Hazardous Courses in Southern Africa

Courtesy Reuters

Stretching southward from the two great river systems of the Congo and the Zambesi to the confluence of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, and thus comprising roughly the southern third of the African continent, there lies a vast area, about two-thirds the size of the United States, which constitutes in its entirety one of the principal problem-children of the world community. Consisting largely of an arid central plateau, with lower coastal strips only partially suitable for human habitation, this region harbors a population of some 41,000,000, of whom, in approximate terms, 34,000,000 might be of black African origin, 4,500,000 of European, and the remainder of mixed or other blood. It is made up of a number of highly disparate political entities: the great Portuguese dependencies of Angola and Mozambique, the highly controversial territories of Rhodesia and South West Africa, the Republic of South Africa, and the three former British High Commission territories, now independent: Lesotho, Swaziland and Botswana.

With the exception of these last-named entities, which make up only a small portion of the whole, there is no part of this area which has not been in recent years the subject of violent discontent, debate, protest and conflict in the United Nations and in world opinion generally. Controversy has centered, of course, on the political relations existing there between people of European origin and the black Africans who constitute everywhere the majority. This is scarcely surprising. The area contains at least 90 percent of the entire white population of Africa, as against 11 percent of its Blacks. Of the white inhabitants, furthermore, a considerable proportion have been settled in Africa for many generations, having even in some instances come no later than did the Blacks to the settlement of the regions in which they are now residing. In these circumstances racial problems were bound to be of a different order-greater in scale, emotionally more acute-than elsewhere in Africa. It could scarcely have been otherwise. This distinction notwithstanding, the demands of the international community, particularly as formulated

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