Monday, May 07, 2007

Jan Smuts

Jan Smuts - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

What in the name of Apollo's favourite shoes is this?

It comes as no surprise to me that my Apartheid-era history education was incomplete (thanks to a policy that decreed anything that happened after 1900 was not "history" but rather "politics"), but I had no idea how much salient information had been omitted!

As far as I knew, Jan Smuts was a commando leader for the Transvaal who faught in the second Anglo-Boer War. End of story.

Well it turns out he did a little more than that.

He went on to become the Prime Minister of the South African Union... twice! While in office he opposed Apartheid! Opposed it! And he only failed to have it abolished because he was elected out of office at the crucial time! (There's a story about how he and Ghandi had a great mutual respect for one anonther)

He then went into what was apparently retirement, when he served the British military in both World Wars, got promoted to the rank of Field Marshal (the highest rank in the British military), served on Winston Churchill's War Cabinet, faught the Germans on two ends of the African continent, was instrumental in founding the Royal Air Force, designed and chartered the League of Nations (!) and went on to be the only person to sign both the League's charter and that of its successor, the United Nations!

What the hell! How is it possible that this information was never presented to me?

And what really ticks me off about all this is that the airport, South Africa's biggest, which was so appropriately named after him, considering that he was instrumental in the aviation history of the world, had his named wiped off it and was then given to some other guy!

I don't want to say anything bad about Oliver Tambo... I'm sure he was an influencial man and a valuable asset to the cause. But Jan Smuts was fighting for the very same cause when Tambo was still strapped to his mother's back! And then he went on to shape the political landscape of the world as we know it!

By the gods! What the hell are these people thinking!?!?!