Tag Archives: apartheid

FAMILY REUNIONS

We had all nine grandchildren in the house last week, Monday through Friday.   Hence, the lack of a blog post a week ago.   Visits to the grocery store were frequent, as was taking them places.   There was no time to write, or even watch the news.

After our mini-family reunion, I really hope they will want to see each other after my wife and I are no longer around to host the gathering.   I’m sure they will!

I was struck (again) by how much louder the five younger ones, all boys, were, than their four older female sisters and cousins.   Noise, noise, noise!   Can’t boys do anything quietly?   Clearly not.

I found myself walking through the daily debris silently reminding myself that “children are a blessing!”  They certainly are and I’m already looking forward to when we can all be together again.

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THEN AND NOW

When everybody was gone, I started reading Boris Johnson’s “The Churchill Factor:   How one man made history.”

You may have heard of Boris Johnson.   He’s sometimes been described as “Britain’s Donald Trump.”   On his recent visit to England, Trump expressed the opinion that Boris would make “a great prime minister.”   A poll earlier this week showed him to be the favorite to succeed Theresa May.   Donald Trump and Boris Johnson have known each other for some time and are good friends.

Boris served two terms as a very successful Mayor of London.   More recently, he was Britain’s Foreign Secretary, the equivalent of Secretary of State.

He resigned a few weeks ago over Brexit.   His objection, supported by many, is that Mrs. May, the Prime Minister, seems to want to compromise with the European Union.   This would not deliver the Brexit (total independence) from the EU that was promised after the referendum over two years ago.   There is still no agreement between the UK and the EU over future trade.   Boris Johnson’s point is that the United Kingdom doesn’t need one – that new trade deals can be signed after breaking away from Brussels.   Have faith – it will all work out.

I must admit to sympathy with his stance.   Get out quick.   Don’t hesitate.

His book on Churchill was written a few years ago and published in 2014.   I’m now reading chapter 17 (there are 23 chapters).   The chapter is titled “The Wooing of America” and details Churchill’s relationship with Franklin Roosevelt.   His single-minded mission was to bring the United States into the war against Hitler.   At their first wartime meeting, the two leaders were concerned that Hitler had recently invaded Russia.   But Churchill knew that after Russia, he would come after Britain; and that if Britain fell and Hitler sank the Royal Navy, America would be next.   The whole world would very quickly descend into the barbarism of fascism.

A lot was at stake when they met in Newfoundland on August 10th, 1941.   This was the handshake that was to change the history of the twentieth century.

“As he stretches out that elegant white hand he knows he is reaching for his only lifeline; and yet there is nothing about him to convey the gloom of his position.   On the contrary, his face is suddenly wreathed in smiles, babyish, irresistible.

“Roosevelt smiles back; they grip hands, for ages, each reluctant to be the first to let go, and for the next two days Churchill maintains his schmoozathon.   We don’t know exactly what they say to each other at the first such Atlantic conference — the direct ancestor of NATO; but we know that Churchill lays it on thick.   His mission is to build up a sense of common destiny; to work with the grain of Roosevelt’s natural instincts, and to turn the USA from distant sympathizers into full-blown allies in bloodshed.” (page 235)

This was a family reunion, only the second time a President of the United States had shaken the hand of a British prime minister in office.   160 years after Yorktown.   160 years after the United States had separated itself from the rest of the English speaking world.   Now the two branches of the Anglo-Saxon world (the two sons of Joseph) were to be united in a common purpose.  They met in Canada, the oldest Dominion of the  British Empire, a nation founded by Loyalists at the end of the Revolutionary War.  The alliance that was forming  has remained the foundation of global peace and order for 77 years.

As I read Johnson’s book, I could see parallels with today.   There’s no fighting this time (not yet, anyway), but once again Britain is trying to free itself from European despotism, as it has so often in history.   There are those, like the current prime minister, who want to compromise; but others, like Boris Johnson, who are in a Churchillian mood, wanting to raise two fingers to the German-dominated EU (the two fingers were “V for Victory” in WWII, but, reversed, they have another meaning in England, which you will have to Google!)

History may repeat itself.

