Hippocrates v Hypocrite  



There was someone whose name, if I remember correctly, was Santana or Santanaya (George Santayana) - a person of great wisdom indeed. This Santana or Santanaya spoke the following words: "If people fail to learn from history they will always repeat history's mistakes."


Upon this planet all living entities - be they birds or animals or even human beings - are given an important ability by the Creator, which is to learn from experience and on learning, to survive the angry night and the roaring storms of existence upon this world. But many of us, supposedly civilized human beings, appear to be losing this very important God-given talent. We no longer appear to have the capacity to learn. We take it for granted that we are intelligent beings. We take it for granted that we know many things - but the fact is that we know nothing or next to nothing and that we seldom learn, we human beings, from experience.


When things happen we tend to forget them and because of our having forgotten them we tend to make mistakes - mistakes that cost us our lives mistakes that cost us our happiness, mistakes that even threaten the existence of the very earth, which has nurtured and cherished us for so many millions of years.


‘Today in South Africa we talk about the disease called Aids, which we are told there, is no cure for. We are further told about how expensive are the medicines for combating Aids are and lastly, we are told about Aids orphans - Oh, I have seen them - the pathetic little waifs, the scatterlings left upon the cruel road of history by a disease that knows no pity. I have seen children already marked by the claws of Aids -children who will not see their fifty years of life.

Children who will be torn away from the arms of our motherland by Aids and hurled into the dark night of death without ever having known what life really is and what life is about. I have seen wasted little children, many of them hardly more than skeletons - children whose mothers and fathers have already died of Aids. I have seen this and much more. I have seen the horrible impact that Aids is having on our people's family life. I have seen how Aids is separating men from wives, child from parent. I have seen that and much, much more, but within my swollen heart bloated with old age a voice, a grave voice from yesterday keeps on saying to me. "Mutwa, you have seen all this before.

Your country and your people have gone through much of this before. Much of what we see happening in South Africa today is not new but has happened before and the people of our country failed miserably to learn from that."

What am I talking about? There was once a time in the 1920's, 1930's and 1940's when Tuberculosis was just as deadly a killer of our people as Aids is today - in those days Tuberculosis was known as Consumption and any black person who was told by doctors that he or she had Consumption reacted exactly as black people who are told that they have got Aids do today. The person knew in those days before streptomycin and other magic anti-Tuberculosis drugs that a sentence of death had been passed by some angry god over him or her and that he or she must silently and with as much courage as possible await the dark Angel of Death's coming.

There was once a time in my country's history when diseases such Gonorrhoea, Syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases, which had been brought into Africa by people from Europe, were as deadly and incurable as Aids is today. If Aids today has created thousands of Aids orphans then, my friends, so did Gonorrhoea, Syphilis and Tuberculosis. Those people who are complaining about how expensive anti-Aids drugs are should listen to what I have to tell them now. In olden days there were crude medicines, which were used against Syphilis, Gonorrhoea and such like diseases. Most of these medicines were in the form of pills - ugly, round black coloured things, which were made of mercury. I remember them well.

These pills were priced right out of the lives of grass-route level Africans. I remember that some unscrupulous white doctors of those times used to demand two cows for a tinful of these mercury pills. Pills, which eventually drove the user mad - pills which tanned the teeth of those who used them over a time as black as those of goats. Very few of our people could afford these mercury tablets.

Even more expensive, were much later preparations created for the combating of venereal disease. I remember one such preparation known as 606 or Salvasan. These tablets were out of reach of our people and many, many people died horrible deaths, hideously disfigured by Syphilis, hideously mutilated by Gonorrhoea because they could not afford those silver bullets of those times. In those days, as is the case today, people were filled with a massive hysteria regarding diseases such as Tuberculosis and sexually transmitted diseases.

It is one of the most brutal facts of our country's history that in those days, if a farmer learned that one of his black labourers had contracted either Gonorrhoea, Syphilis or even Tuberculosis that white farmer became frightened that these diseases would, somehow be transmitted to members of his own family and he used to take the black man or woman away from his farm on the pretext of taking him or her to "a good doctor" in a nearby town and when the farmer and his worker reached an isolated spot the farmer used to order the worker to get off the wagon and to walk the rest of the distance - giving him a meaningless letter supposedly to be taken to the great doctor in the town and the farmer would stop his wagon and let the black person climb off and then he would wait for him or her to walk some distance away towards the imaginary source of help and when the person was still within rifle range the farmer used to draw his gun and shoot the worker dead, drag him or her into a clump of bushes and return home.

On so many occasions was this thing done almost all over South Africa, especially in Natal and in the Eastern Cape and the Northern Transvaal that our people began to develop a cold distrust of going to seek the help of doctors when they found themselves the victim or either Tuberculosis or venereal disease. It became a tradition for our people to believe and, rightly so, that if he or she sought the help of a doctor, he or she would not return alive but would be finished off somewhere along the road.

Today, there are still thousands of Zulu people, Xhosa people and people of other tribes who firmly believe that if they go to a clinic or seek the help of a doctor when they have got either Tuberculosis or venereal disease that they will be finished off. I have met hundred of such people and this belief which is still as strong now as it was over sixty years ago or more is one of the things that are making our battle against Aids a hundred times more difficult than it otherwise would have been.’

See https://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/esp_credo_mutwa04.htm