Dear Mr. Farah,

Your column about Nelson Mandela was spot on.

All this swooning over Mandela is either blatant hypocrisy or total ignorance. Thanks to him, a formerly beautiful, First-World country is now a Third-World sewer, and his people are far worse off than during apartheid. OK, so blacks couldn’t vote nor own property or use white toilets, but they were employed and safe and well taken care of. The country was well maintained and orderly. Compare that to the murder, unemployment and poverty that exists today. Before and after pictures of once proud and beautiful cities like Pretoria, Johannesburg and Durban make you want to cry.

When I was first in South Africa in 1981, I stayed with a farmer friend whose top tractor driver was from Zimbabwe, as was his father, a common farm hand. I recall asking them why they were in South Africa instead of Zimbabwe, where their brothers were now free. “Oh no, Baas Paul,” they replied, “Here is much better. Baas Otto makes us work hard, but he takes good care of us, our wives and ‘pickaninnies,’ good pay and gives us nice place to live. Here is safe, and we are happy.”

Later, when I was managing my own small farm, I had 13 workers and it was apparent that they and their families were like my children. I had to make sure they were housed, clothed, fed and protected because basically, all they really cared about was food to eat, some booze to drink, a place to sleep and someone to sleep with! Being “free” was the last thing they were concerned with.

Mandela’s legacy is a trashed, racist country.

Paul Raetz

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