It’s from 1966 and Zambia but, dang, if parts of this don’t map eerily well onto the “racial reconciliation” discourse.
It is truly tragic the fear which has been engendered in European minds because they now find themselves ruled by black strangers, fellow-citizens of whom they have no understanding whatever because in the years prior to independence these Europeans made no attempt to get to know their black neighbors as people. They met Africans only on their own terms, within the context of a fixed and limited relationship. They would claim that, from long experience, they knew the African. Possibly they did know the African as servant and employee—as an extension of a broom or a shovel, but too few Europeans took the trouble to get to know him as a fellow human being.
Certainly, they showed kindness and even generosity to those Africans they encountered in business relationships. They gave them many things—coddled them when ill; helped to educate their children; treated them with a certain fond indulgence. They gave many things. But they did not give themselves. These relationships tended to be one-way, with the European dictating the degree of intimacy, deciding what he would give to and what he would withhold from the relationship. These was lacking that basic honesty and openness of true friendship. Possibly there were faults on both sides, but the consequence of that period of artificiality in relations between the races is that many Europeans may as well be ruled by men from Mars in terms of the understanding they now have of their African fellow citizens.
Jake Meador is the editor-in-chief of Mere Orthodoxy. He is a 2010 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he studied English and History. He lives in Lincoln, NE with his wife Joie, their daughter Davy Joy, and sons Wendell, Austin, and Ambrose. Jake's writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Commonweal, Christianity Today, Fare Forward, the University Bookman, Books & Culture, First Things, National Review, Front Porch Republic, and The Run of Play and he has written or contributed to several books, including "In Search of the Common Good," "What Are Christians For?" (both with InterVarsity Press), "A Protestant Christendom?" (with Davenant Press), and "Telling the Stories Right" (with the Front Porch Republic Press).