Nicholas Kristof and the New York Times, yesterday;
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.
Silflay Hraka, August 2002;
That makes Ian Smith a bastard, and we know Robert Mugabe is a bastard, right? But which is worse? Can a comparison be made? The last available data for Rhodesia comes from 1974. I’ve posted it with comparative Zimbabwean data from the last two years.
Infant mortality rate
Rhodesia – 1974 – 33.5 per 1000 births
Zimbabwe – 2001 – 62.6 per 1000 births
Rhodesia – 1974 – 14.4 deaths/1,000 population
Zimbabwe – 2001 – 23.22 deaths/1,000 population
Rhodesia – 1974 – 47.9 births/1,000 population
Zimbabwe- 2001 – 24.68 births/1,000 population
Male Life Expectancy
Rhodesia – 1974 – 50
Zimbabwe – 2001 – 41
Female Life Expectancy
Rhodesia – 1974 – 53
Zimbabwe – 2001 – 39
Population growth rate
Rhodesia – 1974 – 3.35%
Zimbabwe – 2001 – 0.9%
Now these numbers are obviously affected by the AIDS epidemic raging throughout Southern Africa, but an economic comparison may also be made. And the richer a country is, the less AIDS affects it at present, as there is more money to spend on treatment of the disease.
GDP is slightly harder to compare than health statistics, as the Rhodesian numbers from 1974 must be adjusted. The world almanac lists the GDP in Rhodesia for 1974 as $3.15 billion. I converted that amount to what it would be worth in the year 2000 using the inflation calculator found here. I did the same for the per capita GDP, which was listed at $502.
Rhodesia – 1974 – 11.79 billion
Zimbabwe – 2000 – 7.19 billion
Adjusted GDP per capita
Rhodesia – 1974 – $1879.39
Zimbabwe – 2000 – $536
You’ll see much higher numbers on many sites for the 2000 GDP numbers, if you bother to look. That’s because many sites use number that have been adjusted according to Purchasing Power Parity. Click on the link and you can read all about it. I used the unadjusted numbers for 2000.
So, let’s assume that in 1974 Ian Smith had been deliberately starving the black civilian portion of Rhodesia’s population for 12 years. They were still better off under his racist, colonialist oppression than they are under Robert Mugabe. They were richer and lived longer.
Ah, you say, “But they weren’t free!”
Umm. They’re not free now.
I will now commence holding my breath until Kristof and the Times acknowledge our groundbreaking journalistic leadership on this important story.
Okay, that may.have been a bit of a high expectation.
I think the the lesson to be learned from the West’s experience in Zimbabwe, as well as much of the rest of Africa, is this; If you want your colonies to succeed as nations, don’t give up them up in a time of war. The West did so during the Cold War, and without fail formerly prosperous countries became embroiled in it as proxies for one side or another, not only in Africa, but Asia as well. “When elephants battle, it is the grass that is trampled, ” goes the saying, and the former colonies of Africa underwent a minimum of twenty years of trampling after they were cast off by their former masters.
The notable exception to that rule; South Africa, which began handing over rule to the black majority in 1990, after the Cold War was won. The result?
Nine years after the fall of apartheid, South Africa has developed into a country with many world-class features that make it the most advanced economy on the African continent. It boasts a sophisticated financial infrastructure with one of the top 10 stock exchanges in the world, an abundant supply of resources and well-developed communications, energy and transportation sectors.
Maybe it’s time to re-colonize Africa, if only to make up for the sins and abandonment her people suffered at the hands of the West previously.
Yes. I’m aware of how popular that suggestion will prove to be in some quarters. But it’s better than leaving Africa to the tender mercies of the United Nations, or Zimbabwe in the blood-covered hands of Mugabe.
When a white racist government was oppressing Zimbabwe, the international community united to demand change. These days, a black racist government is harming the people of Zimbabwe more than ever, and the international community is letting Mr. Mugabe get away with it. Our hypocrisy is costing hundreds of Zimbabwean lives every day.