The French vs The English

I don’t know about you but I have never been able to fathom the reason behind the French and English dislike of each other.

I have my theories, namely that the British don’t like the French because the French controlled England through the Norman invasions and then later, the French took umbrage at the fact that the British/English were so dominant in WW1 and 2 and that they needed British assistance to stop the Germans. Any suggestions you might have are more than welcome… The Telegraph, David Billa (French), The Guardian and the FT all have their views too.

Now you must be wondering what this topic has to do with a blog linking Africa with the world beyond. Well, apart from the two countries dominating the African continent during the colonial era and still having a major influence on the continent, it appears that the issue of French vs British accounted for the Boer migration north from the Cape – what we call The Great Trek.

On 16 April 1896 in the South African Telegraph, Jan Smuts, in response to an article on the Boer by Olive Schreiner which appeared in the April Fortnightly Review, noted the following:

Rightly recognising that in their migratory or trekking spirit lies one of the most remarkable instincts of the Boers, the writer [Schreiner] seeks for the explanation of that instinct in the fact taht the early settlers, of whatever race or nationality, were generally sailors or persons of an equally active temperament or disposition; men marked by ‘their inborn love of a wild, roving life, leading them into the service of the Dutch East India Company‘. To this we may add that this trait may have been – and undoubtedly was – strengthened by the active and energetic French refugees who constituted the very flower of the French people. And, in support of this addition, we would mention the curious fact – which has often before been noticed – that the names of the early Voortrekkers were very largely French. Indeed, it is in the French blood which flows in the Boer veins that we have to look for the explanation of those great historical movements from Cape Town to the Zambesi which form perhaps the most significant feature in our past history…. (Hancock Selections from the Smuts papers, vol 1, pp116-7)

What more can I say…

For those in South Africa with nothing to do on 23 April 2016, it’s worth visiting Val Hotel for the annual Boer and Brit Day. Despite the schisms of yesteryear, there are good relations between Boer and Brit, and French and English


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