Confidence in Mrs. May is waning.  The Opposition Labour Party is scandalizing Britain with its anti-semitism.   The smaller parties are not credible.   An internal coup in the Conservative Party could replace Mrs. May with Boris Johnson, just as Chamberlain was replaced with Winston Churchill.

There’s another analogy.

Mr. Trump repeated a commitment to Mrs. May that the US will offer a free trade deal to the United Kingdom when Britain leaves the EU.   (EU rules mean that no deal can be signed until D-Day on 29th March next year; D for Departure!)    American farmers, losing markets in the current trade dispute with the EU, will benefit from a new trade deal with the UK; Britain will benefit with plentiful supplies of cheap food.

Once again, the New World may come to the aid of the Old.

Once again, a family reunion could make a big difference in the world.

There’s another lesson from Churchill’s meeting with FDR.   After the historic meeting of president and prime minister, there was a “divine service” on the Sunday morning.   Sailors of the two nations sang hymns together – “chosen by Churchill – that express that single heritage:   two broadly Protestant nations bound together against a vile and above all a pagan regime.”   (pages 235-6)

This was just a few weeks after the National Day of Prayer called by King George VI during Dunkirk.

At such a critical time, today’s leaders should follow the example of their predecessors and ask God for divine help through a very challenging time.

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BEWARE OF CHINESE TIES

Britain is keen for a sweet deal with China after Brexit – but watch out for Beijing’s ‘debt-trap diplomacy’, says Michael Auslin.   For decades we’ve heard dire warnings about China’s growing military power, but these doom-mongers have missed the point.   China isn’t on the war path.   Where old empires would start by invading, it starts by trading.   Only when an economy has become dependent on trade does Beijing begin to demand more, with the aim of creating an ever-expanding ‘Greater China’ in its near abroad.   (Freddy Gray, The Spectator, 8/2)

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FARMERS IN CRISIS

There’s increasing talk of land redistribution in South Africa, the wealthiest nation on the African continent.   It’s been almost a quarter of a century since the end of apartheid, a period in which few black South Africans have seen any benefits.   A wealthy elite has been created through corruption at the highest level, but little has been done to help the average person.

Neighboring Zimbabwe confiscated land from white farmers at the turn of this century.   The result was mass starvation, the collapse of the currency and economic chaos.

The European farmers who colonized southern Africa in the nineteenth century brought a great deal of development to the region.   Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) was the ‘breadbasket of Africa;” now, after almost forty years of independence, it’s the “basket case of Africa.”   The white farmers who once dominated Rhodesia were “commercial farmers,” similar to their American and Canadian counter-parts. African farmers are “subsistence” farmers, who just grow enough food for their own families.   This is a major cultural difference the world does not understand.   Confiscating white farmland can only have one consequence – a dramatic drop in food production (Zimbabwe saw a 90% drop, with a consequent famine).

Farmers in South Africa are being murdered at an alarming rate.   Many have chosen to leave the country.   Western Australia is one area that is attracting them.   Other parts of Africa are offering the farmers 99-year leases to boost their own agricultural production. Even Russia is encouraging them to relocate.

Other farmers from Europe moved to North America, Australia and New Zealand in the nineteenth century.   These commercial farmers produce a disproportionate percentage of the world’s food.   Higher tariffs on agricultural produce could affect this, along with changes in the weather and massive fires that seem to be a permanent fixture of our landscape.   All of these threaten today’s farmers.

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AFRICAN ELECTION

Zimbabwe’s woes never seem to end.   The “first free election” held at the weekend, has been followed by riots and violence as the losing party claims to have won.   It’s not possible to determine who really won, but after 38 years, ZANU-PF is still in power.   Most people will not be surprised.

Prior to Zimbabwe, Rhodesia had elections for decades without any violence.   Zimbabwe has not been able to achieve that.   As is the case elsewhere in Africa, tribalism and corruption have led to democracy being compromised.   Zimbabwe’s first leader, Robert Mugabe, was in power for almost 38 years, leading a very corrupt regime.

It’s doubtful there will be any significant change.

 

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O JERUSALEM

Jerusalem is described in the biblical Book of Zechariah as “ a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples” (12:2).   The book is a Millennial prophecy about events now and in the future.

