South Africa’s repugnant refusal to condemn Russia is a dangerous over estimation of the importance of its BRICS trade alliance. As a leader of much of the African world, it’s cultish suicide.
Attempts to frame the Ukrainian invasion as just another dispute among us rich and powerful is shameful. The South African Rand plunged today. Apparently the Rand understands.
It wasn’t just South Africa that immediately suffered from the invasion. A few flights to Kenya and Tanzania from Europe were unusually late. The Tanzanian tourism minister was overheard complaining, “We don’t need this.” The price of energy is skyrocketing. As always, the weak all over the world always suffer the most from the wounds of the strongest.
Ukraine feared the South African disinterest early on. More than a month ago the Ukrainian ambassador to South Africa publicly scolded the country for its disinterest.
“The Four Horsemen ride again: Putin’s attack on Ukraine could inspire China and Iran,” headlines South Africa’s Daily Maverick, today. But it was the only strong condemnation I could find throughout South Africa. As a nation that struggled for generations for democracy, I find this abjectly shameful.
Four thousand Nigerian students are stranded in eastern Ukraine. “No one knows what is our fate as Nigerian students here,” a young Nigerian told the Premium Times today. The supplicant went on to say how wishy washy the Nigerian embassy was, not even admitting a conflict existed.
So Africa’s Number One and Number Two economic powerhouses are closing their eyes to the destruction of democracy.
Africans aren’t taking sides. They need to. Daily life is already changing in Africa. Clients are calling me asking how it will effect their Kenyan safari. Clients are cancelling.
My closest experience with tourism is the Balkans War. The war began in 1991 but didn’t end until 1999. There were heated periods within that time but it was just before NATO began active military involvement in late 1994 that the war really heated up.
I was flying with a group on the then Sabena Airlines from Brussels to Kigali in February, 1994. (The Rwandan genocide also was on the horizon.)
Our flight was delayed twice. When we finally left about 30 hours late it was pitch black and completely clear. We could see the bombing out the left side of the aircraft like a supercharged fireworks display. Eerily totally quiet, of course, every one’s thoughts were nonetheless exploding with the understanding of the massive destruction that must have been happening.
Ours was the last flight to leave Brussels for Africa until the conflict finally ended in 1999.
After that all EWT safaris were rerouted on carriers that flew an unusual route west of the Sahara. Air France decided at that time to stop flying to Nairobi. There were fewer carriers for us to use, but there were fewer clients.
Wars for the majority of the world – especially the younger – are simply video games easily turned on and off. Like rapes in restricted movies the actual intensity of the misery is sidelined as fantasy easily interrupted by a commercial or appropriate editing.
I’ve tried all my life to bring a sense of want and hurt felt by so much of Africa to a typical American. The privileged just can’t truly understand. They make-believe with Sunday prayers and charitable donations that they care, but their religions or upbringing or ignorance — or more generously, lack of experience of true hurt and harm — sequester them from the reality.
But now it’s the reverse. Now it’s not the effete West neglecting the hungry and sick. It’s the hungry and sick neglecting the dying and not just the natural dying, but those dying for the cause that most Africans have been taught was their raison d’etre: freedom.
The brutal violence of rich world power needs to be comprehended by the African. The equivocal messages of the sort South Africa’s Foreign Minister gave yesterday in the UN and its other namby-pamby statements need at least to rise to that of the UN Secretary General himself.
Tourism is an immediate barometer of turmoil. Whether Kenya, South Africa or closeted-away Botswana, if this Ukranian War escalates tourism will slide precipitously. Shortly after that the price of energy will become unmanageable, children won’t be able to attend foreign schools, medicines supplies will be interrupted, etc., etc.
This is real, Africa. Your spirit of independence is in the balance.