One of the most sensible lessons taught me as a child was that, while we could be anti-colonial, we should not turn against the British people, especially in their own terrain. My relatives also saw that the British people that they dealt with in Britain were just like the rest of us – with a few racist exceptions; the latter were of no concern, as the ignorant will always be with us.
Observing that most of the former colonial ‘powers’ of Europe are experiencing economic difficulties (eg. Portugal and Spain in particular, because they were reputed to have been brutal invaders/colonisers), it would be easy to claim that this is cosmic justice at work. But I do hope not. The many shall not suffer for the sins of a few. And one would hope that the Cosmos would not require today’s population to pay for the sins of their forefathers.
If this is the proper position to be taken, how would cosmic justice apply to nations? Who then shall pay for the bad behaviour of nations such as Spain, which looted Central and South America, those English who pirated some of this loot, and the Europeans who benefited economically by the flood of wealth filtering through their hands? Indeed, could the nations of Europe have expanded as colonisers without this vast loot?
In their greed to acquire possessions overseas, and then to protect their respective spheres of influence, did not these ‘powers’ play merry hell wherever they went? Apart from despoiling local or native cultural values and practices, did they not split coherent tribes behind the arbitrary and artificial borders they drew up? In contrast, their own national borders in Europe (although relatively new) reflected the terrain occupied by each ethno-religious tribe. Do not the terrible wars in Africa in the post-colonial era reflect this break-up of tribes, so that many peoples found themselves minority communities within the borders established by the Europeans? Divide and control was also reportedly a British practice, with tragic post-colonial consequences. Such consequences are on-going.
So, how are the millions suffering from the aftermath of colonialism to achieve justice? Or, is forgiveness the answer?