Page 6, 18th September 1964

18th September 1964
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Page 6, 18th September 1964 — BOOKS OF THE WEEK
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Organisations: United Nations
Locations: London

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BOOKS OF THE WEEK

APARTHEID FATED TO COLLAPSE

SANCTIONS AGAINST SOUTH AFRICA, edited by Ronald Segal

(Penguin, 4s. 6i1).

SOUTH AFRICA: THE PEASA.NTS REVOLT, by Govan Mbeki

(Penguin, 35. 6d.).

THE NEW STATES OF WEST AFRICA, by Ken Post (Peng;tin,

4s. 6d.).

Reviewed by DOUGLAS BROWN THE imposition of economic sanctions on South Africa for the suppression of apartheid would be an act of international aggression, even if the Charter of the United Nations could be made to justify it. The proposal should therefore be subjected to the test that a moral theologian would apply to any disturbance of the existing order. Would the good it is likely to achieve sufficiently outweigh the known evil of the act itself? The papers read at the recent international conference convened in London by advocates of the proposal, now issued in paperback form under the title Samctions against South Africa, are certainly helpful in this respect.

They arc refreshingly realistic. and admit. either overtly or by implication, that a campaign of sanctions would set an awkward precedent in the relations between sovereign States and cause serious, if temporary, privations to the people they were intended to help. They also admit that sanctions would destroy the economy of the only really prosperous country in Africa, would involve Britain and America in a costly naval blockade of a vast coastline, might lead to bloodshed, and at the best could only provide a tabula rasa on which the peoples of South Africa. under the guidance of the United Nations. would have to build a completely new multiracial society.

That intelligent and well-meaning people should count this cost and yot be willing to see it paid in the interests of an abstract theory of racial equality is a measure of the gailt-complex that the colonial era has bequeathed us. Certainly a shotgun wedding between races of different colour is not so certain to product a happy marriage as to justify the horrors that would precede it. Nor has the United Nations the natural right to engage in such a desperate enterprise.

The sanctiontists should give closer attention to the way things are really moving in South Africa. An invasion from the black north has always been out of the question. The emerging nations, except for the purposes of propaganda, are indifferent to the fate of the South African Bantu.

But apartheid will inevitably collapse under the sheer weight of of economics. And since the white South Africans, not unnaturally, cannot imagine themselves as a subject race, thcy will eventually have to consent to an equitable partition of the country.

Not that they are going the right away about it at the moment. The "independent" Transkei, as vividly described by Govan Mbeki in The Peasant Revolt, represents colonialism at its worst. Until the surgical operation is complete, and mutual fears allayed, the kind of circumstance that has landed Mbeki in gaol will inevitably persist. His story is a powerful argument for the fulfilment of "separate development", rather than for the forcible union of the races proposed by the sanctionists.

West Africa is a Yen) different story. There it has not been a question of finding a mocha viyendi between resident races of different colour. Instead, the British and French imperialists have retreated, leaving a halfformed African elite to take control. The result has been a fascinating struggle for power, leading in most cases to the establishment of one-party systems, as

described in great detail by Ken Post in The New States of West Africa.

In the absence of political machinery for the protection of minorities, good government depends on the survival irf moral values, whether tribal or Christian. Professor Post tends to underestimate the Christian legacy, which is infinitely more important than the formal democracy that the British tried so hard. but failed, to inculcate. .

In both South and West Africa the Church's missionary activity must undergo a radical change. It is no longer a question of preaching the Gospel to the primitive heathen. The problem is one of giving a Christian meaning to a social revolution that is proceeding at breakneck speed, crowding the experience of centuries into as many years. it was to meet just such situations that the timeless Church was founded.




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