When South African President Cyril Ramaphosa recently dispatched himself, along with a small army of security personnel, to Russia and Ukraine, to bestow upon Presidents Putin and Zelensky, his worldly wisdom as a peacemaker, his fruitless foray raised a number of issues for me.
He left behind a once well managed country which he is busy transforming into a failed state, but he also left behind a continent that is quickly becoming a catastrophe. In the context of a landmass experiencing unparalleled deforestation and environmental devastation due to population growth and primitive agriculture, millions of Africans are starving.
With infrastructural collapse and atrocious governance leading to loss of control, borders are disappearing, and nation-states are disintegrating. Power is increasingly shifting back to tribal, ethnic, and religious leaders providing a febrile field for wanton violence, nepotism and plunder. Africa is in many ways, reverting to the state it was in before it was colonised. While President Ramaphosa was being ignored abroad, it is a pity he chose not to stay home where he has some heft and there is much to attend to.
While civil unrest rages in Libya, potential conflict with Egypt looms over disputed maritime territory. Islamist separatists, coming out of the Sahel are in the throes of dismembering Mali. The Central African Republic has been turned into an ungovernable hellhole by various vicious militias leaving the Russians to milk the mines and what is left of the national wealth. In West Africa, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau, and Liberia are impoverished failed states and the rest of the region follows a uniformly downward economic trajectory. Northern Nigeria is being terrorised by Boko Haram militants. Eastward, Ethiopia is torn by conflict in Eritrea, Sudan is fractured and at war with itself and Somalia, a state in name only, is impoverished and utterly lawless. In northern Mozambique, a simmering insurrection threatens to fracture the country and wreck what is left of a wrecked economy. The Congo, arguably the country with the richest natural resources on the planet, is the poorest, soaked in the blood of the innocents. In the conflicts that followed the turn of the century that involved nine countries, over five million people were killed, and the slaughter continues. While Kinshasa is the official capital, central government control barely spreads beyond the municipal limits.
Against this backdrop, Cape Town, and the Western Cape Province, stand in stark contrast; a beacon of blinding light shining out on a very dark continent. Interestingly, the city mayor is Mr. Geordin Hill-Lewis and the Provincial Premier is Mr. Alan Winde who represent the Democratic Alliance. Both are known to be competent, diligent, well informed and of impeccable integrity. They also lead administrations that deliver to their electorate and the citizenry, the best run polity in Africa. They are also the last two European politicians of any serious consequence on the continent. While their efforts are unquestionably laudable, their success is also their burden; it means an ongoing struggle against the continental tide.
All the other provinces in the country are run by the ruling ANC and they are staggering in varying stages of collapse, triggering a massive migration from the hinterland to the Western Cape coastal region where there is a chance of a home, a hospital, running water, and employment. But that is only the tip of the iceberg because also streaming into the Cape are migrants, in their millions, (an estimated three million from Zimbabwe alone), from the rest of Africa, in wretched condition, fleeing the aforementioned countries, among others.
Somalis are running informal retail outlets, Ethiopians are driving Ubers, Zimbabweans dominate the hospitality industry, the Congolese are running carparks and doing security work, the West Africans are running the rackets. But hard as they try, the municipal and provincial systems and structures, cannot possibly provide for the tens, possibly hundreds of millions, now looking for refuge. And unfortunately, this is the southern tip, so only the Atlantic awaits now and ships are in short supply. If the slave ships were to sail into Cape Town harbour, there would be riots; not to get away, but to get aboard.
On reflection, there is irony here because this is where it all began for the European on the sub-continent when Jan van Riebeek docked his ship in 1652 and set up a victualing station for vessels of the Dutch East India Company. And this is where it will end, in a sense, for the white tribe in Africa. Overwhelmed by events beyond its control, a tiny minority is trying to literally keep the lights on, against all odds, but they are almost assuredly doomed.
And so, it is with some surprise I watch events abroad and wonder. In the UK, Europe and the United States, there appears to be an unprecedented urgency coming from the people in power to emulate Africa and transfer positions of authority, in the public and private sector, from people of European ancestry to so-called ‘people of colour’.
Maybe the ‘Woking Class elite knows something that has been lost on me; but as a White African, having seen what I have seen, and what I am seeing, this looks like a mistake. I hope for their sake it does not have the catastrophic consequences I am witness to here.