Africanization of America

The death of George Floyd and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement mark the beginning of the Africanization of America.  Blacks have lived in the US for hundreds of years, but have only begun to assert their power since the 1960s.  Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech in 1963 stirred a budding civil rights movement, and his assassination in 1968 provoked race riots across America.  The next fifty years marked significant progress in race relations.  Much of the discrimination against Blacks lessened if it did not disappear.  Blacks became political leaders in many predominately black cities.   Today blacks play important roles in many aspects of American life.  This is clearly good for the black community.  Some whites ask if it is good for the future of America.  I worry that South Africa may be an indication of where we are heading. 

Der Spiegel magazine ran a long, excellent article about the decline of South Africa, “The Slow and Steady Demise of South Africa.”  South Africa was the rich country of Africa, although the riches were held by whites rather than blacks.  Nelson Mandela and his followers transferred South African leadership from the minority whites to the black majority population.  Now, after years of transition, South Africa seems to be heading in the wrong direction from a macro perspective.  Blacks are still better off than they were, but the country itself is falling apart. 

The Spiegel article says:

South Africa, the most developed economy on the continent – a nation that in the 20th century didn’t have to shy away from comparisons to Europe – now finds itself, following decades of economic malpractice and political incompetence, on the brink of the abyss.

The infrastructure that was built up over years of white rule is being destroyed and sold as scrap by black population.  Copper, iron, and other valuable materials are being ripped out of buildings and railways to be sold. 

Spiegel says:

The damage caused by theft, sabotage, incompetence and mismanagement has been particularly severe at the country’s railway operator Transnet and the nationwide power utility Eskom. On some days, there is no electricity for 12 hours at a time in some places and large cities sink into inky blackness at night. The South African Reserve Bank estimates that such outages cost the economy the equivalent of almost 45 million euros per day….

Furthermore, in the fiscal year of 2021-2022, around 1,500 kilometers of copper cable was stolen, says Transnet, the state-owned company responsible for rail service in the country. Infrastructure theft has become a lucrative revenue stream for organized crime, and they don’t just target the high-voltage lines owned by the railway. In the townships, gangs dig down to the power cables and pull them out of the ground using pickup trucks. The power utility in Johannesburg registered more than 2,000 such cases and similar that same fiscal year alone. Copper wiring is even stolen from hospitals, likely destined for sale abroad….

"We live in the most unequal society in the world, and the divides are growing wider and wider," says [Axolile]Notywala. "It has become even more unequal since the ANC has been in power. Liberators? Don’t make me laugh!" The activist is furious with the corrupt heirs to Nelson Mandela, and he doesn’t hold the country’s hero in particularly high esteem anymore either. "He is romanticized and worshipped like a saint, but young South Africans no longer believe in him." Mandela didn’t really bring about true change, he says, because existing power structures were left in place. "He wanted reconciliation, but he forgot about social justice. In the end, the wealthy whites got away scot-free while the majority of the Blacks remained poor."

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