While the sun of hope shone brightly on South Africa last month in honor of the late Nelson Mandela, replicating India’s Mahatma Ghandi’s peaceful transition from “Western” colonialism to native home rule, the school is still out as to whether that potentially strong economic African entity can realize its fervent hopes.
A strong point in Pretoria’s favor is that it did not go the disastrous route of its sister nation, Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) by degenerating into inflationary despotism, after dispossessing the English farm owners, and driving out any vestige of Western civilization. At this juncture, however, South Africa’s 45 million strong population’s 80% economic viability and monetary strength is still basically controlled by less than the 10% of its former “European” rulers.
This is especially remarkable in that the “Afrikaner” regime that ruled South Africa with an iron hand (bordering on fascism) could have led to a violent vengeful revolution, not uncommon to a continent that contains so much natural wealth; but harbors a social backwardness, rivaling that of most of the Middle East.
For that fortunate turn of events, Nelson Mandela’s legacy is fully justified. It also has lately shown the glimmers of economic strength that may lead to an example for such formerly colonial despotism as Nigeria, Angola, Mozambique, and the two Congos. Unfortunately, the multi-billions of dollars powered into the sub-Saharan “tribal” nations of that continent, bordering on a billion strong population, has only bred grinding poverty, multi-billion dollar plutocrat “masters,” and simmering rebellions. These are instigated by the ever present Islamist extremists, furthered by the murderous Al-Qaeda, coming down from the Arab-controlled northern tier of that continent.
Ironically, there is positive hope emanating from China, which has bought into, and gained contractual control over much of the oil, copper and various mineral resources, which lie in vast volumes under the soil of this huge, undeveloped continent.
The Chinese, themselves, being freed from the hand of interference by European and Japanese overlords, have been welcomed by most Africans as partners, rather than potentially new overlords and exploiters. Although there is much self-serving economically in the Chinese approach, they at least are looked at in a much more fraternal light than even today’s more egalitarian approach exercised by Americans and Europeans.
Much of the way Africa will develop in the future will come out of the South African example, which is in the best position to set a realistic path for the sub-Saharan African nations’ future.
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