When people are drunk, they don’t think straight.   And we see that happening now, following President Trump’s announced intention to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, thereby recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Jerusalem has never been the capital of any Arab state.   It was not the capital under the Ottomans, who ruled over the city for four centuries.   When East Jerusalem was a part of the Kingdom of Jordan, it was not the capital.   The US will be moving its embassy to West Jerusalem, which is the Jewish part of the city, not East Jerusalem, where the Muslim population lives.   One third of the city’s people are Muslim.

It should also be noted that Jerusalem has not been of historic importance to the Palestinians, Arabs or Muslims. Only in recent years has it been turned into a political football in the never-ending negotiations known as the “peace process.”

It was Yasser Arafat’s uncle, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who claimed that the Muslim prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven from the Dome of the Rock.   He also declared the Rock sacred, as the site where Abraham went to sacrifice Ishmael (not Isaac).   The intent behind these declarations was to stop the growing Jewish community from taking control of the city.

However, facts will not be allowed to interfere with anything from riots to war.   Any excuse to focus attention on the Palestinians and against Israel, supposedly the occupying power and supporters of apartheid.

“Peace talks” have gotten nowhere.   By recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Mr. Trump may be trying to force the Palestinians into real peace talks, which will require compromise on both sides.   Fear of losing Jerusalem may provoke them into concessions, though this is not likely historically. As Abba Eban, former Israeli diplomat and politician, said of Yasser Arafat: “he never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”   There’s no sign of this changing.

So, what might be the next step?   War?

Undoubtedly, there will be trouble on the West Bank and in Gaza.   A “day of rage” has been called for Friday, the Muslim day of prayer. Some are calling for a new intifada, a popular uprising that will go on indefinitely, tying down Israeli troops for months or years to come.

Right now, Israel is faced with war on three fronts.   Once the Syrian conflict is over, Hezbollah in Lebanon can turn its attention to Israel.   The Gaza Strip and the West Bank could be another two fronts, making it very difficult for Israel to cope.

The following verse, Zachariah 12:3 says that Jerusalem will become “a very heavy stone for all peoples.”   The marginal note in my NKJV Study Bible says on this verse: “  Jerusalem is compared to a heavy stone that brings injury to anyone who tries to remove it from its place.”    Nobody could ever physically move Jerusalem, but its status can theoretically be changed, as President Trump has done.   This verse may be saying that attempts to reverse the decision will only bring hurt to those advocating the change.

Israel Today asked the question this morning:   “Is this a fulfillment of prophecy?”

One thing does seem likely following Mr. Trump’s decision.   It is not likely that the US can continue to orchestrate peace talks now that the country has come out openly in favor of Israel.   The EU may claim to be the new honest broker in the peace process, though the German News channel DW is showing a definite anti-Israel / pro-Palestinian slant in its news coverage of the announcement.   (DW news is shown on many PBS channels across the United States. Times vary.)

The announcement made by President Trump is likely to be the most significant decision made by the new president in his first year in office.

BACKGROUND TO THE ZIMBABWE COUP

Forty years ago, my wife and I lived in what was then Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.

Rhodesia (Southern Rhodesia, to be exact) had been a model colony.   It never asked London for help; it always had sound finances; it was stable and prosperous.    It was often called the Breadbasket of Africa.   During World War II, Winston Churchill had labeled the country “the most loyal colony,” as it had contributed proportionately more to the allied cause than any other.

But, twenty years after the war, the same Rhodesians who had fought for the Empire and helped Britain win the war against Hitler, were being called “fascists,” for the simple reason that they wanted to preserve their way of life, which included a qualified franchise, to ensure responsible government.   This meant that most native Africans did not have the vote.   Britain, the US and the nations of Africa were hostile to this and insisted on NIBMAR (No Independence Before Majority Rule).   In order not to have majority rule forced on them, the white Rhodesian government declared itself independent of London on 11th November, 1965.

The “rebellion” led to a civil war, which lasted seven years.   It wasn’t a simple black and white struggle.   82% of the Rhodesian army was made up of black African soldiers.   Many saw what had happened to nations north of them, where independence led to corruption, nepotism, financial collapse, political uncertainty and eventually military coups – they didn’t want that and fought to save Rhodesia.

