After 55 years of independence, Nigeria has finally succeeded in changing elected governments peacefully, the first test of any democracy. President Goodluck Jonathan graciously accepted defeat and will be replaced at the end of May by Muhammadu Buhari.
The nation’s past has been dominated by coups and rigged elections.
Corruption is still a major problem and one of the biggest issues in the election. It’s doubtful the new president, Muhammadu Buhari, a former military head of state, will make any progress in this area, as the problem is endemic.
He may be more successful in dealing with the jihadist insurgency of Boko Haram. That remains to be seen.
On the third biggest issue of the election, the economy, Buhari is faced with outside pressures he can do little about. Three-quarters of Nigeria’s government spending is dependent on oil. As the price of the black liquid has dropped dramatically in recent months, government revenue has declined, meaning there is less money for education, infrastructure and defense.
One in six Africans lives in Nigeria. 20% of Africa’s GNP is Nigerian. Now Nigeria can also be described as “Africa’s biggest democracy” (in terms of population). Hopefully, it can hold on to that title, at least for a while.
Goodluck Jonathan may have run out of luck, but he should be honored and respected for being the first man in Nigeria’s history to peacefully hand over the reins of power.
Staying in Africa, there’s news from the southern end of the continent, which bodes ill for the future.
And it has to do with Cecil John Rhodes, who died in 1902.
The English born South African pioneer and philanthropist donated land for the building of the University of Cape Town. After his death, a statue was erected on the university grounds. A few days ago, students pulled it down.
As it happens, the destruction of the statue coincided with my wife and I watching a 1936 movie on Rhodes, called “Rhodes of Africa”. The movie simply showed the facts, how the man achieved great wealth in a similar way to other great men of the time. Highly respected, he eventually became Prime Minister of Cape Colony. His greatest achievement was founding the two colonies of Southern and Northern Rhodesia, which are now Zimbabwe and Zambia. These territories of the British Empire owe their origins to him. Even the width of the roads in the Bulawayo city center, were determined by Rhodes – they had to be wide enough to turn a team of oxen.
His drive brought great wealth and development to South Africa and Southern Rhodesia. The wealth of the latter has been greatly dissipated by its current leader who has been in power for 35 years. He and his wife have confiscated most of the wealth for themselves and will not relinquish power.
Without Rhodes there would have been no wealth to confiscate. Without Rhodes, there would have been no university in Cape Town. Without Rhodes, South Africa might not exist.
He was a great man and was recognized as such in the late Victorian era and on into the twentieth century. But he’s now vilified, accused of being an imperialist and a colonialist. He was both, but at the time they were virtues.
Above all, Rhodes has fallen victim to increasing anti-white feeling. South Africa is treading a dangerous path – many whites have the option of leaving. If they do, the country will lack the skills and expertise needed for a modern economy.
The whites who dominated South Africa in Rhodes’ time, right up until 1994, created a modern, thriving economy. Why can’t the students recognize this and be determined to build on his legacy, rather than choose to destroy it? Where’s the sense in that?