Ken Root concluded his trip to Africa with a flight home this past weekend. He comments on the regions he’s seen, and the economic and social prospects for countries that divided their people for so long that bringing them back together may take several more generations.
Southern Africa is almost 10,000 miles, a full-day flight, from the middle of the United States. It is a long way away in distance and understanding by Americans.
I visited farms and cities in three countries over a 12-day period and found it to be as diverse as any place I’ve seen on the globe.
Sunset in dry country.
The European Influence here goes back to the 1500s. But equality between races was only legislated in the past 20 years. I spent the last part of the trip touring the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, and traveling to Cape Town in the far southern area of the country. It sensitized me to the political challenges all South Africans face.
Disparity between races remains the most noticeable feature of this beautiful landscape. Until the 1990s, there were three classifications: white, colored and black. Simply put, anyone who was not white was segregated into a lower status. The blacks were at the bottom, and are still the most economically challenged. We saw many people of color working in all aspects of business, but the top of the food chain is still white.
Farmers, the whitest of them all, feel they may be dispossessed of their land if the majority black government can see any remnants of colonialism, or if it needs votes from blacks who want land.
Nelson Mandela surprised the world when he called for unity, place and reconciliation. His government
Ken Root on Zambezi River.
kept the economic base and socially integrated the populace, but the real challenge is to educate and motivate the majority to match the white minority.
So far, so good but each election in the post-Mandela period holds the prospect that a new government could change the course of the country and send its economic system in to ruin.
I will continue to summarize the trip with photos and video as we get back to easier surroundings.
Thanks to Maurice Clark, who served as economic analyst and Michael McClean, our videographer. We went hard, early to late every day under the guidance of Susan Payne, Executive Chairman, and Koos DeKlerk, General Manager, both of Emvest Investments. Also Piet DeKlerk, Koos brother, who was our guide in Zimbabwe. What an amazing family!
A book about the economic downfall of Zimbabwe features them. It is titled: “The Last Resort” by Douglas Rogers, published in 2010.