But the whole world was against Rhodesia.   Even its southern neighbor, South Africa under apartheid, did not like the country and was ready to throw it to the wolves.  This they did, with the US and the UK, forcing the country to hand over to a “majority government.” to introduce “one man, one vote.”

The last white Prime Minister, Ian Smith, remarked that “one man, one vote” would mean exactly that, that the first African leader would be the one man with the one vote.

Black African friends of ours said Zimbabwe, the new name for the new country, would be different.   It would not go the same way as the rest of Africa.

But it has.

It’s been over 37 years since Robert Mugabe became the country’s leader.   As Ian Smith predicted, he became the “one man” with the “one vote” – nobody else’s opinion mattered.   And, as has happened so many times in Africa, the only way to remove a civilian president who won’t allow anybody else to come to power, is for the army to overthrow him.   The army goes on to make things worse, with even more corruption and general incompetence all round;  eventually the army allows another election, bringing another civilian government to power, which is also corrupt and so it goes on and on in a vicious cycle.

Zimbabweans woke up Wednesday morning to find the army has taken over.   Right now, it’s unclear what has happened to 93-year-old Robert Mugabe.   It seems as if the army is saying that they only want to remove the criminals around the president, not the president himself.   They certainly want to remove the wife of the president, who has lived a lavish lifestyle at the expense of the poor. But Mr. Mugabe has become one of the richest men on earth during his time in office.   They may turn against him yet.   Right now, he is said to be under “house arrest”, while his wife, Grace Mugabe (“Gucci Grace”), has fled to Namibia.

What may help Mr. Mugabe is that he is highly respected across the continent.

Ask a taxi driver in any African country who is the best African leader and they will all say Robert Mugabe.   Why?   “Because he got rid of the whites!”   Point out that the country collapsed economically after the expulsion of the white farmers and they will say, “it doesn’t matter!”

Less than a week before the coup, the capital’s airport was renamed “Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.”

The “coup” seems more of a final act in a dynastic power struggle. The president was grooming his wife as his successor; this was intolerable for those who have been close to him for decades.  She was booed early last week at a rally.   The Vice-President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, fled to South Africa a week ago, increasing fears that Mrs. Mugabe may succeed her husband.   It’s even possible Mr. Mnangagwa may have solicited support from South Africa to effect the coup.

It all brings to mind the words of Jesus Christ in the Book of Matthew, where He warned His disciples not to be like the gentile leaders who ruled over them, with their never ending power struggles and abuses of authority.

But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them.  Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.   And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave — just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”  (Matthew 20:25-28).

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SSM, COA, SSA AND CCC

For those who are not familiar with the abbreviations above, let me explain.

SSM = Same Sex Marriage.

COA = Commonwealth of Australia, the latest country to approve this historic change.

SSA = Same Sex Attraction, a term that is often used to describe people who are attracted to the same sex.    Many of these people do not want to be gay, which denotes promiscuity and a particular lifestyle.

CCC = Conservative Christian Churches, who are ill-equipped to handle the cultural tsumani that is heading their way.

Australia is the latest country to embrace same-sex marriage, approved by the people in a plebiscite.   Parliament in Canberra is set to approve the change before the end of the year.

There were celebrations across Australia today.   One banner was particularly disturbing:  “Burn Churches, not Queers.”   The attitude behind this banner is not limited to Australia.   The issue of same-sex marriage has pitted conservative churches against the gay movement.   While liberal churches have embraced gays, Biblically based churches cannot.

But this does not mean that biblically based churches have got it right, either.

Recent research showed that 12% of 18 year olds in the United States have a sexual identity issue.   Either they are attracted to the same sex or they feel they are in the wrong body and want to change sex.   None of this is of their own choosing.   They are like people struggling with eating disorders.   A 75-pound woman will look in the mirror and see herself as fat, when everybody who knows her sees clearly that she is anorexic.

In the same way, someone can look in the mirror and feel they are in the wrong body.   They want to change sex.   Or they feel strong attraction to a member of the same sex.

