today's "Europeans," civilization's imposters?

"To the whites, the lives of their black office boys or chauffeurs seem unimaginably separate and isolated from their own. . . . But to the urban Africans, the 'Europeans' are the ones who seem isolated, in their remote and hidden mansions in the superior suburbs. The Africans no longer feel themselves reliant on white patrons or promoters for their education and cultural development; they see themselves as the heirs of Western civilization, and the 'Europeans' as the impostors."
Anthony Sampson, a British jouranalist and biographer of Nelson Mandela, was writing about the divide which separated whites from blacks in the cities of Apartheid-era South Africa, but today his last sentence seems prophetic on a scale he might not have imagined when it was published in the NYTimes Magazine in 1960: Try substituting the word "non-Europeans" for the word "Africans" and the world won't look as simple as it might have a moment before.


Sampson loved Africa and Africans, as much as he loved civilization and liberty, human rights and social justice. He died on Saturday at the age of 78.

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Published on December 21, 2004 11:54 AM.

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