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Source: Nii Amu Darko
– Still on the main topic (THE SOUTH AFRICA I KNOW; Myths, opinions and facts), in this section I present my commentary on the Political and Economic evolution of South Africa.

Related: THE SOUTH AFRICA I KNOW; Myths, Opinions and Facts - Before Apartheid - Part 1

Related: THE SOUTH AFRICA I KNOW; Myths, Opinions and Facts - What is Apartheid? - Part 2 (i)

Related: THE SOUTH AFRICA I KNOW; Myths, opinions and facts - Political evolution(The Cape and Orange Free State) - Part 2 (ii)

Related: THE SOUTH AFRICA I KNOW; Myths, Opinions and Facts - Political evolution (Natal and Transvaal) - Part 2 (ii)

THE SOUTH AFRICA I KNOW; Myths, Opinions and Facts – Political (Economic) Evolution Part 2

THE SOUTH AFRICA I KNOW; Myths, Opinions and Facts – Political (Economic) Evolution Part 2


It is quite clear that looking at the political configuration of South Africa at the time of the Union in 1910, adopting Apartheid as a state policy can only be described at a psychotic attempt at socio-political engineering to re-create in the 1950s a South Africa of the 1850s by a bunch of psychopaths and paranoid schizophrenics who happened to be white.

A little over a century before apartheid was dreamed up; a psychopathic Zulu General practiced his version of apartheid on non-Zulu African communities in Transvaal and Free State. Ironically, it was the ancestors of the apartheid regime who saved these Africans from a fellow African. At least one million Africans are estimated to have been killed by Shaka and Mlikazi. That is why I say evil is colour blind.

It is also quite clear to me that the role 40years of apartheid played in the causation of the economic gap between whites and blacks is grossly exaggerated. I know most of us are very emotional about this, but the only way to make any progress is to speak the truth. The fact that the immorality of apartheid is indefensible should never cover up for the structural deficiencies in the political economy of Black South Africa long before it came into contact with the white man and long before the dreamers of apartheid were even born.

By the time the Voortrekkers (Europe) came into contact with Black South Africa in the early 19th century, Europe had gone through the Age of Enlightenment, the Scientific Revolution and the Industrial Revolution was at its peak. At that point in time, the gap was already yawning; technological, scientific, agricultural, military and political. The sum total was an almost unbridgeable economic gap.

In Ghana, I knew the gap between the North and the South was due to structural deficiencies in the political economy of the North. In South Africa, I knew the gap between whites and blacks is also the same structural defect. The gap is not closing in both Ghana and South Africa because we have conveniently decided to emotionalize and politicize a rational and a structural problem.

My experience in Ghana, South Africa and Australia, made it clear to me the African needs to appreciate that there is a huge gap between her and the rest of the world that needs to be bridged. And the only way to bridge this gap is to reform our political economy. That is where the name AFRICAN REFORM MOVEMENT is from and the motto, BRIDGING THE GAP comes from. When I write about South Africa, it is not for fun, it is at the core of my philosophy. And in that space, there is no emotion, only faith and scientific cause and effect analysis operate there. So let us start the analysis now.

As a Ghanaian with some understanding of the history of my country and West Africa, it is not too hard to appreciate the poverty in Black South Africa and its Siamese twins Swaziland and Lesotho. From 700 to 1600, we had the prosperous kingdoms of West Africa; Ghana, Mali ad Songhai trading in gold, salt, kola, leather etc. The Oyo and Asante kingdoms flourished for 200 years from 1600 and 1700 respectively. The first organized kingdom in SA was Zulu in 1820 over 1000years after old Ghana.

All these kingdoms were major centres of commerce and economics. There were trade and craftsmen all over the place. Before Europe colonized West Africa in late 19th century, we had fully realized cultures and a robust social and physical infrastructure for development. 25% of Yoruba’s were living in cities of more than 100,000 and 50% in cities of 25,000, a similar level of urbanization as the US.

In the 1700s Asante developed the Bata mercantilist system a form of State Capitalism. By 1950 when apartheid was being codified, Ghana was producing 50% of world cocoa. Every cocoa farm was owned by a Ghanaian. The modern world is based on exchange of goods and services. Black South Africa never participated in this exchange hence their poverty. Their main occupation was animal husbandry and food cropping at subsistence levels, the same scenario in Northern Ghana.

Makola was built in 1924. There was no Makola in South Africa for black people before apartheid. So there was a big gap in the black economy. I was shocked to find out that there were no tailors, carpenters, mechanics, seamstresses etc. in the black community. It was Ghanaians who introduced Hair Salon into the Transkei. This sterile economic environment and its attendant poverty were not created by apartheid. Have you wondered why traditional S. African dressing does not include gold as it is in Ghana? They did not know gold until the white man showed it to them. They never owned it. Have you seen Zulu King dressed? It’s either leopard skin war dress or suit. Compare this with Otumfuo.

South Africa is famous for 3 things; Wine, Sugar and Precious minerals (Diamond, Gold and Plutonium). None of these was seized from black producers. The grapevines were started in the Cape by Huguenot refugees from Holland. Later Malay indentured labourers were brought in to work on the farms. The sugar industry was started by the British in Natal in 1860, the Zulus refused to work on them as labourers. Britain had to bring in indentured labourers from Indian to work on the farms.

Mind you, Britain did not fight the Zulus to get this land. Shaka donated 40km of coastline stretching 160km inland to British visitors who treated his battle wounds. Subsequently, Andries Pretorius helped Mpande to overthrow his brother Dingane to become the new Zulu King. He thanked Pretorius by giving him more land on which Pretorius created the Boer Republic of Natal in 1839. The British defeated the Boers in 1843 and changed the Republic to a British Colony.

Britain built the Port of Durban, the largest and the busiest in Africa and also the sugar industry using India labour. Between 1860 and 1910, Britain brought in 150 000 Indian labourers. At some point, Durban was the busiest sugar terminal in the world. Today, KZN produces over 2million tons for the whole South Africa and for export. KZN accounts for 16% of S. Africa’s GDP of $350 that is $56b (Ghana GDP is $48b). Thanks to the foundation laid by Britain and Indian slave labour.

How did the Boers get the land in the Transvaal? They took land after defeating the genocidal band of Mlikazi and saved Sothos and Tswanas who in turn ceded tracts of land to the Boers. When gold was discovered in Johannesburg, the Boers were not particularly interested. It was British migrants who invested heavily into it. From 1886 to 1897, they invested £300m. Labourers from all over Southern Africa, not only South Africans went to work in the mines. Today, Gauteng is 34% of S. Africa’s GDP ($120b). Thanks to British capital and black labour from the whole of Southern Africa.

The xenophobic attack is not new. The Zulus did it to the Indians because they were prospering more than them. What they are fighting now is superior entrepreneurial culture from rest of Africa. We bestowed so much entitlement on them because we believed their poverty was due to apartheid. Now apartheid is gone, babies born when Mandela was released are finishing medical schools and the hopes of the teeming entitled masses are disappearing like camphor. It is about time someone tells the ANC that the gap between white and black was there from the beginning. The evil apartheid system mobilised world opinion against the white and brought them political power. They have to use this power imaginatively to code a new social DNA of entrepreneurship in order to bridge this gap. Shirt-fronting apartheid as the cause will not work, because sincerely speaking; they had no black economy before 1948.

Tswa omanye aba!

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