White Zimbabweans used to tell a joke—what is the difference between a tourist and a racist? The answer—about a week.
Few seem to joke any more. Indeed, the last time anyone laughed out there was over the memorable headline “BANANA CHARGED WITH SODOMY” (relating to the Reverend Canaan Banana and his alleged proclivities). Zimbabwe was just the latest African state to squander its potential, to swap civil society for civil strife and pile high its corpses. Then the wrecking virus moves on and a fresh spasm of violence erupts elsewhere. Congo, Ivory Coast, Sudan, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, even Kenya. Take your pick, for it is the essence of Africa, the recurring A-Z of horror. And as surely as Nelson Mandela took those steps from captivity to freedom, his own country will doubtless shuffle into chaos and ruin.
Mark my words. One day it will be the turn of South Africa to revert to type, its farms that lie wasted and its towns that are battle zones, its dreams and expectations that lie rotting on the veldt. That is the way of things. Africa rarely surprises, it simply continues to appal.
When interviewed on BBC Radio, the legendary South African jazz musician Hugh Masekela spoke of the 350-year struggle for freedom by blacks in South Africa. The man might play his trumpet like a dream, but he talks arrant nonsense. What he has bought into is a false narrative that rewrites history and plays upon post-colonial liberal angst. The construct is as follows: white, inglorious and bad; black, noble and good; empire, bad; independence, good; the west, bad; the African, good. Forgotten in all this is that while Europeans were settling and spreading from the Cape, the psychopathic Shaka Zulu was employing his impi to crush everyone—including the Xhosa—in his path, and the Xhosa were themselves busy slaughtering Bushmen and Hottentots. Yet it is the whites who take the rap, for it was they who won the skirmishes along the Fish and Blood Rivers and who eventually gained the prize.
What suffers is the truth, and—of course—Africa. We are so cowed by the moist-eyed mantras of the left and the oath-laden platitudes of Bono and Geldof, we are forced to accept collective responsibility for the bloody mess that is now Africa. It paralyses us while excusing the black continent and its rulers.