By Hannes Wessels, Africa Unauthorized. Author, SAS, We Dared to Win, a Handful of Hard Men
Are We Allowed to Help?We are now over 60 years into the postcolonial era in Africa and life for the vast majority of over 1 billion people is more miserable than ever. Thanks to horrible governance, massive population growth and increasing poverty throughout, the continent is more chaotic than ever and the violent upheavals are escalating and spreading.
Stupidly I suppose, I used to think that the world, particularly the former colonial powers, with some knowledge of the dynamics endemic to their former possessions, would face up to the realities and adopt more sensible approaches to trying to limit the damage wrought by awful leadership and affect remedial action, but I was totally wrong. It seems bad behaviour by politicians in Africa is the prerequisite to ensure an almost endless supply of financial assistance which enables these rotten regimes to continue in their woeful way. In fact, with the Black Lives Matter movement in full flight, criticism in any shape or form of any black person in any position, in any role or country, is now absolutely forbidden so the chances of any pressure being brought to bear for meaningful political reform, are remote.
Against this background, travelling around the once vibrant commercial farming areas of Zimbabwe was an eye opener. Before Robert Mugabe ordered the ethnic cleansing of European ‘settlers’, only twenty years ago, these farms brought health, wealth and happiness for thousands of black families who were comfortable with a dispensation that was mostly white managed. On my trip down memory lane, the fallow fields, derelict homesteads and forlorn faces of the impoverished unemployed made me sad. It seems everyone has lost, bar a few politicians who have used race as a path to extending their time in power. But in the midst of all this, where the white farmers have been allowed to continue, albeit on reduced acreages, there was a hive of activity and commercial bustle; a sense of hope amid the gloom.
In similar vein, where I live, near Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa, I bear daily witness to the consequences of Africans in power being supported in their efforts to destroy the polities they are charged with governing. Here at the southern tip, Africans from virtually every country on the continent, from Senegal to Somalia, Sudan, Nigeria, Malawi, Zimbabwe; are streaming in in their thousands in search of a better life and squatter camps are exploding in and around the metropolitan area. Adding to the pressures on the existing infrastructure is the movement of people from ANC run provinces where social services have all but collapsed.
This is ironic if one accepts the conventional wisdom because the province is run by the white led Democratic Alliance and the city has a white mayor and we all now know, beyond any reasonable doubt, that white people are a particularly nasty bunch of people to be avoided if possible, and eliminated if the opportunity arises. So when people venture the view that the massive influx of black people is because the Western Cape is the last semblance of good governance on the benighted continent I beg to differ; I suggest the plan is to get their numbers up and then ‘liberate’ us of our ill-gotten gains and be done with us, thus ending our African adventure which has lasted 370 years. Cold water is my worst nightmare so the thought of having to leap into the Atlantic and swim for it, is giving me sleepless nights. But when not worrying about freezing to death, as the curtain comes down on the Europeans in Africa, I do dream about solutions that might snatch success from the jaws of a catastrophe. I stress the word ‘dream’, because the chances of anything of this nature becoming a reality are about as good as President Biden stringing a cogent sentence together without a teleprompter.
The truth is, good governance, which requires, knowledge, competence, commitment and honesty, is something white people have been able to deliver on in the past and that is why they supervised the development of the most successful countries in history. There are not many of these sort of people left in Africa, but there are enough, given the chance, to manage small enclaves and create rapid growth within pre-determined boundaries. All that is required is for African governments to curb their avarice and give these people a chance. I have no doubt it would not be long before city-states like mini Hong Kong’s, would quickly unfold and beacons of hope and prosperity would soon start to shine from the ‘Dark Continent’.
The problem is, for this to happen, the world, and the existing African leadership, would first have to concede that Europeans are good at something, and right now that appears to be a bridge too far. Until then it looks like we’re not allowed to help.