the whole matter in a sober light: the redistribution of land will mean many votes for the party in power, and we will be hearing this parrot-cry a lot in the future.
Our black rulers stand before a choice: re-divide South Africa's agricultural land to win votes and destroy agriculture and the country's economy and cause great misery and ultimately famine and upheaval or support the white farmers so that they can continue to produce food for the masses, thus ensuring stability in the country.