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The Clearances

Misfortune has a great deal to teach the World.

We are just as rich (and,invariably, infinitely stronger) because of our 
than we are through good fortune.  Notwithstanding the slave-ship conditions in
which the cleared crofters had to travel, they and their descendants "made 

History repeated itself when I was thrown out of Africa at the time of 
"uhuru".  My
difficulty was exacerbated because, by that time, I was already over 50 
years of age
which, according to the prevailing trend at that time, was too old for 
gainful employment
so no-one would give me a job nor, as I didn't receive any compensation for 
dispossessed, did I have any money to live on.  I offered to sweep the 
streets.  In
the end, I drove a mini-cab and, from those inauspicious beginnings, I  built
up a prosperous business.  It wasn't easy but, as I have never expected 
life to be
easy, I have never been disappointed.

When misfortune strikes we are thrown on our own resources and, possibly 
for the
first time, we come face to face with our true selves.  All the trappings 
are shorn away.

The  white farmers in Zimbabwe are now being subjected to the same kind of
"clearances" through no fault of their own.  Africa will be the poorer for 
their departure
because, instead of sheep (as with the Highland clearances) there will be weeds
instead of tobacco.  There will be unemployment instead of 
employment.  There will
be poverty instead of wealth - wealth which cascades down through the 
(black and white).  "Clearances" did not begin in the Highlands nor did 
they end in
the Highlands. They are still going on in almost every corner of the Globe 
on some
pretext or another.

When we look at the real problems which face the World today, one is amazed
that the Scottish Parliament has nothing better to do with its time than to 
dredge up
old grievances about the Highland clearances.  What mileage is there in that?
Ex-patriots will flock to Scotland - not to seek their poor past but to 
seek their illustrious
ancestors.  From our recent gathering of Sinclairs, I found myself alone in 
not being
related to one of the many Earls of Caithness although, as I write, some of 
my family are
desperately engaged in trying to make such a connection (God forbid).

Robert Burns got it right with his:  "Rank is but the guinea stamp, a man's 
a man for a' that".
Rudyard Kipling followed with: "If you can treat with triumph and disaster 
and treat those
two imposters just the same, then, you are a man, my son".

We cannot turn the clock back.  The descendants of the dispossessed 
crofters couldn't survive
for a single day in the Highlands without Government subsidies.  The 
crofters would have 'disappeared'
anyway.  I know.  I come from a crofting family.  I have relatives in 
Canada, New Zealand, Australia,
and the United States.  They left Scotland (almost to a man) 
voluntarily.  I doubt if any of their descendants
want to come back - except for brief holiday.  And, much as I love them (a 
day at a time) I don't want them
back (except my cousin, Donald, and he is a laugh a minute).

Niven Sinclair

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