The Coalescing Problem of Southern Africa

Courtesy Reuters

The southern segment of the African continent includes: Angola and Mozambique, two vast Portuguese colonies whose peoples are in revolt; Rhodesia, a British possession whose government is in rebellion; the Republic of South Africa, officially committed to a racist ideology; and the international Territory of South West Africa, illegally occupied by the neighboring Republic. These diverse lands share a common attribute, which is both unique and menacing: domination by white minorities of black populations many times their number.

To the north, newly liberated nations are groping toward a fulfilment of freedom which they regard as the promise of history. The southern area, however, is besieged from within and without by demands for an equal chance and a free choice, conditions accepted everywhere else in the world as normal objectives of the social order. Southern Africa sometimes is depicted as a bastion of culture and progress. It is, to the contrary, the last refuge of a twisted concept of the relationship between the individual and society, one which allots opportunities and burdens according to the accident of race.

When demands for equality are pressed by those who are of the same race as their rulers, the consequences can be violent enough, as the colonial revolutions in our own hemisphere made clear. But the use of discrimination and colonial exploitation to further the interests of a dominant racial group multiplies the dangers, both to the area of repression and to the wider community of nations. Enforcement of a deeply resented status quo of racial or colonial privilege undermines the processes by which societies normally effect just change. When aspiration and dissent are denied a peaceful outlet, they generate volcanic forces which erupt into brutal and protracted struggles. In such societies, time runs toward chaos.

Racial discrimination, moreover, arouses emotions of anxiety and involvement on the part of all those, everywhere, who have known, or who fear, a similar experience. Combined with a universal tendency to correlate color with poverty, racial tensions infect the

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