During a recent trip to southern Africa, Linda and I read the above headline in the “Cape Times,” the dominant daily newspaper in lovely Cape Town, South Africa.
When he called them “lickspittle,” retired Archbishop of the Anglican Church of South Africa Desmond Tutu was referring to the current government of South Africa controlled by the African National Congress party (ANC).
The occasion for this domestic dust-up was a decision by the South African government to deny a visa to famed Buddhist, Nobel Prize winner, and tireless advocate for an independent Tibet — the Dalai Lama — to attend a worldwide convocation of fellow Nobel luminaries scheduled for Cape Town.
When the government denied entry to the Dalai Lama, the other invitees boycotted the event.
That destroyed the hopes of the good folks of Cape Town for some great PR; overdue redemption from its centuries-long identification with apartheid policies; and finally some good entertainment as the best and brightest of the world pronounced in their fair city.
As one commentator said: “We have squandered our reputations as darlings of the world by having cast off our racist past and made peace among blacks and whites,” something only Botswana was able to do without endless human carnage.
The reason for the decision was widely attributed to orders from the Chinese Communists who are boycotting the Dalai Lama for his part in leading the moral crusade against the Chinese highjacking of his native Tibet.
“Is it possible that the far-away Chinese have so much influence over the ANC and thence the South African government?” fumed Tutu and others.
Of course the answer is yes, for two good reasons.
First of all, the black revolution against the white dominated South Africa was not a black/white war: race was only the excuse.
South Africa, along with the rest of colonial Africa, were pawns in the Cold War.
The ANC was financed and trained by both the Russians and the Chinese in an attempt to weaken the West and to gain a foothold advantage against capitalism.
Even the sainted Nelson Mandela was a trained terrorist and member of the Communist Party, as was Thabo Mbeki his vice president and designated successor.
White “oppression” became pronounced in South Africa and other colonial countries in response to the massive killings of whites and cooperating blacks who were part of the capitalist colonial system.
The second reason that the Chinese have so much sway in South Africa is that Western ineptitude at combating Communist insurgencies left most colonial African countries controlled by Marxist proxies that gave the Chinese Communists entree to exploit African resources to service their own ever-growing population.
As the United States retreated in incompetent disarray, the Chinese filled the vacuum in their search for commodities.
What made Mr. Mandela unique was that during his decades in prison, he watched while African nations cannibalized their economies, their trained populations and their natural resources under the control of a series of “big men” whose de facto policies were: “One man, one vote, one time.”
Mr. Mandela made peace with the white leadership and business people by agreeing to leave the economy intact during the transition from white-only to universal voting.
But with the passing of Mr. Mandela’s influence, the ANC leadership began taking on the trappings of other African governments through self-serving crony capitalist deals that leave too little for the public that they claimed to represent.
Now, for the first time since independence, the ANC hegemony is under attack for failing to meet the needs of millions of South Africans who have until recently backed party leadership.
The Chinese have used their substantial resources to bolster the position of the ANC without which, the ANC would be on the ropes.
Thus, ANC leadership owes a debt for China’s original sponsorship of their murderous revolt and now obeisance for China’s ability to keep their political party afloat in the face of their own policy failures.
According to no less a moral authority than Desmond Tutu, who chaired the post-war Peace and Reconciliation Commission, such conduct on the part of the government amounts to acting like “lickspittles.”
However, this is not only true of South Africa, but our tragic failure to understand Africa has resulted in far worse conditions throughout the continent.
More about that in future columns.