Africa as Muse, Not Mess

Christian Science Monitor, August 9, 2012

During a two-week tour of AfricaSecretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has raised an intriguing idea, one that breaks a tired stereotype. Africa, she asserted in a speech Wednesday in Cape Town, has solutions for some of the world’s problems.

The continent certainly has enough problems—bad governance, civil war, and drought, to name only three. And solving any one of them might become a model for other nations. Africa, for example, has found exemplary ways to reduce child deaths.


With steady if uneven progress toward stable democracies, Africans are showing ways to achieve peaceful turnovers of power, such as in Ghana last month. Along its Arab north, TunisiaEgypt, and Libya have led the Arab Spring. And with the end of Muammar Qaddafi’s rule in Libya, Africa no longer has someone using oil wealth to try to control the future of sub-Saharan Africa.


For Mrs. Clinton, however, South Africa is seen as the best hope for Africa. Per capita, South Africa’s wealth exceeds that of China or India. Last year, the mineral-rich nation, now 18 years free of white rule, was inducted last year into the global club of large, non-Western economies called BRICS (BrazilRussia, India, China, South Africa).

Clinton praises South Africa for voluntarily giving up nuclear weapons, for its civil-society activism, and for helping other African nations with security, agriculture, and minerals. {snip}

Most of all she cites it as role model: “In South Africa, you achieved something that few countries have ever done. You proved that it doesn’t take an all-out civil war to bridge the divide between people who grew up learning to hate one another. You showed that the rights of minorities can be protected even in places where the majority spent decades and decades living in oppression. You reminded the world that the way forward is not revenge, but truth and reconciliation.”


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