Africa: On the ground #2...
It is a mark of my travel naivete that imagined I would be posting frequently during the trip. In reality during the trip, you're busy taking the dang trip and in this case, coping with wildly unexpected situations. Plus given my sad history, I've been trying to not lose critical stuff like passports, money, computer.
I have a new appreciation for my grandkids and their backpacks. We are slowly turning into beasts of burden, with all humanity leaning forward to balance our loads. Even relatively light camera equipment became a noticeable load over time.
Then you look at a slender African woman carrying 5 gallons of water on her head for miles...
We are back in SA after Tanzania and Mozambiqu, but I'm going to try to keep the posts in rough chronological order. Besides the time digesting what we saw last time here has added some admittedly shallow insights.
I spoke about the extraordinary security (by our standards) everywhere. More disturbing, we have heard absolutely horrible first-hand accounts of attacks, carjacking, fighting off armed thieves, even children threatened at gunpoint as parents watched. It was incomprehensible to Jim and me.
But here is the more difficult thing to try to grasp: the police are responding with apparent equivalent brutality, and the press strikes me as relentless in their criticism of both their methods and results.
It may strike many of you as hard to believe, but I was actually moderately diplomatic given the easy-to-sense discomfort South Africans have trying to explain these problems. But one remark struck me a helpful.
I asked our host, whose judgment I have come to value highly, how he viewed the future. He replied he was optimistic, and not just because things couldn't get worse. Perversely enough as more Black Africans rise to the middle class, and become targets of the same violence as the small white minority, there is the possibility - even a likelihood - of actual political improvement. The ANC is simply running out of racial loyalty as their base of power.
We could compare this with the black support of Democrats or the Southern white support of Republicans, by asking what would have to happen for black Americans to vote against Obama, or older, white male Americans to kiss the GOP goodbye. That sort of trigger may be closer than we think in SA.
The other factor he mentioned was the rise of younger political and bureaucratic professionals who are better educated and prepared for leadership. This was not the case when majority rule began in '94 and the results clearly showed. In fact, this pattern was sadly repeated all across SSA (Sub-Saharan Africa).
I am revising my own guesses as to how fast these changes can be made. More on that in the next post, which will likely be from home.