Whatever the problem, these people have to make a choice: either go into the gay lifestyle, or try to obey God.   It’s the same choice everybody makes one way or the other, whether or not to commit to a godly lifestyle.   Those who choose to commit to God take the more difficult road and need help from other Christians.

Those struggling with these issues need compassion and love.   They need Jesus Christ more than the average person.   “When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”   On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.   But go and learn what this means:   ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’   For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”… (Matthew 9:11-13).   This is what is lacking amongst conservative Christians and too many churches.

It’s been known for over a century that people do not choose their sexual orientation.   Recognizing this might have avoided the polarization that has taken place.

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ACCUSATIONS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT

It seems that, in today’s English speaking world, you are guilty until proven innocent.   This is a significant reversal of a practice that goes back 800 years to the Magna Carta.   It separated England, and later the English speaking countries, from the European legal system, which denied people justice until they were tried before a 12-man jury of their peers.

Perhaps all the accusations are true and that all of those accused are guilty, but they are still entitled to a fair trial.

The Bible says:   “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.”  ( II Corinthians 13:1 KJV)

What is clear with all the accusations, whether against politicians or actors, is that there were no witnesses.   What are parents doing allowing their teenagers to spend time alone with people they don’t know?

Maybe we should bring back chaperones!   That would put an end to all of this.

FEAR BEHIND CHURCH ATTACK

Photo: EPA ; AP
Photo: EPA ; AP

The killing of nine people in a Charleston church last week and the election result in Denmark seemingly have little in common.   But at the root of both is fear.

The 21-year-old white male who shot dead nine African-Americans wore two badges on his jacket.   They were the Rhodesian flag and the South African flag of the old apartheid regime.   TV reporters were quick to say these flags represented racism and that Dylaan Roof identified with these countries because he, too, is racist.

As usual, there was very little depth shown by reporters.   It’s just not as simple as they made it out to be.

Rhodesia and South Africa were the last two nations on the African continent to be ruled by whites, people of European descent who had colonized Africa in previous generations.   During the late 1950’s and early 1960’s the European powers were rapidly dismantling their colonial empires.   The ruling whites of Southern Rhodesia, rather than have black majority rule forced upon them, declared themselves independent of Great Britain, something that had not happened since 1776.

Why did they do this?   Out of fear, fear of what would happen if the whites handed over to the majority African population.

This fear was not unfounded.   They had seen what happened when countries to the north of them got independence.

Tribalism, violent upheavals and economic collapse were quite normal in the years following independence.   In 1961, the whites of Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), at the time in a federation with Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, had been instrumental in saving thousands of people from the Congo who had fled the country after Belgium pulled out.   Chaos and confusion were commonplace in Africa at the time. The whites at the southern end of the continent did not want the same fate to befall them.

In neighboring South Africa, apartheid also had fear at its root.   The white minority imposed segregation to protect themselves from violent crime, murder, and rapes, all of which have increased dramatically since the end of apartheid and the introduction of majority rule.   There was a great deal wrong with apartheid, but post-apartheid South Africa also has serious problems with little hope for improvement.

Which brings us to last week’s Danish election.

Scandinavia has been the last bastion of social democracy, with widely admired societies that have inspired leftist parties around the world.

But these days, social democracy in Nordic countries is in crisis.   The defeat of Denmark’s ruling social democrat party, led by Helle Thorning-Schmidt, means that for the first time in seventy years, Sweden is the only Scandinavian country with a social democrat government in power.   Even there, it’s doubtful it will survive long.

Their decline has been accompanied by a surge in support for anti-immigration, eurosceptic parties.   “Should the Danish People’s party — which came second, nearly doubling its support from the previous vote in 2011 — join a centre-right government, three of the four large Nordic countries would have such a group in power (Finland and Norway being the others),” the Financial Times reports on its website.   After decades of rule by parties of the left, this is a dramatic change.

“There is a familiar progression in the way that the DPP, True Finns, Sweden Democrats and Norway’s Progress party have hollowed out the establishment parties.   As with the DPP, they have started by stealing voters from the centre-left — the working class, the elderly — before taking them from the centre-right.

