, 10 tweets, 2 min read
My Authors
Read all threads
This morning the South African Air Force held its annual Prestige Day, on the closest Friday to the anniversary of its founding on 1 February 1920. It should have been a celebration of the Air Force turning 100 years old, instead it has been mired in farcical politics. 1/
I understand the difficulty with commemorating any pre-'94 military history, which I wrote about that in some detail earlier (). The racially exclusive pre-1994 history of the SAAF can not and must not be celebrated uncritically. Not all of it was proud. 2/
Yet there are clear ways to maturely address an inherited history, and to acknowledge its continuity, without celebrating its worst parts. Indeed, this is what government and the SANDF have done until now, commemorating all SAAF anniversaries up until the 95th. What changed? 3/
After all, to take note of and mark a milestone as big as a centenary does not mean that you therefore condone all actions the institution undertook throughout the time. On the contrary, it lets you emphasise how far we've come. 4/
It would also be wrong to say that the pre-1994 SAAF never did good despite being segregated. Its involvement in WWII, the Berlin Airlift, and the Korean War are all worth recognising. Returning servicemen, mostly SAAF, formed the first organised white anti-apartheid movement. 5/
Of course my own views here might be wrong. To my mind the SAAF is 100 years old because from the point of view of an historian it has had full continuity to its pre-1994 identity in a way that was explicitly authorised by military leaders multiple times in the democratic era. 6/
It would be fair and just for us to have a public debate on this question, so that it could be openly discussed and people's views heard. But we have been denied that debate, as the decision was made in secret by generals who don't believe they need to explain it to us. 7/
This is wrong. We all have a stake in how the defence force is run, and when generals believe they can make unilateral and contentious decisions that reverse two decades of precedent it reverses some of the hard-won progress our society has made. We are owed an explanation. 8/
Tomorrow, the South African Air Force turns 100. Today was supposed to be a commemoration it, instead senior military leaders have banned staff from even mentioning '100' or 'centenary'. Without explaining why. It's farcical and unjustified, and we should not accept it. 9/
I'll write a longer article soon about all of this, going into the background behind this decision and the historical basis for determining historical continuity. I hope that it might help form a small part in a debate that we should have had before this decision was taken. 10/10
Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh.

Enjoying this thread?

Keep Current with Darren Olivier

Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Follow Us on Twitter!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3.00/month or $30.00/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!