Cuddle me, kill me. This is the title of a book telling the true story of animals… and, more specifically, canned lions. It is interesting to note that one would cuddle a lamb yet eat it later with no social reprobation. Do this to a lion, which is worth infinitely more than a lamb, and you would find yourself in seriously hot water.


“The struggle between lust of dominion, pride of race (and) mercantile avarice… on the one hand and true self-regard, humanity, justice to inferiors, sympathy on the other, goes on like the fight between the angel and the devil… for the soul of man.”


This was the content of a letter of encouragement written by Sir Thomas Farrar to the then liberal viceroy in India, Ilbert, when the latter was faced with the White Mutiny, a reaction by the British traders in India, to a bill in which was to introduce true equality between English and Indian magistrates. The traders formed the British backbone of that country; India was an enormous source of wealth for such traders, who consequently had enormous influence in Whitehall. The vituperation and invective that the attempt to introduce equality into the civil service, elicited from the Anglo-Indians (the wit ouks) and what followed, gave birth to Indian national consciousness and the Indian National Congress. Led by the anglicised elite, such as Nehru, that entity was instrumental in ripping from the British Crown, the indispensable jewel that was India.


What interested me in the history above is the opportunity to make comparisons with South Africa, now and then.


The British employed only about a thousand Civil Servants to rule 400 million Indians. In Africa, spread over a dozen colonies with a population of some 43 million, these numbered 1200. These were not of the ilk we know today, competition for positions was fierce and the entrance examination which led to selection, is said to have been the toughest in history.


Hence, British Civil Servants in those days had borshare. Compare this to what we have in South Africa today. Whilst I have ceased being an anglophile, one has to acknowledge that the civil servants that the Ingelse of yore deployed, were simply in another class to those whom we today classify as such.


On a somewhat more sensitive note was an article run by the Times: would you, a white, keep your child in a school which becomes black, provided that the quality of education stays the same? The writer proposed that in such situations, most often, the educators remain the same and standards should, on the whole, remain constant. The writer proposes that “white flight” is driven by association: parents associate quality with white teachers but also with a majority of white pupils. The more white children, the more assured the parents are that the quality of the educational experience will be good. Interestingly this presumption applies amongst Indian and coloured parents also. The conclusion reached is that parents also choose schools based on this presumption and as a way of physically distancing themselves from people whom they perceive to be of lower social status: the poor.