…and behold, their eyes were opened

Posted: November 17, 2008 in World

‘The Madam found fault with every single thing’ – worker tells of ‘nightmare’ of working for Janet Boateng

By Barbara Jones

“Mr Boateng, a Left-wing lawyer who became Britain’s first black Cabinet Minister in 2002, was given the South African posting by Tony Blair after standing down at the 2005 General Election.

While Mr Boateng, 57, manages an army of 180 diplomatic and consular staff his wife, a social worker by training who became a social services administrator, is in charge of the running of the Cape Town residence and another in Pretoria.

Mr Fenyane, who was working as a team manager at a restaurant in Pretoria before taking the Cape Town post, said yesterday: ‘When the Boatengs first arrived here, I was so happy. I thought it would be something really good to have black people from England as our bosses.

‘We South Africans have been made to feel inferior for many years. We have always been made to remember we are black. Even now, after our independence, we don’t always feel that we have arrived.

‘So when we heard the Boatengs were coming, we thought it would be fantastic. We thought they would come with the English culture behind them.

‘But very soon I realised this woman was shouting and putting pressure on us daily. We were running around, running. I was deputy residence manager and when she criticised the other staff, I had to do their job.

‘Nothing was right for her. One of the worst times was when she confronted me in front of my staff and said, “Don’t let any of these people near my bedroom or my bathroom again. I want you to clean these rooms yourself and lock them afterwards. These people have been stealing from me. They stole my earrings and my underwear.” (more…)

Whoa! This sistah’s a trip! Here’s more from another article.

Barbados-born Mrs Boateng is the wife of our High Commissioner in South Africa, Paul Boateng, whose claim to history is that he is the first black man to serve in the Cabinet.

During her firebrand Lambeth Council days, Mrs Boateng made her name by being in a permanent state of outrage over how black people were being treated – including herself.

She once accused a policeman of assault when he stopped her walking through a secure entrance at the House of Commons. When she was removed from the board of governors of a school, she declared they were ‘scared’ of her views.


In Britain, Janet Boateng is probably best remembered for her odious and divisive pioneering of Lambeth’s rules which stopped white parents from adopting black children, or black parents adopting white.

She insisted it was the right policy, despite a host of cases in which children were removed from homes where they were much loved and cared for, just because their colours didn’t match those of the couple who wanted to adopt them.

The bitterness in her thinking was clear from an article she wrote in 1989, saying: ‘The black child is a potent symbol in a society that all too often sees all blacks as childlike, if only in Kipling’s sense “half-devil half-child”. (more…)


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