Why We Must Not Lose the Gap, Again

A Morsel of Goat Meat,” by Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times, 23 March 2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/23/opinion/23kristof.html.

At the beginning of the century, the British Empire was engaged in the largest nations-building campaign in human history.

Two deadly European civil wars nearly bankrupted the Empire and so weakened London that it lost the will to remain. Everywhere it lost to native thugs, settler racist, or (in the case of Zimbabwe) both.

This is the price of that failure.

The hungry children and the families dying of AIDS here are gut-wrenching, but somehow what I find even more depressing is this: Many, many ordinary black Zimbabweans wish that they could get back the white racist government that oppressed them in the 1970’s.

“If we had the chance to go back to white rule, we’d do it,” said Solomon Dube, a peasant whose child was crying with hunger when I arrived in his village. “Life was easier then, and at least you could get food and a job.”

Mr. Dube acknowledged that the white regime of Ian Smith was awful. But now he worries that his 3-year-old son will die of starvation, and he would rather put up with any indignity than witness that.

An elderly peasant in another village, Makupila Muzamba, said that hunger today is worse than ever before in his seven decades or so, and said: “I want the white man’s government to come back. … Even if whites were oppressing us, we could get jobs and things were cheap compared to today.”

His wife, Mugombo Mudenda, remembered that as a younger woman she used to eat meat, drink tea, use sugar and buy soap. But now she cannot even afford corn gruel. “I miss the days of white rule,” she said.

These are not normal beliefs. These are not what you would hear in a function post-colonial state, like India, or an integrating post-colonial state, like Vietnam.

A combination of local thugs of all races, misguided western leftists, isolationist western rightists, and insane European policies lead to the abandonment of Africa.

Not that it is America’s turn for world leadership, we cannot fail like the British before us. Shrink the Gap.

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