In yesterday's post about the correlation between race and poverty -- the poorest countries on earth being overwhelmingly in black (sub-Saharan) Africa -- I anticipated the hoary left liberal argument that it's all the fault of the colonists.
Here's what the revisionist historians and lamestream media keep telling us.
The British, French and others took all the resources and left nothing behind.
They drew "national boundaries" without regard to linguistic, cultural and, errr, tribal differences.
They imposed on Africa systems of social organization and government which are "unsuitable" to Africans. Like democracy.
Let me just relate my own personal observations of southern Africa.
I first visited Zimbabwe in the days when it was still Rhodesia. The status of the country, in 1968-9 when I was there, was disputed. Its white government -- called "the white settler regime" by the Western (and Communist) media -- declared independence from Britain on 11 November 1965. We can run our own affairs, they told the Brits. There was a precedent for this course of action, set back in... wait for it... 1776, by a country which has gone on to achieve considerable stature in the world.
Why would the rest of the world not recognize Rhodesia's Unilateral Declaration of Independence? The problem was race. Of course. The founding fathers of the USA were white. And they kept black slaves, or at least some of them did. But the white folks were in the majority of the Thirteen Colonies, so everything was OK, except perhaps with George III and Lord North.
Unfortunately for the white Rhodesians, they comprised only about 1% of the population at the time of UDI. Thus the Smith government was inevitably and always referred to as "the white minority regime".
"Africa for Africans" was the slogan shouted incessantly following Harold Macmillan's "Winds of Change" speech, which signalled Britain's loss of will to govern its colonies. "We're tired," said the Brits. "Let the Africans look after themselves."
What was wrong with "Africa for Africans"? The "white tribes" of Rhodesia and South Africa were quick to point out that they were Africans too -- not just by adoption or settlement, but by birth, with family histories in Africa going back in some cases to the 17th century.
So, the liberals and those bent on the destruction of the West changed the party line to "Africa for the real Africans", meaning the blacks. Well, OK, coloureds too. And maybe Asians. Everyone except the honkies.
Rhodesia was the second-last of the white dominoes to fall. The Portuguese gave up on Moçambique and Angola in the 70s. South Africa finally succumbed to "majority rule" in 1994. The British betrayed their kith and kin and Rhodesia, effectively selling out to Comrade Robert Mugabe and his terrorist buddies in 1980.
When I visited Rhodesia in 1968-9, there was a small but healthy economy, growing in spite of illegal international sanctions. The country was more than self-sufficient in food, a net exporter to the rest of the continent. The Rhodesian dollar was worth around two US dollars. The major cities (Salisbury, Bulawayo and Umtali) had electricity and clean water, and were connected by well-maintained paved highways. There was a small but reliable airline. Schools and hospitals provided all Rhodesians -- black and white -- with education and health care unmatched in any of the "black countries" to the north.
All this -- the thriving economy, the modern infrastructure, the lot -- was the work of the "evil white settlers". This was the legacy the "racist colonialists" handed over to Mugabe and his henchmen.
By the time I returned to Zimbabwe, as Rhodesia was renamed, in 1992, the capital city (now called "Harare") was in a state of decay. It has got worse still in the 20 years since. You can't drink the water now. Electricity is intermittent. Air Zimbabwe exists only to fly Comrade Bob to hospitals and shopping malls in other parts of the world. The roads are crumbling. Traffic lights have been stolen for the scrap value of the metal frames.
Hospitals are short-staffed and virtually without equipment or even medicines. The educational system is a shambles. The economy, which all but collapsed with the Zimbabwe dollar, is actually shrinking, and has never matched its pre-independence levels. And as land seized from white farmers lies idle, hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans are starving.
Who is responsible for the plight of today's Zimbabwe? The government has been in the hands of "the majority" -- actually a "majority" of just one man -- for nearly 33 years. A perusal of The Economist's Pocket World in Figures reveals the country as a basket case. It is going back to bush, and that's a fact! It's also a fact that it wasn't the "evil white settlers" -- most of whom are gone now -- who built the basket.
Zimbabwe's wounds are, like those of the rest of Africa, self-inflicted. The "real Africans" got their hands on the "white houses and white cars" they coveted, and they have made their country "really African".
Picture credit: The image of Ian Smith is taken from a cover of Time magazine. Mr. Smith died in 2007.