Opinion: Helen Zille's "A defence of colonialism"

Helen Zille, the former leader of South Africa's opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), and Premiere of South Africa's Western Cape province; shared her controversial views about colonialism on Twitter the other day. 

I was going to write an extensive article, disputing her views and explaining why colonialism ruined Africa (an explanation I never thought I would ever have to give), but I don't think this actual discussion warrants that. 

Instead, I just thought I'll share our Twitter dialogue (more like my replies to her tweets), so you can judge the audacity of this topic yourselves: 

To sum it up: 

And so it begins: 

Seems like at this point even I needed a dictionary: "colonialised" (what?!)

I add to the above that by "white people" I meant European colonialists from Belgium, Spain, Portugal, England, Italy, the Netherlands etc. I am aware that people of other skin colours e.g. Arabs, colonised (I actually do know how to spell it!) parts of Africa, but that was nearly 2000 years ago. I was referring to the 17th-20th century (and arguably, even till now).

And then she retweeted this (Mmusi Maimane is the current opposition leader of the DA):

My replies to her tweets weren't in that exact order, but you should get the gist. 


No one knows how life in Africa would have been like had every inch of it not been colonised, so you cannot say it has turned out better because it was "modernised". You cannot say one form of living (post-colonialism - technology-driven rat race) is better than another (pre-colonialism - somewhat culturally unostentatious). For all we know those living, in what the West would call, "the developing" or "third world" are happier than those in "the developed" or "first world".

I think it's common knowledge now that happiness and achievements should not be measure merely by material things, but by the quality of life, which is subjective to one's own definition of contentment. 

Not everyone in a "developing country" is starving, has a fly hanging off their nostril and in need of aid.