Democracy Africa Style

I found the following meaning of the word” democracy” in Wikipedia which you can see at

Democracy is a form of government in which all citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal (and more or less direct) participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law. It can also encompass social, economic and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political self-determination. The term comes from the Greek: δημοκρατία – (dēmokratía) “rule of the people”,[1] which was coined from δῆμος (dêmos) “people” and κράτος (Kratos) “power”, in the middle of the 5th-4th century BC to denote the political systems then existing in some Greek city-states, notably Athens following a popular uprising in 508 BC.[2]

The first sentence gives a wonderful concept of what democracy should mean and be in an ideal world. As I get older, I am sorry to say that I am getting rather more cynical. Sadly,”Democracy African Style” does not encompass the original Greek concept of this word. What in effect happens in Africa is that the majority give the power to certain people to rule over them and in most cases not in the voters best interests. The individuals voted into power become a brotherhood for self enrichment of family and friends. Once in a position of power it is extremely difficult to get them out. I defy anyone to name one African country that has not followed this trend and sadly I include South Africa near the top of the tree.

More Africans have died at the hands of Africans in power than were ever killed by the colonial powers. Here again I defy anyone to prove me wrong. One of the root causes of this is plain tribalism which is still rife throughout Africa.

During the rule of the colonial powers in Africa the clarion call was to free the inhabitants of this tyranny. In my humble opinion the tyranny that exists in Africa is far worse and a great deal more sinister.

Most of us have read Alan Paton’s book “Cry the Beloved Country’’ which he wrote during the apartheid years. This book was on the banned list.  As a parting thought I wonder what the contents of his book would be if he wrote it today. The title would stay the same but the contents would in all probability be vastly different.

Butch Hannan


Love Letters

This goes back to the early 1950s. I spent all my life in some boarding school or other. The first one was the Convent in Lydenburg, followed by Waterkloof House Preparatory School(WHPS) and then Pretoria Boys High and finally Milton Senior in Bulawayo. When I got to WHPS I was about 12 years old. One of the rules of the school was that you had to write at least one letter a week to your parents or your guardian. This was recorded in a register by the duty teachers. This was a rule that was enforced .

At Pretoria Boys High the Sunday evening prep period was designated a letter writing period. At the end of this period you had to hand in a letter. This did not necessarily have to be your parents. Quite often it could be to a girl friend or anyone that you chose to write to. You had to hand in a letter and this was the duty of the prefects to see that you did.

In those early days it was the norm for people from the farms and outlying small towns to be shipped to boarding school. Most of these boarding schools were either  for boys or girls. There were very few of these boarding schools that catered for both boys and girls.

I was basically a very wild farm boy who grew up as an only child. I was the “laat lammetjie” or proverbial afterthought as I was thirteen years younger than my brother John. Other than the odd friends at boarding school I had no friends who came to the house. There were my two black friends but as I grew older we drifted apart. I led a very solitary life with the days at the farm spent fishing, shooting and riding around on horseback to all the corners of the farm. I also at a very young age helped with a lot of the work on the farm. I milked cows at the age of about eleven, helped with the ploughing and cultivating of the crops that we planted.

When my father passed away and then eventually my mother the family decided that at the age of about seventeen I should go and stay with my sister Meg and Harold in Colleen Bawn in Rhodesia. I was thrown into the mix of my nephews, Bob and John and my niece Pat. They became like brothers and sister to me. My life took a dramatic about turn at this time as I discovered girls. Needless to say hormones and testosterone started affecting ones thought processes. There were some gorgeous young ladies at Colleen Bawn. Who can forget the parties we had at the different houses. The music came from records played on radio gramophones. Who can forget the dancing and  many games that we played.  The games were designed with a forfeit which was normally to go outside and count the stars in the different parts of the garden with your partner. My heart throb was a voluptuous young lady Norma. Needless to say my hands tried to get into her knickers while kissing. A stern “no Butch” always stopped me.

These friendships ended up in the writing of love letters as we went to our different boarding schools. Some of the girls went to Eveline and Townsend while we went to Milton. What has to be remembered here is that your chosen girl in your mind is the most beautiful and perfect creature that was ever created. She is like a goddess to you without blemish or fault and perfect in detail. This of course ended up in writing love letters where you expressed your undying love and extolling all her virtues. These letters normally ended up in many pages. The amount of pages you wrote was considered a measure of your love.

The letters we received from our girlfriends were also something else. They were beautifully feminine. They were of many pages where their love for us was expressed. When you received these letters the first thing you did was to smell them. Our girlfriends would sprinkle a couple of drops of scent on the pages and the envelope. This of course would really set your  hormones bubbling. I still have a picture in my mind of Rob Ferguson and George Coleman sniffing their letters before opening them and reading them. Rob Fergusons favourite trick was to push his letter under your nose to make you jealous. You normally retired to a quiet corner where you could read your love letter and indulge your fantasies. These letters were kept as treasures.

Who can forget some of the acronyms we wrote on the back flap of the envelope. Holland- hope our love lasts and never dies. Swank-sealed with a nice kiss. Burma- be undressed and ready my angel. Italy-I truly adore and love you.

Sometimes I think our young people of today have missed out. Declaring your love on a piece of paper has more meaning than saying I love you on a cell phone.

Butch Hannan born in 1941 and written in 2017.