“It’s a worry and it’s a wake-up call,” says Carl Bildt, former Swedish prime minister.”   (ft.com)

What’s behind the swing to the anti-immigrant, eurosceptic parties? Fear.   The same fear that motivated the whites of Rhodesia and South Africa.   And the same fear that was behind the church shooting in Charleston.   This is not to suggest that the Danes, the Rhodesians or the South Africans would have been in agreement with Dylaan Roof’s actions.   It is simply that there is a commonality here – and that common denominator is fear.

The Danes are afraid of being overwhelmed by people of different cultures, especially Muslims from North Africa and the Middle East.   A significant percentage of people in every European country share the same fear.   They do not want to see their way of life threatened. These fears are not taken seriously by mainstream political parties, so voters are looking elsewhere.

The same fear led to Rhodesians breaking away from Britain.   Their “rebellion” lasted fourteen years, seven of which were spent at war with homegrown terrorists who wanted to take over the country. When the terrorists took over, white fears were realized when their land, jobs and money were all taken by the post-independence government of Robert Mugabe, who has been in power for over 35 years.

In South Africa, twenty years after apartheid, the country’s biggest problems are corruption, violence and life-threatening crime.   The affluent society the whites created is under increasing threat, driven by African demands for more and more at the expense of the white taxpayer.

In America, too, many whites fear for the future as they head rapidly toward minority status.   A recent announcement by the Obama Administration that instructs government agencies to enforce greater “diversity” in affluent neighborhoods will only make matters worse.

I’m writing this while we are headed back to our home on a train.   We had to change trains in Chicago.   While lining up for the second train, a young white lady next to me complained to her friends that “the Mexicans are pushing in ahead of us.”   A minor incident like this can trigger off a racial confrontation.   This time it was avoided.

The mad, multicultural mayhem created by the ruling intellectual elites is increasingly being found wanting throughout the western world.

We should expect more incidents like the one in Charleston and more election results similar to Denmark.   It could be the start of a white backlash against enforced multiculturalism.   Politicians should take note on both sides of the Atlantic.

A century ago, the world was dominated by Europeans and people of European descent.   Since World War II this has changed dramatically.   Today, only a handful of countries are still run by Caucasians; and, based on demographic trends, all of those will have a majority non-white population within the lifetimes of those now living.

When the dominant culture of a country changes, great upheaval can take place.   Rhodesia is the best most recent example of this.

Dylaan Roof, at 21, was not even born when Rhodesia became Zimbabwe.   He may have worn the Rhodesian flag but was ignorant of Rhodesia’s realities.   Race relations were generally quite good in Rhodesia.   The “white” army was 82% black.  If Dylaan Roof had shot nine black Africans in Rhodesia, he would have been tried, sentenced and hanged within a few months.   I remember clearly a young white male who killed a black cab driver and was hanged, if I remember correctly, within 90 days of his sentencing.

The world’s media may have judged Rhodesia a racist society.   In the same way, it now judges South Carolina as seriously wanting in this regard.   But there has been an outpouring of love and support from different ethnic groups since the mass shooting in church.   The Governor of the state, Nikki Haley, has called for the old confederate flag to be taken down from the Capitol building in Columbia, the state capital.

Just as the world’s media stirred up feelings against Rhodesia and South Africa, it will do so against South Carolina.

Watching CNN on Monday morning, I was shocked at how much time was devoted to a one-sided discussion on the future of the “Stars and Bars,” the old Confederate flag.

What Dylaan Roof did was inexcusable and should be roundly condemned.   But he was just one man and a young man, at that.   His actions will not inspire the majority to replicate his act.   But the fears he expressed about the direction America is headed should be openly discussed.   The flag is not the issue.

MANDELA — A BRIGHT LIGHT ON A DARK CONTINENT

nelson-mandela-on-july-17

The news of the death of the former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, came as I was preparing to write an article on Central Africa.  This month marks the 50th anniversary of the dissolution of the Central African Federation, a short-lived experiment in multiculturalism that brought incredible development to the center of the continent in a short period of time.  The federation was more formally known as the “Federation of the Rhodesias and Nyasaland.”  Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and Nyasaland (Malawi) were the three constituent parts.

