It is a couple of months since I have read this but am putting in an entry as a matter of completeness.
I picked this up from my brother’s ex’s Goodreads review, and was interested. This was about Southern Africa and I lived and traveled in parts of Southern Africa. I was a white teacher in a black state school in Botswana, not a private school so I never had a job where I completely lived with the whites.
This book is about whites, it’s about Rhodies. I think the author is a Rhodie and K, the soldier, was a Rhodie. In 6 years I spent much time in Zimbabwe. I traveled to Matobo regular weekends camping, spent time at Chimanimani and Nyanga, and Bulawayo was my big city from Francistown. But I never knew Rhodie. I met white guys camping. In Chimanimani I had a pleasant chat with South Africans who discussed their regret at what they did in townships when conscripted. At Mashvingo I met a South London guy who had attended a school I had taught at (different time) in South London. He lived in South Africa and was the nearest I really got to insight into whites in the region because he had chosen to emigrate to South Africa to earn a living – escape the blacks of South London.
Rhodies were around quite a bit at Matobo. Sometimes I would travel with a black girlfriend so that setup a barrier, at other times they kept to themselves. Similarly Afrikaaners circled their cars separating themselves from others there.
As a final note however living in Thailand I avoid tourists. My routines don’t meet tourists even though I consider I am civil when talking with them and would always help. Am I that different?
I found the book depressing. The situation, white oppression, was burned deep within both author and the soldier. For the soldier the oppression was far worse because being part of the oppressed had taken him to killing blacks – and consequentially friends being killed by blacks. Like in Israel the soldiers were not involved in a liberation struggle, these were just killers and being a killer when you know that the killing you do is not morally justified has got to eat inside something rotten.
Western soldiers have got to be similar. The struggle against Vietnam beat up the American people as soldiers were at first convinced by indoctrination about the war and then slowly truth invaded and ate the soldiers up and then the people up. In Africa the indoctrination of the whites teaches that the black man is inferior, and this became a justification of ritual murder during conscription. After the end of legal apartheid a black friend and I travelled from JoBurg down to the Eastern Cape. My friend withdrew from all the whites as he found them racist, I found them making an effort but they would still say to me that British blacks had to be better than their blacks. Soldiers might go because of “American Sniper” but they have got to have had questions thrown at them. Deep inside they must feel the truth but the weaponising shell of miseducation through community and schools provides the outer fortress presented most of the time. Such men have got to be defeated like K even though the society within society they live in provides a fortress against truth.
In K being a soldier evidentially burnt his soul, many soldiers met have been deeply harmed but the fortress remains intact.