When you visit any of these countries today, you will find the main roads were built at this time, as was Kariba Dam.  The federation was largely financed by the white settlers in Southern Rhodesia, who had made their country an African success story.

The Encyclopedia Britannica has this to say on the origins of the federation.  “After World War II, the growth of secondary industries and greatly increased white immigration in Southern Rhodesia, compounded by the copper boom in Northern Rhodesia, led white political leaders and industrialists to urge even more strongly the advantages of an amalgamated territory that would provide larger markets and be able to draw more freely on black labor, especially in Nyasaland.”

Apart from the economic arguments, there were also political reasons for federation.   In 1948, the Nationalist Party came to power in South Africa, then a British dominion like Canada and Australia.  The new government introduced separate development (apartheid), the strict separation of the races.  Britain was concerned about losing influence in the region as the Nationalists were generally anti-British – some had been pro-Nazi during World War II.  The British also wanted to show there was an alternative to separate development.

The federation brought together two British colonies, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, together with the self-governing colony of Southern Rhodesia, a territory that had never been ruled directly from London.  Britain’s hope was to show that a multiracial state based on cooperation between the races was far better than the neighboring South African model.  The first Prime Minister of the Federation was Sir Godfrey Huggins, earlier the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia.  When he stepped down in 1956, he was the longest serving prime minister in the history of the British Commonwealth.

However, the federation made the whites in Southern Rhodesia richer and more influential.  Black African nationalists stirred up sentiment against it.  The Colonial Office in London, always sympathetic to African nationalist demands, decided to disband the union, giving both Malawi and Zambia independence in 1964.  The whites in Southern Rhodesia voted to disassociate themselves from Britain (UDI), but 15 years later were forced to hand over power.

Economically, there is no doubt that the federation was a good thing and achieved a great deal.  This was the decade of the greatest economic expansion in Central Africa.

In stark contrast, independence led to dictatorship, socialism and economic decline.

All three countries had the same president for three decades.  Malawi’s Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda led his country from independence until 1994; Zambia’s Kenneth Kaunda from independence until 1991; Zimbabwe, under Robert Mugabe, from independence in 1980 right up until the present.  The Westminster style parliamentary systems that the British had in place in the three territories during the colonial era did not survive independence, each country sliding into dictatorship.  Zambia and Zimbabwe also embraced socialism.  Zambia has since seen the light, but Zimbabwe remains in darkness.

The multicultural ideal was dead in Central Africa and the three component parts have suffered because of it.

It was not to be realized again until the end of apartheid and the first black African government in South Africa, led by Nelson Mandela.  Mr. Mandela only served one term, previously unheard of in Africa.  As a leader, he was a light on the Dark Continent, standing out over all other post-colonial rulers.  “What is the future of South Africa?” asked former US Secretary of State James Baker on CBS this morning.  He added:  “I think a lot of the groundwork has been laid by Nelson Mandela.”

It is misleading to say, as was said on CBS this morning, that “Mandela spent 27 years in prison because he fought against apartheid.”  Many people opposed apartheid but did not go to prison.  Helen Suzman, a prominent member of parliament, comes first to mind.  Mr. Mandela was, in fact, imprisoned for acts of sabotage.  Today he would be called a terrorist.  Violently opposed to apartheid, many whites now see him as the one who saved them and the country from a bloodbath when the white minority handed over power.  He was the only one who could pull the transition off successfully.  For this, South Africans of all races are mostly grateful.

For a long time, many whites have expressed fears for their future in the post-Mandela era.

The whites have the skills the country needs for further prosperity.  They also pay most of the taxes, without which social programs to help the poorest members of society would not be possible.  The countries of the Central African Federation learned the hard way the negative consequences of driving the whites out.  Hopefully, South Africa will not make the same mistake and Mandela’s “rainbow nation,” a multicultural country made up of various races, will succeed.

Thinking has changed, even in the West.  Socialists in England in the 1950’s were advocates of decolonization.  One point repeatedly made was that, in Northern Rhodesia, whites were paid on average seven times what black Africans were paid;  today, after five decades of independence, the ratio is 28 to 1.  Whites no longer want to settle in central Africa.  They would rather go out on contracts and want big money to take what they consider are big risks, hence the greater pay differential.  If South Africa can keep the white settlers, the country will continue to prosper.

Interestingly, Zambia is now encouraging white farmers to settle, granting them 99 -year leases on land.  Food production doubled with the first hundred farmers, bringing down food prices and strengthening the currency.  Zambia benefitted from Zimbabwe’s expropriation of white farmland.

The handover to majority rule in South Africa took place in 1994.  By that time, the country had had the opportunity to see the disaster that had befallen many nations to the north.  Whereas Zimbabwe’s post-independence leader, Robert Mugabe, reverted to his radical revolutionary agenda after gaining power, Mandela gave an assurance right at the beginning that South Africa would be a democracy and would have a free enterprise system.  So far, it’s worked.

We will soon know whether it will continue to work in the post-Mandela era.

MANDELA – HISTORY’S VERDICT

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela was not imprisoned for his opposition to apartheid!

This has been repeatedly mentioned on television news programs during Mr. Mandela’s current stay in the hospital.

If people were imprisoned for opposing apartheid, millions of South Africans of all races would have spent decades in prison.  Apartheid institutionalized “separate development” (or segregation), which separated the various races of South Africa under white rule from 1948-1994.

A significant percentage of white voters were against apartheid.  While the ruling National Party had enough seats in the all-white parliament to enforce apartheid, they were opposed by the United Party, led by Sir de Villiers Graaff.  From 1977 the more liberal Progressive Federal Party was a constant thorn in the flesh for the government.   Helen Suzman of the PFP was the most vocal critic of apartheid in parliament.   Throughout the apartheid years, the freedom to speak out against the system, without the fear of imprisonment, was a constant.  The English language press was against apartheid during this time.

Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for committing terrorist acts that killed people during a period when he felt that the only way forward was through violence.  Wikipedia says this of Mandela:

“Although initially committed to non-violent protest, in association with the South African Communist Party he co-founded the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) in 1961, leading a bombing campaign against government targets.  In 1962 he was arrested, convicted of sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government, and sentenced to life imprisonment.”  In other African countries, he would have received the death penalty.”

Mr. Mandela was to spend 27 years in prison.  While people in the West are appalled at this, people across Africa marvel that anybody could walk out of an African prison alive after such a long time.  It’s almost certain it would not have happened elsewhere on the continent.

Having set the record straight, it should be noted that Mandela is a great man and South Africans of all races are thankful that he was the first post-apartheid president and remains a major influence in the country.  All races will mourn his loss when the time comes.

The reason for this is the widely held belief that, without Mandela, there would have been no peaceful transition from apartheid (white rule) to African majority rule.  The country could have easily gone through a civil war, leaving nobody as the clear victor.

And that remains the constant fear – a bloodbath, which might be triggered off by Mandela’s death.  Nelson Mandela is still seen as a restraining influence.

Although it has been almost twenty years since the end of apartheid, the average black South African is no better off now than he was under white rule.  Those high up in government have done extremely well, as evidenced by the high number of Mercedes Benz vehicles being driven around the country and the many newly built mansions in gated communities.

The whites are still seen as the wealthiest members of society, although there are many whites begging at intersections and on street corners in cities across the country.

White farmers are fearful of another Rhodesia/Zimbabwe taking place after Mandela’s death.  Rhodesian farmers had their land taken off them two decades after independence, an executive act that devastated the economy.  Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) was able to import food from South Africa.  What will South Africans do if the whites lose their farms?  The white farmers are commercial farmers like their British and American cousins – Africans are subsistence farmers, only growing what they need for the coming months.  Forcibly taking land off the white farmers would cause famine and a collapse of the economy.

Certainly, South Africa has a burgeoning black middle class that has a vested interest in maintaining the financial status quo.  The country remains the most developed and best run nation in Africa.  But, like many other nations, it has a major problem to address – the growing gap between the haves and the have-nots.

How South Africa manages this problem will determine its future more than anything else.

Nelson Mandela certainly helped in the transition from white domination to African rule but his successors must deliver on the promises made to voters two decades ago – they have waited long enough to see improvements in their lives and are now increasingly impatient.